Catnip, particularly the blossoms, made into tea, is good to prevent a threatened fever.
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It produces a fine perspiration. It should be taken in bed, and the patient kept warm. Housekeepers should always dry leaves of the burdock and horseradish. Burdocks warmed in vinegar, with the hard, stalky parts cut out, are very soothing, applied to the feet; they produce a sweet and gentle perspiration. Horseradish is more powerful. It is excellent in cases of the ague, placed on the part affected. Warmed in vinegar, and clapped.
Succory is a very valuable herb. The tea, sweetened with molasses, is good for the piles. It is a gentle and healthy physic, a preventive of dyspepsy, humors, inflammation, and all the evils resulting from a restricted state of the system. Elder-blow tea has a similar effect.
It is cool and soothing, and peculiarly efficacious either for babes or grown people, when the digestive powers are out of order. Lungwort, maiden-hair, hyssop, elecampane and hoarhound steeped together, is an almost certain cure for a cough.
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A wine-glass full to be taken when going to bed. Few people know how to keep the flavor of sweet-marjoram; the best of all herbs for broth and stuffing. It should be gathered in bud or blossom, and dried in a tin-kitchen at a moderate distance from the fire; when dry, it should be immediately rubbed, sifted, and corked up in a bottle carefully.
A few general rules are necessary to be observed in coloring. The materials should be perfectly clean; soap should be rinsed out in soft water; the article should be entirely wetted, or it will spot; light colors should be steeped in brass, tin, or earthen; and if set at all, should be set with alum.
Dark colors should be boiled in iron, and set with copperas. Too much copperas rots the thread. The apothecaries and hatters keep a compound of vitriol and indigo, commonly called 'blue composition. It colors a fine blue.
The original color should be boiled out, and the material thoroughly rinsed in soft water, so that no soap may remain in it; for soap ruins the dye. Twelve or sixteen drops of the blue composition, poured into a quart bowl full of warm soft water, stirred, and strained, if any settlings are perceptible, will color a great many articles.
If you wish a deep blue, pour in more of the compound. Cotton must not be colored; the vitriol destroys it; if the material you wish to color has cotton threads in it, it will be ruined. After the things are thoroughly dried, they should be washed in cool suds, and dried again; this prevents any bad effects from the vitriol; if shut up from the air without being washed, there is danger of the texture being destroyed. If you wish to color green, have your cloth free as possible from the old color, clean, and rinsed, and, in the first place, color it a deep yellow.
Fustic boiled in soft water makes the strongest and brightest yellow dye; but saffron, barberry bush, peach leaves, or onion skins, will answer pretty well. Next take a bowl full of strong yellow dye, and pour in a great spoonful or more of the blue composition.
Stir it up well with a clean stick, and dip the articles you have already colored yellow into it, and they will take a lively grass green. Balm blossoms, steeped in water, color a pretty rose-color. It fades in the course of one season; but it is very little trouble to recolor with it. It merely requires to be steeped and strained. Perhaps a small piece of alum might serve to set the color, in some degree. In earthen or tin. Saffron, steeped in earthen and strained, colors a fine straw color. It makes a delicate or deep shade according to the strength of the tea. The dry outside skins of onions, steeped in scalding water and strained, color a yellow very much like 'bird of paradise' color.
Peach leaves, or bark scraped from the barberry bush, colors a common bright yellow. In all these cases, a little piece of alum does no harm, and may help to fix the color. The purple paper, which comes on loaf sugar, boiled in cider, or vinegar, with a small bit of alum, makes a fine purple slate color. Done in iron. White maple bark makes a good light-brown slate color. This should be boiled in water, set with alum. The color is reckoned better when boiled in brass, instead of iron.
The purple slate and the brown slate are suitable colors for stockings; and it is an economical plan, after they have been mended and cut down, so that they will no longer look decent, to color old stockings, and make them up for children. A pailful of lye, with a piece of copperas half as big as a hen's egg boiled in it, will color a fine nankin color, which will never wash out.
Old faded gowns, colored in this way, may be made into good petticoats.
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Cheap cotton cloth may be colored to advantage for petticoats, and pelisses for little girls. A very beautiful nankin color may likewise be obtained from birch-bark, set with alum. The bark should be covered with water, and boiled thoroughly in brass or tin. A bit of alum half as big as a hen's egg is sufficient. If copperas be used instead of alum, slate color will be produced.
Log-wood and cider, in iron, set with copperas, makes a good black. Rusty nails, or any rusty iron, boiled in vinegar, with a small bit of copperas, makes a good black,—black ink-powder done in the same way answers the same purpose. When you merely want to corn meat, you have nothing to do but to rub in salt plentifully, and let it set in the cellar a day or two.
If you have provided more meat than you can use while it is good, it is well to corn it in season to save it. In summer, it will not keep well more than a day and a half; if you are compelled to keep it longer, be sure and rub in more salt, and keep it carefully covered from cellar-flies. In winter, there is no difficulty in keeping a piece of corned beef a fortnight or more.
Some people corn meat by throwing it into their beef barrel for a few days; but this method does not make it so sweet. A little salt-petre rubbed in before you apply the common salt, makes the meat tender; but in summer it is not well to use it, because it prevents the other salt from impregnating; and the meat does not keep as well.
If you wish to salt fat pork, scald coarse salt in water and skim it, till the salt will no longer melt in the water. Pack your pork down in tight layers; salt every layer; when the brine is cool, cover the pork with it, and keep a heavy stone on the top to keep the pork under brine. This brine, scalded and skimmed every time it is used, will continue good twenty years.
The rind of the pork should be packed towards the edge of the barrel. It is good economy to salt your own beef as well as pork. Six pounds of coarse salt, eight ounces of brown sugar, a pint of molasses, and eight ounces of salt-petre, are enough to boil in four gallons of water. Skim it clean while boiling. Put it to the beef cold; have enough to cover it; and be careful your beef never floats on the top. If it does not smell perfectly sweet, throw in more salt; if a scum rises upon it, scald and skim it again, and pour it on the beef when cold.
Legs of mutton are very good, cured in the same way as ham. Six pounds of salt, eight ounces of salt-petre, and five pints of molasses, will make pickle enough for one hundred weight. Small legs should be kept in pickle twelve or fifteen days; if large, four or five weeks are not too much. They should be hung up a day or two to dry, before they are smoked. Lay them in the oven, on crossed sticks, and make a fire at the entrance. Cobs, walnut-bark, or walnut-chips, are the best to use for smoking, on account of the sweet taste they give the meat.
The smallest pieces should be smoked forty-eight hours, and large legs four or five days.
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Some people prefer the mutton boiled as soon as it is taken from the pickle, before it is smoked; others hang it up till it gets dry thoroughly, and eat it in thin slices, like hung beef. When legs of meat are put in pickle, the thickest part of the leg should be placed uppermost, that is, standing upright, the same as the creature stood when living. The same rule should be observed when they are hung up to dry; it is essential in order to keep in the juices of the meat. Meat should be turned over once or twice during the process of smoking.
The old-fashioned way for curing hams is to rub them with salt very thoroughly, and let them lay twenty-four hours.