Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Fire Cider - A Remedy For Winter Colds

Looking down the funnel it really does look like a fire in the hole!

Autumn is the time to look to your herbal remedies pantry store.
Elderberry tincture is a must have in our house with it's anti-viral, anti-bacterial and immune boosting properties. A single dose at the first sign of illness is usually enough to stop it in it's tracks. I gather my berries in late summer and the tincture has infused and is now bottled and labelled in the pantry.
Next month I'll gather wild rose hips from the hedgerows to make Vit C boosting rose hip cordial. When you are under the weather it is lovely to sip in hot water.
But now is the time for fire cider making, a very old warming cold and flu remedy.

This is another infusion that needs to sit for a month but instead of a tincture of alcohol this one is made in cider vinegar.
Autumn is the time for harvesting fresh horseradish root which seems to be one of the key ingredients in many recipes and I especially thank Julie in Hobart for dropping some off into my letterbox. We've never met but have shared the same life interests via facebook for years-don't you just love this social net working.
There are many fire cider recipes on the net and certainly Rosemary Gladstar's you tube clip would be my most recommended go-to.

Roughly chop ingredients into small pieces, either by hand or use a processor. I am making my infusion in a Fowlers jar, so handy for many uses, and a wide mouth funnel aids the job here. You don't need fancy equipment in the kitchen but my word a selection of funnels makes life easier.

So here are my ingredients;
A large handful of scrubbed, chopped, fresh horseradish root
1 large or 2 small chopped onions
a whole corm of garlic chopped
A fresh piece of ginger about the size of my hand
1 large heaped tablespoon of ground turmeric
1 modest tablespoon of cayenne pepper
Place all of the above in a glass jar and cover with a good cider vinegar, raw and unfiltered still containing the mother. Cover and leave to macerate and infuse for a lunar month. Strain into a clean bottle and label.

You can take a dose neat as a tablespoonful or you could add it to water to sip and even use it as a salad dressing. If you are really under the weather, sip in hot water with a teaspoon of honey added and get into bed, you should feel thoroughly warmed and may even produce a good cleansing sweat. Do not underestimate the power of simple ingredients like the alums in this recipe and you can read more about working with the body to shed illness in this post here about a common cold recipe I use from Dorothy Hall.

(The above is not medical advice but simple folk remedies that I use. It is for information only and does not intend to replace or contradict any therapy or treatment recommended by your health care provider)

Friday, April 11, 2014

Home Made Nappy/Diaper Change Salve

This is a perfect salve for nappy change times and cradle cap and one you'll want to pin. It is made simply from the garden using the super healing properties of common plantain. Used with calendula, another wonderful skin healing herb also found commonly in most gardens and chamomile incorporating the anti-inflammatory properties, this salve will soothe, nourish, heal, cool and promote soft healthy skin.

Gather fresh leaves of plantain before the energy of the plant goes into seed head production. After dew has dried is the best time as the herbs need to be absolutely dry before they go into the oil or you risk rot in your infusion. 
The leaves can be simply bruised/crushed and placed straight onto bites, stings, rashes or sunburn as an immediate remedy making it an excellent first aid.

Place the leaves along with the calendula flower heads and chamomile flowers into a large glass jar and cover with olive oil. Place somewhere warm, my kitchen bench catching the last of the Indian summer warmth is perfect, and turn gently from time to time to make sure the oil is mixing through the herbs. Leave for a month to infuse.

After a month of infusion, strain well through filter paper or a cloth lined strainer.
Measure the amount of infused oil and grate 10% in beeswax.
For instance if you have 800ml of infused oil, grate 80g of beeswax. This gives a nice manageable set to the salve but it melts so readily when applied to warm skin.
On a very low heat gentle combine the oil and grated beeswax till melted. 
Remove from heat. At this point I also add a few drops of vitamin E oil to extend the preservation.
Pour into clean glass jars or pots and cover straight away and leave to set.
Label and date.
A great gift for new babies.

Best practice is to use a clean stick or spatula every time but that is not entirely practical at nappy change time. We simply use our right hand for wiping and cleaning and then our left hand to take a single scoop from the pot thus keeping it from contamination. You wouldn't want to wipe a bottom and then transfer that back into the pot.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Winner Tomato Sauce Recipe

Rich, red, spicey, 
a winner of a recipe from
"Preserving" by Oded Schwartz
This book is more usually sold through those books to buy in lunch rooms thingy.
If you can source a copy DO NOT hesitate, I can't recommend it highly enough for great recipes, clear step by step photos, tips and rules of ALL types of preservation.

This sauce is reduced a couple of times throughout the process but so worth the few hours it will take. Once you've got your big batch done you are all set for the rest of the year and if you've made a really huge batch and followed the instructions properly, this sauce will last on the shelf up to 2 years because of the added vinegar to increase the acid content.

Note the bottom right hand corner of the page....
A Damson variation!!
What a great follow on from the last post about Damsons!
You can see another reason why I love this book. Just look at the way the recipe is laid out with descriptions and tips on the left and important information in point form on the right.

A fantastic book.
I started this post back on the 4th and got as far as the first sentence when I got a text message to say
"Mum they are wheeling me into the labour ward now, get here quick"
So this post may be coming a bit too late for those dealing with piles of tomatoes as they are finishing here now but do give this recipe a try next year.

7lb 11oz

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Market Discoveries - Damsons

Growers Markets are a great source of seasonal fruit seldom seen in the big supermarkets and even in little fruit and veg shops. Just last week at the ut si cafe growers market shoppers were spoilt for choice with four different apple varieties, nashi, quince and plums. 
The blood plums on the left are a delicious juicy eating plum and though they were also put to good use in a pumpkin and plum chutney, they really shone in the upside down plum cake post here.

Let's not overlook the Damson Plums though!
These are seldom offered in supermarkets and I wonder if that's because it is more of a cooking plum and people are less inclined to process their own food now. 
They are the size of a small egg and very ovoid in shape with a distinctive dusky deep blue skin that can be astringent. The flesh inside reminds me of greengage plums in colour but the flesh is much drier.
Most people make Damson Jam as they contain good pectin for setting and when cooked the flavours sensational.

My friend Lee tells me that she loves to make Damson Gin with hers. She covers whole Damsons in gin and leaves them to sit in a cupboard for about four weeks and decants. She assures me the flavour is even more luscious than sloe gin.
As for me, you know of my love affair with my dehydrator, especially when I am busy hands on with tomatoes at this time of year, I'm making prunes.

I simply wash and halve, remove the stone and pop them into the dehydrator till they are dried but still slightly moist and gooey then I store them in a jar in the fridge.
Chewy, jamy, almost figgy, with a tiny bit of sharpness but not too sweet.
These make great snacks for afternoons and pre-dinner hunger pains. Very welcome additions to warming porridge on autumn mornings. What about adding them to a gorgeous robust loaf or treacle cake.
Sourcing seasonal specialities at local markets ensures you are getting not only nutritional variety but provides flavoursome textural additions too. Sweet, bitter, salty, sour, are all part of the digestive stimulation and if we keep breeding our food to be only sweet it will be to our peril. Crunchy, soft, chewy, sticky, crumbly, all textures help stimulate our appetite as we start the mastication process and exercise jaw muscles and send signals to our stomach for digestive enzymes.

Last Saturday was the final market day for us for this current season and we will resume when daylight savings begins again. Do chat with the sellers at market because they know so much about the food they produce and can give you lots of ideas for use so you get so much more from your purchases.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Local Food Focus

Tassievore Eat Local Challenge has been a month long focus with weekly challenges to get people connected to their local food supplies. The Living Better With Less group pretty much live this philosophy and we were keen to turn our monthly meet up into a dinner of local produce in line with the week 4 challenge.

Last night we met at my place to celebrate the flavours and produce of autumn. The table was set simply with a natural linen runner and topped with apples from the backyard and gem squash from one of my market customers.

Home grown tomatoes were slowly roasted and then blended with fresh ricotta and next to that a dish of chunky beetroot marmalade, perfect for....

Home smoked venison done in a covered work with apple wood chips also from the backyard and home grown and dried juniper berries and bay leaf. In the dish beside that, crumbled Tasmanian fetta marinated in home made grappa with garlic and oil. Simply divine with....

locally produced and smoked free range ham and Tasmanian cheeses and marinated olives.

A selection of different varieties of tiny tomatoes....

Simply roasted backyard Kenebec potatoes....

and one of our own Australorp roosters simply roasted with our harvested garlic and a sprinkle of Lemon Myrtle leaf powder.

Two loaves of home made bread made with local flour and naturally leavened. Even the butter was home made from local cream.

To finish, Honey Ice-cream and fresh figs from the backyard.
The cream was from a small local dairy and the honey from a roadside seller at Brady's Lookout. Eggs from their own backyard chickens.
We dined, exclaimed, laughed and shared recipes. It was a very memorable night and definitely something I would like to try to do again soon.
Katherine has very kindly supplied her recipe for the ice-cream too

Honey Ice-cream

3 eggs separated
1/2 cup honey
1 1/4 cups of cream

Use an electric beater to beat the yolks till light and fluffy. Add the honey and beat till the mixture is thick and pale.
Beat the cream till stiff peaks form.
In a clean bowl whip the egg whites until stiff peaks form.
Using a metal spoon, fold the cream into the egg whites. Then fold into the yolk mixture.
Pour into a 5-6 cup capacity container and freeze for 4-5 hours until firm.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Snacking on Seeds

I LOVE pumpkin season. I love pumpkin soup but I really love pumpkin seeds even more I think.
When I tell people they always ask me "how do you eat them?"
"Straight from the pulp as I'm cutting it up mostly" I would have to reply.
But I have got a technique for dried seeds too.

The seeds from Turk's Turbans are my all time favourite, so buttery and soft.
I also like the seeds from the large pumpkins in the first photo too. I'm not sure what they are called but their outer shell is less fibrous than a QLD Blue or a Jarradale for instance.

Pumpkin seeds make a great snack for in between meals and a whole host of other health benefits. For instance, they are high in protein, a rich source of zinc, magnesium, vitamin B group and Vit E.
They contain L-tryptophan which is great for a good night sleep and helps depression.
They are effective for ridding thread worm and have an anti-inflammatory action on the body. Studies are linking their positive effects to prostate health and their ability to lower LDL in the body.
In short

I am a big believer in foods in season and for a reason.
I believe we are supposed to eat certain foods when they are in season for optimum health seasonally.
I also believe in true cravings and joy for foods.
I have trouble absorbing magnesium and zinc and have abnormal LDL despite a good diet. I don't think it is any co-incidence that I take such delight in pumpkin seed season. 
Next time you are cutting a pumpkin, remove the seeds from the pulp. Soak in a solution of one and a half tablespoons of salt to 500ml of water overnight or for about 8 hours then spread to dry or place in your dehydrator. Mine never last long and I really appreciate them when I'm still at work at 7pm and haven't eaten since midday, they tide me over nicely till I can get home for dinner.
Crunchy, chewy, buttery, nutritious pumpkin seeds.
Isn't nature wonderful!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Beyond The Freezer

Not another jar of jam!
Tonight I am doing another workshop at 
Fresh cafe from 7-9 
(if my daughter doesn't have her baby!)

and I am talking about different ways to preserve food. I'm excited to get people to think beyond sticking food, especially food in glut, into freezers, and certainly not another jar of jam either.

We'll be discussing pickling, fermenting, dehydrating and different ways of excluding oxygen to prevent spoilage. We'll be taste testing natural ferment beetroot and learning how to preserve fresh olives and what apricots look like dried without sulphur. 
It's free and supporting the 

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