Friday, December 28, 2007

Friday, December 14, 2007

Take Your Medicine

And still more milestones. In my ten year tenure as a mother, this is my first encounter with the dreaded ear infection. We were driving down the road into town to run errands when Princess announced that she needed her ears squirted out when we got home. She elaborated that there was a gnat inside her ear that was causing her ear to "boom." I got cold shivers when I heard that because it so aptly described what I remember ear infections being like when I was her age. And when I was her age, I got them all the time. I was one of those of that generation who got tubes in their doctor described what lurked in my inner ear as "airplane glue." Nice, huh?

I know that antibiotics are the normal course of events in most protocols for dealing with ear infections, despite the fact that the cure rate for sitting it out is almost identical to the cure rate for prescribing. Well, put me in the wait-it-out school of fish then. The more I read about antibiotics, the more I want to save it for things like tuberculosis and bubonic plague and not on frivolity like keeping cattle being fed a biologically inappropriate diet alive long enough to slaughter. Stephen Harrod Buhner talks about the overuse of antibiotics in his book, Herbal Antibiotics: Natural Alternatives for Treating Drug-Resistant Bacteria, pp. 8-9. Particularly riveting was his description of how bacteria become resistant to antibiotics. "As incredible as (their) capacity for literally engineering responses to antibiotics and passing it on to their offspring is, bacteria do something else that makes them even more amazing and dangerous. They communicate intelligently with each other." He goes on to explain how bacteria position themselves alongside each other and pass DNA back and forth, the resistant bacterium sharing its immunity with the naive one. As if this wasn't alarming enough, the resistant bacteria exudes pheromones that attract non-resistant bacteria to them in order to share this resistance. And exposure to only one kind of antibiotic lays in motion the chain that teaches the bacteria to be resistant to all antibiotics. It is believed that by these mechanisms, eventually all bacteria will be antibiotic resistant. To all antibiotics.

So it becomes clear why avoiding the use of antibiotics seems like a good idea, particularly in such ambiguous situations as a 50/50 chance of improving by not doing anything. And Buhner gives some pretty good suggestions about herbal alternatives that can be applied without risk of increasing bacteria resistance. While we wait and see how things with Princess' ears will progress, I dose her with garlic, licorice, ginger, and echinacea. While I was running errands, I picked up some mullein and garlic oil drops to put inside her ears and dose with that.

And, of course, there is the old traditional standby...chicken soup. Tool Guy tells me that before we got married, he hated chicken soup. Dunno what he'd been eating before, but when I whipped up my first batch of the homemade variety, he was hooked. He is an admitted chicken soup addict. Actually, all of the Hobbits are. With cold weather settled in outside and bronchitis settled in at least one set of lungs inside, we're swizzling the chicken soup. And now Princess' ear infection. Well. Nothing for it, then. Time to take your medicine.

Chicken Soup
(Or as Bug calls it "Chicken Noodle Doodle Soup")

2 whole chickens, quartered
4-5 carrots, bias sliced
1 lb. sliced mushrooms...anyone who has read Tolkien knows that Hobbits adore mushrooms, right?
1 bunch green onions, bias sliced
4-5 stalks celery, bias sliced
1 tsp. sweet basil
1/2 tsp. sage
1/2 tsp. thyme
1/4 tsp. rosemary
2 bay leaves
Black pepper to taste
2 tsp. Real Salt
1 gallon of water

In the largest stock pot you can manhandle on your stove, set the water and chicken to boil. (If you're in a hurry, this process can be shortened to 20 minutes or so in a pressure cooker.) Bundle herbs into a coffee filter and staple closed. Add this herbal sachet, salt, and pepper to the chicken while it boils. After the chicken is cooked, remove pieces into a bowl and allow to become cool to the touch in order to debone. Meanwhile, strain the broth through a cheesecloth and return to a clean stock pot. Place all of the vegetables into the broth and return to a boil, cooking until just tender. Debone the meat and return to broth. (Be sure to save the bones to make bone broth later!) Serve over hot pasta and enjoy!

Friday, December 7, 2007

Come Fill the Cup

Bug and I are having this repetitive, back and forth conversation about winter. Somewhere along the line, he got it locked into his red little head that Winter begins on December 1st. Every day during the month of November, he would run to the calendar and announce how many "days remaining until Winter." Every day, I'd have to remind him that Winter officially begins December 21-22, not the December 1st. It probably doesn't matter, because when you're this age and in this part of the country, Winter really begins when it snows. And Breatharian, it has snowed...on December 1st. So Bug feels quite vindicated.

We even had our first activity canceled on account of snow. Pity. It was a church dinner and I made the Autumnal Beef Stew with some killer alterations...Campbell's Soup, look out! It didn't go to waste though; all of the Hobbits made short order of it. Even I managed to snag a bowl or two.

We've had our first weather-related power outage of the season. Almost in synch with Tool Guy's morning exit at 7:00a, I heard our neighbor's burglar alarm go off. Squinting in the direction of the clock, I was greeted with a darkened face. Yep. Power's out. Tool Guy had cleared a path to lug the generator up the hill, but with snow and ice since, it was a tricky proposition. Still, I managed. Welcome Winter...whatever the date!

BK--Before Kids--I was quite disciplined about my Christmas regimen. Thanksgiving Day, the tree went up. December 1st, cards went out. Gifting chores done way ahead of time. That kind of thing. Needless to say, this schedule as suffered the predations of time and the vicissitudes of motherhood. I was bemoaning the schedule for the next few weeks to another mom at our homeschooling co-op and how busy things were going to be. She placidly replied, "Only as busy as you let it be." Know what? She's right. I think I'm going to notch it down this year. More snow flurries are coming down and in celebration of winter, I'm making a great old standby that fills me with some of that magical, healing soup broth. Quick, easy, filling, nutritious, and most importantly for the chronically cold: warming!

Egg Drop Soup

1-2 quarts bone broth
2 cups bone broth, kept separate
2-4 T tapioca starch (depending on desired thickness)
2-4 eggs, scrambled with a fork
Pepper, optional

Tapioca starch is probably the best substitute I've found for cornstarch. So heat 2 cups of the broth just until liquid and dissolve the tapioca starch into the broth. The remaining broth bring to a rolling boil, stirring in the well-mixed broth/tapioca starch mixture. Stir until the whitened soup becomes translucent. When the soup returns to a rolling boil, slowly drizzle in the eggs, stirring constantly until the strings of egg are completely cooked. Grind fresh pepper over the top to taste and enjoy!

The tree isn't up yet--I'm shooting for this weekend. I've recused myself from Christmas card obligations for the remainder of my existence. And Tool Guy did all the major shopping in October. All that remains is for me to make up a few more tote bags, rice bags, and the Roman soldiers' armor for the co-op play. I'm thinking cardboard shapes glued to a fabric tunic and some metallic paint. What'da ya think? Oh, yeah, and I need to replace the zipper in Dog's snow suit. After's past December's snowing...must be Winter!