Good Clean Fun for the New Year
It is estimated that women carry out an overall average of 60% more unpaid work than men, this is according to a study conducted in 2016 by the Office for National Statistics. It was found that on average men do 16 hours a week of unpaid work, which includes adult care and child care, laundry and cleaning, compared to the 26 hours of unpaid work done by women a week. However, there is good news as we may be cleaning too much.
Evidence is growing that dirt and germs can protect against disease – and that our indoor-based, super-clean lifestyles are bad for our health. Now many of us sensible beings have always known that ‘we must eat a peck of dirt before we die’, but it seems that it has been overlooked by many modern domestic goddesses. Indeed according to the hygiene hypothesis, asthma, eczema, hay fever and childhood diabetes are all being fuelled by childhoods in which youngsters rarely roll in the mud, splash in puddles or play with animals. The hygiene hypothesis was first proposed in 1989, when it was noted that hay fever is less common in children with older brothers and sisters. It was suggested that catching lots of bugs from siblings provided protection against allergies, since then many studies have concluded the same.
If you hate spending your weekends doing housework and want to ensure that you are preserving your health, then there is some good news, because experts have revealed the nine chores that only need to be done once a year.
The Good Housekeeping Institute has compiled a list of tasks that you can do and then leave for a whole 12 months meaning the endless cycle of cleaning could soon be a distant memory. The beginning of the year is a great time to tackle some of these tasks:
1. Wash or dry clean your curtains
2. Clean your fireplace
3. Purge your kitchen drawer
4. Wipe down outdoor furniture
5. Deep clean your carpet
6. Empty your gutters
7. Wipe down the window frames
To complete this task the Good Housekeeping Institute experts recommend that you start by using a brush to sweep off dirt around the frame. Next, use washing-up liquid or a multi-purpose spray cleaner to remove any stubborn grime, however, I recommend making a cleaning solution that will remove dust, dirt and salt marks from your doors and windows;
Window and Door Cleaner
A teaspoon of baking soda
A squirt of Castile liquid soap
Four English Teacups of warm water
Simply mix these up in a spray bottle, spray on the window frame, and wipe off with a sponge.
One common mistake that people make when they start cleaning their doors and windows is that they go straight to the washing stage. This can backfire because you may end up with muddy streaks or dirty lines that could have been avoided if you wiped dust away with a soft rag before you do a wet clean, so for this job, preparation really is everything
8. Wipe your light bulbs
This applies particularly to those in the kitchen and bathroom which can get especially dusty and it’s incredible just how much light this cuts out. To clean yours, switch off, unscrew and wipe with a damp cloth, but make sure to stay well away from the screw or bayonet end. Once I’ve cleaned my light bulbs I dab a few drops of pure vanilla or lemon essence onto the cold light bulb, and then turn the light on. Within a minute the heat from the light bulb will heat up the essence and the scent will fill your entire room.
Deep clean upholstered furniture
Fabric sofas are a magnet for dust and grime so cleaning them once a year will keep them in tip-top shape. In between cleaning I use a home made upholstery freshener spray. The baking soda in this recipe absorbs any unpleasant odors’ whilst the essential oils refresh the air.
55 g baking soda
10 drops essential oil, such as lavender or lemon
Instructions: Use a funnel to add the baking soda to a 12-ounce spray bottle. Add the essential oil. Fill the bottle with water and shake gently to combine. Test on a small, inconspicuous area of upholstery (such as on the back of a cushion) to ensure it won’t leave a mark. Spray over upholstery whenever it needs freshening.
If your sofa however, is a leather one then you’ll need to make a good home made leather cleaner which is gentle and inexpensive.
Make a simple leather cleaner by mixing one part white vinegar to two parts boiled linseed oil or pure olive oil. Place the ingredients in a bottle and shake the mixture to combine the ingredients.
Clean your leather sofa before polishing; to do this first rub the leather with a clean, dry rag to remove any loose surface dirt. Apply your homemade leather cleaner with a rag and gently buff it into the leather. For difficult stains, let the mixture sit on the leather overnight. Buff the surface after it dries with a clean, dry rag.
Apply lemon juice or vinegar directly to any remaining stains, and rub gently with a rag.
Polish your leather by rubbing pure olive oil into the surface with a clean rag.
Let the leather rest for several hours after applying polish, and perform a final polish by buffing the object again with a clean, dry (lint free –rag)
Having said all of this, you must resist cleaning on the morning of New Year’s Day, as it is said to be disastrous to do any cleaning before midday as you will sweep out your good luck for the year.
As cleaning is off the agenda if you want a prosperous New Year then you may want to partake in the eating of round shaped foods instead. Round cakes, pastries, biscuits and round fruits such as Clementine’s are traditionally enjoyed on New Year’s Day as their shape signifies the old year closing and the birth of the New Year and hope of good things to come.
However, you choose to celebrate the dawn of the New Year make sure that you have brought home your bacon first. When pigs forage for food they root forwards, ploughing up the ground in front of them, giving way to the tradition of eating pork over New Year. Pork in all its many forms is enjoyed on New Year’s Eve and day by those who hope to embrace the challenges and opportunities that the New Year brings head on. In the Midlands some families still eat pork pie for breakfast on Christmas or boxing day.
Seren’s Bring in the Luck Pork Pie
This pie will not need to be served with any pickle or condiment as it is moist and flavorful. I include rabbit in this recipe as in Yorkshire it is traditional to utter, black rabbit, black rabbit, black rabbit as the old year fades away and white rabbit, white rabbit, white rabbit as the New Year dawns for the purpose of good luck.
260g lard, melted
360g strong white flour
360g plain flour
375g hot water
2 tsp salt
2 tsp icing sugar
1 egg, beaten
3 tbsp double cream
For the filling
70g smoked back bacon bacon
150g sausage meat
500g pork shoulder meat, cut into 1cm dice
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg1 tbsp mustard powder
¼ tsp ground cloves
2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
300g diced rabbit meat
2 juniper berries ground (crushed)
¼ tsp ground mace
6 dried apricots, soaked for at least 2 hours in just enough gin to cover them
1 Combine the lard, flours, water, salt, and sugar, then mix until it forms a dough, wrap in cling film and chill for about 40 minutes.
2 Knead it on a lightly floured surface until it’s the consistency of play-dough. Hot water crust pastry wants to be worked, it doesn’t demand delicate handling. Roll out the pastry to around the thickness of a £1 coin and line a 15cm deep, loose-bottomed, round pie (or cake) tin with it. If the tin isn’t non-stick, line it with parchment paper. When you are putting the pastry in the circular tin you’ll find that you have at least one fold in the wall of the pastry creating double or treble pastry thickness. This can easily be worked up and out of the crease by gently pressing until the pastry is a consistent thickness all the way round. Try not to make any holes in the pastry – you need a complete, leak-proof vessel for the filling. Leave a small overhang of pastry around the lip to crimp the lid to. Cut a lid about 1cm in circumference wider than the tin.
When dealing with hot-crust pastry you need to work fast. It is pliable and easy to mold when hot but as it cools it become brittle and unworkable.
3 Put the rabbit and apricots to one side, then combine the rest of the filling ingredients. Fill the pastry with about a third of the meat, and then a layer of rabbit meat. Add a little more filling and then a layer of apricots, then a final layer of meat. Dampen the lip of the pastry, add the lid and crimp securely. Put a hole in the lid to allow steam to escape during cooking.
4 Mix the beaten egg with the cream, and then thinly glaze the pie top with a pastry brush. Repeat this several times during baking for extra shine. You can use just egg, but I find the cream really helps
5 Bake on a tray in a pre-heated oven at 180C/350F/gas mark 4 for at least 2½ hours, or until the centre of the pie reaches at least 75C and, importantly, all the visible pastry is cooked. Check regularly during cooking. If necessary, cover the top of the pie with a foil “hat” to prevent over-browning. If your oven has hot spots then you’ll probably need to turn the pie round every half hour or so to get an even bake.
6 Cool the pie completely before turning it out of the tin. The pastry will harden during cooling
Whilst your pie is cooling and you are making your New Years Resolutions, make sure you have your bread and butter at the ready as New Year’s Day in Ireland is known as Day of the Buttered Bread. Tradition has it that buttered bread placed outside the door symbolizes an absence of hunger in the household and will stave away deprivation for the year and whatever, you do be careful of your first words in the closing seconds of the old year as superstition has it that this can make all the difference to your fortunes in the coming year.
Happy New Year and may you have a prosperous 2020!