Tag Archive | Old fashioned cleaning

Peas, Soup And A Frozen Yoghurt Recipe

Apparently, it’s the coldest March for fifty years and it definately feels like it.


We have been quite lucky here in Leicester as we haven’t had too much snow, but it’s still impossible to work my allotment.  My potatoes and onion sets will just have to wait.

One day I will get my shallots into the ground!



Before it began snowing, I did manage to transplant some ‘Forget-me-nots’ that had ‘self-seeded’ around my allotment.  I love ‘Forget-me-nots’ for this exact reason, as they self seed like mad and look so natural around my plot.


I transplanted the ‘Forget-me-nots’ around my newly planted Snowdrops, that will remind me of my dear friend who sadly passed away in February.

You can read about the snowdrops I planted in my woodland area and why I planted them here.

‘Forget-me-nots’ are lovely, especially in between spring bulbs, so hopefully they will look beautiful in a few years when they have had time to self seed further in this area.

The RHS give details of how to grow ‘Forget-me-nots’ here.



Another job I did manage to do before the snow, was to prune the Buddlia’s and the Lavatera bushes at the back of my plot, behind my ‘hazel’, which incidently I planted a few years ago so I can grow my own pea sticks and bean poles.

I left the Buddlia’s and the Lavatera bushes quite tall, as they have to compete with the hazel for light.  I planted them there for two reasons.  The flowers are great for the bees and butterflies and when I cut the hazel down, I will have something pretty to show through.



At home, I sowed my first set of peas.  I am a little late sowing them this month but I suppose I’m late doing everything in the garden this year due to the wet weather.

I have tried different ways of sowing my peas, but I find it best to start them off in my greenhouse at home, in small lengths of guttering.

I use small pieces of guttering as I find the compost slides out easier from the smaller pieces than the long lengths of guttering.  I seal each end of the guttering with a piece of ‘Duct tape’, to stop the compost falling out:


I fill the guttering with compost and sow my peas into it:


The peas I sowed are a hardy variety called ‘Meteor’ which you can actually sow in Autumn and they will stand over winter under the protection of a cloche.  I find it better to sow them this month.

Incidentally round, smooth peas are hardier than the wrinkled varieties that are usually sweeter.  I took a photo of the two types of peas, so you can see the difference.

The pea on the left is ‘Meteor’, which is the hardier round, smooth pea that I sowed and the pea on the right is a wrinkled variety:


My guttering will sit in my heated greenhouse until I just see them poking throught the compost and then I will move them into my coldframe.

You can read how I plant my peas here.



Due to the weather I managed to do a few ‘catch up’ jobs at home this weekend.

I made some ‘Pea Pod’ soup for my eldest daughter as she loves this and I found a bag of pea pods lurking at the bottom of my freezer.

You can read how to make the soup here.  This soup is an old wartime recipe that is extremely cheap to make, though it is a bit like ‘marmite’….you love it or hate it!


I finally got round to making some soup with my ‘Jamaican Pumpkins’.  These pumpkins are smaller than the halloween pumpkins I grow, but they are usually bigger than the ones in the photo below (I think this was due to the wet weather over the summer).  These pumpkins are also great for roasting as they hold their shape better during cooking.


I made a spicy pumpkin soup.  You can find the recipe here.  I managed to get four portions out of one of the pumpkins, which I will freeze ready to take to my allotment for lunch, another day:

SAM_5986 SAM_5988


I also topped up my ‘vinegar spray’ which I use in my kitchen as a mulitipurpose anti-bacterial cleaner.

I use white vinegar (which cuts through grease and grime) and a few drops of teatree oil (which is antibacterial).

You can read all about the old fashion cleaning methods that I use here.



I then blanched and froze my allotment cauliflowers, that I picked this week.  I am very proud of them.


I cut them into florets and blanched them for 2 minutes.

You can reading about freezing vegetables here.



Finally, I thought I would experiment and make a ‘Healthier Ice cream’.  Technically, I can’t call this an ‘ice cream’ as it’s under 4% fat, but it tastes really nice.


A Strawberry Frozen Yoghurt Ice cream Recipe:


230 grams Strawberries

250 ml Natural Yoghurt

100 grams Caster Sugar


Squash the fruit with the back of a fork


Put all the ingredients into a bowl and mix together


Pour into your ice cream maker

(refer to your ice cream maker for timings and how much to fill the bowl).

If you haven’t got an ice cream maker, just put the blended ingrediants into a container and freeze.  Remove from the freezer every 1-2 hours and mash vigourously with a fork to break up the ice crystals.


Transfer the ice cream to a suitable container and freeze for a few hours until completely solid and then enjoy.

Strawberry Yoghurt Icecream Served with Crab Apple Syrup and Sprinkles

Strawberry Yoghurt Ice cream Served with Crab Apple Syrup and Sprinkles


Thank you for reading my blog today.

As it’s Easter I’ll be taking a break to spend time with my family, so I will be back on Friday 5th April.

I hope you all have a lovely Easter.

Tidying Up My Strawberries and Cleaning the Old Fashioned Way

Today I cut back my strawberry plants.

I’ve had a bumper harvest of strawberries this year, there would have been even more if there wasn’t so many slugs and snails around in the damp weather.

The strawberries are sitting in my freezer, waiting for me to make strawberry jam for my youngest daughter, she absolutely adores it.

I will make jam as soon as I get time.

After my strawberries have finished fruiting, I cut them back and have a general tidy up around them.  Cutting them back helps produce more fruit the following year.  I removed the straw that was under the plants and put it onto my compost heap and weeded around them.  I then cut the strawberries back to approximately 3 inches (8 cm’s) from the crowns.  It always looks harsh but they grow back really well.

Strawberries after cutting them back

This is the second year my plants have fruited so I am not keeping any runners, so I cut them all off.

 Strawberries are best replaced after four years as their yield starts to reduce and viruses and diseases have a tendency to build up.

 If I wanted to increase my stock I would just peg down the runners with a large stone or wire, so that the new plantlets were in contact with the soil.  When they have good roots on them at the beginning of September, I cut each runner from their parent and replant it where I want it to grow.  This way they are settled before the winter and produce fruit the following year.


Patty pans

Today I picked my first patty pans.  They are from two different plants that I have outdoors.

Patty pans are lovely and I use them in the same way I use butternut squash.  We like them fried in a little olive oil, but they can be roasted in the oven, or you can just make soup with them.

If you pick patty pans when they are the size of your palm, they won’t have seeds in and you can eat the whole thing.

Once the plant starts to produce fruit, they are like courgettes, as they keep coming and coming until the end of summer.

 Amazingly, my outdoor plants have produced patty pans before the plant that I have in my polytunnel.  I have learnt from this and will probably not plant them in my polytunnel again.  I wonder if it was either too humid for the plant, as a couple have just rotted after they started to form, or if pollination hasn’t occurred, which can have the same effect.

  I would be interested to hear from anyone who has problems growing them in a greenhouse or polytunnel.


Before I left the allotment this morning I dead headed my flowers to encourage more flowers to produce.  I am very pleased with the sweet peas that are growing.  They smell beautiful when I walk through the archway each day.



Cleaning the old fashioned way continued…


Today I am looking at using Lemon Juice:


Lemon juice – is a mild acid which has a bleaching and deodorising effect. It also dissolves grease. It is an antibacterial and antifungal cleaner.  As it is acidic and is a natural bleach be careful to test on small hidden areas first and again don’t use it on marble.

Below are some ways to use Lemon Juice:

If you don’t have any vinegar then use lemon juice as an alternative, as it cuts through grease.  Lemon juice diluted in hot water is a great gentle cleaner for the kitchen.

Lemon juice can be used to dissolve soap scum and can remove lime scale.  You can use lemon juice on bathroom taps to make them shine.

Wipe lemon juice on a chopping board as it is antibacterial and it will remove stains and smells.

Rub lemon juice on your hands if they smell strongly of garlic or onion as it will remove the smell.

Cut a lemon in half and leave it in your fridge to give a fresh smell to your fridge.

Make a cleaning paste with lemon juice and bicarb.

Make up a polish by using 2 parts olive oil and 1 part lemon juice.  It polishes wood well.

Lemon juice is great for cleaning tarnished brass and copper.  Dip half a lemon in salt and this makes an acidic scrub.

Cut half a lemon and dip it in bicarb and use to clean surfaces and stains.

Put a couple of slices of lemon in a bowl of water in your microwave and cook on high for 3 or 4 of minutes.  You will be able to wipe it clean easily afterwards.

Put left over lemons in your dishwasher to give your pots a lovely lemon smell and an extra shine.


Yesterday I talked about using ‘bicarb’ and I wanted to show you an example of how well it really cleans:

This is my sink before I cleaned it.

I cleaned it with bicarb on a damp cloth and I used an old toothbrush to clean around the plug hole.

Below is the sink after I cleaned it:

This proves that the bicarb really does work and it only took me a few minutes to do.


This is the end of my ‘old fashioned’ cleaning tips for the week.

I will shortly put all the cleaning tips from the last three days in categories, at the side of my blog.  This way you can refer back to them quickly if you need to.


I hope you have enjoyed reading about old fashioned cleaning methods.  I would love to hear your comments and any old fashioned cleaning tips that you use.

Well that’s it for today.  Thank you for reading my post.

Sweet William at my allotment

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.


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


Cleaning the old fashioned way continued…


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.


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.


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.

Chocolate Beetroot Cake and more of the ‘Old Fashioned Way’ ….

Beetroot freshly picked


Beetroot has been around for centuries, it descended from wild sea beet.  People used to eat the leaves rather than the swollen root.  The root only became popular in the 18th century, when French chefs realised its potential.

Nowadays most people eat just the root, though I quite often put the young leaves in our salads as they taste nice and add a bit of colour.

Beetroot has loads of antioxidants and research shows it is good for regenerating immune cells and boosting the body’s natural defences in the liver. It also contains silica, which is vital for healthy skin, bones, tendons and ligaments and fingernails.  So it is good to eat.

The variety I grow is ‘Boltardy’, as it doesn’t run to seed so quickly when conditions aren’t so good, like this year.

Beetroot is one of those things that is usually just cooked and eaten, or pickled.

  I try and find different ways to use my garden produce so nothing gets wasted.  Therefore, below is a cake recipe that I make using cooked beetroot.  It tastes delicious and I didn’t even admit to my family that I used cooked beetroot in it, until a few weeks ago and they were astonished as you can’t taste it.


Chocolate Beetroot Cake


Beetroot and Chocolate Cake Recipe

250g cooked beetroot

3 eggs

200ml sunflower oil

175g Self raising flour

200g Caster sugar

1 teaspoon of baking powder

50g Cocoa powder

A sprinkling of icing sugar for the top


Preheat oven to Gas 4 / 180C / 350F

Grease the bottom and the sides of an 8 inch cake tin and sprinkle flour over it to stop it the cake from sticking to the tin

Sieve the flour, cocoa, baking powder and sugar into a bowl  

Drain the beetroot and blend in a food processor until nearly smooth, whilst adding the eggs one at a time, followed by the oil.

Add the beetroot mixture to the dry ingredients and mix until just combined.

Pour into the cake tin and cook for approx. 45 minutes.

Take out of the cake tin and cool then top with a sprinkling of icing sugar.


 I doubled the above recipe today, so I could sandwich the two cakes together with jam and put butter icing on the top to make it even more special.

Double layered Chocolate Beetroot Cake


Cleaning the old fashioned way continued…


Today I am focusing on white vinegar.

White vinegar is cheap to buy and most supermarkets sell it.  It can be used in a multitude of ways and is antibacterial too, so it kills most germs.  It does smell when you first spray it, but the smell doesn’t linger and no one will know you have used it.  White vinegar is milder than malt vinegar and dries odourless.

I put my white vinegar into a spray bottle so it is easier to use.

Important: Don’t use vinegar and bleach together and as vinegar is acidic  always be careful where you use it to clean.  Test it on a small patch first and never use it on marble.

Below are some ways to use white vinegar:


Clean your windows and mirrors with white vinegar.  I put the vinegar in to an old spray bottle as it’s easier to use this way.  Wipe it with old crumpled newspaper, it really does work and it stops the smears.  I find it best to wear rubber clothes so the print doesn’t go all over your hands though.

Use white vinegar as a rinse aid in your dishwasher.  It makes your glasses sparkle.

Use white vinegar instead of a conditioner in your washing machine.  It helps stop the build-up of lime scale and makes your clothes soft and once dry there are no smells of vinegar.

Unclog your washing machine with 1 cup of vinegar on a normal cycle (with no clothes), once a month. This is also good for cleaning your dishwasher too.

Use white vinegar to clean your kitchen and work surfaces.  It is a good degreaser.  Add a few drops of Tea Tree essential oil as this has anti-fungal, anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties too.

 If you have any spills on your cooker, spray with vinegar and leave for a few minutes and you will be amazed how easily it wipes off.

Spray your stainless steel sink with vinegar and leave for a few minutes and then wipe it down with a damp cloth and it will sparkle like new.

To disinfect your kitchen floor tiles, add 1 cup of vinegar to your bucket of hot water and mop.

To remove lime scale from taps, wrap the taps in an old dishcloth and soak the cloth in vinegar.  Leave for a while and then just rinse with water.

Descale you kettle with white vinegar by mixing 1 cup of water mixed with 1 cup of vinegar and leave in the kettle for one hour.  Rinse the kettle a few times afterwards.

Clean your bathroom with white vinegar with a few drops of Tea Tree Oil in.  A quick wipe around your sink each day will keep it shiny.   You can also use it daily to clean around your toilet seat.

Vinegar will easily breakdown soap scum in your soap dishes too.

Wrap an old cloth around a shower head and soak the cloth in white vinegar and leave for an hour or two (longer if it’s really bad).  This will remove the lime scale.  Wipe clean with a damp cloth afterwards.

Use diluted vinegar, one part water and one part vinegar, to clean tiles ( if you don’t dilute the vinegar it will eat away the grout).

To remove lime scale in your toilet, pour the vinegar in the toilet at night and easily brush the lime scale away in the morning.

Another way to clean your toilet is to put a sprinkling of bicarbonate of soda in, followed by a splash of vinegar before brushing.

To remove price stickers and labels from jars, spray or wipe the sticker with vinegar until it is soaked and after a few moments it can be wiped away easily.



I will continue tomorrow with some more ‘old fashioned cleaning tips.

I hope you have enjoyed reading todays post.

“If Granny wouldn’t recognise it, don’t use it”

This week I’ve decided to write about  ‘cleaning the old fashion way’.  I am not an ‘Eco warrior’ that ties myself to trees and I’m 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:


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.


So this is what I use:

Old Fashioned Cleaning Products


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.


During the rest of the week I will be writing about the different ways that I actually use the above things to clean my home.

I hope someone will find this information useful.



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:


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


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


Spinach and Egg Florentine


Finally, just before I finish for the evening, I would like to mention a little shop that I have discovered in Leicester today, thanks to a good friend.  The shop is called “Rosy’s” and she sells products that are Gluten free, wheat free and Dairy free.  Obviously this is a big help to me as my youngest daughter is lactose intolerant.  I think it’s important to support specialist shops like this as they are so few and far between and yet as I have already mentioned above, there are so many people that suffer from allergies and intolerances today.

This is a link to her face book page:  http://www.facebook.com/#!/RosysGlutenFreeWheatFreeDairyFreeStore


Thank you for reading my post today.