Thursday, February 23, 2017

Daily Doin's, First Part of February, 2017

Oklahoma Roller-Coaster weather is still in effect.  It's warm.  It's cold.  It's HELL for cold.  It's warm again.  I hope this "unseasonably warm" weather we've been getting doesn't translate out to drought and triple-digit heat, come summer.  Sometimes a warmer than "normal" winter makes for a cooler than "normal" summer.  But we just never know.  There's evidently not a real correlation between the two, it's just apparently a crapshoot.  Spring is normally very windy here and if we haven't had much rain, there is a Red Flag Warning, which means fire danger.  If there's a Red Flag Warning out, we're not supposed to burn trash or do anything else that might start a fire.  But seems like certain people always think they're not included in that and this could be the start of a rant, but you've heard all that before.  And you're welcome.

I've been planting a few early spring seeds.  Beets went in first.  Then peas.  I have started looking at beets and peas with new eyes, thanks to Dr. Oz.  He says beets are "wonder food", and peas are full of protein and calcium. 

I have finally found a reliable way to make garlic "keep".  I separate the cloves and put them in small brown paper bags like the kids that are too cool to carry a lunchbox to school use for their lunches brought from home.  Although, seriously, some kids think they're too cool to bring a lunch from home to school, AT ALL, unless they are packed so full of junk food that it's cool to be the kid who eats Lunchables and Snickers bars for lunch.  Kids.

Once the garlic is packed into the brown bag, I just roll it up and put it in the crisper, and there they stay till I'm ready to use them.  By this time of year, some of them are starting to sprout, but it's still better than what happens to garlic at room temperature in Oklahoma.  Must be our humidity.  Without special treatment, they have rotted before the end of the year.

These big garlic cloves were taken out and tucked into the ground.  Usually the bigger the garlic clove, the shorter is the storage time, so I was glad to see these made it through the winter just fine in their "lunch bag".  These little red-tinged "normal sized" cloves had started to sprout, so I planted them, too.


The rest of the garlic was peeled and processed for the freezer.  They have made it this far, I decided it's probably not a good idea to push my luck and try to keep them any longer.  Garlic pretty much permeates whatever it touches, so I decided to chop it in my little mini-chopper.  All the pieces that the garlic will touch fit well in the dishwasher without taking up much space.  And the size that the garlic pieces chop into is a kind of a "medium chop" that will allow them to go straight from the freezer into the frying pan or cooking pot.



Double-bagged, of course.

I did put some into a small jar and covered them with cider vinegar.  These are good to have in the refrigerator door.  I use them in recipes that contain tomato, I find that the vinegar blends in well with the acidity of the tomato and is not noticeable.  Last time, I peeled cloves and filled a quart jar, then covered them all with vinegar.  I used out of that jar for a long time, but I soon found that the cloves formed a new skin that got to be an annoyance when using the garlic press or just smashing with the wide blade of my "cook's knife".  I actually prefer to cover garlic in olive oil but I don't find that it keeps very well.


 
Lots of things don't keep well in our climate.  Potatoes sprout in the pantry.  Onions often reveal a layer or two of brown mush when they're cut into, or I know better than to cut into them by the soft and gushy feel -- or the pungent smell, so they have to be chopped and frozen, too.  I've tried dehydration and I just don't like the end product.  It changes the flavor, and the consistency is chewy, even after rehydration. 

I did find a very helpful website, just now, that I found very interesting and am going to try canning garlic next time.  Here is the URL:
http://www.rural-revolution.com/2011/10/canning-garlic.html
Be sure to read the comments as there's a lot of good information there, as well.  I had to kind of snicker at all the comments from people who thought all this was just a waste of time because "garlic will keep all year just hanging in a cool place, such as a root cellar".  Oh, move to Oklahoma, then tell me that again, if you can. 

We've been watching Dr. Oz, most days.  Sometimes he has some stuff on the schedule that we don't really care about and so Hubs changes the channel and I wander off to dink around on the computer, or I slip outside during the commercial and forget to come back in.  I didn't watch the piece on The Menendez Brothers, although I said all along that I thought there was some kind of abuse going on to make those boys do the stuff they did.  But with kids, you never know.  One of our neighbors lives in a house where a double murder was committed some years ago.  Myself, I couldn't live in a house if I knew a murder was committed there.  But it was owned by someone who made it into a Bed & Breakfast, in between those people and the people who live there now, so maybe that helped.  Not sure it would be enough for me.  The murdered couple's young adult daughter got involved in drugs and she brought her boyfriend into the house.  He shot them both.  For money, which, apparently, they did not have enough of in the house.  We knew something about the house before we moved out here, because it turned out that the man was the brother of one of our neighbors at The Ponca House.  When he found out we were moving here, the first question he asked was whether we were buying THAT house.  And then he told us that he would never be able to come out to visit us, and told us the story.  Yikes.  I think we lived once in a house where something evil had happened.  I was miserably unhappy in that house.  We did some work on an outside wall and found a crucifix hanging on a nail under the plasterboard.  I always wondered if that was just a tradition some builders had, or if there was a more ominous reason.  Up in the attic of this house, there is a 5x7 framed picture of what is perceived to be the likeness of Jesus.  It's fastened to one of the rafters.  I like to think that one is some kind of tradition, as Hubs and I have been happy here and we have received many blessings since we have lived here.    

Dr. Oz's shows are kind of confusing to me.  So often, one show contradicts information given in a previous one.  I do find useful information sometimes but for me it's like separating the wheat from the chaff, if you know what I mean.  The takeaway from this is something I think I've known for a long time, and that is that weight loss and maintenance is not "cookie cutter".

I'm still struggling to get off this dang plateau.  So far, everything I have tried has not helped and a few things have actually made me GAIN, such as that Tim Tebow and all the extra fat he's consuming.  I'm not willing to "live at the gym", and that's what I'd have to do to burn off bacon and a spoon of butter in my coffee every morning. 

But now Dr. Oz is promoting a "plant-based diet", and you know, I think I could easily live with that.  I really don't enjoy meat, but I do like eggs and dairy products.  Just a few shows ago he was talking about probiotics such as greek yogurt and he said there is a new product now in some of the stores that is smooth cottage cheese.  It seemed strange to me that some of the people in the audience found the taste of cottage cheese to be repulsive.  I remember my mother making it, and I always loved it.  When I was raising my kids, we had it with meals that I didn't think were very high in protein, such as canned ravioli or Spaghettio's, which they loved, or beef or chicken potpies, which I loved.  I didn't grow up with yogurt in the house and the only way I have ever been able to eat it now is if it has a spoon of jam in it.  Shoot, if I knew I could've gotten the same probiotic boost from cottage cheese instead of yogurt, I probably wouldn't ever have bought yogurt.  But diet information was conflicting about cottage cheese.  In the 1950's, a "diet plate" was a scoop of cottage cheese on a lettuce leaf and a round slice of pineapple.  Then they started to say not to eat anything "white", and after that they said it was too high in fat to be on anybody's diet plan.  So if you're frustrated because it seems like there never is definitive information when it comes to losing and keeping off weight, know that at least it's getting better than it used to be, even though it seems like "everything bad is good again".  So I end up taking an idea here, an idea there.

I recently ran across a YouTube of Dr. Josh Axe's about the benefits of coconut oil, that's HERE:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7pKK4tWfYT4
So I decided to use coconut on my toasted 100% whole wheat, locally grown, REAL plant material, no weird or GMO additives or ingredients bread, and it really is not too bad as it melts in quickly and I don't mind the coconut flavor.  There seems to be much confusion, still, about coconut oil.  Some people are buying the stuff that's had the taste processed out.  Others say that's not a good kind to get.  Some people are cooking with it, others say the heat of cooking destroys the benefits and changes the oil to be no better than any other oil.  I do buy the organic, cold-processed oil that smells like coconut.  Someone went further and said you have to be sure it's made from fresh coconuts rather than dried, and for that you have to call the company.  It isn't on paper anywhere and they could lie their a$$es off to you on the phone and then say they did no such thing if they ever got challenged on it.  So I think that's just an exercise in futility. 

I use coconut oil as the carrier oil when I use essential oils.  I have sensitive skin that is chapped by the wind and by the sun, so I use it on my face and around my eyes.  It feels like it soaks in quickly, and I don't seem to have to use my "dry eye" eyedrops as often.  Restasis, a popular dry-eye medication, contains castor oil.  If castor oil is deemed OK to use in the eyes, I'd think coconut oil would be an even better option.  Castor oil, with time, gets kind of gummy.  And it's thick, even in it's freshest form, kind of sticky.  I can see it solidifying if it gets into the tear ducts, though maybe it's been processed to be less likely to solidify.  That being the case, I'd be concerned about what chemicals they used to bring that about.  Since coconut oil naturally melts at a point well below body temperature, I wouldn't think it would be clogging anything.  Still, I won't put coconut IN my eyes.  I put it on the eyelids and all around.  I'm sure there's some of it that migrates into the eyes.  Unless we go around with our eyes closed all the time, we will get stuff migrating in our eyes that's certainly a lot worse than a little coconut oil.  But you do what you feel safe doing.  Since eye surgery, I have had some occasional blepharitis and I find coconut oil on my eyebrows and eyelids really helps that.  Maybe because it's antifungal, maybe because it's oily, maybe both.

Yesterday, I tripped while in the garden and fell down.  Everything went into slow-motion as I went down, and I swore I heard that Million Dollar Man music as the fall unfolded right there before my eyes.  I mean, I was near a concrete-block garden bed border, had I fallen in that direction I'd have landed on those.  But I landed on the soft, newly-tilled earth in the bed, on the flats of my outstretched hands.  It didn't hurt when I landed.  As I look back on it, today, I was really glad that I'd thought to ask God for blessings and protection that morning.  Once on the ground, I was conscious of my surgical knee being straight and safe and not even so much as touching the ground.  I've been carrying around a sore shoulder for awhile and I was really worried about what I was going to feel like in the morning.  As evening wore on I felt worse and worse, and discovered that, in addition to my shoulder literally screaming at me, I had a sore neck and a jammed pinkie.  Well, I took two Aleve.  Had a hot bath with a scoop of Epsom salt in it.  Settled in on the couch with the icepack, which went on my shoulder first, then on the back of my neck.  Then I mixed some fennel oil into coconut oil and rubbed that on my shoulder, my neck, and my pinkie, to relax the muscles and ward off muscle spasms.  By that time I just went to bed.  Yikes.  Was I going to even be able to get out of bed in the morning??  But I woke up this morning feeling no worse and actually a little better.  Praise God! 

The last thing in the world that I want to do is to end up in the hospital, or having to have surgery to repair some kind of damage.  More and more, I am becoming afraid that I will come out with something worse than what I had when I went in.  We had been missing seeing one of our neighbors out and around lately and just found out he went in for open-heart surgery and ended up nearly dying from flesh-eating bacteria.  Kinda looks like he's not out of the woods yet, but he's home.  I knew that people who go to our local hospital can often come home with staph, but he was in a hospital in TULSA.  Yikes. 

It is imperative that older people take precautions to maintain their balance, to keep their muscle mass, to maintain a reasonably safe weight, and to get the proper nutrition.  It has been said that, when you are in the last twenty years or so of your expected lifespan, a fall that breaks something generally means you will end up dying.  Let me here say that, being a Christian, I'm not afraid of dying.  In fact, I'm looking forward to passing through that portal out of this world.  I really don't want to die in massive pain, though.  I don't want my family to have to take care of me and/or watch me just waste away.  I've told anybody that will listen: "Just pull the plug and let me go!!"  What I do dread is suffering.  And yes, I know I'm not going to have much choice in the matter.  Still, we should take care of ourselves, so we can be active, vital, and still know who we are and who our loved ones are, right down to the day of our demise.  If, one day, I just don't wake up, or, gosh, even if I get hit by a beer truck, given that it's sudden and is a decent brand, y'all can turn to each other and say I went like I wanted to. 

That's about all I have for this time.  Y'all rock on, and try like hell to live your best lives.  Hugs xoxoxo