Monday, December 31, 2018

Herbal Medicine--Honey

Disclaimer:  This is not medical advice.  You should always consult your family physician before beginning any herbal or over-the counter treatment for any condition.  The information presented below is for educational and entertainment purposes only and suggests items to have on hand when licensed medical care is not available, or when care is available but supplies are limited.

A simple online search for the medicinal uses of honey yields dozens of hits, if not hundreds, including all the health benefits of honey.  It's touted for helping with all manner of problems, from acne to weight loss.  We'll stick with what honey is most especially used for in a true medicinal sense when our society has collapsed.  After all, our honey supply may be limited and taking a teaspoon every day for allergies or in the evening to sleep better will exhaust our stores quickly.

First off, studies have shown that honey is more effective at quieting a cough in children than any over-the-counter cough syrup. Parents also reported that their children slept better.  (However, honey should never, under any circumstance, be given to a child under 12 months of age.)  In addition, it should be noted that the FDA has recommended removing many children's OTC cough syrups from the shelves because of adverse reactions.  Fortunately, we have honey, which is safer, more effective, and cheaper.  Just a teaspoon or two is all that is needed.  And it works for adults as well.  Also, honey tea does a tremendous job soothing sore throats.  Just remember, when making your tea, boil the water first, remove from heat, and then add the honey.  Boiling the honey itself will reduce or entirely negate many of its medicinal qualities.

Dr. Joseph Alton, author of The Survival Medicine Handbook, notes that honey was used to treat asthma in 19th century.  Patients were directed to breathe deeply from a jar of honey, and improvement usually occurred within a few minutes.  To decrease the number of future episodes, doctors advised drinking one teaspoon of honey in twelve ounces of water three times per day.

As far as healing wounds goes, honey works in much the same manner as sugar, which was discussed last week.  Wounds, especially chronic wounds that aren't healing, have an alkaline pH, which provides an ideal breeding ground for bacteria, especially MRSA.  Honey (and sugar) are acidic, so they alter the pH and this kills the bacteria.  Honey may be spread directly on a wound and over the surrounding edges, but it will probably be more comfortable for the patient if the honey is spread on some gauze first and then applied to the wound. 

Honey is also an excellent treatment for burns, whether first- or second-degree, and may even be used with third-degree burns when there is no higher care available.  After the burned area has been cooled with running water for 15 minutes (not just immersing the wound in water, but running water), apply a generous amount of honey.  For third-degree burns, make sure this is very thick and covering the entire burn.  Per Dr. Alton, cover the honey with cling plastic wrap (the colored stuff found around Easter and Christmas is thicker and easier to manage) or a waterproof dressing and tape in place.  If the dressing begins to fill with oozing fluid, change the dressing.  The worse the burn, the more often the dressing will need to be changed, but make sure to change the dressing at least three times per day.  Continue for at least seven to ten days.  Do not wash off the honey for at least 20 days (unless the burn has healed).  Add more honey as needed, always making sure that there is a thick layer that goes beyond the edges of the burn to prevent infection and promote healing. 

So what kind of honey should you use?  What is best?

You can buy ridiculously over-priced manuka or Medihoney if that makes you more comfortable.  Manuka is what is most often used in medical studies.  But regular doctors like Dr. Alton and those who have taught the classes I attended say we can use any pure, raw honey.  Your best bet for getting real raw honey is going to be from a local beekeeper.  An awful lot of grocery store honey is adulterated with high fructose corn syrup, glucose solutions, or even just water.  There are numerous tests you can perform at home to determine if your honey is pure or adulterated, but I'm not going to go into those.  For me, the true test, the easy test, is if the honey has crystallized either partially or completely.  The fake stuff will never crystallize.  The real stuff almost always will eventually.

A couple of years ago my in-laws were going through their old food storage and were getting rid of two forty-year-old four-gallon tins of honey.  They were planning to give it to their youngest daughter to feed to her livestock.  Fortunately, my husband stopped by first and brought them home for us.  (We have livestock, too, but not as much as his sister.)  And to heck with the livestock, that honey was for us.  So I asked Dr. Steve about using this really old honey medicinally on wounds.  His reply was that as long as it was pure (the honey was completely crystallized), there was no problem at all.  

In our trailer this summer, I found some older, unopened one-ounce jars of honey that I had totally forgotten about.  They're the little jars that come in gift baskets, or with room service in a hotel.  Anyway, they had partially crystallized, so I knew they were pure and put them in our medical kit.  If you have some jars or packets of honey lying around at home and you're wondering about whether they're pure, try putting them in the fridge or freezer.  If they are pure honey, they will crystallize.

Note, again.  Honey should never be given to children under the age of twelve months. 

For further reading:

Copyright 2018, Jennifer Rader,

Saturday, December 29, 2018

Expanded Food Storage--Dehydrated Pineapple

Food storage and learning what foods your family likes can involve a lot of trial and error.  And in our home there has been a lot of error.  In fact the kids seem to focus on all my errors and sometimes don't exhibit the proper appreciation for my efforts in trying whatever it is out now, when we can feed the mistakes to the chickens and dogs, rather than later, when they may just have to eat and grin and bear it.

Fortunately for you, I have made a lot of errors that you can learn from and not have to repeat yourselves.

One of these errors was in dehydrating pineapple.  See, before I started dehydrating pineapple, I'd read a bit about it on the 'net and in books.  Not much was said about preparing the pineapple, only that it was really good, and it was as sweet as candy.

True, it was a sweet as candy, however, it was also rather chewy, and no one really liked that.  If you like your pineapple chewy, that's great.  The important thing is to do what you and your family will eat.  

Anyway, as I said, we didn't like chewy texture of pineapple bits.  They didn't taste bad, but the dried pineapple chunks just didn't get us excited. And so I wasn't going to dehydrate any more pineapple for my family.  And then, either I read it somewhere online or I came up with the idea myself, I'm not sure which.  As I was composing this blog post, I tried to find anything anyone had written about slicing pineapple in lengthwise strips to dehydrate and came up empty-handed.  So maybe I came up with the idea myself.

Instead of slicing the pineapple horizontally and removing the core so that you have rings, I tried slicing the pineapple vertically, from top to bottom, to produce thin, lengthwise strips.   It was an instant hit with the kids.  They're like mini fruit strips or fruit rolls.  And we love it this way. 

Here's how I cut up my pineapple.  It's different from most of what I've seen online.  Maybe there's a little more wasted, but it's what I was taught when on vacation in Hawaii and I've used it ever since.  First off, after washing, chop off the top.   (Everyone agrees on this point.)   Next, cut the pineapple in half, right through the core, top to bottom.  (Except for chopping off the top, all cuts are top to bottom.) You don't need a pineapple corer.  Then cut each half into quarters, through the core again.  And repeat to cut each quarter into eighths.  At this point it's time to remove the rind or peel.  With your fingertips of one hand holding the core, use a sharp knife in the other hand to cut away the rind.  Then cut away the core.  Now turn the one-eighth section of pineapple onto its outer edge (where the rind had been a few seconds ago), and slice that section lengthwise again into three very thin strips.

Carefully place the strips on your dehydrator trays.  As I sit here composing this post, I'm thinking that the flexible mesh screens of my Excalibur dehydrator make it much easier to remove the dehydrated strips.  It might not be so easy to remove those strips from trays made of rigid plastic like the Nesco dehydrator has.  If you have rigid trays, you might want to test a few strips before buying ten pineapples to dehydrate and then wishing you hadn't.

I set my temperature to 110 degrees, and it takes about twelve to eighteen hours.  Some people recommend turning the pineapple halfway through the drying process, but I haven't found this to be necessary.  Of course, this could be because these strips are a lot thinner than what others are doing.  I've found that pineapple strips, and indeed all somewhat sticky fruits, are easier to remove from the trays when they are still somewhat warm.  Carefully remove the strips.  Most people end it here and just put them in jars, and most people dehydrating pineapple are not doing it for longer term storage.

However, I take the preservation and storage a step further.  I think it helps them last longer and prevents waste. I cut off about 10-12 inches of plastic wrap and lay the strips on the wrap.  Starting at one end, I put one strip in the middle along the edge.  I then roll that first pineapple strip one turn away from me so that the first pineapple strip now has plastic on both sides.  The second strip gets put on top of the first (with the layer of plastic between them), and then rolled one turn so that the top of the second strip is now on the bottom, and sandwiched between layers of plastic wrap.  The third strip goes on top of the first two, and the process continues until you come to the end of your plastic wrap.  Then the ends are folded over and the neat little bundle is placed in a Ziploc bag (if you live in a desert) or in a canning jar to be vacuum sealed (if you live outside the desert).

This process serves a couple of purposes.  One, the package of pineapple strips is ready to go quickly.  You don't need to get out baggies and re-package for lunches, backpacking, or Armageddon.  They're already packaged in serving sizes.  If you are doing these for small children, just put fewer strips in the roll.    Wrapping the strips separately in plastic also helps keep them from sticking together even as you try to pack more in so as to not waste space.  Even in a desert, after a while, they get sticky and kind of mush together, and then they don't look so appetizing anymore and no one wants to eat them.

A few notes.  In the pineapple class in Hawaii, we were taught the foolproof way to pick a good pineapple:  Pick it up and smell the bottom.  If it smells like pineapple, it's good.  If it doesn't, it's not.  The only caveat is if the pineapple has just been pulled from the cooler at the store, the aroma might be difficult to detect.  As you are checking pineapple bottoms (sounds disturbing, doesn't it?), check for mold on the cut.  If it's moldy, pass on to the next pineapple.  Make sure you are getting a green or yellow-green pineapple that looks fresh, not one that was picked a long time ago and is turning kind of brown.  If the pineapple has started to rot, your strips will turn a yucky brown.  They might still taste okay, but they definitely won't look okay.

Copyright 2018, Jennifer Rader,

Friday, December 28, 2018

Basic Food Storage--DIY Cream Soup Mixes

Earlier this month (7 December 2018) I blogged on the basic recipe for magic mix, as well as a couple of recipes for using magic mix.  The white sauce, cheese sauce, and pudding are great, but I don't use them all that often.  However, this DIY substitute for cream of chicken soup gets used all the time.  Seriously.  All. The. Time.  At least once a week.

All of the recipes below are for making the condensed versions of these soups.  They do not substitute perfectly volume-wise for a can of condensed soup.  You'll have a little extra left over.  It's never been a problem for me; I'm usually making gravy or sauce for a casserole with it.  If you are making soup, remember that you still need to add an additional "can" of water or milk, about 11 ounces, to make soup.  None of us around here eat chicken, celery, or mushroom soup as a stand-alone, so I can't comment on how the DIY and store-bought versions of those compare.  But I think the tomato soup is very good. 

Cream of chicken condensed soup

1 cup magic mix
3/4 cup chicken broth (canned, liquid from canned chicken, or bouillon)

Put magic mix in saucepan over medium heat and add the broth, whisking constantly.  Bring to a boil and stir until thickened, then remove from heat.  Optional:  add up to a teaspoon of parsley, and/or a pinch of onion or garlic salt.

The following cream soup mixes do not get used as frequently around here, but it's still very handy to be able to make them when needed, instead of having the store-bought versions taking up shelf space.  And they're real and fresh and not full of ingredients with vague names.   (Modified food starch, autolyzed yeast extract?  What are those things, anyway?)

Cream of celery condensed soup

1 cup magic mix
3/4 cup water
1 cup of dehydrated celery, reconstituted (use excess reconstituting water as part of the 3/4 cup water above)
pinch celery seed

Put magic mix in saucepan over medium heat and add the water, whisking constantly.  Bring to a boil and stir until thickened, then remove from heat.  Stir in celery, celery salt, and parsley.   Optional:  add up to a teaspoon of parsley. 

Cream of mushroom condensed soup

1 cup magic mix
1 can mushrooms, 4.5 oz, undrained, plus 1/4 cup water
1/4 cup dehydrated mushrooms rehydrated in 1 cup water
dash onion salt
1-2 drops Kitchen Bouquet, optional

Put magic mix in saucepan over medium heat and stir in liquids, whisking constantly.  Bring to a boil and stir until thickened, then remove from heat.  Stir in mushrooms, onion salt, and Kitchen Bouquet. 

Cream of tomato condensed soup
1 cup magic mix
1 8 oz can tomato sauce
1 teaspoon parsley, optional
dash salt
dash pepper

Put magic mix in saucepan over medium heat and stir in tomato sauce, whisking constantly.  Bring to a boil and stir until thickened, then remove from heat.   Stir in seasonings.

Note that this recipe does not contain any sugar, whereas high fructose corn syrup is the second ingredient in Campbell's cream of tomato condensed soup.  Some people really miss the added sugar; I like the soup better without it.

Copyright 2018, Jennifer Rader,

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Raising Rabbits

In the prepping community, as soon as you mention raising rabbits someone brings up the "fact" that you can't live on rabbits because of rabbit starvation.  And if it isn't mentioned out loud, someone is still thinking about it and thinking you're an idiot and you're going to die when The Storm hits.

It's enough to make you want to bang your head on the wall.  But then people would begin to suspect you're even crazier than previously thought.  So you put a smile on your face and try to patiently explain what rabbit starvation really is.

Rabbit starvation is what happens to the body when a person subsists entirely on lean wild game, such as wild rabbits.  Also known as protein poisoning, it occurs when too much protein is consumed concurrently with a serious lack in the consumption of fats and carbohydrates.  Yes, it is a serious and potentially fatal condition.  Are you planning to subsist entirely on wild rabbits?  If so, this entire blog is not for you.  Better to spend your time elsewhere.

If you are not planning to live entirely off wild rabbits and if you are open to the idea of raising rabbits to supplement your food storage, read on.

Most people who begin raising livestock to feed their family start with chickens.  Having done both chickens and rabbits, I can say that chickens are definitely easier.  And chickens produce eggs, which is a huge plus.  But rabbits have a number of advantages as well, so let's run through that list.

--Rabbits are more efficient in meat production than chickens, meaning that it takes less feed to produce meat and they are ready for butchering sooner.
--Rabbits are very quiet, so they can be raised in close quarters, like apartments or subdivisions where houses are very close together, without attracting attention by their noise.
--Rabbit manure is the perfect garden manure.  It can be added directly to the garden without composting, unlike chicken manure.
--Rabbits are very calming to hold and can help reduce stress and anxiety levels.
--Domestic rabbits actually do have fat on them--it's wild rabbits that are lacking.
--Rabbits can be multi-purpose as well.  In addition to being raised for meat, their pelts are also useful.  In the case of angoras, you get the valuable fiber without even having to kill the rabbit.

In contemplating the idea of raising rabbits for meat, you'll have to research the breeds.  You have a lot of options.  Californians have the same coloring as a Siamese cat.  New Zealand whites, Americans, American chinchilla, beverens, and cinnamons are all good meat breeds and weigh in at eight to eleven pounds, a good size for a family meal.  I wouldn't recommend Flemish giants unless you are feeding a larger group--at twenty pounds that's a lot of meat if you don't happen to have refrigeration to preserve it, and it takes longer to grow them out.  If you want the pelts as well, the Rex is an excellent choice.  But if you're having a bit of trouble getting the children to buy in to the idea of rabbits because they don't want to eat them, you could approach it in a roundabout way, which is what we did.

We knew, of course, that our girls would not want to raise rabbits for dinner.  We had raised a batch of meat chickens in Missouri, and that was fine, but it just wasn't their thing.  They have pretty tender hearts, and while eating our own chickens was doable, rabbits would be a lot more difficult.  However, I really wanted to have some meat rabbits, just for preparedness purposes.  Personally, I do not need to eat meat.  I can be happy meeting my protein needs with beans and milk and eggs.  But my husband is a type-1 diabetic.  When food and insulin supplies become disrupted, we need to be able to feed him still.  He likes food.  To conserve his insulin supply, he will need a very low carbohydrate diet, and that means lots of meat and eggs.  We have no delusions about being able to live off the land and hunt all the meat that we need.  Game will become extremely difficult to obtain soon after there's no food in stores.

But I really didn't have time to raise rabbits, nor the inclination for butchering them myself. So could I get the girls to do it?

My daughters all love animals, the more the better.  And they'd been asking for more.  However, we told them we were not getting any more pets--their animals had to have a purpose.  So if they really wanted rabbits, did they want meat rabbits or wool rabbits?  I think it took all of two seconds to make that decision.  Wool rabbits.

After that, it was a matter of deciding which angora rabbit breed would be best.  (While you may not be deciding which breed of angora to raise, the decision-making process will be the same for meat breeds as well.)  With angoras, we had four breeds to choose from:  English, French, Satin, and Giant.  There are other angora breeds, but only these four are recognized by the American Rabbit Breeders Association, and this recognition is necessary in order to be able to participate fully in 4-H and other rabbit shows.  We ruled out the English angora because its fiber is very high maintenance, and because it is smaller--less meat.  Satin angoras don't produce much fiber.  Giant angoras are only white and are much larger, so they're a little harder to handle.  French angoras, we decided, were the perfect breed.  They produce a good amount of fiber, which is combed out about every three months, and their coat is usually very low maintenance, requiring only about five minutes of grooming per week.  They grow to about eight to ten pounds, a good size for meat, if necessary.  If (when) we need them for meat for their dad, it will be an easy transition. 

Have we ever butchered our rabbits?  No.  Honestly, it's not something we look forward to.  The girls do become very attached to them.  The rabbits all have their own quirks and personalities.  And angora fiber is pretty valuable and sells for up to $10 an ounce.  But for us, the greatest value (right now) is being able to spin that fiber into very soft, very warm yarn for mittens, hats, scarves, and sweaters.

And no, you don't need a spinning wheel.  But that's for another post.

Copyright 2018, Jennifer Rader,

Wednesday, December 26, 2018


I wrote the following post a couple of months ago but couldn't quite decide which category to put it in.  It doesn't quite fit anywhere.  And during the time that the blog has been active, I haven't really liked the categories for Wednesdays and Thursdays, but especially Wednesdays.  Reviews are important.  People really want to know whether a product works or a book is worthwhile.  But then you have to buy the product.  And for a really good review, you've got to be able to compare it with other similar products.   And I've got to come up with something every week for that.  It was causing me a little stress, and it's not what I set out to focus on.  I really want to keep it to food and medicine.  I don't want to hawk products.  I'm not making money advertising (much to my husband's sorrow).  I really, really hate those websites and blogs that have so many pop-ups and so much advertising.  If your blog is good enough, I'll remember to come back to it.  I don't need to be on your email list.  And there are already plenty of blogs advertising and reviewing all kinds of products.  The world doesn't need another one.

Anyway, I decided to do away with product reviews on Wednesdays to have more time for food and medicine.  So for at least the next few months, Wednesdays will be devoted to nutrition and disease, the essential vitamins and minerals and the diseases that develop when people don't have nutritional needs met.  Today's blog post doesn't fit perfectly in with this theme, either, but I think it's something we all need to consider, and sooner is better than later.

Say you and your spouse are taking a leisurely drive along a lonely road.  Suddenly you happen upon a bus crash.  You phone for help, but paramedics and ambulances are quite a distance away.  You've got a small medical kit with you and you've received a little bit of training, so while waiting for licensed and trained personnel to arrive, you set to work.  What's the first thing you do? 

It's called triage.  It's a French word that came into usage during the Napoleonic era when medics started sorting the casualties to determine whom to help first.  At its most basic level, there are three categories:

1.  Patients likely to survive, regardless of what care is given (green);
2.  Patients likely to die, regardless of what care is given (black);
3.  Patients for whom immediate care may result in a positive outcome (red).

More advanced triage processes include up to three more classifications, with white (walk away, simple home care at most is required), and yellow and orange (degrees of observation and care between green and red above).

In the medical training I received this past year, we discussed triage at length.  People need to know who can be helped and whom to help first, based on a layman's assessment and the limited resources available.

Back to our bus crash.  We've asked the green people--those who can move under their own power--to move to a nearby tree.  Because we had some green (or white--uninjured) people able to assist, we had them move the yellow people--those injured whose treatment and transport could be delayed--to the tree as well.  We're now left with the red and black patients as the paramedics arrive on the scene. 

The red patients receive immediate assistance.  They are seriously injured, but they can be helped with the personnel and resources available.  The black patients may still be alive.  They may even be able to communicate.  But due to the nature of the injury and the resources available, they cannot be expected to survive.  Perhaps there is excessive bleeding that could be stopped, but only at the expense of not using those supplies on ten other patients that need their bleeding stopped as well and have better chances of surviving.  In a hospital situation, with limitless supplies and personnel to attend, it wouldn't be an issue and even some classed as black (not all) could survive.

How do I liken this to food storage and preparedness in general?  Well, actually, it's pretty easy.  What is coming to this country will be nothing short of pure hell.  I don't like to focus on that, because it's really depressing (though true), but a doomer outlook is perceived to be more focused on the problem than on the solution.

So first off, I believe that people will need at the minimum at least a year's supply of food, medications, clothing, shelter, and skills etc. The decisions I make will be based on the belief that when our society collapses, it will stay collapsed for at least one year.  Food that I have not stored or grown myself will not be available for at least one year.  That means my family's food supplies do not get shared with those who think the lights will come on and the trucks will start running again in a week or two.

How many people in this country are prepared with food, medicine, clothing, fuel, shelter, skills, etc., to survive at least a year, and preferably much longer?  Honestly, I think less than 1% of the population is in this category.  I really hope I'm wrong.  This is one thing I'd absolutely love to be wrong about.

When TEOTWAWKI hits, when the bus crashes, how will the green people have prepared?  Well, they have at least a year's supply of everything for everyone in their family--and know how to use it, cook it, etc.  How about yellows?  They have their year's supply of food and meds, maybe shelter, maybe skills.  They will need some help, but will likely make it.  I still think less than 1% of population is in this category.  I still really hope I am wrong.

What about the reds? These are people who have stored at least a year's supply of food, but probably no critical medications and nothing else; they have few skills if any.  But they've at least got food, even if they don't know how to cook it.  They will probably have a hard time adjusting to a new diet, but if they want to learn we can help, as time permits.  Optimistically, I think this is maybe 3% of the people.

The blacks are everyone else.  Food is the big problem here.  In most areas, food does not grow year- round.  Even if it did, most people couldn't grow a potato if their lives depended on it.  Even if they can grow produce, what about all the other needed items?  What about learning how to cook it?  What about having the means to cook it? What about protecting it from two- or four-legged pests?

I spent four years in Missouri growing a massive garden each summer and canning everything.  I wanted to see how much effort it took to grow all that my family would need to eat and live for a full year on only what we produced. I spent about four hours each morning in the garden, and then I spent the rest of the day until dinner canning, baking bread, dehydrating, etc.

It absolutely knocked me out.

And I was in my early to mid-forties in very good health.  (Well, except for that day after my birthday in July when I found myself in the ER with my first--and last--gall bladder attack.  And then the doctor says, "But your REAL problem is...."  Yeah, the garden was a bust that year.)  And I still had indoor plumbing and electricity.  What's it going to be like if we don't have running water and electricity?  Is even a very well-prepared person going to be able to help those who chose not to prepare without putting his/her own family at risk?  Kneading bread by hand takes a long time.  Even if I have time to make someone else's bread (highly unlikely), my alternative means of baking bread are extremely limited, and baking for someone else will mean not baking for my own family.

As I preserved food all summer long, we generally had only bread to eat, plus our fresh produce.  I simply did not have time to cook anything else.

So whom do I choose to feed?  Whom do you choose?

It's going to be very difficult.

This is not to suggest that skills aren't important, including the ability to get along with others, community, etc.  It's just that none of those things will compensate for lack of preparation, except maybe being a licensed physician or a nurse.  Maybe.  Another exception may be those who prepared very well--including skills--who lost everything in a fire or some other disaster.  They will still be valuable due to their skill sets and ability to adapt.

I'm really not looking forward to this.

Copyright 2019, Jennifer Rader,

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas!  It is a day to celebrate the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ! 

Spend time with your family.  Enjoy great food. 

And come back tomorrow for another daily dose of prepping skills and knowledge to acquire.

Copyright 2018, Jennifer Rader,

Monday, December 24, 2018

Herbal Medicine--Sugar

Disclaimer:  Information shared here is for educational and entertainment purposes only.  It is not medical advice nor a substitute for licensed medical care.  A qualified, licensed physician or other medical provider should be consulted before beginning any herbal or conventional treatment.

Here we are on Christmas Eve; our society still hasn't totally collapsed.  Yeah!!  With any luck, as you and your children and grandchildren go to sleep, you'll all have visions of sugar plums dancing in your heads.

However, after celebrating the birth of our Savior, when it's time to return to the daily grind and learn and prepare more, hopefully you'll remember the little tidbit of information shared here today.

Sugar, regular white granulated sugar, has a clinically researched and proven medical use.  The study came about because an African physician working in a hospital in the UK noticed several patients for whom conventional drug therapy had failed to treat acute and chronic exuding wounds.  And he wondered why the treatment he had seen his tribal doctor grandfather use in Africa was not being employed here.  Didn't everybody know about using sugar to treat such wounds?

Apparently, such knowledge had been long forgotten in a world where we have lots of money and can afford expensive drug therapies.  Unfortunately, some of those very expensive antibiotic therapies are failing the fight against MRSA.  Sugar, however, has been shown to work.

If you have a wound, such as a diabetic ulcer on the legs or feet or a burn or cut, you can apply sugar to it.  If you apply some and it immediately soaks up the fluid in the wound, apply more until you still have some dry sugar on top.  Apply a non-adherent bandage and secure in place.  Change the dressing every other day.  Do not wash away or remove the old sugar when changing the dressing; that will also remove the very delicate new tissue that is forming.  Just add more sugar on top.  Keep doing this until the wound is healed.

In the case of a large wound, you may wish to put a ring of petroleum jelly around the edges to better contain the sugar.

So why does sugar work here?  Well, there are a couple of reasons.  First, the sugar draws the fluid in the tissue out, keeping it dry and better able to heal.  Second, it creates an acidic environment, which is very hostile to bacteria.  Third, it also helps relieve pain, which contributes to greater sense of well-being in the patient and less stress in the body.  

(This research was conducted using granulated sugar in the UK.  In the United States, well over 90% of sugar beets are GMO.  You may wish to use only cane sugar.)

Our personal experience with using sugar to treat a wound is ongoing.  About a month ago, one of my daughter's French angora rabbits somehow got some fiber wrapped around his back leg and pulled tight.  By the time my daughter discovered this, he had chewed off hair and skin, we assume in an effort to relieve the pain associated with having the blood supply constricted.  Everything around his foot and up to an inch above his ankle was completely gone.  Because we couldn't ascertain the extent to which his circulation had been compromised, my husband and I gave him less than a 1% chance of survival.  Surely infection would set in.

We discussed options with our daughter, who of course was feeling horrible, it was all her fault, etc.  Coal didn't seem to be in pain, as long as we didn't touch that leg.  We could try to treat him, but we were sure he wouldn't make it.  Did she want to try?  She did.

We tried honey, once.  Honey and angora rabbits aren't a good mix anyway, and it was hard to get the honey on his foot without hurting him.  Next we tried a mixture of usnea, juniper, and yarrow.  In retrospect, I think I should have applied more than I did.  We had a hard time getting the wound powder to stay with the wound, even with bandaging.  During this entire time, the bunny was getting fresh greens from the yard, until hard freezes killed them, as well as usnea tincture in his water.  Rabbits are extremely sensitive and conventional antibiotics often do more harm than good.  Some healing was occurring, miraculously, but it also smelled bad--not gangrene bad, but still bad.

About eight days ago, we decided to try sugar.  That was the ticket.  We poured it on as best we could, trying to cover all sides.  We decided it was easier to dip his foot in a bowl of sugar.  The smell dissipated almost immediately.  We think healing has accelerated.  We're pretty sure he's going to make it.

(Update:  I write my blog posts about a month in advance.  I so wish we had taken pictures of Coal's foot and leg from the beginning, but I didn't think there was a point.  There was no way this bunny was going to survive.  However, survive he did and is doing.  I now think he had chewed off all his skin and was left with nothing but muscle and bone when we began treatment.  Today, seven or eight weeks after his injury, he has almost all his skin grown back.  And it's growing hair as well.  I'm still blown away by that.  I figured even if skin did grown back it would all be scar tissue and no hair at all.  He still has a few bandage changes in his future before he is fully healed, but man, what a difference.  I'm amazed.)

Below, I pasted in the link to the article as well the pertinent portions of the abstract.  I encourage you to read it.

Use of granulated sugar therapy in the management of sloughy or necrotic wounds: a pilot study.

In the in vitro studies three types of granulated sugar (Demerara, granulated beet sugar and granulated cane sugar) were tested to determine their minimum inhibitory concentrations (MICs) against 18 Gram-negative and Gram-positive bacteria in a micro-titre broth dilution assay; growth inhibition of Staphylococcus aureus, Escherichia coli and Pseudomonas aeruginosa in different concentrations of sugar (0.38-25%) was also tested over 12-hours in an agar diffusion assay. The pilot clinical study selected patients from a vascular surgical ward and a vascular outpatient department. All had acute or chronic exuding wounds, some of which were infected. White granulated sugar was applied to the wounds. The following parameters were assessed: surface area; wound characteristics including pain, malodour, appearance (slough/granulation); exudate level; pain level and bacterial load. Patients with diabetes had their blood sugar levels checked daily. All patients completed a short health questionnaire at the start and end of the study. Staff completed a satisfaction questionnaire at the end of the study. The study period was 21 days.

In vitro tests demonstrated that sugar inhibits bacterial growth. All three types of sugars had MICs ranging from 6-25% in the bacterial strains tested. The diffusion tests showed that strains were able to grow well in low concentrations of sugar but were completely inhibited in higher concentrations. The two granulated sugars were found to be slightly more effective than Demerara sugar, so the latter was excluded from the clinical pilot study. Twenty-two patients (20 inpatients and two outpatients) with sloughy or necrotic wounds were recruited into the clinical study. Two patients had MRSA and two had Staphylococcus colonisation at baseline. Blood sugar levels remained stable in the seven patients with insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus. All wounds were clean/debrided in a mean of 11.13 days. Pain and malodour reduced markedly. Patient and staff surveys revealed overwhelming support for the sugar therapy.

The pilot study achieved its aim of developing a protocol for a RCT. Preliminary data suggest that sugar is an effective wound cleansing and is safe to use in patients with insulin-dependent diabetes. In vitro studies demonstrate that sugar inhibits bacterial growth.

Copyright 2018, Jennifer Rader,

Saturday, December 22, 2018

Expanded Food Storage--Canning Bacon

Disclaimer: The FDA does not recommend canning bacon.  Why this is, I have never been able to find.  If you find a source or know why, please let us know in the comment box below.  That said, preppers have been canning bacon for years.  Do your own research and decide what is best for your family.

Potatoes grew extremely well for me our first year in Missouri, and so I did what any normal gardener would do the next year--I planted a whole lot more.  And we grew a whole lot more.  I canned a lot of them, but we still had bushels for eating throughout the fall and winter.  Potatoes were on the dinner menu every night.  And while I did include soups and casserole dishes, we also had a lot of baked potatoes.  Usually you can't go wrong with baked potatoes.  Most everybody enjoys them.  We always had salt, pepper, butter, grated cheddar cheese, and sour cream to dress them to our liking.  (Oh, and ketchup.  Some of the kids had to have ketchup.)

It was one of those years when we were trying to eat as much as possible only what we produced, not from economics but from the preparedness standpoint of wanting to see if we could grow what we needed and eat it.

And the children were getting tired of spud this and spud that.  So I opened a jar of canned bacon and briefly fried it to crisp it up and add to the table for topping baked potatoes. I was really surprised at what a difference it made to everyone.  And I realized we needed a lot more bacon in our preps.  For us, it has become one of those essential foods that can really make a difference and lift our spirits.

Like I mentioned above, I've been canning bacon for years.  Learn from my experience and can what you need or want for your family without waste.

Bacon Ends and Pieces

Let's begin with canning bacon ends and pieces.  It's fast and easy.

First off, you must have a pressure canner (no, you cannot substitute a pressure cooker).  You will process your canned bacon according to the instructions provided with your canner.

Second, you will need jars.  For my family of seven, I can bacon ends and pieces in four-ounce and eight-ounce jars.

Third, you will need the bacon.  Bacon ends and pieces are sold in 2.5- to 3-pound packages at Walmart and discount grocery stores and most larger chain grocery stores.  Most of the pieces are pure fat or pure meat with very little that actually looks like bacon strips.

When I started canning bacon ends and strips, I threw away a lot of fat.  Huge waste.  I got to thinking about it and realized that the fatty pieces should just be canned separately so that they could be rendered into bacon grease later.  So that's what I do now.  When canning bacon ends and pieces, I fill four-ounce and eight-ounce jars with mostly meaty pieces, eight-ounce jars with just fat, and eight-ounce jars with pieces that look more like bacon strips.  Nothing is wasted.

When it's time to make dinner, the meaty bacon will be crisped up in a frying pan.  Of course, the bacon has already been fully cooked in the pressure canner.  But you know how fabulous the smell of bacon frying is, and most people like their bacon toppings for potatoes, soup, and salad to be crisped up a little.

The canned bacon fat gets rendered into bacon grease as needed.  I use the grease for frying potatoes and hamburgers as well as making tortillas (subject of a future post).

The pieces that look more like bacon strips (and there never is that much of this kind in the packages I buy) get eaten like bacon.

Bacon Strips

Canning bacon strips take a little (or a lot) more time.  Most bacon-canning aficionados recommend using quart jars.  If you really need your bacon in full-length strips, then this is the way to go.  But if you don't, that's a heckuva lot of bacon, or a lot of wasted space if you don't fill the jar completely.  I can fit almost a pound of bacon in a pint jar, and that is plenty for my family of seven for most any meal.  Plan accordingly for your family.

Just as for canning bacon ends, you need a pressure canner.  You will also need the right jars, wide mouth pints or quarts.  Bacon may be safely canned in regular mouth jars, but it's a lot harder to get it in and out. A wide mouth pint jar will hold just under one pound of bacon strips.

You also need parchment paper.  Wax paper will not substitute and will not hold up to pressure canning.

For best results, partially brown bacon strips on low heat.  (Higher temperatures cause more curling of the bacon, making it harder to roll up the bacon and wasting space in the jar.)  Lay bacon strips side by side in the middle of the parchment paper.  Fold the ends of the parchment paper over the ends of the bacon strips.  Tightly roll up the bacon and parchment paper, like you would roll up a sleeping bag or cinnamon rolls, really making the roll as tight as possible.  Put bacon roll in your jar.  If it doesn't fit, remove one strip of bacon at a time until it does fit.

Canning Bacon

Fill your jars with bacon, leaving the appropriate amount of head space for the size of your jars.  Wipe the rims and threads of each jar very carefully with fresh paper towels and vinegar.  Vinegar cuts grease, and even the slightest bit of bacon grease on the rim of the jar will prevent a seal from forming.  I actually recommend wiping each jar twiceBacon grease can be very hard to eliminate.

Put the lids and bands on and place in your canner.  Process your jars of bacon according to instructions for your canner and your canning guide for processing ham.  

After processing and cooling on the counter overnight, wash jars and bands very well in soapy water, then dry, label, and store.

When the time comes, you will be so very grateful to have these little jars of culinary joy.

Copyright 2018, Jennifer Rader,

Friday, December 21, 2018

Basic Food Storage--Pantry Staple Substitutes Using Dry Milk

You know, with so many ways to incorporate powdered milk into everyday cooking and baking, there's really no excuse for not being able to rotate it, so there's no way it would be around long enough to go bad.  And with the crazy things happening in our world regarding food production, we can just feel more at peace using basic staples we have at home instead of relying on manufacturing, production, and transportation bases that will eventually disappear.

So here are some really great recipes for items we use everyday and some that get used only occasionally.

Evaporated Milk
Yields 12 oz

1 1/2 cups water
1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon dry milk

Blend very well in blender.

Sweetened Condensed Milk

1/2 cup boiling water
1 cup dry milk
2/3 cup sugar
3 tablespoons melted butter
1/8-1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Pour boiling water into blender.  Add in milk powder, sugar, and butter.  Blend on high one minute.  Add in vanilla and blend a few more seconds.

Whipped Topping

1 envelope unflavored gelatin
2 tablespoons cold water
1/4 cup boiling water
2/3 cup water
1 cup dry milk
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon lemon extract
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Sprinkle  gelatin over 2 tablespoons of cold water and let stand 3 minutes.  Add boiling water and stir until the gelatin is completely dissolved.  Cool to room temperature.

Place water and dry milk in a large mixer bowl and whip until soft peaks form.  It will take about 5 minutes.  Then add lemon juice and continue whipping until stiff peaks form.  Add sugar, oil, flavoring, and gelatin mixture gradually, scraping sides of bowl until well mixed.  Chill and it is ready to use.

Yields 8 oz

1 cup milk
1 tablespoon lemon juice or white vinegar

Mix and let stand 5-10 minutes before using.

Copyright 2018, Jennifer Rader,

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Tips and Tricks--15 cent Baking Rack for Your Dutch Oven

Sometimes when we're baking with our Dutch ovens, we want to create air space for circulation so that our food doesn't burn on the bottom before becoming thoroughly baked.  For thirty years, my husband and I have just crinkled foil to create a baking rack of sorts or inverted a pan.  I always hated doing using crumpled foil; it seemed like such a waste of foil, but I didn't just want to hang onto the foil either.  It takes up space and looks messy.  The inverted pan only worked if we had a pan that fit and that wasn't being used for any other purpose that meal.

Last month, my good friend Lorna shared a tip with me.  (I suppose, if she were a truly good friend, she would have shared this tip thirty years ago.)  Anyway, it's genius, simple, compact, and cheap.  It costs exactly fifteen cents.  To create a baking rack in her Dutch oven, Lorna uses fifteen pennies, three stacks of five pennies each.  Put them in an equilateral triangle configuration inside the Dutch oven, and set your baking pan on top.   When not in use, she keeps her pennies in a small container used for diabetic test strips; a prescription pill bottle would be just as good.

However, a caution came with it:  Only pre-1962 pennies were safe to use.  Something just didn't seem right about that to me.  My friend's husband is a banker and coin collector and explained that before 1962, pennies were 95 percent copper, with the remaining 5 percent made up of tin and zinc.  In 1962, the formula was changed to 95 percent copper and 5 percent zinc.  The issue apparently, was the amount of zinc being heated in the oven.  However, it seemed to me that a little alteration in the metal composition of the pennies shouldn't make that much difference.

So I asked my soon-to-be metallurgical engineer son what he could tell me.  When zinc is heated, enough to melt it, zinc oxide is formed.  Zinc oxide is used to fortify breakfast cereals.  It is added to anti-dandruff shampoo, sunscreen, and diaper rash creams.  The US FDA lists zinc oxide as GRAS (generally regarded as safe).

So what's the issue?  Well, breathing zinc oxide vapors is hazardous.  It causes metal fume fever.  But you can only generate zinc oxide vapors if you are welding or melting zinc or zinc alloys.  Even if you use more recently minted pennies, which are 97.5 percent zinc, they are all coated with copper.  No zinc is exposed. You are going to have to be generating some pretty serious heat to melt zinc.  If you've got that kind of heat (zinc melts at 787 degrees Fahrenheit) cooking your dinner, well, you're probably going to bed hungry, to say the least, and no one is ever going to let you cook anything again.

Copyright 2019, Jennifer Rader,

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Review--Home Storage Centers

By this stage of the game, most readers have probably heard mention somewhere of the Home Storage Centers operated by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  Some of you have probably visited.  But for those who have never visited or for whom it has been awhile, I thought I'd provide a review and information.

It used to be that people, regular people just like you and I, would schedule appointments to go into the cannery (as we used to call it) and fill out our order forms for the items we wished to purchase.  We signed in with our names and, if members of the Church, information about our ward and stake (where we attended church meetings).  There would usually be about half a dozen people, maybe more in times of higher demand.   (Like around election time when it looks like a Democrat is going to be elected president.  That's not a slam against Democrats, it's just the facts of the way some people think.)  The volunteers working there would then figure out exactly how much we customers needed to can, they gave instructions on how to operate the machinery properly, and we set to work.  An hour or so later, we finished the canning, cleaned up, paid for what we purchased, and loaded up.

We also had the option of buying any item the cannery sold in bulk bags, as well as borrowing a portable #10 canner to use at home and can anything we wanted.  My family and I loved doing that and it made for a great activity.  The children learned a little more about food storage and its importance, and we got to can some items that would be much appreciated treats--sugar cereals, candy, hot cocoa mix, etc.

However, due to government regulations, all that has changed in the vast majority of locations.   Now, there is no canner to borrow and only wheat can be purchased in bulk bags (even just a year or two ago we could also buy beans and, I think, carrots).  All the canning is done in Salt Lake City and then the items are shipped to the Home Storage Center locations around the US.  No one is asked to sign in.  If you pay in cash, you will remain perfectly anonymous.  You fill in your order form for as few or as many items as you wish to purchase, though if you wish to make a major purchase (like filling the bed of your pickup truck) you should call ahead to make sure everything is in stock.

This is the link to the current (January 2018) order form:

Home Storage Center Order Form

This is the link to the Home Storage Center locations and hours of operation:

Home Storage Center Locations

Always call in advance to make sure the schedule is current.

For those who have never visited a Home Storage Center, this is what you can expect:

As you walk in the door, a very nice person, usually a woman, will be seated behind the desk or counter and will greet you most cheerfully.  You'll be directed to fill out an order form, even if it is only for one item, and you will pay for your purchase as another volunteer or two load your items onto a cart.  They will then follow you to your car and load your purchases into your vehicle.  That's it!  And they're all very happy about helping you.

Please be aware that when demand is high, you may be limited in the amounts you are permitted to purchase.  Also, you do not have to be a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to buy anything.  No one will ask about your religious affiliation. 

So what if you are just too far away from a Home Storage Center?  What can you do?  Well, you also have the option of buying most items online (but only by the case) and having everything shipped directly to your home. To do this, go to and from the options across the top of the page, select "All Categories" at the far right.  One of the options on the drop down menu will be "Food Storage."  Click on that, and you'll see everything you can buy. The shipping is free, but the food costs substantially more.  And you can't request plain boxes, so the UPS driver knows exactly what you are getting.

I've been using the cannery and Home Storage Centers for over 30 years.  Never have I found a single bug in my food.  Everything has always been top-quality, though some items are not to my liking.  I do not like the texture of the refried beans, possibly because I am of Mexican descent (my Mexican grandmother's ancestors were in New Mexico before the Mayflower landed at Plymouth Rock).  I really don't like the instant potatoes (called potato pearls by some), but my family and apparently everyone at church does.  The potato flakes are just fine.  The hot cocoa is the best.

Most long-term storage food can definitely be purchased more inexpensively elsewhere, but you have to do the long-term packaging yourself, getting the buckets and cleaning them out, and adding the oxygen absorbers (and doing it properly).  So you're paying for the service and convenience.  It's nice to have everything uniform in size, in smaller cans that are more easily managed than larger buckets,  and in boxes that can be easily stacked. 

If you have a Home Storage Center close to you, check it out and try a few of their products.  I bet you'll be pleasantly surprised.

Copyright 2018, Jennifer Rader,

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Traditional Medicine: Acquiring Antibiotics

Disclaimer:  The following is for educational and informational purposes only.  No medication, prescription or over-the-counter, should be taken without consulting a licensed physician.

Sooner or later, those who choose to prepare for interesting times ahead wish to acquire some antibiotics.  We've all taken them at some point in our lives, and we know what a difference they make.  These wonder-drugs, some of the greatest medical advances ever, are often taken for granted and may someday become ineffective due to overuse and misuse.

But still, we want to have them on hand, so that a physician can treat us or our loved ones when the time comes.  The problem is, most people don't know what they want, or where to get it.

Dr Cynthia Koelker, author of Armageddon Medicine, recommends storing the following quantities of these antibiotics for a family for a year.1

Amoxicillin, 500 mg, 100
Amoxicillin-clavulanate (Augmentin), 500 mg, 100
Cephalexin, 500 mg, 100
Ciprofloxacin, 500 mg, 100
Doxycycline, 100 mg, 100
Erythromycin, 400-500 mg, 100
Metronidazole, 500 mg, 100
Penicillin, 500 mg, 100
Tetracycline, 500 mg, 100
Trimethoprim-Sulfa (Septra), 100

No, we should not need all these within a year, especially if we have stored good quality food and have good sanitation and hygiene practices in place.  But when you need a specific antibiotic, you might need a few courses of it for a few family members.  Also, while some antibiotics can be substituted for another, many cannot.  Don't just get one and plan on using it for everything. It won't work.  You are getting these antibiotics to have on hand for a licensed physician to administer appropriately.

So now, how do you go about acquiring antibiotics?

Ideally, you have a family physician with whom you have a good relationship and who understands the need to prepare.  These are getting harder and harder to find.  If you're looking for a new physician who will share your ideas about preparing and be willing to help you (after you have established a good relationship with him/her), you are going to have your best chances with an older physician who maintains paper, not electronic, records.  Good luck.

Sometimes you can get your physician to prescribe an antibiotic for just in case.  Like you take your child in to see him with what is probably only a bad sore throat, but it could be strep.  If the child is not feeling better in a day or two, he gives you a prescription to fill.  (Make sure you get pills instead of syrups--pills have a much longer shelf life.)  Or you are planning to travel and ask for a prescription or two to deal with diseases you might encounter and wish to avoid ruining your trip with a case of traveler's diarrhea.

Do not try to build your antibiotic supply by not taking the full course of antibiotic therapy when it is prescribed.  One reason for the rise in antibiotic resistance is that people do not finish the course of treatment, the bad bacteria making you sick are not wiped out, and superbugs develop resistance and emerge.

Most readers have heard of fish antibiotics.  These are not made out of fish and they are not fed to fish, especially in the same dosages that are used for people.  They are designed to be added to aquariums to treat specific bacterial infections in fish.  Although you cannot purchase antibiotics for people or non-aquarian pets in the US without a prescription, for some reason we still have a loophole in this country that allows these very same antibiotics to be sold over-the-counter for aquarium use.  Most of these fish antibiotics are of the same quality and dosage as antibiotics for people.  It is illegal to sell these medications to treat infections in people or pets.  The FDA has been cracking down on retailers, especially those marketing these products to people who clearly are not obtaining them to keep their pet fish healthy.

There are still a few aquarium and survival supply stores that sell these fish antibiotics online.  Amazon and Walmart did until a few years ago, but certainly not now.  Another place to obtain fish antibiotics is at your local ranch and feed store.  They cost a bit more at the feed store, but you can pay with cash, so there's no paper trail for anyone to follow.

If you're uncomfortable with the idea of using fish antibiotics, you can make a trip across the border, north or south.  I've never done this, so I have no experience and can't comment on the process.  Your other option, and, unless you live right near the border, a lot easier, is to order from an overseas pharmacy.  I've used All Day Chemist ( several times.  Their medications are all for use in people.  And their prices are extremely reasonable, unlike many other overseas pharmacies.  While the website indicates that you need a prescription, the people there tend to be flexible, especially if you use an e-check as opposed to a credit card.  There is a downside, unfortunately.  Once you place an order, your phone number is on their list and they want to make sure you are getting all your meds in a timely manner.  So they will call you frequently. If possible, use a burner phone or find someone in the family who doesn't use their phone a lot and won't be bothered by their sales calls.
Regardless of what method you choose to obtain your antibiotics, you probably want to do it soon.  Our government has shown a certain propensity for making responsible self-reliance difficult for people.  You never know what they'll do next.

1.  Dr. Cynthia Koelker, Armageddon Medicine, 549-550.

For more information: