Sunday, February 28, 2021

Snow. Snow. And more Snow!!!!


 

It is nearly March and we are buried under 7 feet of snow!  And it just keeps snowing!  

This year we got a late start for snow.  November we had a skiff, but nothing to write home about.  December brought us a white Christmas, but we only had about a foot of snow, with bare ground under the trees.  January had us almost believing that we were going to skip a real winter this year.  I actually had a table and chairs set up under some trees so we could enjoy the unseasonably dry and warmish weather.  And then February hit!  




For the last three to four weeks we've had storm after storm after storm roll in.  It hasn't been uncommon for us to accumulate a foot and a half of snow overnight and another foot to a foot and a half the next day! Sir Knight and I have been delivering packages to our few neighbors because the roads have been too treacherous for the Fedex and UPS drivers to maneuver.  In fact, we've delivered so many packages that our UPS driver gave the kids UPS hats, making them official!

Dragon Snack in her UPS swag!!

We live roughly 14 miles outside of town.  Our road is a "main" gravel road and is maintained by the county, however, with only 5 families living this far out, we are at the bottom of the road to-do list.  One day last week, both Sir Knight and I made it home only by prayer.....neither one of us have EVER driven on a road that bad!!  Talk about faith building!!  Thankfully, the county had gotten them plowed by the next morning so that we were able to make it in to the butcher shop.  Even in the summer our road can be a nightmare.  We've lovingly named it "the AlCan of the lower 48".  Our's is a road where nice cars come to die.

Our forecast seems to indicate a warming, dryer trend....perhaps meaning no more snow in the immediate future!  Now, we'll wait and see how the spring thaw treats us......so much snow to melt, with the creeks already full to overflowing.....hopefully our bridge will be able to withstand the rushing torrent!!

Ah....life in the mountains!!

Saturday, February 20, 2021

Product Review: Boundary Ebulb

 As most of you know, we lived off-grid for the better part of 20 years.  One of the benefits of that lifestyle is that once we had a solid, working alternative energy system in place, we never had power outages!  Unfortunately, we can no longer say that is the case!  Since we've been back on grid power, we have encountered power outages with alarming regularity.  For the most part, they don't affect us much....we still have an outhouse and a generator for pumping water (not to mention abundant water via year around creeks and a bubbling spring), along with a root cellar (should be need it), however, it is still inconvenient not to have good, reliable household lighting.  We're never completely without light - we still have numerous oil lamps (3 hanging in permanent locations, and many table lamps), along with battery operated LED lighting sources.  But really, we all know that electric lights are the best, most convenient lights available.

A couple of years ago, I saw an ad for a lightbulb called an ebulb (emergency bulb), that had an onboard battery that charged when in use and came on automatically when the power went out.   Too good to be true??  I read and read and read reviews, mostly good, some bad, and decided I'd really like to give them a try.  What I was kind of stuck on was how they turned on after the power went out.  It didn't make any sense that I could put a lightbulb in my kitchen light, have the power go out and still flip the light switch and have the lights come on....it seemed a little hinkey.  

I wrote the date that I charged the bulb on the box



Finally, after one power outage too many, I ordered some bulbs.  They have a charge on them when they arrive, however, it is advised to charge them for eight hours before storing them away.  I began charging some bulbs, but a few others went directly into lamps for every day use.  The idea behind the bulbs is that you screw them in to existing lamps or light fixtures (either with a switch on the wall or on the lamp itself), they charge while in use and then, in the event of a power outage, the bulbs use their reserved battery power to provide lighting for the duration of the power outage.  

When I first put the bulbs into my fixtures, I noticed that the light was very bright and very white.  While I prefer a softer white lightbulb, I think these will be perfect during a power outage when you need light, not ambiance.  The bulbs are also slightly larger than a standard bulb, making it difficult or impossible to fit in some standard light fixtures.  I had no problem with a majority of my lamps, but one was just too small.  Of course, the minute I had the lights in the lamps, I had to turn off the light switch and see if the bulb came on.....it didn't.  Not to be deterred, I ran to the fuse panel and turned the breaker off.....nothing.  I was more than a little disappointed.  I knew the lightbulbs worked with the little hanger with a switch that they had come with, but really, I wanted a lightbulb that would work in my existing fixtures with the flip of a switch.  

Okay...weird, but you can turn these lights on with your hand!!!!

The hanger with the switch that the bulb screws into

Now it can be hung (or used as a trouble light)

I began reading online reviews again, and realized that the reviews truly were a mixture of "these work like a dream" and "they only work with the hanging switch, not in the light fixture".  It then occurred to me that since I tried them out right away, they may not have had enough of a charge to make them work correctly.  We left them turned on in the lamps, used them like a regular light bulb and forgot about them.  A week went by and I thought I'd give them another test run.  This time, I asked Sir Knight to flip the breaker for the snug (where I had two light bulbs in lamps).  He did.  The lights went out, and then almost immediately, switched back on.  I had light were there was no power!!!  I turned the switches off and the lights went out....and then I turned the switches again....and LIGHT!!!  I was amazing!!

We now have a Boundary ebulb in every room.  We've only lost power once since we've had the bulbs, but immediately when the power went out, the lights came on.  In fact, it happened so quickly that I didn't realize the power was out!  

In reality, we haven't put these ebulbs to the acid test yet.  We have charged them all for at least 8 hours (I bought 12 light bulbs, so we have a few in fixtures and the rest are charged and on a shelf).  At this point I have no idea how long the batteries will last in an extended power outage (one of reason we bought so many bulbs).  I have read that they last anywhere from 3 hours to 12 hours, so only experience will give us a true picture of long-term viability.  

Sir Knight is in the process of creating a light bulb "charging station" so that we can charge a number of bulbs at once.  That way, if the power is out for an extended time, we can charge a lot of bulbs when the generator is running.  Also, he'd like to made sure we could use solar panels to power the charging station, making the ebulbs a long-term solution to off-grid lighting.

At first flush, the ebulbs seems to be solid solution for occasional power outages.  Only time will tell if they are a viable off-grid lighting solution.  I'll keep you posted!!

Note:  You can purchase these ebulbs from Boundary, or Amazon, Home Depot or Walmart among other retailers.

Friday, February 19, 2021

Update: Family

There have been so many changes over the last number of years in our family that I'll do by best to bring you up to date.  Here goes......

Sir Knight.....Sir Knight is now a full-fledged butcher, processing more animals in a day than he used to be able to process in a week.  He and Master Hand Grenade work together every day, side by side, processing hogs and beef and the occasional goat or lamb.  Business has grown steadily in the 3+ years we've been in business.  We have struggled and learned and improved....and we march steadily forward.  Last June, Sir Knight had an accident (potentially life changing) that left him in an eye patch.  I'm thinking he totally rocks the pirate look!!!


Rockin' the eye patch

Maid Elizabeth.....As I've mentioned, Maid Elizabeth sold her home where we used to live and bought a home directly across the creek from our butcher shop.  Our town is very small, and finding a job was a major challenge - a faith building challenge!  After a couple of false starts, Maid Elizabeth interviewed, tested and was offered a job as a 911 dispatcher for our county.  It has been the perfect position for her.  She is particularly good in emergencies and her medical training is a real bonus.  She has become an indispensable member of the emergency services team.

Dispatching....

Master Hand Grenade......Master Hand Grenade is working, working, working.  Not only does he work at the butcher shop 5 days a week, he also works at our local grocery store another 2 days a week.  He's working steadily toward a number of long-range goals and has already achieved a few.  One great joy has been watching him mature and grow - what joy it brings!

The guys

Master Hand Grenade on a walk

Miss Serenity.....Miss Serenity also moved here with us.  She worked as a Wildland Fire Fighter, moving up the ranks quickly - first becoming the crew boss and then Forman.  Last summer, one of her crew members lost his life in a local river.  The effect was profound in Miss Serenity's life and it left her wondering how she could make a real impact on young lives.  With this in mind Miss Serenity applied to work as a cadre at a residential military academy for troubled youth, and was immediately hired.  She is now working with her second round of cadets and seems to have been custom designed for this job.  She speaks into the lives of broken "children" (they range in age from 15-18) every day, with characteristic Miss Serenity wisdom.

Miss Serenity ready for work

Talking a cadet through a water challenge

Princess Dragon Snack......Is almost 16!!!!  Can you believe that??  I know I can't!  Dragon Snack is still in school, of course, and on top of that, she works at the butcher shop with me.  In addition to school and work, she has another job - she is a barista in a local coffee shop!  She is full of fun and whimsy......with Dragon Snack, there is never a dull moment!  Her short term goal is getting her drivers license and her long term goal is to have horses and live somewhere that doesn't resemble Narnia in the winter!!!

Princess Dragon Snack and her love


At one of her two jobs!

Master Calvin.....I no longer have littles.....Master Calvin is a teenager!  Yes, really!  He, too, is doing school and he has become his Grandfather's right hand.  Right at the moment he is doing little but shoveling snow.  Lots and lots of snow!  He is keeping us shoveled out, as well as shoveling out the neighbors.  He's not complaining, however.  He is steadily adding to his dirt bike fund!




Master Calvin thinks it's time to move up!!

And me.....I am working, and learning - constantly.  I am learning there is no such thing as "menial labor" - that every job is worthy as long as you are working for your Father.  I am learning that my only job is obedience.  I need to obey Jesus in whatever He brings for me to do today - and that is enough. 

The girls and I

And that, my friends, is a quick family update!!

Thursday, February 18, 2021

Semper Paratus

 It seems as though the world has continued to spiral out of control, gaining speed and momentum, with no signs of stopping.  Although we are no longer off-grid, we continue to strive to be "always ready", making our home as functional and prepared as possible.  We completed a number of projects this year (never as many as we'd like) and have many more planned for the coming year.  

One of the big things we did, was retrofit our old "gas house" into a chicken coop and filled it with 20 hens and a rooster!  The gas house had fallen into disrepair and had collected years of dirt and debris, but it was in a good location and the perfect place to begin to rebuild the basics of a homestead.  After cleaning out the muck and the mire, we found that the gas house floor had rotted through.  After replacing the floor, we insulated the walls and the roof, put new sheeting up and painted the entire inside (including the floors and the roof) with two coats of deck paint.  We built laying boxes, turned the big door into a dutch door and installed a window and a chicken door.  We built an interior dividing wall and screened it with with welded wire, to divide the "people side" from the "chicken side".  After finishing the inside, we fenced an outdoor area and finished it with a metal roof.  It has been amazing to see how much time the chickens spend outside, even in the depths of winter, just because they have a covered outdoor area!!  A real surprise has been how many eggs they lay, even in the dark days of winter.  We've been getting between 9 and 12 eggs a day throughout January and February, and that's without heat or a lamp in the coop!!  I've been so impressed!!

Putting in a new floor

Adding a window

We insulted and then put galvanized roofing in the  "chicken side" of the coop for easier cleaning.

A dividing wall and the beginning of nesting boxes

On the way to pick up chickens!!

The "ladies" enjoying their new roost

Another major undertaking we managed to complete last summer, was moving our wood cook stove.  After living here for 3 years, we found that the cook stove wasn't in the best location.  The stove was in the corner of the kitchen, which at first flush, seemed to be perfect.  However, we found that the location was inconvenient.  There was no counter near the stove, so cooking was challenging.  On top of that, the heat distribution was less than adequate.  The heat went directly upstairs, cooking the children in their beds, and the living room was always slightly chilly.  After a few years, and lots of thinking, we decided to move the stove.  The first thing we did was move everything!!!  And then we lived with it for a month or so.  Installing a wood stove is not small task, so we wanted to be very sure before we actually plumbed the stove in.  After living with it for a month, we knew it was going to work really well, so we called a friend and asked him to come help with the installation.  It took another couple of months before he was able to install the stove (in the beginning of November) but what an amazing transformation it has been!!  The kids now sleep in comfortable bedrooms, the living room is toasty warm and the wood cookstove is perfectly positioned between the living room and the kitchen, right next to the counter!!  

The wood cook stove in it's new location


It works so much better here!!

Pizza night...baking the bottoms before I put them in the oven

A drying rack above the stove (of course)!!

Moving the wood cook stove was life changing, in more ways than one....not only is our heat more efficient, moving the stove also paved the way for us to move the table into the kitchen!  I haven't had an eat-in kitchen for years, and I love it!  The kitchen just seems so much more inviting and homey with a kitchen table tucked into the corner.  Not to mention it is easier to fit lots of people in the kitchen than it was when we had the table in the other room.  Yay!!  And then, I had an entire room to play with.....and finally, I was able to get my own "snug"!!  It has been wonderful!!  We installed the propane fireplace, a couple of down filled chairs, a footstool....and suddenly, we have the perfect spot for reading and talking and just being.  It has been life-changing.  Now, Sir Knight and I have tea in the snug every morning and spend our evenings reading quietly by firelight.  It has been a wonderful addition to our life.

The kitchen table in its new location

The snug in all its glory

The door into the kitchen


The snug also doubles as an entry-way (here, the door is open)

As the world continues to spiral, we continue to pray and built and plan.  We do what is put in front of us to do each day and trust God with the rest.  And He continues to guide and direct our path.

Saturday, April 4, 2020

The Emperor's New Clothes....


I'm beginning to wonder.....is the Emperor, perhaps, naked???

Our world has been turned upside-down.  Every state in the nation is under lockdown, the world is in a frenzy and the prognosis for our future is nothing shy of apocalyptic.  The Coronavirus has brought us to our knees.

I've watched with wonder, as our nation and its citizens respond to this pandemic.  First, we responded with disbelief and caution.  People bought a few more packages of toilet paper, a gallon or two of bleach and a couple bottles of hand sanitizer - just in case.  As the news outlets grew more and more vocal the politicians became more and more involved.  Soon cities, counties and states called special meetings.   Emergency measures were enacted and the news cycle grew.  Twenty-four hours a day....pandemic....death.....pandemic.....death....economic collapse.....depression......pandemic....death.

And we responded.  Toilet paper is gone.  Hand sanitizer is a thing of the past.  Gloves, face-masks, bleach....it's all gone.  The food supply chain is breaking down, jobs are collapsing, lives are being irrevocably changed....and yet....?

I have to admit, I live in the middle of nowhere.  I'm not near a city center.  I don't live near the West Coast or the East Coast.  I'm not in Detroit or New Orleans or New York City.  I live 15 miles outside of a tiny town, on the top of a mountain.  I'm well outside of mainstream America.  But....I have a LOT of family in the original epicenter of this disease in the United States.  None of them are ill.  None of them know anyone who is ill.  None of them know anyone who knows anyone who is ill.

I'm not denying that we have been exposed to a devastating illness.  I have a dear friend that is married to a surgeon who is in the thick of the battle.  People are sick and people are dying.  However, I'm not seeing the widespread devastation that I keep hearing about on the news.  Is it real? Is it hyped up?  I wish I knew!

As I sit here, on my mountaintop I do wonder, if perhaps, the Emperor has new clothes....or is, indeed, naked.

The Emperor's New Clothes

A vain emperor who cares too much about wearing and displaying clothes hires two weavers who claim to make the most beautiful clothes and elaborate patterns. The weavers are con-men who convince the emperor they are using a fine fabric invisible to anyone who is either unfit for his position or "hopelessly stupid". The con lies in that the weavers are actually only pretending to manufacture the clothes. Thus, no one, not even the emperor nor his ministers can see the alleged "clothes", but they all pretend that they can for fear of appearing unfit for their positions. Finally, the weavers report that the suit is finished and they mime dressing the emperor who then marches in procession before his subjects. The townsfolk uncomfortably go along with the pretense, not wanting to appear unfit for their positions or stupid. Finally, a child in the crowd blurts out that the emperor is wearing nothing at all and the cry is then taken up by others. The emperor realizes the assertion is true but continues the procession.

Hans Christian Anderson
1837
(from Wikipedia)

Thursday, March 12, 2020

Actionable Intelligence



Watching the news is a lesson in frustration.  The media has cried wolf for so long that if this pandemic truly is "the end of the world as we know it", we're not going to believe it until it's too late. There is no truly "actionable intelligence" coming from news reports or social media.  One side says that the sky is falling and the other side says "move along, there's nothing to see here".  Wisdom is in short supply.

We have seen (at least according to media outlets) lots of "stocking up" on key quarantine and hygiene essentials.  Many people have been caught unawares, and are worried, even to the point of hysteria, that they don't have enough to get they and their families through this crisis.  I have a few thoughts on the concept of preparedness and Christianity.....

I absolutely believe that God is the author of life and sustains us from even before our very first breath.  It is His providence that sees us through each day and provides hope for the future.  However, He did give us biblical principles to live by and preparedness is one of many.

When God spoke to Noah, He told him to prepare for judgement.  He gave him very specific instructions about building an ark, loading it with life sustaining food and preparing his family for the trials of the days ahead.  Now, if anybody had a reason to doubt, it was Noah.  For over 100 years, Noah works on the ark.  I have no doubt there were many naysayers and hecklers, but Noah persevered.  Noah built a boat in a world that had never seen rain, never seen a flood, never had even seen an "act of God".  What faith!  God could have saved Noah and his family by "Divine Intervention", but instead, He chose to have Noah prepared.

The story of Joseph may be an overused example of preparedness, but it is without a doubt a perfect picture of God's faithfulness through preparedness.  Once more, God could have chosen not to allow the famine, but instead He readied His servant Joseph to care for His people.  What would have happened to the people Egypt and the surrounding areas had Joseph not heeded God's voice?

The example of the ten virgins in Matthew, although directly relating to the returning of the bridegroom, is instructive in discerning the wise from the foolish.  The wise virgins brought with them their lamps and their oil, conversely, the foolish virgins brought their lamps, but lacked the foresight to bring oil.  My desire is to be known as wise rather than foolish!!

Another thought is that God always starts with something.  When He made man, He started with dirt. When He made woman, He started with man.  God instructed Elijah to have the widow feed him.  She explained that she had only enough flour and oil for one loaf for she and her son, and then they would die.  Elijah instructed her to feed him first and that her supplies would last.  THEY DID!!  She had something and God multiplied it.  Even Jesus, with His very first miracle, started with something. He didn't just conjure up wine for the wedding, He started with water.  Later, at the Sermon on the Mount, He started with a few loaves and fishes, and fed 5000 men; not counting women and children.  He used what was available and multiplied it.  Those examples, at the very least, should spur to have SOMETHING.  God, in His sovereignty, will use what we have - but we need to start with something.  We don't have to panic about not having everything we think we need, but we do need to make an effort to acquire SOMETHING.

And then we get into the Proverbs.  They are a goldmine of preparedness advice:

Proverbs 6:6-8
Go to the any, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise. It has no commander, no overseer or ruler, yet it stores it provisions in summer and gathers its food at harvest.

Proverbs 21:20
In the house of the wise are stores of choice food and oil, but a foolish man devours all he has.

Proverbs 22:3
A prudent man sees danger and takes refuge, but the simple keep going and suffer for it.

Proverbs 27:12 (this one is even mentioned twice)
The prudent see danger and take refuge, but the simple keep going and suffer for it.

Proverbs 30:25
Ants are creatures of little strength, yet they store up their food in the summer.

Proverbs 31 is one of my favorite chapters.  It is like a job description for a Godly wife.  A couple of verses really speak to me when it comes to preparedness.  31:15 "She gets up while it is still dark; she provides food for her family and portions for her servant girls".  31:21 "When it snows, she has no fear for her household; for all of them are clothed in Scarlett".  31:25 "She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come".  The Proverbs 31 woman provided food for her household.  She did not wait for someone else to provide for her.  She was not afraid of the cold, because she had already made sure that her household was well clothed.  She laughed at the days to come.  I think this is my favorite verse.  For a woman, the only way that you can laugh at the days to come is if you feel that you have taken care of what needs to be taken care of.  When you have laid in supplies, a part of you says "bring it on!".  Then you truly can laugh at the days to come.

As Christians, it is our responsibility to be wise stewards.  How can we be a beacon of hope in a dark world, if we, ourselves are dependent upon the charity of others?  How can we bring glory to God if we are stealing or cheating to survive?  We must be like the prudent man who sees danger and takes refuge rather than the simple man who keeps going and suffers for it.

Monday, February 24, 2020

Good Home Treatment of Influenza



All the way back in 2011 I wrote The Prepared Family Guide to Uncommon Diseases.  Actually, more than writing, I merely compiled easily obtained information and attempted to put it in a coherent format to help my family and others in the event of a medical catastrophe.  Over the years I have referenced it from time-to-time, but thankfully, have never really had to put it into use.  Although I don't want to add to an already heightened concern, I do believe it may be time to pull this book from the mothballs.

The recently emerged Coronavirus has the entire world on edge.  And it does appear to have the potential to be a global game-changer.  Although my book covers everything from the Bubonic Plague to Starvation, the real gold is in a section that I had nothing to do with.  It is a special section in the back of the book called "Good Home Treatment of Influenza".  It was written by Grattan Woodson, M.D., FACP - author of the Bird Flu Preparedness Planner and the Bird Flu Manual.

As I researched the Wuhan virus, I discovered that "coronavirus" is an umbrella term for a number of different viruses, Avian Influenza and SARS included.  Armed with that knowledge, I grabbed my book from the shelf and flipped to the special section on Influenza.  I spent the next few days reading the information and making a list of necessary supplies.

What follows are but a few excerpts from the book.....As always knowledge is key to preparedness.

The Great Bird Flu Pandemic
It is in the nature of all influenza pandemics to cause widespread illness and death.  As during seasonal flu, the vast majority of those sick with pandemic flu will be treated at home by their family members and friends.  This guide was written for people taking care of mildly to severely ill influenza patients in their home who have no formal medical training.

A pandemic will last between 12 to 18 months and over that time about half the people on earth will become sick.  Most will be mild to moderately ill, but some will be very sick.  This guide will help you take care of these people at home using simple methods and do not rely on prescription drugs, medical equipment or medical training.

At times during a severe pandemic, hospitals could become full of sick and dying patients, running out of space for new patients.  Access to doctors may become limited.  Medical supplies and drugs could be in short supply.  If these things happen, people like you with no prior formal medical training may find yourself caring for terrible ill loved ones and friends, who under normal circumstances would be treated by the doctor in the hospital.  Home care, while not up to the standards of hospital care, can still be very effective.  The simple methods found in this guide are those that have the power to keep patients from dying from the common, preventable causes of death from influenza such as dehydration.

What is "good home care" for the flu?
Good home care is nine parts common sense and one part simple medical practice.  Taking care of someone with flu will be a familiar task for those who have nursed family members back to health in the past as it relies on simple common treatments and techniques.

The Flu Treatment Kit
Providing good care to family members and friends sick with influenza is a task that will be easier with a good supply of select over-the-counter medications, some medical equipment, and a few items from the grocery or hardware store.  These items form the basis of the Flue Treatment Kit (FTK).

The Flu Treatment Kit (items for one person)
Grocery Store Items

  • Table salt: 1 lb. (for making Oral Rehydration Solution, gargle and nasal wash)
  • Table sugar: 10 lbs. (for making Oral Rehydration Solution ORS)
  • Baking soda: 6 oz. (for making Oral Rehydration Solution and nasal wash)
  • Household bleach, unscented: 2 gal. (for purifying water and cleaning contaminated items)
  • Caffeine containing tea, bags or dry loose: 1 lb. (for treatment of respiratory symptoms)
  • Two 8 oz. Plastic baby bottles with rubber nipples (for administering ORS to severely ill)
  • Two 16 oz. plastic squeeze bottles with swivel nozzles (for administering ORS to the ill)
  • Two kitchen measuring cups with 500cc (two cups) capacity (for measuring lots of things)
  • One set of kitchen measuring spoons 1/2 tsp up to 1 Tbsp. (for making ORS and dosing)
  • Fifty soda straws (for administering fluids)
  • One composition-style notebook (for keeping a medical record on the patient)
  • Teakettle (for steam therapy)
FTK Items found at the drug store
  • Petroleum jelly 4 oz. (for lubrication of tubes, suppositories and skin treatment and protection
  • Cocoa butter, pure, 2 oz. (for making suppositories and skin treatment and protection)
  • An accurate bathroom scale (for weighing)
  • Two electronic thermometers (to measure temperature)
  • Automatic blood pressure monitor (to measure blood pressure)
  • Humidifier (for increasing the relative humidity of the air breathed by the patient)
  • Pill cutter (to make it easier to reduce the dose of the medication if desired)
  • 1 box of Nitril gloves (100) (to help reduce contamination and spread of the virus and bacteria
Non-Prescription drugs
  • Ibuprofen 200mg (Motrin) 100 tablets (for treatment of flu symptoms)
  • Diphenhydramine (Benadryl) 25 mg. capsules, 100 capsules (for treatment of flu symptoms)
  • Robitussin DM Cough Syrup or its generic equivalent (12 oz.) (for treatment of cough)
  • Acetaminophen 500 mg. (Tylenol) 100 tablets (for treatment of flu symptoms
  • Loperamide 2 mg, 100 tablets (for diarrhea and abdominal cramps)
  • Meclizine 25 mg., 100 tablets (for nausea and vomiting)
FTK Items found at the hardware store
  • N-95 masks, 20 (2 boxes) (to reduce diseases spread to and from the patient)
  • 50 gallon sturdy plastic garbage container with top (used to store clean water for drinking)
Other topics covered:

  • Useful home care medical procedures
  • How flue is passed person-to-person
  • Coughing and hand washing etiquette
  • The virtue of cleanliness
  • Principal symptoms of influenza
  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Nausea, vomiting and diarrhea
  • Supportive treatment of influenza
  • Keeping good records
  • Identification of dehydration
  • Treatment of dehydration
  • ORS formula for dehydration
  • Treatment of common flu symptoms
  • Treatment of adults with fever
  • Treatment of chills and body aches and pains
  • Treatment for respiratory conditions and headache
  • Reasons and remedies for common flu patient signs and symptoms
  • Treatment of nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal pain
  • Diet and exercise with Influenza
  • The clear liquid diet
  • Exercise during and after recovery
  • Home care of children with flu
  • Signs and symptoms of flu in children
And the list goes on and on.  

These days are precarious.  "A prudent man sees danger and takes refuge, but the simple keep going and suffer for it".  Proverbs 22:3

Sunday, February 23, 2020

Adventures with Sourdough


For years I have wanted to master (or at least have some success) with naturally leavened bread.  Of course we love the flavor of "sourdough", but my real reason for wanting to successfully leaven bread with wild yeast was so that I would be able to nourish my family with the "staff of life", even if I didn't have access to commercially produced yeast.  Although quick breads are easy and don't require yeast, there is nothing to compare with fresh-from-the-oven, honest-to-goodness bread!  Besides, once I set my mind to something, I HAVE to see it through....even if it takes me years!  And so began my adventure with sourdough.

I attempted sourdough many times while we lived in "Little Shouse on the Prairie".  I had read that wild yeast was present in the air and lent a flavor all its own, depending upon where the yeast was gathered, thus the distinctive "San Francisco Sourdough" we've all come to associate with traditional sourdough bread.  In that vein, I mixed flour and water in equal portions and left it for a number of days, stirring occasionally, in an attempt to gather yeast and make a starter work.  As many times as I tried, that's how many times I failed.  My starter would become a watery, gray mess that smelled bad and had no life.  I got busy and regular bread was good (and I could make it!) and I gave up on sourdough....for the moment.

Last Thanksgiving we invited some folks that were new to the area to join our Thanksgiving celebration.  As a gift they brought two gorgeous loves of still-warm sourdough bread.  Oh, my goodness!  It was wonderful!  It was light with an airy crumb and delightful crust.   I was inspired!  And so began a new adventure with sourdough.

I read article after article after article and finally came up with a game plan.  I made my starter, faithfully fed it (something I hadn't done before) and, after 8 days, proclaimed it ready.  I started with a simple loaf from King Arthur Flour.  It was good but not exactly what I was looking for.  I tried sourdough pizza crust (again, good, not great), and another, lighter loaf recipe.  Next, I stepped up to sourdough English muffins (amazing!) and then tried my hand at a sourdough sandwich loaf.  Each loaf has been better than the last, and in the months since I began my quest I've only become more and more convinced that sourdough is amazing - definitely worth the time and effort!

I must preface my recipes with the fact that I am a simple, country cook.  Most recipes I've found have been rendered in grams and ounces.  What I've known as "sourdough" is in fact called "levain" and there are a number of specialized articles of equipment that are apparently required to make a decent loaf.  Well, I threw all of that out the window and winged it....as I usually do.  I've created recipes using simple cups and tablespoons and teaspoons.  These recipes have worked wonderfully for me....and I do hope you'll give "sourdough" a go.....it truly is amazing!!!

Starter

What you'll need:
Flour (whole grain or unbleached white)
Water (filtered, if using treated city water)
Bowl (glass or ceramic - not metal)
Spoon (wood or rubber - not metal)
Tea towel

How to:
Day 1:  Mix 1 cup of flour and 1 cup of (warm) water.  Mix vigorously, stirring down the sides and incorporate everything.  Place a clean tea towel over the bowl and allow to sit at room temperature for 24 hours.

Day 2:  Discard half of the mixture (really...throw it away - this allows you to property feed your remaining starter).  Add 1 cup of flour and 1 cup of (warm) water to the remaining starter.  Mix vigorously to incorporate.  Cover with towel and allow to (again) sit at room temperature for 24  hours.

Day 3:  Repeat instructions from day 2 (including throwing away 1/2 of the mixture).

Day 4:  Repeat instructions from day 2 (including throwing away 1/2 of the mixture).

Day 5:  Repeat instructions from day 2 (including throwing away 1/2 of the mixture).

Day 6:  Repeat instructions from day 2 (including throwing away 1/2 of the mixture), but let sit for 12 hours....then repeat.  You'll feed once every 12 hours on day 6.....

Day 7:  Repeat Day 6 instructions (feed once every 12 hours).

Your starter should be full of bubbles and ready to bake with on Day 7!!

Keep it going:
You can leave your starter on the counter (if you plan on using it every day, or almost every day) and feed it once a day (1 C. flour/1 C water).  If you plan on only using your starter a couple of times a week, you'll want to keep it in the refrigerator.  To keep it alive in the refrigerator, you'll need to use and feed it.  At least once a week, pull your starter from the fridge.  Allow the starter to warm to room temperature.  Use however much of your hydrated starter your recipe calls for.  After removing the starter (for your recipe) add 1 cup of flour and 1 cup of water to your starter and stir well.  Allow to sit on the counter, covered with a tea towel for 8 hours or overnight and then cover and return to the fridge.  If you don't want to use your starter for the week, discard a cup or two of the starter and add the 1 cup of flour and 1 cup of water, stir well, allow to sit on the counter for 8 hours or overnight and then return to the refrigerator for another week.  One thing I keep in mind is that the starter should be almost as thick as pancake batter.  If it gets too thin, I add more flour.  The flour is what feeds the starter.

My starter
Sourdough English Muffins

Day 1:

Ingredients
1 C. Sourdough starter
5 1/2 C. flour
2 C. Milk
2 T. Sugar
1 1/2. tsp. Salt
2 tsp. Baking soda
Cornmeal for dusting

In large bowl, combine your frothy starter with 4 cups of flour and the milk.  Stir to incorporate.  Cover with plastic.

Allow to sit on counter for 8 hours or up to 24 hours.

Day 2:

Add remaining ingredients.  Pour dough onto lightly floured surface and knead for 4 to 5 minutes.  Roll dough to 1/2 inch thick.

Cut with a biscuit cutter and transfer to a parchment lined cookie sheet that's been dusted with cornmeal.

Allow to rest for 45 minutes.

Heat skillet or griddle (on medium heat) and cook muffins for 6 - 8 minutes (or until golden).  Gently flip and cook on other side.  Cook for another 6 - 8 minutes.  Muffins, when done, will become lighter.

Cool slightly, split with fork.  These are wonderful warm with butter and jam....or toasted.

Makes 15 - 20 muffins.

The starter, flour and milk

Resting





Slip with a fork

Amazing!!!

Sourdough Sandwich Loaf

Makes 2 large loaves

Levain
1/2 C. Sourdough Starter
1/2 C. Milk
1 1/4 C. Flour

Dough
All of the Levain
5 1/2 - 7 C. Flour
2 Eggs
2 Egg yolks
2 1/2 C. Milk
2/3 C. Sugar
1 T. Salt
8 T. Butter (softened)

Day 1:
Mix levain ingredients in a bowl.  Cover and let sit at room temperature for 8 hours or overnight.

Day 2:
Place all ingredients in a mixer, except for salt and butter.  Mix on low speed until it comes together in a shaggy dough.

Let rest for 30 minutes.

Turn mixer on low and sprinkle with the salt and knead for 3 - 5 minutes or until dough comes together.

Add butter gradually, mixing well after each addition.  It will be very greasy, but the butter will eventually be absorbed into the dough.

Knead for another 10 minutes (add additional flour as needed to make a supple dough).

Place dough in a lightly greased bowl.

Cover tightly and allow to rise at room temperature for 2 hours.

Place in refrigerator overnight.

Day 3:Divide dough into 6 pieces and form into balls.  Allow to rest on a floured surface (cover with tea towel) for 1 hour.

Roll each section into an oval and roll out with rolling pin and then roll jellyroll fashion.

Rest for 10 minutes.

Roll into an oval again and roll like a jellyroll.

Transfer 3 rolls to a buttered bread pan.  (I used 1 large pan, 1 regular and 1 small).

Cover and let rise for 6 hours.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Bake for 20 minutes.

Lower oven temperature to 350 degrees.  Bake for an additional 15 - 20 minutes.

Cool on wire rack.

The levain

Shaggy dough

Jellyroll style rolls

After rising for 6 hours

Oh my goodness!!!!

And here you have naturally leavened bread!