Concerning Nell: Handy hints

I found the little green notebook in the aunts’ kitchen the other day. All written in their mother Nell’s hand with an ink pen (it was that or a pencil back in the 1920s, I guess).

When cutting out georgette on table dip your scissors in hot water before (and during) cutting.

Stew prunes in tea – the flavour will be improved.

I suspect that Nell wrote the little book of handy hints before she got immersed in the hurly-burly of life with children and the farm, when she was green enough to imagine there was a solution to every problem, large or small.

To prevent the fat from soaking into fish when frying, add a tablespoon of vinegar to the pot when it comes to the boil.

To prevent stocks from going back to singles, & be sure of getting double blooms, discard the seeds from both ends of the pods, & sow only the middle ones.

Nell loved the hills hemming the Maniototo and was pained to leave them as abruptly as they did in 1947, when wool prices had plummeted and our grandfather, less experienced in the farming cycles of paucity and plenty, sold the farm without consulting her.

Prevent slipping on icy roads by rubbing a raw potato on the soles and heels of leather shoes.

To make tinned peas taste like fresh ones, wash and drain peas, put a knob of butter in saucepan, add peas, a little salt and sugar & a large sprig of mint, Heat slowly, shaking saucepan round. Add 2 tablespoons of hot water, & the peas are ready for the table.

Our extended family has just returned from Naseby where in the 1960s Aunt F bought half an acre on the northern edge of town – a few miles from what had been the family farm – with a small caravan to park on it. A long-drop hole was dug, a dunny popped over it. Holiday park! There was plenty of room for tents, and a view over the infant hawthorn hedge of Mt Kyeburn and the Ida Range.

A few years later, she bought the old Kyeburn school house and had it trucked up the gravel back roads to the paddock.

Back from Naseby and full family immersion, it’s time for me to approve final tweaks of the manuscript before typesetting, to pep up ‘the socials’ and play with the blog. Thanks, re that, to my brother Hugh who does the background tinkering.

Soak a lamp wick in vinegar & dry before putting in the lamp.

Little girls’ socks sometimes bunch under the feet. To prevent this, draw a cake of damp soap around the child’s ankle, & the socks will stay in place all day.