Monday, January 13, 2014

Grocery Store Preparedness

Note:  Since writing this article, I found myself with two young women in the house coming down with food poisoning at 1 in the morning.  Because of that experience, I'd add sports drink and ice pops to the list.  Since I didn't have them, it meant a middle of the night run for liquids, returning just in time to have a 7 month old thrown in my direction as her mother made a mad dash for the bathroom...

Grocery Store Preparedness
From the Nov/Dec '13 Essential Herbal Magazine
Tina Sams
Just this week, my daughter who is now a young adult caught a doozy of a cold.  Ignoring Mom’s pleas to take elderberry tincture, she quickly progressed to the deep wheezing of bronchitis.  I thanked my lucky stars that the herb shelf was lined with everything I needed to make some good syrup, and was grateful to have been busily making different medicines for the last couple of months.  However, it has not always been this way.  Not so many years ago, I would have found myself struggling to find a way to get her to a doctor, fill a prescription (most likely), and still get to work on time.  Whether or not I found someone to take care of her, I would have felt like a terrible mom.  This is the reality that the majority of us face.
Make medicines ahead when you can.
I have friends who are purists and consider every substance they consume or come in contact with, and friends who eat fast food every day, smoke, drink, and view veggies as a waste of space on their plates.  Most everyone falls somewhere in between.  The truth is that everyone is just trying to stay one step ahead of the wolves at the door, raise their families, and enjoy a little slice of life where they can find it.  We all have vices.  We are all in-betweeners in one way or another.  We all eventually find that an unexpected illness can upset the apple cart, and we open the cupboards to find them lacking the things we need.
At that point, it’s too late to place an on-line order and sometimes dragging our sorry selves to a store is about as realistic as wresting an alligator.  The very best thing we can do for ourselves right now is to get a few things stocked up.  I’m not talking about exotic herbs or even making up special concoctions to have on hand, necessarily.  Certainly it is wonderful to have prepared or pre-purchased herbal products like tinctures and syrups on hand, but if not, all is not lost.

A good starter list for the grocery store:
HONEY – raw and organic local honey is the best.  It can be used to whip up syrups, teas, and some very simple recipes.
LEMONS – Always good to have around.  They stay good in the crisper for a long time, but pure juice is also available in shelf-stable containers. 
GINGER AND REAL GINGER ALE – We get crystallized ginger from the bulk store down the road, and try to keep ginger ale on hand.  It’s not always easy to do because that ginger ale seems to vanish… Check the ingredient label on the ginger ale to be sure that there is ginger in it!
GARLIC – Garlic also lasts pretty well, but if you don’t use it much in cooking, consider getting the chopped bits in a jar.
APPLE CIDER VINEGAR – the real thing.  Check the label.  Often distilled white vinegar is just flavored, so be sure you’re getting the good stuff.
ELDERBERRY JELLY – we can often find this at the farm markets around here, but if you can’t, ask your grocer to get it in for you.
OLIVE OIL – besides all the other reasons to have this around, it can become a quick salve or rub when infused with essential oil or some garlic, ginger, cayenne, etc.
CHICKEN BROTH – Although it’s wonderful to make your own, an emergency supply when you’re suffering is better than nothing.  Adding lots of garlic and ginger (see above) will make it into something very good.
SICK FOOD – Crackers, Applesauce, Jello, and some Italian Water Ice have all been things that we NEEDED but didn’t have in the house.
A few other things we couldn’t live without:
RICE HEAT SACK – these go by a lot of different names, but basically it is a cloth sack filled ½ way with rice that can go into the microwave for a minute.  Great for muscle pains, cold feet, cramps, or just to soothe a sick person.  Much like a hot water bottle, but easier to use.  Ours is about 18” long and about 4” wide.  We use it a lot.
LICORICE ROOT STICKS – In 20 years, there’s never been a time when we didn’t have these in the house.  There really is nothing like them to soothe a sore throat or raw sinuses.  As a stir stick in any tea, they make a huge difference.  As a child, Molly often had a licorice root stick in her mouth.
TEA BLENDS – we have a lot of our own here, and I try to keep them made up with heat-sealable teabags for ease of use, but tea balls work just as well.  We also love a certain ginger and honey instant brew that can often be found in health food stores.  If you’re not growing and blending your own, be sure to have a variety on hand.

Now if you’ve got a moment, make up some of these medicines.  They’ll keep for a very long time, and you’ll thank yourself later.

Garlic Honey  - Fill a jar about 1/3 full with coarsely chopped garlic cloves and then fill to the top with honey.  Work out any air bubbles.  Use in tea (or eat the garlic and honey) when a virus attacks.

Ginger Elixir – Into a quart jar, chop a large hand of ginger coarsely.  Thinly slice one lemon and add to the jar.  Add a couple of cinnamon sticks or a tablespoon of pieces or powder.  Cover with honey and stir well.  Fill the rest of the way with vodka.  The honey/vodka ratio is usually about 1 part honey to 2 parts vodka, however we do it more by feel than by measurement.

Fire Cider –  Into a large jar, chop onions, garlic, ginger root, horseradish, and cayenne.  Some people add turmeric as well.  There are specific recipes on line, but I make it up as I go, depending on what is around.  Cover ingredients with apple cider vinegar and let sit until you need it.  To use, mix with a little of the garlic honey, taking about a tablespoon at a time.
None of the items on the shopping list will go to waste, and it’s a good idea to keep an eye on them since they are things that we use in every day cooking.  By keeping them in the house, I’ve saved myself (and my fellow shoppers) some very unsightly exposure.  If you’ve got your chicken stock frozen, your syrups lined up in gleaming bottles, and your tinctures ready to strain, good!  But if you’re an in-betweener like almost all of us, hopefully this will make you feel a little less guilty about that can of chicken noodle soup and saltines that might be the only thing that your little one is willing to eat today.


Unknown said...

Thank you, this is fantastic!

Anonymous said...

I knew I bought the ginger for some reason.:)