August 03, 2009

159 Homemaking Shortcuts

Today's booklet was published by Capital City Products Co. out of Columbus, Ohio. You might remember them from a previous post on Dixie Margarine. The Dixie Book -- 159 Short Cuts to Better Meals and Easier Housework (not dated, 24 pp.) is a simple, straightforward booklet with few illustrations but contains pages and pages of tips and shortcuts.

Two full pages are specifically devoted to product advertising. One page is for Dixie Margarine and the other is for KingTaste Foods. Of course I'm fond of these pages because they show the product.

I'm not familiar with the KingTaste brand, but it appears there was a product line consisting of KingTaste Salad Dressing, KingTaste Mayonnaise, KingTaste French Dressing, KingTaste Thousand Island Dressing, KingTaste Sandwich Spread and KingTaste Canadian Cheddar Cheese. (These sure sound close to some of Kraft's products. I wonder if this brand was one of Kraft's acquisitions later on?)

The bottom of some pages also contain a bit of advertising for KingTaste and Dixie, the small paragraphs cleverly blending right in with the shortcuts.

Notice the spelling, Dixie Margarin, without the "e" on the end.

The date of publication isn't really clear. Capital City Products was known as the Captial City Dairy Company prior to 1919. Some of the short cuts in the booklet mention the use of paper toweling, which was introduced by Scott in 1931. It could have been published during World War II. The paper is that cheap sort used back then and notice the red, white and blue colors of the cover. There's no mention of wartime, however, and it seems a bit earlier than that, perhaps in the 1930s. What do you think?

Some of the short cuts are ones I use to today:

To prevent salt from sticking in the shaker: Place a few grains of rice in the shaker. This will prevent salt from caking even in damp weather. (I noticed this still done at an outdoor restaurant not too long ago. Lots and lots of humidity here in Houston.)

Keep a roll of paper toweling in the kitchen: It is excellent for draining bacon, croquettes and fritters. Save time and patience when there are greasy skillets or roasters to wash, by using a paper towel to take up the grease. (I confess to being a shameless paper towel user--we buy them by the case.)

Bacon in the vegetable salad: Bacon cooked crisp and either finely chopped or grated over the top of mixed vegetable salad adds a new and delicious flavor. (I knew about this one because I am a bacon addict.)

To keep brown sugar moist and soft: Store in a glass jar and seal with a rubber ring. If jar is tightly closed sugar will remain soft indefinitely. (I consider it a major accomplishment if I reach the end of the brown sugar without it being hard as a rock.)

Use paper cups when making cup cakes: Crinkled paper cups in a wide variety of sizes may be purchased very cheaply and they save time and patience on baking day. No gem pans to grease--or wash--and cakes keep moist longer, if left in the cups. (Do you think they had any idea back then at the huge selection of cupcake liners that would be available someday?)

Use kitchen shears: To trim pie crust, trim off crusts on sandwiches and cut up fruit. Also useful for cutting fowl or game into sections for cooking, for removing fins and bones from fish and for snipping beans and dicing vegetables. (Couldn't live without my kitchen shears! They are necessary today to get into all the modern packaging.)

To prevent fresh fruit from discoloring: Add a few drops of lemon juice to raw apples, pears or peaches and blend thoroughly. Fruit so treated will not turn brown.

An easy way to measure a small quantity of fat: Suppose you want to measure 1/3-cup of butter or other shortening. Fill standard measure cup to the 2/3 mark with cold water. Drop in fat until when it is pushed down to water level the liquid reaches the "full" mark on the cup.

To fill unsightly nail holes: Mix sawdust with glue and plug holes with mixture. If glue is very thick, thin slightly. (I'm reminded of the time my brother was able to successfully conceal the bullet hole he accidentally put into the den ceiling by mixing some Bisquick with water. At the time, I thought my brother was rather resourceful for having thought of it. This was one of the little mishaps we didn't mention to our mother until years after the fact.)

Some of the tips are a bit outdated:

Use your old newspapers: Learn to work over paper. Many kitchen tasks may be performed so that there is no messy work table to clean up. Prepare vegetables, clean silver, sour the aluminum over newspaper; wipe grease off the stove, clean up the worse of spilled food, with newspaper. Put down newspapers in front of the refrigerator before the ice man comes--and save yourself work. (Cheap newsprint leaves awful black smudges so I don't use it inside although I do sometimes working outside. Thanks goodness for modern refrigerators and no need for the ice man!)

There's many a slip: Small throw rugs may be made much safer for children and elderly people if pieces of rubber are fastened on the under side. Fruit jar rings or sections of old inner tubes will answer the purpose. (A little too thrifty for me. Fortunately, they invented non-slip rug pads.)

To quickly defrost the refrigerator: Fill trays with hot water and set in position. Turn off current. If you want ice quickly after defrosting, fill trays with hot water, turn on current. You'll be surprised at the speed with which the cubes will freeze. (Two of my favorite words: Frost Free. I still vividly remember the pans of hot water and hair dryer routine. By the way, I no longer have to schlep ice from the Reba's or fill up ice trays--finally replaced the refrigerator despite the old one never giving up the ghost.)

For darning stockings at night: A small flashlight makes a perfect darning surface and makes the threads easy to see. (This tip serves to remind us just how good we have it these days with our nights most likely filled with electronic entertainment or nice restaurants instead of sitting around darning stockings.)

A leaking hot water bottle: May still be used if filled with hot salt.

After using the oven: Remember to leave the door open until the oven is thoroughly cooled, so that moisture will not condense and rust the metal. (Although I suppose one might have to do this if they're using a very old stove.)

Some I've never tried, but might someday:

Start vegetables in boiling water: Shortens cooking time, helps retain color and decreases loss of food value. (I always put the vegetables in cold water and bring to a boil. Have I been doing it incorrectly all these years?)

Closing cracks in egg shells: If egg shells crack while being boiled, add a teaspoonful of salt to the water.

To remove onion odor from the hands: Rub a little dry mustard on the fingers and rinse in clear water. (I normally use lemon.)

To keep pecan meats whole: Pour boiling water over whole pecans and let stand for thirty minutes before cracking. Meats may then be removed from shells practically whole. (This might be particularly useful for the smaller size pecans.)

To keep omelet from collapsing: A pinch of powdered sugar and antoher of corn starch beaten with the yolk of the eggs will keep an omelet from collapsing.

Sleep in peace: If the ticking of an alarm clock annoys you simply turn a glass bowl over it. The face of the clock may be seen clearly, but the sound of the ticking will not escape. (I've got a digital clock, but maybe some of you out there don't. I'm afraid an upside down glass bowl on the nightstand might annoy me more than any ticking clock ever could.)


At 8:47 AM CDT, Blogger T.W. Barritt at Culinary Types said...

I really enjoy discovering regional brands that I didn't know about through your posts. And, I remember being fascinated by the rice in my mom's salt shaker when I was growing up!

At 8:24 AM CDT, Blogger ~~louise~~ said...

You see one of the reasons I missed you Kathy, I have this booklet but I don't think I've actually taken the time to really read it. Very cool!!! Thanks for the insight!

At 5:03 PM CST, Blogger Shay said...

Kathy, I'm pretty sure paper towels pre-date the Scott people by at least ten years; I'll have to go look for it, but one of my Needlecraft magazines has a mention of this marvellous new product, and I'm almost positive it's from the 1917-1919 timeframe.

Love your blog!

At 7:51 PM CST, Blogger ~~louise~~ said...

Hi Kathy, just thought I would add the 2 cents I found online: The early 20th Century continued the expansion of paper products. Scott Paper was experimenting with various weights of creped tissue for product development. During a cold epidemic in 1907, a Philadelphia teacher blamed the spread of germs on the student use of the same cloth towel. She cut heavy copy paper into squares and used them as individual towels. Arthur Scott, son of Irvin, heard about it and had some heavier than normal tissue made into rolls and perforated into individual 13" X 18" sheets. They were originally called "Sani-Towels", but were later renamed "ScotTissue Towels".


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