Doing Things Grandma's Way: Old-Fashioned Ways of Living
Remember when Grandma used to have the whole house smelling good with her cooking? She spent hours in the kitchen seasoning meats, kneading dough, and making homemade cookies from scratch. I remember those days of helping to knead the dough for biscuits and pies, peeling the potatoes for potato salad, and boiling water so she can make iced tea. When is the last time you made fresh iced tea or lemonade? I don't remember her using Comet to clean the tub, or buying 409 to clean the countertops. Grandma, or Nana, had her own ways. We used to call our Grandma "Honey."
Here are 10 old-fashioned ways that remind me of Grandma's ways. Maybe some of these will jolt your memory about your own Grandma's ways.
1. Snapping Snap Beans
In Grandma's house, green beans—or should I say snap beans—did not come in a can. She bought them fresh and by the pound. Then we (the grandkids) had to wash and rinse them off, snap the ends off of them, then put the beans in a huge pot, all under Grandma's watchful eye. She would then make us watch her as she seasoned them, telling us how much water to put in the pot—memories, anyone?
2. Using Real Cast-Iron Pots and Pans
Grandma didn't have a Cuisinart; she had good old-fashioned cast iron pots and pans. Several had broken handles so you had to be careful handling them, but they worked just fine. I remember her frying chicken in an old large cast iron pot. Her cast-iron cookware worked well in the wood-burning fireplace, too. On cold days when there was not enough room on the stove, she'd stoke up the flames in the fireplace, put on a pot of homemade soup, and she was in business. That was the best food in the world to us.
3. Toasting Toast in the Oven
To toast our bread, we either put it in the oven or we used Grandma's two-sided toast holder—I bet this brings back memories for some. Because there were usually more than two people eating breakfast in the morning, the oven was our best bet for making toast. Why? Because we could fit at least ten slices of toast in the oven, although we had to watch the toast so it wouldn't burn. I don't remember Grandma having a toaster anyway.
4. Using Vaseline as a Shoe Polish
When we went to church on Sunday, our shoes were so shiny from Vaseline. That's right, Grandma had us to shine our shoes with Vaseline; no shoe polish for us.
5. Barbecuing in a Pit
I don't remember a grill at my Grandparents' house either. What I do remember is how my Grandfather dug a hole in the ground, lined the hole with old bricks, filled it with coal or wood, then put an old grate over it. Presto, there was our grill or BBQ pit. We'd sit around the open pit and smell that meat cook. Grandpa had a long homemade "spear" (as I called it) to turn the meat.
6. Making Homemade Flower Petal Tea
Grandma's tea was not Lipton, for sure, but it was delicious. I don't remember Grandma buying tea bags, but what I do remember is her going out into her garden and picking flowers and making tea. It sure was good during those Ohio winters and my favorites were Rose Petal Tea, Violet Petal Tea, and Lilac Petal Tea. During the winter months she had dried flower petals. This is how I remember Grandma making her tea (per Grandma, use the flower petals ONLY):
How to make your own old-fashioned flower petal tea:
- Pick the flowers.
- Remove and shake the petals to remove the bugs and dirt.
- Rinse the petals and place on a towel.
- Boil water in a pot.
- Place the petals in a teacup (about 5 to 7 petals per cup, don't quote me)
- Pour the boiling water over the flower petals and let it steep.
- Add honey to taste.
HOORAY for Grandma!
7. Saving the Cooking Oil
I know some of you remember that old coffee can on the stove full of used cooking oil. I say bring that coffee can back in style. If Grandma re-used cooking oil, why can't we? We didn't know back then that it saved money. We didn't get sick from Grandma re-using cooking oil.
8. Washing Fresh Collard Greens
Collard Greens in a can? Say it ain't so! My Grandma used to use a mesh fabric bag put her collard greens in, then she'd fill the kitchen sink up with cold water and put the bag in the water to soak and wash her greens—somebody say, YEAH! I think it was bar soap actually that she used to clean the greens. My family never questioned Grandma's methods, we just couldn't wait 'till the collards were ready to eat.
9. Using Baking Soda for Many Purposes
When toothpaste was scarce at Grandma's house, there was always her old staple, baking soda, to fall back on. Yes, it was a bit salty, but it did the job. Baking soda is an excellent deodorant, as well. Grandma frowned on stinky kids. To make her laundry detergent go further, she mixed it with baking soda.
10. Using Mercurochrome on Cuts
Last, but certainly not least, is the dreaded item Grandma used to use on cuts and scrapes; the all-but-forgotten Mercurochrome. Remember the brown liquid in the small square bottle? Is it sold anymore? I think that stuff was made especially for children because I didn't see any of the adults using it.
If you think of something your Grandma did or does, please share it. Let us remember or give us a good laugh.