Down-home Country Lore

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Photo by Fotolia/mike_experto
Got an old door that is too beat up to be a door anymore? Hang it on the wall as a fold-away table.

Here’s a home remedy submitted by an Osprey, Florida reader (who claims that it’ll provide relief for colds, fever, infections, or inflammations). Before retiring in the evening, Olive Lammon wraps her feet once with lightweight cloth, then places cut pieces of fresh garlic over her soles and wraps the cloth around one more time. Olive then puts socks over the “bandages” and sleeps that way through the night. In the morning she removes socks, cloth, and garlic and allows her feet to “breathe”. The Sunshine Stater claims that the garlic actually “draws” sickness and poison from the body.

Anyone who has a small child realizes how difficult it can be to get youngsters to swallow pills. Well, Jane Ratting of Uehling, Nebraska dips her child’s medication in butter . . . which allows the tablets or capsules to slide down easily (with the help of a sip of water or fruit juice).

Jerry Severino extends the life of his (non-electric) razor by keeping it submerged in rubbing alcohol when it’s not being used. The Chicago, Illinois reader reports that the “bath” keeps the razor sanitary, and slows the oxidation of the blade.

When Margaret Holt is left with alfalfa sprouts that aren’t fresh, she tosses them into the pots of her ornamental houseplants. After the sprouts begin to grow in the potting mix, the Van Horne, Iowa reader turns them back into the soil as an “indoor green manure”.

“My husband’s 93-year-old grandmother always said that the finer a coffee bean is ground, the more flavor it’ll release and the less we’d have to use to brew our beverage,” writes Betty Sauntry of Blanchester, Ohio. “Nowadays, my husband and I grind our own beans daily, and we’ve cut our coffee bill considerably.”

Winter weather isn’t much fun at times, and it can be downright dangerous to travel in. Cindy Wells of Steamboat Springs, Colorado (a town that knows what winter is about) offers the following tips for keeping safe on the road. First, she says, cut open some old inner tubes . . . fill them with sand and tape them closed . . . then put them in your automobile trunk. The weight will help give the vehicle traction, and the sand will come in handy should you need to get unstuck. Cindy also suggests storing a sleeping bag in the car (as “warmth insurance”, just in case you have engine trouble and get stranded) and stashing some high-energy health snacks in the glove compartment (to see you through an emergency and help prevent hypothermia).

When winter’s chilling winds keep your youngsters indoors all day long, you might want to consider this tip from Lyons, Colorado reader Dennis Ras. It seems that when Dennis was a child, his mother would bring in buckets of fresh snow from the yard and dump it into the kitchen sink. He would then “play in the snow” — never leaving the warmth of his home — until the last flake melted . . . at which point his mom could simply pull the plug and let the water run down the drain.

You can easily provide shelter and protection for your outdoor dog during the cold season by making the canine a hay house! Giovanna McCall, who lives in the Allegheny Mountains near Hightown, Virginia, made her “Shep” a warm, snug home by stacking six bales of hay as shown above. The bales block chilly nighttime winds . . . and come spring they make good mulch for the garden.

There is a cure for the common cold, according to Ed Robertson of Richmond, Virginia. When Ed feels the all too familiar symptoms coming on, he avoids high protein foods and grains . . . and consumes only raw vegetables such as carrots, lettuce, and celery. Ed contends that cold viruses thrive in the body’s naturally acidic pH. By temporarily altering the balance with alkaline foods, he claims; he produces an environment in which the viruses can’t survive.

Carl Lucker had a door that wasn’t good enough to use as a door but was still too good to just throw away. Well, the Coeur d’Alene, Idaho resident also had need of a table that he could use to keep his work safely out of his “helpful” three-year-old’s reach. Carl soon devised a solution . . . he hinged the door to a wall in his basement! The Gem Stater first nailed a sturdy board onto the studs of a wall partition and screwed hinges to it. Then, instead of adding legs to his door/table, he supported the front with chains which attached to the floor joists overhead. When extra floor space is needed, the table can be neatly swung up against the wall and held in place with an eye hook.

“My parents’ favorite (and now expected ) Christmas gift is a homemade calendar with the grandchildren’s pictures decorating each month,” submits Kay Johnson of Omaha, Nebraska. “We start the annual project each January by taking a photograph of the children bringing in the New Year, and every month thereafter we do a ‘shooting’ appropriate to that month. In December we have the pictures enlarged and assemble the calendar, using the photos and colored paper. Since we don’t live near either set of grandparents, these presents have always been especially welcome.”

“Give your cats something other than already established houseplants to play with,” Barbara Kelly of Evansville, Wisconsin suggests. “Avocado pits make excellent toys . . . and felines find them fascinating because the lopsided seeds never roll the same way twice.”

Cabool, Missourian Clark Shannon wrote to tell us about a radio program broadcast from the heart of the Missouri Ozarks. “Tradio” is a free service, offered by an area station, that both allows listeners to locate or sell particular items and publicizes folks who are willing to barter. The Show Me Stater recommends that other MOTHER-readers petition their local radio stations to start Tradio programs, as well.

“I’ve always enjoyed MOTHER’S center spreads … but I used to get frustrated leafing through back issues in search of a particular one,” writes Mrs. Stan Sell of Brook, Indiana. “Now, though, I sandwich each colorful, useful chart between sheets of clear contact paper, and transform them into place mats. They provide handy information, motivation, and conversation.

“This idea could also be used to preserve children’s artwork (making gifts for grandparents) . . . or to help your youngsters learn multiplication tables, metric conversions, birds, wildflowers, or anything else!”

Rebecca Blackburn makes her own carob chips by combining equal parts of peanut butter, carob powder, and honey. The Washington Stater heats the ingredients, then spreads the mixture about 1/4″ thick on buttered plates. Rebecca “solidifies” the carob treat by setting the plates in the freezer for about ten minutes. After that, she cuts the candy into 1/4″ squares for use in cooking and baking.

When Dave Tyser’s boots begin to smell a little less than fresh, the Belvidere, Nebraska reader slips them inside a paper bag and pops them in the freezer for several days. He reasons that bad odors result from fungus or bacterial growth, and that the chilly temperatures will effectively reduce the problem.

For some reason pilot lights always seem to be located where they’re next-to-impossible to get at! Well, the next time one of these little flames goes out in your house, try this bit of lore from Rick Oprisu of Carmel, Indiana. He lights a long piece of dry spaghetti with a match and uses the slow-burning piece of pasta to reach the troublesome spot safely and easily.

Delbert Unruh makes a low-cost but effective burglar alarm using a quart glass jar and marbles. The Mt. Lehman, British Columbia resident places marbles two inches deep in the jar . . . and sets the glass container on a ten-inch pedestal just inside his front door every night before going to bed. Delbert feels certain that the sound of falling marbles (and breaking glass) would quickly awaken everyone in the house.

And speaking of marbles . . . still another Canadian MOTHER-reader — Graham Noble of Kamloops, British Columbia — gave us this idea for relaxing your feet after a long hard day. Graham says to find a board that’s just slightly larger than both your feet, and then glue or nail 1/4″ doweling around the perimeter. After filling the tray with marbles of varying sizes, you can remove your shoes and rub your feet over the little glass spheres. According to Graham, not only is this procedure relaxing and good for your feet, but the tray makes a good storage spot for marbles . . . and even looks pretty!

Whenever you heat your oven to cook an evening meal, you can let that expended energy perform another useful task, suggests Mrs. Jerry Russell of Van Buren, Arkansas. After removing a dinner and turning off the stove, she places a big pot of water in the still-hot oven. By the time the meal is over, the liquid is generally hot enough to wash the dishes.

This winter, utilize the heat that invariably rises to your ceiling to make beef jerky! Beaverton, Oregon reader Ralph Kirkman ties a line, from one wall to another, about six inches below his kitchen ceiling . . . then hangs thin strips of meat-using “S-hooks” made from ordinary paper clips-to the line. The meat stays out of the way and dries quickly and inexpensively. [EDITOR’S NOTE: When following this procedure, of course, you’ll have to keep an eye on your jerky-to-be . . . if the room isn’t hot enough, the meat could spoil before it “cures”.]

Whole grain bread crusts are saved in the Carpenter household . . . and turned into a “mock cheese soufflé”. Mrs. Bonnie Carpenter of Mt. Vernon, Ohio takes 4 to 6 slices of old crusty bread (the tougher the better, she says!) and layers them — along with 3 cups of any kind of grated cheese — in a buttered baking dish. Then, in a different container, Bonnie beats together 2 cups of milk, 3 eggs, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, 1/2 teaspoon of Worcestershire sauce, 1/2 teaspoon of thyme, 1/2 teaspoon of dry mustard . . . and a shake or two of pepper. This mixture is poured over the cheese and bread in the baking dish and allowed to soak in for at least 30 minutes. Finally, Bonnie sets the dish in a pan of water, then puts both into a 350°F oven for one hour.

Janine Calsbeek adds a touch of spring to her winter salads by growing green onions indoors. The Packwood, Iowa MOTHER-reader fills a medium-sized pot (at least eight inches in diameter) with dirt and then plants small bulbs (she uses the ones that didn’t grow large enough to eat during the previous summer) close together. Janine covers the onions with a little more soil, and places the pot near a south-facing window. The green tops shoot up quickly . . . and if she harvests these when they’re about six inches tall, the savory garnish will keep growing back all winter long. [EDITOR’S NOTE: More tips on using members of the onion family can be found on pages 144 and 152.]

“To prevent your humidifier from accumulating lime deposits, put two aspirin tablets in it,” suggests Georgians Green of Wapello, Iowa, “and add a pinch of your favorite spice or cologne to keep the water smelling sweet and fresh.”

Through the years we’ve all probably discovered a few practical, down-home, time-tested solutions to the frustrating little problems of everyday life. Why not share your best “horse sense” with the rest of MOTHER’s readers? Send your suggestions to Down-Home Country Lore, 105 Stoney Mountain Road, Hendersonville, North Carolina 28791. A one-year subscription — or a one year extension of an existing subscription — will then be sent to each contributor whose tip is printed in this column. — MOTHER.