The Thrifty Housewife: Freeze Your Greens!

We’ve talked before about how fresh produce is a beat-the-clock race for a lot of smaller households. Fresh vegetables are important, but they do turn into sludge faster than many of us can get through them. If you want to win at produce, you need some food preservation strategies. One of the easiest of these is freezing vegetables.

Frozen vegetables are very nutritious and usually affordable. Unfortunately, issues in the supply chain during this pandemic have made storebought frozen vegetables a bit of a hot (heh) commodity. The first time I went to Aldi during the early, early days of COVID-19 warnings, the freezer case was completely empty. It was startling. Tumbleweeds could have rolled through, unimpeded.

Since then, my local market has consistently had a few things, but not much variety. I’m trying to cut down even further on my grocery trips, which isn’t a problem except for the aforementioned produce issue. So it’s time for DIY Frozen Vegetables.

Most frozen vegetables benefit from a simple process–blanch, shock, drain, freeze. You can also cook them before freezing, but I prefer the versatility of a plain vegetable product. (Note: Tomatoes, winter squash, onions, and peppers don’t need blanching).

So here’s how you do it.

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Using Bleach Like a 1950s Housewife

If there’s one substance most associated with “old-fashioned” cleaning, it’s bleach. Throughout the 20th century, homemakers relied on bleach for its powerful germ-killing abilities.

And, despite a mild obsession with 20th-century homemaking, I almost never use it.

An early Clorox ad promoting using bleach with the headline "A Clorox-Clean Home is a Safer Place to Live In!" and a personified bottle of bleach with a smiling face holding up cards with science facts.

I didn’t grow up cleaning with bleach, I hate the smell, and it’s always seemed…scary. It’s poisonous and corrosive, both things I generally try to avoid.

But we live in interesting times, my friends, and the coronavirus has caused me to investigate, and ultimately, change my position. I decided to learn how to disinfect my household with bleach.

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Housewife Week 2: Report

So the 1950s Housewife Life continues. This week was much like last week. I kept up with the daily cleaning, deep cleaned two rooms, and made some discoveries along the way. OH YES, and a pandemic broke. More on that later.

Overall, my perception is starting to change and I think I’m beginning to see things like my tidy-person spouse does naturally. Case in point, I looked at this sink, and thought, unironically, “The dishes are really starting to pile up, ugh!”

A sink with lots of empty space, a mug of silverware, one bowl, two plates, one glass jar and a cup.
I don’t even know who I am anymore.
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Housewife Week 1: The Report

I completed the first week of my 1950s housewifery experiment! I have now been attempting to be an ideal housewife for seven days!

Things are getting sparkling around here. I did the basic daily cleaning (dust/sweep/tidy) every weekday and did the deeper weekly cleaning in the kitchen and living room. AHB suggests I should be able to deep clean every room in two days, but that wasn’t quite do-able. I suspect that once every room has been deep cleaned, future cleaning sessions will be shorter.

An early 20th century ad for cigarettes, a woman dressed in patriotic clothes shoulders a broom. She wears a sash and stands on a platform. Both read "Welcome Cigarettes". She shoulders a broom.
I would, in fact, sort of welcome cigarettes, because nicotine is a stimulant, and I could use one. (Don’t worry, I’m not going to start smoking, as historically accurate as that would be.)
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Daily Cleaning: Housewife Ideals

No one can be dogmatic about the daily cleaning of various rooms in the house. So many things influence the amount of work that can be done–the quantity of dust or soot in the air, for example, the philosophy of first things first, the number of rooms that must be cleaned, the size of the family, the age of the children, and the help or lack of it that the homemaker has.

…[W]e set before you an ideal. How nearly you can approach this ideal, especially as to daily cleaning, we cannot know.

America’s Housekeeping Book, 1941

Me neither, AHB. Me. Neither.

Rows of upright straw brooms.
We’re going to need more brooms.

Just as it would be silly to take Martha Stewart as the prototypical homemaker of today, looking to the home management books and magazines as an “authentic” guide to what every homemaker did in the mid 20th century is a mistake. As our pal, the AHB tells us, we’re talking about ideals. The mere fact that all these manuals exist speaks to the fact that “how to housewife” was not universal knowledge.

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