Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Cream Nut Caramels

Calling all candy makers!!!  Here is my recipe for caramel.  Enjoy.


Cream Nut Caramels

3/4 cup pecans
2 cups heavy cream
1-1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1 cup brown rice syrup
1/4 cup butter
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla

Measure all ingredients before you begin.

Line an 8-inch square pan with parchment and butter it generously.  Set aside.

Using a small saucepan, heat the heavy cream until warm.

Remove 1 cup of the warm cream.  Place it into a heavy 4-quart saucepan.  Add the sugars and rice syrup to the cream in the 4 quart saucepan.  Heat on medium for about 5 minutes, stirring with a wooden spoon  until the mixture begins to boil.  Add the remaining cream very slowly so the boiling does not stop.  Cook about 5 minutes more.

Place a candy thermometer into the saucepan and heat to 230 degrees.  Lower the heat to prevent scorching. Add the butter about 1 tablespoon - don't get legalistic,  just put it in a bit at a time to keep your temperature right - and continue heat to 245 degrees.

Remove the candy from the heat and stir in the salt, vanilla and chopped pecans.  Pour the mixture into the prepared pan.  Allow to set up at room temperature until firm.  Cut into 1 inch squares.

Yield:   64 1-inch pieces

Option One:  cut into squares, dip into chocolate, sprinkle with high quality salt.
Option Two:  Pour over granola, squish down and make granola/caramel bars!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Pine Needle Tea

One of our families favorite remedies for any type of cold, lung congestion or viral infection of any kind is Pine Needle Tea.  I found this remedy in an old, old, OLD book on  natural remedies that I picked up at a thrift store.  We have found it incredibly useful.

I would very probably use pine needle tea liberally if I had ANY virus.

So, in a bullet point list, everything I know about Pine Needle Tea:
  • It is very cheap (free :)
  • It is easy to make
  • It is delicious
  • Don't drink it if you are pregnant or nursing.  Really.
  • It is full of Vitamin A and C (in a natural form so everything surrounding them is there, complete)
  • It seems to help your eyes 
  • It is an expectorant (if you drink too much it dries your nose out.  Not my favorite)
  • Our favorite is sugar pine (the one with the shorter needles)
  • You can put pine needles in your bathtub for various ailments.
Here is more detailed information from Dave's Garden.  I found it by a simple google search and his research appears to be solid.  No need for me to reinvent the wheel.  Just go there if you want more concrete info.

Here is how we make it:
  1. Pick pine needles
  2. cut them into smallish pieces
  3. put in container and pour boiling water over them
  4. cover and steep about ten minutes
  5. strain 
  6. add raw, local honey if necessary
  7. drink

Protect your bodily warriors (keeping your biome healthy)

Biome:  the web of healthy bacteria that works symbiotically with our bodies inside and outside to provide bacterial  warriors against nasty bacteria, virus, pathogens, or other unpleasant organisms.)

noun: biome; plural noun: biomes
  1. a large naturally occurring community of flora and fauna occupying a major habitat, e.g., your body (ok, I added this :).  A forest or tundra.

This is an update of an old blog.    Just a personal note:  In this world of no borders, odd diseases and unpleasant viruses taking up residence in our personal space... The type of lifestyle we finally settled on is still the best protection you can have.  No matter the situation, a healthy gut and an active biome is the best protection you can have.

A great, great way to begin is to spend time on Donna Schwenk's blog.  Cultured Food Life is the name of her new book and she has done a great community service (IMHO) in educating so many people and giving a great starting point.  Her book is available on her blog or any of the other myriad of ways we find it.  Here is the Amazon link to Cultured Food Life.

And so... the rest is what I wrote about 18 months ago.  I see no reason to change my opinion based on current events.  There is one addition on the "Do Not" list about antibacterial products.  I list it as number 1.  Don't kill your warriors.


I just wanted to put a quick reference here on the top of my long-neglected blog.  This is a summary of some of the things that we have explored together in this blog.  Please remember, this is my OPINION (note IMHO - In My Humble Opinion really means everything on this blog) .  Always do your own research, believe in something yourself - don't just take someone else's word for it.  If you use the search feature, you can find a lot of research and recipes throughout this and many other blogs.  This can give you information to make up your own mind..... but you should continue researching.

Don't attempt to make too many changes at once unless you are in a crisis.  Take your time.  Don't throw your family under the bus.  Keep rational with any changes.   Include the kids in WHY you are changing.  Have some fun - try a couple of new things.  Try them again if they are good for you.  Don't give up.

Be healthy and well!

  1. Eat a lot of good fats (coconut oil, olive oil, butter from pastured cows, cod liver oil, etc.) A minimum of 2 tablespoons per day.
  2. Drink raw milk from pastured cows if it is within the realm of possibility.  Add raw cream to your coffee.  A lot. Enjoy it thoroughly.
  3. Eat something lacto-fermented every day.  Live sauerkraut is probably one of the most wonderful things you can do for your body long term.  Kim Chee is awesome.  Discover everything lacto-fermented.  Make up something and give it a try.
  4. Eat pastured eggs from a local source if it is within the realm of possibility.  The yolks should be bright orange.  Can you have chickens where you are?   A backyard chicken coop is not a lot of work.
  5. Drink something live with enzymes every day. (Kombucha tea, Kefir, Apple Cider Vinegar, Coconut Vinegar - something along those lines.)
  6. Eat grass fed protein (beef, chicken, pork)
  7. Soak all grains, nuts and beans.  This means sourdough bread and soaking and drying nuts.  Beans, rice and lentils, of course, should be soaked with a bit of whey or apple cider vinegar and the water drained off before cooking.  Do you have a crock pot?  Do you cook much?  Most of this is not hard and you do it ahead of time.  I do a lot on weekends and coast through overfull weeks.  Make soaked granola.  Have fun!
  8. Eat cultured and organic milk products (yogurt, sour cream, cream cheese).   Add kefir in some form to your diet EVERY DAY.   There are so many good and easy recipes.
  9. Make bone broth.  Have some several times a week.  Cook beans or rice or soup in it or drink it like a tea.  Dirt cheap and easy.
  10. Exercise 20 minutes per day.  Frankly, yoga and pilates with some aerobics and weight training are almost the best thing for long term.  Honestly, "The Biggest Loser" has some of the best workout DVD's for at home that I have found.  $9 at Wal Mart.
  11. Find a holistic doctor or chiropractor if it is possible.  The way we often practice medicine is criminal (IMHO).  Will not rant here.  :)
  12. Go organic.  Go local.  Go fresh.  Fruits, vegetables, everything.  There is a host of reasons outside of the chemical thing.
  13. Take a good, food based multi-vitamin that is in powder or liquid form.  Don't waste your money on pills that are shaped up with binders and fillers.  Most of it just goes right through you.  We use "All-One" Senior formula.  We take it in the morning with a little Kombucha tea and juice.  There are other really wonderful choices.

  1. Do not use antibacterial products on or in your body.  They kill off your biome (the web of healthy bacteria that works symbiotically with our bodies inside and outside to provide bacterial  warriors against nasty bacteria, virus, pathogens, or other unpleasant organisms.)
  2.  Anything made from GMO's.  They are evil beyond belief (IMHO).  It is best to not put stuff into your body that might cause problems.  You have a "bad blast" and your gut can be ruined.  Just sayin' 
  3. ANYTHING that has soy in it.  Men should NEVER EVER EVER EVER drink soy milk or eat soy.  It messes with your manhood.  Women pregnant with boys should NEVER include soy in their diet.  Boy babies should NEVER drink formula made from soy (almost the only thing available) The ONLY exception is a properly lacto-fermented soy sauce, in moderation.
  4. Anything hydrogenated, fractionated, or something you cannot pronounce.  Read all labels.  This basically eliminates about 80% of processed foods (which are dead and rob your body of life anyway)
  5. Cereal that has been extruded (is it in a shape?  It has been extruded - stick to soaked granola.  super easy to make.)
  6. High levels of stress.  The B vitamins will help with this.
  7. Grains, nuts and seeds that have not been soaked.
  8. Get some of the sugar out of your life.
  9. Any milk product that has been homogenized.  A gentle pasteurization is ...... ok..... but raw-non homogenized is better.  If it is homogenized, treat it like something nasty.
  10. Avoid like the plague anything that has High Fructose Corn Syrup in it.  It also goes by hfcs now.  Don't touch the stuff.  It is nasty for your liver and your insides and almost impossible to eliminate.
There, see.  That is not so bad.  Just do all of that and get back to me in 10 years.  You will have tons of energy, feel great and look better than you did at 20.


Thursday, October 2, 2014

Protecting your family from health threats

Anyone following health news lately has to be concerned.  Enterovirus 68 (and childhood paralysis) and Ebola seems to be a current thread of our national conversation.  The potential of death, debilitation or long term disease speaks to many of our worst fears.   The lack of effective administrative / medical solutions makes those fears grow.  I have been looking to the past to see what our family can do to protect ourselves from these nasty things.

I found a great page that ties in several articles from the late 30's / early 40's from the scientist who was successful at giving a rabbit polio.  It also has the basis for his research and his conclusions.

From the article:
“One of the puzzling characteristics of polio,” Dr. Sandler said yesterday, “has been its prevalence in warm weather. Many people cut down on protective protein foods—such as meat, fish and poultry—because of a mistaken idea that a ‘light’ diet is better for them in warm weather. And they increase consumption of cooling foods and beverages—most of them heavily sweetened. It is this increase in consumption of sugar that produces a lowering of blood sugar and thereby a lowering of the body’s resistance to the polio virus and other diseases.”
"His theory is two-fold—he believes he has found a major cause for polio in humans, and he believes that preventive measures are simple, easy, and quickly applicable.

Dr. Sandler believes that the major cause is the low blood sugar in the human body, caused, paradoxically as it may sound, by eating too much sweets and starchy food.

The preventive measures? Cut out foods containing sugars and starches.

In 24 hours, according to Dr. Sandler, the body can build up sufficient resistance to the polio virus to prevent disease. The diet would have to continue, of course.

“The crisis is here and hours have become precious,” he said. “I have been impelled to bring this directly to the newspapers because of my profound conviction that, through community cooperation and general acceptance of a diet low in sugars and starches, this epidemic can be got under control in about two weeks time.

“I am willing to state without reserve that such a diet, strictly observed, can build up in 24 hours time a resistance in the human body sufficiently strong to combat the disease successfully. The answer lies simply in maintaining a normal blood sugar.”

 This is really, really great information.

It needs to be added that lacto fermented foods bring an entire different level of protection.  Small amounts of milk kefir, kombucha and fermented veggies build an amazing defense system in your gut... your first line of defense.  There is much old and current information available and this is something that has been discussed quite a bit here.  BUT  here is a great blog post that might be helpful.  Donna also has a new book out that is chock full of great recipes.  I have one myself and have given a lot away :)

I would recommend all of you check out these great articles and think about what steps you can apply.

Here is an article I found that gives a good overview of gut stuff for our continued education.

For those who want to get REALLY serious, here is a ABC basic page from the Weston A. Price foundation.  Always the best IMHO :)


Thursday, September 18, 2014

Bell's Palsy

A question that has been bubbling in me recently...  "WHAT are the fruits of the Spirit in MY life?"   Because we are known by our fruit, both here on earth and above in Heaven.   This picture represents what I strive for regularly.  This was a recent "gut check" for me and one that has been a wrestling place.  These have not been the fruits showing up in my life. 

Many of you know that I experienced a Bell's Palsy episode a coupe of years ago.  It recently flared its ugly head again.  Here are my thoughts on addressing this issue in my world. (IMHO... It is always, always, always the best thing to do to begin by getting right with God, no matter what your issue is)

Remember that I am not in any way a medical professional.  This is just what I did and continue to do to wrestle with this health issue.  Really, this is the resolution and the end of a lot of steps.  Please know that all along the way I have had wonderful counsel from a naturopath, a chiropractor and a massage therapist.  If you are in pain with your skeleton, begin with a good chiropractor.  If you have gut imbalance issues, begin with a good naturopathic doctor.  A good counselor can help resolve emotional issues or mental issues.  You may need to begin with a good massage therapist to deal with muscular issues.  Please be open to asking for help and guidance.  This list is where I ended up.  Please know that I began with good professional help.

This is not addressing a Bell's Palsy situation that is caused by trauma or injury.

So, the causative / problematic areas to be addressed:

1) Gut imbalance
 2) Emotional, physical, mental or spiritual stress

These first two (either/or/both) can then begin a chain reaction which can be triggered by:

3) overreaction to neurotoxin exposure (pesticides, possibly GMO's... still researching... corrupted fats, chemical overload in our food or body products, some parma stuff, other neurotoxic things.

4) Opportunistic virus which acts very, very oddly

This in turn leads to a swelling in the affected area (in the case of Bell's Palsy, the inner ear ... other diseases are the basically the same process but different parts of the body affected). This brings us to the next phase.

5) This swelling can cause the myelin sheath (The fatty substance that covers and protects nerves is an extremely simplified explanation) to be damaged or degraded, especially if the original condition is not corrected quickly. A further problem is lesions, but this does not usually occur in Bell's Palsy specifically.

6) For reasons of which I am unclear, this chain of events almost always pulls our body physically out of alignment. This needs corrected by a competent chiropractor as quickly as possible. Massage therapy in conjunction to the physical adjustment may also be very, very helpful.
SO, my personal steps to allow healing of my original episode and subsequent flare ups....

1) Recognize that there is probably an underlying emotional issue bringing problems to your body. It is necessary to deal with this. Depending on your world view, this can be accomplished by prayer and submission to God, inner healing, EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) or other recognition and healing process.

2) Make VERY SURE that my gut flora, my mouth flora and my skin flora is healthy and active. This involves any good Phase 1 diet for a season while AT THE SAME TIME adding a lot of great fats from the whole spectrum (short, mid and long chain fatty acids) and a LOT of fermented foods (sauerkraut or other cultured veggies, kombucha and kefir... there may be others... these are my base.
Following these two steps should bring you to a place of:

3) neutralized pH and a gut that has a healthy population of bacteria (and your skin and your mouth)

4) rest and calm emotionally

This then opens the door for my final steps of healing:

5) Chiropractic adjustment. For me personally this usually involves adjustment of my atlas, sometimes my upper back, and recently my foot. I personally expect to go for 3-4 sessions over about a six week period to ensure that everything is stable. The first time this happened to me it was more like 2-3 times per week for 3-4 weeks.

6) A good chiropractor will have available some low level energy or laser or electrical device which should bring relief to nerve endings that are going haywire and causing a lot of pain and distress.

7) A good massage therapist working hand in hand with the chiropractor may speed all of this up considerably.

8)  Begin (or continue) an appropriate exercise program.  Get out in the sunshine and walk or jog or run, play an active game... but also add some good, structured exercise program.

Hopefully this is helpful to you.


Friday, March 21, 2014

What to expect when you bring your jar of live sauerkraut home

Please remember that our sauerkraut is a very live, very active food and I tend to overstuff the jars (I will work on that)

These jars tend to hiss, spit, piddle, burp and occasionally explode. This is perfectly normal. Really.  If you do not get it into the fridge, it might piddle all over your counter.  It is a pH of approximately 3.5, which is pretty acidic.  It can ruin the finish on your counter top, floor or other surface.  If you plan to leave it out, or it appears to be over lively, put a plate or bowl under it please.

Your best bet for fresh sauerkraut management is to eat some the day you get it to give a little head room. Put it on a little plate, refrigerate and sing a little lullaby... Go to sleep, go to sleep..... Burp occasionally. It is gassy.

Once you begin eating it, remember that it will begin a WAR with excess sugars, carbohydrates, yeasts, pathogens and unpleasant bacteria.  Your gut is not a very fun place to have a war.... but that is where the enemy of your health lives.  If you have specific questions, please talk to your natropathic doctor, your health coach or someone in our community to help you through this process.