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Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Medicine When I Was a Little Girl


You know, sometimes I wish we could go back to the practice of medicine the way it used to be. With all the centralized offices, labs, computers etc., we’ve lost something good, the human element of medical practice.
(Yes, of course I understand the efficiency and importance of all the blamed, cold machines. I’ve been up close and personal with too many of them for myself as well as my family.)
When I was a little girl, our doctor’s name was Dr. Mitchell. When Mother decided we were sick, she called him and he came to our house. In winter, I wore long, flannel nightgowns which either Mother or one of her sisters made. I had to have a fresh one and my face washed when the doctor was coming. Sometimes we waited all afternoon if there was a lot of sickness. But that was so much better than sitting forever in a waiting room full of other sick kids and catching or spreading millions of germs.
My brothers and I had most of the childhood illnesses back then. Usually, because they were older, they brought them home to me.
One time, Mother had all three of us sick with something -- I believe it was mumps or perhaps measles. One could tell when a child had measles because he would break out in small red spots. The diagnoses was easy if the child drank hot spiced (Russian) tea because it would force the rash.  Anyway, that time, Mother’s nerves became pretty shattered because she had us all in the same room, on different beds, and the boys spent lots of time throwing things at each other while I screamed at them. Our meals were brought to us on trays and the food was the type for sick people, broths and custards, and wonderful sweet tea. (However, I’ve never liked eating in bed so ‘’Breakfast in Bed’’ is no treat for me.)
Remember, there was no TV back then and our only radio was in the living room. Also, there were no sulfa drugs or antibiotics or immunizations. We got vaccinated and got DPT shots and in the deep south, typhoid shots, then yearly boosters. We were made to stay in bed when we were sick and for two days after the fever left. Pneumonia was a very scary, often fatal disease, back then.
(So much has changed, now. When my little ones were sick, I opened the studio couch, in the family room and the sick one watched TV etc. That’s where Dee was when the man came to install our first color TV. The man taught her how to operate it and for years her dad wouldn’t let anyone but Dee touch it.)
During WW2, most of the medical people who were able went to war with our military. We had only a very few older doctors, who came out of retirement. In many areas there were just not enough and the lines and waits were long. It must have been exhausting for those older doctors and dentists.
It was just too long for my dad so he went out back with a pair of pliers and pulled his own tooth once. When my mother found out about it, she was furious because he could have got an infection. A friend told him about taking a nail file to a sharp tooth he had broken. I’m not sure why but we couldn’t get toothpaste. Mother kept a container of a mixture of salt and baking soda which we used to brush our teeth. We placed a little in the palm of our hand – then picked it up with our wet toothbrush.
I seem to recall that broken bones were almost the only reason to be taken the doctor back during the war. Looking back, I realize that my parents were ahead of their time when it came to sanitation and preventive medicine. They tried hard to avoid people who had infections and they were adamant about hand washing.
When I started first grade, my mother told me to never accept cookies or food from little boys. She said, “They touch their things when they go to the bathroom and they are not good about washing their hands!”
My husband told me that his mother always told her three boys to wash their hands when they went to the bathroom. So they did - but not after they urinated, always before going ….
So everything has changed and we all grew up but sometimes I miss the backrubs and custards and old Dr.Mitchell patting my hand. And old folks who used to get ‘’hardening of the arteries ‘’ now get illnesses with fancy names.
We are told not to call our MD if we have a problem after hours but just go to an emergency room. We have a different doc for every organ and bone and disease. Now, my index finger is achy and I wonder if there is a special doc for that? Guess I should learn to type with my thumb…

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Basic Recipes


Some time back, a friend  told me that as soon as she had some free time, she wanted to come over so I could teach her to make white sauce … or cream sauce.  Until then, I’d never realized that it was supposed to be difficult. I’d been taught the method in a home economics class , in 7th grade. There are so many uses for white sauce that I thought I’d include the recipe here.

BASIC WHITE SAUCE – MEDIUM THICKNESS
2 TBL BUTTER,
2TBL PLAIN FLOUR,
1 CUP OF MILK.
IN A HEAVY SAUCEPAN, LIGHTLY MELT THE BUTTER. WITH A WOODEN SPOON, STIR IN THE FLOUR, SLOWLY BEGIN ADDING THE MILK A LITTLE AT A TIME, STIRRING COSTANTLY.CONTINUE TO STIR UNTIL IT COMES TO A SLIGHT BOIL. CONTINUE TO COOK ON VERY LOW HEAT FOR 2 OR 3 MINUTES. REMOVE FROM HEAT, ADD LESS THAN ¼ TSP SALT AND WHITE PEPPER TO TASTE.
SOME COOKS WARM THE MILK OR CAN NUKE IN A GLASS MEASURING CUP. ANY KIND OF MILK WORKS, FROM SKIM TO HALF CREAM. THIS AMOUNT CAN BE DOUBLED. YOU’LL NEED ABOUT HALF AS MUCH WHITE SAUCE AS SOLIDS.
SOME EASY USES:
Creamed veggies: mushrooms, onions [cooked], green peas with pearl onions or mushrooms, cooked asparagus, spinach etc.
Meats; tuna, chicken, turkey, dried beef
Easy lunch: slice of toast, slice of ham, 3 or 4 cooked asparagus spears, well seasoned cream sauce over all.
Leftover chicken or turkey: cream sauce, mushrooms, over toast, cranberry sauce
Dandelion eggs: add chopped whites of hardboiled eggs to cream sauce. Grate the yolks over the tops. Serve on toast. Be sure to add salt and pepper.
Cheese sauce: add grated cheddar or other cheese, 1 tsp dry mustard, a little red pepper to taste
Macaroni and cheese: cook the pasta longer than the directions on the box. Drain, fold in enough cheese sauce to make it very moist, place in greased casserole dish. Cook til bubbles form around the sides – about 20-30 minutes at 350, depending on the size of your dish. Remove from oven, sprinkle more grated cheese on top, return to oven. Cook til cheese melts.
Note: add spices, onion powder, garlic powder, curry powder, dry mustard etc to your white sauce. Just add flavors you and your family would like.

Recently, I was asked how to prepare Stewed Tomatoes, a winter time dish.
Stewed Tomatoes
1 can chopped tomatoes, lightly drained, 2 tsp sugar, bread crumbs or sliced bread, salt and pepper Use enough bread to soak up most of the juice. Allow to simmer on top of the stove til hot.

Broccoli Potato Soup
1 pkg frozen broccoli, 4 or 5 new potatoes, 1 onion chopped, 2 cans chicken broth, salt and pepper.
Cook til tender, Puree in blender. Serve hot with grated cheese on top.

Creamed Beef
Lots of soldiers returning from the Korean Conflict had developed a thorough dislike for Creamed Chipped Beef. My Tony was one of them. I did not know about their dislike. I loved that easy, cheap dish. The first time Tony came in from work and said, what’s for supper and I told him chipped beef, he said, why don’t we just eat out. We did and I used that same little jar of chipped beef for years when I wanted to go out to eat. When the kids came along, I introduced them to the dish and Tony discovered he really liked it. Our chipped beef was nothing like the wallpaper paste the army served back then. I made my basic white sauce and added a can of Armour dried beef, and served it over toast.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Children and Temper Tantrums


This morning, I heard a story on TV that concerns me a lot.  I don’t know where this took place; names of any people involved; nor do I want to know. It seems that a young child, perhaps six years old, had a massive meltdown,  what we used to call a temper tantrum, at school.

Now, hear this. The school called the police who when they arrived, handcuffed the child and took her to jail. I don’t really know if it was a girl  - but anyway…    Has the world gone completely nuts?   If the child was not disturbed before, she will be now. She will either remember  what happened with fear and horror -  or if they were very kind and gave her a coke and cookies, she’ll think, possibly, hmmmmmmmmn  good way to get out of school. For the child as well as the school, it is a total no win situation.

Guess what? It is pretty much a no win for the teacher, as well. I’m fairly sure other teachers would have come to help because the child was tearing up everything she could get her hands on. The remark was made by someone on TV that they really would not want to be in the position of ‘’ putting their hands on’’ someone else’s child.  Well, no sh**  Sherlock! How can you teach a young child you are not allowed to touch?
The quickest thing to do would have been for two teachers to enfold – or wrap- the child in a quilt that should be standard equipment in a Primary school. Then the child could be restrained until she calmed down. Yes, a parent should be called to take the child home. Good luck there. I don’t know what I’d do if I couldn’t touch the child. 

My mother in law raised three boys and they told me that when they’d get into a fight, she’d appear with a bucket of cold water and a cup which she used to fling the water in their faces! Guess that cooled them down.

When I was working with 6th graders, one day, I heard a rumble in the back of the room. When I got back there, two big boys, both taller than I, were apparently trying to kill each other. They were all tangled up, rolling over and over. Of course they didn’t even hear me tell them to stop. So I got my trusty Bolo paddle, and every time a rear end came up, I smacked it, hard. They each were wearing heavy jeans. After 2 or 3 smacks, they realized I was standing there. I said, just keep fighting, and I will keep smacking, I’m rather enjoying this.  They got tickled and the fight was ended.   In this ridiculous time, guess I’d have had to call the police!

But, back to my little first grader. The TV announcer cited several  recent instances where the police had been called to cart off primary school kids. That just blows my mind but it really isn’t the fault of the teacher -- unless she (or he) is a total dud.

Why do little kids lose control?  There are many reasons. Let’s start with the most basic, the simplest. They are not getting enough sleep. They are not eating an adequate breakfast. Especially for the youngest, they are homesick or miss their mama.

They are afraid of any one or two of a number of things. That could be a very long list. Surely, someone is checking on the home situations of these children.

Above, I was mostly talking about school situations. But most parents have encountered tantrums with the little ones at home. I found that unacceptable behavior happened most often with my kids, when they were over tired.

I encountered problems with my youngest when her older brother and the child next door left her out of their games. She was too small to keep up and it just broke her heart. After an adequate play time, usually near dinnertime, anyway, I sent the little visitor home. My son was put down in the den with a book or toy. I would rock or swing the little one til she calmed down.

I think I am trying to say that I don’t approve of the old advice of putting a child in time out, alone.  I just have to try to figure out what has distressed the child so much.

I never had a child have tantrums in a school situation. These days, I don’t know how I’d handle it. How can one teach a little child who can’t be touched for fear the parents will sue or you’ll get fired? You know, sometimes, a little child just needs to be held and reassured.

To put a six year old, handcuffed, in jail, sounds like the Dark Ages or a horror film. It’s ridiculous.


 [above, my brother Don as a teen, in a mock jail cell at some church event]

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Easy Recipes


As I’ve said many times, I could only cook a few things when I married. My mother was a home economist and a great cook, but a sorry teacher. She tried to give me a crash course when I became engaged but I was teaching full time and trying to plan a wedding. As with many good cooks, she forgot or at least assumed that I knew the basics ------  like always salt chicken at minimum, 15 minutes ahead. Thirty minutes is better. [My fried chicken was awful until I learned that lesson.]

My sweet mother in law, by her own voice, was a terrible cook. She did try to help me. She made delicious cakes and was good about requesting recipes from her friends to give me. But the problem was that she’d always had a cook until the later years of her life. She only lived two years after I married I am sad to say.

My husband’s Uncle Jake lived with us part time for eleven years, until he died. He helped me with cooking when he was able. He had been the produce buyer for a group of grocery stores and knew lots about fruit and vegetables. So I learned a lot from him.
Then, one day he said he’d gotten hungry for the kind of cornbread his family preferred. It took me awhile but I finally played with his instructions until I could produce the little cornbread patties that Uncle Jake, my husband, and kids loved. Then, my parents decided they liked them too. At last count, I’ve made 9,737 of them.

JAKE’S   CORNBREAD
Coat the bottom of an iron frying pan, Teflon pan, or other heavy pan, with whatever shortening you have. I prefer Mazola. Heat the pan until a drop of water sizzles on it. Think pancakes.
Mix about 2 cups of WHITE LILY SELFRISING BUTTERMILK  CORNBREAD MIX  with just enough milk to moisten it. Then, slowly add cold water to thin it to a thick batter. Mix well. Then drop about 2 tbl batter onto the hot pan. When the pan is full, notice when little bubbles come to the top of the patties. Flip the patties and allow to cook until light brown. At this point, I like to turn the burner as low as it will go and let them cook a little longer, watching carefully. Blot with paper towels.
If you make more, wipe out the pan with a paper towel and regrease.
Note: I use WHITE LILY brand for everything.

Here are some more favorite recipes:

FREEZER COLESLAW
Dressing :  Combine in a saucepan:  1 cup vinegar, 1 ½ cups sugar, ½ tsp celery seed, ¼ cup water, 1 ½ tsp mustard seed. Boil 1 minute. Cool.
1 head cabbage, shred, 1 green pepper,1 carrot, onion to your taste[ one small], and 1 tbl. salt.  Combine all the shredded veggies with the salt. Let stand for one hour, then drain.
Combine dressing with cabbage mixture. Freeze.  Thaws quickly. Delicious.

EASIEST BAKED PORK CHOPS
COMBINE:  1 cup uncooked rice,1 can onion soup,1 can Cream of Chicken Soup  - or Cream of Mushroom Soup--  good pinch of black pepper, good slurp of sherry [ at least ¼ cup ]    Pour into about a 9 x 13 inch pan.
Place 6-8 pork chops on top. Bake in 350 degree oven for one hour. I like to cover it with foil the first 30 minutes.
You can increase the rice but just be sure to have twice the amount of liquid.

FROZEN FRUIT SALAD
1 can cherry pie filling ,1 large can crushed pineapple,drained,8 oz sour cream,1 can condensed milk, large carton thawed Cool Whip,2 cups tiny marshmallows.
Combine and freeze in paper muffin cups, in muffin pan. When frozen, place in ziplock, return to freezer. Makes about 24 small servings. Can use for dessert too.
HOPE YOU ENJOY.