December 2011

Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management


Much of what made this book both necessary and useful in its time was the demise of traditional cooking skills in Victorian Britain due to the industrial revolution.

While this book is antiquated and the tips it provides are more suited to a Victorian household than present-day ones, it provides insight in Victorian domestic life, and it does provide household tips, obsolete though they may be.

Build a Smokehouse: Storey Country Wisdom Bulletin by Ed Epstein

Root cellars, which were covered in the last post, are only a part of the story when it comes to preserving foods the old-fashioned way. The old time food preservation began with the smokehouse for flavoring and preserving meat. Apart from being traditional, smoking meat also happens to use no fossil fuels if the old methods are used. It does not require that the person doing it be “on the grid” at all and therefore is an essential skill for independence-minded meat eaters to have.

Build a Smokehouse: Storey Country Wisdom Bulletin by Ed Epstein is a part of the Country Wisdom series started in 1973. The first two chapters define smoking for the city-dweller that has never seen a smokehouse let alone tackled the problems inherent in building one. It covers the way in which smoke preserves meat and the way it improves the flavor of of it as well. For the reader who picked up the book without any interest in actually building a smokehouse, this chapter alone may be enough motivation to actually follow through with the plans detailed in the following chapters.

Build Your Own underground Root Cellar by Phyllis Hobson

"Root cellars used to be the way that people preserved their food in the old days."

The more or less forgotten skill of root cellar construction is covered in Build Your Own underground Root Cellar by Phyllis Hobson. The book is a good way to gain insight into a skill that very few people have, but that could one day prove useful and possibly fun to have. The book is available from Amazon in a really affordable Kindle format as well as in paperback.

Root cellars used to be the way that people preserved their food in the old days. They are useful because they are usually at a stable temperature during the winter and can keep food from freezing, and during the summer they are cooler than room above the surface in a house, thus keeping food from going bad due to the heat. The humidity in a root cellar is also usually pretty stable. This is all because they are below the surface and this acts as a kind of insulation.

Black & Decker Codes for Homeowners: Electrical Codes, Mechanical Codes, Plumbing Codes, Building Codes

Electrical and plumbing work in the home is not to be taken lightly. It is not the kind of work that should be done by someone who has not had experience or training specifically in working with the wiring or pipes in a home. That said, there are times when there simply is no choice for the homeowner but to go ahead and deal with things themselves, either because of a restricted budget or in an emergency.

The best way is to learn how to go about it ahead of time. Of course, this is a good idea with any kind of do-it-yourself home repair, but this type of repair-work is in a class by itself. Remember, not only can electricity cause deadly injuries for the unprepared electrician, it can cause damage to the home and appliances. Poor plumbing work, while not normally causing injury, can lead to long-lasting damage to a building’s structure and can, in certain circumstances, make it impossible to sell a home.