My Home Apothecary

Friday, I spent most of the day making capsules at our kitchen table. I have two capsule machines: size 0 [~500mg] and size 00 [~600mg]. With either of these I can make 24 capsules at a time. It is a slow process, but not difficult. It has allowed us to reduce our use of pharmaceuticals and improve our health dramatically. Back in September 2013, I reported about talking to my doctors about ginger and turmeric. I make those capsules. Sine I make them, I can add some black pepper into the turmeric capsules, which is an added bonus, not yet available off the rack at CVS. Turmeric is much better activated when combined with black pepper. This way, I don’t have to remember to add black pepper to every meal when I am taking turmeric.

I have managed to stay off Lipitor due to turmeric. With the turmeric and ginger, I have not had to have a Synvisc or cortisone injection in either of my knees for three years now. They were at the point of talking about replacement. They seldom bother me anymore. The site where the infection had eaten into my spine is totally clean and restored, as if nothing had happened there, according to the last MRI. This is what powerful, natural anti-inflammatories can do for you.

Capsule Making Machine
Capsule Making Machine

I also made 600mg cinnamon capsules and 500mg green tea capsules, Friday. These serve similar purposes. They both help regulate / reduce blood sugar and are powerful antioxidants to prevent cancer and other degenerative diseases. These take some careful choosing and preparation, however. There are a few different kinds of cinnamon. The most commonly available is Mexican (or Ceylon). The bark comes tightly rolled and smooth, with an orangey color. It has a relatively sweet flavor. So-called Saigon cinnamon looks like it is basically a transplanted cultivar of the Mexican. These are what virtually all of the ground spice in the stores are. That may taste great on your rice or snickerdoodles, but it is not what we want. It lacks the antioxidant potency of the Chinese bark (Cassia). The Chinese bark is darker brown. It does not curl up tightly in the drying process, and, most of the time, isn’t smooth. It takes some effort to break up the pieces. Be careful not to burn out your coffee grinder in the process of powdering it, like I did. This is why I now have this slightly more expensive Mr. Coffee grinder. It has a timer. I know I have to give it a rest after a 12-cup fine run, even though it’s going to take that twice to get my cinnamon fine enough to encapsulate. Another word about cinnamon; if you have Type AB blood, you are most likely allergic to it. Cinnamon actually helps lower blood sugar by helping the body to produce more insulin.

One would think it would be a simple matter of going to a food store and buying a box or tin of loose, green tea. Read the fine print! On my last trip to Assi Market, it took me over 20 minutes in the tea aisle before I found a box of simple green tea, nothing added, vacuum packed. It was from China by way of an Irish importer! Green tea has a range of benefits. It lowers cholesterol and blood pressure. It can lower blood sugar and improve the metabolism to digest and burn fat. This is especially important for those on a low carb diet. There is evidence that it is good for the brain to prevent Alzheimer’s disease. It can help prevent stroke and congestive heart failure. No wonder there are so many Chinese!

From time to time, I also make coriander, to help the kidneys; and garlic, to fight a cold or infection. I’m allergic to at least six classes of antibiotics, so I have to do my own homework and do my best to stay healthy. Using herbs and minerals, I have managed to avoid knee surgery, and those expensive injections for years, and reduce the number of prescription medications I regularly use from six to two, while improving my cholesterol, and more importantly, ny inflammatory numbers. Plus, I lowered my A1c to the basement, no longer at risk for developing diabetes. Whereas, when they discharged me from the hospital a few years ago, I had diabetes from the kidney failure and steroids they had put me on to fight the Stevens Johnsons Syndrome. So I think the time and effort are worth it.

I have set up two men my age down on the street with capsule making machines. One went to a walk-in clinic with bad arthritis in his knees. He was handed a prescription for a medication that would cost almost $400/month. He came to me. He said, “What are these people thinking? I am coming to a free, walk-in, clinic. How do they suppose I am going to afford this much for their drugs?” He paid me $15 for a capsule machine and a starter supply of ginger and turmeric from our good, bulk supplier in Amish country. This set up cost The King’s Jubilee about $30. He wanted to pay. I gave him a low ball number. He will stick to it and do it, if it cost him something. Although, he is a serious person. I started supplying another man, who used to be homeless, who then volunteered with us, with ginger and turmeric and green tea capsules. This started after he disappeared for a couple of weeks. He reappeared and told me the reason for his absence was he ate a chocolate bar and it put him in the hospital. I got tired of making his capsules, so I gave him a machine and bulk spices. The next week he said, “That’s really hard work! You must really love me!” His daughter was able to stop her insulin after she started faithfully using the green tea and turmeric. He passed on the love!

Custom Tiles / Steampunking My Bathroom 4

tile_rubberduckyToday’s little update is that I started to paint some custom tiles. Originally, I was planning on painting graffitti rubber ducks of various colors on top of the tiles, once the walls were painted. However, I was inspired by the custom, reproduction subway tiles I saw when I was researching for this project. With all the work I’m putting into this, spoiling it with graffitti just didn’t appeal to me anymore. I still wanted to include my rubber ducks, etc., so this is a more civilized presentation.

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If you like what you see and you want to continue seeing progress reports, please help us keep our home.

Our house is not just our house. It is also the base of operations for The King’s Jubilee to which we have dedicated our lives and resources for three decades. It is also a small native plant refuge for birds, insects, butterflies and small mammals in the middle of an old borough in part of the urban sprawl outside of Philadelphia. If you want to help us save our house you may make a donation via The King’s Jubilee using the Paypal button below or go to GoFundMe and help us out there. Thanks!



Accessorizing / Steampunking My Bathroom 3

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Shampoo & soap dish for shower.

Today I added soap and shampoo holders for the shower and little trays above the sink to hold cups, toothpaste, etc. These are made of 4″ galvanized vent caps bolted together, then bolted to the wall. I was inspired to use these in this maner by the use of the PVC end caps that are bolted to the scaffolding at Home Depot and used to dispense advertising flyers and such. I failed to share a picture of my toilet paper holder until now. It is angled out for two reasons. Our toilet angles from the corner, so this places the paper in actual parallel. More importantly, this allows the holder to receive larger than standard rolls. We sometimes are given “remnant” rolls of TP by a cleaning service. This spindle will accommodate them just fine.DSC02914

If you like what you see and you want to continue seeing progress reports, please help us keep our home.

Our house is not just our house. It is also the base of operations for The King’s Jubilee to which we have dedicated our lives and resources for three decades. It is also a small native plant refuge for birds, insects, butterflies and small mammals in the middle of an old borough in part of the urban sprawl outside of Philadelphia. If you want to help us save our house you may make a donation via The King’s Jubilee using the Paypal button below or go to GoFundMe and help us out there. Thanks!



Subway Tiles / Steampunking My Bathroom 2

I have watched a lot of those home improvement, DIY and various home makeover shows over the last 10 or 12 years. Already, some of the things they were promoting in the beginning, people are starting to turn up their noses at and feel look dated. I remember watching shows  where they painted beautiful, natural maple cabinets to “update” a kitchen. I cringed. What could be more timeless than natural wood? Then they started putting in glass tile backsplashes in almost every kitchen. The same tiles started showing up in the bathrooms, as well. Then the buzzword became “subway tiles”. This puzzled me. They were tiny compared to the tiles I’ve seen in the subways I have ridden. The only thing that made them “subway” was that they were shaped and arranged in staggered fashion, like bricks.

I am steampunking my bathroom and I wanted to paint the walls in a faux finish mimicking original subway tiles. When I began to research, the first site that came up had someone lamenting the ubiquity of subway tiles in home decor right now, and how that is going to date every home that uses them. Oh the irony of being trendy! A few sites down was a company that has just started reproducing old style subway tiles in the last couple of years. They give the history and have them available in a variety of sizes and colors. They confirmed my hunch. The tile size I was seeing on the far side of the tracks in Philadelphia was 6″x12″. That is what I wanted to go with. I also wanted to intersperse with a couple of rows of 3″x12″ tiles to accommodate two color bands. I can’t afford tiles. Time I have. Painting is like Zen. I painted our living room, hallway, steps, etc., all with a 2-1/2″ brush.

I thought I could use a white paint Sharpie to draw the lines on the walls, using a straight edge. That didn’t work on the high gloss paint. So I found my tiny paint brush and my bright white paint. Trouble is, I can’t paint a straight line to save my soul. I never could and it has gotten worse now that I have a slight tremor. Well, the colors I had chosen are on the cartoonish side of reality, so my painting will just add to the whimsy.

DSC02908Let me say something about the colors. The first time I painted this bathroom, I took my rubber ducky to the paint store. We computer matched the yellow for the walls and the beek for the trim and the tub. My wife came home from Ladies’ Night Out and hollered at me, “Can I not leave you home alone anymore?”

At least I had not painted anything Rubber Ducky Lipstick Pink! For real, the lips on the rubber ducky are pink! Anyway, I painted over the orange and took the towels back to the paint store to match the blue for the trim and tub color. Bethann was pleased. Well, at least, she tolerated it. This is the second generation: Rubber Ducky Steampunk, if you will. The egg cream paint color is chosen based on a rubber ducky fabric. The custom blue paint was optically matched from the same curtain fabric. It is an interesting, light, robin’s egg blue. It has the subtlest touch of green to it. It changes its look between sunlight and artificial light.

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Self Portrait in the mirror of the new medicine cabinet
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The first thing I did was GFCI upgrade to the electrical before I began using power tools in the bathroom.

The light fixtures I made from 3/4″ galvanized pipe with a black pipe transitions to a 1″. I used lampsocket plug-in adapters. I wired them with lamp cord, then inserted them in the pipes with black tool insulating coat, normally used for cushioning tool handles. The shower curtain rod is made from 3/4″ and 1/2″ galvanized pipe. It allows more room in the shower than the aluminum, off-the-rack one, plus is more sturdy and won’t fall down mid-shower.

I’m not done yet. I have custom tiles to paint and the soap holders to install; not to mention what I may do to the sink and toilet.DSC02878DSC02872

Left end of shower curtain rod
Left end of shower curtain rod

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If you like what you see and you want to continue seeing progress reports, please help us keep our home.

Our house is not just our house. It is also the base of operations for The King’s Jubilee to which we have dedicated our lives and resources for three decades. It is also a small native plant refuge for birds, insects, butterflies and small mammals in the middle of an old borough in part of the urban sprawl outside of Philadelphia. If you want to help us save our house you may make a donation via The King’s Jubilee using the Paypal button below or go to GoFundMe and help us out there. Thanks!



Mango Ginger Pork

The name is practically the recipe. It’s that simple!

Last night, we had failed to thaw meat for dinner, so I scoured the meat case for a bargain. I found a pack of about 3-1/2 lbs. of boneless pork loin cuts for $2.49/lb. I usually like to do these on the Weber Kettle charcoal grill to add that smoked flavor and keep them tender. It was a miserable rainy day. I had to get creative. I grabbed a box of Mango nectar on sale for 80 cents and we were good to go!

When I got home, I fired up the oven at 350º convection to start warming up. I got the 15″ cast iron skillet off the wall and heated it up with some olive oil coating the bottom. Then I barely seared the pork in it. I sprinkled a generous amount of ground ginger on top and poured as much of the liter of mango nectar as would fit in the pan; probably about half. I put this in the oven.

DSC02887Then I got out the rice cooker and put the Three Continent Grain blend into it with the appropriate amount of water a glug of olive oil and a half teaspoon of nutmeg. After the pork had baked for about 10 minutes, I turned on the rice. When the pork and rice were done, I heated peas. Pictured here, is broccoli. These are leftovers reheated for lunch. Yum! I get the grain mix at Costco, but I called the manufacturer. It can be obtained at Acme, SafeWay, BiLo, etc., all across the country. It’s great stuff, and far superior nutritionally than standard white or brown rice. (I usually don’t plug products. I should have arranged to get something for this.) You may find availability and more info at info@earthlychoice.com

The rubber ducky is on the table, because it was in the kitchen to get washed while I am painting the duck themed bathroom where it usually abides. There will be more about that in another article.

The pork was a huge hit! It was savory, juicy and tender. It was done in about 30 minutes. This is a salt-free recipe that won’t leave you looking for the salt shaker. The ginger gives it that snap! The mango gives it mystery. It’s not expected. Most will not guess it. Ginger is a powerful anti-inflammatory, so it’s good for you, too.

If you like what you read and you want to help me to be able to keep cooking and writing, as well as to keep serving the poor, please consider making a donation below. Thanks.

We are trying to save our house from foreclosure. You may make a donation via The King’s Jubilee using the Paypal button below or go to GoFundMe and help us out there. Thanks!



Steampunking my Bathroom I

grab bar
grab bar

This all started because the towel bars kept falling off the wall. Those silly micro-screwdriver pegs to tighten the bar ends onto the cleats never quite properly grip into the drywall. It was alway a gamble whether or not the towel was going to hang or fall. Things came to a head when Bethann used my bahroom for a month while I was renovating hers. She said I needed a “grab” bar for the tub. I have a clawfoot tub. We are now 60 and washing our feet standing up in the shower can be a dangerous thing. She found it precarious just climbing out of the wet tub onto the floor with the added height of the claw feet, with nothing solid to hold onto.

towel rack with wrench still tightening
towel rack with wrench still tightening

If you know me, you know I generally jump in all fours. It will not just be a grab bar and towel rack. I want the whole theme! I loved Warehouse 13. I want that computer keyboard! I am typing on a keyboard with six keys missing because I melted them off attempting to dry them off, after spilling my water on them when falling asleep one night. This is one the $100 replacement computer after I fried a better computer the same way. That steampunk mechanical keyboard would so solve my problem! So, I started with the grab bar and the towel bar that was falling off. Then I moved on to the lights and the medicine chest/mirror. Next, I will take on the toilet paper holder and the shower curtain rod. Ther bigger challenges will be the sink, the toilet and the shower control. I have ideas for those.

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Medicine chest made from an old 99 cent suitcase, LED Edison lamps & towel bar. Medicine cabinet is lit inside, as well.

A more extensive article or articles will follow explaining the process. I’m just posting this to share some photos for now. I need to clean up the bathroom and steam this punk, now! I stink.

If you like what you see and you want to continue seeing progress reports, please help us keep our home.

Our house is not just our house. It is also the base of operations for The King’s Jubilee to which we have dedicated our lives and resources for three decades. It is also a small native plant refuge for birds, insects, butterflies and small mammals in the middle of an old borough in part of the urban sprawl outside of Philadelphia. If you want to help us save our house you may make a donation via The King’s Jubilee using the Paypal button below or go to GoFundMe and help us out there. Thanks!



Blizzard Jonas Flaming Hash

Tuesday, we were finally able to get out and about after a fine young man with a pickup truck, plow and a snowblower, dug us out Monday evening for 20% of the going rate. We had not prepared for this blizzard. We  had left our snow shovels in the shed attached to the barn at the back of the lot. We left our cars parked in front of the barn, instead of next to the house, close to the street. I was pre-occupied with cooking a hearty chicken soup to serve on the street in center city Phila. that night to the homeless and poor and those working outreach, etc. Then I got a migraine in response to the weather system moving in. Bethann was concerned about me, so she forgot about moving the cars, etc. (When I get a migraine, there is a real risk it can cause a stroke. I have had at least six strokes and over 40 TIAs. This is why I am disabled.) So I stayed home Friday evening as the storm was starting, and sent Tony and Will, TKJ’s best driver, to the city to serve.

I grew up in Minnesota. We were required to read O.E. Rölvaag’s book: Giants in the Earth in 8th grade English. I think it was because his son, Karl, had recently been DFL (Democratic Farmer Labor) governor. The most memorable thing in that slow moving plot was when Per takes what he knows is an impossible walk into the blizzard and is not found until Spring. When they venture out, they find his corpse sitting on a haystack. He had been so close to his destination, but snowblind, cold and disoriented, on a fool’s errand to satisfy ceremonial religion. It is an important piece of literature on the harshness of the environment and how it informs our values. Back to 2016.

So I go to the grocery store on Tuesday in Bethann’s car. I find I can buy avocados, fresh peppers, onions, all manner of produce from all parts of the world, just two days after the worst blizzard in 20 years to hit us! What an amazing age we live in! This recipe celebrates that. Yes! This entry is about a recipe. Here goes!

Ingredients:

  • 4 Glugs Yukon Jack 100 Proof
  • ~1-1/2 lbs. 80% lean ground beef
  • 2 Avocados diced
  • 1 Orange Sweet Pepper diced
  • 1 Sweet Green Pepper diced
  • 1 Sweet Red Pepper diced
  • 2 small Yellow Onions diced
  • 3 Red Potatoes, peeled & diced
  • 4 oz. “White  Cheese”
  • 3 cloves Garlic pressed
  • Black Pepper Grinder
  • Paprika
  • Coriander
  • Red Pepper
  • Turmeric

Directions:

In a 14″ or 15″ skillet, begin to brown the Ground Beef & Onions. Chop and add Peppers as they are ready. Sprinkle Paprika, Coriander Red Pepper Turmeric as you are going along and stir in. Add the Avocados. Grind coarse Black Pepper over the mixture, as well. Press the garlic over and stir in with your spatula.
When everything is about done cooking, glug the Yukon Jack into the pan and turn up the gas burner to full. Watch it catch fire for a moment! If you’re not cookin’ with gas, have a butane lighter handy to light it up. You have to be quick. It’s only 100 proof. 😉
Grate some cheese of your choice over it. We had a little yogurt longhorn or somesuch. I grated it over the pan and covered to help it melt. Feta would work. Blue cheese would be my first choice. Whatever goes with the wine you’re serving!

Enjoy! The settlers never roughed it like this!

Our house is not just our house. It is also the base of operations for The King’s Jubilee to which we have dedicated our lives and resources for three decades. It is also a small native plant refuge for birds, insects, butterflies and small mammals in the middle of an old borough in part of the urban sprawl outside of Philadelphia. If you want to help us save our house you may make a donation via The King’s Jubilee using the Paypal button below or go to GoFundMe and help us out there. Thanks!