Friday, July 27, 2012

Pine Salve, winter malady helps, stock up now

   The pine salve that has been brewing on my cupboard for many weeks has been finished. It says it's good for aches and pains but I found a different use for it. In February I broke out with a rash I get off and on, stress mostly, and have not been able to get rid of it. Until this week. The salve is wonderful, all but a few bumps have gone away. Here is how to make it, its fairly easy. Gather a pile of pine branches, Douglas Fir, Cypress, or any kind of Pine. Cut the needles into smallish pieces until you have about 3 cups, no branches. Put these into a quart jar, filling about 2/3 full. Add 2 tablespoons of juniper berrys(found on facebook) and a couple of tablespoons of grated orange peel. Cover this with oil. I used a mix of apricot kernal, jojoba and olive oil. Cover and set in a dark corner somewhere and leave for 4 weeks. Strain the oil out of the jar into a pan, discard the solid stuff.  You should have 3 cups of infused oil. To this add 4 ounces of grated beeswax and melt the wax over low low heat. Remove from heat and pour into containers. I used tins, but little jars would work too. It sets up fast, and is great stuff.
   Its so hot that thinking about cold and flu season now is difficult. But it will be here soon, school starts in a few weeks and that always heralds the first colds of the season. There are things in your pantry that can help. 
  To unstuff stuffy noses, peppermint or eucalyptus oils are invaluable. Put a few drops in a pan of warm water, towel over head and inhale. You can add a few drops of eucalyptus to a vaporizer too, and fill the room with easing steam.
   Licorice is a great throat soother, just eating licorice(black) candy is helpful. If you have high blood pressure, avoid this, it will raise it. To make your own throat lozenges here is a good way:
   2 Tablespoons of licorice powder
   1 teaspoon honey
   cocoa powder
Put the powder(licorice) in a bowl, add the honey, and unsweetened cocoa powder to make a thick paste. Knead until smooth. Make into pill sized pieces. These need to dry, in a dehydrator or in a 150 degree oven on a cookie sheet til they are dry. Put them in a glass jar and they will keep for a long time.
  To soothe a sore throat, mix 1/4 cup of local honey with 1/4 cup of water, 1 teaspoon of lemon juice and 1 tablespoon of chopped or dried sage. Mix well and keep in the refrigerator.
  My fave quick kicker for sore throat is to just chew a clove of fresh garlic.
  Licorice, black pepper and ginger are all forms of antibiotics, keep these in mind and make ginger tea for flu or colds, add pepper to your food. And if its ok for you, eat licorice. Other forms of herbal antibiotics are juniper,honey and goldenseal.
  How about one recipe for the road, a sweet treat.
  Almond Anise Brittle
  1/2 cup sliced almonds
  1 cup sugar
  1/3 cup water
  pinch of cream of tartar
 2 tablespoons anise seeds
  In a 250 degree oven, toast the almonds on unlined baking sheet until golden. In a medium pot, combine sugar, water. and cream of tarter. Heat til sugar is dissolved. Cover pot and boil for about 5 minutes.  Remove lid an look at color, should be amber. When it is, quickly add almonds and aniseseeds and pour onto a buttered cookie sheet or foil.Spread thin so it will end up with a glass like texture. Break up after set and store. This is so pretty, could make a nice Christmas gift.
  Hope you are bearing up under the heat, take care.


Friday, July 20, 2012

Fresh Herbs, mixed for cooking, more chia recipes

  In our area, we have had a long stretch of frequent rains lately, things are in need of drying out. But one thing has come of it, the garden is producing lavishly. I have been shredding, cubing, pickling and anything else I can think of, zucchinis and cucumbers the last few weeks. the cupboard is now full of pickles. I might consider relish in the future, but no more pickles.
  The herb beds have also been growing abundantly so a lot of my herbs are being dried or frozen or refrigerated for future use.  A good way to keep your herbs ready for cooking later is to put a few leaves in an ice cube tray, fill each area with water and freeze. Then pop them out and put in bags, labeled, for use another time. They are like cooking with fresh because they keep their color and flavor.
 Many times a recipe will ask for a combination of herbs, and sometimes the recipes are hard to find, so today I am going to gve you some ideas for combinations.
 This is a French combination  of :
  Bay leaf
Tie these together in a bundle and add to your cooking pot. You can adapt this to other herbs if you have some you like to use, but this is the classic version.
  1/4 cup of chervil
  1/4 cup of chives
  1/4 cup parsley
  1/4 cup of tarragon
This is a mix of fresh herbs thats good in salads or sprinkled on melons. Not good made of dried herbs.

  1 tablespoon of basil
  1 Tablespoon marjoram
  1 Tablespoon savory
  1 Tablespoon thyme
  1 teaspoon lavender flowers
  1 teaspoon cracked fennel seeds
This is very flavorful, use in small amounts.  Good on eggs, pizza, fish and in stew.

  3 cloves of garlic
  1/2 cup parsley
  1 tablespoon of lemon zest
Ususally served over meats, or as a garnish on pasta and great on baked potatoes or squash.


  2 and 1/2 tablespoons oregano leaves
  2 and 1/2 tablespoons basil leaves
  1 tablespoon marjoram leaves.
This can be used fresh, or dried.  If added to olive oil, you can use it as a dip for bread, maybe adding a little crushed garlic too.
 A few times ago, we talked abou chia seeds and all their uses and benefits. I have a drink for you to try.  A  Berry Chia Cooler.
  Put a tablespoon of dried hibiscus tea, made with peppermint and orange peel,  plus a handful of dried hibiscus flowers, into a tea pot of hot water. Stir in 2 tablespoons of raw, local honey, stirring til mixed. Set this in the refrigerator overnight. Next day, add a handful of fresh or frozen berrys, your choice. Then stir in 4 tablespoons of chia seeds. Let sit for an hour, so seeds  produce gel. Strain and drink chilled. Ah yes, crush the berrys before adding. The tea I use is called Good Nature(brand) and is an organic mix of hibiscus, rose hips. I bought it from Swanson Vitamins.
  Hope you have a good week, a little rain, a little sun, a little breeze to cool you. Take care, stay well.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Hair Help, Bug deterrant, produce cleaning

  It's been a nice break, cool and rain this last week, but as it always seems, too much rain. The garden is not likeing being so wet, needs a little sun. We are sure to go from cool and wet to another hot and dry spell, isn't that life!
  Today I have some ideas for home made hair rinses to make your hair soft and super shiny, and very inexpensive.
  These are all made the same way, depending on your hair color, pick what works for you.
  Brunettes,  boil 2 cups of water,  add 1/4 cup fresh or dried sage, and steep for 15 minutes. Strain, put in container. After washing hair, pour over as a final rinse, do not wash out.
   Blondes, use same thing but  put 1/2 cup of chamomile flowers into the boiling water. (omit sage)
  Red heads,  substitute 1/4 cup of hibiscus flowers.
  If you want a home made shampoo that will make your hair shimmer, try mixing 1/4 cup of water, 1/4 cup of castile soap and 1/2 teaspoon of vegetable oil together, suds away. Castile soap is easy to find on line, just type it into your search engine, it's not very pricy and good for a lot of things. Have not been able to find it in stores, used to be used for babies all the time as it's so gentle.  If you want to add herbs to this shampoo, dried chamomile, lavender, etc can be added as you like.  To add body and bounce, add 1 cup of beer, this needs to be reduced from 1 cup to 1/4 cup by simmering. When we were stationed in the Phillipines, the beauty shops all used a beer based shampoo on our hair, made it look great.  How about some home made bug repellant? 
  1/2 ounce citronella oil
  1/4 ounce lavender oil
  1/8 ounce tea tree oil
  1/8 ounce jojoba oil.
 Add 16 ounces of almond or oil of your choice, blend and put in spray container.
  Or try 3 and 1/2 ounces of witch hazel
            1/2 ounce lemon juice
            1/2 teaspoon eucalyptus oil
            1/2 ounce citronella oil   combine all in small spray bottle.
 On to fruits and vegetables. If you are buying them at the store or local farmers markets, they need to be cleaned. A great wash is made by combining the following:  8 ounces purified or distilled water, 1 cup vinegar, juice of 1 lemon, 2 teaspoons baking soda and a drop of orange extract, which I think could be omitted, mostly for scent.  Cut the lemon in half and squeeze out juice into a bowl, add soda, oil and if using, extract. Mix well then add vinegar. Whee , fizz all over the place, kids will love watching this. Pour this into a bottle, and when cleaning your produce, spray it well, let sit at least 30 seconds then rinse thoroughly. Some of the dirtiest produce includes potatoes, apples, peppers, celery, peaches, blueberrys, strawberrys, grapes, spinach, lettuce, green beans, kale, avocados, cantalope, eggplant, kiwi and watermelon. Just wash them well and they will be healthy additions to your diet.
  Hope you have a great week, stay well.
  By the way, any of the ingredients I use  in these recipes are available at Mountain Rose Herbs, or on Amazon.


Friday, July 6, 2012

Home made Sunscreen, recipes to cool you off, summer storms

  The country is caught in a heat wave, and a lot of severe storms have plagued the whole area lately. we had our turn last night. We were lucky here on the mountain, the wind went screaming across the peaks for a short time but all we got was needed rain. Our neighboring cities were not so lucky, wind damage, trees down, power out in a lot of places and 2 deaths in the Smoky mountain park area.
  So lets look at some ideas to keep us cool and snack healthy. One of my everyday pleasures is Greek Yogurt, made with one ingredient, organic skim milk. No sugar or other stuff added. This allows you to add what you want, fresh fruit, honey etc. If you are a chocolate person, this is a great recipe. To one cup of yogurt, stir in a heaping teaspoon of cocoa powder, a teaspoon of honey and a splash of vanilla. Stir well and enjoy. I am thinking of tossing in a few nuts next time. Chopped pecans would be my pick.
  How about some chips? Banana chips that is. Slice some bananas thin, can't be over ripe, dip in lemon juice, place on a cookie sheet and bake at 200 degrees for 2 hours. Flip them over and bake another 1 and 1/2 hours or til crisp. Store in baggie or other container to keep fresh.
  Something really cold? How about Frozen Spiced Chai?  In a pan put 1 pint of half and half, 2 tablespoons of sugar, 4 chai tea bags and bring to a boil. Remove from heat, let sit 5 minutes and remove the tea bags. Refrigerate for 1 hour, then pour into a blender with 2 cup of ice cubes. Blend until smooth. Serve in dishes with whipped cream and shaved chocolate, or just plain.
  How about some quick cookies?   Try mixing 1 cup of Nutella with 1 egg and 1 cup of flour. Mix well, shape into small balls and bake at 350 degrees for 6 to 8 minutes.
   Here's an idea I heard this week, if you are avoiding eggs or don't have one and need one in  a recipe,  soak 1 tablespoon of flax seeds in 3 tablesoons of water until gelatinous, and use in place of one egg.
  On my Grit site this am I was given many ideas for the abundant supply of zucchini we are having this year, one of my favorite dishes is Eggplant Parmesan, but I found out you can use zucchini the same way. So I just sauteed up a batch of them, breaded, and when they are cool I will freeze them in suitable sized containers for future use. The article assured me they are good keepers fixed this way. Of course, will have to try some for supper tonight. Their idea was to put spaghetti sauce in the bottom of a baking dish, then cooked sausage, then layer the zucchini and more sauce, bake adding cheese toward the end of baking.
  If you are watching labels and finding stuff in sunscreen you do not like, you can make your own. Some of the bad for you ingredients are  Oxybenzone, Retinol Palmitate, Methoxycinnamate, Padinate or O/Paba, and any kind of Nano particles. So lets start. In a heat proof bowl, that you will put over boiling water, like a double boiler, put 4.05 ounces of beeswax, 4.25 ounces of shea butter, and 5.25 ounces of coconut oil. Heat til the beeswax is melted. Remove from heat and use an immersian blender or just a regular mixer and beat til whipped. Store in jar. This is a SPF 30 sunscreen, goes on a bit milky but soaks right into the skin.
  Hope you have no bad storms this next week, just gentle rains and maybe less heat. Stay cool and healthy!