In Search of a Cure for the Common Cold and other Maladies

Let’s face it, most people’s health insurance isn’t what it used to be. But that has been a blessing in disguise for my family. When my husband dropped his health insurance because it was going to cost over $600 a month for insurance with a $5,000 deductible, that turned out to be one of the biggest blessings of my life, and for my family.

How could that possibly be a blessing? Well, as it turned out, having cushy health insurance was impeding my growth, and causing my family to suffer needlessly. If someone got a cold, we did what everyone does – we bought cough syrup, decongestants, and nasal strips, and if it got really bad and turned into strep or an ear infection, we went to the doctor and got antibiotics.

Don’t those things help you get better faster? Well, I used to think so, but no health insurance for a couple of years introduced me to God’s medicine cabinet, and what’s in there trumps all of the regular stuff! 90% of any family illnesses are 100% curable or preventable, and in less than half the time (probably even a fraction of the time) it takes to go through a course of antibiotics. Having no health insurance led me to the elusive cure for the common cold.

So why ain’t I freakin’ rich by now? I would have thought so, but no – that is another thing I learned. It’s not the kind of thing that anyone can make a lot of money from really. And that is exactly why the health industry has lied to us about it for so long. And that is why what I am about to tell you is something that no one in the health industry really wants you to know. In fact, if you attempt to tell your doctor about this, they will tell you it’s nuts, that it couldn’t possibly work, that it’s snake oil, that it’s just the placebo effect, or that this kind of experimentation on your kids is irresponsible parenting.

99% of all the things you go to the doctor or use pharmaceuticals for can be easily taken care of at home in a fraction of the time and with no side effects. With just a few simple ingredients. Your run of the mill colds, flu, stomach flu, earaches, strep throat, pink eye, and food poisoning (a lot more common than most people realize) take up most of our doctor visits. We limp around on sprains and suffer with minor burns, cuts and bruises a lot longer than we need to. In the last 10 years, the only things we have been to the doctor for were stitches (2 times, same kid) and x-rays to make sure no bones were broken after a couple of playground escapades – one involving a teeter-totter, and another after a bike accident – and for my oldest son who had a non-cancerous bone growth last year. I was very grateful for doctors on that one, but even stitches are up for debate now, if doing it myself will save time and grief. I have done one set of scalp stitches, because the scalp isn’t very sensitive and it’s hidden under hair, so scarring isn’t as big of an issue.

Here is a list of the things that I have found to be very effective for treating some of the most common ailments:

Colds and flu: Prevention is the cure. Most human beings cannot synthesize vitamin C. In studies of disease over 50 years ago, it was found that in cases where people had died of infectious disease, there were no traces of vitamin C left in the tissues of the deceased. People with higher the levels of vitamin c in their body tissues were more resistant to disease. Megadosing vitamin C really can prevent or eliminate an oncoming cold or flu. But it isn’t that simple. The thing is the recommended daily allowance of vitamin C is only about 100mg for an adult. The problem is that this is the bare minimum. Most people need much more than that, at least 10 times more, and we are not getting it from our food. Even if we are eating really healthy we generally won’t get enough because the soils are depleted of nutrients and the vitamins are simply not there. Even if you grow the food yourself, unless you have properly amended your garden soil, there will not be enough of the right nutrients in the soil for you to get enough vitamin C without supplementing. The second problem is that simply taking vitamin C on its own does not give you the additional nutrients needed to absorb the vitamin C, and your body eliminates it. Problem 3 – most vitamin supplements are in tablet form and contain fillers and additives that prevent them from being absorbed in any significant amount. The best supplements will be capsules with natural forms of pure vitamin C that contain bioflavinoids. Even with the perfect vitamin C supplement, you will not absorb enough vitamin C by just taking vitamin C only to help prevent a cold. This is the main reason people think that megadosing doesn’t work. The key is that the body is unable to absorb vitamin C without enough fatty acids. Fat is a wonderful thing – it carries nutrients, both vitamins and minerals into the cells where it can actually be used. Vitamin C should be taken along with fat soluble vitamins. I have found that if I take 4,000mg of vitamin C with 4,000iu of vitamin E, or a couple of teaspoons of high quality cod liver oil it speeds up the healing process much faster. I have not had a full blown cold in 5 years, and I used to get a good case of the cold/flu at least twice a year that lasted 2 to 3 weeks, culminating in my losing my voice for at least 1 of those weeks. Not any more!

Stomach flu: The trick with stomach flu is to catch it early. Stomach flu is bacterial and often the result of eating something bad. I read somewhere once that 90% of all stomach flu is food related. When I thought about that, I decided to try some things that kill parasites and other pathogenic type bacteria. If you catch it early before it moves into the intestines, it is easier to get rid of. Taking a dropper each of black walnut extract and olive leaf extract in a glass of orange juice has always knocked out a flu bug within minutes. Just what you needed – kids bouncing off the walls again! If it has moved farther along, you may need to take a few more doses for it to work, and you will want to add some slippery elm bark powder in capsules to slow down any diarrhea, and some oregano oil (also in capsules) to help kill any stubborn bacteria that got stuck down in there. Also add some probiotics like kefir to rebuild the gut flora.

Earaches: Earaches are easily knocked out with a little garlic oil or tea tree oil mixed in to some olive oil or other carrier oil. Simply put a clove of garlic through a garlic press, mix with olive oil, and strain. Add a few drops of  tea tree oil, and put it directly into the ear. It helps to put a cotton ball in the ear to keep the oil from draining out. It sometimes takes about 20 minutes to an hour for permanent relief, but usually relief is almost immediate.

Strep throat: When I first started treating strep with herbals, I actually swabbed the back of my throat with tea tree oil using a cotton swab.  it was dreadfully unpleasant, but it had immediate results. My kids even did it to themselves because they couldn’t stand the sore throat any more. Since then, i have found gargling with colloidal silver gives similar results, and if you have a stubborn strep, add a few drops of tea tree oil and a couple of dashed of sea salt. For younger children, sweet birch oil works better, because it has a better flavor than tea tree oil, but it kills bacteria almost as well.

Pink eye: a few drops of colloidal silver in the eye a few times a day, or use one dropperful of Dr. Christopher’s herbal eyebright mixed into about an ounce of colloidal silver. That mixture is faster acting and you can get rid of pinkeye without antibiotics in about a day. If one kid gets pinkeye, treat them all because it spreads FAST!

Food poisoning: Treat just like the stomach flu.

Sprains and Briuses: an infusion of arnica flowers in olive oil does wonders for sprains. Arnica is a strong anti-inflammatory and does wonders in reducing swelling. Pack a glass jar with arnica flowers and then cover the flowers with a carrier oil. Allow it to sit in a warm sunny place for a few days, the longer the better. You can use this oil to rub into bruises and sprains.

Minor burns: A mixture of the arnica oil with aloe vera gel and St. Johns wort essential oil, also known as hypericum and a few drops of wintergreen will cool and sooth the pain. This is a great combination for sunburns and other minor burns.

Minor cuts: Bleeding can be stopped by putting cayenne pepper on a cut. Once the bleeding has stopped, a good herbal ointment with a good mixture of soothing, and anti-inflamitory herbs like arnica, a pain relieving herb like cloves or st.johns wort, and a cell proliferator like comfrey and slippery elm adds healing properties. It should also have a good antibacterial like oregano to prevent infection. Every family should have a good multipurpose herbal salve in their first aid kit.

With these simple remedies on hand, our family has gone a good long time without the need for professional medical services.

This was posted on Mind Body and Sole, Wildcrafting Wednesday!

Rocky Mountain “Moo Shine” and Raw Milk Temperance

Revered by some as “natures perfect food,” and yet demonized by others as “deadly poison,” milk, one of the most innocuous liquids known to man, is now the subject of possibly the biggest food fight of its kind. Mild mannered farmers coming to words with government agents, food safety attorneys, and irate consumers while “big dairy” farmers manipulate legislators and lobby for legislation that weighs heavily in their favor. So, what’s all the hullaballoo?

Like moonshine in the US Prohibition Era, raw milk is being targeted as unhealthy and dangerous, but unlike moonshine, raw milk that is produced following strict code of cleanliness and correct nutrition for the animals producing it, is safe. Even for babies. In the absence of mother’s milk, raw milk can be combined with other ingredients to make a baby formula that helps babies thrive, and meets the nutritional needs of babies much better than powdered or canned baby formula can. Also, unlike alcohol prohibition, today’s heavy regulation and bans on raw milk seem to be spurred more by big agriculture and the dairy industry to suppress unwanted competition, rather than a genuine desire to protect public health by a nanny state run amok.

Before the prohibition, clean water was scarce, and milk had become dangerous due to the cattle being fed the grain byproduct, or “swill,” left over from alcohol production. By the 1820?s the average American, including children, was drinking an average of 7 gallons of pure alcohol annually or the equivalent of about 2.5 ounces of pure alcohol daily, which translates out to 70 gallons of beer, or 39 gallons of wine, or 15.5 gallons of distilled liquor, per year.

To try to control the use of alcohol, reformers began an educational campaign teaching temperance or the “reduction or elimination of the use of alcoholic beverages.” Reformers experienced a significant amount of success with their educational campaigns, and In the 1830?s the average alcohol intake was down to only 3 gallons of pure alcohol per year, but because of alcohol’s addictive properties, reformers set their sights on ending alcohol consumption completely.

During this time, according to Jeffrey A. Miron at Boston University, “temperance movements waxed and waned in the U.S. from early in the nineteenth century, and these movements produced numerous state prohibitions. Many of these prohibitions were subsequently repealed, however, and those that persisted were widely regarded as ineffective. Amid the atmosphere created by World War I, support for national prohibition reached critical mass, and the country ratified the 18th Amendment to the Constitution in January, 1919. Under this amendment and the Volstead Act, which provided for the enforcement of Prohibition, the manufacture, transportation, and sale of alcohol were prohibited by federal law.”

Aside from the differing reasons for temperance, the parallels are strong. The current “raw milk temperance” being pushed by the big dairy industry has the same goal – to use federal law to end “the manufacture, transportation, and sale of” raw milk intended for direct sale to the consumer – albeit for differing reasons. Raw milk temperance also enjoyed a huge success as the result of its ‘educational’ smear campaign against raw milk in the early to middle 1900’s, and almost completely wiped out small raw dairies who were selling directly to consumers. But that was not good enough. Now in the wake of consumers’ ever increasing interest in local farm fresh foods, the dairy industry has doubled its efforts to eradicate raw dairy altogether using federal regulation and whatever means possible.

Like alcohol consumption, raw milk does have its risks – just as any other food does. However, food borne illness from raw milk is relatively small compared to that of other raw foods, even when compared to pasteurized milk. Supporters of raw milk prohibition claim that the reason those instances are small is due to the fact that less than 10% of the US population consumes raw milk, and that in fact, instances of food borne illness are actually higher per capita. Even if this were true, their comparison does not take into account the diet of the cow producing the milk, or the difference between raw milk that has been properly handled and raw milk that has not. It also does not take into account that there have been no deaths from food borne illness associated with raw milk in many years, but there have been deaths from food borne illnesses linked with other foods, including pasteurized milk and cheese.

The standards of cleanliness and the way that cows producing raw milk for direct sale are fed have improved dramatically since the days of the swill milk dairies. Even if they had not, you would think that the temperance movement would take a lesson from history – prohibition was unsuccessful then, and it won’t work now.

Heaing With Food

I went to a workshop with the title “Healing With Food” a while ago, and I have to admit that I was pretty disappointed. Not that it wasn’t good, it was interesting – I never knew you could do so much with a potato. But it wasn’t exactly what I had in mind when I signed up for workshops at the conference I was attending. Dang, why so picky? You might ask. Well, it turns out I was thinking along the lines of healing with food by eating it. So here’s the deal – maybe I’m arrogant or something, and I think that some people probably think I am a bit of a snob when it comes to food. When I tell people I haven’t had a cold in almost 5 years and that I used to get bad colds at least twice a year, I don’t think they believe me.

That was the year that my cold went from a cold to bronchitis to pneumonia. 6 weeks of sleeping while sitting up in bed so you don’t feel like you’re drowning  can do funny things to a person. I knew at that time that food has powerful qualities – besides just filling your belly, it can heal your ills or it can kill you. It just depends on what kind of food you choose to eat, because pneumonia and colds are not the only illnesses that the right foods can heal. Or cause Illness.

Now rewind to 11 years before the year I got pneumonia. I had much worse problems – I just didn’t know it yet. When I was 28 I had my second child. I had also just graduated from BYU with my BA in English Teaching and had lined up a long term substitute teaching position, which would give me the experience teaching to help me land a permanent teaching job the next school year. Things were busy, finances were tough and packaged food was REALLY cheap, especially if you used coupons. I thought things were great. I loved teaching, but I was having issues with depression and fatigue and I had started to gain a lot of weight. After my first child, I banished fat from the house and by the next year I had hit over 320 lbs. Before I had the baby, I wasn’t thin, but I was about 175 after my first child, about 25 pounds more than my pre-pregnancy weight (which was really upsetting to me at the time) which means I had almost doubled in weight since then, which was really horrifying to me because when I was only 22 -( just 6 short years earlier) I was thin and athletic – I could run a 2 mile distance in a little less than 13 1/2 minutes, I only had 17% body fat – (You know it was a big deal if I knew that) so this was a BIG deal.

Even before that, after I had my first child I had tried to continue with my fitness routines, ramping it up to swimming 40 laps 3x a week, running 2 miles daily, weight training 2x a week and doing aerobics 3x a week, but in spite of that, I was slowly and steadily gaining, until I was so physically exhausted that I just couldn’t do it anymore. I was also having miscarriages – one when my husband and I had been married about 3 months, another when my oldest was about a year old, and another a month or so before I found that I was pregnant with my second.

Halfway into my second year teaching I was in the doctors office – I never felt rested, I was extremely overweight, had stopped menstruating, and guessed that maybe I had a thyroid problem, so I requested the tests. When the results came back, I was told that I was fine. I asked if maybe the results were borderline, and I was told there is no borderline with thyroid your either fine or you aren’t, and I was FINE. Go home and get off your lazy but and lose some weight and all of your problems will go away. Not in those exact words, but I was so upset by the condescending way that he spoke to me that I never went back, and I never looked for another doctor.

I tried to eat better by following the USDA advice and following the food pyramid even more closely, cutting out all fat, being sparing with the meat, and ramping up on carbs. I developed sugar cravings and had dry brittle nails and itchy skin. My hair was shedding so badly that it was in the vacuum, plugging the shower, and it was in the laundry and all over the carpet through the whole house (because the vacuum wouldn’t pick it all up – I had to sweep the carpets and would pick up a giant ball of hair every time I did.)By the time my son was 3 I was having hot flashes and night sweats like a menopausal woman. I was only 31. I had given up on the idea of having any more children, and I felt so sick and tired that I would wish that I could die rather than drag myself through the rest of my life feeling the way I did then. I never acted on that feeling because I had two small children who needed me. I quit teaching in 2001, and concentrated what energy I had on basic survival, which with kids in the summertime means a trip to the library at least once every other week.

And that is where it all started to change. I found a book in the library discard pile that got me thinking. It was “Calories Don’t Count,” by Herman Taller. I had been considering getting a food scale and diving into the world of calorie counting, which I had always refused to do, because I have always believed that eating should be an enjoyable, natural part of life -like breathing. Counting calories in my opinion was the equivalent of counting breaths. It was unnatural. So I paid the librarian 25¢ and took the book home and read it. For the most part, it wasn’t even about dieting, but discussed in basic terms the physiology of fat and why our bodies need it. It seems silly to me now, but at the time, it was an eye opening read – I remember thinking it was nuts, and then question forcefully came into my mind “what if everything that you have previously thought and been taught about nutrition is completely WRONG?”

Taller had briefly mentioned some low-fat experiments with rats that he had done, and some research by Dr. Weston A. Price, having to do with dietary fat that really fascinated me. It really hit home because I was having all of the symptoms that the rats in his study had, and after researching Dr. Weston Price online, I realized that I was doing this to myself with my FOOD. It seems so obvious now, and I have always made an effort to be healthy, but how processed pasta 6 nights a week fits into that picture, I still can’t figure out. Luckily being a farm girl, I had the know how to cook real food, so I started doing it. Adding fat back in was weird – I remember choking down the grease in my hamburger which I had been rinsing off with hot water through a colander. I started feeling better. Over the next year, I went from 385 pounds to about 215. I changed out all processed flour for whole wheat flour and started making my own pancake mix. We switched from regular table salt to sea salt. We got rid of the sugar. We bought a freezer and dumped canned foods. With every change I began to feel a little more normal, but I was still infertile. I started looking for a source of raw milk – I was not trying to get pregnant at this point; after 5 years I had pretty much given up on having any more children.

I spent time calling every dairy in Utah, I even called the Utah State Department of Agriculture – all of who told me that it was illegal and dangerous.  I drove around in the countryside looking for milk cows and even got up the nerve to knock on a couple of doors to inquire about Bessy out in the field. I finally was directed (hush hush) by a goatherd to a ‘gray market’ operation, where I would go in and pick up milk at night and put my money in a box. I noticed for the first time in years that my strength was coming back, and my muscle tone was firming up. I got kefir grains and started drinking a quart of kefir every day. I had been having terrible trouble with candida and would get open weeping sores in the folds of my skin that were really painful, but after just one quart of kefir, they were noticeably improved. After a few weeks they were gone. When I started adding flax seed oil to my kefir, within two weeks, I found out that I WAS PREGNANT!  The pregnancy went without a hitch and I didn’t gain an above normal amount of weight. I was back to my pre-pregnancy weight within a few weeks after the baby was born.

Things still were not (and are not) perfect – for example, the thing with the colds and later came pneumonia that spurred me farther along the path to more complete healing. But now I have 4 children, and feel that my family is complete. They are healthy and smart and beautiful. So what more could I ask for? Healing with food is real – not just in a potato poultice, but in real whole food that you EAT every day. After all, as Hippocrates once said: “Let food be your medicine and medicine be your food”

United We Stand, Divided We Fall

Obama could still get re-elected in 2012, in spite of his low ratings. You can either take hope in this, or like me, you could view it as a warning that the US could soon be re-electing for a second term a president that views the constitution as a roadblock. That is why he wears that smug look – because he knows this and he is counting on it – in fact, I would say that it is a big part of his re-election strategy.

How could this happen when we have so many good presidential candidates springing up lately? Well, look at the European Election results from 2009 – the socialist party walked away with a large chunk of the parliament seats, just like Obama may be able to do with the presidency if conservatives don’t get their act together. A multi-party system sounds like a good idea in theory, but look how the system breaks


In fact, Obama is encouraging this division. The more conservative parties we have with candidates running for office, the better chances Obama has at a second term. We saw this happen in 1992 with the Bush/Clinton/Perot split. Clinton won the election with only 43% of the popular vote. Perot drew away almost 20% of the conservative vote, allowing a win by a liberal president when almost 60% of voters chose conservative candidates. I personally believe that Ross Perot was a good candidate for the office of president, but without the GOP nomination, his run split the vote and allowed Clinton to take the presidency. A similar thing happened in 1996 with the ticket divided 3 ways between Bill Clinton, Ross Perot, and Bob Dole. Of course it didn’t help that the GOP  did a lousy job picking a Republican nominee that year – Dole was not a candidate who could win an election that year, and I am not sure I would have wanted him to. However, had they chosen better, there is a good chance that  Clinton might not ever have served a second term. On the same token, if Nadar hadn’t drawn away 2,000,000 votes in 2000 Gore would never have had to demand a recount. The point is that in 2012, conservatives have more to lose than ever before in the history of the US.  We have

conservative and moderate parties blossoming up like tulips on the tail end of a wet winter. Not only do we have the Libertarian candidate Ron Paul vying for the Republican nomination,  there are several other parties gaining momentum in the wake of conservative disenfranchisement. Republican politicians have churned out a slew of liberal

double speaking frauds who have used the republican ticket to get elected before showing their true colors, or

moderates and conservatives who are too limp spined to even hold up to white house

socialists like Nancy Pelosi and Bernie Sanders, let alone sit up straight on their own. Since 1992,

there have been 25 new political parties founded in the United States, and with conservatives’ inability to come together on a few key issues, we continue to become more and more fragmented. If Ron Paul doesn’t win the republican nomination and he decides to continue running on a Libertarian ticket, the 2012 election results could very easily look something like this:

Well, I am not sure if the green party still has quite that much support, but the point is that the fragmentation between several good candidates can actually work more in favor of the minority party than for the good of the country. In a time when so many liberties that we have long taken for granted are at stake, we can’t afford to continue like this, or we may well be at the end of an era – and looking into an uncertain future, where freedom is sacrificed for social programs and security. Let’s hope I’m wrong.

Gum + Kids Doesn’t Have to = Disaster

I had a moment of panic today when my husband came home with my 5 year old in the middle of church with gum all over his clothes AND all over her brand new Christmas dress. Ok, maybe the word panic is a bit strong, but I was mad, because I had told my kids ‘NO MORE GUM!’ after my 7 year old spit out gum at church a few weeks ago and got it all over one of the  upholstered folding chairs in the overflow. I was fortunate at the time – or should I say I was blessed – to be able to get it all off.

This worked for a while, but today while I was home sick, my 13 year old

gave Bee a piece of gum again during the sacrament meeting. The result was gum all over a brand new dress, my husbands pants, and a fairly new white church shirt. The total of which to replace all of these would have been close to $100 dollars. For some people, that isn’t much, but for us that is a lot of money. Sure, I bought those clothes on sale, and I didn’t pay nearly that much, BUT those sales are not going on right now, and not having those clothes available for use would definitely be felt.

So, I went online and looked for ways to get gum off of clothes. Gasoline, Goo Gone, nail polish remover, and lighter fluid were not things I keep on hand, and besides I hesitate to use them on clothes since they are highly toxic and could possibly destroy the clothes anyway. One suggestion was to heat apple cider vinegar and then dip the gum in it and use a toothbrush to brush it off. What the heck! It was worth a shot.

The results were FANTASTIC! I LOVE apple cider vinegar. Now I LOVE it even more!

To remove gum from clothes, heat the apple cider vinegar, dip the cloth with the gum on it into the hot vinegar, and then brush it gently with a toothbrush. The gum sticks to the toothbrush, which will be ruined afterward, so use an old toothbrush that you are going to toss out anyway.  Also, the gum loosens from the cloth and can be picked off, or you can pick off a bigger piece of gum and dab it on the other gum bits and they will stick to the gum in your hand and leave the fabric unscathed.

So, that is my derailed disaster of the day 🙂 and I hope this story helps someone else avoid the unnecessary cost of replacing gummed up clothing.

If I Had a Million Dollars: What the Kids Say

So, what if you could ask for a million dollars and someone just gave it to you like this guy:

I asked my kids what they would do with that much money.

7 year old Zee said he would save it until he had 2 million and then he would use it to buy food for his kids. So practical!

13 year old J said that he would buy cows, goats, and some land. . . oh and seeds to plant. Oh and he would get a Wii and some DS games . . . I might be inclined to think that he is telling me what I want to hear, but I know him better than that. I think that he actually WOULD get a farm – probably a full scale vermiculture operation. And a Wii – that is if I would let him.

Well, If someone just gave me a million dollars, I know what I would do. I would donate 10% to the charity of my choice because nothing falls out of the sky like that on its own, and then I would probably find a nice big piece of land – maybe 10 to 20 acres – with a 6 or 7 bedroom, 3 or 4 bath house, budget max of $350,000. Cash should provide a big enough incentive for the seller 😉 If there wasn’t already an art studio and a commercial kitchen, I would have one installed, I would do a lot of the work myself and get it done for under $50,000 maybe less if I could get used equipment. I drool over Hobart mixers and Harsch crocks . . . I would install an actual brick oven and buy cast iron and stainless steel cookware with an amazing set of knives.  I would put $50,000 away for each of the kids for a college fund, and I would put $100,000 in a Roth IRA for retirement. (I still have a few years to grow that before I need it) and I would invest another 100,000 in starting a business – either a bakery or contract IT services, or maybe both. Then I might use some cash and buy newer full size 4 wheel drive pickup truck with a quad cab – not new, and a nicer minivan, I would install a sustainable energy source for my home, and buy some animals (for family food production, not full scale farming), and build up my garden, a small greenhouse, and a root cellar. I figure that would leave me a decent sized emergency fund, which I would stow away in a money market account with a decent interest rate.

So, anyone wanna give me a million dollars? Pretty please?

Kids in The Kitchen: 10 Tips for Teaching Kids to Cook

My mother never shooed us out of the kitchen. Instead she put us to work! Since I am from a very big family (12 children), in a word, it was chaos, but it was beautiful chaos. I prepared my first full meal when I was only 8 years old. My mother grew up in a family where everything was cooked from cans, so it was very important to her that we know how to cook from scratch. As a teenager she taught herself to cook real food and then took over the family meals. One of the first things that I ever learned how to make was bread, and the first job we had as kids was to knead the dough. I can imagine now that my mother may not have wanted to do all of the kneading herself – she baked bread every Saturday – but at the time it was great fun!

When I was in college, I found out that not everyone’s mothers thought that learning to cook was important – I taught a few roommates how to do some simple things – like read recipes, boil water to make pasta, make dinner rolls, and to bake cookies (a skill that no enterprising – and starving – college girl should be without!) But I appreciate the skills I learned as a child even more as a mom. After meeting people who didn’t even know how to boil water or follow simple instructions on a box of rice-a-roni (which I honestly had never even HEARD of until I was in college), I decided that ALL of my kids would learn to cook because there is nothing sadder than an adult college student struggling on a small budget, who can’t even take care of themselves in this most basic way.

So here it is! My list of ten tips to help you teach your kids how to cook:

  1. Never shoo your children out of the kitchen. Instead, put them to work! Even small children can do something, even if you just give them a small piece of dough to play with. At 3, measure ingredients and let them put the measured ingredients into the mixing bowl. At 4 and 5, you can hand them a vegetable peeler. At 6, let them read the ingredients out of the recipe book and show them how to measure. You can set them up with a knife to chop vegetables (supervised of course) and at 7, let them measure out ingredients for you, or even try a simple recipe all by themselves. At 8, let them prepare a simple meal for the whole family without any help.  Not only have they learned an important skill, but they have realized that they can be an important member of the family, and they have earned confidence!
  2. Provide your children with easy access to healthy recipes that are easy to follow, and that are in a format that is easy to use and can take a beating. You may be interested in my Healthy Kid’s Recipe Cards, which you can find online here
  3. Hold a weekly family night or regular family activities so that you can provide additional opportunities for your children to make snacks or treats to showcase their newly learned skills.
  4. Praise them when it is warranted. Do not overdo it by ignoring faults and flops though – good food is expensive and good instruction that includes correction when needed helps avoid unnecessary waste. I recommend a sandwich style praise and correction model. If the recipe turned out badly, praise them for what they did right (wow, you did this all by yourself?) and then provide gentle instructions (next time, call me in if you need help with measuring the salt.) Then another good thing (It looks like you baked these for just the right amount of time!)Your child will want to know what went wrong so that they can make it better the next time around.
  5. Expect your boys to learn as well as your girls! Boys need these skills just as much as anyone now! You can’t make the mistake of assuming that your son’s wife will know how to cook or you may end up with grand kids who are part of the McD’s generation. Besides, it might be just the thing that will help him catch the girl of his dreams! My husband cooked for me on our first date. Children who learn to cook are less expensive to support through college, and will be healthier as well.
  6. As your children get older, do not hesitate to give them more responsibilities. Alternate the responsibilities for making breakfasts, allow them to pack their own lunches for school, and assign them one night a week to make dinner for the family.
  7. Always verbally thank the one responsible for the meal publicly around the dinner table. Point out the best parts of the meal and say exactly what you like about it. This is not the forum for corrections unless the child acknowledges something himself – like if a cake fell or if there was too much pepper in the gravy.  If they point it out themselves  in this setting, you can down play it for the moment (“yes, but the potatoes are perfect!”) and help them fix it later.
  8. When your child is old enough, help them plan a month of menus and execute a shopping trip. This lets your child learn the logistics of planning a meal from start to finish, including what constitutes a balanced meal, what you have already on hand and which items they will need to buy, and how much those things actually cost.  A child should be able to plan one day’s meals at the age of 7 or 8, a week’s worth of menus at 9 or 10, and a month of menus at 11 or 12.
  9. Don’t hold back on letting your child make a complicated recipe. I made bread on my own for the first time when I was not even 8 years old. You as the parent can trust your instincts about what your child is capable of at what age. Allow your child to challenge herself even if you are not sure if she can do it on her own. I was pleasantly surprised the first time my daughter made apple pie.
  10. Avoid relying on boxed items or pre-made foods for teaching kids how to cook. Children can read and understand recipes and it is a good opportunity for kids to learn about measurements, how ingredients work in a recipe, and many other things that kids can’t learn by making ramen noodles or microwavable boxed macaroni and cheese. Children are capable of much more than we give them credit for, and besides, teaching from scratch allows your child to form good nutritional habits early on, which will allow them to have a healthier lifestyle and a better quality of life.

How Fresh is YOUR Chicken?

I thought this was funny:

20 Things to do With Soured Raw Milk or Cream

Raw milk or cream sours much differently from commercially prepared milk or cream. In commercially prepared milk, the product has been pasteurized, or heated at high temperatures, to kill any bacteria that may have been in the milk. As a result, not only are the pathogens killed, but also the beneficial bacteria that aid your body in digesting the milk, as well as the enzymes and most of the naturally occurring vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin D and magnesium which help you body absorb the calcium in the milk. This is why artificial vitamin D is added to milk – to replace what was destroyed in the pasteurization process. Also, the milk is usually also homogenized, or forced through a screen that breaks the cream into unnaturally small particles so that it will not separate.

Because of this, pasteurized homogenized milk is much different from farm fresh milk straight from the cow. Milk that has undergone this type of processing putrefies as it sours because for one, it is a blank slate so to speak, and any wild bacteria floating around in the air can settle in the milk. In our environment many types of bacteria are commonly found which can become pathogenic, or dangerous, under the right conditions. These bacteria – e-coli, campylobacter, staphylococci, salmonella, and others – are common and generally benign in our environment until they find the right media in which to grow. Pasteurized milk provides an ideal environment, where unpasteurized milk contains many beneficial bacteria which naturally inhibit the growth of these types of pathogenic bacteria.

Try this: Set two jars of milk out on the counter in a warm location for several days – one pasteurized milk and the other raw or unpasteurized milk. The pasteurized milk will begin to stink, while the raw milk will generally have a more mild cheese like smell. The pasteurized milk would be dangerous to drink, while the raw milk would be perfectly safe, even if you did not find the flavor pleasant. Many traditional cultures actually did drink their milk clabbered, and even preferred it that way.

For pasteurized milk of course, there is really only one thing that you can do with it once it has reached this point unless you want to risk becoming seriously ill – throw it out! Soured raw milk on the other hand can be used for many things. Of course you could drink it, but many people now are unaccustomed to the sour flavor of clabbered milk, so I have put together a list of 20 things that you can do with raw milk or cream that has unexpectedly gone south while you weren’t watching.

  1. Use the whey, or the clear liquid that separates from the milk, to soak nuts, seeds, legumes, and grains, which makes the nutrients in these foods more readily digestible. You only need a tablespoon or two to add to the water that you are using to soak your grains. After the grains have soaked for 24 hours, cook them as you normally do before using them.
  2. Mix soured milk into pancake batter, biscuits, or quick breads in place of buttermilk or other liquids called for in the recipe.
  3. Mix soured cream into scrambled eggs or eggs used for french toast before cooking them.
  4. Mix soured cream into mashed potatoes instead of milk
  5. Add a little buttermilk culture and set it out on the counter for another day – then gently heat the milk until it curdles and then strain, add a little fresh cream and salt – viola, cottage cheese!
  6. Add a little buttermilk culture and allow it to sit until fully separated. Then strain soured milk in cheesecloth until you have cream cheese.
  7. Use the soured cream on sandwiches instead of mayonnaise.
  8. Warm slightly soured milk on the stove top and add cocoa powder and raw honey or raw cane sugar for a delightful cup of creamy hot chocolate.
  9. Use soured cream to make white sauce or cheese sauce
  10. Use it to make kefir or yogurt
  11. Use a dollop of soured cream to top a baked potato or a bowl of chili
  12. Add seasonings to the cream and turn it into a yummy ranch dip for veggies.
  13. Whip slightly soured cream with a bit of cream cheese and raw honey for a delightful whipped topping for fruit filled crepes
  14. Make mozzarella cheese – it’s easier than it sounds!
  15. Add a little buttermilk culture to slightly soured cream, allow it to sit on the counter for a day, and then pour it into your food processor or blender and make it into cultured butter.
  16. Throw it into the blender with berries an a banana to make a yummy smoothie
  17. Use the soured milk or cream in any recipe that calls for milk – pumpkin pie, clam chowder, etc.
  18. Treat your pets, chickens, pigs.
  19. Pour it on your compost pile.
  20. Put a cup of sour milk in a gallon of water and spray it on your garden for a fabulous fertilizer.

I am sure that there are many other things that you could make or do with sour raw milk or cream – experiment and be creative! – but this should be a good start for those of you who are wondering “What do I do with this now!?”

How to make mozzarella: – It is not necessary to microwave the curd – just drain the curd, heat the whey to about 175 F  and use heavy kitchen gloves to hold the cheese ball under the water for several seconds, then remove it and stretch it; if it breaks repeat the process, but do not leave the cheese in the boiling water or it will dissolve into the water and you will lose your cheese!

Make Your Own Herbal Tinctures

Have you ever thought about making your own herbal tinctures? Herbal tinctures, or extracts are easy to make – here is what you need:

A wide mouth glass canning jar, preferably one with a glass lid

Fresh or dried herbs to fill the jar leaving about 2 inches of headspace – depending on what kind of extract that you want to make and what you will use it for

80 to 100 proof vodka or rum to cover the herbs – it doesn’t need to be the expensive kind. NEVER use rubbing alcohol or wood alcohol! If you are not used to shopping at the liquor store or buying alcohol, it can be a bit of an adjustment, but it’s for a good purpose!

Pour the vodka over the herbs and seal tightly to prevent evaporation. Shake once a day for 2 weeks – you can keep it in a paper bag, or in a dark place.

Then get:

Cheesecloth or a clean nylon stocking



Small amber glass bottles




Strain the liquid- squeeze out every last drop! An herb press is helpful, but not necessary if you don’t mind getting your hands dirty. Pour into glass bottles and cap them, then label with the herbs used and the date the bottles were filled.

This post was shared in the Mind, Body, and Soul Wildcrafting Wednesday blog carnival