The House-mother should spare something from her abundance, and even from her poverty, for the poor. In most country houses soup is given away twice a week, and skimmed milk oftener, to the very poor. Where there is an abundant supply of vegetables from the garden, these also should be given to poor people who may chance to have no gardens.
The cook should be charged to save all boilings of meat, ham, tongue, mutton, chickens, etc, and whatever can be spared; it will help to make soup. Fish-bones will greatly add to it. Scraps of meat left, also should be added and boiled in the digester. The longer it is boiled the better, and it may be set on at odd times. Add one or two pounds of fresh meat, oatmeal, rice, or Scotch barley, with vegetables, and a good soup will be had to give away. A little fresh meat should always be given towards it, and this should not be strained off, but left in pieces in the soup.
Dripping, which supplies the place of butter, is a valuable gift to the poor.
All spare pieces of bread should be soaked in water till they are soft; then add sugar, one egg, a little milk and a little spice. Bake it, and it will make a good pudding.
Occasionally give away a few pounds of meat, baked, with vegetables, or made into a substantial pie. The crust can be made of clarified fat. Tea is a welcome gift to an old woman. A pound of treacle for the children would be acceptable.
Old clothes, too, are very valuable gifts, and the charity is enhanced if they are first neatly patched and darned ready for use. A shirt ready-or rather home-made, a knitted pair of stockings, a knitted petticoat, are all gifts of price. A pillow made of paper shavings, elsewhere described; list cut off flannel makes warm inner jackets, worked nicely together, to be worn inside a cotton dress; and many little garments may be made for poor children out of odds and ends of linen, cotton cloth, etc. etc.
Subscriptions to clothing-clubs, maternity-societies, provident societies, etc, will occur to all; but much also may be done by visiting personally; and in a friendly and courteous manner, amongst our poorer neighbours, and giving just the help which is required at the time.
"The liberal soul," says the wise man, "shall be made fat;" and doubtless the habit of giving will grow with its exercise, and bring down a double blessing on the giver and the receiver.
We subjoin a capital receipt for a pea-soup, which may be made weekly at a small expense for poor neighbours: -
The peas must be steeped for four hours in 4 pints of cold water. The meat must boil three hours in 5 pints of water. Then boil the peas in a muslin bag and meat together in 5 pints of water for an hour. Next rub the contents of the bag of peas into the soup, but not letting the skins in. Add seasoning of pepper and salt, onions and barley, and boil for an hour. Add water from time to time to make up a gallon.
Rub it to see that there is not much dress, as it is called, in it. If a quantity of white powder falls out do not buy it, however cheap, for it is really thin and sleasy, and will not wear well.
A silk should be soft, smooth on the surface, and brilliant or glossy, not thin, flimsy, or stiff. Stiff silks cut into holes.
The purchaser should carefully feel the silk, and gather it into folds. If the folds are round and full the silk is soft, if they are stiff and angular the chances are that the dress will cut in the folds when made up.
Mr. John Spiller has found by recent experiments that hydrochloric acid is a powerful solvent of silk, although it has little or no effect on cotton or wool, at least for a long time. The practical use of this discovery to ladies is great. The purchaser of a silk has only first to buy or obtain a few inches of it, and drop a little hydrochloric acid - to be had at any chemist's - on the centre of the piece; if it be of pure silk a hole will be made; if there is cotton in it those threads will remain.