Thursday, November 29, 2012

Using a mustard plaster to relieve chest congestion

Whenever we would get sick in the winter Mom would make a mustard plaster to help break up the chest congestion. Making a mustard plaster is an old remedy, but one that works.

To make a mustard plaster you will need:

ground mustard
a small bowl to mix in
a spoon
a cloth  (we use an old cloth diaper)

For a basic mustard plaster

3 tablespoons flour
1 Tablespoon mustard powder
mix together in a small bowl
add water to make a paste (about 1 1/2 -2 Tablespoons)
Spread the paste down the middle of the cloth leaving ample room along the edges 1-2 inches
fold the cloth in half (you can use two smaller cloths and sandwich them together)
place it over your chest and or back and allow to sit.
do not apply directly to the skin.
Check every 5-10 minutes to make sure that it is not irritating or burning the skin.
a tight fitting undershirt is helpful it can help keep the mustard plaster in place

Some people do use equal parts mustard and flour, but it can cause the skin to turn red and irritable. For a small child or someone with sensitive skin I would go with half of the mustard.

I made a plaster today  for my little girl and used ground oats in place of the flour it seemed to work well. After my last post about Oats I thought I would give it a try.

Some say that if you use an egg white instead of the water, the protein will help keep it from bothering your skin. I tried it last year and did not notice a difference.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012


Who knew; oats were used as a natural preservative. Back in the days before comercial preservatives, bakers would throw a bit of ground oats into their breads and cakes to keep them from going stale. When I make homemade bread I throw in some oats or oat flour. The bread  keeps several days longer than when I make it with only wheat. I also enjoy the flavor and added texture.

                                                                  © Sergey76 | Stock Free Images & Dreamstime Stock Photos

Around the world oats have been used for natural remedies.
In Russia, oatmeal and mustard plaster is believed to stave off Pneumonia.
In Scotland, oats and rosewater are used to soften rough hands and knees.
In Japan, cold oatmeal stuffed in the nose is used to stop a nosebleed.
In Rio de Janerio oats are boiled in wine and used as a facial mask.
In Germany, oatmeal and fried onions are used to get rid of hangovers.
The French peasants chewed oats after eating garlic to freshen up their breath.

It is surprising to know that 85% of the crop grown in the United States is used for livestock feed.  It is a shame that we feed the good grains to our animals. Oats have been proven to lower cholesterol and fight heart disease. Oats are full of fiber and nutrition. It has many of the B vitamins, vitamin E, calcium and iron. Oats are a powerhouse of nutrition, but have been given a bad name, often being labeled as the food of the poor people. It is the easiest of all the grains to obtain right in your local grocery store, and one of the most beneficial.  I hope that you will take a second look at oats and what a great addition they can be in your diet and other areas of life.

  • Oat groats: unflattened kernels: only the hard outer hull has been removed. good for breakfast, tossed in salads, or stuffing.
  • Steel-cut  ( also known as Scotch or Irish) oats: featuring a dense and chewy texture, they are produced by running the grain through steel blades that thinly slices them. This cuts the cooking time down quite a bit.
  • Old-fashioned oats: have a flatter shape that is the result of their being steamed and then rolled. To flatten them into a flake that cooks rather quickly (5 minutes)
  • Quick-cooking oats: processed like old-fashioned oats, except they are cut into pieces before rolling into small, quick cooking flakes (1 minute)
  • Instant oatmeal: produced by partially cooking the grains, cutting them finely, and then rolling them very thin. This variety of oats can be cooked with only hot water. One downfall of instant oats is the addition of salt, sugar, and other ingredients to flavor the cereal.  
  • Oat bran: the outer layer of the grain that resides under the hull. While oat bran is found in rolled oats and steel-cut oats, it may also be purchased as a separate product that can be added to recipes or cooked to make a hot cereal.
  • Oat flour: used in baking, it is usually combined with other grains for bread baking because of its lack of gluten.

Old fashioned and quick cooking oats are the most popular form of oats. They are easily found in the cereal isle of your local grocery store. They are easily stored in your pantry right in the canister they come in. The others are found in bulk sections of the stores. Store in a container with a tight fitting lid.  Instant oatmeal has really taken off. They are convenient, but are so often full of chemical additives and flavors that I would shun them. You can make your own instant oatmeal packets by processing down the oats into smaller bits and adding your own flavorings. I will add a link below.  For a hurried morning you could also try a soaked method where you do not cook the oats in the morning, but soak the oats overnight and then it is softened and ready to go in the morning.  I will add a link for that also.

Oats are not just for breakfast, In the whole form, they make a great addition to soups and salads and breads. They can be used as a gluten free substitute for bread crumbs. They are great in many baked goods even beyond oatmeal cookies. They can add a delightful nutty flavor to many dishes.

Below are some helpful links, plus a recipe for a chocolate oat and nut crust that I thought sounded divine.

wise geek what are oats?

live strong

make your own instant oatmeal packets

yummy life refrigerator oatmeal

Chocolate oat and nut crust

Preheat oven to 375

in a food processor

1/2 cup rolled oats
1/3 cup whole roasted almonds
1/3 cup sugar
Process until finely ground
Transfer to a bowl an mix in

1/3 cup unsalted butter melted
1/2 ounce (1/2 square) unsweetened chocolate melted

Mix well, then press into the bottom and sides of a 9 inch pie plate
bake 5 minutes at 375

Monday, November 26, 2012

A traditional Christmas!

          This year we are going to cut our own tree!

                                                               © Mckgamer | Stock Free Images & Dreamstime Stock Photos

We bought a artificial tree about 6 years ago. It is looking ragged and worn out. It is time for something new. We decided that a real tree is the answer this year. We are looking forward to the experience of taking the kids out and letting them help pick out the tree and cut it down. There is something magical about it.We are looking forward to making memories with the kids that will last a lifetime. I hope that they will remember going and picking out a tree for years to come. I have taken  time to begin teaching my daughter the art of the divinity candy. It is a tradition passed to me from my Grandmother. I hope that my children will continue the tradition and that many good memories will come from this tradition.

A few days ago,I had a discussion with some of the neighbor ladies. We were talking about regrets. We discussed a talk by Dieter F Uchtdorf  given in early October (The link is below). He talks of terminally ill people and how many of them regret not spending time with their loved ones. Oh how they wish they would have taken the time to slow down from work and other things to really enjoy loved ones. One of the other regrets he talks about is people not living happily in the moment. He states "We shouldn’t wait to be happy until we reach some future point, only to discover that happiness was already available—all the time! Life is not meant to be appreciated only in retrospect. “This is the day which the Lord hath made … ,” the Psalmist wrote. “Rejoice and be glad in it.” Brothers and sisters, no matter our circumstances, no matter our challenges or trials, there is something in each day to embrace and cherish. There is something in each day that can bring gratitude and joy if only we will see and appreciate it."

This time of year should be joyful. It should be a loved and cherished time of year. But alas, all to often it is over scheduled, overstressed, and overdone. I want my family to remember the good things about the Holiday season. I do not want them to remember that Mom was stressed out every Christmas. I want to be able to enjoy the holidays as much as the Children. It begins with slowing down and focusing on what is really important. This holiday season We are making memories to last a lifetime. What are you doing this holiday season?

of-regrets-and-resolutions Dieter F Uchtdorf

Monday, November 19, 2012

Taking a blogging break until after Thanksgiving

Thank you to all that have been reading my blog. I enjoy writing about our simple life. I enjoy sharing life's experience with you. For the moment I am going to let the blogging go. I am looking forward to hosting Thanksgiving at our home this week. Have a happy and safe Thanksgiving and I will be back next week with more living in the slow lane.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Shan's yams

With Thanksgiving right around the corner, I thought that I would share some of my favorite holiday recipes. This is a super yummy recipe for yams. I have made it numerous times with rave reviews.

                                                                        © Dip2000 | Stock Free Images & Dreamstime Stock Photos


preheat oven to 350  and grease a 9x13 baking dish

6 cups mashed yams
1 cup sugar
1 cup melted butter
2 teaspoons vanilla
3/4 cup milk
4 eggs
Mix these ingredients together and then spoon into a 9x13 baking dish


2/3 cup melted butter
1 cup all purpose flour
2 cups brown sugar
1-2 cups nuts

stir topping ingredients together and sprinkle over the top of the yam mix.
Bake for 25 minutes at 350

Ultimate pecan pie

This is a recipe that I have had in my collection for a long time. It is one that I gathered from my Grandmother before she passed on. It was a prize winning recipe that she found. It is different from many other recipes I have seen. The butter is creamed into the mix making it more like a batter which is very unusual. The pecans are also put on the top and not mixed in or placed in the bottom. Whatever the reason for it all, the results are delightful. It is a keeper


Ultimate Pecan pie

1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
4 Tablespoons soft margarine (I substituted butter here)
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 beaten eggs
Beat ingredients together until light and fluffy
pour ingredients into a 9 inch pie shell that has been  partially baked for about 10 minutes
top with 1 1/2 cups large pecan peices

Bake in a 425 oven for 30-40 minutes.  A knife inserted near the center will come out clean. Cool completly before serving.

Thanksgiving ramblings

Thanksgiving, what thoughts does it evoke? Family, food, togetherness, thanksfulness, STRESS. For many people the stress of the holiday can overshadow what it is really about! 

I was reading in a magazine this past week. They had included  Holiday recipes and meal plans. One of the writers mentioned that she had come to the understanding that her holiday meals did not need to be elaborate. She made comment in this article that She did not need to create 6 side dishes; two well prepared dishes were more than enough.  I have taken that to heart this year as I am planning for Thanksgiving.  As I am planning, I am also paring down the menu. There is something about a simply prepared meal that is warming to the soul. 

 I am excited to have my husband's relatives over for the holidays. I am ready to enjoy the season and enjoy the good food. But more than that, I am looking forward to spending time getting to know them better. Developing a relationship with them is important to me. Nourishing my relationships is what I want to focus on this year.

IT IS NOT ABOUT FOOD, FOOD, AND MORE FOOD!  I remember a year where we ended up with more pies then people. How crazy is that, a pie for each of us and more to share! It was insane. Christmas was nearly as bad that year. It was overwhelming. That year my Mother decided it was enough. We spent the next few years getting it back under control.

This year I am striving to get back to the basics of Thanksgiving. Enjoying the company and not worrying so much about the details. 

Now it is your turn. I would love to hear all your thoughts about the holidays! What are you doing to enjoy the holidays?  How are you managing (or eliminating) holiday stress?  Any tips or hints?  Leave a comment below

Monday, November 12, 2012

Using cabbage to heal burns


I heard somewhere that when you get a burn in the kitchen head for the fridge and pull out the cabbage. A cabbage leaf wrapped around a burn will pull out the heat and aid in the healing process. I have proven it several times in my own life. The other night I used it on my son. He was helping cook and touched the hot pot. A cabbage leaf was just the thing. It is amazing. Forget the old wive's tale of slathering a burn with butter and use cabbage instead.

millet, more than bird food

Millet, a grain that is so underused. It is so sad that in the United States we typically feed it to the birds. Some belive that millet has been around since the begining of time. One of the first records of millet is about 2800 BC. Fan Shen Chiu Shu (tables of agricultural dicta) delcared millet to be one of China's five sacred crops. It was also cultivated in India about that same era. It is a hearty grain that
will grow in many climates. In the absense of rain, it will hibernate and when the rain comes it awakens and returns to its growing cycle.

Millet was known as "The gruel of endurance" in the Old Testament. Many believed that it would kep them of sound body and clear mind. It is a wonderful grain packed with Phospherous, iron, calcium, riboflavin,and niacin. When cooked in combination with other grains like rice, corn, or oats it creates a carbohydrate complex that will knock your socks off. 

© Msg-s | Stock Free Images & Dreamstime Stock Photos

Millet has so much to offer, it is an easily digested grain that is very alkaline. It is considered to be one of the supergrains. It has all the  essential amino acids to make it a complete protein on its own. It is gluten free so it is a great addition for those who may have a gluten intolerance or who are following the gluten free trend.

To buy millet you may have to visit a specialty store or order online. More stores are begining to carry it nowdays. If your grocery store has a bulk foods section you could also check there. My store just started with a bulk food section and millet is one of the grains that they stock. Make sure that you buy hulled millet and store it in a cool dry place.

Millet should be toasted before cooking. It enhances the flavor and helps the grain to cook more evenly. It is so simple to toast millet.
1.  Heat a skillet over medium-high heat.
2.  Add the millet to the dry pan.
3. Toss or stir for about 3-4 minutes until you get a toasty aroma and it begins to turn a deep golden color
4.Now it is ready for cooking.
Once toasted it does not store well. So it is best to toast just before cooking.

Millet is so versitle. It's simple flavor lends itself to many things. It blends into the background. It is a great addition to soups. It is also a great meat extender. Many people use it to extend their meatloaf. You can cook it and subtitute it for rice in many recipes. It is great for breakfast, lunch or dinner. For a creamy millet at breakfast, cook uncovered and stir to break up the grains. Once cooked it can be stored in the fridge for several days. Cooked millet can be added to a variety of dishes.

Basic cooked millet serves 4-6

1 cup hulled millet
2 cups stock or broth

Place the millet in skillet and toast the grains over a medium high heat for 3-5 minutes until you smell the toasty smells arise from the pan and the grains begin to turn a golden brown color. Place the toasted millet and broth in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil and then lower the heat. Cover and simmer for about 20 minutes, until all the liquid is absorbed. Remove from the heat and let sit for 5 minutes before fluffing with a fork.

My favorite way to eat millet is cooked with oat groats for a morning breakfast cereal. I overcook the millet with the oatgroats. The millet gets nice and creamy with the oats a bit chewy.

 Millet and oat groat breakfast cereal

3/4 cup millet
1 1/2 cups whole oat groats
6 cups water
In a pressure cooker toast the millet about 3 minutes add the oat groats and toast about 2 minutes longer. Add  water, seal up the pressure cooker and pressure cook  on high for 16 minutes. Quick release the pressure and you are good to go. I cook up a batch and then eat it for several days. I just keep it in the fridge. In the morning I pop a bowlful into the microwave for about a minute and I am ready to go.

Below are some links that you may find useful for more information and recipes

first time cook
vegan coach
recipe land millet recipes

shared at keep it real Thursdays

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

ABC bread

                                              This recipe is as easy as 123 and super yummy too.

A couple of bananas and an apple along with cholate chips make for a lovely treat.

ABC bread (apple banana chocolate chip)

Preheat the oven to 350
Grease and flour a large loaf pan (or spray with cooking spray)

In a bowl mix the dry ingredients
1 3/4 cup flour ( I use 1/2 cup whole wheat, 1/2 cup oat flour 3/4 all purpose flour)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda

In another bowl
2-3 mashed bananas
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup melted butter
2 large eggs
1 large apple peeled and grated

Mix wet and dry ingredients together until just moistened and no flour streaks remain, then add
1/2 cup chocolate chips

Pour batter into the prepared loaf pan, bake in a 350 oven for about 1 hour until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. cool 10 minutes in the pan and then turn out to finish cooling.

as an added note:
To make oat flour is really easy. Process rolled oats in the food processor or blender until finely ground into flour.

shared at keep it real thursday

Monday, November 5, 2012

Taming the sugar beast part 3

In case you missed it

tame the sugar beast part 1  taming the sugar beast part 2

                                                                     © Nvnv | Stock Free Images & Dreamstime Stock Photos

Now onto part 3 (the final in the series)

Did you do it! Did you begin the journey? How are your sugar cravings now? Did you journal? What patterns have you seen emerge?

 So many of us are like Pavlov's dog. You know the one, ring the bell, feed the dog, ring the bell, feed the dog. Ring the bell and the dog expects food. There are things in our lives that ring an internal (many times subconcious) bell that signals  "I expect food or sugar".

We have been trained by ourselves and others to crave sugar or other foods. In the food industry they are constantly working on making food cravable. If they can do that, they can hook you.

© Tund | Stock Free Images & Dreamstime Stock Photos

How does one break the cycle?  How do we break free from this Pavlov dog syndrome?

Identifying the patterns helps us to see where the troubles are. Understanding what triggers the "sugar bell" in our head is key to the process. Maybe it is something like the smells that waft by from the bakery next to work. Maybe it is the comercials that are constantly on the television as you are winding down at the end of the day. Walking past the vending machine. Being bored, anxious or other feelings can trigger sugar cravings. Maybe you are a picker/grazer, that candy bowl at the receptionist desk is a trigger to grab a handful as you pass by. Have you identified some things that trigger sugar eating patterns?

1. Re-program the "sugar bell" in your head. reprogram your behaviors. Do you need to take a different route to work or school to avoid those traps? Dr Phil in his book Ultimate weight loss solution talks about  having to enter through the front door of his home rather than the kitchen. He would come home from work and munch his way through the kitchen. He recognized this was a problem and changed it. Do you need to avoid the receptionist desk, or kindly ask that the candy be put away from sight? It is a skill that is used to overcome many addictions. I once helped teach a stop smoking program. Discovering what triggered the thought "I need a smoke" and then addressing and changing those situations was critical to success. The same can be said in this situation. What triggers the "I need sugar" thought?  What habits do you need to change?

2. Change your reaction in those key moments.  It is only during those key moments when the sugar cravings hit, that you need to exhibit self control. You do not have to have self control 24/7, just at those critcal key moments. Overcoming can be  as easy as changing how you react to those situations. When temptation comes to your body and brain simply "Change the subject". Find something else to do. You can be experiencing a sugar craving and if you focus on it, the craving grows and grows until it overcomes you. If you ignore the cravings, and get on with something else they will usually pass. Distracting ourselves can be great tool. If we focus on something besides the craving, we can overcome it.  Write a list of things that you can do when those cravings come along. This will help in the next step.

3. Don't panic, have a plan. Having a plan for when those moments arise can make a difference. Think ahead, practice saying no to the sweet stuff. Practice how you will handle situations.As I said before in my last post, my mom's house is a real trigger for me. I have to avoid the kitchen, and bring my own healthy snacks. Plan a way to overcome those temptations before they start. If you have a list of things that you can do instead of giving into cravings it is easier. You can overcome cravings by engaging yourself in something else. I have used music in the past with good sucess. When I was feeling emotional/food cravings, I would listen to music rather than eat. Now I use blogging as one of  my distractions.

4. What is your body really telling you? In the begining I talked of adding fruit to the diet. I mentioned that your body may just be telling you that it needs real food. It is true, our bodies crave real food. I will look at the junk and my body says Nah, I want real food.Those empty foods that used to be the cravings have gone. Now I crave real hearty good foods. The sugar just does not have the appeal that it used to.

 As I have been doing this along with all of you I have discovered that I get a real lag in the afternoon. I get to where I think sugar will help me wake up. I know better than this, yet I think I am needing sugar. Really what is happening is my brain really needs a rest. I have found that a ten minute power nap can really perk me up (alot more than sugar ever did). Sugar would perk me up for a moment, but then I would crash later on. A power nap and then a good nutritous snack has made a world of difference. Is your body sending signals that it is overloaded and needs a rest, and you are interpreting it as "I need a food pick me up?"I was doing that, but now I know better.

As a final note:  Holidays are coming up!

Some hints for avoiding the holiday sugar woes. When you go to the Holiday parties this year, keep a drink of water, or other low calorie beverage in your hand to keep them full. Eat a healthy snack before you go. Avoid the food table as much as possible, and engage yourself in other activities than food. Before filling your plate at a holiday party, ask the other guests about the food. "How is the _____?"  "Is this as good as it looks?" "What is the best thing you have tried so far?" You can get a feel for what will satisfy you. You can then pick the best of the food that is offered, and then enjoy it slowly. You will be less likely to consume a bunch of mediocre food. You will be able to enjoy the bounty of the season.  If you have a holiday tradition that is overcome with sugar laden foods such as a cookie or candy exchange. Maybe you could suggest changing up that tradition. If not, use your newfound skills to avoid the traps that so many of us fall into during the holidays. Share, Share, Share, with others. You do not need to eat the whole thing. Moderation can be your best freind.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Barley there is more to it then soup and beer


                                                           © Sweetgoddess | Stock Free Images & Dreamstime Stock Photos

Barley is one of the oldest grains in the world.  It has been found in ancient ruins all across the globe.It can be grown quickly in a variety of climates.It is a staple of life in many countries. The United States barley crop is primarily used as animal feed and in the Beer making industry. We as Americans could really benefit from this grain if we would start eating it instead of drinking it.

Barley is nutty and chewy when cooked (resembling brown rice).  It is a great treat as a hot cereal for breakfast. It can be substituted for brown rice in any recipe. pearled barley can be substituted for rice in a risotto recipe. Cooked barley is great tossed into salads or casseroles, or toss some into bread dough for a chewy nutty texture, and the list could go on. It can be ground into flour although it is not typically used alone. It can be substituted for part of the other flours in baking.

How to buy and store barley.

Store tightly covered in a cool dark place. Some prefer to store in the fridge or freezer. Keep it in sight so you will be more prone to use it. Don't store it in the back corner of your pantry only to be found two years from now.

Whole, hulled, flaked, or pearled barley, what's the difference?

Whole or hulled barley has had only the husks removed, Pearl barley has been dehusked and then polished to remove the aleurone which covers the endosperm breaking it down into  white shiny "pearls" of goodness. Barley flakes have been  husked, then steamed and  rolled into a flat flake.

large pearled barley
© Neezam75 | Stock Free Images & Dreamstime Stock Photos

Most of the barley sold in the grocery markets around the country is pearled barley. Most of the recipes you will find call for pearl barley. It's availability  in most grocery stores makes it an easy place to start getting more whole grain goodness into your diet.

How to cook barley

Barley is typically cooked in a one to three ratio. One part grain three parts liquid It will soak up the liquid and expand to four times the original amount. One cup of barley will expand to make about four cups cooked. Cooking time can be shortened by about half by soaking at least five hours first.

Pearled barley's grain size can range from course to very fine. depending on how much polishing has been done to it. The cooking time can vary from  10 minutes on a very fine pearl  up to 60 minutes for the larger less processed kernels.
The whole barley takes a bit more time 90 minutes to cook. (30 in a pressure cooker)

Your typical large pearl barley will take about 35-40 minutes to cook on the stovetop. (15 minutes soaked)

1 cup large pearl barley
3 cups water or broth
bring to a boil and then simmer over a low heat for 35-40 minutes until tender.

This can be cooled and stored in the fridge for up to a week.  It is easily reheated into a casserole or tossed into a salad.

Below are some links with more information about barley and its great nutritional value. The links also include some wonderful sounding recipes.

barley foods web site

hulled barley vs pearled barley

how to cook barley + recipes

vegan coach how to cook barley