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Oily Rag mail bags

Oily Rag mail bags
By Frank and Muriel Newman

The mailbags are full again, so here are some of the more interesting or titillating tips.

Lin, an oily rag reader from the UK, asked us for ideas for using a surplus of broad beans – especially “once they've got big and tough?”

Hank from Rotorua has these suggestions. "I try to get as many young beans into the freezer early in the season as I can, but as the beans age, the 'younger' older beans can be podded and blanched and then the grey outer skin of the seeds can be removed before freezing. If they really have gone 'over' leave the pods to dry out on the plants. I use the best ones for seed for the next year, and pod the others to store as dried beans for a delicious Sardinian side dish. Soak the dried beans overnight (15 hours) then simmer with a dash of olive oil in water with chunks of pork belly (cut into cubes about two to three cm) till tender (about an hour), skimming off the impurities as they cook. Then make a dressing in a dish using extra virgin olive oil, slices of garlic, chilli flakes and chopped flat leaved parsley. Drain the beans and pork, and toss into the dressing. The heat from the beans and meat brings out a delicious aroma. Tastes great."

Paul from Paraparaumu has this tip. "Regarding the excess of broad beans - or any beans for that matter - harvest, cook really well and then puree. This can be used to flavour soups, thicken gravies and sauces etc. Freeze what you don't use straight away."

Rosie from Wanganui has sent in this excellent gardening tip. "We always plant our pea seeds in lengths of spouting filled with potting mix. When the seeds have germinated and are ready for the garden, all we do is dig a trench and push the length of pea plants into the trench. Works better than trying to get the seeds started in the soil and we don't have wasted areas of bare ground."

Ruth from Taumarunui asks, "We live in a small town where it is hard to buy quite a few things including essential oils. How can I get some - the cheapest way possible please?" And Shelley from Kerikeri has as similar question, "I like the idea of using eucalyptus oil around the house but where can I buy it in bulk? It seems to be quite costly even in a 100ml bottle."

If you can help Ruth or Shelley please drop us a note at

Honey from Christchurch has this handy tip to remove stubborn stains from vinyl. "To remove a stain from vinyl flooring (wine, curry, etc) soak a small piece of white cloth in one part bleach to three parts water. Place the cloth on top of stain, and leave for one hour (no longer or it may discolour the vinyl). You may have to do this a few times until stain is gone. Works really well on porcelain too."

Annette from New Plymouth has this baking tip. "The other day I had to help with some catering and found myself running low on butter so I used half butter and half cooking oil (like canola). Use this idea when you have to melt the butter - melt then top up with the oil."

N.W. from Wanganui has this kitchen tip. "Dry stock purchased in plastic jars always goes hard quickly. I put the container inside a screw top glass jar, and it stays free flowing."

Don’t forget, you can send your tips and join the Oily Rag mailing list by visiting - or you can write to us at Living Off the Smell of an Oily Rag, PO Box 984, Whangarei.

*Frank and Muriel Newman are the authors of Living Off the Smell of an Oily Rag in NZ. Readers can submit their oily rag tips on-line

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