MonthNovember 2014

TIME TRAVEL

 

The MayflowerEach year I am both surprised and delighted to learn about new authors – “new” to me, but not to others. One such discovery is Nathaniel Philbrick, a gifted storyteller, who recounted the lives and events of those migrating to the shores of Massachusetts in 1620. His book: The Mayflower: A Story of Courage, Community and War (© 2006). If you don’t want to read the book, here is a snapshot of the events of William Bradford and others, as they left Holland for the North American continent.

Philbrick begins with the Pilgrims’ expulsion from England (they knew their Puritan brethren couldn’t reform the Church of England, so they picked up their belongings and moved to Holland). This wasn’t exactly a Southern Baptist congregation splitting from the Mother Ship and moving across town to form a new church. The Pilgrims were most fervent in their beliefs, and were banned by the Church of England to worship as they did. So they escaped to Holland, to find a place of solace and rest, where they might live and worship God as they knew He wanted them to.

The Holland government and church did not jail them or burn them at the stake for their Christian practices and beliefs, so the Netherlands were a safe haven. These Separatists (from the Church of England) were few in number (about 300), but did not plan on making Holland their final destination. They needed time to accumulate finances required to complete their intended voyage to the new world. They saved their earnings for 11 years, while they also honed and refined their habits and strict Christian praxis (for example, they could not attend Christian worship services unless they were conducted by those of like faith).

During their stay in Holland, they gained valuable information from the experiences of John Cabot, John Smith, and other new world explorers, as they planned their own journey. The failures in Virginia (the Jamestown Colony) did not preclude or dissuade them from relocating in an unknown land.

Since they lacked finances to buy staples which would sustain them for a year, they sought outside investors, who would help them hire a ship and crew to make the voyage, and retain a military advisor (one of the investors happens to be an ancestor of mine, viz., John Beauchamp). These outside resources probably provided 40% of what was needed to meet their needs.

To repay the venture capitalists, if we characterize them as such, the Pilgrims indentured themselves for seven years, working 4 days a week for the capitalists (the other 2 days for themselves; no work or play on Sunday, their day of worship). At least that was the plan. The furs, animal skins and cod would be shipped back to England, and profits kept by the investors.

Though Philbrick doesn’t mention it, there was no hope of finding the gold which Columbus sought during his 4 voyages to the New World. “Filthy lucre” might have been an incentive for the Spaniards in 1492 (and thereafter), but not these zealous Christians from England. Religious freedom was their ultimate goal, and as we all know, they achieved it, but not the way they had planned.

Even with outside resources, the funds were insufficient to transport all 300 to the new world. Fifty were selected to make the trip, while the remainder stayed in Holland. The 50 who made the trip nonetheless took their collected savings and belongings and sailed back to England. The investors had located a suitable ship for them to use, and had hired a crew. To the surprise of the Pilgrims, the investors added 50 other passengers who were not of like faith, to add to their mix. Though John Smith, the experienced explorer and cartographer, was available for hire as a military advisor, the Pilgrims selected Miles Standish instead. He proved his worth during the coming years.

Mayflower paintingThey stowed a year’s worth of rations in the ship’s hold, and began their journey in early September. Their voyage was filled with peril, with storms and illnesses, but after fighting the seas for two months, they anchored the ship in a large cove, off the shores of Massachusetts. The length of their journey makes one wonder how Columbus completed his initial voyage in 33 days.

It was now mid-November, the onset of winter in 1620, and the weather was much colder than in England; North America was experiencing a “little Ice Age”. Besides the constant chill in the air, life did not improve once they dropped anchor. They could not explore the region, because they lacked a small sailboat to navigate up and down the coasts. Their shallop had been disassembled and stored in the hold, and had to be reconstructed by the ship’s carpenter and his crew.

Until the shallot was completed, they were delayed in moving from ship to shore; they and their clothes, wares, and supplies were quarantined on board the Mayflower for another month.

While most stayed onboard the ship, a few others rowed in longboats, which were unsuitable for transporting personal belongings. Their initial assessment was that the location was suitable, but they were surprised to learn they were alone: earlier explorers had encountered natives, but these first Pilgrims neither saw nor crossed paths with any other persons.

Once the shallop was assembled, the travelers moved their furniture and clothes and food to their new home, but the winter conditions were not good, and the weather deteriorated. Faced with no shelters for refuge, they struggled to survive, and soon found their own food supplies were inadequate to feed them. As the explorer contingent of their group walked through the forests, they stumbled onto hidden stores of corn (left by the natives), which they decided to keep, so they might be fed. This food proved to be a Godsend and lifeline for all of the passengers and crew. While the regions were being explored, others of their group felled timbers and began building houses and buildings, to provide needed shelter. Most suffered hunger and fought constant illnesses.

In time, they began to sight natives in the distance. As they approached and called to these natives, the natives would flee from the Englishmen. Every effort made to approach them failed. Then, after four months of failing to make contact, a tall native, barren of clothes suitable for cool spring climate, walked a long distance from his initial sighting, straight into their camp, and greeted them with the famous words “Welcome, Englishmen”. He asked for food and drink, which they supplied, and he later took them to his teacher, the English speaking Squanto. Through Squanto, who had been captured by earlier explorers and transported to England where he learned English, then returned to America, the Pilgrims at last had a bridge to the natives. Squanto’s skills in translating proved invaluable as they befriended native tribes.

From Squanto and other natives, the Pilgrims were taught valuable lessons in agronomy. Through bartering wampum with the Indians, they traded for much needed food. Fortune smiled on their affairs as the months progressed, and they achieved a somewhat peaceful accord as the months rolled into autumn. Their first year’s produce (1621) was good, and in September or October of that year, they feasted with the Indians, in what has now been enshrined as a national holiday every November: Thanksgiving. But this once peaceful gathering was not to last.

Ten years passed before the first great wave of Puritan immigrants landed, and a thousand new Englishmen and women and children began populating regions of Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island and Maine. Land was available for all, but the English intrusions had interrupted the life patterns the Indians had established. This English infusion created new and different conflicts with the Indians, and the conflicts were more frequent. The second and third generations of the Mayflower Company continued in their “monastic” Christian practices, but the Pilgrims were not particularly endearing or gregarious. They had to share their occupied territory with the natives and with their distant Puritan brethren, as the new land became more inhabited by different Christian reformers (Baptists, Quakers, Puritans and others).

The English system of property ownership was now in place. The natives were being coaxed to deed their holdings to the newcomers (a new concept to them), and to adjust their seasonal migrations to accommodate the English settlements. Things weren’t the same as they had been in 1620. One native, given the Christian name Philip, decided to drive the intruders back to England, and he is credited with beginning the 3 year military campaign against the Puritans, the Pilgrims, and the Dutch (who were now in New Amsterdam). This war (King Philip’s War), begun after 50 years of the landing of the Mayflower, was costly for the colonists and the natives (towns were ravaged and burned, as over 600 colonists and 3,000 natives died). The outcome of the war proved pivotal for future generations. Perhaps the muskets fired during that war should rightfully be known as the “shots heard ‘round the world”, because the Indians were ultimately defeated by the English and Dutch. This war was unlikely and unforeseeable in 1621, when the Pilgrims and natives celebrated what is now known as the first Thanksgiving.

Philbrick ends the tales of the Mayflower Company, by reporting the truce reached with the natives. Though there was now peace, the worldviews of the natives and the English community would continue to be antipodal for years to come.

Philbrick’s re-counting these events is entertaining and educational. Since the fourth Thursday in November is a week away, I suggest you treat yourself to a copy of this book (The Mayflower). As a time traveler, you will relive the stories and events of the founders of our country. You will gain a backdoor education you never experienced in school, but will enjoy it more, because there is no final exam awaiting you as you complete this book.

Editor’s note: My mid-month posts are not on topics of health or food, and I may not do this every month. However, I am going to give a couple of tips on food preparation, which are under the label “Recipe”.

THE RECIPE

OK, this isn’t a recipe, but here are a few tips, which deal with sous vide cooking:

If you use Food Saver re-sealable bags (they are much heavier than zip lock storage bags), you can rewash and reuse the bags for future meal preparation. If, however, you cook fish, or add seasonings to the meats before cooking them in the sous vide unit, you may discover the bags will retain the smell, and will probably have to be discarded. In addition, as you re-use the bags, you will also discover they will not last forever, because they will begin to leak.

When I suck the air from the Food Saver bag, I leave a little air pocket in the bag. For some reason, the meats are juicier when I remove them from the bags.

Under normal conditions, I undercook the meat‘s recommended temperature; then, when I remove the meat from the Food Saver bag and add seasonings (I am a proponent of meat rubs), and then sear the meat (in butter or olive oil), the core temperature will reach its desired goal.

If you don’t want to buy a sous vide unit, but want to experience the tenderness of the meat, wrap the meat in aluminum foil and put it in a crock pot for about an hour (at the lowest temperature). Remove the meat, then sear it to the desired core temperature.

pH BALANCE and SOME STRATEGIES FOR CANCER, DIABETES, HEART DISEASE

No one covets the thought of having cancer, or living with someone who does. If you find yourself in this situation, your hope for the future may be undermined by thoughts of death, despair, depression, and hopelessness. You may withdraw from life, and be unwilling to discuss the situation with friends, neighbors and relatives. Once you were in control of your life, but now you aren’t: you are forced to depend on medical resources, and hope against hope that a breakthrough will come.

I assume you have read my previous blogs, and know that we lived through that chapter of life. Though Fran and I knew of my son’s condition though chemotherapy, which was a vicarious awareness, we saw him deteriorate into a thin, bald, lethargic soul. None of this was good.

My ongoing questions during this season of life were, what caused it? Could it have been prevented? Could we (or JD) do anything to help cure his situation? Short answer: we were caught off guard, and did little except pray and take him to his weekly chemo sessions.

So, if you find yourself in this situation, what should you do?

There are many products and publications which can gave you hope: consider reading Suzanne Somers’ book, Knockout, and Tanya Harter Pierce’s Outsmart Your Cancer. You will learn there are physicians who have successfully treated patients for all sorts of cancers. Some cancers can be cured, and this should be welcome news.

We did not have these resources when JD contracted cancer. Obviously, we sought treatment options which did not involve radiation or chemotherapy. During this same period of time, I was trying to rid myself of diabetes. The thought of losing my eyesight, developing neuropathy in my fingers and toes (and possibly facing amputations later in life), and living with a weak cardio system, weren’t what I had bargained for. All I read suggested that it was up to me to control the situation (was I supposed to enroll in med school at age 61, to learn how to control my diabetes?). As I read interesting books on diabetes, such as Julian’s Whitaker’s Reversing Diabetes and the authors of The New Glucose Revolution, the light slowly came to me – I needed a deeper understanding of physiology and biochemistry.

As fate would have it, my son visited with a lady who had beat cancer by changing what she ate. She learned that her pH was out of balance, and once she got her system on track (which took a long time to achieve, and after that, a long time before the cancer disappeared), she discovered “the cure” for cancer.

Our problem was, we didn’t know much about pH “balance”, and we opted for a quick fix (chemotherapy). That said, let’s examine what she was advocating.

There is no standard definition for what “pH” means, but let’s use this concept: pH measures your body’s “potential for hydrogen”.

  • In chemistry “pH indicates whether a solution, fluid or compound is (a) acidic, (b) alkaline, or (c) neutral.
  • pH can be measured in our bodies by testing saliva and urine or blood (pH strips are available so you can test yourself, using saliva or urine).

If you have a heavy concentration of hydrogen in your system, you are “acid based” (which promotes development of free radicals, which in turn can turn into cancer cells).

The pH scale ranges from 0 to 14; to be healthy, you should have slightly alkaline, oxygen-rich arterial blood (7.365 to 7.45 is ideal) – a reading of 7.0 is neutral.

If your body is rich in oxygen (indicating an alkaline based system), the oxygen neutralizes formation of acids which might prove to be harmful (acids do not stop the growth of free radical cells, which are the precursor to cancer; if you have a good intake of oxygen, the acids are neutralized, as are free radical cells).

Most Americans eat foods which leave us with an acid base systems, and acid is destructive. Fortunately, our bodies are chemical labs in action, so our systems combat over-acidity by taking existing calcium and protein from our bones, and possibly other places, so as to produce more alkaline. This neutralizes formation of acids, and for a season, our bodies will be in balance.

After the passage of time, if we do not keep our systems in balance,

  • we become more acid based;
  • our bone formation will be reduced and depleted;
  • and we will lose calcium in our urine (which may lead to kidney stone formation).

Our proteins will breakdown, which in turn causes our muscles to waste away. Our systems will be unable to repair cells, tissues and organs fully, and age at an accelerated pace. More free radicals will be produced, and we will be subject to increased fluid retention, and so forth. None of this is good.

So how do we reverse this situation? We have to change what we eat.

Today’s American diet is built on foods that breed acid-base systems. You must learn what foods to avoid. Consider reading The Acid Alkaline Food Guide, by Dr. Susan E. Brown and Larry Trivieri, Jr., Squareone Publishers, © 2006. There is a list of about 70 pages of foods we eat, and the foods are rated as being either alkaline-forming or acid-forming. The first time I read through their list, I determined that I could not eat any food without running the risk of producing more acids in my system. To remedy this, my choices were limited: I would have to become a vegetarian, or I could eat more dark green vegetables, exercise more, and perhaps mix “green drink” powers with water (these green drinks are pretty nasty tasting; it’s easier for me to load up on kale, collard greens, and other vegetables I either like or can tolerate). So my solution was to eat more green vegetables and exercise more.

So what happens if you continue to eat processed foods, glucose producing foods (gluten rich breads, chewy pizza crusts, Krispy Kreme donuts, etc.), drink lots of Dr. Pepper and Cokes, and so forth? Your body will become an acid based system, which will cause harm in one form or another. Remember this, however: your body will do its best to rid itself of acid forming foods, through its filtering system

First, your lungs supply your body with much needed oxygen (as you breathe in), and dispel (exhale) carbon dioxide (the “burned” waste from your system – an inference might be made that aerobic exercise helps cleanse your system, because it requires lots of heavy breathing, which gives you a double dose of oxygen; in turn the COexpels the oxidized stuff you don’t need). Your job: exercise more.

Second, your kidneys filter unwanted sugars, and other waste products you don’t need (you rid your systems of sugar and other waste products through urine). Your job: drink lots of pure water, which is hopefully ionized or ozone rich. This will help keep your kidneys healthy, as well as supply your body with needed oxygen.

Third, your skin filters out other things, through perspiration (which is also produced through exercise).

Now the bad news, if you do nothing – here’s a partial list of what to expect with an acid based system:

  • Being overweight
  • Developing allergies
  • Undue fatigue
  • Mood disorder
  • Blood glucose extremes (hypoglycemia or low blood sugar, or diabetes)
  • Impotence
  • Infertility
  • Asthma
  • Vaginal infections
  • Respiratory problems
  • Cancer

Most of us don’t like anything on the list. That said, you can control your pH balance. This doesn’t guaranty you won’t have problems, but if your pH level is in balance, you will be healthier for it.

There are quite a few books on how to “fix yourself”. Consider The pH Miracle for Diabetes, Robert O. Young, PhD, and Shelley Redford Young (or the pH Miracle, by the same authors); the Acid Alkaline Diet for Optimum Health, Christopher Vasey; or The Acid Alkaline Balance Diet, an Innovative Program for Ridding Your Body of Acidic Wastes, Felicia Drury Kliment.

pH Test Strips

Where to start: Begin by buying a few pH strips, and test yourself to see what your pH level is. When you wake up in the morning, put one of the strips on your tongue. In 30 seconds the strip will change colors, and you will then compare the color on the strip with the color chart which comes with your testing strips. If it matches the color associated with “7”, then your pH is at a satisfactory level. If your pH level is 4 or 5, your system is acid rich, and is not in balance (your level should be at 7, which is halfway between 0 and 14). Conversely, if your level is 8 or 9, your blood and body fluids have more alkaline than they should.

pH chart

As I conclude this part of the blog, let me tell you about JD’s treatment: he elected not to use the long term pH fix, which had to potential of ridding himself of cancer. Though he avoided radiology treatment, he was given 12 weeks of continual chemo treatment (described in the previous blog on the Big C), and thereafter, he slowly gained the weight he had lost. His hair grew back and is now about the same color as before, but it is curlier. He has given up caffeine (and Dr. Pepper), and watches what he eats (most of the time). He tries to eat “healthy”.

pH color match

This is a test strip I used: note the color is somewhere between 6 and 7 (not particularly good). My BG (blood glucose) reading was not very good (112) when I tested it after checking the pH balance. Too many potato chips the night before.

 

THE RECIPE

This recipe uses kale, a dark, green vegetable (which will help your system to become more alkaline). Keep in mind that kale is high in fiber content. It is also a nutrient dense green food, which is alkaline producing.

kaleTwo years ago when we bought a Big Green Egg charcoal barbecue unit (and mortgaged our house to do so; they are not cheap; and yes, this is a joke), I agreed (after 46 years of marriage) to prepare all meats on the grill (we abandoned the propane Weber grill for the Big Green Egg). When we recently switched to preparing meats using the sous vide technique (described in the blog on Sous Vide), I continued to prepare the entrée as I had done when I barbecued at night. Fran continued preparation of salads and vegetables.

KALE SALAD

2 cups grape seed oil
1 bunch curly kale
Salt
2 Tbls minced shallots
1 tsp Dijon mustard
114th cup red wine vinegar
Dash of Worcestershire sauce
Juice from 1/2 a lemon
1 tsp honey
3/4th cup olive oil
1 bunch Tuscan kale
½ cup almonds, roughly chopped
¼ cup Pecorino Romano shavings

Cut kale into edible bite sized pieces.

Fry ½ the curly kale leaves in grape seed oil about 2 min. to make chips. Transfer to paper towel and salt. In shallow bowl, whisk shallots with next 4 ingredients. Whisk in olive oil and season with salt to taste. Mix the remaining curly kale with the Tuscan kale. Add enough dressing to coat leaves. Let sit for about 10 minutes. Just before serving, toss in the kale chips, cheese and almonds.

 

 

 

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