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Sunday, August 24, 2014

Keeping My Head Dry Doesn't Mean I Don't Care

I love my friends.  I do appreciate them calling me out to do the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, but please let me explain why I refuse to participate.

I am a nurse practitioner and a former ER and hospice nurse.  I have watched patients die of this terrible disease.  I was there to bear witness of the pain in families eyes when they felt helpless.  I was there to feed, change diapers, medicate, and provide TOTAL CARE to patients.  This disease is TERRIBLE.  It takes away your independence... and eventually, your life.  Unmercifully, not soon enough. If you can imagine losing the use of your muscles, you would only visualize a portion of what this disease is like.  Keep in mind that your bowels, heart, and lungs all work with muscles.  No holding a fork, no scratching that itch.

According to, donations this month have skyrocketed, thanks to social media.  Launching the challenge on August 6, 2014, donations continue to climb.  The website reports $31.5M on Aug 20, $41.8M on Aug 21, $53.3M on Aug 22, $62.5M on Aug 23, and $70.2M on Aug 24.  That is amazing.  I pray the money is used wisely.

As a proponent for human life, I am an opponent of using human embryos for study.  ALSA is open about their use of human embryos for study, but does state it raises "ethical concerns."

Besides the ethical concerns, when has asking for donations turned into bullying?  "People can either accept the challenge or make a donation to an ALS Charity of their choice, or do both."  I'm not sure I agree with that.  I want to donate to a cause that I feel strongly about, but I don't want to be "forced" do do it or made to feel less than human if I don't.  I have charities that I support.

With that being said, I'm not trying to encourage you not to donate.  Pray about it.  Research it for yourself.  If you feel led to donate, please do.  As I said earlier in this blog, I have seen what this terrible disease does to the body and to the lives of the people who are fighting it.  I've watched them give up.

If you decide to donate to other organizations and don't know where to start, I've listed some that I have donated to and feel strongly about.  There is no pressure for you to donate, but if you do, please research for yourself.  I won't throw anything on you, inflict any harm, or make you feel bad if you don't.

Sav-A-Life - No matter which side of the "Choice" debate you are on, I think we can all agree that women can only make the right "choice" if she is well educated.  They educate women and provide counseling as well as free pregnancy and STD testing.  Ultrasound machines are used in their assessment and education.  They also provide ongoing care to women and men.  What if the cure for ALS or cancer is discovered by one of those saved?  What if it was going to be discovered by one that wasn't?

Hospice - donating to a hospice of your choice provides patients with end-of-life medical care and supplies that are greatly needed

The National Ovarian Cancer Coalition -  Are you aware that most women who are diagnosed are already in stage 3?

Autism Speaks -  Raising awareness and research.

The Urban Alternative - Connects with schools and the community

Focus on the Family - Read what they are about. This includes parenting, counseling, marriage, and faith.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Pickled Tomatoes

Pickled tomatoes. Can you believe it? Yes, I love pickles, but this seems a little over the top, you think? Naaaah... Let's go for it.

My grape tomato plants are working overtime. I'm also a klutz. What do these two things have in common? Lots of ripe and green grape tomatoes that need eating. I knocked a bunch off my plants when I was moving around in my garden and it is not possible for me to wait for them all to ripen. The ripe ones will spoil if I wait.

Searching high and low, I found a recipe that sounded similar to what I was looking for, thanks to Pretty Prudent. Although I followed the recipe very closely, I had to give it my own spin.

This recipe makes 3 or 4 pints, depending on how tightly you pack your tomatoes, as well as their size. You will also get some evaporation during the simmering process.

1 1/2 Cups Apple Cider Vinegar
1 1/2 Cups Water
2 Tablespoons Pickling Salt
2 Tablespoons Sugar
6 Garlic Cloves, Chopped
6 Whole Peppercorns
1/4 Teaspoon Turmeric
3 to 4 Pints Grape/Cherry Tomatoes - Various Stages of Ripening

TIP: 2 Pints = 1 Quart

Prepare your pint or quart jars by washing in warm soapy water and boiling for 10 minutes. Or, since we aren't canning these, you may use the sanitize function on your dishwasher instead.

Wash tomatoes well and use a skewer or, like I did, a Pampered Chef Hold 'N Slice to poke holes through the tomatoes. I pierced them on 2 sides, going over half way through each time.  The green tomatoes are tough so be cautious and don't poke your hand.

Pack the holey (not to be confused with holy) tomatoes into the prepared jars.

Mix vinegar, water, and seasonings in medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 5 minutes to blend the seasonings. Cool to room temperature and pour over tomatoes.

You may use a fermenting weight to hold the tomatoes down, if you have any that try to float.

Since we are not canning these, I used a plastic Ball storage lid, but you may use a canning 2 piece lid (may be used previously) and band.

Store in refrigerator. I have recently made these, but Pretty Prudent says they will store refrigerated for months.

Wait at least 5 days to a week before tasting. The green tomatoes take a little longer to absorb the seasonings and vinegar. Delicious!

Again, Pretty Prudent suggests using them in salads, pasta salads, cheese plates, relish for burgers and hot dogs, martini and bloody Mary garnish.  I have been eating them right out of the jar, however, they make great garnishes as well as gifts.

I have never canned a tomato with its skin on. I suppose it would become tough. I always recommend tried and true recipes for long-term storage. Recipes from Ball or your local extension office are good places to start. Most tomato recipes that I use require adding lemon juice concentrate (Tablespoon per pint) and processing in a boiling water canner for 45 minutes, which I would think would not give you the consistency you would want in a tomato pickle.

 Good luck!