Homemade Dog Food Recipe

How to Give Up on the Kibbles and Bits Dog Diet and Embrace Nutrition

Photo of Kelly R. Smith   by Kelly R. Smith
Homemade dog food ready to serve
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I guess there’s no sugar-coating it; I do dote on my dogs. Which is not such a bad thing. Heck, I like dogs more than I like most humans. Cats? Not so much. But dogs? Yep. I am always looking for ways to make things better. Already I have gotten away from store-bought treats an make them chicken jerky in my food dehydrator.

So the next step? Well, She-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed read an article about all the bad stuff that goes into your favorite Kibbles-n-Bits type of commercial dog food. It’s pretty crazy. What the heck is a meat by-product anyway? If it is not meat, just say so. Well, long story short, a bit of research and imagination got me to this first stab at a homemade dog food recipe.

Homemade Dog Food Ingredients

This is my first take at the recipe and it is subject to change according to my ever-changing whims. Note however, there was nary a complaint when I served it up!

  • 2 cups brown rice
  • 1 lb. ground turkey
  • 6 cups water
  • 1 Tbsp fresh rosemary
  • 2 lbs. broccoli, carrots, cauliflower (in a frozen bag or regular produce, your choice)
  • one chunk of ginger, grated, about as big as your thumb.
  • 2 oz. olive oil
  • 1 lb. chicken livers
  • omega 3 source, I just threw in a few capsules
  • pumpkin seeds, about 30 or so

Preparation

This is simple. Just put your very large sauce pan or Dutch oven on the stove and cook everything together. The dogs really don’t care but the meat should be well-done.



I hope you and your dogs will enjoy this homemade dog food recipe. As with all my culinary concoctions, feel free to adapt and make substitutions. Life is good. Appreciate the pups.

Further Reading



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About the Author:

Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation, financial, and energy-trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at I Can Fix Up My Home Blog where he muses on many different topics.

No-Knead Skillet Focaccia

This Organic Italian Bread is Suitable for a Dipping Sauce or As-Is

Photo of Kelly R. Smith   by Kelly R. Smith
No-knead skillet focaccia
No-knead skillet focaccia
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Focaccia is a flat oven-baked Italian bread similar in style and texture to pizza; in some places, it is called “pizza bianca”. Focaccia can be served as a side dish or as homemade sandwich bread.

This recipe is rich with olive oil (which keeps it extra moist), topped with fragrant lemon zest, Parmesan cheese, and rosemary, and baked in a skillet to give it a perfectly golden, crispy crust.

You will be using an oven-safe skillet for this recipe. A cast iron skillet is best for achieving a super-crispy crust (and an effort-free way of getting a bit more iron into your diet)), but any oven-proof skillet will work.

Focaccia Ingredient List

Note: Use organic ingredients whenever possible.

  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon pink or Himalayan salt
  • 1/2 cup flaxseed meal
  • 1 package Fleischmann’s RapidRise yeast (or comparable)
  • 1 cup lukewarm water
  • Extra-virgin olive oil, as needed
  • 2 teaspoons coarsely chopped fresh rosemary leaves (straight from my herb garden)
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon zest (I just picked one off my Improved Meyer Lemon tree in my garden)
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded
  • Chopped fresh basil to taste, if desired


Preparation Steps

  1. If you have a food processor, put the flour, salt, and yeast in it, fitted with the blade attachment, and pulse to combine. Add the water and 2 tablespoons of the oil. Pulse until a rough ball of dough forms, about 15 (2-second) pulses. If you don’t have one, mix by hand in a mixing bowl.
  2. Drizzle 2 teaspoons oil in a large bowl. Flour your hands, scoop the dough out of the food processor, and form into a smooth ball. Put the ball of dough in the oiled bowl and turn it so it’s coated on all sides. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a kitchen towel and let it sit at warm room temperature for 2 to 3 hours.
  3. Drizzle 1 teaspoon of the oil into your cast iron or other ovenproof skillet and rub it well over the bottom and sides. Punch down the dough and place the dough in the skillet. Coax and stretch the dough to cover the bottom of the skillet until it reaches all the way to the edges. Cover with plastic wrap or a kitchen towel and let it rest at warm room temperature for 30 to 40 minutes. Meanwhile, arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat to 450°F.
  4. Lightly dimple the surface of the dough with 2 knuckles. Drizzle the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil over the dough so that it pools in some of the indentations and lightly coats the rest of the surface. Sprinkle with the rosemary, lemon zest, Parmesan cheese, basil if you opted for it, and a bit more salt if desired. Of course, if you have high blood pressure, don’t.
  5. Place your skillet in the oven and immediately turn the heat down to 400°F. Bake until lightly golden-brown. Start checking at 20 to 25 minutes but it may take longer than that.
  6. Remove your skillet from the oven and cool for at least 15 minutes before slicing and serving. Focaccia is best eaten when warm, but is also good at room temperature. If the crust gets too soft, reheat in a 350°F oven to crisp it up.



See, making no-knead skillet focaccia is a breeze, although it sounds very ooh-la la and exotic. The grocery store certainly prices it that way. But, throw off your consumer price shackles and make your own. Don’t be afraid to modify and experiment.

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Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation, financial, and energy-trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at I Can Fix Up My Home Blog where he muses on many different topics.

8 Benefits of Hibiscus Tea

And How to Grow Hibiscus for Tea at Home

by Kelly R. Smith

Dried hibiscus flowers for healthy tea
Dried hibiscus flowers for healthy tea
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Hibiscus tea (sometimes called “sour tea”) might not be so well known in the USA but it certainly is in other parts of the world. I’ve been drinking it for a few years now, both for the taste and the health benefits; it’s another item in my toolbox to keep my blood pressure in a reasonable range.. I add it to the grounds of my cold brew coffee maker, sometimes with fresh mint from my garden. Yeah, I know; wild, living on the edge. There are several hundred species of hibiscus plants that vary by the location and climate they are grown in, but Hibiscus sabdariffa or roselles is most commonly used to make hibiscus tea. As a bonus, they are stunning in tropical landscape plantings. But we are here to talk about the health benefits of hibiscus tea.

Health Benefits of Hibiscus Tea

  • It lowers blood pressure. This is a big one for me. All blood pressure medications have side effects. For me, I take lisinopril, an ACE inhibitor. It causes coughing and the feeling of being lethargic. Rebekah Edwards says, “A 2013 review by the University of Arizona discovered that hibiscus tea is used in 10 or more countries as a normal hypertension treatment without any reported adverse events or side effects — except in extremely high doses.”1
  • It’s packed with antioxidants. What are antioxidants? They are molecules that help fight compounds we call free radicals, which inflict damage to your cells. The National Library of medicine noting their study says, “Hibiscus anthocyanin extract has reducing power that is approximately 2-fold that of the synthetic antioxidant, butylated hydroanisole.”2 Other than hibiscus, many other foods contain them; tart cherries are a good example.


  • It supports healthy cholesterol and triglycerides. Dyslipidemia is a type of disorder that is characterized by noticeable changes in plasma lipids or lipoproteins, including two you are probably familiar with: cholesterol and triglycerides. As with blood pressure, hibiscus tea’s ability to reduce high “blood lipids” also extends to those with diabetes. A 2009 study had diabetes patients drink hibiscus tea two times a day for a full month and they found a significant increase in HDL (good) cholesterol and a marked decrease in total cholesterol, LDL (bad) cholesterol and triglycerides.
  • It may help to lower blood fat levels. The National Library of medicine citing a study of sour tea (ST) and black tea (BT) says, “The results of the present study showed that ST has a significant effect on blood lipid profile in patients with diabetes.”3 Many studies have shown that hibiscus tea reduces blood cholesterol and triglycerides in people suffering from diabetes and metabolic syndrome. That said, other studies have shown conflicting results. Obviously, more research is needed in the general population.
  • It prevents oxidative stress. Like most healthy teas on the market, hibiscus is chock full of antioxidants that combat free radical damage caused by substandard nutrient diets and frequent exposure to dangerous chemicals. These antioxidants are found primarily in the anthocyanins of the plant, the natural pigments that give this flower its brilliant red color.
  • It may boost liver health. Your liver is essential to your overall health. Some of its jobs include producing proteins, secreting bile, and breaking down fat. One small human research study found that supplementing with hibiscus tea raised the antioxidant load in the bloodstream as well as reducing compounds that contribute to oxidative stress that damages cells.
  • It shows promise in fighting certain cancers. Although this idea is only starting to gain traction, there is already some evidence to support hibiscus tea’s anticancer power. It has been shown that hibiscus extracts cause apoptosis, or cell death, in leukemia cells. Although the exact mechanisms behind this aren’t clear as of yet, this could be a promising step in the ever-going fight against leukemia, which affects about a quarter of the children and adolescents currently struggling with cancer.
  • It reduces obesity and related risks. How? Human and animal studies have found a link between hibiscus tea and an elevated metabolism. Hibiscus extract may even inhibit you from absorbing as much starch and sucrose as you might from a typical meal. One study in particular gave 36 overweight participants either hibiscus extract or a placebo. After 12 weeks, hibiscus extract reduced body weight, body fat, body mass index and hip-to-waist ratio


Growing and Preparing Hibiscus for Tea at Home

Test your soil pH in a well-draining area that receives full sun at least six months before planting if possible, and, if needed, amend it using elemental sulfur or dolomitic lime to adjust the pH to between 6.1 and 7.8. The do best in humus-rich soil and full sunlight.

Harvest your flowers after they have bloomed. You want the calyxes (the main body of the flower). They should snap right off. Once you have your harvest, complete the steps to prepare and dry them. This video explains it in detail.

How to process hibiscus flowers for tea

Can you benefit from hibiscus tea? Of course! There’s something for everybody and if you grow your own supply you will save money and be certain it is organic.

Others are Reading

Reference

  1. .Rachael Link, Dr. Axe, Hibiscus Tea: The Antioxidant ‘Therapeutic Agent’ You Should Be Drinking, https://draxe.com/nutrition/hibiscus-tea/
  2. Taofeek O Ajiboye, et al, National Library of medicine, Antioxidant and drug detoxification potentials of Hibiscus sabdariffa anthocyanin extract, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21314460/
  3. Hassan Mozaffari-Khosravi, et al., National Library of medicine, Effects of sour tea (Hibiscus sabdariffa) on lipid profile and lipoproteins in patients with type II diabetes, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19678781/


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About the Author:

Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation, financial, and energy-trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at I Can Fix Up My Home Blog where he muses on many different topics.

Recipe: Chicken Jerky for Dog Treats

Save Money with a Sharp Knife and a Food Dehydrator

by Kelly R. Smith

Chicken jerky in dehydrator for dog treats
Chicken jerky in dehydrator for dog treats
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I know, you are probably looking at this and saying, “What? Chicken jerky for dog treats? Is that not just a wee bit indulgent?” Sure you’re right, but hear me out. It’s all about the money and the nutrition. Dog treats are like mattresses; the mark-up on them is outrageous for such a common commodity. Why? Because they can get it. And the nutrition? Just look at the ingredient list on the box. Now look at the ingredient list on a package of raw chicken pieces. No contest.

I have tested this out on our four rescue dogs Eddie, Frankie, Maggie, and Sammie. Why do their names all end with “ie?” I don’t know; another mystery of the universe. Anyway, offering them a commercial treat in one hand and a homemade one in the other, they choose my cuisine every time. Not to pat myself on the back, of course.

What You Need to Make Chicken Jerky

This is fairly easy. You will need a food dehydrator. Depending on the size of your dehydrator you will need skinless chicken pieces. For example, I use an Ivation 6-Tray Food Dehydrator. It’s a commercial version, but reasonably priced. It holds about 2 pounds of chicken. Or beef. Or lots of sliced apples. You get the idea. Yes, this is most likely a model that a prepper or homesteader would invest in. You will also need a very sharp knife and a large cutting board.

Making the Jerky

The process here is straightforward. In fact, it is the same as my teriyaki beef jerky recipe, omitting the marinade overnight step. Of course, if you are making it for you, knock yourself out. Better still, make 3 trays for Fido and 3 for you. That’s called humane, I believe.

Make the slices about 1/4 inch thick. As far as length of the strips go, 3 inches is good. Dogs are more into the dog treat itself, not the specific size. Arrange slices on your dehydrator trays, allowing some space between pieces for air circulation. Set the timer for 8 hours but begin checking it at 6 hours. You will know when it is done but the longer you go the crunchier it will be. That’s up to you and your furry friend. The picture below is our “done.” Compare it to the raw picture at the top of this page.

Dehydrated chicken jerky, preserved and ready to eat
Dehydrated chicken jerky, preserved and ready to eat

That’s about all there is to making chicken jerky for dog treats. Store them in the refrigerator and be generous. Your pup may even deign to share with you… if you’re a good human.

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Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation, financial, and energy-trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at I Can Fix Up My Home Blog where he muses on many different topics.

Ham and Onion Quiche Recipe

Perfect for Breakfast, Brunch, or Dinner

by Kelly R. Smith

Ham and onion quiche served up
Ham and onion quiche served up!
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Who doesn’t like quiche? It’s easy to make, versatile, and works for any meal. How about after a long weekend workout or a post New Years Eve brunch? The ingredient list is easy to procure if you don’t already have it on hand. As far as ingredients and spices go, there’s no limit that I’ve found. All you really need are eggs and cheese. Heck, you don’t even need a crust if you are on a low-carb regimen like the Atkins diet. To explore a broad range of possibilities, check out a quiche cookbook. But I digress. Let’s jump into my ham and onion quiche recipe.

Quiche Ingredients

  • 1 frozen pie crust, thawed, or make your own
  • 6 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup milk (whole milk is richer)
  • Kosher or pink salt to taste
  • Freshly-ground pepper to taste
  • 1 1/2 cup chopped cooked ham
  • 1 1/2 cup shredded cheese (I used Parmesan last night, but it’s your call.)
  • 1 or 2 green onions, chopped (hint: reserve the root section with about 3/4 inch of the onion. Plant it in a pot or your herb garden, roots down, covered with 1/2 inch of soil. 99% chance it will sprout.)


Ham and onion quiche done!
Ham and onion quiche done!

Preparation Steps

  1. Preheat oven to 375⁰ F.
  2. Whisk together eggs, salt, pepper, and milk, in a mixing bowl.
  3. In the crust, make 2 layers; each has half of the ham, half of the green onions, and 1/2 cup cheese.
  4. Pour the egg mixture over it evenly.
  5. Sprinkle the remaining cheese over it evenly. Note: as you see in the picture above, I used an oven-safe skillet to hold the pie tin because it was SO full. If you have egg mixture left over, that’s OK; cook it up separately. Waste not, want not.
  6. I baked mine for an hour to perfection; I suggest you start checking after about 40 minutes. If the top jiggles when you shake it, it’s not done.
  7. Remove, cool for a few minutes, and enjoy!


That’s all there is to this easy ham and onion quiche recipe. It may be fairly basic but it’s not hard to see the many possible variations you can come up with depending on your mood. I’m a big believer in experimentation in the kitchen.

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About the Author:

Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation, financial, and energy-trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at I Can Fix Up My Home Blog where he muses on many different topics.

Easy Homemade Mac and Cheese Recipe

Comfort Food Your Kids Will Eat

by Kelly R. Smith

Homemade mac and cheese comfort food
Homemade mac and cheese comfort food
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This Homemade mac and cheese is one of the favorite comfort foods in our humble abode, right up there with my ranch dressing cheeseburger. Even picky kids love it so you can slip in some vegetables if you like (hint, hint). It takes a little longer to make than that boxed stuff, but you have to ask, what is that yellow powder anyway? Soylent yellow? As with all recipes, I use as much organic ingredients as possible, and out of my own garden when possible.

Mac and Cheese Ingredients

  • 1 lb. rigatoni or the pasta shape of your choice. I like whole wheat but hey, you’ve got to get the kids to eat it, right?
  • Organic butter for your baking dish
  • 2 cups Half-and-Half
  • 1/2 lb. mozzarella cheese cut into 1/2” squares or shredded
  • Kosher or pink salt to taste
  • Freshly-ground pepper to taste
  • 2 cups of grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese if you can find it + a hand-full; I sometimes substitute shredded Swiss for the Reggiano
  • 7 Roma tomatoes, diced
  • 35 organic basil leaves, cut into strips, more or less according to your taste. This is just one more reason to keep an organic spice garden. If you don’t have, or can’t find, fresh basil, use basil paste.
Fresh organic basil leaves
Fresh organic basil leaves


Preparation

  1. Cook your pasta to al dente texture.
  2. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.
  3. Drain your pasta and rub organic butter liberally in a 9” X 13” Pyrex® baking dish and add the pasta.
  4. In a saucepan, combine the mozzarella, 2 cups of Parmigiano-Reggiano, and Half-and-Half.
  5. Simmer, stirring often, until it’s a nice gooey mess!
  6. Add the salt and pepper to taste. Salt with caution if you have high blood pressure.
  7. Turn off the heat; stir in the tomatoes and basil.
  8. Pour the mixture all over the pasta and mix it in.
  9. Top with the hand-full of Parmigiano-Reggiano.
  10. Bake for 18 minutes, spoon it out, and enjoy!.


One of the things I like about this recipe is the fact that there a multitude of different ways to modify your ingredients, depending on the whims of you and your family. For example, how about changing up your cheese? Adding blue cheese will give the dish a funky edge that goes well with a red wine. The shape of the pasta? Adding in your favorite spices? It’s your call with this easy homemade mac and cheese recipe.

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About the Author:

Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation, financial, and energy-trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at I Can Fix Up My Home Blog where he muses on many different topics.

The Health Benefits of Quinoa

Vegan Protein, Slow-Burning Fuel, Easy Preparation

by Kelly R. Smith

Cooked red quinoa, ready  to serve
Cooked red quinoa, ready to serve
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Runners, cyclists, and other athletes for that matter, need extra protein in their diet plans compared to their sedentary counterparts. Protein is an essential component in repairing the muscles which break down when working out.

To compound this issue, many people have adopted vegan/vegetarian diets, whether for health, religious, or trendy reasons. This makes it problematic to include a full range of nutrients, proteins and other amino acids in their meals on a daily basis. Ample protein is just one of the health benefits of quinoa.

So, Eat Quinoa for Protein

One of the simplest (and tastiest) ways to add essential amino acids (proteins) into your diet is to eat organic quinoa. This supergrain (pronounced keen-wa) is widely recognized as a “super food” by athletes, foodies, nutritionists, and others.

Quinoa (Chenopodium quinoa, or goosefoot) is not in actuality a true cereal grain, but rather a “pseudo-cereal”; it is a food that is cooked and eaten like grains and has a similar nutrient profile. But from a botanical point of view, quinoa is closer to beets, chard, and spinach, and in fact the leaves can be eaten as well as the grains.



This is an very easy food to cook, just like rice, in fact. It can be eaten by itself or in a variety of dishes. It has long been traditionally cultivated in the Andes mountains located in South America. Fora long time in the past, production dipped as the invading Spanish Conquistadors forced the indigenous Inca Indians to grow potatoes instead. Horses weren’t the only thing they brought to the New World.

Nutritional Overview of Quinoa

There are several varieties available and they average an impressive 16.2% protein. To make a comparison, rice averages a meager 7.5%. It also contains an impressive amount of Lysine (398mg), folate (19% RDA), thiamine (13%), Manganese (58%) and vitamin B6 (11%).

To make matters even better, it ranks 35 on the glycemic index. Now compare that with basmati white rice at 58. A lower ranking means it is a slower-burning food. This makes it a natural choice to fuel endurance sports such as distance running.

Lysine is Important for Active People

The University of Maryland Medical Center says, “Lysine is important for proper growth, and it plays an essential role in the production of carnitine, a nutrient responsible for converting fatty acids into energy. It also helps the body absorb and conserve calcium, and it plays an important role in the formation of collagen, a substance important for bones and connective tissues including skin, tendon, and cartilage.” It can promote wound healing by helping to create collagen.

Additionally, it may:

  • reduce anxiety by blocking stress response receptors.
  • protect against and treat cold sores by blocking arginine.
  • improve calcium absorption and retention.


How to Cook Quinoa

This grain is easy to cook; most varieties only take 10 to 20 minutes to cook. Just combine a 2 to 1 water/quinoa ratio. Check your package to make sure.

  • Bring the water to a boil.
  • Add the quinoa.
  • Reduce the heat to a simmer.
  • Eat it by itself, your recipe, or add it to a salad.

It is also very adaptable to baking. For example, as an ingredient when baking bread. Because of the health benefits of quinoa, it is under consideration as a strong contender for a crop in NASA’s Controlled Ecological Life Support System for long-duration human occupied spaceflights. It has been designated as a “super crop” by the United Nations because of its potential to feed the hungry masses across the globe.

Further Reading



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About the Author:

Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation, financial, and energy-trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at I Can Fix Up My Home Blog where he muses on many different topics.

Grow Your Own Orange Tree, Harvest Citrus Fruit

When Life Gives You Oranges, Make Orange Juice!

by Kelly R. Smith

Making fresh orange juice
Making fresh orange juice
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This article was updated on 12/31/20.

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When my daughter Shannon was very young, she had an appetite for oranges that the local grocery store markets as “cuties.” In reality, they are a type of Mandarin orange. Just easy to peel. This caused me to embark on a journey to plant one fruit tree each year. Year one was that Mandarin orange tree, planted in the back yard.

The next year it was a Republic of Texas orange tree (pictured below). In the photo above, you might notice that the rinds darkened a bit from a slight freeze, but the insides remain fine. This tree bears fruit in the summer and by early December it’s ready for picking. No rush though; the fruit will hang there in suspended animation for months.



Choosing Your Fruit Trees

Many people make the mistake of seeing a tree at Walmart, Home Depot, or some other big box store, buying it, planting it, and then wondering why they never get any fruit. Well, it’s because these trees are sold irrespective of customer location. What works in upstate New York does not work here in south Texas. It is all about the growing zone — how freeze-tolerant the tree is. For example, consider the avocado tree. It is a southern tree but some species do well in moderate freezes.

Republic of Texas orange tree
Republic of Texas orange tree

The best bet is to go to a local nursery, after you do your initial research. They have a vested interest in the community and will likely want to keep a customer base. There are other resources to consider. Here, we have Randy Lemon, graduate of Texas A&M, who does a local radio show. I’ve listened to his weekend show for years and I have to admit, I wasn’t totally onboard initially because he poo-pooed organic, but now that his advertisers have began offering organic products, it’s all good. Imagine.

The bottom line here (I know you’ve been waiting for it) is that it is always a good time to put in your own fruit trees. You might be a prepper or not. You might trust organic produce at the grocery store or not. You might just want to save money. Regardless, there is a lot to be said for self-sufficiency. And, if you’ve got the real estate, why not?

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Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation, financial, and energy-trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at I Can Fix Up My Home Blog where he muses on many different topics.

Chronic Fatigue Immune Deficiency Syndrome

A Debilitating Disease that Might be Transmitted by a Virus

by Kelly R. Smith

A woman suffering in pain
A woman suffering in pain
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Chronic Fatigue Immune Deficiency Syndrome (CFIDS) is believed to be not just one but a collection of diseases that together manifest the primary symptom of persistent, overwhelming, and debilitating fatigue. Of course it is tightly-bound to chronic fatigue syndrome and is also associated with the Chronic Epstein-Barr Virus Syndrome. A newer term is Myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME). Confused yet?

There is an organization known as the National CFIDS Foundation1 has proposed criteria to be used in establishing a positive diagnosis of Chronic Fatigue Deficiency Syndrome. The two major criteria must be satisfied and a number of minor criteria. The two majors are:

  1. New onset of persistent or relapsing, debilitating fatigue or easy fatigability in a person who has no previous history of similar symptoms, that does not resolve with bedrest, and that is severe enough to reduce or impair average daily activity below 50% of the patient’s premorbid activity level for a period of at least 6 months.
  2. Other clinical conditions that may produce similar symptoms must be excluded by thorough evaluation, based on history, physical examination, and appropriate laboratory findings. These conditions include malignancy; autoimmune disease; localized infection (such as occult abscess); chronic or subacute bacterial disease (such as endocarditis, Lyme disease, or tuberculosis), fungal disease (such as histoplasmosis, blastomycosis, or cocci-dioidomycosis), and parasitic disease (such as toxoplas-mosis, amebiasis, giardiasis, or helminthic infestation); disease related to human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection; chronic psychiatric disease, either newly diagnosed or by history (such as endogenous depression; hysterical personality disorder; anxiety neurosis; schizophrenia; or chronic use of major tranquilizers, lithium, or antidepressive medications); chronic inflammatory dis-ease (such as sarcoidosis, Wegener granulomatosis, or chronic hepatitis); neuromuscular disease (such as multiple sclerosis or myasthenia gravis); endocrine disease (such as hypothyroidism, Addison disease, Cushing syndrome, or diabetes mellitus); drug dependency or abuse (such as alcohol, controlled prescription drugs, or illicit drugs); side effects of a chronic medication or other toxic agent (such as a chemical solvent, pesticide, or heavy metal); or other known or defined chronic pulmonary, cardiac, gastrointestinal, hepatic, renal, or hematologic disease.


CFIDS Symptoms a Patient Might Experience

Finding a doctor who is well-versed in this condition and understands the diagnosis protocol can be difficult. How can a prospective patient justify her suspicions that she might be afflicted? According to Solve M.E., simply confirm these symptoms:

  • Post Exertional Malaise (PEM). PEM is a prime indicator of ME/CFS. PEM manifests following mental and/or physical exertion. It is described as steadily worsening symptoms that last 24 hours or even longer. Malaise is defined as a condition of overall bodily weakness and/or discomfort, which often marks the onset of a disease and a vague and/or unfocused feeling of mental uneasiness, lethargy, or discomfort.
  • Un-refreshing Sleep. Sleep that is disrupted as well as un-refreshing is another common indication of ME/CFS which is indicated by patients awakening with a tired feeling even following substantial periods of rest, to experience more than usual drowsiness during the daytime, and to have difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep.
  • Concentration Problems. Many ME/CFS patients find concentration issues to be the most serious and debilitating indicator, making things like driving a car problematic. They live with difficulties with attention, concentration, and memory. These symptoms have been linked to problems in ways the brain handles information—in particular the processing speed and complex information processing.
  • Pain. In the past, pain was not thought to be a prime indicator of ME/CFS, but muscle pain, joint pain, and headache are now recognized as common in ME/CFS patients.

It’s very likely that these four major symptoms of ME/CFS are interwoven, each one building on the other and undoubtedly exacerbating the overall illness. This is why doctors who are well-versed in ME/CFS focus on treating pain and sleep disturbances with medicine, in an attempt to give some degree of solace to the severity of the overall ME/CFS symptom complex.



History, Causes, and Methods of Coping with CFIDS

No one is positive exactly when Chronic Fatigue Immune Deficiency Syndrome (or Myalgic encephalomyelitis) first began but it became defined late in the 1970s. This was also about the time when AIDS began its spread. It is not clear precisely what triggers CFIDS. It seems highly likely that it may be caused by a virus, but mysteriously enough, it has yet to be determined how it spreads from individual to individual.

This condition afflicts women in the majority of cases, estimated at 75% to 80% of total cases, so males are in the mix as well. The age range in which it most commonly strikes is 25 to 50. Some of the triggers for CFIDS are thought to be digestive system stress, depression or emotional stress, exposure of the immune system to some toxicity, and an over-work/under-exercise situation. It certainly describes our modern world.

Even though there has been no cure discovered at this point, a point of light is that there are a number of things that are beneficial in the coping process. For example, mild exercise is of great help in most cases. Why? because it allows the blood flow to increase and gives a boost to the the immune system.

The elimination of certain things from your diet may minimize the symptoms. The list includes includes caffeine, alcohol, and highly refined flour and sugar. The last thing to be is a compulsive over-eater.

Another technique to cope with this disease is counseling. Having solid, reliable moral support is a huge asset when one is coping with depression and stress. Using these techniques and working for solutions under a doctor’s care and supervision will keep the patient on the road to good health and reduce the symptoms of Chronic Fatigue Immune Deficiency Syndrome.

You Might Also Enjoy:

Resources

  1. GARY P. HOLMES, M.D., et al., National CFIDS Foundation, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: A Working Case Definition, https://www.ncf-net.org/patents/pdf/Holmes_Definition.pdf
  2. Solve M.E., About the Disease, https://solvecfs.org/about-the-disease/

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Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation, financial, and energy-trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at I Can Fix Up My Home Blog where he muses on many different topics.

Panama Canal Zone Johnny Mazetti Recipe

by Kelly R. Smith

Canal Zone style Johnny Mazetti
Canal Zone style Johnny Mazetti
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A lot of people will tell you that this dish originated in Columbus, Ohio, but it is safe to say that no group of people have enjoyed it as much as Zonians. Some variations on the name are Marzetti and Marzotti, but whatever you call it, it’s just the thing to wash down with a bottle Cerveza Panama (or Balboa or Atlas if you prefer; people seem to be polarized on this).

Following is my list the traditional ingredients, but when I put some things in parentheses, that just means that these are substitutions I have experimented with and enjoyed. You are encouraged to do the same. You won’t be the first or the last, and there are many variations out there. Who knows what old Johnny would say about that?

List of Ingredients (Organic where Possible)

  • 3/4 lb. grated cheddar cheese (or mix it up; I last experimented with half cheddar and half asiago)
  • 1 1/2 pounds lean ground beef
  • 1 large green bell pepper (or yellow or red)
  • 1 large onion, chopped (I like red onions)
  • As much minced garlic as you like
  • 1 16 oz. can of tomato sauce (or Pace Picante Sauce, hot or mild)
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 1 can of Arturo Sauce if you can find it; Amazon has it, (otherwise, 8 oz. can of tomato sauce)
  • 1 can of mushrooms (I prefer bulk shrooms; shiitake, baby bella, or portobello)
  • 1 8 oz. can of tomato paste
  • Black and/or green olives, with or without the juice, about 7 oz. total
  • 18 oz. package of egg noodles (or try my egg noodle recipe)
  • Optional: Hot peppers! (I said Panama, right? Aji chombo or habaneros works for me.)

Directions

Preparing Johnny Mazetti
Preparing Johnny Mazetti
  1. Cook the ground beef and vegetables in a large skillet.
  2. Add in all the sauces.
  3. Pre-heat your oven to 350 F.
  4. Add the olives and mushrooms.
  5. Remove from heat and cook the noodles.
  6. Mix it all together and place it in a 9” X 13” glass baking dish.
  7. Spread the cheese on top.
  8. Bake for 1 hour.
  9. Remove and enjoy.


This batch of Johnny Mazetti this size will serve 6 to 8 people, depending on appetite. This is a particularly good dish as a recovery food after a long run or after a hard workout. It is also one of those foods that gets better when reheated after being frozen or refrigerated; something about the flavors mingling together. It’s best served with cold beer or wine. Enjoy!

More of My Recipes


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Visit Kelly’s profile on Pinterest.

About the Author:

Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation, financial, and energy-trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at I Can Fix Up My Home Blog where he muses on many different topics.