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Practical Guidance Units

To give in an attractive form complete and accurate directions for doing something in a certain way

To give in an attractive form complete and accurate directions for doing something in a certain way, is another difficult problem for the inexperienced writer. For interest and variety, conversation, interviews and other forms of direct quotation, as well as informal narrative, may be employed.

Various practical methods of saving fuel in cooking were given by a writer in Successful Farming, in what purported to be an account of a meeting of a farm woman's club at which the problem was discussed. By the device of allowing the members of the club to relate their experiences, she was able to offer a large number of suggestions. Two units selected from different portions of the article illustrate this method: "I save dollars by cooking in my furnace," added a practical worker.

"Potatoes bake nicely when laid on the ledge, and beans, stews, roasts, bread—in fact the whole food list—may be cooked there. But one must be careful not to have too hot a fire. I burned several things before I learned that even a few red coals in the fire-pot will be sufficient for practically everything. And then it does blacken the pans! But I've solved that difficulty by bending a piece of tin and setting it between the fire and the cooking vessel. This prevents burning, too, if the fire should be hot. Another plan is to set the vessel in an old preserving kettle. If this outer kettle does not leak, it may be filled with water, which not only aids in the cooking process but also prevents burning. For broiling or toasting, a large corn popper is just the thing." "My chief saving," confided the member who believes in preparedness, "consists in cooking things in quantities, especially the things that require long cooking, like baked beans or soup. I never think of cooking less than two days' supply of beans, and as for soup, that is made up in quantity sufficient to last a week. If I have no ice, reheating it each day during warm weather prevents spoiling.

Most vegetables are not harmed by a second cooking, and, besides the saving in fuel it entails, it's mighty comforting to know that you have your dinner already prepared for the next day, or several days before for that matter. In cold weather, or if you have ice, it will not be necessary to introduce monotony into your meals in order to save fuel, for one can wait a day or two before serving the extra quantity.

Sauces, either for vegetables, meats or puddings, may just as well be made for more than one occasion, altho if milk is used in their preparation, care must be taken that they are kept perfectly cold, as ptomaines develop rapidly in such foods. Other things that it pays to cook in large portions are chocolate syrup for making cocoa, caramel for flavoring, and apple sauce." By using a conversation between a hostess and her guest, another writer in the same farm journal succeeded in giving in a novel way some directions for preparing celery.

"Your escalloped corn is delicious. Where did you get your recipe?" Mrs. Field smiled across the dining table at her guest. "Out of my head, I suppose, for I never saw it in print. I just followed the regulation method of a layer of corn, then seasoning, and repeat, only I cut into small pieces a stalk or two of celery with each layer of corn." "Celery and corn—a new combination, but it's a good one. I'm so glad to learn of it; but isn't it tedious to cut the celery into such small bits?" "Not at all, with my kitchen scissors. I just slash the stalk into several lengthwise strips, then cut them crosswise all at once into very small pieces." "You always have such helpful ideas about new and easy ways to do your work. And economical, too. Why, celery for a dish like this could be the outer stalks or pieces too small to be used fresh on the table." "That's the idea, exactly. I use such celery in soups and stews of all kinds; it adds such a delicious flavor. It is especially good in poultry stuffings and meat loaf. Then there is creamed celery, of course, to which I sometimes add a half cup of almonds for variety. And I use it in salads, too. Not a bit of celery is wasted around here. Even the leaves may be dried out in the oven, and crumbled up to flavor soups or other dishes." "That's fine! Celery is so high this season, and much of it is not quite nice enough for the table, unless cooked." A number of new uses for adhesive plaster were suggested by a writer in the New York Tribune, who, in the excerpt below, employs effectively the device of the direct appeal to the reader.

Aside from surgical "First Aid" and the countless uses to which this useful material may be put, there are a great number of household uses for adhesive plaster.

If your pumps are too large and slip at the heel, just put a strip across the back and they will stay in place nicely. When your rubbers begin to break repair them on the inside with plaster cut to fit. If the children lose their rubbers at school, write their names with black ink on strips of the clinging material and put these strips inside the top of the rubber at the back.

In the same way labels can be made for bottles and cans. They are easy to put on and to take off. If the garden hose, the rubber tube of your bath spray, or your hot water bag shows a crack or a small break, mend it with adhesive.

A cracked handle of a broom, carpet sweeper, or umbrella can be repaired with this first aid to the injured. In the same way the handles of golf sticks, baseball bats, flagstaffs and whips may be given a new lease on life.

If your sheet music is torn or the window shade needs repairing, or there is a cracked pane of glass in the barn or in a rear window, apply a strip or patch of suitable size.

In an article in the Philadelphia Ledger on "What Can I Do to Earn Money?" Mary Hamilton Talbot gave several examples of methods of earning money, in one of which she incorporated practical directions, thus: A resourceful girl who loved to be out-of-doors found her opportunity in a bed of mint and aromatic herbs. She sends bunches of the mint neatly prepared to various hotels and cafés several times a week by parcel post, but it is in the over-supply that she works out best her original ideas. Among the novelties she makes is a candied mint that sells quickly. Here is her formula: Cut bits of mint, leaving three or four small leaves on the branch; wash well; dry and lay in rows on a broad, level surface. Thoroughly dissolve one pound of loaf sugar, boil until it threads and set from the fire. While it is still at the boiling point plunge in the bits of mint singly with great care.

Remove them from the fondant with a fork and straighten the leaves neatly with a hatpin or like instrument. If a second plunging is necessary, allow the first coating to become thoroughly crystalized before dipping them again. Lay the sweets on oiled paper until thoroughly dry. With careful handling these mints will preserve their natural aroma, taste, and shape, and will keep for any length of time if sealed from the air. They show to best advantage in glass. The sweet-smelling herbs of this girl's garden she dries and sells to the fancy goods trade, and they are used for filling cushions, pillows, and perfume bags. The seasoning herbs she dries, pulverizes, and puts in small glasses, nicely labeled, which sell for 10 cents each, and reliable grocers are glad to have them for their fastidious customers.

Reference book: How To Write Special Feature Articles

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