Frugal Bootcamp: Heloise's Kitchen Hints

Published about 1963, this book came to me via a thrift store.  I looked for it online and Alibris has multiple copies for $.99 each.  It's also available through One Kings Lane and other sites. 

As I was trolling through looking for a photo of the book, I stumbled upon a review that said "Love reading this though it's horribly out of date..."  Really?!  What world does she live in?  Seriously, there are things that might be a wee bit dated but the bulk of what Heloise shared in this book is pretty much timeless hints for living well and on a budget.  That never goes out of date!  Some of the so called outdated stuff might yet come in handy.  Like how to bake potatoes over a gas burner.  Wash, wrap in foil, put over a low gas flame, turn after about ten minutes and test for doneness in another ten.  Mighty handy info if the electric is out or you happen to be cooking on a gas grill.

In the intro she expresses her opinion of homemakers in general: "You, the homemaker, are the backbone of the world. If it weren't for you there would be no home, family or world fit to live in.  You are a homemaker: chef..., nurse...,court of appeals, peacemaker, home economist, purchasing agent, budget and record keeper, decorator, hostess.

Chapter One:  Stop Stooping -  In the very first chapter Heloise suggests various methods of organizing kitchen contents.  She suggests first that you color code foods.  In her opinion the bulk are red, orange, yellow and green and she suggests that you designate one shelf (or portion of a shelf) to each color.  Condiments go on their own shelf as does white foods (pasta, rice, instant potatoes).  

She also recommends that you put things where they are easiest to get to.  Why stoop for oft used items when you could place them at an easy reach level?  I must say here that I envy the kitchen that is perfectly laid out.  I felt quite rich coming here to this kitchen with it's long countertops (compared to my former kitchens) and the multiple walls of cabinets.  Twenty years later I tell you sincerely that as much storage as it nets me, I am still figuring this kitchen out.  I've changed cabinets over many times, just recently rearranged the upper cabinets after Bess moved in.  I gave her a section of cabinet space to use for her family's snack items.  I discovered that I'd made things extremely convenient for myself.  

This chapter also urges removing clutter...Oh, so familiar tune.  And with good reason.  You cannot access what you have if it's crowded together.  You'll have more space and need less storage if you declutter.

Chapter Two:  Tricks and Treats for the Table -    a long chapter of hints for stretching, cooking and serving foodstuffs.  Such helps as how to freeze eggs (bought when they are very low priced naturally);  making gelatin in muffin tins for individual molded salads; seasoning tips for meats and appetizers.   A hint I've used for the longest time now which is to grate boiled eggs on a box grater for egg salad comes from this chapter as well.

Chapter Three: The Housewife's Helpers -  Do you remember Laine's 'servants'?  One and the same.  How to use the dishwasher to clean more than just dishes, how to clean the oven using ammonia and likely the one hint that most dates the book, how to defrost the fridge's freezer unit. 

Chapter Four: Fowl Play and Fish Day - hints for cooking these two items.

Chapter Five:  - Do It Yourself - Making aprons, dishcloths, recovering window shades, make your own net scrubbers.  

Chapter Six:  Mealtime Memos, more hints on foodstuffs this time vegetables and fruits, cleaning, prepping and cooking.

Chapter Seven:  Washday Winner - Laundry Helps  Here's where I learned a thing or two.  I've never ever read or known that I should be diluting bleach before adding to the washing machine.  No clue.  Now mind you, I seldom use bleach and in the last year or three I've been adding to the machine as it fills, then putting in clothes when the bleach is diluted.  Still, per Heloise, the clothes and soap goes in first, and then after the machine has filled and the soap is dissolved and the machine has agitated a moment or two, then the bleach, diluted by at least half strength, goes into the machine. 

And the mention of 'sal soda' is made here as it was in the Peg Bracken book. I paid closer attention this time around and it's actually washing soda which is used as a booster for heavily soiled loads of clothes.  Good to know, right?

I was also much amused to read of her seeing laundry lying on lawns in the New Mexico regions (back in her travel days)...The women told her it whitened laundry.  Well I think this is something we might try once more because I recall reading in historical documents and older books of 'drying lawns' where white clothes and linens were laid out to dry and whiten in the sun, but it must be lying on the grass.

Chapter Eight:  Bake Day Bliss  is just full of  good hints for baking. I got several helpful hints from this chapter.  The one I think will be the most frugal and a great time saver was to line a pie plate(s) with waxed paper and then fill with pie filling and freeze.  When solid, you can remove the filling and reuse the pie pan for another batch of pie filling.

I've used a similar method to make multiple pie crusts at once and found that very helpful, too.  I like to keep desserts on hand in the freezer for the occasional unplanned family day or visitors and this is an idea I'll be sure to try.

Chapter Nine: Rise and Shine! is a cleaning guide for every thing from appliances to walls and windows.  Lots of labor saving hints in this one.

Chapter Ten:  Heloise's Handy Stain-Remover Guide  Pretty self-explanatory isn't it? 

My opinion overall is that this book is worth reading if only it saves you a little labor or time or money.  I can sincerely say that I enjoyed reading and I did at least get inspired to change a thing or two and found a few tips I already use came from this book, which speaks volumes for it's being current to today. 


Kathy said...

Thanks for the review and tips!

Lana said...

Oh Yay! Another post! I love how often you are posting, too.

My Mom had this book on the bookshelf when I was a kid and I read it many, many times. No clue why it was so fascinating to me back then but I loved it!

Becky L said...

I have been enjoying your more frequent posts. I look forward to reading what you are up to! I like your reminders of starting where you're at with what you have!

susie @ persimmon moon cottage said...

This sounds like an excellent book. It was interesting to read about baking the potato over a gas stove flame. That is something I may need to know sometime. Hopefully, I will remember it.

The hint about laying the clothes on the lawn to sun bleach really works. I no longer have a clothes line and was trying to get some stains out of white cotton curtains. After washing, I laid them on the lawn in the sun. Stains were gone when I brought them in. Just be careful not to try this when the wild mulberries are in season, because birds flying overhead like to have something for target practice!

Sew Blessed Maw [Judy] said...

THis book sounds terrific.. I love Hints from Heloise. THanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...

Heloise and Erma Bombeck were always well loved in our house. In the newer washing machines you cannot add bleach or anything else later. You put what is needed of everything in the compartments made for them then shut the lid and can't reopen it. If you push the button to pause the machine may let all th water that has gone in out. then what do you do? Is all the soap out so you now have to add more? The water is out so of course you can't add bleach to partly dry clothes. So now the machine with a brain {?} does it all for you...but I wish it did not. Like how do you use Oxyclean powder? The box tell you how to do it. But you can't. I says to start the machine with hot or warm water ..add the Oxyclean and let it get dissolved then add the clothes. Can't. Oh I almost wish this Maytag would go out and can't be fixed and hopefully there are still some machines for sale that are like the old ones. Where you can put clothes in and let them swish for a little while and then shut it off and let them sit and soak for a while..even over night if needed. Or put in powdered Oxyclean or whatever! My neighbor told me she had a refrigerator that made a sound till you turned it off that was a reminder that she needed to dust it! Please don't let me get one of those too!!! LOL LOL LOL P.S. I love you book reviews!! :) Sarah

Anonymous said...

I, too, enjoy the extra posts. Canning pints of zucchini today. The garden is starting to produce. Wheat harvest is done. A long 3 weeks but a good harvest. Pam

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