We get a varied selection of donations at the Bargain Centre....
The volunteers who work there on behalf of the Church get quite adept at recognizing the rarest of objects, from old fashioned tools to new fangled gadgets whose uses sometimes seem hardly plausible, so frivolous they be.
When most of the donations had been sorted and hung up this morning there remained on the table a small tin from Winnipeg, labeled Water Glass. This object certainly qualifies as a most practical commodity, and as I picked it up and read the label memories of my childhood engulfed me.
The crock which contained the Water Glass (Isinglass) lived down the stairs and off to the right.
It sat on the basement floor, and despite it's goodly contribution to the household it was a vile and slimy concoction to any small child who had to plunge her hand in it to retrieve the eggs that were being preserved therein.
Baking day had its ups and downs, and one of the downs was being asked to go and put your poor wee hand into that gelatinous mass, and then having to carry the eggs quickly up the basement steps with who knows how many monsters behind you in the dark.
Eggs PLUS Waterglass PLUS basement steps all added up to a scary experience.
My Sister remembers this part of childhood with as much horror as I do, except she may not have been afraid of the monsters that lived in the coal bin in the far corner of the basement.
I have to say that the results of baking day were worth the dangers and the revolting insult to the senses.
If you have it in your mind to strengthen your child's character and are looking for novel ways to do so, here is a receipt from our Agricultural Past...
In the Spring of the Year when the hens are laying well, put aside the surplus to preserve for that time of the year when the produce found in the nests is liable to be less lavish Try not to use fertile eggs (alas, poor Rooster, - banished from the henhouse).
Obtain a medium sized Medalta stoneware crock. manufactured in Medicine Hat, Alberta (not too large, - one doesn't want small children to fall in). Trudge on down to the pharmacy and purchase a pint of Sodium Silicate, which is a thick liquid about the consistency of molasses. Boil TEN QUARTS of water and allow to cool.
Place the eggs, narrow end down in the crock - mix the waterglass (Sodium Silicate -oh devilish brew) with the cooled water , and pour the mixture over the eggs in the crock.
The eggs should keep one year - to the day. The mixture may become cloudy and resemble soft soap, but do not let that deter you, - the more glutinous it becomes the better suited it is to forming and strengthening character in the young and impressionable. This amount of mix should be enough to preserve 12 or 13 dozen eggs, which eggs should be used mainly for baking.
And that brings up another consideration, - if you, as mother, are used to buying your baked goods from the deli, you are going to be in line to have your character strengthened too. You are going to have to suck it up and make time to bake the cakes and cookies and puddings and cream pies to use the eggs that you are going to send the innocents to retrieve.
Well, good luck to you and to all the little children who get to benefit from this brave adventure.
P.S.......Husband contributes a story of his own childhood demon, - his brother whispering to him "frog's legs, frog's legs" whenever Sago Pudding was served as dessert, - but he didn't actually EAT the Sago Pudding. His brother enjoyed every last spoonful, so I'm not sure that this could be the cause of the strengthening of his backbone?