Want to know how to get rid of beetroot stains? Grab a slice of bread.

All you need is vinegar and bicarb soda and you're ready to go. Picture: Shutterstock
All you need is vinegar and bicarb soda and you're ready to go. Picture: Shutterstock

Spilt some beetroot on a white shirt? Try placing a saucer of cold water under the stain and a slice of bread on top. The moistened bread will absorb the stain, then wash your shirt in the usual way.

I know this tip has no reason to be here in this Food & Wine section, unless of course I had been smart enough to fill the rest of the liftout with beetroot recipes, but I've always been fascinated by stain removal tips. This is the best one I've heard.

To remove curry stains, soak in methylated spirits or glycerine and then wash as usual. Dry in the sun.

Red wine? Cover immediately with soda water, then pour boiling water through the stain.

And grab a wet wipe to remove chocolate stains.

Kind of the makings for a good meal, so that's how I'll justify myself.

I'm talking to Noela MacLeod, former national president of the Country Women's Association. This job has its benefits so now I'm pumping her for solutions to my own problems. What can I do with the huge zucchini I've missed in the vege patch? Pickles, she says, "I'll send you my recipe." How can I get the sweat stains out of my son's training gear? Add an aspirin to the soaking water, or if it's really bad sponge it with colourless mouthwash. What about ants? Sprinkle talcum powder around the area where they normally appear.

"Call me anytime you want to know something," she says, rather generously. She might be a little shocked when I do.

Noela MacLeod AO is a long-time member of the CWA. Picture: Supplied

Noela MacLeod AO is a long-time member of the CWA. Picture: Supplied

The CWA has always been about "women helping women", MacLeod says. She had just moved to Chilton in rural Victoria for her husband's employment and had four children under six - "one at school, one in the pram and two hanging off each side" - when she was approached in the street by a stranger who asked her if she'd like to come to a meeting.

"It was the one place I could take the four children and not feel out of place," she says. The Australian association was formed in 1945, NSW formed in 1922, Victoria in 1928. There are now more than 17,000 members Australia wide.

Its ethos has always been about improving conditions for women and children and making life better for families.

And this latest little book from the CWA of Victoria, Thrifty Household: More than 1000 budget-friendly hints and tips, will do just that.

MacLeod's been tucking away tips for close to 40 years, some of the tips were passed down from her own grandmother.

Thrifty Household: More than 1000 budget-friendly hints and tips, Collected wisdom from the Country Women's Association of Victoria, Inc. Murdoch Books. $24.99.

Thrifty Household: More than 1000 budget-friendly hints and tips, Collected wisdom from the Country Women's Association of Victoria, Inc. Murdoch Books. $24.99.

"She grew up on a farm which was miles from the nearest town and you had to make do with what you had. Everyone had vinegar, everyone had bicarb soda and you just made do."

Which is something we've had to do a lot of in the past 12 months, she says. Lockdown and the likes have made us reassess our approach to the way we run our homes, looking to save money, making do, perhaps spending more time in the garden, and the kitchen, thinking more about the environmental impact of our daily lives .

"The book couldn't be more timely," she says.

"Life has changed and we're all so busy but solutions to things can be really simple.

"We don't have to spend huge amounts of money, or spend too much time on things.

"If we look to the old remedies, they still work today."

What's the one piece of advice she'd give that young woman, juggling the young family, perhaps a career?

"I would find a good cookbook," she says. (And keep an eye out for a new cookbook coming in April From Our Kitchens to Yours, also by the CWA Victorian branch, from Murdoch Books.)

"And sort out what basics to always have in the house, like flour and sugar, I like to keep a lot of spices.

"And get back to basics, there's nothing better than a pot of soup with some cheese scones, or a chow mien, or sausage rolls, sneak a few vegetables into things so the children don't even notice."

Would she consider herself a good cook?

"Well I haven't killed anyone yet," the 81-year-old says. "And I've been cooking since I was about three."

  • Thrifty Household: More than 1000 budget-friendly hints and tips, Collected wisdom from the Country Women's Association of Victoria, Inc. Murdoch Books. $24.99.
When baking pies for the freezer, decorate the top of the pie with the first letter of the contents - it saves on labelling. Picture: Shutterstock

When baking pies for the freezer, decorate the top of the pie with the first letter of the contents - it saves on labelling. Picture: Shutterstock

Thrifty Tips

Food

When baking pies for the freezer, decorate the top of the pie with the first letter of the contents - it saves on labelling.

To enhance the flavour of old herbs and spices, pop them in the microwave for 30-40 seconds.

Make a packet cake extra moist and flavoursome by adding half a cup of sour cream to the mixture.

In the kitchen

Reuse the insert trays from boxes of chocolates as ice-cube trays.

Greasy tiles around the cooktop can be wiped with white vinegar.

Coffee is a good air purifier, so burn a little in a tin on top of the stove and any household smells will disappear.

This story Handy home hints from the CWA first appeared on The Canberra Times.

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