Thursday, April 25, 2013

Be Afraid. Be Very Afraid!

One of the things I really enjoy about Nourishing Traditions is a feature in which they have a sidebar that says "Know Your Ingredients. Guess This Product." It goes on to list the ingredients of an everyday product on the shelves of the grocery store, probably an item many of us have purchased in the past.

It's sort of horrifying, first of all, to read the ingredients, but somehow fun to go to the appendix and find out what the mystery product is. Many times I've been able to guess, but there are actually products out there with so many fake "foods" and convoluted-sounding additives that the actual item is really camouflaged. To think, we're eating this stuff!

A better headline to the sidebar might be: Be Afraid. Be Very Afraid! 

Recently I was on the road for a few hours with some of my family and we stopped at a popular fried chicken eatery. I just plain won't eat a lot of fast food, but I was hungry, and it smelled good, and we were far from home....you get the idea. I don't eat biscuits, but might have been tempted if they'd had real butter--which, of course, was nowhere to be seen. Instead, there was a "buttery spread," full of hydrogenated oils and lots of other unhealthy things. What really got me, though, was the "honey" sauce. Check out the ingredients to what should be a fully natural and single ingredient item:

(Fried-Chicken Fast Food Place) Honey Sauce
High fructose corn syrup
Corn Syrup
Sugar
Honey (hooray! There's some in there)
Fructose
Caramel color
Molasses
Water
Citric Acid
Natural and Artificial Flavor
Malic Acid 

From what I've read, "natural and artificial flavor" could mean MSG--by another name, so even this ingredient is suspect.

Notice the first ingredient? I've been on a crusade of sorts to abolish high fructose corn syrup from my home since last year, and it's absolutely amazing how many items in the grocery store contain it. Once you start reading labels, you'll see what I mean. I have one daughter who loves soda, and, even though I've convinced her not to drink diet types, she still asks for the regular type, especially coke. I didn't realize until I started checking labels that not even soda is sweetened with real sugar, however. So, even if you avoid the artificial sweeteners, you can't avoid high fructose corn syrup if you buy most brands, even the big names.

I'm not saying that soda--or sugar--is good for you, mind you, but I'd get her soda with sugar on occasion (if it was readily available. Maybe it's good it isn't!) whereas I won't buy the diet or HFCS ones. Now and then I'd like a soda myself, and guess what--there's a solution! I drink ZEVIA--it's soda sweetened with all-natural, zero calorie stevia. SO glad they came out with this! But it's pricey, so having a can of soda only occasionally works out well. My daughter knows that if she wants a can of soda, she's got to earn it.

Before I go, here's an interesting article I read recently about this subject of what's in our foods. :
Do Healthy Processed Foods Exist?
(If you enjoy this article, click the link to high fructose corn syrup (above) and let Dr. Mercola explain how bad this stuff is.)


All of this reminds me why, when I go to a grocery store, my mantra could be: Be Afraid. Be Very Afraid! (Read labels!)
What about you? Have you taken any steps to put your family on a course towards better eating? I'm working on a free pdf called, "The Top Ten Easiest and Pain-Free Ways to Improve Your Family's Diet and Health."
Watch for it, coming soon. :)

And don't forget to enter this month's free giveaway by leaving a comment! 

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Recipe --and Giveaway

Homemade Foaming Hand Soap

You get the same puffy-creamy soap as in the commercial stuff, only you'll know exactly what yours is made of.
Last summer I was at a Bed and Bath Store when they were holding a special sale of their wonderfully scented foaming hand soaps. It was something like 6 for $20, plus a bonus free one for a total of 7. Needless to say, those nice smelling soaps are long gone. With a household of seven, the only ones that lasted any length of time were the two I kept for the master bathroom. (Coconut-Lime, yeah!)

Well, had I known then how easy it is to make my own foaming hand soap, I wouldn't have spent $20 bucks on theirs, good scents notwithstanding. I've also since learned that fragrances are some of the worst offenders when it comes to carrying heavy toxic loads of nasties, and who knows what else is in their soap? Most commercial soaps and skin care products--of all things--have really bad neurotoxins like parabens, sulfates, and propylene glycol. (Check your favorite brand--you'll probably find one or more of these few that I've just listed!)

When I recently discovered how quick and easy it is to make my own foaming style soap, I determined never to buy another commercial concoction unless my dispenser breaks. (You need a foaming soap dispenser to start with, so you'll have to buy one if you don't already have one.)


Foaming Soap Recipe  

(This is so easy, I can hardly call it a recipe.) 

 

Fill soap dispenser 3/4 full with cool water. Fill the rest of the way with Castile soap, leaving just enough space for the pump, so it doesn't overflow when you close it up. Shake to blend, and presto! You now have your own foaming soap.

 

For those who really want a recipe, or if you're a purist, you could do it this way:

Take about 1 cup of distilled or boiled water, and mix with about 1/4 cup of Castile soap.

 

Not a purist, but just want to save money by making your own? Use the 3/4 water to 1/4 soap ratio, but use any liquid soap in place of the Castile. It will still work just as well. The only difference is that you've got commercial dyes and fragrances as usual. 

 

Like homemade but miss the fragrance? Buy some essential oils and add about 20 or so drops to your soap. You may need to experiment to get it to the level of fragrance you want. 

 

I have only one caution if you use my method, which is, the Castile soap. There is a warning on the label not to get Castile in the eyes. For adults, the soap poses no hazard since it's very diluted, and most grown-ups don't go around sticking their fingers or fists in their eyes. Children, who love to play with suds and, in this case--foam--may experience some irritation. So, if you have little ones in the house, you might want to avoid the liquid Castile. 

 

 GIVEAWAY**GIVEAWAY**GIVEAWAY**GIVEAWAY


The current giveaway is still open. Just leave a comment related to any post this month and you could win!  Please include your email so I can notify you.

This month's giveaway is the hardcover: English Country House Murders and, the British CD "More Tea, Vicar?"

English Country House Murders is an exciting collection of some of the very best writing in the genre by top-notch writers of the past century (and the 19th). You'll find names like P.D. James, Wilkie Collins, G.K.Chesterton, and even P.G.Wodehouse. Dame Agatha Christie  is here, of course, as well.  As the insert of the book says, this is the "first hardcover anthology devoted entirely to mystery, crime, and detective stories set in the specialized and surprisingly dangerous world of the manor."



The dust jacket is a bit dog-eared but otherwise, English Country House Murders is in perfectly eerie-reading shape. 

More Tea, Vicar?-- "Gentle Teatime Classic". "Music on the theme of tea, with a hint of coffee thrown in for those who like their caffeine from beans, not leaves! A light-hearted brew of old favourites and familiar songs for tongue in cheek listening while sipping the glorious nectar which is tea!"

To enter the giveaway, leave a comment. Start off by telling us of a lovely house-museum you've visited, or perhaps how you may have been influenced by Billy Graham at some point in your life.

Warmest Blessings,

Linore



 

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Come to A House Museum

Have you visited the Billy Graham House Museum? The site is officially called The Billy Graham Library, and there is a library, but it is much, much more than that. Even those not overly fond of Mr. Graham will find the trip to the house and grounds in Charlotte, North Carolina well worth it.  I was there last summer with my husband, two daughters and some friends who had just moved to the area.

A visit will include a tour of the modest home Mr. Graham grew up in, replete with original furnishings and wallpaper, right down to several thousand bricks--which is remarkable considering that the house has been transplanted to this site from miles away, where Mr. Graham grew up. (How they do that, I'll never fathom!)

Even before entering the home, visitors are greeted outdoors with lovely hymns, as if an angel choir is hovering about somewhere. It turns out that the music is wafting out of fairly hidden speakers, and these are scattered about the walking paths so that one is never too far away from the peaceful, happy sounds.   On a beautiful day, you might think you're on heavenly grounds!

As you enter the house, it is immediately apparent that Mrs. Graham (not Ruth Bell Graham, the wife of the famous evangelist, but Billy's mother) had an eye for tasteful decor. I couldn't help snapping photos as we moved along.
Victorian Lady. (from the Billy Graham Homestead)



Dining Room (Billy Graham Homestead)

It may not be overtly apparent in the photos, but upon entering the house you can't miss an abundance of creamy light-blue, present in the painted walls, the drapery and upholstery and in other accessories. It was Mrs. Graham's favorite color. (I like a lady who knows how to please herself in her decorating style--especially when it is so esthetically successful.) ;) 

We were only given access to the first floor rooms, and even some of them were tantalizingly roped off so that you couldn't see the whole room. (Must be what makes me an avid researcher for my novels--a really well developed sense of curiosity!) Those we could view, however, were lovely. The kitchen was small and definitely low-tech. Not a granite countertop in sight, but it had the winsome charm of days past, which is what I enjoyed throughout the home.

Right Wall in Dining Room (Billy Graham Homestead)
More Victorian vignettes. (Not a great picture, unfortunately!)


Georgian Vignette. I could not get this photo without the reflection, much as I tried. 
  Once you complete the short tour of the homestead, you follow the path, still enjoying the hymns along the way, to the Barn. This is where the real tour begins, with state-of-the-art animatronics in the huge "reception" room and bookstore, where it all starts. There is no charge for any of this, by the way. Admission is free, which is a delightful surprise, considering the cost of even small museums, today.

Once you listen to an animatronic cow give you a little amusing introduction, you follow a mostly self-guided tour from room to room. "Self-guided," because no one rushes you, but there is a presentation or short film in most every room, so that, even though no one is moving you along, the tour goes in order of Mr. Graham's life, and you learn, not only about him and where he traveled to preach the Word of God--these things seem almost incidental--but about the various countries he went to. There is political, social, and spiritual information, so you don't feel as though it is all about him. Instead, it is a great testimony of what God does with a willing soul, and even a history lesson for anyone willing to listen, read, and learn.

Exhibits range from written paraphernalia, pictures, films, recorded excerpts, artwork, and a couple rooms full of personal artifacts, letters, and other things of interest. I don't think I spent a boring moment. Then, at the very end of the tour, we went through a wonderful doorway, which (if I remember correctly) is meant to represent the door we all hope to pass through one day--the gateway to heaven. (See below.) It is actually like going through a short tunnel--fun!

Notice the Cross: Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth, and the light. No one comes to the Father except through Me."

Afterwards, you can browse the bookstore or get a bite to eat. 

And outside, follow the trails to see a few memorials, including the gravesite of Ruth Bell Graham. [Gotta love that lady. On her stone is an inscription she saw one day near a construction site and immediately wanted for her own memorial: "End of Construction. Thank you for your patience."] Beside her stone is an empty spot for Mr. Graham, but trust me when I say there is nothing macabre or sad about it. (As Paul the Apostle says, "To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.") 

For more information on the Billy Graham Library, hours of operation, and more, see the website HERE.

Wonderful friends, Javier and Beth Buch, with my youngest daughter. I love combining out of state visits to see friends with trips to museums, homesteads, and the like. Don't you?

MARCH GIVEAWAY WINNER:  Chaplain Debbie! As one of my very faithful blog readers, I couldn't have been more delighted by the pick of the draw. (Winners are always chosen using random.org.)
Debbie wins a three-tin set of English Teas. Congratulations, Deb! Enjoy a good cup of tea before it gets too hot outside! :)

NEW GIVEAWAY: Enter the giveaway by leaving a comment after any post. Please include your email so I can notify you if you win!
This month's giveaway is the hardcover: English Country House Murders and, the British CD "More Tea, Vicar?"

English Country House Murders is an exciting collection of some of the very best writing in the genre by top-notch writers of the past century (and the 19th). You'll find names like P.D. James, Wilkie Collins, G.K.Chesterton, and even P.G.Wodehouse. Dame Agatha Christie  is here, of course, as well.  As the insert of the book says, this is the "first hardcover anthology devoted entirely to mystery, crime, and detective stories set in the specialized and surprisingly dangerous world of the manor."

The dust jacket is a bit dog-eared but otherwise, English Country House Murders is in perfectly eerie-reading shape. 
More Tea, Vicar?-- "Gentle Teatime Classic". "Music on the theme of tea, with a hint of coffee thrown in for those who like their caffeine from beans, not leaves! A light-hearted brew of old favourites and familiar songs for tongue in cheek listening while sipping the glorious nectar which is tea!"
 
To enter the giveaway, leave a comment. Start off by telling us of a lovely house-museum you've visited, or perhaps how you may have been influenced by Billy Graham at some point in your life.

Warmest Blessings,

Linore
Billy Graham Library and Bookstore photos from BillyGrahamLibrary.org. All other photos copyright 2013 of Linore Rose Burkard.     

Friday, April 05, 2013

Nourishing Traditions



Nourishing Traditions


I'm sharing  about a huge book today called Nourishing Traditions, because it's been such a help for me. By "huge," I mean HUGE, almost 700 pages and large to hold.


First off, I have to say that I resisted buying it for a long time. To begin with, I don't care for the cover as it has a sort of creepy "Eastern religious" feel to it. (Some people actually like that Eastern thing, but as a Christian I am of course wary of anything based upon eastern religious traditions.) So, even though I'd seen the book, I had no thought of purchasing a copy.

Then, in January, my sister Christine stayed with us for two weeks and she had a copy. She taught me how to ferment oatmeal using a method found in the book.  (Which I've already shared with you. See this post for details.)

Then, when I found out about a small organic foods market in my area, I browsed the store, and, despite it being owned and operated by Christians, they displayed a copy of Nourishing Traditions on a shelf. 

And when I was with a bunch of moms from my church one night, my friend Steph mentioned that she was using this book for recipes on fermenting vegetables and other neat stuff. I realized that it affirms the food ideology of the Weston-Price Foundation--ie., natural food and food preparation. That was enough: I caved. I got a copy.

I started reading.
The first section of the book, almost 80 pages, is general information on the food and cooking traditions that are truly nourishing, as opposed to current trends of fast food and artificial foodstuffs you find in boxes and cans and all sorts of packages in the supermarket.  The subheading of Nourishing Traditions is "The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats," and it does this with a vengeance. Frankly, it is fascinating and compelling to see how easily the authors debunk the current "health" food fads, such as avoiding fats and keeping cholesterol very low.  I read page after page, happily underlining as I went. Some of it was nothing new to me: I know about how bad modern day "fake" food is for the human body.  But I also learned new things as well as finding affirmation and renewed motivation to maintain the dietary changes I've already embraced. 

There are in-depth explanations of all the major food groups as well as minerals, enzymes, vitamins, spices, and beverages. There are tips on selecting food, on choosing the best equipment for the kitchen (and what not to use) and literally tons of references and appendixes with links and more resources. And it's interesting! It's not boring like a textbook. 

Let the Recipes Begin
Once the recipes begin, each page is sandwiched between excerpts from all kinds of literature: historical, periodicals, fiction, non-fiction, scientific or medical journals, etc. There are well-chosen quotes, excerpts and more, to give context to the usage of the very foods the recipes are for, and so these extra features range from fun and sweet to eye-opening or even amusing. (For example, there was a short excerpt from Willa Cather's Neighbour Rosicky--a surprising pleasure—because it mentioned how children flourished when fed raw milk and raw milk products.)
I am a great fan of including supplementary references such as these, and so I find this is a book after my own heart—except for:

One Concern
One thing has stood out to me as lacking regarding the traditional "wisdom" in this book, (and it is common to most Paleo-food websites and  cookbooks, too), which is, the authors are ready to embrace all ancient wisdom, it seems, except for that of biblical origin. Now, having said, that, it remains true that most ancient food "wisdom" is affirmed by Scripture; but they never go there. This is a great mistake, and an error.

First of all, no book EXCEPT the Bible goes as far back in time as the beginning of man, of agriculture, of food history.  They talk freely of our "hunter and gatherer" ancestors, ignoring the fact that agriculture is not a new development—after all, Cain killed Abel because his "fruit of the field" was not accepted by God the way Abel's animal sacrifice was. This is revealing for two reasons:

One.  Since Cain offered produce he had farmed, it shows that planting and sowing is as old as mankind after the Fall; and,
 Two. Even God turned his nose up to plant food when compared to animal sacrifice! (OK, that's sort of a joke. The point of Abel's sacrifice being "superior" to Cain's was that Cain was proud of what HE'D cultivated, but Abel offered a blood sacrifice—necessary for the atonement of sin—and having nothing to do with his own ability. It was the humbler sacrifice. And it was according to God's revealed word on what a sacrifice should be. Later on, in Deuteronomy, we see that grain sacrifices are implemented, but Deuteronomy hadn't been written, yet, at this time.)

Now, the point could be made that many indigenous peoples lost the knowledge of how to use agriculture to support their food needs; or didn't have the right environment, soil, etc. (It only takes ONE generation to lose some truth.) In any case, it is ludicrous to exclude the God who created ALL food, and our human bodies. The garden of Eden was no doubt a great model of successful planting, as well as having good pasture for cattle. God walked with Adam, the Bible says, and only an idiot would fail to see that He, the Creator of the earth, shared lots of the secrets that gave ancient man this "wisdom."

Sally Fallon, the primary author of Nourishing Traditions, says, "Each person's ideal diet is usually discovered through a combination of study, observation and intuition, a process designed to replace that mysterious infallible instinct that guided primitive man to the foods he needed to keep him healthy and strong."  (Italics mine.)
Ahem. 
A "mysterious infallible instinct?" I don't think so.

Despite this weakness, I am nevertheless enjoying the discovery of the almost lost art of providing truly nourishing food for my family, as opposed to stuff that fills the body but doesn’t nourish the cells. (Now you know what I'm doing instead of working on my next novel!) As one documentary on American dietary habits says, "Americans are overfed, but undernourished. We feed the body full of calories but there is little nourishment for the cells. ["Hungry for Change"--available on Netflix.]

The recipes here, by contrast, are for making basic foods that really nourish as they feed. Different than your typical cook book!  It also happens to be an excellent value, if you get it from a discount seller such as Amazon.



What about you? Are you trying to wean yourself or your family from fake food? Feel hopeless about making the effort? Share your thoughts. 

UPCOMING NEXT WEEK: I'll share my homemade foaming hand soap recipe with you. It's a cinch to make and works as good as the commercial stuff!