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Australian Colonial Intelligence

Household Hints From 1870


Dear Grandpa Pencil looks at early Australian development through journals, official reports and newspaper excerpts of the day. Readers should remember that these accounts are based on personal observations at the time and some have, since, been shown to be flawed.

'Household Hints From 1870' is drawn from an article in The Illustrated Sydney News: August & September, 1870
Note: Dear Grandpa pencil cannot vouch for any of the household hints below and presents them purely for their novelty and historic worth.

Closing Cracks In Stoves
It may be convenient to know a ready method of closing up cracks, which are not uncommon in cast-iron stoves, and we are assured that the following recipe is a reliable one.
Good wood ashes are to be sifted through a fine sieve, to which is added the same quantity of clay finely pulverised, together with a little salt.
The mixture is to be moistened with water enough to make a paste, and the crack of the stove filled with it.
This cement does not peel off or break away, and assumes an extreme degree of hardness after being heated.
The stove must cool when the application is made.
The same substance may be used in setting in plates of stoves, or in fitting stove-pipes, serving to render all joints perfectly tight.

Canary Birds
It is said that a little cake dipped in sherry wine will restore the lost voice of a canary bird.

For A Cold
Take a heaped dessert spoonful of flaxseed, put it in a pint of water.
Cover it and let it boil to half a pint.
If the seeds do not settle, pour in a little hot water and stir well>
Put in a tablespoon of genuine vinegar, and as much brown sugar as you like, and take after going to bed.
It is a powerful sudorific, and cuts the phlegm.

Worth Notice
Better never jump from a moving vehicle; but whenever you must do it, jump the way the vehicle is going.
Again, when getting into a carriage take hold with the hand opposite the foot placed upon the step; then if there is a sudden start the body won't swing around as if on a pivot, but be balanced.

A grindstone should not be exposed to weather, as it not only injures the woodwork, but the sun's rays hardens the stone so much as to render it useless in a very short time.

Stewed Rabbits
Clean the rabbits thoroughly, cut them up, and scald them for a short time; put some sliced onions and a bit of dripping into your pot, and fry the rabbits with them till slightly browned; dredge in a little flour, then add hot water sufficient to make gravy, pepper and salt, and a little ketchup.
Stew them very gently for an hour.

Removing Claret Stains
Mix an ounce of each of sal-ammoniac and salts of tartare in a quart bottle of water, and soak in this liquid the table linen.
This is a successful remedy for ink stains or red wine.

Cement Of China
A good cement for the repair of broken china may be made as follows: Beat lime into the most impalpable powder, sift it through fine muslin, then tie some into thin muslin, put on the edges (of the china) the white of an egg, then dust some lime quickly on the same, and unite them exactly.

A Pleasant Perfume
And also preventative against moths, may be made of the following ingredients:- Take of cloves, caraway seeds, nutmeg, mace, cinnamon and tonquin-beans, each one ounce, then add as much Florentine orrisroot as will equal all the other ingredients put together.
Grind the whole well to powder, and then put in little bags among your clothes.

The Vocalist's Soup
Take three ounces of sago, and, after washing it in boiling water, add it gradually to about two quarts medium stock, which should be almost boiling.
After half an hour's simmering, it will be well dissolved.
Beat up the yokes of three eggs, and half a pint of boiling cream, and stir them all quickly in the soup, not allowing the latter to boil, least the eggs should curdle.
These materials will make sufficient soup for eight people, so that it can be recommended for dinner before an amateur concert
Food Journal

In selecting poultry choose those that are full grown, but not old. When young and fresh-killed the eyes are full and bright, the joints neither stiff nor flabby; the skin thin and tender, so that it may be easily torn with a pin; the breast-bone is pliable, yielding easily to pressure.
Fowls, if young, have a hard, close vent, and the legs and comb are smooth.
A goose, if young, has but few hairs, a yellow bill, and is limber-footed.
Ducks, when fat, are hard and thick on the belly; if young and good they are limber footed.

Never use tin, iron or pewter spoons for preserves, as they will convert the colour of red fruit into a dingy purple and impart a very unpleasant taste.

Potatoes A La Maitre d'hôte
Peel the potatoes when boiled, and, after trimming them into the shape of large corks, cut them into slices half an inch thick; then place them in a stewpan with sliced green onions and minced parsley, pepper, salt and butter.
Moisten them with stock, and let them be well tossed until the parsley is cooked.

Cleaning Coral
Very gently brush the coral with a very sot brush, which can easily remove the dust from it.
The brushes used for plate, of the very softest kind, or the long haired ones employed as smoothers by painters, would answer, and even one

Put your tongue on the larger end; if it feels warm, the egg is fresh; or put the egg into a pan of cold water; if perfectly fresh it will sink immediately, and so in proportion to its freshness; a rotten egg will float on the top of the water.

Stew Of Veal
Cut two pounds of veal, free from fat, into small half inch cutlets, flour them well, and fry them with butter, with two small cucumbers sliced, sprinkled with pepper and floured, one moderate sized lettuce, and twenty-four green gooseberries cut open lengthwise and seeded.
When the whole is nicely browned, lift it into a thick saucepan, and pour gradually into the pan half-a-pint or rather more of boiling water, broth or gravy.
Add as much salt and pepper as it requires.
Give it a minute's simmer, and pour it over the meat, shaking it well round the pan, as this is done.
Let the veal stew gently from three quarters of an hour to an hour.
A bunch of green onions may be added to the other vegetables if liked.

Veal Soup
Boil the veal with two thirds of a cup of rice, and add sweet herbs or celery, and the usual seasoning.
This makes a plain, wholesome food.
Food Journal

Mixture For Destroying Flies
Infusion of quassia, one pint; brown sugar, four ounces; ground pepper, two ounces. To be well mixed together, and put in small shallow dishes when required.

Mushroom Ketchup
First clean the mushrooms from all extraneous matter and use none that have the least appearance of decomposition.
Now cut them into slices, and, salted, place them upon a colander and squeeze out the juice gently.
This juice is then left for a few hours, and after being decanted carefully from any sediment, placed in small bottles, room having been left for a little alcohol in which the proper spices have been previously steeped.
This is said to keep admirably and to retain its full aroma, which is apt to pass off in the process of long-continued fermentation or boiling by which the common ketchup is made.
The true mushrooms of our pastures, and those varieties which afford a red juice when bruised, are far the best.


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Published by Robin A Cartledge ~ ABN 19 924 273 138 ~ Low Head, Tasmania ~ Contact/Comment