Tuesday, October 5, 2010
Excerpt from the chapter on grains:
Four sets of rats were given special diets. One group received plain whole wheat, water, vitamins and minerals. Anotehr group received Puffed Wheat, water and the same nutrient solution. A third set was given water and white sugar, and a fourth given nothing but water and the chemical nutrients. The rats which received the whole wheat lived for over a year on the diet. The rats who got nothing but water and vitamins lived for about 8 weeks, and the animals on a white sugar and water diet lived for a month. But [the company's] own laboratory study showed that rats given vitamins, water and all the Puffed Wheat they wanted died in two weeks. It wasn't a matter of the rats dying of malnutrition; results like these suggested that there was something actually toxic about the Puffed Wheat itself. Proteins are very similar to certain toxins in molecular structure, and the puffing process of putting the grain under 1500 pounds per square inch of pressure and then releasing it may produce chemical changes which turn a nutritious grain into a poisonous substance . . . I was shocked, so I showed the report to Dr. Clark, who shared my concern. His predecessor, Dr. Graham, had published the report and begged the company not to continue producing Puffed Wheat because of its poisonous effect on animals. Dr. Clark . . . went right to the president . . . "I know people should throw it on brides and grooms at weddings," [the president] cracked, "but if they insist on sticking it in their mouths, can I help it? Besides, we made $9 million on the stuff last year."
Paul Stitt, Fighting the Food Giants
Also from the chapter on grains:
In 1960, researchers at Ann Arbor University performed an interesting experiment on laboratory rats. Eighteen rats were divided into three groups. One group received cornflakes and water; a second group was given the cardboard box the cornflakes came in and water; and the control group received rat chow and water. The rats in the control group remained in good health throughout the experiment. The rats receiving the cardboard became lethargic and eventually died of malnutrition. But the rats receiving the cornflakes and water died before the rats who were given the cardboard box--the last cornflake rat died on the day the first box rat died. Before death, the cornflake rats developed schizophrenic behavior, threw fits, bit each other and finally went into convulsions. Autopsy revealed dysfunction of the pancreas, liver and kidneys and degeneration of the nerves in the spine--all signs of "insulin shock." The startling conclusion of this study is that there is more nourishment in the box that cold breakfast cereals come in than in the cereals themselves. Loren Zanier, designer of the experiment, actually proposed the protocol as a joke. But the results are far from funny. They were never published and similar studies have not been repeated. If consumers knew the truth about breakfast cereals, vast fortunes would be jeopardized. (Sally Fallon)
Don't know about you, but this tells me all I need to know about Big Food and cold cereals. The poisonous aspects seem to be due to the processing methods of the grains--changing them from nutritious foods into...well...what can we call the stuff? I haven't eaten cold cereals (except homemade museli) in ages, but I know I ate a lot of it before. Live and learn. And don't trust Big Food!
Friday, September 24, 2010
Tuesday, June 8, 2010
We live in southern Indiana, so I'm talking about my bioregion, which would include a lot of the Midwest (though maybe not the prairie areas). If you live in the Northwest, Southwest, your biogregion is no doubt quite a bit different. But if you're in most of the continental 48 states, then you could find lambsquarters in your garden, since it is common pretty much all across the country. Lambsquarters likes disturbed soil--as you find in gardens and other border areas where mankind lives. It grows in cities, in the country, and is one of those ubiquitious fellas who are found all over the place. Once you learn to identify them, you'll see them everywhere.
So check your garden! We're lucky to have lots of little lambys growing. I'm letting them get big enough to eat and then I'll pick them. But for now, they're welcome to grow. In former posts, I've written about lambsquarters here and here as well as lots of other places in this blog. Just look under the category lambsquarters. They are highly nutritious and tasty (not to mention, grow without any effort on your part and FREE).
A few days ago, I "weeded" our Amish friend's garden, which had a whole slew of lambsquarters. In fact, the LQ basically covered the area where they had planted celery! So I was lucky enough to pick all that. I processed it all by taking the leaves off the stems (edible but tough), then blanching or scalding them in boiling water, then drainging, cooling, and packaging them up for the freezer. So far I have 7 quarts in the freezer, with one more big batch of lambsquarters left to go. If you're lucky to find big areas of lambsquarters, do freeze them. They keep well and they're very welcome in the wintertime.
Purslane is another "weed" I let grow in the garden. I've talked about purslane in both the links I posted above for LQ. Also highly nutritious, purslane has the added benefit of being a great plant source of Omega-3. I like these as a salad green and we eat a lot of it in the summer. They don't freeze well, but you can pickle the stems. I haven't tried to dry it, but I might try that this year. You can find lots of pictures of purslane by going to Google Images and typing in purslane. That's what I do when I need to see a pix of a plant--very useful for identifying plants. It grows in gardens mostly--that's where I've seen most of it anyway. It's another plant that grows all over the country, north to south and east to west. It's very tasty and makes a really nice addition to salads. You can eat it as a potherb too, but I prefer it in salads. In Turkey, it's a national dish. Try it in a dish of browned ground beef, pork or lamb, rice, tomatoes and add a bunch of purslane. YUM.
The other of the three weeds I mentioned that I leave in the garden is woods sorrel. It's a light, lemony kind of plant. You can find a good pix of it, as well as other edible wild plants in this article of Wildman Steve Brill's. Check it out! This article includes mushrooms, berries, and a bunch of wild greens. I've written about woods sorrel here (among other plants). I find it in the garden all the time. And it is one of those I definitely leave til it's big enough to eat.
When it comes to weeds, if you can't beat 'em, eat 'em! These three, lambsquarters, purslane, and woods sorrel are all delicious and very good for you. If you keep an organic garden, as we do, then you don't have any worries about pesticides, herbicides, etc. Just wonderful, free food. As the world crashes down among us, these are good guys to keep your eyes open for. They'll help keep you alive and healthy.
Sunday, June 6, 2010
Old Fashioned Spoonbread
3/4 cup cornmeal, stone or water ground if available
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup boiling water
3 tablespoons melted butter
2 large eggs
1 cup milk
2 teaspoons baking powder
(I added some shredded cheddar cheese and a can of yellow hominy for fun)
Combine cornmeal and salt in mixing bowl. Stirring constantly, slowly add boiling water, keeping cornmeal smooth. Mix in the melted butter. In a separate bowl, beat the eggs until they thicken, add the milk and beat to combine. Add eggs and milk to cornmeal and mix in the baking powder. (At this point, I added the cheese and can of hominy. Creamed corn would be good too...) Turn in to a square 8 or 9 inch well-greased baking pan. Bake at 350 for about 30 minutes or until firm. Serve with plenty of butter. We had ours with our wonderful cranberry beans.
This was delicious, and a fun break from corn bread--it is a bit more pudding like than cornbread. You can eat it with (ahem) a spoon.
Friday, April 23, 2010
I've also been harvesting that marvelous garlic mustard and making pesto with it. That's what most foragers tend to recommend doing with garlic mustard as the plant is quite pungent, a little more than most folks will appreciate in a plate of greens. But it makes a superb pesto--here's the recipe I use, from Prodigal Gardens, one of my favorite foraging sites. I just noticed some horsetail growing on the other side of our little lake here, so I'll be gathering that as well for tea.
Spring has been absolutely lovely so far. Nice warm days, cool nights, lots of sunshine and now some rain to water those little plants in the ground. It's a blessing to be alive!
Saturday, March 27, 2010
Friday, March 26, 2010
If you hang with cats, you've seen this pix a kzillion times. Cats snooze up to 18 hours a day, whether they need it or not. Especially in a warm patch of sunlight. A cat can't walk through that patch without a fatal attack of the sneeps.
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
However, I can't do it. Well, yes, I could do it, but I don't and won't. You see, I'm a cook-from-scratch kind of handmaiden. I always have been. It's only recently that I've even used many canned veggies. If I can afford it, I'd rather buy either fresh or frozen, and wait til the produce is in season. There are some things I use that I don't make from scratch, pasta for instance. I know you can make pasta at home, and it doesn't have to be fancy or require a pasta machine. There's ways of doing all of it by hand, because that's how it was always done in the past. And I will use of cream of whatever soup instead of making the soup from scratch. But mostly, I cook using basic foodstuffs that don't come with a long line of chemicals in the What the Hell IS This Stuff ingredient list.
For the past few years, I've been trying to de-chemicalize our household. Instead of multiple cleaning products, I've switched to using white vinegar for the most part. Occasional use of a pine-sol kind of cleaner is OK, too, but most cleansers are just too strong and chemically-smelling for me. They make me feel ill, so I don't like 'em. Vinegar suits me just fine and does a decent job of cleaning. I tolerate the vinegar smell far more than I can Super-Douper Floor Cleaner that costs six times as much.
I've been trying to de-chemicalize us because I think most of that stuff is why we have so many degenerative diseases. That and all the chemicals in our diet. Going to basics means turning your back on all the synthetic chemical products made by the Beast and sold at high cost.
In the past, I'd sit down with a grocery store circular and look at the coupons. I'd think about couponing and saving money that way, but the truth is, I don't buy fancy processed foods. Oh, a few years ago I might buy a package of frozen Salisbury steaks or something like that. But we'd gotten so used to eating real food that the last time I served it some time ago, my husband said "Oh that wonderful chemical taste!" jokingly, but not really. We could both actually taste the chemically flavor of it. And that was that for processed foods.
On the other hand, I'm not a purist about this. If I find a coupon for real butter I'll clip it and use it. Ditto for flour and other goods used for baking or cooking. As I said, I'll use store-bought pasta rather than make my own and there may be coupons for it. If there's a coupon for meat or fruit or some other REAL food, I'll go for it.
But that's the line in the sand: I don't want to eat chemical-laden not-really-food type food. And that's a huge market in this country where people have forgotten what real food is. High fructose corn syrup isn't food, it's a chemical. (I could be wrong here, I'm not exactly sure what the hell it is, except something I avoid.) Food is the stuff around the edges of the grocery store: veggies and fruit, bread, fish, meat, dairy. Almost everything in the middle aisles of a typical grocery store probably isn't good for you, and shouldn't even be called food. Most of it has been so processed and gobbed up with chemicals that I'd bet my body wouldn't recognize it as food.
We do use canned fruits, vegetables, and meats. And we'll can it or freeze it here at home as well. That's about as far as I want to get with processing. I don't like, respect or trust our food-processing industry. They lie. They make their products look good and even taste good through their use of chemicals. They take actual real ingredients and twist them and fiddle them and turn them into something that cannot provide nutritional value to a human being. But it'll taste good. How weird is that?
I'm not expressing myself very well here. I should probably erase this post because it seems I haven't really gotten to what I want to say. But I'll leave it. The point is, if it ain't real food, made by God, then don't eat it. It doesn't matter if you can get it for free through using coupons, what you've obtained is still crap. Free crap is still crap.
Thursday, March 11, 2010
What I do when I find nifty and useful recipes for stuff like this, I copy it over to a document I started in the past year called "Survival Recipes." I suggest you might want to do that yourself as well. Then I print out my document and save a hard copy in the big notebook I have for recipes for all kinds of foods, herbal salves and tinctures, how to make Garlic Syrup, etc.
Sooner or later, the entire net might go down or be so tightly controlled by government that it is purely useless or just a simple time-waster. That's why I print and keep hard copy of certain items. Highly recommended!
It's a lovely day and I'm about to head out for a hike and see what all I can find wild. I'm still hungry for that chickweed salad! I'm beginning to feel that frisson of excitement that means spring is here, nettles will be up soon, garlic mustard will start appearing, and wild alliums are ready for harvest. Dandelions too, this time of year, are a wonderful treat and a real ass-kicker to break your body out of the winter blahs. Go out and look for some dandelions and get those greens before it flowers--they're not bitter until it flowers. It's a great spring tonic. Last year I gathered lots of wild onions and garlic and dandelion greens and brewed them up as a green spring tonic. Wonderful stuff.
Wednesday, March 3, 2010
Man, am I ever hungry for a wild salad. Chickweed and dandelion and woods sorrel, with some wild onions and garlic. Maybe add to that some of my marinated dried tomatoes and garlic. I've got my eyes peeled for new, fresh, wild foods every time I go outside, but I'm afraid it is still too early. My foraging journal from last year says that March 5th was too early. Only some wild alliums were around. The next date is March 20th, and now we're getting somewhere, for that's when wintercress showed up.
There are a few mats of chickweed around, but they're not looking all that spunky. The plants look tired and crushed by winter's cold. Yes, they'll spring back and start growing, getting lush and ready for a hungry harvester, but not today. Probably not for a few weeks yet.
If you start foraging wild foods, I highly recommend keeping a foraging journal from year to year. Last year I kept one faithfully, right up until July 24th and then I quit. I imagine I was awfully busy with harvesting, drying, canning and whatnot, but I KNOW I kept foraging until November. I'll just have to do better and make journal notes all year. There's nothing in last year's journal about all the jerusalem artichokes, black walnuts, evening primrose roots, etc. Sigh.
Anyway, in your journal, keep track of the dates when you first notice wild plants. Write about where you found them, for there's a good chance they'll be there next year as well. Describe the scents, the colors, the greeness, the redness of the berries, etc. Describe all you can. Also mention what you do with the plants you harvest. Do you dry them, freeze them, can them? Take notes on how you process the food, how you cook it, the flavor etc. You'll certainly be glad you did. These notes--even scanty, discontinued ones like mine, are invaluable in coming years foraging. If you are teaching the skill, your journal can help your students learn about the plants and their habitations.
Right now, I'm wishing there was a nice, big, fat journal entry about a wonderful meadow where I found a huge patch of lucious chickweed and wild alliums, with the first tender dandelion leaves growing nearby. I'd be off like a rocket to that meadow! Daydreams, my dear, just daydreams.
I guess what I'll do is get some lambquarters out of the freezer for dinner. I'll have a taste of some wild greens at any rate. And I'll be watching for lady chickweed, you betcha!
Monday, March 1, 2010
Germ vs. Terrain
Mainstream infectious disease medicine practiced today is based on the "germ theory" as put forward by Louis Pasteur (1822-1985). His theory viewed the body as a sterile machine that will operate properly unless a foreign substance is introduced. Therefore, it is thought that when specific microbes enter the body, they produce a specific disease. In an attempt to correct the imbalance, antibiotics and other medicines are used to destroy these organisms. No microbes, no disease. It was believed that health is restored only if there are no germs present that might cause disease.
In contrast, the famous French physiologist, Claude Bernard (1813-1878) focused on the importance of the body's internal environment. In contradiction to the then current doctrine of Pasteur, he taught that microbes (e.g. bacteria, viruses) could not produce disease unless the body's internal environment was unbalanced and susceptible for the development of disease. Bernard's theory was that the whole must be sick before any germ can make us ill.
[As an example, I was reading about this big debate these two disparate sides in France, between proponents of Pasteur and Bernard. The propronent of Bernard, to prove his point, that if his body's environment was clean and healthy, he would not get ill, actually drank a glass of water containing cholera germs in front of the audience! Cholera can kill quite quickly--but the man did NOT get ill. Must have truly believed his theory to put it to the test like that! I was amazed then, and remain amazed. However, I can't remember where I read this anecdote, so consider this mere anecdote until I can find the source. Thanks, HM]
Renowned microbiologist, Rene Debous agreed with this basic principle, saying, "Most microbial diseases are caused by organisms present in the body of a normal individual. They become the cause of disease when a disturbance arises which upsets the equilibrium of the body." Debous, like Bernard, thought it is not the presence of bacteria or viruses that cause disease, it is the imbalance of the body's normal functions that fails to hold the microbes in check. Even today, more and more doctors and researchers know that microbes are always present. Some of these are harmless and others have harmful potential. Some of these are absolutely necessary to allow the body to function properly; they are only able to cause disease if the body is in a weakened or upset state. Although some microbes with harmful potential can cause disease in even the healthiest persons if a significant dose of the microbe is contacted, those with strong immune function may completely resist infections manifestations or develop only mild infectious symptoms.
Furthermore, an improperly balanced bodily environment may lead to a compromised immune system and more serious disease. Degenerative diseases that lead to chronic failure of body tissues or organ systems result largely from an unstable condition of the internal environment. One the body is in a weakened state, the tissues can be secondarily affected by disease-causing microbes. Interestingly enough, even Pasteur himself condemed his own theory on his death bed, saying, "Bernard is right. The microbe is nothing. The environment is all important."
[Another editorial comment: As a student of medical history and the battles between various schools, it makes sense to me that allopathic medicine (typical American medical system) would latch onto Pasteur's theory rather than Bernard's. With Pasteur's, they can "heroically" use invasive drugs and surgery to "cure" the patient and the drugs/surgery can cost big bucks. With Bernard's, they would have been stuck with the boring preventative stuff like fasting and good nutrition. Where's the glory for the doctor in that, not to mention the money? HM]
The Free Radical Theory
"We know that most degenerative diseases are linked to free radical damage." James F. Balch, M.D.
Even more importantly, in 1954, Dr. Denham Harman described his free radical theory of aging and disease. He said, "A single common process, modifiable by genetic and environmental factors was responsible for aging and death of all living things." He also went on to say, "Aging is caused by free radical reactions which may be caused by the environment, from disease and intrinsic reactions within the aging process." At that time, Dr. Harman's work was, for the most part, ignored by the entrenched medical establishment. They were still convinced that disease must come from outside of man as represented by Louis Pasteur's germ theory.
The Dangerous World of Free Radicals
Think of them as internal terrorists roaming your body, looking for cells to destroy, depriving tissues of blood flow, preventing the removal of plaque and fats from your system. They're unstable oxygen molecules that come with every breath you take and, like terrorists, they can be hard to find and even harder to destroy.
Free radicals damage the body's DNA (the body's genetic code) by injuring or breaking the chemical bonds between the DNA molecules. As more damage builds up in the DNA strands, the DNA coded messages begin to be improperly translated and cellular function goes awry. It doesn't help that oxidation is caused by everything from the air you breathe to the foods you eat to environmental chemicals that can't be controlled. A body in the grip of free radical damage is susceptible to a host of life-threatening diseases and premature aging.
Free Radicals and Aging
"As antibiotics in the last fifty years of the twentieth century helped cure many infectious diseases, so antioxidants will affect a cure of many supposedly incurable diseases in the twenty first century and slow the aging process dramatically." James F. Balch, M.D.
Research by biogerontologists indicates that aging takes place because of destructive cellular changes brought on by free radicals. Professor Rajinjdar Sohal of the Department of Sciences at Southern Methodist University in Dallas concluded, followint the examination of recent free radical studies, "There is enough evidence to give good credence to the free radical theory of aging."
Meet the Free Radical Killers...the Curcuminoids!
To fight a strong enemy, you need an even stronger weapon, and one has been at hand for over a thousand years. In ancient times, it was used as a dye and spice as well as a medicine. Its use in Chinese medicine dates back to the 7th century. It is listed as a medicinal plant in an Assyrian herbal codex dating 600 BC and was one of the herbs mentioned by the first century Greek herbalist physician, Discorides. You probably have a bottle or tin of it on your spice rack. In fact you may have used some to add a little zing to your food lately without realizing you were helping to protect your cells in the process!
You know it as tumeric (or, as we will refer to it in this article, curcumin) far beyond its piquant flavor and brilliant yellow color. The real force in curcumin is in the beneficial phenolic compounds known as curcuminoids. There are three curcumonids that scientists have identified, curcumin, demethoxycurcumin, and bisdemethoxycurcumin.
Besides these highly valuable phenolic compounds, tumeric also contains a very potent antioxidant peptide identified as tumerin. In at least one experiment, this incredible little peptide has been shown to exhibit more antioxidant fire power than the curcuminoids.
Antioxidant Functions of Curcuminoids
"Tumeric and its active constituents, the curcuminoids, have antioxidant properties that effectively inhibit free radical damage in both in vitro and in vivo conditions." Vladimir Badmaev, M.D., Ph.D.
Curcuminoids have been scientifically proven to perform the following several antioxidative functions:
- Anti-inflammatory action
- Antithrombotic action
- Hepatoprotective action
- Antimicrobial action
- Antiviral action
- Antiparasitic action
Anticancer Benefits of Curcumin
"The anticarcinogenic activity of tumeric extract and curcuminoids may be in part explained by their well-researched ability to prevent genetic mutation, or mutagenesis." Vladimir Badmaev
Curcumin is a powerful antioxidant that effectively prevents precancerous changes within DNA and may prove to interfere with enzymes needed during cancer promotion. Since curcumin reduces inflammation by increasing production of natural cortisone produced by the adrenal glands, it may also inhibit cancer formation in the colon. Recent animal studies showed a significant decrease in tumor growth with the long-term administration of curcumin. Moreover, clinical studies have shown that curcumin-based ointments were very effective in helping to treat the effects of skin cancer.
[The pamphlet goes on to say that curcumin can help in oral cancers, useful in preventing and treating colorectal cancers, and in precancerous leukoplakia.]
Curcuminoids can also lower cholesterol, especially the "bad LDL" cholesterol. It can aid in cutting Alzheimer's Disease risk--the pamphlet discuses the very low incidence of Alzheimer's in India, perhaps because the Indian diet includes lots of tumeric in curry spices. And, of course, tumeric and its curcuminoids are anti-inflammatory, which can certainly help in arthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
To sum up: "All of the research and clinical trials seemed to provde what ancient medicine has known for centuries: curcumin may be a major defense and treatment for everything from small wounds to life-threatening chronic degenerative disease."
That's more than enough excerpting, though only small sections out of an 8 page booklet. If you are interested in the proprietary blend of herbs and spices marketed by the Journal of Health & Longevity, the number to call is 1-800-218-1379 or write to Institute for Vibrant Living, PO Box 3840, Camp Verde AZ 86322. The product, called Pain and Brain, is a blend of curcumin 95%, 1350 mg daily dose, Boswellia Serratta 65%, 600 mg, Ashwagandha Extract, 450 mg, Guggul Extract, 150 mg, Bioperine, 15mg daily dose. If I had the money, I would consider purchasing this product. However, I don't, so I'll merely continue taking my tsp of tumeric daily in a glass of water. This is probably NOT a clinically therapeutic dose, but I'm thinking that some is better than none and every little bit helps.
I've written about tumeric before, which you may want to check out. The thing is, these spices were (and are!) considered highly valuable, not only for their marvelous effects in the kitchen, but also for their medicinal uses. No wonder they were worth their weight in gold. They're still mighty expensive, but oh so worth it. Let's see, a double latte at Starbucks, or a fresh tin of good organic tumeric? Decisions, Decisions....
Sunday, February 28, 2010
The other site I stumbled upon the other day, I'm not sure how. Probably through following links from other blogs. Anyway, it is called Pretty Smart Natural Ideas. It's not a huge blog with lots of posts, but check the past months and the links. You'll find lots of interesting herbal creams and ointments, lip balms, cleaning formulas and other useful and interesting ideas. The author lives in New York City, but is certainly up on natural ideas! Worth checking out. I'll be back to blogging tomorrow, it was a busy week!
Tuesday, February 23, 2010
Whew. I just got done reading a couple of really informative articles from Natural News. If you are concerned at all about your well-being and health, then check these out. The first article is about how GlaxcoSmithKline hid the fact that its diabetes drug Avandia can lead to heart attacks and death. The FDA, of course, knew about this and DID NOT pull the drug from the market, even though its own scientists had recommended it. This one should scare you. Here's a quote from the article:
Do the math on this: if Avandia is linked to 83,000 heart attacks, and 50% of those are fatal (that's just an estimate) then Avandia could concievably be the cause of 40,000 deaths. The terrorists attacks of 911 killed roughly 3,000 Americans and yet just one drug that has been kept on the market by the FDA appears to have killed more than 10 times as many Americans as the terrorists.
My brother Terry is a type II diabetic. He is no longer insulin dependent because he eats right. When he got here we all went on an Atkins style diet--low carbs, high protein, high good fat (butter, olive oil). He still has to watch his blood sugar levels, but he lost a lot of weight and is far healthier today because he switched his diet. Cheap and effective, food as medicine. He could have been killed by BigPharma, but instead is healthy.
The second article is just as bad: Big Pharma researcher admits to faking dozens of research articles, articles that were published in peer-reviewed, respected medical journals. This researcher, Dr. Scott Ruben managed to conceal his fraud for 13 years! And this guy is only one "researcher" for Big Pharma. There must be lots of them. And as Health Ranger Mike Adams says, how are we supposed to know the difference between a real scientific study and these made-up fake ones if they all appear in "peer-reviewed" and "respected" medical journals?
Now, I haven't trusted the American medical system for years and years. But I'm still shocked by these articles. I mean, I knew it was bad, fraudulent and fairly idiotic, the medical system in this country, but even so, these kinds of articles are devastating. What the hell are they talking about when they say "evidence-based medicine"? By evidence I guess they mean those "scientific studies" but now, just like the global warming frauds, we can't trust them an inch. Be careful out there folks. If your doctor wants you to take some pharmaceutical, then do some research on the web and find out all you can before you take the damn pill.
Wednesday, February 17, 2010
So I've been in the kitchen cooking and baking. I had a bunch of onions that were just beginning to get soft and then sprout. I needed to find something to do with 'em. I turned to my trusty pile of cookbooks (I love reading cookbooks in the wintertime), and found a recipe for slow-cooker carmelized onions. Hot damn! Just the thing for these onions. And it could not be more simple: cut up a bunch of onions (I did about 8 or 10 of them), toss them in the crockpot, toss in 1/4 pound of butter (that's a stick of butter to you), and let them cook on low for 12-14 hours until they turn a rich, deep brown. Use them to make a carmelized onion soup, use as flavorings for stews and soups, use the butter juice in them in rice, use them however you want. They're great! I used to make carmelized onions on the stovetop, but believe me, the crockpot method is superior as you don't have to worry about them at all, they won't burn or scortch.
Then Michael got on to batter breads, lord knows why. He found a recipe for Oatmeal Batter Bread and I made it. Man, this is a tasty bread! Very healthy for you too iffen you don't pig out on it. Michael found the recipe online, so I'll pass it on to you thataway. If you are like me, and while a good cook, immensely capable of screwing up yeast breads, try batter breads. You don't have to knead them, but you are using yeast--at least it is sort of an introduction to baking with yeast. And do make this recipe--it makes a delightful flavorful loaf of bread. For fun, I'll also be trying this recipe, English Muffin Bread. I love English muffins but have never made them.
Then, because I was reading a novel about a Chilean woman in San Francisco during the gold rush who made money by selling her empanadas to hungry miners (Daughter of Fortune by Isabel Allende), I decided to make empanadas using a recipe I found in Craig Claiborne's New York Times Cookbook. While the filling was delicious, the dough was tough and hard--entirely my fault as I'm the world's worst dough-maker. I have never made a good dough, ever. But a snowed-in February means I've got the time to at least learn more about making dough, even though the husband and brother might have to suffer through it. :) Anyway, I won't share that recipe with you, there's other ones available on the web here. Claiborne's recipe called for 3 TBS of raisins in the filling, which, along with the garlic, onions, tomato, ground beef, black olives and spices, made such a savory filling. YUM.
I wanted to make something with some of the fruits I dried this summer: peaches, nectarines, apples, apricot-plums, raisins, blueberries. Good grief, just typing in those lovely fruit words made my mouth water. In my How to Dry Foods book I found a recipe for German Pancake which sounded like just the thing for a light lunch. It turned out to be delicious and wasn't overly sweet until we put some blueberry syrup on it. :) Here's the recipe:
1/2 to 3/4 cup chopped dried apples, apricots, cherries, dates, figs, pears, raisins or dried currants
6 TBS butter
1 cup milk
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup flour
Lemon juice and powdered sugar or berry jam or jelly, if desired
Pour boiling water over dried fruit to cover. Let stand to soften 5 - 15 minutes; drain. (DON'T throw away this water--it makes a wonderful fruit tea!) Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In preheating oven, melt butter in a 13" by 9" baking pan, checking frequently to avoid scorching. (Or melt butter in the microwave, high for one minute.) In blender, combine eggs, milk, sugar and vanilla. Blend lightly to mix. Add flour. Stir in softened dried fruit. Pour into baking pan on top of the melted butter. Bake 20 to 25 minutes until puffy and golden brown. Sprinkle with the lemon juice and powdered sugar or serve with jam or jelly.
This was a delectable treat, heavenly with the blueberry syrup. We each had a piece or so and Michael had more of it for dessert after dinner.
Besides these treats, for dinners we've had barbequed ribs, venison stew with carmelized onions over brown rice, and parmesean chicken. We ain't all about beans and polenta, though that's one of my favorite meals.
Today it'll be back to some soup or another. I love soup and could basically live on the stuff. I don't know what soup I'll make yet--but something bean and bacony would be delicous. Cooking is fun, messin' in the kitchen is fun. Most of the times, things turn out not only edible but healthy and delicious, but there have been times when I've had to compost the results. Par for the course, since we don't learn without making mistakes.
Monday, February 15, 2010
I haven't been blogging in a while, this computer was in the shop with virus problems. Got it back late last week and we can get back into the swing of things again. With the snow, there's not much else to do anyway!
I don't know why I called this post the Winter of Our Content--I suppose, lifting it from Shakespeare ("Winter of our discontent") but to express the mixed emotions of this particular wintertime. I've had many setbacks the past few months: wrecked a car, been snowed in for a week at a time, computer down and out, friend Fred broke his leg and is in the hospital, aggravating sinus problems, not to mention major doom and gloom predictions from the Gruff Lord, Michael of Staying Alive. All the news has been horrible. So why am I not depressed as I usually am in winter, with seasonal affective disorder (SAD)? Damned if I know, but I'm not. I think it is because I'm getting better at letting go of non-essentials. What I would have considered essential a few months ago, say a functional auto, a working computer, somehow just didn't seem so necessary to me. I could work around it. If I needed a ride to town, I could ask a friend. And my sense of independence wasn't wounded by that. I could relax and let it be. In other words, I wasn't stressing out over all the problems. Some switch in me got flipped and I could look at the reality of what was, but not necessarily call it "a problem."
How did that happen? How did not having a functioning car become a non-problem? I'm not sure--there's no magic pill or herb for this one. But rather than be upset and nervous, twitching my nights away worrying about it, I've somehow moved it from the category of "awful problem" to a new category "we'll solve that one when we have more options." This is somewhat unfamiliar territory to me and I'm in the process of wondering about it, trying to figure it out. But it's interesting at any rate. Feels like one of those big changes people go through every ten years or so--a new psychological stance of some kind. I feel more adaptive, or rather, more able to adapt to what it without demanding that Reality conform to my desires. I suspect this change will stand me in good stead. I hope anyway.
Well, enough blathering about inward landscaping. I think maybe I'll get dressed up in all my deep snow accoutrements and go out and play. :) (I can barely see across the pond...will I be able to find my way home if I go to a neighbor's house for a cup of coffee? Hmmmmmm)
Enjoy your days in all the ways you can!
Thursday, January 28, 2010
Since I've added the tumeric, my sinus problem--nasty post nasal drip, tickly throat, massive buildup of phlegm in my system, etc.--has cleared up. For the most part. I still get the sniffles and have to blow my nose, but that is not a problem. Very interesting, and what a blessing! That allergy/sinus thing was driving me nuts.
So, if you've got some nagging physical problem, you might want to check up on it at Earth Clinic and see if there is some simple, inexpensive already-in-your-kitchen spice or herb you could use. In all my reading there, I've seen very little that could harm you, and quite a bit that could help!
Keep in mind that this is not medical advice. This is just kitchen advice. :) Even though we have the 1st Amendment to the Constitution, the FDA feels competent to regulate speech that might interfere with the profits made by Big Pharma and Big Medicine. The FDA has not approved of this message, and probably won't in our lifetimes.
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
3rd Sign, Gemini, The Arms
This is an Air sign. I find it one of the second best signs for planting and transplanting All Crops, root crops and crops that bear above the ground. Favors talking things over with people. Also favors making jelly, preserves and pickles.
1st Sign, Aries, The Head
Known as a very fiery sign. Hot, dry and barren. Very good for planting beets, onions and tobacco. Not good for planting and transplanting other crops. Favors welding, getting hair waved, all cooking, making preserves, pickles and jelly. Also destroying weeds and bushes. Good for hunting, fair for fishing.
2nd Sign, Taurus, The Neck
An Earth Sign. No. 1 for all root crops. Peanuts, potatoes, and etc. Transplanting all plants, second best for all crops bearing above the ground and all flowers. Favors buying, attend sales, deal with creditors. Very good for fishing, making pickles and canning.
4th Sign, Cancer, The Breast
A Water Sign. No. 1 top sign for all flowers, planting and transplanting all crops that bear above the ground. When I say bear above the ground I mean cotton, corn, cane, tobacco, peas, beans, peppers, watermelons, squash, cucumbers, okra, wheat, rye, oats and etc. all cover crops, all grasses, all leaf crops. This sign also No. ! for all root crops. Biddies hatched in this sign for laying hens, pigs born for males and brood sows. Good for all cooking, changing jobs, momving, cut hair to stimulate growth. Good for fishing, making potato beds and seed beds.
6th Sign, Virgo, The Bowels
An Earth sign. Doesn't favor planting nor transplanting no crops. Barren sign, but very good for business.
8th Sign, Scorpio, The Loins
This is known as a Water Sign. No.1 for all crops that bear above the ground. Also for flowers. Second best for all root crops. When I root crops, I mean all potatoes, peanuts, chuffas, onions, beets, carrots, turnips, rutabagas, etc. Setting out plants, biddies for laying hens, pigs for males and brood sows. Set out fruit trees. Flower bushes and vines. Good for fishing and hunting.
10th Sign, Capricornus, The Knees
Known as an Earth Sign. No. 1 for all root crops. Second best for all flowers. All crops that bear above the ground, all transplanting. Pull teeth, mark hogs, prune trees and vines. Good for business. Fair for fishing. Canning.
12th Sign, Pisces, The Feet
Water Sign. No. 1 for planting and transplanting above-ground crops. And all flowers. Second best sign for all root crops. Biddies hatched for laying hens, pigs for brood sows. Best for pulling teeth, makring hogs, prune and set out trees, bushes and vines. Good for fishing. Wean babies and animals.
11th Sign, Aquarius, The Legs
Air sign. Very good for planting crops that bear above the ground. Except that seeds are apt to rot. This is a friendly sign. Exchange ideas, seek help from friends, favors dealing with all types of people in all types of business. Favor sports and pleasure.
5th Sign, Leo, The Heart
Fire Sign. Barren Sign favors no planting nor transplanting. Good for destroying bushes and weeds and deading trees. It favors sports, pleasure, love and romance. Ask for jobs. Good for hunting. Get hair waved, baking cakes.
7th Sign, Libra, The Kidneys
Air Sign very good for crops that bear above the ground. Favors friendship and business.
9th Sign, Sagittarius, The Thighs
This is a Fire Sign, fairly good for planting onions and cucumbers. Favors all business affairs. Ask for jobs, deal with lawyers, judges and bankers, work on future plans. Good for hunting. Get hair waved, bake cakes, make candy, preserves, jelly and pickles. Don't transplant anything.
At The Gardener's Calendar, you can always check to see both the phase of the moon (which quarter, waxing, etc.) and the moon sign. So check first, then pull those teeth! :)
And if any of you are going to try planting by the signs this year, keep in touch and let us all know how it turns out. I'll be reporting on my success and failures here as well.
What a winter. Car Crash, car's a goner. We were down to just my brother's van. Then it had mechanical problems and was stuck over at someone's house for nearly a week. We finally found a friend to get the van working again, but today the roads are very icy and naturally we got it stuck on the ice (on a hill). Jeez!
I'm learning strongly this winter to do without. For two weeks around Christmas time, a pipe in our building sprung a leak and we had to turn the water off to an apartment upstairs from us, our bathroom, and my brother's room downstairs. So we went without functioning (easily flushed) toilets for two weeks. We hauled water from our kitchen sink in a five gallon bucket to manually flush the toilet. And I was glad we could do that! No running water at all would have been a REAL pain. As it was, it was tiresome and inconvenient, but we could do it. We gritted our teeth and did it.
Items, customs we're used to, convenience, all these things I'm learning that I can do without. The trick is how to remain relatively cheerful and non-complaining while doing without. Grumbling or getting angry does not help the problem; it makes it much worse. It is worse because with a complaining attitude, you focus on the problem so much more than if you simply accepted it and went about your business. I've learned to give thanks to the Lord for all of our blessings. And one of those blessings is learning ahead of time how to do without. If you can learn this trick of ACCEPTANCE IS CONTENTMENT before the coming collapse, crash, or depression, then you will adjust to your situation much better.
Daniel Wright, the man who founded the valley community we live in, had Acceptance is Contentment carved into the mantel over his hand-built fireplace. I've learned the wisdom of that statement this winter. No car? We'll work around it. Broke-down car? Ditto. No flushable toilets (without hauling water)? We've got a five-gallon bucket and running water elsewhere. No sweat. AND I was grateful that I didn't have to haul that water out of the pond!! Items getting lost or disappearing? Make something else do what that item did. No sour cream for a recipe? Make some by adding vinegar to cream, or as I did, to ricotta cheese. It won't be quite the same, but it will do.
In his wise and witty blog, Dimitri Orlov suggests that Americans should learn this semi-detached attitude in order to deal with the slow collapse of their standard of living, and indeed, the collapse of their country and the world as we all knew it. The "American Dream" is gradually turning into the American Nightmare. Rather than a rude and panicky awakening to this reality, learn to deal with it now, slightly ahead of everyone else. If you can let go of stuff, of convenience, of your expectations of what life should be, then you will be much happier and better adjusted to whatever our new reality will be. Most of all, make the effort to enhance your attitude. Accept what IS, and learn to be content with it. Cheerfully.
Why? I'll tell you: it is simply a helluva lot less stressful. Major unaddressed stress can and will make you sick and even kill you. Over time, if not quickly. Adjust your attitude, adjust your expectations, learn to do without and still be cheerful, if not happy. You will not only live longer and better, your companions will love you for it. All of us prefer being with positive folks and we tend to avoid negative complainers and other unpleasantness.
OK, enough sermonizing for today. I will blog when I can, so please stay tuned. And I'll try lots of home remedies to help my computer get over the virus. :)
Monday, January 18, 2010
Anyway, this is from a chapter called Planting by the Signs. There are a couple of charts that I can't reproduce here, unfortunately. I'll try, but can't guarantee anything on one of them.
Sign Symbol Body Part Planet Element
Aries Ram Head Mars Fire
Taurus Bull Neck, Throat Venus Earth
Gemini Twins Arms, Chest Mercury Air
Cancer Crab Breast, Stomach Moon Water
Leo Lion Heart, Back Sun Fire
Virgo Virgin Bowels Mercury Earth
Libra Balance Kidneys Venus Air
Scorpio Scorpion Loins Mars Water
Sagittarius Archer Thighs Jupiter Fire
Capricornus Goat Knees Saturn Earth
Aquarius Waterman Legs, Ankles Uranus Air
Pisces Fish Feet Neptune Water
OK, well I just took at look at the Preview function, and the charts a mess to read. But if you read across the first line, you see the headings: Sign, Symbol, Body Part, etc. The signs line up under that and you can sort of read it. Best I can do here I guess.
Here we go. Begin Excerpt.
How it Works
Every day of the month is dominated by one of the twelve signs of the zodiac. Each of the twelve appears at least once a month, and then for a period of either two or three days. All good planting calendars label each day with the sign that rules over it (depending on which constellation is foremost in the sky at that time), the part of the body and the planet associated with the sign, and the element it is most closely akin to. The chart (above) summarizes this information. The signs always appear in sequence, beginning with the Ram or Head and working their way down to Pisces, the Fish or feet. Following Pisces, the Ram appears beginning a new sequence.
Each of the signs is known as being either masculine, feminine, airy, dry, barren, fiery, earthy, moist, watery, fruitful, or very fruitful. In general, any activity that requires a dry atmosphere, such as painting, should be done in one of the dry signs; and an activity requiring moisture, such as some planting, should be done on one of the moist or fruitful signs.
The best time, of course, to conduct any activity is when a day falls on both an ideal sign and a good phase of the moon.
Over the years, a most specific set of rules has grown up around the zodiac which governs such activities as planting and harvesting. These rules take into account both the sign governing the day and the phase of the moon on that particular day. At the beginning of the planting season, for example, the farmer consults his calendar, picks out one of the fourteen favorable days that occurs every month, and plants only on one of these fourteen "fruitful" days. Should he miss and plant his crops on one of the unfruitful days, his crops will not produce at half their ability, say the believers. T. E. Black even goes so far as to say that a few hours can make the difference between success and failure, and many of his followers agree.
The following rules were gathered both from interviews (with the older folks in the community), and wide reading. They do not represent a complete set, but they should serve to give the reader a good idea as to the nature of this system. We also included rules for butchering, cutting hair, killing weeds, pulling teeth, and others to give some grasp of the scope of the subject.
Planting---Planting is best done in the fruitful signs of Scorpio, Pisces, Taurus, or Cancer (when the signs are in the loins, feet, neck, or breast).
Plow, till and cultivate in Aries.
Never plant anything in one of the barren signs. They are good only for trimming, deadening, and destroying.
Always set plants out in a water or earth sign.
Graft just before the sap starts to flow, while the moon is in its first or second quarter, and while it is passing through a fruitful watery sign or Capricorn. Never graft a plant on Sunday as this is a barren, hot day (the sun's day).
Plant flowers in Libra, which is an airy sign that also represents beauty. Plant them while the moon is in the first quarter unless you need the seeds, in which case use the period between the moon's second quarter and full.
Corn planted in Leo will have a hard, round, stalk and small ears.
Crops planted in Taurus and Cancer will stand drought.
Plant beans when the signs are in the arms (Gemini).
Root flower cuttings, limbs, vines, and set out flower bushes and trees in December and January when the signs are in the knees and feet.
Never transplant in the heart or head as both these signs are "Death Signs." (Aries and Leo)
If you want a large vine and stalk with little fruit, plant in Virgo "bloom days."
Don't plant potatoes in the feet. If you do, they will develop little nubs like toes all over the main potato. The best time is a dark night in March.
Plant all things which yield above the ground during the increase or growing of the moon, and all things which yield below the ground (root crops) when the moon is decreasing or darkening.
Never plant on the first day of the new moon, or on a day when the moon changes quarters.
In the fourth quarter turn sod, pull weeds, and destroy.
Reaping and Harvesting
Pick fruit like apples and pears in the old of the moon while it is decreasing or shrinking. This will cause the bruised spots and blemishes to dry up rather than rot. They will rot if the fruit is picked on the increase or rising of the moon, or on the new moon.
Harvest most crops when the moon is growing old. This will cause them to keep better and longer.
Dig root crops for seed in the third quarter of the moon. They will keep longer and are usually drier and better.
Gather root crops in the last quarter of the moon when the signs are in the knees or feet.
Can vegetables, cook preseves and jelly, and make pickles in the right sign during the last quarter of the moon.
Cut timber in the old of the moon. It will dry better and not become worm-eaten.
Set fence posts in the old of the moon to prevent loosening.
The part of your body governed by a particular sign is more sensitive when the moon is in that sign. People with heart trouble, for example, will have more trouble in Leo's sign, and lovers are more successful at this time. In Taurus (throat) an operation on this part of the body will be unsuccessful. Conversely, if tonsils are removed and teeth pulled when the signs are in the knees or feet, there is less soreness, loss of blood, and danger of infection. You can easily figure out others for yourself.
Paint houses or cars in a dry sign like Leo or Aries.
Wean a child or animal when the moon is in a sign that does not rule the vital parts of the body (Capricorn, Pisces, Sagittarius).
Set eggs to hatch in a fruitful sign like Cancer. The chicks will mature faster and be better layers.
Quit habits on the second day that the moon is in Sagittarius, or on the new moon, or in Pisces.
If you cut your hair in Libra, Sagittarius, Aquarius, or Pisces, it will grow stronger, thicker, and more beautiful.
Purge will pills in Pisces and with liquids in Sagittarius.
Bake and cook in Aries.
Hunt in Taurus.
Lay foundations in Capricorn.
Don't nail shingles or boards on the growing side of the moon, or the ends will draw up and curl and go crooked.
Destroy weeds, kill trees, turn sod in the barren signs of Gemini, Leo or Virgo (especially if the moon is in the last quarter).
Slaughter while the signs are in the knees or feet, and in the last quarter of the moon.
************************************ End Excerpt.
Hmmmmm. Guess if I really want to do this, I'll need to get my hands on the Old Farmer's Almanack. You can find the Ol' Farmer's Almanac online, and Best Days info here. You can find more info on planting by moon signs at the Gardener's Calendar. Keep in mind that this is a UK website, so the info on planting in January may not work for where you live. :) Me, I'm going to get a copy of the Old Farmer's Almanac, so I can have the info at my fingertips if the Web goes down. I'm very curious to see if this works as well as I think it might.
The Foxfire book then goes on to talk about those who believe (older mountain people, etc.) and those who don't (agricultural school grads, etc.) but it is an ancient "science" handed down wisdom from our ancestors and we might just want to give them a listen these days. Obviously, our new-fangled shiny knowledge has been enough to really screw up the world as we know it. Might as well listen to other folks who just might know better after all.
I'll be looking into this more. If any of y'all have any other info or good websites or books, please let me know via email or comments. Thank you!
Friday, January 15, 2010
You see, the moon goes through a bunch of moon signs every month--hell, maybe all of them for all I know right now. As you can probably tell, I'm about to research this in depth, but haven't done so yet. And I'm curious. Some of the mountain folk in Foxfire swore by it, others say it is old wives tales. It'd be interesting to know if it does work, because if it does, it sure could improve garden productivity and yield. Anyway, any of you have any experience with this?
I'll try to post the Foxfire info tomorrow to let you all know a bit more about what I'm talking about. Thanks!
Earth Clinic is a site that takes in home remedies that are supplied by readers from around the world. It's a great website to research some of these cheap but effective home remedies. I've written about some of the home cures from Earth Clinic in the past. This is another one like that. Anyway, tumeric. I've never gotten into Indian cooking much so I haven't used much tumeric in my cooking, though that may change! I've used it not only for its flavor, but many times also for it's lovely yellow coloring of foods, especially rice dishes. After reading all I have about tumeric as a medicine, I'll probably start using it a lot more.
Here's the two threads on tumeric from the EC January newsletter:
APPLE CIDER VINEGAR AND TURMERIC FOR MULTIPLE CURES
07/08/2009: Chris from Dighton, MA writes: "I use 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegarin 5 oz. of water per day.I also use 1 teaspoon of turmeric in 5 oz. of water per day.*I had extreme diarrhea, it has gone away.
*My stomach upsethas gone away.
* My blood pressure was 145/90, now it is 120/80.
*I had cholesterol of 260. HDL of 42 and LDL of over ahundred. It is now 190 total and a HDL of 89 and LDL of 100.
* My lower back pain is gone.* My long distance eye sight has come back and I no longer need glasses.*
My tinnitus is still with me though. I am 68 years old."
And the other, which is longer and more interesing:
MULTIPLE CURES WITH TURMERIC
06/08/2009: Pcline from Springfield, Ohio writes:
I take at least a heaping teaspoon of turmeric (from the spice section of the grocery, although I am looking for it in bulk now) stirred in water as soon as I get up, and one in the evening. If I begin to feel any swelling during the day, such as when I am exposed to household dust, I take another teaspoon right away, and it eliminates the "headache creep". I stay ahead of the allergies this way, but if I cannot get turmeric when the swelling starts, and it begins to cause headaches, when I can get to the turmeric, I may have to take several teaspoon doses before it alleviates, leaving a half-hour or so before I take each additional dose, but IT WORKS! It has ALWAYS EVENTUALLY WORKED. I have not had to take more than three additional doses to stop what used to be RAGING migraines, causing me to have to go to bed and be debilitated for hours afterward.
I feel marvelous, but the additional benefits have been that I realize that my arthritis in my knees is all but gone! I can walk up stairs most of the time without noticing any discomfort at all! Finally, most astonishingly, I (and everyone I know who has begun to take this) have begun to LOSE WEIGHT! I determined after a bout of intestinal virus to eat less food at a time. (After all, I had not been able to eat anything for 3 days, so this was a good time to break a habit) This was just before I started taking turmeric. With the addition of the turmeric, I feel, I was able to eat less. Nothing else has ever made a difference in my being able to eat less and not feel ravenous and deprived. In just over 3 months, I have lost 48 pounds!!!! And I feel energetic, fabulous, lively and alert! I cannot say what actual physical role turmeric plays as a weight loss aid, but I don't care. I am 53 years old and feel better than Ihave in YEARS!
I have begun to try turmeric on everything that occurs. I got a spider bite and it began to itch and sting immediately. I washed it right away and put a band-aidwith moistened turmeric on it and in minutes, the pain and itch left, no sign of any bite. My family jokes that I would try to revive the dead by sprinkling some turmeric on them, but I cannot believe what a difference just taking turmeric has made with me."
End of excerpts. Now, keep in mind that no home remedy works for everyone. There's no guarantees here, but if you start reading some of this information, you may want to try some of these yourself (and send your comments to Earth Clinic while you're at it). But for me, I'm certainly willing to give many of these home cures a try. After all, they're usually far cheaper than anything doctor-prescribed, many of them involve items you probably already have in your kitchens, and they're usually easy to administer to yourself. And with the hideous monster "health" bill working its way through Congress's ugly intestinal process, we'll all need safe and effective remedies we can use when no one can ever afford allopathic medical care again. As P.J. O'Rourke says, "If you think health care is expensive now, just wait until it's free!"
Thursday, January 14, 2010
First, here's a few paragraphs from the accompanying article on Witch Hazel:
Witch Hazel has a long history of medicinal use, primarily as an antiseptic and an astringent. The herb was listed in the United States Pharmacopoeia of 1882, and it was still listed in the National Formulary as late as 1955. Native Americans applied the leaves and bark as a poultice on painful swellings and tumors and to reduce inflammation. According to James Duke (Handbook of Medicinal Herbs, 1989), the fresh leaves are highly astringent, and were used in tea form by the Cherokee "for colds, fevers, periodic pain, sore throat, and tuberculosis, and to wash sores and wounds." Other tribes used the herb to treat bruises, scratches, bad backs, and sprains, and in a steam bath to relieve rheumatism.
Many of these treatments passed on to the American colonists. In the 19th century, witch hazel extracts of various kinds were used internally and externally to treat myriad conditions, among them burns, diarrhea, dysentery, inflammation, phlebitis, wounds, and ulcers. Witch hazel is still used externally to treat hemorrhoids and varicose veins, and very dilute distilled witch hazel can be used in eye lotions.
Pure witch hazel extract, available in many drugstores and supermarkets, is the most frequently used form of the herb--more than a million gallons are sold each year. Useful as an antiseptic, astringent, or make-up remover, and even providing relief from hermorrhoidal pain and bleeding, it is a all-purpose first-aid lotion and cosmetic aid.
Witch Hazel is an oddball shrub. It flowers from October to April, when all other shrubs and trees lose their leaves. The leaves turn yellow in the autumn and stay that way throughout the winter. "Witch hazel flowers have four-inch long golden-yellow strap-shaped petals that are tinged with red at the base." Hamamelis virginiana is an attractive shrub. You might want to get a tree/shrub identification book and see if you can find some near you. I know of two of them in the valley here, but hadn't thought to harvest any of the twigs. If I can still ID these two to my satisfaction, then I'll see about making some of the following extract. You can see images of witch hazel bushes by using Google images and typing in witch hazel. Sometimes that can help you ID what you are looking for.
Here's the recipe:
Although the Pilgrims' tonic is not as potent as the commercial extract, you can follow this easy recipe to have fun brewing your own witch hazel remedy:
- Prune one pound of fresh twigs from shrubs as soon as they have flowered. This practice produces the strongest tonic.
- Strip off the leaves and flowers (save these for sachets) and chop the twigs into a coarse mulch using either a mechanical mulcher or pruning clippers.
- Place the chopped twigs into a two-gallon stainless steel pot.
- Cover the twigs with distilled water (available at the supermarket) and bring the contents to a boil.
- Reduce heat to simmer, then cover and cook for at least eight hours; add water as needed to cover the mulch.
- Allow the mixture to cool to room temperature.
- Pour the witch hazel tonic through a funnel containing a cheesecloth filter and into clean plastic squeeze bottles or other suitable, tightly-capped containers.
- Use the tonic within a week unless it is kept refrigerated. You can preserve your tonic for long-term room temperature storage by adding nine ounces of vodka or grain alcohol to 23 ounces of tonic. Yield: one gallon.
Warning: Do NOT use internally! Keep out of the reach of children.
I don't know about you, but witch hazel is one of those common household things I've always kept around. I use my commercial witch hazel extract to clean my skin at times. Or, in summer when I tend to sweat, I use it on my face. Or I swab my armpits with it to kill the bacteria there (I don't use deodorants). Also good for cleaning wounds, etc. It's useful stuff and I'll enjoy making my own.
Wednesday, January 6, 2010
Sassafrass Wine? Whoever heard of such a thing! Sassafrass tea, yes. Sassafrass as a flavoring for root beers, sure. But sassafrass wine?
Well, yes, Matilda. And it is good stuff (or at least I like it :). Last spring I dug a lot of sassy roots. I love the tea, and found the recipe for the wine over at Jack Weller's amazing wine-making page. I won't bother to copy the recipe over here; just click on the link and you'll come to the recipe.
Wine-making isn't difficult to do, although getting a really fine wine takes time and some effort and good ingredients. I made about 10 gallons of different kinds of wine last spring/summer. Now that it is January, it was time to taste and enjoy at least some of them. When I first tasted my sassafrass wine (probably a month or two into the process) it didn't taste very good. With these 7 months later, though, it has mellowed into a really tasty wine (once you get over the surprise of a wine tasting like sassafrass). I've been enjoying a glass every once in a while. I also made wines from nettles, strawberries, blueberries, raisins, dandelion flowers, peaches, and a few others I can't remember at the moment. All of them using the recipes at Jack Keller's page. And some of them turned out better than others.
Jack Keller has some recipes for wines made out of the strangest things. He's also a forager and enjoys making wines from wild plants and herbs. Here's a few of those I thought rather odd, but definitely fun to make. Wines from turnips, ginger root, eggplant, jalapenos, corn, chicory, leeks, even garlic wine. It's a very interesting page overall. Check out his list of requested recipes. What a hoot! And yes, the sassafrass wine is very tasty. Wish I could share a glass with all of you!