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Sunday, June 6, 2010

Rhubarb--Facts, Recipes, and The BEST Tip for a Great Harvest

Hi everyone! Did you know that rhubarb is one of the earliest foods you can harvest on the homestead? I've harvested 2 batches already!! And it's not even the middle of May!! Any perennial food you can grow will not only be a great prep, but it will allow you to save money and enjoy fresh, delicious food. Rhubarb is just one of those perennial foods.

Rhubarb grows in beautiful red stalks with a great big green leaf on the top. It is a good source of vitamin C and fiber. It is quite tart, so it's best when paired with sugar or a sweet fruit, such as strawberries. You can eat it plain, cooked in pie, bread, or muffins, and make jam with it. Botanically rhubarb is a veggie, but in 1947 a New York court declared that since it is used in the U.S. as a fruit, it could be called a fruit. (Isn't that interesting?) The leaves of rhubarb are poisonous, so be sure to remove them. They can be thrown in with your compost. If you don't have rhubarb but know someone who does, ask them if they will divide it and give you a clump. You won't be sorry.

And now for the BEST tip for a great rhubarb harvest: Cover it with a pile of fresh chicken manure! That's right! In Spring, take 'hot' shavings fresh from the chicken house and completely cover your rhubarb. I got this idea from Jackie Clay who writes for Backwoods Home Magazine. I did it this year and I've got more and bigger, healthier-looking stalks than I've ever had in about 12 years of growing rhubarb! Woo-Hoo! Give it a try! And now for some recipes......

Rhubarb Muffins2 1/2 cups flour (I use 1/2 wheat)
1 1/2 cups backed brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 cup buttermilk
2/3 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups finely chopped rhubarb
sliced almonds (optional)
In a large bowl, combine the first five ingredients. Combine egg, buttermilk, oil and vanilla; stir into dry ingredients just until moistened. Fold in rhubarb. Fill greased or paper-lined muffin cups half full. Top with a few sliced almonds if desired. Bake at 375 for 16-18 minutes or until done. Makes about 2 dozen.

Strawberry-Rhubarb Pie
Pastry for 2-crust pie (I assume you have this, otherwise ask and I'll provide it)
1 1/3 to 1 2/3 cups sugar
1/3 cup flour
2 cups cut-up rhubarb
2 cups cut-up strawberries
2 tablespoons butter
Heat oven to 425. Roll out pastry and fill bottom of pie pan. Mix sugar and flour. Mix rhubarb and strawberries. Put half of the fruit into the pastry-lined plate; sprinkle with half of the sugar mixture. Repeat with remaining fruit and sugar mixture. Dot with butter. Cover with top crust; cut slits in crust. Seal edges. (Cover edges with foil or pie crust shield to prevent excess browning if desired. Remove during last 15 minutes of baking.) Bake 40-50minutes until crust is brown and juice begins to bubble through slits. Enjoy! (I like mine warm with vanilla ice cream! Yum!)

Strawberry-Rhubarb Jam (from the Ball Blue Book)
2 cups crushed strawberries
2 cups chopped rhubarb
1 package powdered pectin
1/4 cup lemon juice
5 1/2 cups sugar
Combine strawberries, rhubarb, powdered pectin and lemon juice in a large sauce pot. Bring to a boil over high heat. Add sugar, stirring until dissolved. Return to a rolling boil. Boil hard 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Skim foam if necessary. Ladle hot jam into hot jars, leaving 1/4-inch headspace. Adjust two-piece caps. Process 10 minutes in a boiling-water canner.

Prep On!
Gen-IL Homesteader

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Precautions and Considerations When Dealing With The Dead

Sudden and long term disasters can bring about a lot of change.  And some of that change is the loss of friends and loved ones.  As unappealing as this subject may be, recently, there has been multiple accounts of natural disasters where large amounts of individuals perished.  The government, scrambling to devise a plan of action to deal with this issue left the corpses to rot in the streets as the victims who escaped death looked on.  The longer a body is exposed to the elements, the faster it decomposes.
To better educate the population, here are some tips that were gathered from the Center For Disease Control and other  educational resources for how to properly deal with ridding of dead bodies.
Human remains may contain blood-borne viruses such as hepatitis viruses and HIV, and bacteria that cause diarrheal diseases, such as shigella and salmonella. These viruses and bacteria do not pose a risk to someone walking nearby, nor do they cause significant environmental contamination.
Bacteria and viruses from human remains in flood water are a minor part of the overall contamination that can include uncontrolled sewerage, a variety of soil and water organisms, and household and industrial chemicals. There are no additional practices or precautions for flood water related to human remains, beyond what is normally required for safe food and drinking water, standard hygiene and first aid.
However, for people who must directly handle remains, such as recovery personnel, or persons identifying remains or preparing the remains for burial or cremation, there can be a risk of exposure to such viruses or bacteria.

Workers who handle human remains should use the following precautions:

  • Protect your face from splashes of body fluids and fecal material. You can use a plastic face-shield or a combination of eye protection (indirectly vented safety goggles are a good choice if available; safety glasses will only provide limited protection) and a surgical mask. In extreme situations, a cloth tied over the nose and mouth can be used to block splashes.
  • Protect your hands from direct contact with body fluids, and also from cuts, puncture wounds, or other injuries that break the skin that might be caused by sharp environmental debris or bone fragments. A combination of a cut-proof inner layer glove and a latex or similar outer layer is preferable. Footwear should similarly protect against sharp debris.
  • Maintain hand hygiene to prevent transmission of diarrheal and other diseases from fecal materials on your hands. Wash your hands with soap and water or with an alcohol-based hand cleaner immediately after you remove your gloves.
  • Give prompt care–including immediate cleansing with soap and clean water, and a tetanus booster if indicated–to any wounds sustained during work with human remains.
  • In addition to guarding physical safety, participate in available programs to provide psychological and emotional support for workers handling human remains. Agencies coordinating the management of human remains are encouraged to develop programs providing psychological and emotional support and care for workers during and after recovery activities.
Source: Center For Disease Control

Temporary to Long Term Disposal of Bodies

This resource is very informative on the topic of disposing of bodies, and should be printed out and put into one’s G.O.O.D Manual.  This resource can provide answers to such questions as how far to bury a body away from water, what type of diseases and bacterial infections one could acquire when handling a body, and how to temporarily store the body before a permanent burial.
In a disaster situation where there are mass amounts of dead bodies, blood-borne viruses and diseases can begin occurring if the corpses are not properly disposed of.  Considering that many of us have no idea what is involved when burying a body, or the risks that it could involve; it would be beneficial to have some kind of an idea of how to deal with this before hand.