Tag Archive | Cleaning with bi-carb

Cleaning The Old Fashioned Way

As I said previously, I am having a break from my blog during March, but as promised I will share one of my favourite blog posts each Friday instead.

Below is one of the first posts that I talked about ‘old fashioned cleaning’….I hope you enjoy it:

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This week I’ve decided to write about  ‘cleaning the old fashion way’.  I am not saying I don’t ever use harsh chemicals, but I do try and minimize their use as much as possible now.

I simply feel that the old fashioned cleaning methods are just as good and often cheaper that our modern chemical cleaners.

Over the years we have all become more and more reliant on harsh chemicals and powerful cleaning products, in the hope that we can reduce cleaning time and eliminate all germs and bacteria.

I am very guilty of this as I used to proudly call myself the ‘Dettox Queen’, which I now feel very sad about, but we live and learn.

Some products contain chemicals that are toxic if ingested and when these products are used they are also released into the air of our homes and then inhaled or absorbed through our skin.

My opinion is, that this has somehow led to the increase of allergies and intolerances that children and adults now suffer with.  When I was a child most of these allergies were very rare or unheard of.  I also think that by excessively using ‘anti-bacterial’ products, we are also decreasing our resistance to bacteria and reducing our immune systems in ourselves and our children.

I remember there was a discussion on the television not so long ago, about chemicals found in breast milk.  Below is an interesting link regarding this:

www.nrdc.org/breastmilk/chems.asp

Something else that I should also mention is that chemicals can threaten the environment, animal and plant life, when they are leaked out through our drains and into the watercourses below, so I think this is a good enough reason alone for me to reduce my usage of them.

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So this is what I use:

Old Fashioned Cleaning Products

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Lemon juice – this is a mild acid which has a bleaching and deodorising effect.  It also dissolves grease.  It is an antibacterial and antifungal cleaner.

White vinegar – it’s cheap and harmless to use and is a good multi-purpose cleaner.  It is especially good as a glass and mirror cleaner and removes limescale easily.

Bicarbarnate of soda (also known as Sodium bicarbonate and bicarb, and baking soda) – this can be mixed with lemon juice, vinegar or just water to produce a gentle abrasive paste that is a great stain remover and a multi-purpose cleaner.  It’s good for cleaning tea and coffee stains on cups and cleaning stainless steel items.  It is best known for how good it is at deodorising smells as it absorbs odours and neautralises them, so it is good to use in the fridge, in shoes and to remove odours from carpets.

Lavender Essential Oil – I use this on some pot pourri near my toilet instead of an airfreshner.

Tea tree Essential Oil – This has anti-fungal, anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties, so I add a few drops to my vinegar spray in my kitchen.

Eucalyptus Essential Oil – This oil is great for removing grease and oil, for example, around cookers.

I must stress it is always best to test these products on small hidden areas when you first use them.

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You can find more information on all the above ‘old fashioned’ cleaning products here.

I hope someone will find this information useful.

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Tonight for tea we had ‘Spinach and Poached Egg Florentine’ served with home grown new potatoes and a freshly picked salad.

The recipe is here:

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Spinach and Poached Egg Florentine:

500g Spinach, washed and any thick stems removed

4 Eggs

A little bit of olive oil or a knob of butter to fry

1/2 pint of a plain white sauce

Grated Cheese to sprinkle over the top

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Fry the spinach in a little olive oil or with a knob of butter, until just tender

Make the white sauce

Arrange the spinach in an oven proof dish with four wells in for eagg each.

Break an egg into each well and pour over the white sauce.

Sprinkle cheese on the top

Bake for 12 minutes on Gas 5 / 190C / 375F and then increase heat for 10 minutes to Gas 6 / 204C / 400F

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Spinach and Egg Florentine

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Thank you for reading my b;og today.

A Pitta Bread Recipe & Sad Potatoes

It’s been a strange week at the allotment as there has been some lovely ‘highs’ and one massive ‘low’ which I’ll tell you about in a minute.

The highs first…..The produce is coming thick and fast and I am picking peas, podding them and blanching them as soon as possible (and I’ve still not managed the one hour turn around that ‘Birds Eye’ do, lol)….but they still taste delicious!…together with the mange tout that my husband and youngest daughter fight over when I cook them for dinner.

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I’m picking salads crops almost daily now and I can honestly say they taste far better than supermarket salads, that don’t seem to have any taste.

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The cucumber in the photo is from a spare plant that I put in my polytunnel at the allotment and it has been producing cucmbers for about a month now.  The plant was grown at exactly the same time as the other three plants that I have in my greenhouse at home, but this plant is far further forward than the others.

It could be that this plant was planted into the ground in my polytunnel (the greenhouse plants are in pots), or it could be I have shading over my greenhouse at home which has slowed the growth?….I will probably never know.

My greenhouse cucumbers

My greenhouse cucumbers

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This week I picked my first beetroot and boiled it for a salad tea.  It was so sweet!

These are the beetroot that I sowed in newspaper pots back on the 8th April and transplanted to my allotment a few weeks ago.  I have read that beetroot dosen’t like to be transplanted, but by growing it in newspaper pots there is no root disturbance and they can be sown earlier, before the ground has warmed up.

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I’ve also been picking my first gherkins from my polytunnel.  This year I haven’t grown so many as I find that they don’t last too long when you pickle them.  So I have only grown enough for a few jars over summer.

I pickled my first crop this week.  It’s really easy to pickle gherkins and I wrote how to do it here if anyone is interested.

Gherkins that I pickled this week

Gherkins that I pickled this week

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One thing I did at the allotment this week (with Mr Thrift’s help) was to start a new compost area.  I have a problem with rats in my compost bins over winter, so I decided to put my bins on slabs to see if this may help.  We laid some spare slabs in the utility area and I will start to gradually move my dalek compost bins over each time I empty one.

These bins are where I put my peelings, etc.

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And now for this weeks allotment ‘low’…..my potatoes have succumbed to the dreaded ‘blight’!

I didn’t spot it at first and dug up my first potatoes of the year (which incidently were mouth wateringly delicious):

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These are my second early potatoes called ‘Marfona’.  As you can see they are still quite small, as these actually grow much bigger and can be used as baking potatoes.

…..But then I spotted the tell tale signs of blight!

First I spotted the marks on the leaves:

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And when I looked underneath I found a couple of stems where it had spread:

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There was no doubt about it….it was blight.

I always find potato growing such hard work and it is so disappointing when this happens!

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Blight is a wind blown fungus that can travel long distances.  It spreads when the temperature is above 10C and the humidity is above 75% for two consecutive days, known as a ‘Smith Period’.   In the UK outbreaks can occur from June onwards and apparently it is usually seen in the south west first.

The early stages of blight can be easily missed and not all plants are affected at the same time, however it will spread rapidly.

Symptoms usually seen are brown patches that appear on the leaves and stems and spread very rapidly.

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I noticed that the blight had only spread over half of my ‘picasso’ potatoes (early main crop) and half of my ‘marfona’ potato crop (2nd early), but I know it spreads really quickly.

If you catch blight early enough you can stop the fungus from going down into the potatoes by cutting off all the foliage, so none of it is above the soil and then leaving the potatoes underground for at least two weeks without digging them up (so hopefully they are protected).

So this is what I did.

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Unfortuanately, my potatoes won’t grow any bigger now, but I will be happy with the potatoes I have if this saves them.

Incidentally, you CAN put the blighted top growth in your compost as blight can not live on dead plant material….but it will survive in the seed (i.e.potato) which is another reason to use fresh seed potatoes each year and dig up any ‘volunteers’ that grow around your plot.

I noticed that my ‘desiree’ potatoes and tomatoes that are growing in a different patch have not yet been affected, so I will be monitoring them very, very closely.

One thing I am wondering, is when I used the ‘Nemaslug’ (nemotodes) for the first time last month as a trial, I had to keep the soil moist for two weeks (which I wasn’t happy about at the time as it was a lot of work).  I wonder if all my watering increased the chance of blight as the leaves were continually wetted for two weeks?….I suppose I will never know.

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At home this week….

I cleaned three old photo frames using bi-carb, water and an old toothbrush.  And they came up lovely.

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I also sowed up a hole in my old ‘comfy’ trousers, which will keep them going a bit longer.

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And I decided to make some pitta bread at the weekend to go with my homemade houmous.

So it has been a good frugal week.

I realised I haven’t shared my pitta bread recipe with you before.  I use my breadmaker to knead the dough, but you can just as easily knead it yourself.

I hope this easy recipe will help someone out there:

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Pitta Bread

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500 grams strong white flour

2 teaspoons of fast action dried yeast

25 grams margarine or butter

½ teaspoon salt

310 ml water

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Put all the above ingredients into your breadmaker on a ‘dough’ setting or ‘pizza dough’ setting.

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When the dough is ready, preheat your oven Gas 7 / 425F /220C.

Divide the dough into 12 equal pieces and roll each piece into a rough ball.

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On a floured board, use a rolling pin to make oval shapes approx. 4″ x 8″

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Put them on a greased baking sheet.

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Put in the oven for 5 mins and then turn them over and for a further 5 mins until they are cooked.

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Wrap them in a tea towel to keep them soft and warm if you aren’t quite ready to eat them.

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Enjoy with home made houmous (recipe here).

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Thank you for reading my blog today.

I will be back next Friday at my usual time.

Pickled Gherkins and Cleaning With Bicarb

Last week I pickled the gherkins that I had picked from my polytunnel.

Freshly picked gherkins

Gherkins, are sometimes know by their french name of ‘cornichons’.

My gherkins were a little bit too big (as I hadn’t noticed them growing so quickly), so I chopped mine in half.  Usually I pick gherkins when they are between 4-8cm long.

Gherkins are grown in the same way as outdoor cucumbers. They look a bit like small cucumbers but they are a little bit prickly.  I sowed mine on a window sill in the middle of April and planted them out later in my polytunnel, after hardening them off first.  Frost will kill cucumber and gherkin plants.

The variety I grew this year was ‘bimboster’ and so far they have been really good. My outdoor cucumbers are not moving this year due to the cold and wet weather, so I suspect that if I’d planted my gherkins outdoors, they would have been the same.

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It is really easy to pickle gherkins and they are very tasty:

First I wash the gherkins and chop the ends off.

Then I completely cover them in salt and mix them up a bit, to make sure they are all covered completely.  Then I leave them over night as this draws the water out.  You will be amazed how much water there is in the morning.

Gherkins covered in salt overnight

Some recipes use a salt water brine but I feel this gives a ‘soggier’ feel to the gherkins.

The next day, wash the salt off the gherkins and thoroughly dry them on some kitchen towel.

Gherkins dried on kitchen towel

Sterilise your glass jars and tops by placing them in your oven Gas 4 / 350F / 176 C, for 5 minutes.  Then allow to cool.

Place your gherkins in the jars and pour over your pickling vinegar, which you can either make yourself or buy from supermarkets ready for use.

Make sure there are no air bubbles (twisting the jars or tapping the sides helps to release them).

 Put the tops on the jars and label.

Leave for two weeks before eating them.

Pickled Gherkins

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Cleaning the old fashioned way continued…

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Today I am focusing on Bicarbonate of soda  .

Bicarbonate of soda  is also known as Sodium bicarbonate, bicarb, and sometimes baking soda.  It is best known for how good it is at deodorising smells, as it absorbs odours and neautralises them.  It is also abrasive without scratching and will lift any caked on dirt and stains.  It is particularly good at absorbing grease. It will also act as a mild disinfectant.  If you mix it with vinegar, lemon juice or water it is a great multi-purpose cleaner.

Bicarbonate of soda can be purchased from supermarkets in small amounts but it is cheaper to buy bigger packs from hardware stores e.g Wilkinsons, or on-line.

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Below are some ways to use Bicarbonate of soda:

Sprinkle bicarb on a damp cloth and use where you would normally use a cream cleaner i.e. kitchen work surfaces, sinks, baths and tiles and any plastic surfaces. It is particularly good at cleaning stainless steel.  Rinse with water afterwards.

Cover oven or hob stains that you have found difficult to remove, with bicarb and leave for a few minutes then wipe away with a damp cloth.

Use bicarb to clean your fridge and freezer by using dry bicarb on a damp cloth.

Clean your oven by mixing bicarb with warm water and then use a scourer to scrub clean.  If your oven is particularly bad then leave the paste on overnight.

Sprinkle bicarb on your carpets to freshen them up or to remove general odours or ‘pet’ smells.  Leave for 15 minutes and then vacuum the bicarb back off.

Use bicarb to deodorize your dishwasher by sprinkling half a cup of bicarb in the bottom of your dishwasher between loads, if necessary.

Sprinkle bicarb in the bottom of your bins after cleaning to absorb bad smells or wash with a few teaspoons of bicarb mixed with water.

Put a small amount of bicarb in a little pot in your fridge to get rid of lingering food smells.  Replace every 1 -2 months.

If your plastic food or drink containers smell then leave them overnight with a little bit of bicarb mixed with warm water.  You can also use this for flasks.

Use it to remove crayon marks on your paintwork by putting a small amount of bicarb on a damp cloth and rubbing the marks away.

If you have a cat litter tray then prevent smells from it by covering the bottom of the tray with one part bicarb to two parts cat litter over the top.

To unblock sinks put 1 tablespoon of bicarb down first and then pour 3 tablespoons of vinegar down.  It will fizz as they react.  Leave for a few minutes then flush it down with boiling water from your kettle.  This will remove any build up of food, hair and soap scum.

Oil and grease stains come out of clothes easier if you add half a cup to your washing machine.  This will also soften your clothes.

Use a bit of bicarb on a damp cloth to remove tea and coffee stains in cups.

Soak chopping boards, jars, bottles, food and drink containers in a mixture of bicarb and water to remove smells.

You can remove tarnish from silverware with bicarb, use it on a damp cloth.

Pots and pans that have food burnt onto them can be left over night in warm water with a couple of tablespoons of bicarb mixed in.

If you have smelly shoes then sprinkle some bicarb into the shoes and leave over night.  This will take the odours away.

To remove the black mould marks on your PVC vindows then mix bicarb into a paste with lemon juice and leave it on for an hour, then wipe away with a damp cloth.

Use bicarb on dirty grills and barbecues by sprinkling over and using a scourer to clean.

To freshen your toilet put two tablespoons of bicarb down your toilet followed by half a cup of vinegar.  Allow to fizz then flush it away.

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Just to finish off, yesterday I talked about white vinegar and I wanted to show you an example of how it removes limescale.  This is my shower head before I cleaned it:

Before the shower head was cleaned

After a quick wipe this morning and a swill with water, it looked like this:

A clean shower head free from limescale

So this is an example of how cheap and easy the old fashioned methods of cleaning can be.

Thanks for reading my post today.