Tag Archives: health

A New Crisis in the Making or a Crisis Averted? Mental Illness & Chronic Pain Management Under the ACA

The post below this introductory paragraph was published almost a year ago. Yesterday, my fears became reality in ProPublica’s article on the rise of controlled substances through medicare, “As Controlled Substance Use Rises in Medicare, Prolific Prescribers Face More Scrutiny.”  Although the statistics used in this article was before the ACA went into effect; the same potential for abuse and abuse has been established through this reportage. Under-served communities have suffered enough without a new host of drug addictions plaguing them. I applaud this investigative piece and pray it truly reflects an overwhelming overtone of scrutiny to prevent a new generation of heroin addicts. On the other hand, I also pray that alternative treatments, health and wellness methods of healing the wounds of chronic community trauma will become the norm over prescription drugs for all! Below is my original post on this issue:

In light of the new Affordable Care Act, I have been analyzing what could be unintended consequences of providing health care and mental health care to populations that have not had previous access to these resources. The historical trend for medical providers has been to take the quick route in treatment through the medical model. For this reason it is vital that all public health Imageleaders, health care providers, program designers and policymakers be critically aware of what could be our next health care crisis through the possible escalating of profiteering by the Health Disparities Industry.

I was first made aware of the possibility of a medically-induced crisis in 2013 while conducting a mental health assessment of public housing residents. During interviews, several residents expressed disappointment in the one available mental health clinic; with clinicians that had a standard procedure of dispensing medications. Some residents avoided this clinic to address their mental health needs and instead, expressed the strong desire for counseling services. Consequently, I started imagining the future of mental health and medical providers lacking resources, without systems in place to handle the immense needs associated with deferred mental health and wellness care in vulnerable urban populations; populations rife with ongoing family and community trauma. They avoided this clinic to address their mental health needs and instead, expressed the strong desire for counseling services. Image

Prescribing medications could quickly become the default as a quick fix, making it easy for more pharmaceuticals to slip into urban environments, merely replacing illegal with legal drugs; with guaranteed payment through the ACA. We have already seen the suburban heroin epidemic resulting from a similar pattern of treatment with painkillers. A new, national explosion of ‘legal’ drug addicts will further traumatize families and communities. Legal or illegal, treating mental health challenges primarily through a medical model is a lose-lose; especially if mental health symptoms are PTSD the result of persistent, un-addressed personal and/or community trauma. If providers do not have the built in resources to address trauma with counseling and coping skills along with supportive upstream policies to prevent trauma from occurring, we as a nation will be suffering a host of much more costly side effects down the road from this oversight.

Looking deeper, in low-income urban communities where unemployment, racial profiling, absent fathers, violent crime and drug use are prevalent, generations of disenfranchised populations of color have been experiencing high levels of personal and community trauma. This trauma is just now being identified as untreated PTSD in many cases. Concurrently, these populations have not had access to preventive health and wellness care, so they have coped in their own ways, which is often repeating the cycle of self-medication, which can lead to drug abuse, crime, violence and child neglect. So my question is: What will happen when these people, virtually overnight, have access to overwhelmed medical providers that can just make the problem go away, for a moment, by prescribing a medication; a medication that may become a lifetime prescription and addiction? This is a serious question everyone in the public health field should be asking.  This is the new frontier of the Health Disparities Industry that the pharmaceutical industry will no doubt be willing to capitalize on unless public health leaders have a system of accountability by medical providers and a system of resources to address decades of deferred mental health and wellness treatment.

Treatment of mental health challenges can be aided with medications in some cases, but the most effective and self-sustaining treatment addresses the underlying issues of mental illness and drug use; the traumas that may be associated with mental illness and drug use. Trauma-informed care takes these factors into consideration. Just as the Veteran’s Administration (VA) has seen the exponential leap in prescription drug abuse and suicides by veterans suffering from PTSD, we must see the same potential for this practice to infect vulnerable urban communities. ImageJust as the VA has found very effective replacement methods of addressing PTSD for veterans through behavioral therapy, yoga and meditation, shouldn’t we as public health professionals be advocating for these treatments for the public, rather than a costly medical model of treatment?

Treatment of chronic pain often shares the same paths of potential abuse and can also be helped more effectively through alternative methods. How do we get ahead of this potential trend? How do public health professionals advocate for preventive and alternative treatment solutions before millions of urban trauma victims become addicted to ‘legal’ prescription medications that the public and the Health Disparities Industry condones? Perhaps the American Public Health Association (APHA) can take leadership on this issue to circumvent this potential disaster.

Further Research:

* Abram, K. M., Teplin, L. A., King, D. C., Longworth, S. L., Emanuel, K. M., Romero, E. G., … & Olson, N. D. (2013). PTSD, Trauma, and Comorbid Psychiatric Disorders in Detained Youth.

* Corbin, T. J., Rich, J. A., Bloom, S. L., Delgado, D., Rich, L. J., & Wilson, A. S. (2011). Developing a Trauma-Informed, Emergency Department–Based Intervention for Victims of Urban Violence. Journal of Trauma & Dissociation, 12(5), 510-525.

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The Womanly Art of Listening to Our Bodies

First of all, I need to make a disclaimer. A portion of this post heading is taken from a wonderful and well-respected book by La Leche League I read over 38 years ago, “The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding.” I read it during a time when I was preparing for my first child and preparing for childbirth and beyond. This was my first lesson in learning to listen to my body.

This morning, some 38 years later and a lifetime of listening, I was awakened by this thought, “The Womanly Art of Listening to Our Bodies” and how even though the time may not be the best to write this, because I have scholarships to apply for and work to do to prepare for the next semester of grad school, I cannot help but listen to this message and put it out there.

The message is: Our thoughts and feelings (or emotions) are inextricably linked to our bodies! Once we recognize this, the knowledge is immensely powerful. I have been so fortunate to attract mentors and educational opportunities in my life from the days I was a pregnant teen at 15 to my life today, a mother of 3 and grandmother of 8; now the age of 54.

I learned from natural childbirth that “attitude IS everything!” If you think it is pain, it is painful! If you think of it as the process that brings you your angel, then it is manageable.

I learned from 7 years in La Leche League that if you always remember in the back of your mind that breastfeeding is a normal, natural process that mammals have been doing successfully for millenia and trusting this natural process, your milk will come and challenges are only bumps in the road, not roadblocks.

I learned from reading Adelle Davis’ “Let’s Have Healthy Children” that our foods are full of everything we need if we learn to trust the foods that have been provided by nature. We do not have to buy expensive food to nourish our bodies properly. By being more efficient with our food choices, we can bring health to our families within any budget.

I learned from my 10 years working in the field of biofeedback, that the mind and our inner emotions are incredibly powerful and that our body speaks to us continually. Whether we listen or not is the real challenge! When we listen, we reduce suffering and illness and increase our quality of life. When we ignore the signs, we suffer from a variety of ills, including accidents and injuries.

So much more to share and no time to do it right now, but I want to leave you with this thought, please take the time to just be quiet without any outside electronic or other interference at least once every day. Listen and acknowledge and make the little adjustments you know deep down that you will benefit from. Little by little, you will find that the simple adage “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” will improve your daily quality of life, your health and your future!

Until next time,
Granny Pants
(Oh yeah, this photo was taken of me in 2002. I just found it and had to use it to brighten my day. The Yuba River is in the background. Love that place!)

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January 20, 2013 · 6:48 pm

10 Study Skills that Really Matter!

Effective study and lifestyle habits are the real factor in academic success, most often superseding economic, intellectual, or age factors.

Personally, I had to learn how to study effectively because I was not taught or required to study as a child. This list of recommendations is for everyone, young and old. It is based on my personal experiences as a student, teacher, caregiver, mother and grandmother.

1. KNOW YOUR WEAKNESSES– This is the first step to deciding your study strategies. Everyone has some challenges with studying. Most students have multiple challenges. Knowing your weaknesses and admitting them is the first step to getting your study habits into ship-shape so you don’t waste a single minute of your precious personal time studying in ineffective circles that not only rob you of fun, but also rob you of the best grades and opportunities that you deserve. By eliminating your time wasters and over-confidence when you actually need to increase study time, you will actually have better grades, more energy and have more time for the people and activities you love without those nagging feelings haunting you.

2. IF YOU TEND TO PROCRASTINATE– Set up a plan to reward yourself with personal time and activities only after you have finished your work or have studied enough to have a good command of materials. Study your most challenging subjects first when you have the most energy. Save easy study tasks like making flash cards last when you don’t need to think as deeply. Isn’t it interesting how it can be very difficult to study effectively at night when we are tired but we are never too tired to talk to our friends! Use this fact to your advantage.

3. IF YOU ARE EASILY DISTRACTED– Create a private, comfortable and well-lit space with no distractions. Use earplugs or headphones if needed to reduce environmental distractions. Turn off any computer or phone notifications while studying. Notify your parents and friends when you are studying and tell them that you will return their calls/texts or requests when you are finished. Give yourself a 15-minute reward for personal/free time at the end of every hour of non-stop, focused studying. Make sure you get up and move around during this free time to bring the blood back into your brain that tends to become lodged in the bottom after sitting for long periods of time. (A walk around the block during study breaks can do wonders to energize you and increase your memory.)

4. WRITE CLEAR & DETAILED NOTES WHILE YOU ARE IN CLASS & STUDYING & ENSURE YOU HAVE WRITTEN EVERYTHING DOWN NECESSARY –Do not fall into the “I will remember this” pattern. Back-tracking and searching for information later can be a huge time and energy waster! Tools such as highlighting, side notes on the page and colorful tabs can save time later on.

5. WRITE A STUDY LIST EVERY DAY & BREAK DOWN ASSIGNMENTS INTO SMALL, MANAGEABLE TASKS – Do this right after school or first thing in the morning on non-school days. – This will keep you from feeling overwhelmed and prevent you from knowing where to begin. It also makes it easier to check off your priority list and block study sessions which increase the feeling and awareness of your real progress. If you tend to overlook and forget your assignments, check with your instructor after every class to make sure you have all assignments and notes down correctly and thoroughly.

6. ALWAYS HAVE SOMETHING TO STUDY IN YOUR BAG OR BACKPACK – Choose the items you are most challenged with so you can study whenever you can. Flash cards or reading assignments are the easiest things to have handy. Make a copy of a complex reading assignment and have in your bag to read and highlight. Whenever you have an unexpected delay or free moment, pull out your studies instead of your phone and you will have more free time to communicate with friends without stress at the end of the day!

7. ENSURE MAXIMUM COMPREHENSION OF ALL MATERIAL BY USING EFFICIENT TOOLS WHILE YOU READ– Before you read anything, understand, read or write down what it is you are supposed to know from reading the passage or chapter. Read the questions however, not the answer choices! Then as you read the first time, highlight any key points that fit your comprehension goals. If you are not able to highlight, write notes as you read, noting the paragraph or page number. If possible, copy the passage and highlight that. Next, re-read the questions and read the passage again, but this time as you read, write notes on what you think the answers or main points are to the assignment. Then go to the questions and see if any match your understanding of the material. If you need to write an essay, you will then have the best notes possible to create your outline!

8. DO NOT SKIP ANY STEPS OR QUESTIONS & UTILIZE ALL AVAILABLE STUDY RESOURCES UNTIL YOU KNOW A SUBJECT INSIDE AND OUTUnless you are repeating information with an “A” mastery level; not just until you think you have it. Mastery comes from repeating exercises, quizzing, re-reading, re-writing and explaining the subject to others. Much of the frustration of studying comes from the missing pieces of information we pretend we know or don’t need. Then we cannot operate with all of our potential and often struggle unnecessarily. Study resources include materials in all media forms such as audio, visual, study groups, tutors and whatever resources the instructor has recommended. Using all of your senses is extremely important, especially if you are challenged with a subject. The more senses that experience the information you are learning, the deeper the knowledge will go and the less likely you are to forget it because you have it understood in a multitude of layers. Remember that the most effective way to comprehend and remember material is to discuss it with others; hence the study group.

9. BE AT YOUR BEST BY ENSURING YOUR SLEEP, EXERCISE & NUTRITION NEEDS ARE BEING MET – Exercising daily will increase your memory, energize you, keep your immune system strong and prevent insomnia. Getting the right amount of sleep (about 8 hours/night) will also ensure you can think clearly while you are in class, studying and testing. Energy drinks, coffee, tea and/or drugs in the place of sleep, exercise or nourishing meals wear down your immune system, increase insomnia and fatigue, leaving you with less energy and more health problems in the long run. Contrary to popular thought, if you eat snacks with less sugar and/or carbohydrates and instead eat snacks with protein rich snacks, you will have more lasting energy and increased brain functions without experiencing the “carb-crash” which can affect your ability to study properly. A bag of nuts, sunflower seeds, dried fruit or jerky are great things to have on hand at all times.

10. RE-ASSESS YOUR STUDY HABITS AND EXTRA-CURRICULAR ACTIVITIES AFTER EVERY TESTING OR GRADING PERIOD – Set yourself up for success, not for failure. It often takes about 1 ½ semesters to adopt effective study habits that become natural. Commit to your study plan if it is working but re-tool it if it is not. Ask your instructor how much you should be studying each day for each class and arrange your schedule around honesty about how much you need to study instead of denial about how much you need to study. Eliminate any extra activities until you are achieving the grades and knowledge mastery you desire. Remember that exercise, sleep, eating properly and an allotted amount of personal time to enjoy life are not extra-curricular activities but necessary for your health, well-being and good grades!

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Personal & Home Hygiene Guide

This Personal & Home Hygiene Guide is for anyone who may need a little more encouragement to ensure they are maintaining a healthy environment. Feel free to copy and print as needed.

 

Personal & Home Hygiene Guide

  • Proper Personal and Home Hygiene is not only good for our health, it also helps others be more comfortable around us, especially in a public or work environment. Proper hygiene helps reduce illness, infection and the spread of disease. Neglect of personal hygiene can interfere with our lives in ways we may not even be aware of. Please review the points below to ensure you are following the best practices for personal and home hygiene.
  • Bathe– At least 2-3 times a week. Take care to clean all of the cracks with soapy water: behind the ears, inside ears, under arms, between toes and entire genital area & anus. The body is continually sloughing off dead skin. Moisture can linger in those cracks, giving bacteria the perfect warm, wet environment to grow. Any foul odor usually signals bacteria. A good soap and water cleaning and drying should eliminate odor. If odor persists after proper, regular cleaning, consult a physician.
  • Wash hair at least every two to three days and ensure hair is combed out because matted hair can house small insects like fleas and lice.
  • Trim your nails. Keeping your finger and toenails trimmed and in good shape will prevent problems such as hang nails and infected nail beds. Feet that are clean and dry are less likely to contract athlete’s foot.
  • Brush and floss. Ideally, you should brush your teeth after every meal. At the very least, brush your teeth twice a day and floss daily. Brushing minimizes the accumulation of bacteria in your mouth, which can cause tooth decay and gum disease. Flossing, too, helps maintain strong, healthy gums. The bacteria that builds up, causing gum disease can go straight to the heart and cause very serious valve problems. Unhealthy gums also can cause your teeth to loosen, which makes it difficult to chew and to eat properly, he adds. To maintain healthy teeth, visit the dentist every six-months for checkups and cleanings.
  • Wash your hands. Washing your hands before preparing or eating food, after going to the bathroom, after coughing or sneezing, and after handling garbage, goes a long way toward preventing the spread of bacteria and viruses. Keep a hygiene product, like an alcohol-based sanitizing gel, handy for when soap and water isn’t available. If you have an open cut or area of broken skin on your hands, clean and cover with a band-aid and/or use rubber or latex gloves to protect yourself and others when cleaning or when preparing food.
  • When using the bathroom if you have trouble cleaning thoroughly after a bowel movement, you can use wet wipes to make sure you have cleaned entire area thoroughly. Again, any foul odors signal the presence of bacteria that can lead to infections and spread bacteria to others.
  • Wash towels, wash cloths, clothing & bedding regularly. Towels (in kitchen and bath), wash cloths, sheets & clothing should be washed at least once a week. Socks and underwear should be changed with clean pairs daily. Blankets should be cleaned every six months or sooner if stains or smells are noticeable.
  • Shampoo carpets regularly. Ideally, carpets should be shampooed every six months if there are children or animals present and every year for general cleaning to prevent bacteria, odor and/or insects or bugs from getting too comfortable.
  • Mop floors & clean toilet and sink areas. This should be done once a week or more frequently as needed. When cleaning toilet, remember to clean outside of toilet and floor around toilet. If there is ever a urine smell present, cleaning is needed with an anti-bacterial cleaner (bleach or ammonia or disinfectants). *Never use bleach and ammonia products together because the chemical reaction can create a poisonous gas.
  • Keep all countertop areas and surfaces clean & corners free from clutter. All surfaces where food is prepared and/or served should be wiped down thoroughly every day. Take care to store food items in sealed containers to prevent the attraction of bugs and rodents. Put any lose particle of food in trash immediately as well.
  • Remove household trash from inside home to an outside, sealed area. This should be done at least every few days or daily if there is highly odorous food like meats and fish. These foods in the trash will attract flies if not removed from inside the house on a daily basis.
  • Sleep tight. Get plenty of rest — 8 to 10 hours a night — so that you are refreshed and are ready to take on the day every morning. Lack of sleep can leave you feeling run down and can compromise your body’s natural defenses, your immune system.
  • Get sunlight, fresh air & exercise every day. Exercise keeps the immune system strong, muscles toned and organs supplied with oxygen. Sunshine also strengthens the immune system and the bones and helps regulate sleep cycles.
  • Open blinds & curtains to let natural light into your home. Certain bugs and dust mites can only live in a dark environment so letting the sun and natural light in is not only good for your brain, it is good for your home health too!
  • Eat a variety of fresh foods. Fresh vegetables and fruits and whole grains support organ and digestive health and strengthen immune systems. A healthy body will reduce health challenges.

If you have any additions or suggestions for improving this list, please comment below. I will be using it for an independent living program for people with mild disabilities. It is based on my experiences in the areas where the needs for proper hygiene are the greatest and because I could not find a resource like this anywhere. I will be happy to provide a PDF if you request it.   Granny Pants

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A True Cultural and Culinary Adventure

I am not the type of adventure traveler who dares to climb jagged mountaintops with ropes and harnesses or bungee jump from ominously tall bridges. Instead, when I travel, I brave the new territory within the families of other cultures and countries by living in their homes, participating in their celebrations,  and most importantly, by observing and participating in the preparation of meals in the kitchen–where much is revealed about a culture and its values. By following this adventure trail throughout my life, I have absorbed many amazing and valuable insights, including culinary and nutritional secrets. What follows is definitely a highlight in my cultural kitchen adventures, the making of traditional Finnish Rye Bread. (If you just want the recipe, skip to the CAPS; the rest of the text is the story.)

As I reflect on my experiences to date of this Finnish Adventure, I must acknowledge that this breadbaking process has to be the highlight. Many people live a lifetime in a country, or study its history—yet never experience what it was like for early citizens.

Of course, breadbaking and dark rye bread is not the sole experience of the Finnish culture, but actually, it was and still is in many respects, the sustainence of the culture, the people! I feel so grateful to have taken part in this vital practice and am so grateful to Ulla Engestrom and her family for providing it!

Coincidentally, it seems like this dense Finnish Rye Bread we spent 3 days making will also be the new vogue in the coming era of food trends according to a story on CNN this month: http://www.cnn.com/2010/HEALTH/01/04/tips.eating.better/index.html. (I have to confess that I DO have a habit of being ahead of my time!) 

But CNN didn’t say anything about the value of sour, though there is sure to be a study coming out in 5 years that shows that bread made with sour dough starter has some kind of magical, medical quality too. And this was sour, dense rye bread, believe me. Wow! The taste comes from the 5+ generations this sourdough starter has been in the family of my dear friend Ulla-Maaria Engestrom, without “breaking the chain.” (Ulla was my cohort on this brazen culinary crusade. Neither of us would have even attempted it without the other.)

*A sourdough starter needs replenishing frequently to prevent it from dying. A fresh starter in the refrigerator needs new flour added about every 12 days. The longer a starter is alive, the more sour and flavorful it becomes. So imagine what kind of magic is brewing is in this sourdough starter after a few hundred years or longer!) These Finnish ancestors didn’t watch CNN or wait for a study to come out; they just knew what was good and they knew that the secret is in the starter! Due to the cold climate, the Finns have found an easier way to maintain starter (or what they call the “root”) by freezing it. This makes it less time intensive to maintain. 

Now, we get down to business. Where did I leave off? (If you missed Part 1-Please read first:  https://grannypants.wordpress.com/2009/12/23/a-finnish-christmas-dream-come-true/  

Next, I must qualify the inconsistency of what is to follow. Not only was this process stressful from the point of the pressure we were under to make 8 loaves of bread with a recipe we had never used before in an oven we had never used before, while being surrounded by little ones, a feverish baby, as well as my lack of knowledge of the language, I found out later a few things that make it veritably miraculous that we pulled this off! 

You see, I have been baking bread for over 35 years now. In fact, I used to bake and sell my homemade bread 25+ years ago in Loveland, Colorado. I had my own sourdough starter and rye bread recipe and prided myself on the taste of my bread. 

So, you can imagine the pressure I felt when my Ulla informed me well towards the end of the process that she was receiving the details of the recipe over the phone from two different grandmothers, sisters who were each over 85 years old, and who each disliked the other’s bread recipe! The comedy of this moment was all I could embrace because I found out about this at the point when it was too late to do anything; the bread was already in its final rising. I laughed and performed my third prayer that everything would work out. I had my doubts all along because it wasn’t looking like I knew it should, because I DID know how it should look, although I admit I even felt like a newbie bread baker in the wisdom and presence of over 5 generations from the homeland! 

How did we do it? I will post what we did and then I will post what I think we should have done in italics right after each step. I think these adjustments will yield a better, more edible product, even though we were actually able to eat the finished product. 

Dense Finnish Rye Bread 

Day 1 

  • TAKE 400 GRAMS (0.8 LBS.) OF STARTER DOUGH OUT OF FREEZER (If you don’t have this ancient starter, you can make your own with 1 1/2 cups of lukewarm water, 1 packet of yeast, 1/4 cup of flour, and let sit for a day in a warm place, stirring occasionally. Then you would follow this recipe but consider and subtract the water content of your starter when measuring the water in day 2. Use the amount of yeast I recommend as well below  in the Day 2 step, which is in addition to your starter yeast.)  
  • LET IT MELT IN THE REFRIGERATOR (If it is frozen)
  • MEANWHILE BUY 5 KILOS (APPROX. 10 LBS.) FRESH RYE FLOUR- LIPERI GRAINERY, or grocery store, or buy rye berries and grind them yourself. (The Vitamix can do this, which is one of my very favorite, versatile and valuable kitchen tools.)

Day 2 

  • 8:30AM –TAKE UNWASHED/SALTED 5 GALLON BUCKET & RINSE SALT OUT QUICKLY (bucket comes from the grandmothers (Mummis)
  • TAKE STARTER DOUGH OUT OF REFRIGERATOR & PUT INTO
    Add 4 1/2 liters of lukewarm water

    Add 4 1/2 liters of lukewarm water

     BOTTOM OF BUCKET 

  • PUT 4.5 LITERS OF LUKEWARM WATER & 1 square of yeast (this is the equivalent of about 2 packets of dry yeast)  & MIX WITH ENOUGH FLOUR TO MAKE IT THE CONSISTENCY OF THICK SOUP (Okay, this is where we made the biggest mistake right off the bat! I didn’t have the full information at the time of Day 2. From my experience, I never put all of the yeast in the starter mix at this time. I usually put 1/3 of it or so and let that sour for the day before actual baking and then I add the rest of the yeast in the next day just before adding the remainder of the flour. But, I think the ancestors know best, so I would also add all of the yeast in this  step.  However, considering how absolutely dense the final product was, I would double the yeast. This is for 8 loaves, so I would add 2 squares of yeast or 4-5 packets of dry yeast. We actually did NOT add any yeast at this time and found out much later that we needed to add all of it. 
Eliel stirring 1st. mixture

Eliel stirring 1st. mixture

  • STIR PERIODICALLY THROUGHOUT THE DAY- SET IN A WARM PLACE- COVERED YET WITH A PLACE FOR THE AIR TO ESCAPE  Just a little background here. The stick I am holding to the left may
  • ella

    Ella, Granny Pants, and the Amazing, Ancient, Wooden Whisk

    resemble something a caveman used, and probably could have been! Today, it is actually being used as a powerful whisk, which is necessary when you are mixing what we were mixing in a 5 gallon bucket. I don’t know what type of wood it is, but it is very strong. 

  •    BY 3PM, IT SHOULD BE LIKE PORRIDGE (Now this is another place
    Sourdough Starter with Yeast, Warm Water & Enough Flour to Be Soupy like Porridge

    Sourdough Starter with Yeast, Warm Water & Enough Flour to Be Soupy like Porridge-Notice the Fine Mixing Tool!

     where cultural differences can really create confusion. What I thought was “porridge” was not what the Finnish know as “porridge.” In a comical revelation, I went to stir the mix later that morning and found it to be much thicker. Ulla and her father had added more rye flour because it hadn’t been like porridge–as they know it. You see porridge is oatmeal and the way my friends prepare porridge (purro) in Finland is much thicker than my own reference. When I heard “porridge” I thought of my own idea of a more viscous substance. Ulla’s father, Pekka was the only real witness to this process that we had available. We were in the house he was born and raised in. Who knows how many times he saw that bread being baked throughout his life. We hailed to his wisdom! Do not question authority!  Due to the science this bread baking and the fact that there is no additional sweetener for the yeast to feed off of, I assume this is the reason the mixture needs more flour added than I have added to my own mixture in the past. I usually add a little molasses to help darken and feed the yeast, but this would still interfere with the sour quality, so I guess I have learned something here. The yeast needs more flour in this bubbly, first sitting, which it will feed off of instead of any added sweetener.

  •  Day 3

  

  • MORNING- ADD (3 Tbsp.) SALT & ENOUGH FLOUR TO BE STIFF. LET   SIT FOR 2 HOURS- COVERED WITH CLOTH (This begins the process when you really value the strength of this wooden whisk. Actually, Jyri-Eliel’s father had to step in and help with this mixing while I held onto the bucket. The grandmothers had been concerned with our ability to handle this process and at that moment, I understood why!) 

    3rd. Day after adding more flour

    3rd. day after adding more flour

  • ABOUT 1 1/2 HOURS AFTER THIS LAST STEP, IF YOU ARE USING A BRICK OVEN, START
    Eliel

    Eliel helping mix the flour on 3rd. day before mixing required 2 adults

    HEATING THE OVEN WITH A LOT OF WOOD-BIRCH IS HOTTEST 

  • TWO HOURS AFTER SITTING. THEN, TURN OUT ONTO FLOURED BOARD. This was not as easy as one would think.
  • TAKE OUT A ½ LITER approx.(1 1/2 c.) OF THE DOUGH & PUT IN FREEZER TO SAVE FOR NEXT BATCH
  •  KNEAD THE BREAD UNTIL IT IS BOUNCY (This is kind of a joke because rye flour doesn’t really have as much gluten as some other flours and because our dough was so dense, it never really got bouncy, though we tried. It takes about 15 minutes. Maybe this is another reason that rye bread is so good for you because it doesn’t contains a lot of the gluten that seems to irritate the bowels of so many people these days. (However, if you want a bread that is a bit bouncier and lighter, use some white flour at the time of kneading, but not too much; maybe 2 cups. This will produce a lighter bread as well, though not as original.)

  

Kneading

I really upped my game with this ball of dough! This is how women used to keep their guns packed!

img

Someone had the brilliant idea to split the work in 2. Partners in crime while Ella supervises.

  • FORM LOAVES AND SET ONTO PARCHMENT, COVER AND SET TO RISE IN WARM PLACE-NO DRAFTS (Divide dough into 8 equal parts and make each loaf a similar shape for even cooking.)  I was so nervous about this step and just praying that the loaves rose properly. I didn’t feel as if there was nearly enough yeast to do the trick. 

    img

    Rising loaves on parchment

  • ABOUT 15 MINUTES AFTER LOAVES HAVE SAT, CLEAN-OUT THE OVEN TO PREPARE FOR COOKING LOAVES. (The brick oven retains the heat in the bricks, which eventually bakes the bread. This was a very interesting process I had never experienced. In fact, when the larger oven was stocked properly, it kept the house warm for about 3
    coals

    Scoop coals into bottom compartment of oven to retain heat and make room for loaf pans. P.S. I am not THAT heavy, just layered with winter clothing!!

    days, even in the 20 below temps we were experiencing at the time! Of course, this also has to do with how incredibly insulated these homes are to keep this heat in. How’s that for saving energy!!!! Once again, the wisdom of the ancestors is worth learning from.) 

  • WHEN LOAVES HAVE RISEN, PRICK EACH LOAF SEVERAL TIMES
    beautiful

    The loaves actually rose with that familiar crackly look!

     WITH A FORK TO ALLOW AIR TO ESCAPE WHILE BAKING. (Okay, this is where we really messed up once again! We forgot to prick the loaves before we put them in the oven. Because the heating of the brick oven is so 

    ulla

    Ulla carefully picks up the loaf pans with the traditional woden paddles

    choreographed with an exact temperature needed to form the hard crust and cook the inside slowly, we ruined our heating mechanism when we pulled the loaves out of the oven to prick them properly with the fork. When we checked the temperature after returning them to the oven, it had dropped significantly. (Because I was not raised with this brick oven method of baking bread that obviously dictates much of the breads wonderful, chewy, crustiness, I was taught to spray or lightly brush water onto the crust of the loaves a couple of times throughout baking after the crust has formed, which gives the bread a thicker, chewier crust as well. This is recommended if you don’t use a brick oven like this. I would also add a little salt to the water for a salty crust if you like that.) 

    img

    Properly pricked rye bread

  • PUT LOAVES IN OVEN AND COOK BEFORE OVEN COOLS, ROTATING AS NEEDED. Thank goodness for the modern oven! We actually used the small electric oven in the house for the 2 loaves that couldn’t fit–just in case we really messed up the others.
    img

    Not decorations, but useful wooden paddles for moving objects in the oven

    It turned out we had to use this electric oven for all of the loaves eventually, as we rotated them between the two ovens to get the brown effect of the bricks too. 

    loaves

    Loaves cooling

    That was the stressful part for me, to make sure all of the loaves were cooking evenly and thouroughly without burning completely. While Ulla cared for little Ella, who was sick with a fever, I diligently focused on this rotation process. 

  • AFTER THE BREAD HAS A HOLLOW SOUND WHEN TAPPED, IT IS READY TO REMOVE FROM THE OVEN. TAKE CARE TO CHECK BOTH BOTTOMS AND TOPS THROUGHOUT BAKING TO ENSURE EVEN COOKING OF ALL LOAVES. The brick oven as we found out has many hot spots that produce a dark bottom crust, which is good, as long as it is not to burnt.
  • AFTER THE BREAD COMES OUT AND THE TANTALIZING SMELL OF BAKING BREAD HAS INCREASED EVERYONE’S APPETITE, ABOUT 5 MINUTES OF COOLING ON A RACK IS NECESSARY TO PREVENT THE BREAD FROM BINDING UP INSIDE WHILE CUTTING, even though no one will want to wait.
  • TIME TO SLICE & ENJOY!!!!

    img

    After about 5 minutes of cooling, slice & enjoy!

img

Enjoy your fresh-baked Finnish Rye Bread with real butter, of course

Eliel

Eliel is the first taste tester!

  • HAPPILY, THIS BREAD CAN NOW BECOME THE MAIN PART OF THE CHRISTMAS EVE FEAST- which it did! We found that due its sourness, it is best savored by cutting the sourdough rye bread very thin. Wonderful with freshly churned butter or salmon roe & cream!!!!! Yummmm…..

For me personally (after breastfeeding), breadbaking has become one of the most endearing ways of nurturing my loved ones. I suppose it does stem from these ancient Finnish roots of mine. There is no other comfort food quite like freshly baked bread; especially after it has taken 3 days to make! Making the sweet cardamom bread (pulla) has been a tradition in my family that I learned from my own grandmother and mother. Now, I have another Finnish breadbaking tradition to pass on to my family. (Psst. Wish me luck getting some of that ancient starter back to my home in the states!) 

This experience would not have been possible without the wonderful support, partnership and encouragement of Ulla, Jyri, and Ulla’s dear family, and her father Pekka, who helped us retrieve the starter, the salt, the famous bucket and whisk, and who kept the coals going in the oven. Also, I personally want to thank the grandmothers (Mummis) who gave us the use of their starter and their recipe/recipes! It was funny that in the middle of the rising, we actually had to heat the oven some more and one of the Mummis showed up to help us out with advice. She was so sweet and I only wished I could have understood her, but I was there listening and watching, and questioning everything she said afterwards like a curious child. Her warm and supportive eyes and smile are a priceless memory I will always cherish. 

After the baking was all said and done, we shared a loaf with each of these Mummis. And of course, the one who likes a denser loaf said the bread turned out perfect, while the one with a different recipe said the loaf was too dense! This was worth a chuckle, now that the stress of making sure it turned out at all was over. What an incredible experience immersed into the culture of people who are not my blood relatives, but from the country of my blood relatives.  I highly recommend it for anyone who really wants to understand the Finnish winter culture!

  • OOOPS!!! FORGOT THE LAST STEP. WHEN THE MIXING BUCKET IS EMPTIED OUT, SPRINKLE IT WITH SALT AND LET IT DRY. DO NOT WASH THE WOODEN WHISK EITHER. WIPE IT OFF, DRY IT, AND COVER BOTH THE BUCKET AND WHISK AFTER THEY HAVE DRIED TO KEEP THEM CLEAN. Evidently there are some magical ingredients to be maintained in these items that magnify the savory qualities of the bread. (This is my favorite part!!!!)
  • PLEASE COMMENT ON THIS POST!!!!!!!

Thank you!!!!!!!

Granny Pants

P.S. If you are interested, please sign up to receive regular posts on the adventures of my life, both in thought and form.  You can also visit my book website to learn more about my book about children: http://TheNewPhysicsofChildhood.com

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Filed under #Finland, #Suomi, 1, babies, Bread+Baking, Breastfeeding, children, cooking, culinary, culture, environment, Grandchildren, Grandparents, Granny Pants, mother, The New Physics of Childhood, Travel, winter

H1N1 PREVENTIVE PROPOGANDA – PASS IT ON!

This is the last time I will mention H1N1 in this blogpost.

Getting your attention is what I wanted.        

flickr.com/photos/bottleleaf

flickr.com/photos/bottleleaf

Like all of the profiteers

I want YOU to absorb my suggestions

and reap their physiological benefits!

You can’t tell me your mouth isn’t watering for that juicy orange or lemon right now!

(No, I don’t own any shares in citrus crops.)

If your mouth is watering right now, you have just proven what I am about to share with you!

The propoganda that follows is from me to you and nothing in-between. It is from a grandmother and former stress management teacher that has studied, trained, and proved over and over that these strategies really do work to boost a person’s immune system. 

Some of this information may seem radical, but isn’t it even more radical to over-medicate entire populations? Overmedicating is a radical practice that has produced frequent deaths due to overdoses as well as the multitude of other pharmaceutical related ills we are facing in the U.S. today.

THE UNFORTUNATE FACTS EVERYONE SHOULD KNOW:

  • FEAR REDUCES IMMUNE RESISTANCE
  • THE ACT OF BEING STRESSED ALSO REDUCES IMMUNE RESISTANCE BECAUSE BEING AFRAID AND/OR STRESSED-OUT NEGATIVELY EFFECTS EVERY SYSTEM AND CELL OF THE BODY
  • CUMULATIVE NEGATIVE SUGGESTIONS USING MULTI-SENSORY MODALITIES SHAPE NEGATIVE PERSPECTIVES, ATTITUDES, AND PHYSIOLOGICAL RESPONSES (like those from TV, Radio, Advertising)
  • INGESTING A HIGH AMOUNT OF FOODS THAT ARE ACID PRODUCING INCREASES A BACTERIA, DISEASE FRIENDLY ENVIRONMENT (SUGAR, CARBOHYDRATES, MEAT, ETC.)  6a00d8345194a469e20120a5b1ad09970b
  • LIMITING OPTIONS BY FOCUSING ON 1 SOLUTION ELIMINATES COMPETITION, THEREBY INCREASING PROFITS
  • EMPOWERING PEOPLE TO BE IN CHARGE OF THEIR HEALTH IS NOT PROFITABLE FOR THE PHARMACEUTICAL OR MEDICAL INDUSTRIES

THE EMPOWERING FACTS EVERYONE SHOULD KNOW:

  • ELIMINATING NEGATIVE SUGGESTIONS FROM AN ENVIRONMENT AND REPLACING THEM WITH POSITIVE SUGGESTIONS CAN BOOST IMMUNE RESISTANCE, INCREASE OVERALL PHYSICAL HEALTH, AND FEELINGS OF WELL-BEING
  • AEROBIC EXERCISE OXYGENATES CELLS. OXYGENATED CELLS ARE STRONGER AND MORE RESISTANT TO DISEASE, BACTERIA, AND VIRUSES    

    Boys on hill

    Boys on hill

  • NATURAL LIGHT, SUNSHINE, FRESH AIR, AND EXERCISE MODULATE BRAIN ACTIVITY, REGULATE HORMONES, AND PRODUCE OTHER POSITIVE PHYSIOLOGICAL RESULTS  (Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain by John J. Ratey  http://www.amazon.com/Spark-Revolutionary-Science-Exercise-Brain/dp/0316113506
  • EATING FOODS DAILY THAT INCREASE AN ALKALINE ENVIRONMENT DISCOURAGES THE GROWTH OF BACTERIA (THE HEALTHY FOODS: LEAFY GREEN VEGGIES, A LOT OF LEMON AND LIME, FRESH FRUITS AND VEGETABLES, FOODS RICH IN VITAMIN A, C, AND OMEGA 3)
  • leafy greens

    leafy greens

  • REST IS THE BEST MEDICINE!!!! WHEN OUTDOOR ACTIVITY, PHYSICAL ACTIVITY,  AND EXERCISE IS INCREASED, SLEEP PATTERNS WILL ALSO IMPROVE, THEREBY IMPROVING IMMUNE SYSTEM STRENGTH
  • ATTITUDE IS EVERYTHING! THIS IS WHY MAKING AN ASSESSMENT OF YOUR ENVIRONMENT IS CRUCIAL.  (Perfect Health by Deepak Chopra http://www.amazon.com/Perfect-Health-Complete-Revised-Updated/dp/0609806947)

SOME OTHER QUESTIONS AND THOUGHTS TO PONDER:

  •  ARE YOU RECEIVING FEARFUL OR EMPOWERING MESSAGES THROUGHOUT YOUR DAY?
  • ARE YOU SURROUNDED WITH UNHEALTHY OR HEALTHY EATING AND DRINKING CHOICES?
  • WHAT MESSAGES ARE YOUR CHILDREN  RECEIVING EVERY DAY?
  • HAVE YOU EVER WONDERED WHY CORPORATIONS START ADVERTISING THEIR ALLERGY REMEDIES IN THE WINTER TIME OR COLD REMEDIES IN THE FALL?  DO NOT UNDERESTIMATE THE ROLE OF MEDIA AND ADVERTISING! THEY WOULD NOT SPEND BILLIONS EVERY YEAR ON SHAPING PERCEPTIONS IF IT WASN’T EFFECTIVE IN PRODUCING THE DESIRED RESULTS- INCREASED PROFITS! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Disease_mongering
  • WHEN YOU FEEL A LITTLE UNDER THE WEATHER, WHAT IS THE FIRST THING YOU DO?

BASIC IMMUNE SYSTEM STRENGTHENING & PREVENTION STARTS WITH:

  • GET PLENTY OF RESTFUL SLEEP
  • REDUCE NEGATIVE MESSAGES IN YOUR ENVIRONMENT; REPLACE THEM WITH POSITIVE SOURCES LIKE HAPPY PEOPLE, MUSIC, NATURE, AESTHETIC BEAUTY, JOYFUL, REWARDING EXPERIENCES, ETC!
  • PRACTICE STRESS REDUCTION TECHNIQUES http://www.amazon.com/Relaxation-Reduction-Workbook-Harbinger-Self-Help/dp/1572245492/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1255288645&sr=8-1
  • ENSURE YOU ARE GETTING ADEQUATE EXERCISE, PHYSICAL ACTIVITY, FRESH AIR, AND NATURAL LIGHT EVERYDAY,RAIN OR SHINE, WARM OR COLD!  SUNSHINE IS PREFERRABLE FOR VIT. D (WHICH HAS ALSO BEEN LINKED TO IMMUNE SYSTEMS) 

    The Healing, Preventive Powers of Fresh Air & Sunshine

    The Healing, Preventive Powers of Fresh Air & Sunshine

  • ELIMINATE FEARFUL, NEGATIVE  THOUGHTS ABOUT YOUR LIFE, ESPECIALLY ABOUT GETTING ILL. REPLACE THEM WITH POSITIVE THOUGHTS AND LANGUAGE ABOUT “BEING HEALTHY”, ” STAYING HEALTHY”  (Perfect Health by Deepak Chopra- http://www.amazon.com/Perfect-Health-Complete-Revised-Updated/dp/0609806947 )
  • EAT HEALTHY, FRESH FOODS AND STOP OVER-CONSUMPTION OF UNHEALTHY FOODS. (AN EXTRA PREVENTIVE IS ALSO REDUCING OR ELIMINATING THE USE OF MICROWAVE OVENS THAT MAY BE DESTROYING THE NECESSARY NUTRIENTS AND COMPOUNDS THE BODY NEEDS FOR ADEQUATE IMMUNO-RESPONSE.)

All of this seems so basic, yet so many of us go through our days without giving ourselves these basic preventions. Then we end up worn-down and worn-out, making us prey to whatever bacteria is around.

 Whether a person or a parent decides to take a flu shot or an immunization, these preventives to increase overall health are still important to keep the body strong and better prepared for an injection. 

LASTLY AND MOST IMPORTANTLY:

THE STRONGEST IMMUNE SYSTEM BOOST THAT CAN BE TAKEN AT ANY TIME (IN-BETWEEN MEALS):

Immune Boost "Mother-In-Law Remedy"

Immune Boost "Mother-In-Law Remedy"

THIS AFFORDABLE REMEDY I CALL MY “MOTHER-IN-LAW REMEDY” CAME FROM MY MOTHER-IN-LAW. IT FOLLOWS THE PRINCIPAL OF CREATING AN ALKALINE ENVIRONMENT SO STRONG THAT BACTERIA OR DISEASE HAS NO CHANCE TO SURVIVE. (CONTRARY TO POPULAR BELIEF, LEMONS ARE ALKALINE, NOT ACIDIC WHEN THEY ENTER THE BODY.)

DRINK A BIG GLASS 2 TIMES A DAY IF YOU NEED AN EXTRA BOOST OF PROTECTION, PREVENTION, OR DURING AN ILLNESS. IT REALLY WORKS TO PREVENT ILLNESS AND INCREASE RECOVERY.  Yes! IT TASTES TERRIBLE AND SHOULD BE FOLLOWED WITH A PLAIN GLASS OF WATER. (UNFORTUNATELY, I DON’T KNOW HOW A PERSON WOULD GET THEIR CHILDREN TO DRINK THIS, SO PERHAPS A LOT OF LEMON WATER IS BETTER; JUST TAKE CARE TO BRUSH TEETH AFTERWARDS OR USE A STRAW TO PROTECT TEETH ENAMEL WHEN DRINKING THE REMEDY OR A LOT OF LEMON JUICE.)

GRANNY PANTS’  MOTHER-IN-LAW REMEDY:

  • 1/2 A MEDIUM ONION (PEELED)
  • 3 CLOVES OF GARLIC (PEELED)
  • 3 LIMES OR 2 LEMONS (UNPEELED-IF NOT ORGANIC, SCRUB GOOD BEFOREHAND)
  • WATER
  • 1 TBSP. HONEY (OPTIONAL)

PUT ALL INGREDIENTS IN A POWERFUL BLENDER, FILL WITH 2/3 WATER. BLEND UNTIL DRINKABLE. CHUG AT ROOM TEMPERATURE WITH NOSE PLUGGED!!!  CHASE WITH A GLASS OF WATER.

*DO NOT DRINK THIS ON A FULL STOMACH OR JUST BEFORE EATING. IT IS TOO STRONG FOR THAT. UPON WAKING AND JUST BEFORE BEDTIME IS BEST.

THE THING I LOVE ABOUT THIS IMMUNE BOOSTING REMEDY IS THAT IT IS ABSOLUTELY AFFORDABLE FOR ALMOST EVERYONE AND INCLUDES COMMON FOODS THAT HAVE A LONG SHELF LIFE.

GOOD LUCK!  KEEP STRONG! DON’T LET MEDIA HYSTERIA LOWER YOUR IMMUNE SYSTEM! TAKE CHARGE OF YOUR HEALTH!

If you have found this information useful, please PASS IT ON! This is the kind of PROPOGANDA we need to spread around!   PROPOGANDA that supports prevention with the best of intentions!

(This information on Preventive Health is from Chapter 7 in my upcoming book, THE NEW PHYSICS OF CHILDHOOD: Replacing Modern Myths with Simple Strategies. Pre-orders are being taken now @: http://TheNewPhysicsofChildhood.com a project of Chamelea Productions © 2009

Please sign-up for my RSS feed on this blog so you can be notified when book is ready for purchase!

TO YOUR HEALTH!!!

GRANNY PANTS

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Filed under 1, environment, Grandchildren, Granny Pants, H1N1, health care, mother, nutrition, prevention