Monday, April 27, 2009

Rhubarb, the First Fruit

Rhubarb is the first fruit of the season. Some say that Rhubarb is infradig. What a heavy trip to put on a beautiful and ancient plant! I think that comes from the fact that it is too easy to grow. They said " If you can grow it on the prairies it can't be much of a feather in your cap" ! Practical people have got out of the feather and cap business. Do what works! I think there is something of a vegetable and fruit snobbery in the food business these days. People these days want something exotic they can't grow or won't grow. This may be because urban people don't have a big patch to plant perennials or else a limited knowledge of garden and cooking lore. Rhubarb freezes beautifully with or without sugar. It is easy to grow, provides a lot of product, is immune to disease and is free of pests. It's a gift to the novice with a deep dirt patch and a good compost pile. We lift and split the roots every four years and replant in a different part of the plot.

The pianist and I make 12 to 14 frozen rhubarb pies per year. Picking and preparation time is easy and rapid. We make the pies in cake pans, single thin crust, deep dish rhubarb so as to avoid getting all that pastry. Timing is everything for harvest as it will quickly run into Currant and Gooseberry season and the stalks decline here after June. Our variety is Victoria. I could never keep it plump long enough to combine it with strawberry ripening season. Some like the combination but we haven't tried.
The pianist likes the small stalks since her mother was of the opinion that the rhubarb sauce was redder. I like big stalks since they are faster to process. We work it out! There is nothing nicer than a rhubarb pie at Christmas for you and your children and grandchildren.

When one is born on the bald prairie at the height of the great depression you never totally escape the sense of dread that your parents induced in you that without basic food that you can grow or store, you are somehow naked and exposed. Take nothing for granted these days. Reduce your expectations and learn self sufficiency. Rhubarb gives you a big bang for your buck if you grow it yourself.

Friday, April 24, 2009


A farting horse will never tire,

A farting man is the man to hire!

My pioneer family's homely refrain was a reflection of the nutrition, and that things were in good working order, at a time of deprivation rather than plenty. A big meal for horse and man, eaten quickly, provided jet fuel for hard work. The volume of intestinal gas is increased with a high carbohydrate diet such as would be expected in pioneer days. High correlation of intestinal gas and caloric intake is seen when investigated. Mean total volume of intestinal gas per day in a healthy adult is 705 ml. and this includes both bolus gas and colonic fermentation. The rate of daily emission of flatus is variable. The content includes hydrogen,methane,CO2 and nitrogen The pioneer diet also provided a significant, sturdy obesity that served as a base when the 6th and 7th stages of man could leave you atrophied. Sort of getting a physical head start in life's race. Low carbohydrate diets, associated with high fibre meals reduce flatulence considerably, but at the expense of energy, Not desirable in the case of the hired man! Moreover, there was no mechanization to speak of on the farm at that time. Petrol was of no use. You literally couldn't work with your hired man and horse," running on all cylinders " . Another kind of gas was needed!.

Investigation of Normal Flatus Production in Healthy Volunteers, Tomlin J., Lomis C., Read N. W., Gut, 1991, June 32 (6): 665-669.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Hippocratic Frame

The drawing shows a frame popularized by the Hippocratic school of Medicine at Kos in the Aegean somewhere about BC 400. The portrayal of the reduction of the dislocated shoulder is still an acceptable means of doing so today, except now we just stick a stocking foot in the armpit and pull like hell. It's still called the Hippocratic Method. I was privileged over 45 years of orthopedic surgery in Lotus City to have worked shoulder to shoulder with so many fine surgeons. The advances in surgical techniques over that period of time are immense. Curiously the refinement in operative techniques, though important, are overshadowed by the tremendous developments in bioengineering, Implant technology, computer generated imaging,fiber-optic advances and cellular physiology that have contributed greatly to the excellence of today's orthopedic techniques. The manifest importance of cross-fertilization! We owe a great deal to the non-surgical disciplines for the range of treatments now available. No longer Jack of all trades and Master of none, today's crop of orthopedic surgeons have concentrated their work into sub-specialties of excellence. The training of young orthopedic surgeons has become so comprehensive now, as to turn out a highly skilled individual, unlike the training available in my day which was as extensive but not as well organized in many centers and less directed by formal programming. It was up to us then, to seek out jobs that we thought would build up our skills. It was still, even then, a rigorous apprenticeship! Life long learning is the blessing conferred with teamwork and group interaction. Old guys like me can fly on their coattails. The Hippocratic Corpus is replete with observations of an orthopedic surgical nature that reveal that musculo-skeletal surgeons have been around a very long time.