Hearthbeats: Notes from a Kitchen Witch

Well this month I will be giving you some interesting and helpful uses for some stuff you have at home. Common ingredients you have in your cabinets and pantries…  Things like salt, baking soda, lemon juice.

We use many of these things every day in our cooking and in our rituals… some are even used in medicinal, like baking soda as an anti-acid… There are large lists for each… but I will narrow them down to tried and trues… things I myself have used them for and am willing to pass along to you.


Not just for ritual any more… here are 10 uses you may not have thought of…

1. Test the freshness of eggs in a cup of salt water; fresh eggs sink; bad ones float.
2. If a pie bubbles over in your oven, put a handful of salt on top of the spilled juice. The mess won’t smell and will bake into a dry, light crust which will wipe off easily when the oven has cooled
3. A pinch of salt improves the flavor of cocoa
4. A dash of salt improves the taste of coffee.
5. Use salt for killing weeds in your lawn.
6. Clean brass, copper and pewter with paste made of salt and vinegar, thickened with flour
7. Use salt to clean your discolored coffee pot.
8. Use it to kill slugs and snails in your garden( a tin of beer will work as well)
9. Instead of anti-dandruff shampoo, massage your scalp with a tablespoon of salt before using normal shampoo!
10. Occasionally throw a handful of salt on the flames in your fireplace; it will help loosen soot from the chimney and salt makes a bright yellow flame!

Not just for waffles and cakes…. Here are 10 uses that you may not have thought of….

1. Baking soda will also put out fires in clothing, fuel, wood, upholstery and rugs.
2. Soda absorbs kitty litter odors. Cover the bottom of the kitty box with 1 part soda; then add a layer of 3 parts kitty litter on top.
3. Sprinkle baking soda on your wet toothbrush and brush your teeth and dentures with it.
4. Take 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda in 1/2 glass of water to relieve acid indigestion or heartburn… ( better than Tums.. and works on gas(burps) as well)
5. Bee sting and bug bites and bad sunburn: use a combination of baking soda and water. Mix into a thick paste… Place on burn… wait till it dries out… scrape off add more water and reuse…
6. Clean vegetables and fruit with baking soda. Sprinkle in water, soak and raise the produce.
7. Wash out thermos bottles and cooling containers with soda and water to get rid of stale smells.
8. Sprinkle soda on greasy garage floor. Let stand, scrub and rinse.
9. Clean your bathroom with dry soda on a moist sponge – sink, tub, tiles, shower stall, etc
10. Sprinkle soda in sneakers, socks, boots and slippers to eliminate odor.


Not just for salad dressings… here are 10 uses that you may not have thought of…

1. Place a cup of white distilled vinegar in the dishwasher upright on the top rack and run a full cycle to freshen and to remove hard water buildup on the heating element. Use at least 2 times a week.
2. Put 1/2 cup white distilled vinegar and 1/2 cup water in a microwave safe dish. Bring to a rolling boil in microwave. Wipe clean.
3. To keep bunnies and such from eating your plants, put cotton balls soaked in white distilled vinegar in a 35mm film container. Poke a hole in the top and place in the garden.
4. Remove the hazy film that builds up inside windows by spraying them with white distilled vinegar.
5. Cats hate the smell of vinegar. Spray white distilled vinegar on the item that you want to keep your cat away from.
6. Add a teaspoon of white distilled vinegar for every 3 to 4 egg whites used.
7. To make buttermilk… Add two tablespoons of vinegar to a cup of skim or 1 percent milk; let mixture stand five minutes.
8. Use white distilled vinegar in marinades or when slow cooking any tough, inexpensive cuts of meat.
9. To avoid swimmers ear use a solution of half white distilled vinegar and half rubbing alcohol. Drip into ear, alcohol evaporates the water and the vinegar kills the bacteria.
10. Add 1/4 cup white distilled vinegar to the last rinse. The acid in white distilled vinegar is too mild to harm fabrics, yet strong enough to dissolve the alkali’s in soaps and detergents. Besides removing soap, white distilled vinegar prevents yellowing, acts as a fabric softener and static cling reducer, and attacks mold and mildew


Wow… the things you can use… 5 uses for coffee grinds you may not have thought of…

1. Fertilize plants. Old coffee grounds are nutrient-rich for plants that thrive in an acidic soil. You can also add used coffee grounds to the pots of indoor plants. Work used coffee grounds into your garden soil before seed planting. After your plants start to emerge, work in coffee grounds near the plants. Used coffee grounds are said to repel snails and slugs as well as adding nutrients to the soil
2. Dye fabric, paper or Easter eggs. Simply add used coffee grounds to warm water and let sit a bit to create a dye. Can also be used to create henna-like tattoos.
3. Grow mushrooms on old coffee grounds
4. Keep cats from using your garden as a kitty box by spreading used coffee grounds and orange peels throughout flower beds.
5. Skin Exfoliant.. Rubbing your skin with coffee ground extract seems silly but it is actually a good idea. The extract removes dead skin cells, which results in better-looking skin. It can save you hundreds of dollars since this simple product. May also color your skin (perma-tan??)


Last but definitely not least lemons… here are 5 uses you may not have thought of…

1. Mix with vinegar and or baking soda to make a cleaning paste. Cut a lemon in half and sprinkle baking soda on the cut section, then use the lemon to scrub dishes, surfaces and stains. Mix 1 cup of olive oil with 1.2 cup of lemon juice and use for furniture polish on hardwood
2. Add a few drops of lemon juice to improve the taste of fruits, this also cuts down on the browning effect they have over time.
3. Squeeze lemons onto vegetables while steaming, to keep the colors bright
4. Use lemon juice to lighten your hair in the summer. Place juice on hair and sit in the sun for a bit.
5. Cough Syrup: mix 1 part lemon juice with 2 parts honey (Do not give to children under 1 year and test for food allergies) Sore Throat: drink tea with lemon and honey relaxes and soothes the throat, while relieving a cough. The lemons also help us recover from the flue. If you don’t like tea, use hot water, lemon juice and honey

So that is what I have to share with you this month… Look for cookie recipes next month for Yule. Again I ask for you assistance… Please go to [email protected] and leave your ideas for future articles… I love to do the research and look thru my family recipes, rituals, and hints and tips… but you need to tall me what you want…

Until next month
Blessed Hearth and Home

The Hearthkeeper