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Spring Tonics

1 Mar

The first is some we bought at the Mennonite grocery: Yoder’s Good Health Recipe “Good for what ails you

Until it is gone if you visit you will be offered an ounce of spring tonic.  It is essentially herbal vinegar:  cider vinegar, water, apple juice, grape juice and tinctures of Ginseng, Goldenseal, Echinacea, Valerian, Ginger, Black Cohosh, Camomile, Black walnut, Licorice root, Anise, Cinnamon, Cloves, Chickweed, Fenugreek.   Believe me, you will know you have had spring tonic after a slug of this!

The second tonic:  to celebrate March 1st I  removed all the greens still in evidence from the Christmas season and picked pussy willow and forsythia branches to force indoors.

It got to 40 F today.  But back in the twenties tonight.

Root Beer.

3 Sep


For each gallon of water to be used, take hops, burdock, yellow dock, sarsparilla, dandelion, and spikenard roots, bruised, of each 1/2 oz.; boil about 20 minutes, and strain while hot, add 8 or 10 drops of oils of spruce and sassafras mixed in equal proportions, when cool enough not to scald your hand, put in 2 or 5 table-spoons of yeast; molasses 3/8 of a pint, or white sugar 1/2 lb. gives it about the right sweetness.

Keep these proportions for as many gallons as you wish to make.  You can use more or less of the roots to suit your taste after trying it; it is best to get the dry roots. Or dig them and let them get dry, and of course you can add any other root known to possess medicinal properties desired in the beer.  After all is mixed, let it stand in a jar with a cloth thrown over it, to work about two hours, then bottle and set in a cool place.  This is a nice way to take alternatives, without taking medicine.  And families ought to make it every Spring, and drink freely of it for several weeks, and thereby save, perhaps, several dollars in doctors’ bills.

EGGS.–To Preserve For Winter Use

6 Aug


For every three gallons of water, put in 1 pt. of fresh slacked lime, and common salt 1-2 pt.; mix well, and let the barrel be about half full of this fluid, then with a dish let down your fresh eggs into it, tipping the dish after it fill with water, so they roll out without cracking the shell, for if the shell is cracked the egg will spoil.

If fresh eggs are put in, fresh eggs will come out, as i have seen men who have kept them two, and even four year, at sea.  A piece of board may be laid across the top of the eggs, and a little lime and salt kept upon it, which keeps the fluid as strong at the top as at the bottom.  This will not fail you.  They must always be kept covered with the brine.  Families in towns and cities by this plan can have eggs for winter use at summer prices.  I have put up forty dozen with entire success.


This is the first of three ways to preserve eggs.

Back when electricity in coops to keep hens laying in winter was not yet dreamed of.

Alcohol–Spiritual Facts

30 Jul


“So it will be seen that every quart of fruit wine not made for medicine, or sacramental purposes, helps to build up the cause )intemperance) which we all so much desire not to encourage.  And for those who take any kind of spirits for the sake of the spirit, let me give you the following:

2. That whis-key is the key by which many gain entrance into our prisons and almshouses.

3. That brandy brands the noses of all those who cannot govern their appetites.

4. That punch is the cause of  many unfriendly punches.

5.  That  ale causes many ailings, while beer brings to the doer.

6. That wine causes many to take a winding way home.

7. That cham-pagne is the source of many real pains.

8. That gin slings have “slewed” more than slings of old.”


These are Dr. Chase’s opinions, not mine.  But I find them interesting.

Bed-Room Carpets–For Twelve Cents and a Half Per Yard

27 Jul


Sew together the cheapest cotton cloth, the size of the room, and tack the edges to the floor.  Now paper the cloth as you would the sides of a room, with cheap room paper; putting a border around the edge if desired.  The paste will be the better if a little gum arabic is mixed with it.  When thoroughly dry, give it two coats of furniture or carriage varnish, and when dry it is done.

It can be washed; and looks well in proportion to the quality and figure of the paper used.  It could not be expected to stand the wear of a kitchen, for any length of time, but for bed-rooms it is well adapted.


My guess is that “the cheapest cotton cloth” in 1870 was heavy duck canvas, not lightweight thin stuff, which would have been saved for dresses.  If doing this today, I would use heavy canvas,  cut it to size and hem it, then glue the paper on outdoors and let it dry there, and varnish it there before bringing it inside.

What a great idea, though, don’t you think?

32. Marbled Cake

24 Jul


Those having any curiosity to gratify upon their own part, or on the part of riends, will be highly pleased with the contrast seen when they take a piece of cake made in two parts, dark and light, as follows:

LIGHT PART–White sugar 1 1/2 cups; butter 1/2 cup; sweet milk 1/2 cup; soda 1/2 teaspoon; cream of tartar 1 teaspoon; whites of 4 eggs; flour 2 1/2 cups; beat and mixed as “Gold Cake.”

Dark Part–Brown sugar 1 cup; molasses 1/2 cup; butter 1/2 cup; sour milk 1/2 cup; soda 1/2 teaspoon; cream of tartar 1 teaspoon; flour 2 1/2 cups; yolks of 4 eggs; cloves, allspice, cinnamon, and nutmeg, ground, of each 1/2 table-spoon; beat and mixed as “Gold Cake.”

DIRECTIONS.–When each part is ready, drop a spoon of dark, then a spoon of light, over the bottom of the dish, in which it is to be baked, and so proceed to fill up the pan dropping the light upon the dark as you continue with the different layers.


Marble cake with molasses, not chocolate!

Dr. Chase’s Recipes; or, Information for Everybody

22 Jul

One of the books my Aunt Janice recently gave me is the above named title, published in 1870 by R.A. Beal in Ann Arbor, Michigan.  It is 6 1/2 by 4 1/2 inches in size.

It belonged to my great great great grandfather, Isaac Wells.

Continuing from the title page:

“An invaluable collection of about eight hundred PRACTICAL RECIPES,


Merchants, Grocers, Saloon-Keepers, Physicians, Druggists, Tanners, Shoe-Makers, Harness Makers, Painters, Jewelers, Blacksmiths, Tinners, Gunsmiths, Farriers, Barbers, Bakers, Dyers, Renovators, Farmers, and Families Generally,

to which have been added

a Rational Treatment of Pleurisy, Inflammation of the Lungs, and other Inflammatory Diseases, and also for General Female Debility and Irregularities:

All arranged in their Appropriate Departments.

By A. W. Chase, M. D.


Carefully revised, Illustrated, and much enlarged, with remarks and full explanations.

We Learn to Live, by Living to Learn.”

The cloth bound book cost $1.25.  If it had been a paper cover it would have been $1.00; Morocco Gilt , $2.00 and ion German only $1.25.

This is the 57th edition of this book! But the preface was written to the tenth edition.

The page facing the title page has a diagram of a horse with the names and situations of its external parts.

I plan on sharing some of Dr. Chase’s wisdom with you from time to time.  You will be amazed at some of the things one can learn!

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