Scouring Powders

Removing burnt food from cookware can be a nightmare.  As long as the pan isn’t non-stick, the scouring powder below will work beautifully, and because they are natual ingredients, you won’t have to worry about residual chemicals.  Just add 1 cup of salt to 1 cup of bicarbonate of soda and belnd well.  Store in a covered container with your other cleaning supplies.

When you need to use it, shake a little onto a wet cloth and scour as usual.  You’ll find your pots and pans come up sparkling clean!  Below are some alternative techniques …

  • Before you start doing the dishes, wet the burnt spot, sprinkle with salt, leave for 10 mins and scrub well.
  • Try cooking off the burnt food – fill the pan with water, add 2tbsp bicarbonate of soda and simmer over a medium eat.  Use a spatula to scrape the food from the pan.  Allow the water to cool to room temperature and clean as usual.
  • For badly burnt pans, sprinkle a thick layer of bicarbonate of soda and then just enough water to moisten.  Leave to soak overnight and then scrub clean.
  • For non-stick pans, make a paste of bicarbonate of soda and water.  Transfer to a cloth and scrub the pan gently.  This lifts the grease and removes odours but won’t harm the coating.
  • You can also use the above with baking trays, roasting tins and microwave turntables (use 4 parts water to 1 part white vinegar).
  • If your pans are aluminium, mis some cream of tartare with enough boiling water to make a paste and apply.
Taken from “Grandmother’s Wisdom” by Lee Faber

Stock

Making homemade stock is a lot easier that you may think and it means that everything gets used for something!  Stock can be made in large batches and frozen for future use; the best way to do this is to reduce the stock down and pour into ice cube trays for freezer storage.

Good stock should be flavoursome, seasoned correctly and free from globules of fat.  Some hints and tips are shared below:

  • Never completely cover your pot.  The stock will reduce by boiling and evaporating.
  • Skim the fat and scum regularly.
  • Use a sieve to filter it if possible and don’t push it through – allow it to drip as this will give it more clarity.
  • Allow the stock to cool completely before dividing.
  • Once cool, there will be a layer of fat and scum which should be removed.
  • Fish stock should be used on the day it’s made or within 2 days.
  • Meat and chicken stocks can be kept for up to 4 days.

Seasoning a Wok

Did you know that you should ‘season’ your wok before you use it for the first time and again lightly after every use?  A great wok is one that has seen a lot of use; it’s shiny, foods don’t stick to it and flavours are enhanced by using it.  The reason you should season your wok is to remove the preservative oils that the makers use to ensure the wok doesn’t rust before it gets to you.

1. Give the wok a really good clean in warm soapy water using a non-abrasive cloth.

2.Place the wok on the heat until the entire pan is smoking hot.

3. Put about 1tbsp of cooking oil into the pan (traditionalists will use lard but peanut oil works just as well .. just stay clear of the polyunsaturated oils as they tend to be gunky).

4. Either use some paper towel (be careful with the heat!) or a heatproof brush to ensure you cover the entire pan (outside as well!) with a thin layer of the oil.

5. Tilt the wok to make sure that every inch is subjected to the high heat to ‘burn’ the oil into the surface (NOTE: You can also put the wok into the oven for 25mins at the top temperature).  Once complete, let it cool right down to room temperature before moving on.

6. Once the wok is cool, soak up any excess oil that has gathered on the centre and repeat steps 2-6 3 or 4 more times.

Your wok is now ready to be used but you should bear a few things in mind:

  • Heat it until smoking hot before adding the oil.
  • Avoid cooking starchy foods, which have a tendency to stick to the wok.
  • Avoid foods that are either acidic or require prolonged cooking by simmering with lots of liquid, as this can cook off some of the seasoning.
  • Deep-fat frying, on the other hand, can help build up the layers of seasoning.
  • You will need to take more care of it in the beginning.

After each meal you should rinse the wok with water (no soap) and if there are bits of stubbornly stuck food, use a sponge or a soft cloth to gently work it loose.  rather than wiping dry with a towel afterwards, hold over a burner to burn on any grease leftover from the meal.  If it doesn’t look shiny once this is done, burn a thin layer of oil into the wok, let cool and soak up the excess beofre putting it away.

With repeated use and careful maintenance, your wok will develop into a non-stick pan and will require less seasoning after use.

Before:

After:

The Kitchen

Because it is the centre of all the most vital household activities, your kitchen should be as efficient and pleasant as possible; this rule applies whether you are planning a new kitchen or modernising an old one.  In either case the first thing to do is to make up your mind what type of kitchen you want – weather it is to be a purely working kitchen or whether you like to use it for informal meals as well.  In the latter case a recess or corner should be planned accordingly.

You must also decide whether the kitchen is to be used only for cooking or whether you prefer (if possible) a separate scullery or “utility room”for the dirtier domestic jobs.  The latter is, of course, ideal if meals are taken in the kitchen, when it is very  desirable that work which creates dust or steam such as washing, shoe cleaning and metal cleaning should be carried out in a separate room.

Whatever type you favour, a good kitchen will always be a simple kitchen, the result of co-ordinated planning rather than a mere accumulation of gadgets.

A good kitchen:

  1. Has well planned work centres, so placed in relation to each other that unnecessary walking is obviated.  In every good kitchen the sink, the stove and the main working surface are relatively close together.
  2. Has fittings and equipment of convenient height and adapted if necessary to the hight of the individual housewife.
  3. Has ample and convenient storage facilities.
  4. Is easily cleaned by virtue of its well-chosen finishes, absence of mouldings and corners.
  5. Is provided with carefully selected equipment suited to the size and type of household.
  6. Is bright and cheerful as a result of wise use of colour and good lighting.
  7. Is well ventilated without being draughty.
  8. If used for washing as well as for cooking has ready access to the garden.
It may not be possible to incorporate all of these features in every kitchen, and a degree of compromise may be inevitable.  Each housewife must decide what features she thinks are essential even though it may mean discarding others.  Never forget, however, that time taken in planning and arranging a kitchen will repay itself over and over again.  Planning will save work, reduce the amount of running sbout, and even the lifting and carrying of heavy articles to an unbelievable extent.  Careful investigations show that even a very simple change, such as moving a store cupboard, can reduce running to and fro by as much as one-half.
Taken from “The Book of Good Housekeeping” Pub. 1946.
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