Home Remedies

I’ve had a bit of time this week. Just as I was getting over a bad cold, I fell down, and as many of you know, after a certain age, you don’t bounce like you used to. Long story short, I ended up with a badly sprained ankle. (Imagine a purple and blue ankle at least twice the size of a normal ankle.)

When I got home with my rapidly swelling ankle, I looked up what I was supposed to do to treat it and came up with RICERest, Ice Compression and Elevation. I ended up doing RIE, because I didn’t have an Ace bandage for the C component.

Thankfully, I have lots of ice, but I started thinking about how people treated sprains and other maladies before ice was readily available. I discovered that if I sprained my ankle in the 19th century, I should take mud from a mud dauber nest, mix it with vinegar, place the mixture on my sprain and cover it with a stocking.

Here’s the thing–I do have remnant mud dauber nests on my house, but I couldn’t bring myself to try this. Why ruin a good nest when I have ice? But there was probably some science behind this cure, as there was behind a lot of 19th century medicine that did not involve superstitions such as tying knots in dishrags and burying them at midnight (my aunt’s cure for warts). I became curious and looked up a few more cures for common maladies, which I will list below:

Sore throat–rub outside of throat with a mixture of kerosene and butter.

Cuts–apply a spider web. Also, you can treat a cut by packing it with axle grease.

Rashes-treat with urine (I thought this was fascinating because urine is a form of acid which would burn like crazy. Ouch.)

Earache–blow tobacco smoke in the ear canal

Pneumonia–treat with a poultice of tansy weed

Dandruff–mix sulfur with water and apply to head daily

Lice–wash your head with kerosene

Poison ivy–treat with a paste of Fels Naptha soap. (I still use this stuff for laundry. It’s great.)

Bee sting–mix honey and mud from a mud dauber’s nest. (As a kid we used a paste of baking soda and water.)

Burns–put fresh calf manure in a flour sack and cover the burn for 24 hours.

There are so many more but I’ll leave you with these and ask what are some home remedies that you’ve heard of? Or used? I still put soda and water paste on my bee stings, but having read this, I may try honey and mud dauber nest the nest time I have a bad bee encounter.




Grandma’s Potato Tips. Who knew? ~ Pam Crooks

Who doesn’t love a potato?  Baked, boiled, fried, smashed, mashed or hashed, served with ranch dressing, sour cream, ketchup or just plain salt and pepper, they’ve been a staple in our diets for centuries.

Perhaps it’s only been recently that scientists have confirmed just how nutritious the vegetable is, too, particularly when cooked in its skin with little or no fat.  The potato is heaped with fiber, vitamin C, B vitamins, potassium, iron, zinc and calcium.

But, of course, our grandmothers didn’t know that.  They only knew it filled bellies and grew cheap.  They also knew it had other benefits as well.

I’ve collected fun little pamphlets about recipes and remedies from our pasts and always enjoy reading how mothers and grandmothers took care of their families using what little they had.  Some were clever.  Some made me frown.  Some grossed me out.  But all were fascinating, and I’d love to share of few from my collection.

Medicinal Tips, in the patient’s own words:

“I had a wart on my hand as a child growing up in Brooklyn.  My mother cut a potato in half and rubbed it on the wart, then she buried the potato.  The wart disappeared and never returned.”

“When I had a headache as a child, my grandmother would slice a potato, put the slices on my forehead and tie them with a bandanna.”

“A potato poultice will give rapid relief from sunburn.  Grate raw potato and spread between two layers of gauze.  Apply to the face or other affected parts  For severe sunburn, a doctor’s advice is necessary.”

“To soothe swollen eyelids, apply raw potato cut in rounds each morning and evening.”

“If there is no broken skin, rub minor burns with a slice of raw potato.”

“When we were growing up in the 1920s (there were 14 of us kids), if we got sick, Mama cooked sliced potatoes on top of a wood stove. After the potatoes were brown on both sides, she put salt and homemade butter on them. We kids thought that was really worth getting sick for.”

**Disclaimer:  These tips are for your reading pleasure only.  I do not endorse them in any way. If needed, please consult your doctor.

Handy tips from the kitchen:

“To rescue over-salted dishes, put some rounds of raw potato in the middle of the dish.”

“Boiled potatoes for a salad will absorb less oil and taste better if you sprinkle them with white wine while they are still warm.  Add the dressing when they have absorbed the wine.”

“Rubbing a raw potato on your shoes before polishing them helps to make your shoes shiny.”

Of course, we can’t have a blog on potatoes without including a recipe, can we?

Cheesy Vegetable and Potato Soup

4 chicken bouillon cubes

1 1/2 cups of potatoes (I add more)

1 cup chopped celery

1/2 cup diced onion

1 20 oz bag California blend vegetables (or two 12 oz.)

2 cans 98% fat-free cream of chicken soup

1 lb lite Velveeta cheese

1 can chopped chilies

  1. In small stock pot, dissolve bouillon cubes in 4 cups of water.  Add potatoes, celery and onion.  Cook 15 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, cook California blend vegetables until tender.  Drain and chop into smaller pieces.
  3. Add to potato mixture and cook about 6 minutes.
  4. Add both cans of soup, the Velveeta cheese and chilies.  
  5. Stir to melt cheese and heat through.

Note:  I made this often when I was on Weight Watchers.  It’s surprisingly low in calories and so good!  You can use more potatoes and Mexican Velveeta cheese but they will be a bit higher in calories.

What about you, your mother or grandmother?  Did they use a potato for a home remedy?  What other home remedies did your family use?


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