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Thursday, November 19, 2015
Tuesday, November 17, 2015
This week, someone asked me to reprise the post on the value of spices.
This week, following the deaths of those who were simply enjoying an evening in a brasserie or a Cambodian restaurant in Paris, we should give thought to how much we eat out, and also whether our children should accompany us on the outing.
This week, this post which originally appeared in May of 2015 has new relevance.
There are many times, during emergencies, power outages, flu pandemics, or even during civil unrest that eating out becomes unwise if not dangerous. Yet, many American families have stocked kitchens, and live a life that requires that they eat out multiple times each week. This post is one of a several pronged attempt to examine this practice and gradually make some changes which allow eating at home as a safer, less expensive, and potentially a more pleasant experience.
In the last post I explained that learning to cook was not a skill set I mastered early in my marriage. Consistent with that, I thought that a collection of spices was an extravagance. I did not learn until much later how important having a supply of spices and knowing how to use them, really can be.
In the US, in the past twenty years or so, families have developed a bad habit of eating out with their children at least once a week, and often much, much more. We tell ourselves that we don't have time to cook, but often, we eat out because the food simply tastes better than something we think we might make at home. Proper seasoning of food may be one of the reasons we might have this misperception.
In addition, spices are not simply an extravagance. Spices not only can provide an interesting an appetizing draw to food, for only a few calories, if any, but they can provide vitamins and significant amounts of trace minerals. Nutmeg for example is metabolized as magnesium ! Most of us could use additional dietary magnesium. Many studies bear out the great value of dietary spices. Although I am not personally a fan of Indian food, we know that many cancers are quite rare in India, in part because they spice their food with a particular set of spices which are now proven to benefit health.
The following is a listing of just a few spices and how you and your family can incorporate these in your normal diet
In reasonable amount used as a seasoning, many cultures from Asia to Europe use it. I like to use it on top of hot chocolate and on baked custard, but many cultures use it on vegetables also. Some cultures use it on potatoes, and other on vegetables like Brussel sprouts. In any event, you are taking on additional magnesium while you are enjoying a tasty treat.
Cumin is also a spice which has bee widely used throughout the world for hundreds if not thousands of years. It can be used ground, as I do, or in the seed form also. It can add an earthy, warm taste to soups, stews and even chili. There is scientific data which suggests that it is mildly antibacterial and antiviral and aids with digestion.
This spice is used in South East Asian cuisine in both vegetable and meat dishes. India also uses it broadly. There are too many health benefits to list in the form of a brief blog post, and so I will encourage you to research these yourself.
From French toast to flavoring your own oatmeal and healthy oatmeal cookies cinnamon is of great benefit. Some use cinnamon on certain potato, sweet potato or carrot dishes also.
From flavoring meats, poultry, to salads, ginger can provide that inexplicable something that the Asian restaurants know so well. Ginger is also said to be an excellent way of settling a stomach.
The important take away point is that being able to produce tasty food which makes eating in public during difficult times less of a necessity is an important preparedness skill. Going out to eat should be rare, and the times you do it should be chosen. Not only is eating out costly, but it does eating increase your exposure to the hazards of other people in difficult times (like civil unrest, for example). It exposes us and our families to potential for food poisoning. No matter how nice a restaurant might look, there is always the potential for food poisoning.
A fairly expensive spice, this is used in teas. It is also a fantastic addition to certain breads. There are positive health uses.
This post does not encourage you to build a spice cabinet for hundreds of dollars by Friday. What I am saying is that bit my bit, preppers especially should begin, one by one, to gather salt, pepper, ginger, chili powder, freeze dried chives, and all manner of spices you believe you would use. I have also bought large long term containers of powdered chicken gravy and beef gravy. CVS and Wahlgreens also stock some low priced spices. I am quite sure that these may not be the very best of spices available, but sometimes, when we wish to try something we have never used before, a dollar or two is all that we should spend. Badia is also a brand of spices sold fairly inexpensively in grocery stores. Sometimes it has a stronger flavor than other brands, but it is inexpensive and is especially good value if you enjoy spices often used in Mexican food. There are also combinations of spices which you might invest in. I am particularly fond of Montreal Steak Seasoning, and now there is a Montreal Chicken Seasoning also.
|This was a coca cola bottle holder turned into a spice rack.|
In the interest of good health and in spending more time eating at home, for both economic and practical reasons, we owe it to ourselves and our families to begin to gather spices and experiment as to how to properly use them. Some time ago my husband returned from a business trip in Mexico with a wonderful recipe he learned from the hotel. A chicken breast is split and fried gently in olive oil and salt and pepper. Then cumin is shaken on front and back of the chicken and it is cooked until it is golden brown. Unusual and delicious ! We owe it to ourselves to learn more about spicing.
If you are unable to locate a spice you would like to try, this is an excellent source of all spices:
Regarding Reporting Food Poisoning After Eating Out (A State by State Reporting System)
Regarding Food Poisoning:
Saturday, November 14, 2015
|Much of Paris today still has police cars and ambulances. People have been asked to remain at home and to clear the streets.|
Yesterday was a Friday the thirteenth. I am generally not terribly superstitious, but over the years I have had some unusual bad luck on these days. I don't hide under the covers, but I have learned not to schedule surgeries for family members on these days, and not to transact business on them. I was uneasy yesterday, and so I played "catch up" on animal and farm tasks and did some Christmas gift planning.
Last evening as I finished spoon feeding my infant grandson, my husband called and asked if I had heard about France. I immediately turned on France24 to learn that six or seven sites in Paris and in a Northern suburb of Paris had been simaltaneously attacked by terrorists. I uttered a quick prayer for all of those caught in a terrorist nightmare.
Overnight, a lot of information was provided by France 24 and by Sky News. Regular news programming had been preempted. ISIS has claimed responsibility for these particularly barbaric cowardly attacks of civilians. As of the moment of the writing of this post, 129 are dead, a couple of hundred people are injured, and 80 people are in critical condition. Some people remain unaccounted for, as of this date. My thoughts are also with friends of ours who are in the security and anti-terror business and who find themselves in France at this time. As a result, there is a partial closure of the borders of France and what amounts to martial law in Paris and its outer suburbs. The French are rallying and providing overnight accomodations to those who were caught without transport home last evening when transportation venues were closed. They are also providing blood to the specific hospital which distributes blood products to the hospitals who require this.
Our prayers are with those who were injured or killed in these attacks last evening, and with those who witnessed them. Our prayers are also with the families of those killed, injured or missing. May God bless France in this very difficult time.
Prior posts concerning France:
Monday, October 26, 2015
As I have said before, I don't recommend products unless I have used them myself. I also don't recommend products here in which I have a financial interest, and so, I have "no axe to grind" other than simply providing my own opinion.
One of my strategies for staying slim and healthy is that I carry some snacks in a plastic shoebox sized case in my car along with some bottled water. Nothing goes bad even in Summer because the kids, myself or my husband tend to use the items and rotate the stock pretty consistently. Having snacks in the car also means we are less tempted to stop and eat things at fast food restaurants that we shouldn't. I keep a number of things in the plastic box in the car. Sometimes I keep some Special K 90 calorie cereal bars. Sometimes I keep some small almond packets. Sometimes I stock some of the Lance crackers, but I try not to buy anything over about a hundred and fifty calories a serving. For awhile I was eating a fair number of Reese's peanut butter cereal bars. Not stopping in restaurants also helps us keep more of our money. In addition, one of the best strategies one can have in preparedness is to get fit and healthy and to remain that way. Staying healthy is simply a chain of healthy habits, this being one of them.
This week I have been very busy and I did not notice that the snacks have been depleted. I stopped at a small general store in the country and found some bars for 150 calories for four pieces, called Goodness Knows. I bought two, and because of the conservative calorie count, I didn't really expect them to be very good. I was extremely pleased. The bar I bought first had dried cranberries, whole nuts and delicious dark chocolate. It reminded me of trips to the chocolatier in Princeton, NJ who used to sell everything from fortune cookies dipped in exquisite chocolate, to dried fruits dipped in different types of chocolate. I am told that the Princeton chocolatier I loved so well is no longer there. The Goodness Knows bar is a healthy way of avoiding stopping to eat something not so healthy, and a way of indulging without breaking the bank. Despite the busy week, I went back to buy more only to find that they were sold out. The next rural village also sold some, and so I bought a few of each variety.
|I bought the single bars, but you can buy eighteen in a box.|
This week I spoke to the company and they say that the bars are designed to store for 33 weeks. I am planning to put some in a tin and refrigerate them, and see if this period of time can be extended. I may also double bag and date a few and freeze them to see how long their practical use can be extended.
These are an excellent idea for car kits, evacuation kits, hiking kits and sporting events.
A tasty bar with no fructose corn syrup, 150 total calories in four pieces, total carb 22 grams, total sugar 12 grams could be worked into the diet of most diabetics, and well as the simply health conscious. These bars have no artificial colors, sweeteners, or flavorings. It also may be a great take along for hiking women who really shouldn't be using the 300 or 400 calorie energy bars sold in so many places. I highly recommend these.
There are three varieties:
cranberry almond with dark chocolate
apple, almond and peanut with dark chocolate
peach, cherry almond and dark chocolate
Many retailers should be stocking these soon. Should you not be able to locate these, they can be purchased in boxes from the manufacturer online at:
I also noticed them on amazon:
Goodness Knows on Amazon
Hint: If you are out and you need to eat a salad somewhere, but they don't have low calorie dressings or accompaniments, you can break or crumble 2 Goodness Knows squares over your salad. 2 squares over your salad adds 75 calories. Even without dressing it's an interesting change that can help to prevent your overeating or ordering something else. This can also be done with low calorie frozen yogurt when you are taking the kids somewhere and perhaps can't find sprinkles or a topping that suits you and your plan for healthier eating.
Thursday, September 17, 2015
|Jared, who will be sorely missed.|
It's hard to put a value on a fine dog. A good dog can be simply a sentry, a watchdog or a dog who can corral or protect livestock. I once had a golden labrador who would let me know just before my black labrador would have a seizure. Sometimes, a dog is simply a trusted companion, and that is all we need him to be. Dogs can also be an excellent deterrent to the robbery of your home, or to home invasion. Having an excellent dog can be one of your most important preparedness and survival strategies. A good dog need not have been initially expensive. All of mine have come as rescues, and none of them have disappointed me. Once acquired, although the vet can delegate some health maintenance tasks to you, a good vet is essential in terms of keeping your investment and friend healthy, and heading happily into old age.
I have been very fortunate in that since my childhood I have had the pleasure and the responsibility of having had many groups of dogs. In childhood, they walked me to the rural bus stop and would arrive somehow about fifteen minutes before I would arrive again to come home. Most of my dogs, even in childhood, lived to be a ripe old age. In my childhood, responsible pet ownership comprised feeding them and a rabies shot. Many of my dogs in childhood never saw a vet for anything other than a rabies shot and if they were female, for spaying. As an adult, my dogs have required much more. Heartworm which is endemic in my state, Lyme Disease, Erlichia and other diseases have necessitated more vet checks, more funds spent and a more thoughtful and attentive approach than dog care was in my youth. This has been worth the trouble and the investment.
A dear member of our canine family who enjoyed a long life, passed yesterday. Please consider opening your home to a rescue dog. If you do, hold on to him through thick and thin and through your own lifetime. The life you save could be your own.
This is the link to a tribute to Jared on another one of my blogs:
Sunday, September 13, 2015
|The US should think hard before importing any more hate. We have enough problems of our very own.|
Spending so much time in the region in which Thomas Jefferson lived prompts me to read a lot of his writings from time to time. Seems Jefferson grappled with how to fairly deal with Muslims in the early days of our nation. I am ashamed to say I did not know all of the earlier British history concerning them. Since I have been lucky enough to know some reasonable intelligent Muslims who are not extremists, it has taken me some time to read up and catch up.
Please see this interesting post
Saturday, September 12, 2015
Here on the farm, I give all the injections on livestock. Alpacas require very regular injections in order to avoid meningeal worm which is easily contracted indirectly from the white tailed deer. Horses require regular injections to prevent Potomac Horse fever, and annual immunizations. Sheep also receive periodic immunizations here. I also give some dog and cat immunizations, but I leave dog and cat rabies injections to the veterinarians because this is the law in our state.
Most of the time, farmers buy fairly inexpensive disposable syringes for animals that are made of plastics that are not approved for human use. Since I have limited storage space and can't really stock syringes for animals and syringes for people, I tend for a bit more, to stock sterile syringes that could be used for people, and then most of the time they are used for animals. This way, if a physician ever orders an injectable medication for a human being, as a registered nurse,I already have the correct syringe. (I also stock the tuberculin variety.)
This week something came up that I thought I would share with you. I used to do something that most farms do. On Friday afternoon I would draw up all the alpaca injections I would need, bag and label them, and then administer them in Saturday mornings bright light when I have all hands on deck. I stopped doing this, because although it is an acceptable practice, I wondered whether drugs which are drawn one day when kept overnight would leach rubberized chemicals from the stopper into the med, and result in the animals getting additional undesirable chemicals. I decided just not to take the chance. Now I draw the meds up and give them immediately, even though it might be faster to draw them up and administer the following day.
It seems I was not the only one concerned about this. Late this week the FDA has expanded a warning on Becton Dickinson syringes. Their concern is a bit different from mine. The FDA believes that this particular brand of syringes allows predrawn or compounded meds (prepared for humans) to be rendered less effective because when predrawn, some of the med in leaching into the rubber stoppe, potentially altering dose.This is very interesting, because a lot of medications come pre-drawn waiting for a nurse to attach a needle and administer. I doubt the issue is completely confined to Becton Dickinson because they have been producers of reliable syringes and products for many many years.
So, what is my message for you ? If you are a farmer, don't draw up immunizations or meds in advance of administration. Draw them, then administer them, and the leaching issue will not be a problem. Livestock are expensive and they deserve our best efforts whether you do, or do not use them as meat, or to produce milk for your family. Secondly, ask questions. Note whether your flu shot is already drawn up or whether it is being drawn prior to administration. All the simple things we do, including the use of plastic cookware make a difference in the long term, to our health. We just don't always notice, or the study may not yet have been completed.
More information on the FDA's expanded warning: