Herbs, stains and keep­ing de­serted pot plants alive

Weekend Post (South Africa) - - Puzzles, Cartoons & Gwen - GWEN BISSEKER trevorb@yebo.co.za

I am a young housewife and was in­ter­ested in your item about the herb, basil.

I plan to use herbs in my cook­ing, but don’t know much about them.

I would ap­pre­ci­ate some in­for­ma­tion about easy to ob­tain herbs that could en­hance the flavour of my dishes. – Jenny, Port El­iz­a­beth.

Good luck with your cook­ing! It’s not too dif­fi­cult, re­ally, and herbs will cer­tainly add to the en­joy­ment of the meals.

Here are some herbs you can use in your cook­ing, with de­scrip­tions from a book pro­duced by the Na­tional Coun­cil of Women in 1972:

Bay leaf: Add a leaf to mari­nades and stews, and to veg­etable soup to give it an un­usual taste. (Re­move the leaf be­fore serv­ing!)

Chives: A mem­ber of the onion fam­ily. They are good in any food where a mild onion taste is re­quired.

Mint: Apart from mint sauce, it can be added to the wa­ter when cook­ing peas or po­ta­toes.

Pars­ley: Most of the taste is in the stalks. Use them in soup stocks, or finely chopped in sauces, omelettes and egg dishes.

Sage: With onions, makes the best poul­try stuff­ing. Also try it with but­ter sauce for veg­eta­bles, and in gravy.

Thyme: Good in soups, stews and casseroles.

Tumeric: Also known as “bor­rie”, is the spice used when mak­ing yel­low rice and is an in­gre­di­ent in curry pow­der.

We are go­ing away for a few weeks and I’m wor­ried my pot plants will dry out. What is the best way to sus­tain them? – KW, East Lon­don. The plants should be fine if you wa­ter them well, and then seal the pots be­low the plant growth in plas­tic bags.

Place them in the bath on a well-soaked rub­ber mat, which will also re­duce the plants’ wa­ter con­sump­tion.

You can sup­ply ad­di­tional wa­ter in your ab­sence if you place the plants in a few cen­time­tres of wa­ter in the sink, and put a bowl of wa­ter above them on the counter.

Then trail lengths of wool be­tween the bowl and the soil in the pots.

This is said to con­vey wa­ter to the pots if the wa­ter in the sink is used up.

I in­her­ited some ladies’ han­kies years ago, still in their orig­i­nal box.

They are quite yel­low with age and not re­ally us­able in their cur­rent state. Would it be safe to soak them in a bleach so­lu­tion? – IJ, Jef­freys Bay.

The han­kies are al­most cer­tain to be 100% cot­ton, so they should take bleach.

But it might be best to err on the side of cau­tion and soak one of them in a strong de­ter- gent first, with a dash of bleach added. Soak for a few hours, and then rinse in clean wa­ter.

I have a small Christ­mas tree made from gal­vanised wire. It is a bit drab, and I would like to paint it this year.

Should I treat the wire with some­thing, be­fore paint­ing? I fancy a gold spray paint. – FH, Port El­iz­a­beth.

Rub the wire well with vine­gar and al­low to dry be­fore spray­ing. This will en­sure the paint ad­heres to the sur­face. I have what looks like an or­ange juice stain on a white woollen jersey, and am un­sure of how to tackle this. I don’t sup­pose I should use bleach on wool? – SR, Port El­iz­a­beth.

No, on no ac­count should bleach be used on wool, but it is pos­si­ble to use di­luted 20vol­ume hy­dro­gen per­ox­ide in­stead (avail­able at a phar­macy).

Add 125ml of the per­ox­ide to 2l of wa­ter and one tea­spoon of ei­ther am­mo­nia or vine­gar.

Soak the gar­ment in this for no longer than 30 min­utes, and then rinse thor­oughly.

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