Canning for Christmas

If you’re interested in learning to can your own veggies for the winter, here is a Canning CD you can look into.  I have not used this resource yet, but would LOVE to get a copy for myself for Christmas.  Check it out and let us know what you think!

Find the Survivalism and Homesteading Canning CD here: 24 books with instructions, recipes and more!



Six Super Spices.

Dried rep pepper, nutmeg, cumin, turmeric, cinnamon and ginger all have the potential to help your body heal or find relief!  See the image above for details on each!

Rooster Slaughter Day – In the Kitchen at the Blush Family Farm

Yesterday we slaughtered four roosters.  John is going to do a post about the experience of slaughtering, I’m going to post about what we made after!  I will add a link to this article once he has posted his!

Becoming self sufficient and raising your own food is a series of trials and errors.  This is true for gardening, cooking, canning, chickens, water collection, etc….  Rooster slaughters are particularly mixed for me because I am a vegetarian.  I feel full of gratitude every time one of our birds becomes food for our family and love sharing this experience with friends and family.  With that being said, its hard for me to actually consume the birds as I have been a vegetarian since 2003 and become physically ill when I eat the flesh.  I can, on the other hand, eat the broth from bone soup quite easily.

So every time we do a slaughter I enjoy the challenge of figuring out what to do with the meat.  Here is what we did this time, including any lessons learned.

Our first bird was barbequed on the grill.  I didn’t get any pics, but it was a hit!  After the slaughter was over we let the meat breathe for a few hours and seasoned with fresh garden herbs and some dried herbs.  John started the grill mid-day and we smoked the bird for 4 hours.  Of course, free range home grown chicken is more tough than factory farmed chicken, so some of our guests made comments about the tough texture.  Those who had consumed backyard chickens before LOVED the dish and ate most of the bird.

The second bird was used to make two things.  Our first attempt at chicken jerky and bone soup.

You can find the recipe we used for the chicken jerky here.

The bone soup didn’t go as well as planned 🙁

In the past we have cooked our chicken, bones, feet and all, in water for about 24 hours to make yummy broth.  This time we did the same, including lots of garden veggies and fresh herbs.  See the picture of all our garden selection added to the soup!

The first problem happened when I overflowed our Berky Water filter.  To not waste good filtered water I poured two pitchers full of water into the soup that had been cooking for about 3 hours.  This watered it down so much it tasted very very bland.

To overcome this, I upped the heat, removed the lid, added more spice and added flax seed mill to thicken it up.  Then, for the overnight cook, I put the stove on low and went to bed. Unfortunately I woke up today to a burnt taste in the soup.  I’m not sure what to do to over come the problem, but its still sitting on the stove with only one bowl consumed by me. I think it was turning up the heat to steam off the water.  I wish I hadn’t done this, but alas, I did.  Have you ever burnt soup?  How do you overcome this?

I’m bummed about the soup and feel obligated to eat it nonetheless, since one of our birds gave their life to make it!

To see more photos of the day, please visit our family blog


Home grown chicken jerky recipe

This blog post is an addendum to this post about our recent rooster slaughter.

* please see the safety warnings at the bottom of this post*

The chicken jerky experiment was a huge hit.  I found a recipe on the Yankee Kitchen Ninja website for a an Asian inspired marinade. The marinade smelled delicious and John raved about the taste when the jerky was complete.

I will paste the recipe below (originally posted here), then make comments about changes I made.


Chicken Jerky (adapted from Preserve It Naturally: The Complete Guide to Food Dehydration)

1 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breast tenders, sliced into strips about 1/4 to 1/8 of an inch thick
1/2 cup low-sodium soy sauce
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

Mix all the ingredients except the chicken in a gallon-sized ziplock bag. Add the chicken strips, seal the bag and ensure that all the meat gets coated with marinade. Place bag in the refrigerator for about 20 minutes.

Place the meat strips on dehydrator trays. Dry at 145 degrees for 5-7 hours or until completely dry (length of drying time depends on thickness of strips).


We used much less meat since this was just a trial run.  I used organic soy sauce, lemon juice, crushed fresh garlic, black pepper and fresh ground ginger.  The fresh garlic and ginger being the only changes to the recipe.  I did make the full marinade and used the smaller amount of meat and left it in the fridge a bit longer, so our jerky had a stronger flavor than the recipe used above would.  I think I would triple the recipe above if we were to make it using the full amount of chicken!

*safety warnings*

My friend Mariana gave some warnings and advice about using this recipe when I posted it online – please read her comments below:

And by the way, it’s not exactly that chicken spoils easy (it doesn’t spoil any easier than any other meat), it’s that commercial poultry is subject to procedures during processing that just about assure that every commercial bird you get is tainted with Salmonella. Salmonella can reproduce rapidly if food is kept in the temperature “danger zone” but remember, “FATTOM” — in order to control for pathogens, temps are not the only thing we have control over. FATTOM stands for “Food” (i.e. bacteria need something to eat in order to proliferate), “Acid/alkaline” (salmonella likes a pH around 6.5 to 7.5 IIRC), “Time” (bacteria double and double again very quickly over time, salmonella is pretty rapid), “Oxygen” (whether or not the pathogen is aerobic, anaerobic or facultative — in this case, Salmonella is facultative, meaning it will grow under BOTH conditions, but better under lower O2 conditions), and LASTLY, M – for “Moisture”.

The only reason you can even MAKE jerky of any kind is because bacteria need moisture. Because Salmonella has a high moisture requirement (called “water activity”) it is easier to kill the salmonella by drying it out, HOWEVER, please be very aware of cross contamination (which can happen even with your own birds, non-commercial!), since you might have your chicken dried out, but if Salmonella gets on other foods, they may not be subject to the same controls (i.e., there’s no such thing as chocolate jerky, and salmonella loves things like chocolate, nut butters, etc.). Also, if you plan to rehydrate meats before using them, it’s probably a good idea to bring them to proper temp in order to kill bacteria.

I don’t mean to be a party pooper, but I learned all about this in school this year and it was a real eye opener. Unsurprisingly, factory farming practices are THE WORST public health hazards, promoting anti-biotic resistant strains of ALL bad bacteria. We’ve painted ourselves into a food corner……

Today’s food safety lecture is over…….. forewarned is forearmed, and we love love forearmed!!!

Cannabinoids, like those found in marijuana, occur naturally in human breast milk (Natural News)

(NaturalNews) Woven into the fabric of the human body is an intricate system of proteins known as cannabinoid receptors that are specifically designed to process cannabinoids such as tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), one of the primary active components of marijuana. And it turns out, based on the findings of several major scientific studies, that human breast milk naturally contains many of the same cannabinoids found in marijuana, which are actually extremely vital for proper human development.

Cell membranes in the body are naturally equipped with these cannabinoid receptors which, when activated by cannabinoids and various other nutritive substances, protect cells against viruses, harmful bacteria, cancer, and other malignancies. And human breast milk is an abundant source of endocannabinoids, a specific type of neuromodulatory lipid that basically teaches a newborn child how to eat by stimulating the suckling process.

If it were not for these cannabinoids in breast milk, newborn children would not know how to eat, nor would they necessarily have the desire to eat, which could result in severe malnourishment and even death. Believe it or not, the process is similar to how adult individuals who smoke pot get the “munchies,” as newborn children who are breastfed naturally receive doses of cannabinoids that trigger hunger and promote growth and development.

“[E]ndocannabinoids have been detected in maternal milk and activation of CB1 (cannabinoid receptor type 1) receptors appears to be critical for milk sucking … apparently activating oral-motor musculature,” says the abstract of a 2004 study on the endocannabinoid receptor system that was published in the European Journal of Pharmacology.

“The medical implications of these novel developments are far reaching and suggest a promising future for cannabinoids in pediatric medicine for conditions including ‘non-organic failure-to-thrive’ and cystic fibrosis.”

Read the rest of the article here.

Path to Freedom, Catherine Bleish. A History Lesson in Liberty Restoration Project and Catherine's Evolution.


Here is our very first Sovereign Living presentation!  This is a special addition in that it gives the history of the Liberty Restoration Project and its founder Catherine Bleish’s evolution from political activist to green thumb.

Learn about her experience with the Ron Paul 2008 machine, state legislative activism, Operation Defuse, and the two arrests that served as the straw that broke the camel’s back.

The video cuts off some of the conversation about the solution, but I hope you enjoy this special depiction of the journey 😀

5 ways in which the gut can impair thyroid function that your doctor may overlook.

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Kinsei Newsletter
The Newsletter for MindBody Balance

December 3, 2012
In This Issue
5 ways in which the gut can impair thyroid function that your doctor may overlook.
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The relevance to Hippocrates, the father of medicines statement, “All disease begins in the gut.” is perhaps most clearly understood when you examine the relationship of the gut to thyroid function.  The reason for this is because without a healthy gut the ability to produce active thyroid hormone is impaired, and low active thyroid hormone (free T3) responsenegatively effects every cell in the body therefore contributing to every health challenge if it’s at less than optimal function.What is most commonly assessed and treated medically related to thyroid function is primarily based on TSH and T4 blood levels.  Unfortunately, these markers do NOT totally account for the rheadshotesponseto your bodies active thyroid hormone ( free T3).  In other words, having abnormal thyroid function is COMMON even though lab tests are “normal” with or without thyroid medication!

What does thyroid hormone dysfunction cause?  Here’s a brief list:

  • Fatigue/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
  • Brain Fog
  • High Cholesterol
  • Heart Disease
  • Constipation
  • Dry Skin
  • Frequently Feeling Cold
  • Hair Loss
  • Low Libido
  • Depression
  • Irregular Menstrual Cycle
  • Muscle Aches/Fibromyalgia
  • Joint Pain
  • Poor Immunity
  • Weight Gain
  • Inability to Lose Weight Even With Exercise

In this newsletter I will detail 5 ways in which altered gut function may be compromising optimal thyroid function.  Understanding the information below can help you help your doctor provide you with better treatment.


Five ways in which the gut impairs thyroid function.
What is the thyroid gland, and what does it produce? 

The thyroid is a small butterfly shaped gland sitting at the lower portion of the trachea. Upon receiving the call to produce thyroid hormone from the pituitary hormone TSH, the thyroid gland releases two hormones – T4 (93%), and T3 (7%).  Remember, only T3 is active to the cells, and of the total amount of thyroid hormone produced by the thyroid gland itself, only 7% is in its active form.  Additionally, the thyroid gland also produces the hormone calcitonin, which is important for transferring calcium into bones.The 93% of the largely inactive T4 is left to travel to the liver and to the intestines to become activated.  Within the liver the T4 undergoes a conversion process that can either convert T4 into the active T3, or it can convert it into something called reverse T3 (rT3).  Under normal circumstances 60% of T4 will convert to T3, 20% to rT3, leaving the remaining 20% to be activated in the small intestine.  It’s in this conversion process here that accounts for many functional thyroid disorders.  Functional thyroid disorders are distinctive from conditions where TSH and T4 move into pathological (disease state) ranges which require medical treatment.  Rather, functional thyroid disorders include all dysfunction of thyroid production and cellular response with or without reaching pathological levels in TSH or T4 blood levels.

What about thyroid medications?  The most commonly prescribed thyroid medications (Synthroid or Levoxyl) are synthetic versions of T4.  These medications rely upon proper conversion in the gut – which as you’ll see below does not happen efficiently for many people on or off medications.  When assessing the success of treatment of these medications, it’s primarily the lab values of TSH and T4 that the doctor is paying attention to – not whether or not the active thyroid hormone is being produced and is effectively entering the cells of the body.  Natural thyroid hormones in the form of Armour Thyroid or Nature-Throid, are glandular preparations of thyroid hormone that contain T4,T3, and calcitonin.  For some people these natural versions seem to perform better, but because some people have problems with overconverion from T4 into rT3 for reasons listed below, these meds may be ineffective too.

Below are 5 ways in which the alterations in the gut may result in abnormal thyroid hormone function.  (The liver serves many functions, and one of them is bile production and for this reason it is included as a component of the gut.)

  1. Hashimoto’s disease–  Hashimoto’s disease is the name given to autoimmune disease of the thyroid gland, where the immune system attacks cells of the thyroid gland.  Hashimoto’s disease is estimated to be the most prevalent autoimmune disorder in the US.  Hashimoto’s has been found to be the mechanism for hypothyroidism in 90% of the cases in the US.  One of the primary mechanisms for auto-immune disorders is “leaky gut“, where the gut lining becomes damaged and allows material (pathogens, undigested food, etc.) to cross the gut barrier and into the blood that was not supposed to cross.  If “leaky gut” contributes to autoimmune disease in general, and it’s recognized that most cases of hypothyroidism are the result of an autoimmune condition, it’s reasonable to assume that the gut may be involved in most cases of hypothyroidism.
  2. Gluten sensitivity– This could be grouped in with Hashimoto’s since it’s typically associated with autoimmune disorders, but is separate because gluten is a unique agent in autoimmune hypothyroidism.  Gluten is a protein found in the grains – wheat, barley, rye, and oats.  It is believed that the gluten molecule appears similar to the cells of the thyroid, so if the body identifies gluten as a problem it may identify the thyroid as a problem as well. So, if 90% of the cases of hyopthyroidism are from an autoimmune condition, and  gluten sensitivity is linked to a high degree of autoimmune thyroid disorders- avoiding gluten is important for a number of reasons, but especially important for anyone with a suspected thyroid disorder. Here are a few studies linking the connection between gluten and thyroid dysfunction:  (1), (2), (3), (4).  Keep in mind, that even if you tested negative for celiac disease there’s still a good chance you have a problem with gluten!
  3. Gut flora imbalance– Microbes in and on our bodies can either promote or detract from health.  One way this relates to thyroid function is based on the fact that 20% of the T4 released by the thyroid is converted into the active T3 hormone in the small intestine.  Lack of adequate amounts of hydrochloric acid in the stomach, and beneficial bacteria in the small intestine impairs the production of intestinal sulfatase  – a necessary ingredient to active thyroid hormone production.  In short, if the beneficial microbes are impaired in the intestine in any way, then this impairment alone can diminish circulating active T3 by as much as 20%.
  4. Microbial Toxins (low grade infection)-  This is related to number 3, but is listed separately due to the distinction by which it impairs thyroid function.  While number 3 relates to how a lack of beneficial bacteria may result in inadequate production of active T3 in the small intestine, number 4 relates to how harmful microbes within the gut may produce toxins which interfere with the conversion from T4 to active T3 in the liver.  Alterations in gut flora, and the waste products they create (lipopolysaccharides) may result in dominance of the liver converting T4 into rT3.  Too much rT3 relative to free T3 may be the most under diagnosed forms of thyroid dysfunction there is.
  5. Food Allergies–  While gluten sensitivity may certainly qualify as a food allergy, a distinction is made here for any food that creates an inflammatory response in the body.  There are certain immune system based chemicals that are produced upon exposure to certain foods that are particularly disruptive to thyroid function.  These inflammatory chemicals are called “cytokines”.  While many, if not most, food allergies are undoubtedly the result of “leaky gut”, some may be due to genetic factors.  The bottom line here is that if there are food allergies, there are cytokines, and if there are cytokines there is going to be functional thyroid impairment.  The impairment may again come from over producing rT3 relative to free T3, or it may occur elsewhere within the synthesis of thyroid hormone production.

Some researchers and clinicians who have been trying to assess how effectively the thyroid is functioning at the cellular level do not believe that blood tests are very accurate for diagnosing thyroid hormone problems.  Some of them believebody temperature is the most important value for assessing thyroid function.  Some research indicates that the most important value for assessing thyroid function is the very rarely performed test of measuring free T3 relative to rT3.  Again, the reason for this is that high amounts of rT3 may effectively block the activity of free T3 at the receptor site, a situation that is VERY common!  This is like somebody breaking a key off in a door lock, and you trying to get a different key in the lock.  It can’t happen, not until the rT3 is removed from the receptor site anyway.


What’s the bottom line?   The bottom line is that simply relying on the typical blood tests as a means of identifying functional thyroid disorders and all the problems that come from low cellular T3 is a recipe for misery and dissatisfaction with the medical system.  Proper thyroid functional assessmentmust include assessing gut health, diet, and more.  Viewing indigestion, gas, bloating, constipation, or diarrhea as warning lights to your body much like the “check engine” light is to your car is prudent given the profound significance the gut plays in overall health.  Far too many people may be able to completely get off of their thyroid medications if the cause for the dysfunction is properly addressed, while some people may need thyroid medication, or some may need a different thyroid medication than they are currently on. To understand the cause and properly treat thyroid dysfunction requires a holistic perspective.  If you’re interested in learning more about this in greater detail, I highly recommend the following book by Dr. Datis Kharrazian.




Quote of the week: 

Let me get this straight . . .


We’re going to be “gifted” with a health care plan we are forced to purchase and fined if we don’t! Which purportedly covers at least ten million more people without adding a single new doctor, but provides for 16,000 new IRS agents, written by a committee whose chairman says he doesn’t understand it, passed by a Congress that didn’t read it but exempted themselves from it, and signed by a President who smokes, with funding administered by a treasury chief who didn’t pay his taxes, for which we’ll be taxed for four years before any benefits take effect, by a government which has already bankrupted Social Security and Medicare, all to be overseen by a surgeon general who is obese , and financed by a country that’s broke!!!!!

‘What the hell could possibly go wrong?’


Donald Trump