Dump Soup – Perfect for a Lazy Day

This morning, I’m making dump soup. I’d like to say it’s because I’m having a relaxing day with nothing else to do. The truth is, I’m sick. I don’t feel like standing in the kitchen, but I want some soup to sip on.
The good news is, I have remnants of broccoli, potatoes, corn, tomatoes, carrots, celery, fresh rosemary, and ham in my refrigerator — all left over from last weekend’s family meal prep. I also have a bag of small red onions I picked up on sale. The other good news is that the broccoli has already been cleaned, the potatoes were peeled & sliced for scalloped potatoes (but wouldn’t fit in my dish), and the tomatoes were chopped for a salad. I can just dump everything in a pan, no prep required!!!!

Dump soup, unlike a carefully prepared stew, doesn’t require chopping. It doesn’t require potatoes that haven’t turned dark. You don’t need to cut the leaves off of the celery or pull the rosemary off its stem. You can just dump cleaned veggies in a large pot, season with salt, pepper, garlic (dump some fresh in if you have it), and any other herbs or spices that compliment your flavor profile, then add meat & water.
Any leftover or uncooked meat will work — ham, chicken, and bacon are my favorites. Dump soup is a great place to use chicken or turkey necks, hearts, livers, and gizzards. It’s the perfect excuse to skip closely trimming a ham bone. Leaving some meat on the bone will add even more flavor to the soup. If you don’t have meat handy, mixing some chicken stock in your water will deepen the flavor of the vegetable broth.

If you’ve ever made chicken stock, you know that once the broth is flavored, you remove all of the chicken and vegetables because they’re overcooked and have given most of their flavor over to the broth. Dump soup is the same. What you’re going for initially is a flavorful broth. Slowly simmering your mixture for 3-4 hours will result in a rich broth. The lengthy cooking time is another reason it’s perfect for a lazy morning or a day you’re stuck at home doing chores.

After 3-4 hours, dump in whatever you’d like to chew on in your soup. First, remove all the meat, vegetables, and herbs. I don’t worry about straining out little remnants, but you can if you want a clear broth. Today, I’ll probably dump in some brown rice, but pasta, quinoa, or lentils are good options as well. If I felt like spending more time in the kitchen, I might add chopped vegetables and/or meat.
I’ll serve today’s dump soup with some ratty looking gluten-free biscuits I threw together this morning. I keep the dry ingredients mixed up so that on days like today, I all I have to do is cut in some shortening and add the milk and buttermilk. That means it takes about 5 minutes to mix the biscuits and get them in the oven. Obviously, I didn’t take much time rolling or cutting these! A piece of fresh fruit will round out the meal.

And I’ll have plenty of everything left for tomorrow. Of course, I hope I’m feeling better by then but you never know. Having something warm and comforting already prepared makes me feel less anxious and able to rest more easily while I try to get ahead of this virus. There’s also something comforting about the delicious aroma filling the house.

In a matter of minutes, I cleaned out 80% of the contents of my refrigerator, made the house feel comforting, and created several meals — all by making dump soup. Not bad for a morning when I’m mostly lying around watching TV!

A Painfully Slow Process!

For the past two weeks I’ve been sanding and oiling my countertops; it is a painfully slow process! I have beautiful plank style teak countertops. They are finished with hand rubbed tung oil. I add a coat about every 18 months. A couple of years ago, I did some sanding on portions that had been scratched. Unfortunately, when I oiled the sanded portion, I didn’t check the tung oil before applying it. The oil had turned dark so the repairs took on the darker color. Trying to remedy the color variation, I sanded off the dark oil and used a different kind of tung oil that created a good seal, but yet another discoloration. At that point I lost patience and ignored the color issue.

Now, two years later, I’m fighting two battles: 1)Sanding out some new scratches and blending the sanded part with the rest of the top, and 2)Fixing the problem I previously created. The process requires patience and finesse and is tedious to say the least. The tung oil has to dry for 24 hours before I can assess the appropriate next step. In retrospect, it may have been better to take a belt sander and go back to raw wood and start over.
This process is like many situations in life. We take a stab at something. We proceed methodically with patience and persistence and things improve, but they aren’t perfect. Then we feel frustrated. I know I feel frustrated with this project!

When we feel frustrated, it can be tempting to look around and feel annoyed by those who we believe have an easier time of things than we do. We think that if we could just go back and get the same raw materials they got, things would turn out much better for us. While this is a tempting emotional path, it is never productive or uplifting. Like fixing my countertops, undoing such thinking can be a tedious process. Rather than going down that path, it can be helpful to recognize the following:

No matter who you are, how wonderful you are, how smart you are, how beautiful you are, where you live, what family you’re born to, how much wealth you amass, or what country you live in…

…Life will throw you some curve balls along the way.
It may be in the form of a flood, fire, tornado, disease, job loss, disability, violence or abuse, neglect, success too soon, overwhelming loss, discrimination, injury, injustice, cruelty, identity theft, errant children, disloyal associates, cheating spouses, broken contracts, false accusations, embezzling employees, or thousands of other possibilities. No matter who you choose to envy, they have had, or will have, trials and difficulty during their lifetime. No one escapes this reality.

…Most often, it is not the fact that bad things have happened to you that create an ongoing problem. The problem it is what you come to believe about yourself because of those events.
It is a common response to feel a sense of responsibility and shame when you are a victim of maltreatment. If you internalize the shame, you come to feel that you are wrong, or defective, or unloveable, or incapable, or undeserving of great things. Trying to move past this shame leaves you feeling exposed. It can feel safer to blame the abuse or an abuser than to open yourself to forgiveness and possibility. With courage you can heal and change those beliefs.

…Those who have learned to take life’s curve balls in stride are making a choice.
Not everyone who handles difficulty with grace has always done so. Many of us recognize slowly over time that we feel better when we accept our circumstances, weigh our options, and make an active choice regarding how we will view the difficulty. Sometimes these choices require great courage. To the outside observer, our choices may make us appear to live a blessed life.

…A life in which we own our choices is a blessed life.
There is nothing more empowering than making a choice and owning it. Through this process, you direct your life rather than it directing you. That does not mean all the choices are easy, fun, painless, obvious, or without emotional cost.

…Fear is inevitable.
If you believe other people have more opportunities than you do because they seem to have less to fear, it may be helpful to know that everyone feels fear sometimes. Fear can lead to empowerment or paralysis. Knowing this gives you the opportunity to choose the one that is most appealing to you.

…There is someone better off than you.
You may have the most money in the world at a given moment, but not have as much love or as many children as you desire. You may have the perfect house, the perfect mate, the perfect job, and the perfect children, but your next door neighbor has all of that and weighs 10 pounds less.

…There is someone less fortunate than you.
You may be homeless and healthy with family who loves you while another person is homeless and ill and alone. You may not have eaten today, but there is a mother somewhere who has gone without food for days in order to feed her children.

…You can prepare for the worst and the worst will turn out to be something you never anticipated.
None of us can absolutely or accurately predict the future. Sometimes we will be prepared and sometimes we will be facing a perceived danger on our left and get hit from the right. The person who you envy may look blessed to have correctly predicted so far, then tomorrow have a child killed by a random bullet or maimed by a bomb at a marathon.

…Expressing gratitude for your difficulties will pave the road for healing.
If you can find a way to express gratitude for the even the smallest of things, through practice you will find a way to remain vulnerable enough to receive joy.

….Healing your body will help heal your mind and your spirit.
Studies that indicate a direct correlation between emotional conditions and gut bacteria or gastrointestinal health are growing. We also know that exercise and mood are related.• If you tend to feel depressed, deprived, down, envious, or angry, regulating your eating, sleeping, and exercise habits can make a huge difference toward a more positive outlook.

Repairing countertops and healing wounded thinking can both go slowly. No matter how frustrating that may seem right now, it all becomes worth it when you can see and feel the results!




Pharmaceuticals Are Drugs. Over-the-Counter Medicines are Drugs. Supplements Are Drugs. Period.

pretty pillsPharmaceuticals are drugs. Over-the-counter medicines are drugs. Supplements are drugs. Period. But sometimes we don’t really act that way.
We take supplements along with prescription drugs without ever checking to see if there can be a bad interaction between the two. We don’t research the company that manufactures our supplements to see if they’re reputable even though we know the supplements are not regulated by the FDA. We pop Tylenol after a late night of drinking with no consideration of the consequences to our liver. We tell our children not to use marijuana, heroin, meth, ecstasy, or bath salts, but encourage them to take Adderall, Dexedrine, Xanax, Prozac, Paxil, Lexapro, Luvox, Celexa, Zoloft, Lorcet, Lortab, Norco, Dilaudid, OxyContin, Oxyfast, and Percocet without always exploring non-drug treatment options.

It’s like we have collectively lost our healthy respect for the power of these substances and their possible detrimental side effects or perhaps it’s overshadowed by our collective expectation of a quick resolution to all of our immediate problems. Whatever this attitude shift is, it’s affecting our health and our society. The CDC reports that since 1999, the amount of pain reported by Americans has stayed about the same, but the amount of prescription pain relievers prescribed and sold has more than quadrupled (1).

I have noticed a change in the way my doctors and dentists approach treatment and the use of medication. When I had all of my wisdom teeth out a few years ago and was visibly bruised down to the base of my neck, I was prescribed two days worth of codeine. More recently, I was prescribed a week’s worth of hydrocodone following the removal of a single root from one tooth in a 15 minute procedure. I filled the prescription on the way home assuming I’d be in severe pain when the deadening wore off. Interestingly, my pain was hardly noticeable and only required one day’s worth of Extra Strength Tylenol. My family physician now uses a medicate-and-see mode for diagnosis rather than the remove-all-medications-and-see-what-happens approach to diagnosis that I experienced at the Ochsner Clinic in 1989 when I had psittacosis.

I have a friend who calls her doctor for Vicodin whenever her life gets stressful, another who calls her gynecologist for Valium when she needs to take the edge off, and several who swear by their longstanding prescriptions for Xanax. All of them are well supplied and none of them are in therapy. None of them think this odd.
This sort of matter-of-fact incorporation of highly addictive substances into our everyday lives without examination is leading to alarming trends. According to the CDC, 44 people per day die in the US from prescription drug overdose(2), and some users turn to heroin as a less expensive alternative. The number of chronic heroin users in the US in 2014 was reported by Forbes as being estimated at approximately 1.5 million.

While many of us have no experience with addiction, we all know that pharmaceuticals have side effects. Many times it takes years on the market and numerous injuries before a drug is deemed unsafe or prescriptions for it are limited. Perhaps it’s best not to treat drugs casually at all.

I’m not saying we should avoid doctors, their advice, or all medications or supplements. It just seems that now is a good time to get curious about everything we choose to ingest. It’s easier than ever to access information, so why not learn as much as we can about medication, supplements, and food so that we can make informed choices?

Where should the research begin? You can start with anything. Pharmaceuticals are drugs. Over-the-counter medicines are drugs. Supplements are drugs. All of these substances deserve research. Responsibility for our health and the quality of our lives falls appropriately on our shoulders.

When we fail to get informed, we relinquish some of the power we have over our own destiny. Hopefully, when we make that choice it is deliberate rather than by default. Otherwise, we will feel diminished by the process rather than empowered by our choice. My wish is for all of us to choose well and feel powerful.

pouch pills


Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

A Baby Food Mill Can Provide Peace of Mind

kitIf you have a family history of food allergies or intolerance, a baby food mill can provide peace of mind because you know exactly what’s in the food your baby is consuming. My mom suffered from what we then called Hay Fever to the extent that her nose ran all the time and would get raw from wiping it with tissues. She solved the raw nose problem by walking around with silk panties hanging out of her nose. I kid you not and I wish I had a photo. Maybe you’ll believe me if I show you this current photo of her with a diaper on her head. She says she was cold. Don’t ask me.
At the time, I can’t remember her attributing the, let’s call it, Silk Panty Situation to foods. It seemed to be more an allergy to ragweed or driving the truck when it was time to haul hay. The latter part resulted in me learning to drive very early and having my first wreck, passengers included, when I was 9. But that’s another story altogether. Back to our discussion of allergies…

When Ben was a tiny baby, he suffered from constant congestion. I mean significant congestion that made it difficult for him to breath through his nose. His pediatrician put him on asthma medication. That made him hyper, fussy, and kept him from sleeping. After a few exhausting weeks of a constantly awake, crying baby, I decided there had to be a better solution.

Through some trial and error, I figured out that if I would avoid dairy products in my diet, Ben’s congestion would disappear. This made some sense. By then we already knew that James did not tolerate dairy well. I decided that I could go without ice cream for a year while I breastfed if it meant Ben could breath without meds and I could get a night’s sleep.

James’ history, and subsequently Ben’s, wasn’t the only reason I followed the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommendations for food introduction to prevent allergies, my sister had a history of turning beet red when she consumed foods containing basil or magnesium. I wanted to make sure that I gave the kids the best chance I could to avoid problems in the future.

As they currently do, the APA then recommended breast milk only for the first 6 months. Once it was time to introduce solid food, I opted for the most control possible over the ingredients and invested in a baby food mill. That simple device allowed me to know exactly what I was feeding my children and it was easy on the budget. I could feed James & Ben the same food their dad and I were eating, but in a baby friendly form.
baby food grinder
Baby food mills are still a good option for the same reasons. While it’s now much easier to buy organic baby food from the supermarket, many brands are only 95% organic, some contain preservatives, and the cost ranges from 23¢ to 48¢ per ounce. When you get to Stage 2 foods, most prepackaged options are blends that may or may not appeal to your child thereby limiting your selection and their nutrient variety.
green grinder
There are many brands of food mills and they come in several shapes and sizes. Most are small enough to be easily carried along on an outing and some even come with a travel pack. In the most common design, you pull the top bowl section upward, fill the tube below with food and as you turn the handle, the food moves up into the bowl section ready to feed to your infant. The components then come apart to be cleaned in the dishwasher.
white grinder
If you want the option of using the mill for other food processing jobs, you can choose an OXO model with 3 interchangeable blades. There are electronic versions as well if you’re a fan of specialized power kitchen gadgets.
Once you’ve chosen the model that best suits the needs of your family, all you have to do is fill it with freshly prepared food – organic when possible and devoid of sugar, as well as excessive salt or fat. According to the AAP, new eaters only need one or two tablespoons of food at a time increasing to 3 – 4 tablespoons as the child grows. They also recommend that you avoid feeding an infant under 4 months old fresh spinach, beets, green beans, carrots, and squash because of the naturally occurring nitrates. If you follow their recommendation of breast milk only for a minimum of 4 months, this should not be an issue.

There is no evidence that introducing foods in a particular order will prevent allergies. In order to quickly recognize an allergic response, it is best to introduce foods one at a time and feed only that food for 2-3 days before moving to the next food. If your child experiences, diarrhea, rash, vomiting, congestion, hives, or irritability that disappears once a particular food is removed, your child may be allergic to that food.

For those of you who are celiac or have gluten intolerance in your family, your children are at increased risk of being gluten intolerant due to shared genetics. Because gluten intolerance causes an immune response, it is not the same as an allergy. It may be best not to introduce any baby cereals other than possibly rice and oats until the child is older, if at all.

While I can’t say James and Ben are a representative sample of kids who grow up eating table food rather than packaged baby food, they are both chronically healthy. Using a baby food mill helped keep me on budget and give me the peace of mind that I was providing them with the best nutrition possible.

Judging by these photos of James’ first meal of solid food, he was well prepared for the event and satisfied by the content!
james 2
james 3

Check out these food mills:






For more information regarding infant feeding suggestions and guidelines, see these resources:






Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”