Category Archives: Kitchen

Becoming a vegetarian is one of the best life changes we can make

The following post is a guest post by Tom Bailey, an 18-year-old literary and political blogger. He writes on a variety of topics from music to politics on his own blog, where he also publishes his poems. His Twitter handle is @TomBaileyBlog

Over to Tom…

——

There are hundreds of reasons for becoming a vegetarian: it’s cheaper, it’s healthier, and it’s undeniably a more humane way of life. But most importantly, it’s better for the world in which we live.

As Einstein explained, “Nothing will benefit human health and increase the chances for survival of life on Earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet.” If Einstein said it, it must be true! But how can eating less meat save the planet? Well, let me explain.

The environmental impact of humanity’s insatiable carnivorousness is undeniable: according to a study by Goodland and Anhang, livestock and their byproducts produce an estimated 32.6 billion tons of carbon dioxide every year, equating to 51% of annual worldwide Greenhouse Gas emissions.

That means meat production produces more Greenhouse Gas than all other sources put together! Want to reduce your Carbon footprint? Cut down on your meat!

Continue reading

Beyond Drying Up: Six Alternative Uses for a Tea Towel

We’ve previously discussed the many uses of a tea towel beyond drying the dishes. But several of our customers have since come up with more adventurous ideas. Alternative applications for the humble tea towel have in fact existed since the rise of its initial popularity in the 18th century as a tool to dry the bone china dish sets of the English upper classes.

Here we give a rundown of a few more ‘radical’ uses for the kitchen tea towel:

  1. As a shepherd’s head dress in your child’s nativity play

Normally better to use a striped or cross-hatch design for this one… unless these shepherds are devotees of the anarcho-syndicalist movement, of course.

  1. As a flag at a demonstration

Shepherd or not, there’s nothing preventing you from attaching your tea towel to a stick and using it as an alternative to those socialist worker placards at your typical demonstration.

  1. As a canvas for your next Van Gogh imitation

Strapped for cash and unable to get his brother Theo to send him more canvas quickly enough, Van Gogh resorted to the tea towel as a base for his creative genius. Some tea towel paintings date from Van Gogh’s time in the mental asylum at Saint-Paul-de-Mausole in Saint Rémy de Provence, and it is speculated they came from the asylum’s kitchen. Later works were painted on tea towels with a red border, possibly from the kitchen of the Auberge Ravoux in Auvers, the small village to the north of Paris where Van Gogh spent the last two months of his life before shooting himself.

Continue reading

How To Wash Tea Towels: The Definitive Guide

Sadly no one (even us) has yet invented a self-cleaning tea towel, so just like cloths, hand and bath towels, they still need washing to avoid smelly bacteria and remove stains. We’ve previously written about how to wash and take care of your tea towels, and have decided to update our advice given the apparent popularity of this subject!Laundry room image

Pre-Use Washing

Brand new towels of any kind are not that absorbent, due to excess dye and oils left over from the manufacturing process. We therefore recommend washing your tea towels in warm water before use.

You’re best off washing any colourful tea towels independently of other items the first time round, in case the colours run. Using a little diluted white vinegar in this initial wash can also help make your tea towels more absorbent.

Stain Removal

Particularly bad stains are best treated with a clothing stain remover beforehand, but your regular detergent should work for the most part. You can just chuck cotton and linen tea towels in with the rest of the washing machine load – hand washing isn’t really necessary.

A hot temperature (40 degrees plus) is fine for white tea towels, but for coloured ones, we recommended you stick to the 30-40 degree range for the best balance between killing off bacteria and maintaining the colour. Using a biological washing powder should ensure a thorough clean at these medium temperatures.

Continue reading

Should I Rinse My Dishes After Washing Them By Hand?

Whether you use a dishwasher or do it by hand, nothing is more likely to provoke arguments than the hundred and one ways of doing the washing up. Disagreements may centre on whether, after washing the dishes with detergent, you should simply dry them with a tea towel (suds and all); leave them to drain until the suds disappear; or rinse them by re-filling the sink with fresh water or running water over them from the tap or a jug.

There are no right answers to these questions and much of it boils down to practicality, habit, personal or cultural preference.

What is not controversial is that things have moved on so much since the days when the washing up was done in a single pot sink with traditional hot and cold taps, limited hot water and a tiny draining board. And this has made the rinsing option much easier. Continue reading

Washing Up Hacks to Save Water

Washing up needn’t be something you hate! You can see it as a calming routine which forces you to detach from the usual electronic stimulants and daily distractions. And while you’re at it, why not make it a goal to cut down on water wastage too?

1. Use a large plastic bowl within the sink to save about half the volume of water necessary to fill an empty sink. This also saves you time!

Plastic bowl

2. Make the water as hot as possible, using gloves to avoid burning yourself. The hot water will make it a lot easier to remove tough stains quickly.

Gloves

Continue reading

How to Wash and Take Care of your Tea Towels

So you’ve just bought a set of brand new tea towels! You may be asking yourself what is the most efficient and hygienic way of cleaning keeping them fresh and clean. Through daily use, they are exposed to all kinds of bacteria and if not washed properly could cause a health hazard. There are several things to bear in mind to ensure your new tea towels are kept hygienic, odour free and up to the job of drying dishes.

Our latest tea towels on the line

1. Washing frequency

New tea towels should be washed before using for the first time to increase absorbency. This will keep improving over several washes. It’s important to keep washing your tea towels regularly. If you have a good selection you are unlikely to run out and will be able to change them daily, whilst still being cheaper and better for the environment than paper towels.

Don’t leave wet, dirty, wet dish cloths and tea towels in a laundry basket before washing. They could develop mildew and bacteria and start to smell. It is far better to allow them to dry naturally overnight before dropping them in the laundry basket or washing them in the morning. Continue reading

Beyond Drying Up: Six (Conventional) Uses for a Tea Towel

In the age of the dishwasher, there are a few misguided people who feel that tea towels are no longer necessary in the kitchen. Be warned to stay clear of such heresy! Tea towels don’t have to be used for drying the dishes alone: they have several other vital functions in the modern kitchen. In this post we review a few of the traditional uses for this most flexible of kitchen accessories beyond drying up (a future post will expose some of the more ‘alternative’ functions!).

 

1. To cover a warm loaf of bread

Tea towel wrapping bread

Or cake and other delicious and exposed home-made baked food! The tea towel’s rectangle shape and insulating cotton should provide the perfect covering for traditional English scones, jam and clotted cream.

 

2. To dry wet surfaces

Tea towel wiping surface

We all know things can get quite messy when cooking in the kitchen. You’ve just sprayed and wiped your hob and table surfaces, only to find that now they’re soaked with water and unusable for the next twenty minutes. Enter the tea towel to wipe off that excess water and move you quickly onto dessert! Continue reading

Tea towel wiping surface

Feminist kitchen accessories – an oxymoron?

With Father’s Day approaching this Sunday 15th, it seems the perfect time to have a discussion about the ‘feminist’ nature (or not) of what the Radical Tea Towel Company does. Occasionally, we receive comments on our facebook page about whether the kitchen accessories on our website simply encourage stereotypes of women working in the kitchen. Here are a couple of examples:

Facebook commentFacebook comment

We don’t actually believe our stuff has to be seen in an ironic light at all: we have a range of figures and concepts on the tea towels, and the suffragette movement just happens to be one of these.

There’s nothing about a suffragette tea towel that says it’s only for use by women, or that a man can’t appreciate the finer stylistic points of a Keep Left apron. Which is why we offer you feminist gift ideas for Father’s Day as well as Mother’s Day 😉 Continue reading

History of the Tea Cosy – From Duchesses to WW2 Soldiers

Feminist tea cosy

Commemorating the suffragettes – but the tea cosy also has a story of its own to tell

The tea cosy (tea cozy in the US), like the tea towel, apparently traces its origins back to 19th century Britain. It is thought likely that the Duchess of Bedford, who established a tradition of ‘afternoon tea’ in 1840 to occupy affluent women, first popularised the tea cosy among the upper classes.

Its primary function was to keep the tea pot warm so that the tea wouldn’t go cold quickly during all the chatter and gossip of an afternoon tea gathering. These were of course the days well before electric kettles and microwaves which can quickly reheat cold water.

The late Victorian era saw tea cosies become popular in the houses of the middle class. They were often embroidered and their function expanded to a decorative piece. This period also saw tea cosies become popular in North America.

British Second World War soldiers spending time in a military hospital in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) were told to knit tea cosies to avoid boredom. Their patterned designs were in stark contrast to the experience of death and destruction around them, and a gentle reminder of life at home. This tea cosy, telling the story of one such soldier, was featured in the BBC’s series ‘A History of the World in 100 Objects’. Continue reading

Should I Rinse Dishes Before Putting Them in the Dishwasher?

To rinse or not to rinse, that is the question… If you own a dishwasher you will certainly have considered whether to pre-rinse your dishes before stacking them. This is a matter of great controversy and whole internet forums have been devoted to the topic!

Photo Credit: Riverside Dreamer via Compfight cc

Inspecting for cleaning quality. Photo Credit: Riverside Dreamer via Compfight cc

According to dishwasher manufacturers’ guidelines, ‘pre-rinsing’ as it is known, is unnecessary. Experts (i.e. dishwasher engineers) say quite categorically that you do not need to pre-rinse before loading the dishwasher: just scrape the leftovers from your dishes into the bin and stack them. The dishwasher will do its job and wash them.

Continue reading