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This section is for information on recipe ideas, food allergies, music, videos, herbs, gardening and other household tips. I hope to add more material on these subjects in the future. At one time, I had a long list of interesting sites on these topics. However, they quickly became hard to maintain. Instead of a list of useful links that quickly becomes out-dated, the homeaide mailing list has been created. You'll find up-to-date links, tips and tricks posted as members run across them. You can also search the archives for specific subjects.


Some quick tips if you're trying to stock up and make your own food at home...

There are some good prices on matzah right now. It's also very appropriate for this time of year. It replaced bread when there wasn't time to make it. It can be used in tons of recipes to substitute for flour. Use it like a cracker or a bread substitute. You can also make matzah brie (or matzah brie pizza), matzah balls and granola, among other things, with it. Break it up to make matzah farfel or grind in a high powered blender to make your own matzah meal. It lasts a long time too (longer than homemade bread).

I find the situation with barley flour ironic. In previous shortage periods when wheat was hard to get, barley flour used to be very prevalent. It has a wonderful taste and can be used to replace whole wheat flour. Use it a flour in any low gluten recipes. It also has some wonderful health benefits like reducing blood sugar levels and reducing hunger. Unfortunately, with the advent of the gluten free craze, barley has dropped out of favor. I haven't been able to find barley flour in my local stores for a few years now. It would be great to see use of barley flour increase especially when wheat is scarce. However, if you can't find barley flour, you could try picking up a bag of barley and grinding it in a high powered blender or electric coffer/nut grinder to make it yourself.

You can still find expense gluten-free alternatives to flour on some store shelves. However, it's more economical to make your own. Instead of buying nut flour, buy nuts and use a high powered blender or electric coffee/nut grinder to grind them. It won't replace flour in all recipes. However, you can use the results in gluten free or low gluten recipes. Passover recipes are typically low gluten and will work well with ground matzah or ground nuts. Most pies, cookies and cakes that use eggs for leavening (such as sponge or angel) work well with low or no gluten flours. If you add some oil (such as olive oil) to your ground nuts when you're making it, you'll create nut butter. Add a little honey or liquid sweetener to some nut butter and you have a tasty treat to use as a snack or a frosting for cakes, cupcakes and bar cookies.

For the matzah ball soup (or just chicken soup), take leftover chicken and put it in a slow cooker.

Seaweed can be a healthy snack. It stores well and is a good source of iodine. Use nori to wrap rice and/or vegetables.

If you have room on your porch or backyard for a small garden, grow some of your favorite herbs or mini vegetables. Many plants grow just fine in pots. I always like to have parsley and chives on hand. With my own garden, there's always something I can add to my salad and it's always fresh. If you bought food that's sprouting (such as radishes or potatoes) or have the root tips on scallions or a celery stalk, you can use them to start new plants.

Nuts, seeds and dried fruit are also great for the pantry. You can make granola with it. You can make nut butter from the nuts. Use nut butter in sandwiches, in place of flour or in desserts, such as mousse or as part of a frosting.

Short of eggs? You can use flax seed in place of eggs in some baking products. If you want a cookie or cake without eggs, try shortbread. It uses three ingredients, flour (1 cup), oil or butter (1/2 cup), sweetener such as sugar or honey (1/4 cup). There are also cakes designed to work when you don't have eggs such as wacky cake which uses vinegar.

Use baking soda and an acid (like cream of tartar, vitamin C crystals, apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, etc.) in place of baking powder, if you don't have baking powder on hand or need to avoid certain ingredients in baking powder if you have allergies.

Freeze items as ice cubes to keep them longer. For instance, you can juice lemons or other fruit and have the juice available when you need it. Freeze yogurt and use an ice cube of yogurt as starter when making your own homemade yogurt. It's simple to make homemade yogurt if you can't buy it. The cultures in the yogurt also help it last longer than milk or cream would on its own. You can also freeze egg whites and use them later for things like cakes and omelettes.

You can make homemade cottage cheese, homemade marscapone cheese, substitute homemade yogurt for cream cheese or make homemade pudding fairly easily. They only require a few ingredients.

You can make pie shells with low gluten or gluten-free flour. Use oil, butter or a combination of both with flour, a pinch of salt and ice water. Store them in the refrigerator or freezer before you bake them. You can take them out and bake (with or without a filling) as needed. Added some fruit and possibly some filling like applesauce or juice with a starch or agar and you have a fruit pie ready when you want it.

Keep liquid whey leftover from yogurt, cottage cheese or other soft cheeses. If you drain the whey from regular yogurt (for instance, using cheesecloth), you'll end up with greek yogurt. The whey is a good source of protein and can be added to smoothies or homemade breads.

Simple snacks include frozen grapes, frozen banana, citrus peels (cook in honey or sugar), granola, gelatine. Put frozen banana and a fruit or fruits of your choice in a high powered blender and you can get something that looks like ice cream (even if it doesn't taste like it).

Want to add some nutrition to your baked goods? Try adding some healthy ingredients. Cornell University came up with the Triple Rich formula to enhance white flour and make it more healthy. Try their formula or experiment with your own additives. If you can find it, milk powder in baked goods is a good source of calcium. You can also use it to replace milk in baked goods. Wheat germ is a good source of Vitamin E. Store it in the freezer. Many seeds are a great source or phytoestrogens and nutrients. If you grind them, use them immediately or store them in the freezer so they don't lose potency. You can add a teaspoon to a tablespoon of any one or more of these to your baked goods. You may need to reduce the flour to account for the added dry ingredients. Blackstrap molasses provides a source of iron.

Check out lists of substitute ingredients to see how to replace items you can't get with what you have on hand. There were also recipe books written during World War I and World War II that covered what to do when there were shortages and how to adjust recipes. You'll find several public domain World War I recipes books freely available online from sources like or Google Books.

Want to discuss and share more recipe tips and substitutions? Join the Homeaide mailing list.

Mailing Lists

Homeaide is a mailing list for sharing recipes, tips on herb and vegetable gardening, frugal living, household hints and arts and crafts ideas.

If you're interested in a music mailing list, see the link to pdsongs in the Recipes for Music on your PC article below.

If you're interested in a video or authoring multimedia for web sites, you're welcome to discuss it on my XHTMLDesign mailing list. I've added an article on video below too.

References for Recipes

Looking for books with hard to find recipes for people with allergies and other special dietary needs? Need basic recipes for making things from scratch? Need more tips to improve nutrition in your meals? The recipe books recommendations page has a list of some of my favorite cookbooks plus links to online recipe information.

Food Allergies

Proper Food Labeling

The situation with labeling of regular and genetically modified ingredients in foods appears to be getting worse and worse every year. More and more of the foods we eat have been genetically modified and odds are you don't even know about it. Plants pollinate over long distances. So, if you're buying organic foods to avoid genetically engineered ones, don't overlook the fact that once genetically engineered variants are introduced other varieties including organic ones will intermix with them at some point. Now we also have to contend with cloned foods too. The studies I've read about cloning technologically have indicated cloning produces siblings (twins) of the original which are physically inferior to the original, more prone to disease and tend to die earlier. The FDA has ruled genetically engineered and cloned foods as safe even though there have been no long term studies on the effects of eating them. We, the public, have no way of knowing what we are consuming because companies are not required to include all ingredients on the label. Even simple ingredients that are not genetically engineered but to which some people may be violently allergic to do not have to be labeled in foods as long as the amount is under a certain quantity. The way things stand, we (especially those of us with food allergies) have no way of knowing if a food is safe for us to consume simply from the label. That doesn't even take into account the tricks companies use to give misleading information on labels so that you'll buy their products.

If you would like to help keep the food supply safe for everyone, please let your government representatives know that you want more accurate food labels that include all ingredients in a product including genetically engineered and cloned ones. Without this essential labeling, it can be impossible for people with food allergies to avoid foods that are dangerous or even deadly to them. Shouldn't we all have the right to know just what it is we're purchasing and consuming? Please help by writing your government officials often and reminding them how serious this matter is. After all, everyone needs to eat. It would be reassuring for those with food allergies or other food related illnesses to know that they can safely eat the food products they purchase.

You can also sign the petitions at Institute for Responsible Technology.

Corn Allergies

For those with allergies to corn, I highly recommend reading Donnie's list of foods from her corn mailing list. People with corn alleriges can check what foods have hidden corn ingredients and share what foods they've found safe to eat.

For the latest information on corn allergies, check out these mailing lists and bulletin boards:

Mold Allergies

I've found very little information on what foods to avoid if you have mold allergies and even less in the way of support groups for mold and fungus allergies. Mayo Clinic research has found a strong connection between sinus problems and reaction to fungi. Molds and fungi are not only in our environment and in our antibiotics, but can also be part of the food manufacturing process. Citric acid, which many people with corn allergies have problems consuming, is manufacturing using aspergillus mold. Even consuming chocolate can expose someone to aspergillus mold. Yogurt with acidophilus can be a problem for some individuals with mold allergies. Grapes and certain berries can be very prone to mold and fungus. Fruits and vegetables used for sauces or juices may sit around for long periods before processing and can also be more prone to molds. If you know of any good resources showing the connections between food processing and mold and fungus exposure, please share them. I would love to find some food allergy groups that are concerned with mold and fungus in our foods. You can contact me through the Homeaide mailing list. Let's start sharing knowledge and reliable resources for those of us with mold and fungus related food allergies.

Health Concerns

It has recently been brought to my attention that there may be a correspondence between nasal sprays with cortisoids prescribed by many allergy doctors and the disease osteoporosis. If you are using or have been using these sprays, it may be prudent to keep an eye on your bone density levels. While osteoporosis is often assumed to be a disease that is contracted in old age, this is actually not the case. People of all ages have osteoporosis and the numbers of those afflicted are growing rapidly. If you are at risk for osteoporosis or are concerned, keep in mind, there are other, safer alternatives to these nasal medications and that you can find other allergy treatment options. There have also been links found between high dosages of vitamin A and osteoporosis. Medications such as accutane can be the source of high dosages of vitamin A in the body.

As we pollute our environment, food and water more and more, allergies and chemical sensitivities are becoming more prevalent. One of the bad things is that many doctors do not bother to take allergies (or, as many in the medical profession prefer to call it, intolerances) into account. Symptoms of allergic reactions can vary widely ranging from stomach discomfort, skin breakouts, sneezing or coughing even to depression or attention deficit or other symptoms usually considered mental disorders. If you're not feeling well and your doctors don't know what's wrong, find out more about it. It very well may be part or even all of your problem. Diet can also have profound affects on aggravating or helping or curing some types of cancer, diverticulitus, gout and celiac.

Avoiding Grains or Dairy - Kosher for Passover Products

Have been noticing a lot of questions about purchasing Kosher for Passover foods to avoid grains on many of the food allergy mailing lists and forums. This is to clear up some of those questions. Ashkenazic Jews (those of European descent) have dietary restrictions during Passover. These restrictions include no leavened wheat (actually no leavened wheat, barley, oat, spelt, rye). Unleavened is allowed. They also include no products containing kitniot. I have contacted several authorities and have yet to find an exact definition of all foods considered kitniot. However, products such as corn, soy, rice and legumes are almost always considered a part of this group. Kitniot is basically small seeds (which is one English translation) or alternative grains and other ingredients that can be used in place of wheat as flour. If you are buying Kosher for Passover products to avoid ingredients like corn or soy, be sure that the product is certified by an Ashkenazic Orthodox group. Reformed groups are not as strict and may allow corn or other kitniot ingredients in certified products. Also, if an ingredient is sufficiently transformed from its original state, it's often considered Kosher or okay (even if it's not safe for those allergic to it). For instance, peanuts are considered kitniot, but smooth peanut butter or peanut oil may not be. If you're not sure about a product, check with the authority that certified the product or the product's manufacturer. Many now have web sites online.

For those who are trying to avoid milk products, look for Kosher products marked pareve. Orthodox Jews follow dietary laws all year round that restrict the interaction of meat and dairy products. Pareve products should be safe (Kosher) with both meat and dairy meals and should contain no dairy products. Again, be sure to check the labels and/or double-check with the manufacturer, especially if you have severe allergies. I've heard that cloned meats may not be considered Kosher. Since this is a new development, the rules are still changing. We'll have to see how this plays out. However, at this point, it appears that buying Kosher meat doesn't guarantee that it's not from a clone.

Natural Treatment Methods

There are some more natural ways to treat allergy problems. I wouldn't call them remedies or cures, but then I haven't seen anything the medical profession has to offer that will cure my allergies either. The following natural techniques help keep my allergy under control or help to improve things when my allergies get out of hand. Sometimes a scent or smell will set my allergy off and I'll get very sick. Allergy or dust masks can help with this. Also, when I'm having an attack, wearing an allergy or dust mask, sometimes even overnight, can help with breathing. I'm not sure if it's due to filtering out more allergic matter or if the increase in carbon dioxide (like when you're hyperventilating and breath into a bag), heat and moisture helps, but something about this works for me. If you don't want to wear an allergy mask overnight, you might try something like a towel instead. I also find running air purifiers with hepa filters helps me quite a bit. I have a portable unit I take on trips and I use units at home and at work as well. Instead of using a prescription or standard over the counter nasal spray, I find a nasal spray of saline (with no preservatives) really helps. I carry the spray with me when I'm out. Some people have recipes for making their own saline spray. Some people find that using neti pots to clear out nasal passages at least once a day is helpful. Others find that neti pots not only remove annoying materials like mucus and fungus, but also may remove beneficial materials from the nasal passages or may transfer some of the annoying materials to the stomach and encourage a flare up of gerd. If you're trying a neti pot, monitor your symptoms such as sinus headache frequency and make sure you're not seeing temporary relief in symptoms followed by an increase. There are recipes for a neti pot to create your own salt and baking soda solution. The baking soda mimics a more natural pH balance. The salt is osmotic and helps draw other liquids out of one's system. If you're making your own saline solutions or washing with a neti pot, be sure to use boiled or distilled water. There have already been cases of deadly ameobas in our water supply. Stomach acid kills many ills in our water and food supply. However, if you're irrigating your nasal passages and sinuses, the water makes direct contact and isn't filtered or mixed with acid, so be sure to use safe water.

I have talked to several people who have said that raw honey before bed really helps them. I've never had much luck with it myself until recently. The honey dealers I've talked to typically recommend local, raw wildflower honey for people with allergies. However, I have had a great deal of luck with local, raw seagrape honey. I take up to a teaspoon in hot water before bed and I don't feel as clogged in the morning. I've noticed a reduction in sinus headaches.

My Articles

Interested in herbs or herb gardening? Have a look at my haunting article on garlic. For herb enthusiasts, it provides information on growing your own garlic plus craft ideas and lore.

Interested in creating or playing music? Want to sing along with your computer? Check out Recipes for Music on your PC.

One of my latest interests has been converting homemade movies on video tape (such as family weddings, our choir, etc.) to DVD-R. I don't have a mailing list specifically for this topic, but I'd enjoy comparing notes with others and discussing the use of Open Source software and freeware to do so. Feel free to join my XHTMLDesign or Homeaide mailing lists or e-mail me directly if you'd like to discuss this topic further. Also, check out the article on Recipes for Video on your PC.

Want some tips for getting the multimedia you create to a portable audio or video player? Check out my article on Using Open Source Software with Portable Players.

If you're interested in more articles on Open Source or customizing your computer, see the Programming section at this site.


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