Monthly Archives: November 2008

A horrible tragedy and a light in the middle of it

In the recent terrorist attacks in Mumbai, India, the Chabad House (a religious Jewish center) was one of the targeted locations.  Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg, hy”d, his wife, Rivka hy”d, and their toddler son were among the hostages taken.  Both parents were killed before the Indian commandos stormed the building. 

The small light in the middle of this horrible tragedy was that their little boy was saved.  The woman who cooked for the organization and often took care of their toddler was in the building when it was stormed, and she locked herself into a room as she heard the gunshots.  After twelve hours, it was quiet, and she heard the little boy crying.  She risked leaving her room – can you imagine the courage that took, to venture out, not knowing where the terrorists were, and to risk the safety of her undiscovered location? -and followed the sound to a different floor in the building, where she saw four unconscious bodies, and next to them, the crying baby with bloodstains on his pants.

She quickly grabbed him and managed to safely get out of the building.  The baby, Moshe, turned two years old today.  It horrifies me to think of a tiny child like that not only losing both parents, but for the rest of his life, his birthday will mark the anniversary of when he was saved, but when they were killed as well.

Moshe was the youngest of three children, the oldest who died of a degenerative disease earlier this year, and the second child is critically ill and in a hospital in Israel.  It’s hard for me to fathon the suffering of this young couple (they were 29 and 28), and I can only find the tiniest measure of comfort because of my belief that a merciful G-d runs the world and that there is a reason for everything, no matter how it seems to me.  But my heart is heavy.

May their memories be a blessing, and may H-shem give the parents, relatives, and friends of this very special young couple comfort.

Avivah

Shopping fun

Today is Black Friday, a major shopping day, but you won’t find me in any stores!  I don’t particularly enjoy shopping in retail stores (unless their prices are extremely low), and shopping in crowded retail stores ranks way up there with getting a tooth pulled as far as things I’d choose to do for fun.  But lots of people seem to enjoy it and if you’re one of them, I hope you find/found lots of bargains!

Yesterday I did some ‘shopping’ that was more in the line of things I enjoy.  Someone was moving and had some items that they didn’t want to take to their new home, though everything was in great shape.  It’s so fun to get things that are useful for our family, and know that the person giving them away is happy to have them go to a good home.  The woman I got the items from told me that she really doesn’t want to throw the things away, but she’s moving today and can’t take more time to find people who can use these things, so they’d be going into the garbage if someone hadn’t claimed them by last night.

So what did I get?  

  • A beautiful solid wood rocking airplane, the perfect size for a toddler to play on – I’m going to give it to my baby and toddler for Chanuka; we kept it in the van until he took a nap and then snuck it up to the attic (it’s big enough to be hard to hide). 
  • a new looking good quality floral apron – that will go to one of my daughters for Chanuka (I got one of them a nice one last year, and though they all have functional aprons – read, solid colors – it’s nice to have something pretty and functional!)
  • Two sets of oven mitts (my kids suggested I buy some just last week when we were in the store, since I don’t have any); one set will be for dairy, one for meat.
  • Lots of good quality hangers, including skirt hangers, coat hangers, and suit hangers – and one tie hanger- this will help the kids use their closet space more efficiently, and we’ll get rid of any cheap wire hangers that have been in there until now.  And the solid wood coat hangers will support some of the heavy winter coats well.
  • A large bag of spices and canned foods
  • Two lucite canisters for storage items, one new in the box
  • Gauze pads, alcohol, bandaids (I have hardly any first aid items in my house and am glad to add something to the little I have)
  • Two large bottles of mouthwash, one hardly used, the other new
  • A gilt frame picture that looks great in my bathroom and replaced something else that was too overpowering (I didn’t realize how overpowering until I took it down and replaced it with this)
  • Matching cup and toothbrush holder for my bathroom – cream and gold, and together with the above picture have added a classier look to the bathroom
  • Three beautiful oil paintings for my living room – all gold frames, one large one and two smaller matching ones.  My living room walls have been bare except for one picture (which I took down today) since we moved here over two years ago.  I wasn’t sure how they’d look, but the colors in the paintings matched my couches, and the price was right to take the chance so I brought them home with me.  :)  The pictures we used to have didn’t match the couches we got when we moved here, which is why the walls have been basically empty, but these look SO nice! 
  • An old cookbook of nutritious recipes – I’ll look through it and get some ideas.
  • A wire strainer that will be perfect for straining curds when making cheese
  • A shaitel head and pins

 And while I was there, she mentioned in passing that she was selling her toaster and food processor, and was I interested?  I have absolutely no use for a toaster that holds two slices of bread, since we toast panfuls of bread at a time!  But since my food processor blade broke recently (do you get a sense I’ve been on a roll with kitchen appliances breaking?! – and I didn’t tell you that a couple of days ago, the glass lid broke on the electric cooker I use every single day!), I’ve been limited in the vegetable dishes I’ve been making because the shredding is too time intensive without it and a food processor was very high on my list of wants.  I didn’t want to spend the money for a new one, but couldn’t buy a used one for kashrus reasons, and a food processor is something I use all the time, so though I’m reluctant to call it a need, it really is a huge help for me.  After three or four weeks of doing without it, I finally told my daughter on Wednesday night that we’d have to take out the Pesach food processor and use that, and just deal with getting a new one for Pesach when the time came.  My daughter really didn’t like that idea – somehow, if it’s been designated for Pesach, that makes it special and she didn’t want me to do it.  But what do you know?  The very next morning, before I took out the Pesach one, H-shem sent me to the home of someone giving these things away, who ‘happened’ to mention she had just what I needed for sale, a hardly used kosher food processor for just $20! Don’t you just love how everything ‘happens to happen’?

This was my kind of shopping fun!  

Avivah

Happy Thanksgiving!

I hope everyone has had a wonderful Thanksgiving so far!  We don’t usually make a Thanksgiving dinner – I grew up with my mom making Thanksgiving type foods for the Shabbos immediately after Thanksgiving, and that’s what I’ve tended towards.  But my inlaws do make Thanksgiving dinner, so for the last three years that they’ve lived here, we’ve had the meal with them at their home.

This year my mother in law unfortunately wasn’t feeling up to it, and asked us if we’d make everything if she’d bring the turkey.  I had such a very, very full week and I felt putting all of this into my plans would really push me more than I wanted to be pushed.  But this is a big deal for them, and as much as I really didn’t want the burden of taking on something that isn’t a priority for me in any way, I felt it was the right thing to do. (Note – I’m hesitant to write this because I feel very strongly that women need to learn to recognize their limitations and learn to say ‘no’, stop worrying what everyone else will think and do what is right for them.  I overrode myself in this case for the sake of family peace – it would have been a big withdrawal from the relationship if I had said I couldn’t do it.)

All of the kids got involved in preparing today – the house needed a lot of organizing because of my full day shopping trip on Tuesday (all that food to organize and find space for!).  We got home in the evening, and were out all yesterday afternoon (my older girls led a cheesemaking workshop for our homeschool group), so it couldn’t be done sooner.  So add up house that is a disaster and lots of cooking.  And I didn’t mention that we’re having a family of ten for Shabbos lunch, did I?  :)

But because of how we split everything up, none of us felt pressured, and we ended up having a nice day getting ready together.  It was a very busy day, but it was manageable.  Early in the day, I made it clear to my kids that my priority was a calm and pleasant home environment, and that making a nice dishes wasn’t worth it to me if it meant anyone would get tense about it.  Here’s the menu we ended up with:

  • clover leaf dinner rolls (dd14 made a double challah recipe and used half of it for this)
  • turkey and gravy – courtesy of my mil
  • green salad (lettuce, tomatoes, cukes, lemon) – dd14
  • carrot salad (shredded carrots and pineapple) – carrots peeled by dd8 and I think ds9, shredded and put together by dd12
  • sweet potato pie – made by my mom
  • sweet potato casserole – made by my mom for those in our home who don’t eat sugar or wheat
  • mashed potatoes – made by my 9.5 year old son
  • white asparagus with mushrooms – dd12
  • cornbread stuffing – made by my mom
  • fresh cranberry-orange relish – dd14
  • baked yams – made by my 6 year old
  • gingerbread cookies, a pan full plus a bunch shaped like gingerbread men – dough made by dd14, rolled and cut into shapes by ds6, dd8, ds9
  • pumpkin pie – made by dd12
  • and a bowl full of clementines accompanied dessert

As I wrote that all out, I realized that my oldest son was nowhere in the picture, and he in fact was doing work for me all day, but it was outside of the kitchen realm!  All of the kids were doing cleaning and organizing throughout the day, but I don’t want it to seem that my big hulking son was nowhere around.  My husband was working and got home at 5 pm, and I was overseeing and coordinating everyone (oh, and canning butter – I needed room in the freezer to put the frozen vegetables I bought :)).

 When I told my husband I would agree to host the meal, I told him that I felt it is important to have a meal that focuses on gratitude, especially on Thanksgiving, not just to sit around together and have nothing but the quality or quantity of the food to talk about.  Gratitude is something we really try to integrate into our way of looking at the world, and I think that gratitude for the many blessings in our lives is the real message of Thanksgiving.  So to have the meal and not talk at all about all the gifts we’ve been granted, particularly as citizens of the US, is missing the point.

After my husband talked a little about the significance of Thanksgiving, and the Jewish concept of gratitude, we throughout the meal went from one person to another to give everyone a chance to share things they were grateful for.  (Our guests were my inlaws, mother, and friend of my mother.)   I feel so grateful to live in a country where we have religious freedom, tremendous abundance (even for those of us on the super frugal scale, we have so much more than those in other countries), and for my wonderful family. 

I grew up not seeing my grandparents often, and it’s a source of great joy to me that my children have the opportunity to know and spend time with our parents, who have all moved here in the last few years.  Yes, sometimes there are challenges in getting along with everyone, but there’s something so special about it that I feel it’s worth all of the challenges.

I hope all of you celebrating had a meaningful and enjoyable Thanksgiving!

Avivah

What to do with mushrooms on sale?

A few days ago I was in the vegetable store, and saw mushrooms on sale for $1 a pound.  I don’t know if that’s cheap where you live, but around here, that’s a pretty good deal, so I got a bunch of them.

But you know how mushrooms are – they’re very perishable.  And if they’re on sale, it’s because they’re not at the top of the freshness line.  If you keep them in the bag you bought them in, they get slimy and you end up throwing away all of them, and if you take them out, they shrivel up and dry.  So you really need a plan to deal with them when you buy them.

Here’s what I did:  as much as I enjoy fresh mushrooms in salad, I wouldn’t need many for that, and what I would use them most would be in cooked dishes.  I chopped up several cloves of garlic, a couple of onions, and sauteed them together.  Then I added all of the mushrooms (I chopped them up first), and added it to the onions and garlic. When they were all nice and soft, I turned them off. 

This mixture is a perfect addition to soups, pilafs, and casseroles.  I put them into the small bags, sized according to what I think I’ll use it for.  Then they go into the freezer.  Anytime I want a nice addition to my meal, I can just pop them out of the freezer and into the pot.  And today, since some was still in the fridge, I got to use them to make a delicious vegetable dish for Thanksgiving. 

Avivah

Boosting immune function for kids

Although I have the ability to, I don’t do much tracking of my blog traffic.  I periodically glance at the numbers, but since my intent when starting to blog is share things I’ve found helpful with other moms, whether the numbers are staggeringly huge or staggeringly small, as long as someone is helped by something, then to me it’s worth my time here.

Sometimes I wonder, though, about when I see huge spikes in traffic, like today, how did you find this blog?  There are currently blog readers from all over the U.S., as well as the U.K, Canada, Israel, Brazil, Colombia, and Australia – isn’t that nice?  I don’t know how people find their way here, but however it happens, it’s nice to have you all there! 

With the winter quickly approaching, if not already here for most of us, I thought you might find it helpful if I shared some ways to boost immune funtion for children.  Winter too often is a time of non stop visits to doctors, sniffles, coughs, if not worse.  We can’t always ward off everything, but there are ways to strengthen our children’s systems so that they are less susceptible, or if they do catch something, to help it run its course faster or for a shorter intensity.

There are two aspects to this: what you do before your child is ill, and what you do once his is feeling unwell.  The biggest thing I think a parent as regards to prevention is to boost the nutritional quality of the child’s diet, and limit sugar consumption.  Sugar lowers the immune function for something like thirty minutes after eating it, and is connected to a host of other bad things.  Along with this I’d suggest taking out as many artificial preservatives and additives that you can.  None of these do anything positive for your health. 

Here are some more specific suggestions that we’ve found helpful:

Chicken soup – this isn’t just an old wive’s tale – it’s been tested in laboratories and found that there’s a natural penicillin like quality about chicken soup.  Not only does it taste great, it’s warm and soothing, and makes a person pychologically feel better after drinking it.  It’s also a great way to get some solid nutrients into a child who doesn’t feel like eating anything. 

Echinacea – echinacea is great to take when you’re feeling unwell, but shouldn’t be used as an ongoing health support.  I prefer not to use chewables because of the sugar content, but I do use the echinacea leaves in the Supertonic tincture I make (look in recipes category if you missed it and are interested), and have more loose leaves to brew into a tea if I feel it would be helpful. 

Liquid Advantage concentrate – grapefruit seed extract – I have a friend who swears by this – she gives her daughter four drops every morning before she goes to school.  She told me that whenever she forgets it, her daughter gets sick.  I have another friend who is extremely knowledgeable about natural healing, who also uses this all the time – when she sent her daughter to stay with us for a couple of days several years ago, she sent along a bottle of this with her.  The taste is pretty strong (horrible, my kids would say :)) so either drink it with some juice or be prepared to kill the flavor left in your mouth with a cracker or something like it afterwards. 

Vitamin C – I prefer to use sodium ascorbate (SA), and since almost all of the kids (and adults) vitamin c tablets or chewables are in a different form I don’t use them.  I buy the powdered form and put it in some juice for them.  They are best taken with bioflavanoids for ideal absorption, but my kids don’t like the look or taste of the powdered bioflavanoids that I bought (neither do I!) so the bioflavanoids have ended up sitting in my cabinet, mostly unused.  I use very large doses of SA as soon as one of the kids is feeling under the weather, but don’t use it much otherwise.  There’s no problem with taking it daily, it’s just that I don’t do it. 

Garlic – I sometimes think the smell alone of garlic could drive away germs, but seriously, it’s a powerful antibiotic and can be easily used in cooking to a health advantage.  It can be added to chicken soup, roasted, or sauteed, but is most potent eaten raw – chopped up and added to a salad or some yogurt is the easiest thing (I remember having yogurt, raw chopped garlic, and honey when I was a kid).  I have to confess that although I like the taste and smell of garlic, once it’s on my child’s breath I can’t stand it.  I literally have to turn my head away when they come too close to me.  I would use this with caution only as a point of sensitivity to those around you.  So around here, I stick to cooked garlic, and again, it’s one of the Supertonic ingredients. 

Apple cider vinegar – by this, I only mean raw, and the only one I know of that fits the bill is Bragg’s.  You can find it in your local health food store, and I’ve seen it recommened for a variety of things.  A tablespoon of this vinegar added to a warm cup of water with a tablespoon of honey, first thing in the morning, is the perfect way to take it. 

Cod liver oil – this is something that has been used for many generations, and there’s a good reason for it!  Fish oil is also good, but cod liver oil is the best.

Probiotics – if your child has been on antibiotics at any point, it’s killed some of the beneficial bacteria in the gut along with whatever the disease killing bacteria there was.  Probiotics are crucial for healthy immune systems – yogurt and kefir are great sources and are easily purchased in the store.  Make sure it says it has acidophilus in it. 

Many moms are scrupulous about hand washing and keeping their kids out of germy places.  I’m not one of them.  Being homeschoolers, they aren’t exposed on a daily basis to all the stuff kids in schools are, but even before we homeschooled, our kids were sick much, much less than their friends.  If someone tells me before a playdate that their child or one of the child’s siblings has a cold, it usually wouldn’t concern me enough to keep the kids from playing with him.  Usually – unless I already saw that one of our kids was feeling sick, in which case I wouldn’t be rushing to have my kids playing with other children and spreading germs.  I’m not picky about others spreading it to me, but I do try to be careful about not spreading anything to others. 

I think that anti-bacterial cleansers and hand wipes sound like a better idea than they are, and don’t use them.  We need to have a certain amount of germs in our lives, or we wouldn’t have a chance to develop immunity!  I remember reading several years ago that there was a link between asthma and kids growing up in very sterile environments – to which I laughed and said that wouldn’t be a problem in our home!

By the way, all of these are helpful for adults, too!  I hope some of these suggestions give you a starting point for this winter.   May this be a winter of health for us all!

Avivah

Gift cards for the holidays

I’ll admit it, I’m not a big fan of gift cards.  I feel like they force you to spend your money in a store that you might not otherwise shop in, paying prices you might not otherwise pay.  I’d personally rather have the cash to spend where and how I like – and I can always get alot more if given the money than the person could have bought or I could get at the chosen store.  We were given a generous gift after our last baby was born, and I really wanted a new set of dishes.  But the store we were given the card to had very expensive dishes, and not the kind I wanted.  I ended up getting dishes, but not what I really wanted, and certainly not for the money spent. 

But my post isn’t about telling you to give cash this holiday season – it’s to warn you to be careful about giving gift cards so that your recipients won’t lose out.  A number of large retailers are set to close down very soon, most of them by January 2009.  If you are given a gift card, spend it right away!  And if you really want to give a gift card, give one from somewhere that isn’t as at risk – the kind of stores that come to mind are Walmart and Target, Home Depot (though they are planning to close fifteen stores, they’ll still be around).

Avivah

Dehydrating herbs

Last week, I finally turned my attention to the herbs that were still waiting to be harvested from my garden.  Honestly, I am such an irresponsible gardener – I plant things like herbs with no plan how to use them, no idea when to harvest them, and just let them sit there for weeks.  After doing some reading on herbal healing these last couple of weeks, I was inspired to pick them, since I realized that unbeknownst to me, I had medicinal herbs growing right in my garden all this time!  It’s so true what Hippocrates said, about, “Let food be your medicine and medicine be your food” – particularly with herbs, they are one and the same.  I got them picked just in time – later that night, we had our first snow.

All you really have to do to dry herbs is tie them together loosely and hang them upside down, but with eight kids home all day, I have enough visual clutter I’m constantly trying to keep at bay without having little bundles all around my kitchen, dropping little pieces all over my floor and counter!  Since I now that I have a dehydrator, I have a neater solution!

The Excalibur dehydrators come with a setting for drying herbs, and after instructing the child picking the herbs to be very careful to keep them all separate, I asked another child to rinse them off and put them in the dehydrator.  Sometimes I kick myself for forgetting to give a child a reminder that would have saved time and aggravation, and the next day was one of those days.  Because I neglected to mention to the child putting the herbs in the dehydrator that each kind should go on its own shelf – it seemed self explanatory to me, but that’s because I’m an adult.  :)

So when I removed everything from the dehydrator, I saw four or five kinds of green leafy herbs mixed together on the trays.  Do you know how similar herbs look when they’re dried to the untrained (read: my) eyes?!  Anyway, we sorted them through as best as we could, leaving all of those that we couldn’t figure out in a pile, and after crushing that pile, called it Italian herb blend.  :)

It wasn’t a huge amount of spices, but it’s nice to have our own organically grown parsley, basil, thyme, oregano, and sage on hand!

Avivah

Time to start thinking about gardening

This past summer was the first time I had a garden, and I have to confess that it wasn’t extremely successful.  It was a good learning experience, though, and I enjoyed the feeling of being outdoors and doing something timeless and real.  Gardening is something that takes knowledge and skill, and I had very little of that when I started out.  And because I didn’t give any thought to having a garden until May, I was at a disadvantage for starting out late.

If crops don’t have to be planted until May or June, what possible disadvantage could there be?  Soil quality.  We built raised beds and purchased standard garden soil and hummus, but that wasn’t enough to create a rich growing soil for our plants.  Sure, we got zucchini, tomatoes, green beans, peppers, onions, spices, etc – but the yield was very unimpressive. 

Since this is the time of year when you can easily and cheaply get free materials to enrich your garden, now’s the time to think about it!  What I’m referring to are the huge number of leaves that are being bagged in every neighborhood and waiting to be collected.  Leaves are a fantastic compost ingredient – compost needs a mix of moist/green and dry/brown items, and leaves provide the dry/brown part of the mix.  Your regular kitchen scraps (vegetable scraps, not meat or bones) provide the green. 

Since we now have a compost tumbler, the kids filled it with lots of leaves from our yard (after building a huge pile in and spending days doing tumbling tricks head over heels into the pile – ‘Mommy, we’re drowning in leaves!’), and we’ll continue to add kitchen scraps to it.  (Prior to this our compost consisted of mostly green, which meant that it had a smell and flies around it in the summer – though since it was outside in the yard, it wasn’t a problem for us.  But if we had more brown matter in it, this wouldn’t have happened.)  But if you don’t have a tumbler, or even a compost pile, you can still benefit from the leaves.

All you have to do is dump them on top of the area where you plan to garden next year.  If you can chop them up (by running a mower over them) then it will break down much faster than entire leaves, but plain leaves are good, too.  Someone told me last week that he was amazed at how rich his soil was this past year, and all he did was dump leaves on top of his garden spot and let them sit. 

I’m hoping to expand our garden for the next season (and will do a lot more reading and learning in the winter/early spring so I’ll be more prepared this time!), so I had the kids spread cardboard in those areas (to kill weeds/grass), and then cover it with leaves.  As the season goes on, the leaves will break down, and I can till them into the ground before planting if I want.  Though being a person who doesn’t want to do work that seems extraneous, I’ll probably just leave them on top.  :)

This is actually very similar to the idea of ‘lasagna gardening’. I heard about it this year as a cheap way to build your garden soil, but after learning more about it, realized that while it didn’t take much time, money, or effort – but did take advance thought and planning.  The premise of lasagna gardening is that you build layers on top of the area where you plan to garden of things that will break down and enrich the soil.  I think she suggested starting with newspaper, followed by grass clippings, leaves, compost – whatever you have will break down over time.  The book is Lasagna Gardening; check your library for it if you’re interested.

If you’re in an area where lawns are still being mowed, grass clippings are an incredible fertilizer.  A couple of months ago I was walking down my block when the lawn service was taking care of a neighbor’s yard.  I saw he was almost finished bagging all of the clippings, so I asked if I could take both large black bags home for my garden.  He was happy to give them to me – in fact, he was going to carry them all the way home for me.  :)  I dumped those on top of the garden and a bunch more on top of my compost pile (not to be confused with the tumbler – the pile came before the tumbler), but that was all I got for the season because I do actually have a pretty full life and not much time to actively scout for bags of grass clippings :).  If you do this, only use clippings from grass that wasn’t chemically treated.  I saw afterwards in a Mother Earth article that grass clippings are considered one of the very best soil fertilizers, but because they break down so quickly, they can’t be packaged and sold in retail stores, so most of us would never know how good they are!

Avivah

Natural wart remedies

I mentioned in passing a couple of weeks ago that I bought thuja, a homeopathic wart remedy, because my 2.5 year old has several very small warts that I wanted to take care of.  But thuja actually wasn’t my first choice of remedies; it was more like a back up because I ran out of what I really wanted to use.

I’ve read a number of idea to take care of warts, and they all seem to be based on the same principle.  Cover the wart with the substance of your choice, cover it with a cotton ball or bandaid, and repeat daily until wart is gone.  The ideas I’ve seen suggested range from those I wouldn’t be interested in using – cover it with nail polish or duct tape (ouch!), to other ideas that seem like much better options.  They include covering the wart with: oil from vitamin E caps, raw apple cider vinegar, or a slice of cut onion.  But what I used and was very impressed by was vitamin C, in the form of powdered sodium ascorbate. 

We made a paste of the powder with a tiny bit of water, covered two warts with it to test it, and then covered it with a bandaid.  That night, when we peeled the bandaid away, the warts were almost entirely gone!  It was really amazing.  Okay, they weren’t huge warts, but they were warts, and I didn’t expect anything that fast.  One more application and they would have been entirely gone.  But we used the last scrapings of sodium ascorbate (SA) that we had to do this (and I don’t recommend using the commonly found form of vitamin C, citric acid- I think it would be too acidic), and since I buy the SA online, I knew I couldn’t just run out and buy more.  (I buy the medical grade sodium ascorbate from Bronson Lab, in the kilo container – I don’t know if they have smaller containers or not.)  Hence my purchase of the thuja. 

When I was about eight years old, I had a wart on my foot, and my mother got rid of it by applying nightly poultices of hot cornmeal.  I don’t know where she got the idea from – I thought she told me years ago that she saw it in Back to Eden by Jethro Kloss, but when I looked it up there recently, I didn’t see it.  Anyway, wherever she got it from, it worked.  I seem to remember that she heated the cornmeal with some water, until it was very hot, and then put it inside a bag.  She put a towel over my foot, then put the hot cornmeal poultice over the towel (it would have burnt the skin without the towel there), then covered it with a towel again.  She left it on for a few minutes, until it started cooling down, I think.  Amazing how so many years later I can remember it.  Anyway, I don’t remember how many applications it took, but the wart disappeared and there’s absolutely no sign to show there was ever anything there. 

On the other hand, my sister had warts when she was about ten or eleven, and used over the counter wart medicine which was supposed to burn it off; it was painful for her to use.  I remember it leaving white marks on her skin, and after it all, the warts came back.  I definitely would try any and all of the above natural remedies before using any over the counter wart medication.

Believe it or not, I keep forgetting to order the sodium ascorbate, which is an important anti-cold ingredient around here – I must order some more!

Avivah

Mozzarella cheese recipe

I was planning to post this in the next few days, but since at least four of you have asked me about this in the last day or two, I’m posting it sooner. 

This recipe is from Home Cheese Making, by Ricki Carrol, the book I already mentioned that we’re using to guide us in our cheesemaking adventures!  It’s called 30 Minute Mozzarella, pg. 134.

  • 1 1/2 level teaspoon citric acid dissolved in water
  • 1 gallon whole milk (not ultra pasteurized or you’ll end up with ricotta instead of mozzarella)
  • 1/8 – 1/4 t. lipase powder (I didn’t use this), dissolved in 1/4 c. cool water and allowed to sit for twenty minutes)
  • 1/4 teaspoon liquid rennet, diluted in 1/4 c. cool unchlorinated water (if you leave tap water uncovered overnight, the chlorine will evaporate)
  • 1 teaspoon cheese salt (optional)

While stirring add citric acid to milk at 55 degrees and mix thoroughly.  (Add lipase now if using it.)

Heat milk to 88 degrees F over medium/low heat.  Milk will start to curdle.

Gently stir in diluted rennet with up and down motion, while heating milk to between 100 – 105 degrees.  Turn off heat; curds should be pulling away from sides of pot; they are ready to scoop out.

Curds will look like thick yogurt and have a bit of shine to them; whey will be clear.  If whey is milky white, wait a few more minutes.

Scoop out curds with slotted spoon and put into 2 quart bowl.  Press curds gently with hands, pouring off as much whey as possible.  Save whey.

Heat reserved whey to 175 degrees.  Add 1/4 cup of cheese salt to whey.  Shape curd into one or more balls, put them in ladle or strainer, and dip into hot whey for several seconds.  Knead curd with spoons between each dip and repeat process several times until curd is smooth and pliable.  Use heavy rubber gloves when kneading.

Knead quickly until it is smooth and elastic.  When cheese stretches like taffy, it’s done.  If curds break instead of stretch, they are too cool and need to be reheated.

When cheese is smooth and shiny, roll it into small balls and eat while warm.  (My daughter rolled them into ropes and made a three stranded braid instead.)  Or place in bowl of ice water for half hour to bring the inside temperature down rapidly; this will produce consistent smooth texture throughout the cheese.  Best eaten fresh, but if you wait, cover and store in fridge.

Yields between 3/4 – 1 pound of cheese.

If you make this and it turns out well, I’d love to hear about it!

Avivah