Wednesday, 12 June 2013

#20 Never freeze a lettuce


Freezers are great, especially if you were brought up to waste not, want not (we’ll get to that one later). Everything from chicken to herbs makes it into my freezer (both with their own excellent nugget of wisdom attached…) but the one thing that will never, ever find a home in there is a lettuce.

Apparently, when my mum was young her father decided to pop a lettuce in the freezer for all the right reasons. But what he didn’t realise is that a defrosted lettuce is just a pile of wet green slime.

Indecently, I recently accidentally froze a cucumber at the back of a too-cold fridge. Frozen cucumber isn’t great, but a bit fell on the floor and the dog thought it was the best toy he’d found all day…

Friday, 9 September 2011

#19 How to tell when your clothes are dry

It's a fairly common problem (although not a complete crisis I'll admit) if you live in the UK and don't have a tumble dryer. Whether your freshly washed jeans are hanging outside on the line or inside on an airer, you want to wear them but can't quite tell if they are dry yet... until you put them on and discover a damp waistband/sleeve/hem.

"Put it against your cheek", says my mother. You won't be able to tell the difference between 'damp' and 'just a bit cold' with those rugged world weary hands of yours. But your face is fresh and sensitive.

It won't drastically change your life, but it might save you a few minutes of a morning when you don't have to keep changing your trousers!

Thursday, 21 April 2011

#18 When to pack spare pants



I once had a conversation with a friend of which the topic, randomly enough, was the comparison of spare-knicker related advice we have received from our mothers.

"My mother always told me," she explained, "to pack a spare pair of pants when I go to a sleepover". But even with thought she couldn't work out why this was a good idea, and I don't think she was a secret teenage bed wetter. And what is the point of advice with no reason?

"My mother," I replied, "always told me to pack a spare pair of pants and a toothbrush in my hand luggage when I fly anywhere. That way, if your luggage gets lost, at least you have the basics."

"That," my friend had to concede, "makes a lot more sense."

So, pack your basics in your hand luggage. And, as an extra piece of advice, if you are planning to fly straight from your wedding in your reception/wedding dress, for goodness sake take a change of clothes in your hand luggage too. (This last bit stems from a vague memory of a story of this nature happening to an aunt of ours... funny, but not for long). 

Monday, 10 January 2011

#17 How to make white sauce





A good white sauce is the basic of several of my favourite meals - gammon and parsley sauce, lasagne, or a simple cheese sauce on pasta. Yum.

The base is plain flour and melted butter mixed to a paste, which you cook for a little in the pan before adding milk (careful not to burn it!). Quantities obviously vary depending on how much you want. What my mother taught me is the importance of adding the milk a little at a time. Initially, just a splash at a time, then mix it in fully. It takes quite a while to get to the liquid stage. Make sure that each bit of milk is mixed in properly and heated through before adding more.

Then, keep gently heating and stir constantly until it thickens. Then you can add your parsley or melt in your cheese. The whole thing takes patience, but it definitely worth it for a creamy, lump-free white sauce.  I'm not great in the kitchen, but I can pull of this one (almost) every time.

Friday, 17 December 2010

#16 How to find things that you have lost


Whether your house looks like this or is as tidy as a show home, we all lose things. I'm often guilty of having something in my hand one second and losing it the next.

So, onto possibly the most useful tip of all - definitely one I often repeat to myself and my friends, and anyone I find searching. It's alarmingly simple - to find lost items, lift things up. Lift everything up, one a time. It doesn't take long and you'd be amazed how often then thing you're searching for has slipped under or behind something else.

So get lifting. (And if this fails you, you can always do what my grandmother swears by and ask St. Anthony for help... it's worth a shot.)


Friday, 10 December 2010

Wonderful cake decorations

I've not had a chance to get any more drawings online, so the Things My Mother Taught Me is on a slight pause. I promised in #12 The recipe for the best chocolate birthday cake to add some photos of the cakes decorated by my mother. So, here are a few I had to hand.

The jungle cake was for my sister's 18th just this year, and the Klimt (you have to turn your head) was decorated by my sister.

Click 'read more' to see them!

Sunday, 5 December 2010

#15 Sewing Machines Are Like Computers



Unfortunately, this is less of a tip and more of an unavoidable truth.

Sewing machines freeze, they crash, they seize up and do things that you have not asked for. And they can make you as frustrated and annoyed as any poorly behaved computer.
In explaining this fact to me, my mother achieved little other than my continued avoidance of sewing machines. The last time I used one, several years ago, I broke three needles in one sitting.

So, approach with caution, and leave extra time for haywire machinery!