Craving sweets at night…

I crave sweets all the time. I’m a sugar addict. It’s the only thing I’m addicted to.  Unfortunately, it’s pervasive and hard to get away from. Being a school teacher has only made it harder to get away from….I keep a bag of starburst in my desk for the kids (that part is my own fault), there’s sweet tea on tap in the teacher’s lounge, french fries at the football games (starchy processed food = sugar, ketchup = sugar), cupcakes or donuts at staff meetings (if I weren’t gluten intolerant, I’d be double fisting)….the list goes on.

I find, though, that I especially crave sweets at night…I’ve popped open my laptop and am double checking tomorrow’s lesson plan, or I’m trying to wrap up grading…and visions of sugar plums start dancing in my head.

Other than giving in (sweet, sweet chocolate)….which I do more often than I’d like…the only thing I’ve found that fixes it is my magical cocktail. The recipe changes depending on what I have in the cupboard, but this is how I like to do it:

2-3 ounces of aloe (note on aloe below)
Up to 4 ounces of beet kvass (which you made yourself and is awesome!) (this is the most optional ingredient)
Eyedropper full of chlorophyll (this is my preferred)

Hearty splash of Apple Cider Vinegar (Bragg’s right now, but I’d like to try making it.)
Teeny squeeze of lemon or lime.
4-8 ounces of water (I just fill the jar the rest of the way.)

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Like so!  Black magic!

For additional fun, drink most of it and then add a heaping tablespoon of psyllium husks….add more water as needed…drink before it congeals.

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A friend of mine was studying to be a nutritionist and my brands of choice were initially strongly influenced by her (and her teacher, of course) but then I went out and tried a bunch of different things (or went looking for what she suggested, couldn’t find it, picked something else)….and then I formed my own opinions.  Which happened to be exactly what she recommended at first.  (Incidentally no brand sponsorships here, I’m not that cool – I just really like this stuff.)

Oh, Aloe.  I’ve tried like 4 million types of aloe and a lot of it was weird or gross, but George’s Aloe is perfect and tastes like water.  Half the wholefoods in the world carry it, the other half can order it…also Amazon has it for decent prices.  Here’s the cheapest right now– although I usually buy larger sizes, it doesn’t go bad.

Also, some kinds of psyllium husks make me gag so bad I can’t swallow them no matter what – it’s awful, but I was told to look for the brand with “the smiling Indian man on it” (conveniently actually called Organic India) and they really are the best.  No gagging!

Bottom’s up!  Do you have a favorite health tonic?  Have you tried anything like this before?  I’m curious to know what you think!

Beet Kvass!

I super love when you start a process and end up with more than one end product – like a few weeks ago, when we juiced lemons and got both lemonade and a citrus infused vinegar.  Today’s project will yield three results – so I’m breaking it into three posts!  And posting every day!  Excitement.

First up is Beet Kvass.  I love a shot of this stuff on occasion and when I saw fresh beets in the farmer’s market, I knew it was time for a little beety action.

If you’ve never heard of Beet Kvass, this video (which incidentally is how I found out about it) will answer all of your questions:

The first step is to make whey!  Whey is the liquid part in a lot of dairy products.  I make it by straining yogurt – I’d definitely recommend this way (ha) of making whey because it yields the project in tomorrow’s installment.

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I wrap the yogurt into a little bundle of cheese cloth and tie it around a skewer and leave that in the fridge to drip over night.  Different brands of yogurt produce different amounts of whey, so I always get at least two of the little containers – I find that a big 16 ounce is always a little too much for my needs.

As we learned in the video (and as Sally says) – you only need 1/8-1/4 cup of whey – but never fear, in installment 3, we’ll use whatever is left of your whey for something else!

Next we chop our beet.  I never peel mine, just give them a bit of a scrub and chop them into 1″-ish cubes.

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Bua-ha-ha-ha beet carnage.

Then you just chuck your beets and 1/4 teaspoon of salt into the jar with your whey, shake, and wait for two days!

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Day 1!  Beets soaking, you can see the foam around the top already!

I’ve always been fond of picklebacks (shot of whiskey followed by a shot of pickle brine), but for a colorful twist on that- you can try beetbacks.  I had the bright idea a few years ago and they were the hit of a friend’s birthday party- a shot of whiskey followed by a shot of beet kvass.  Cures what ails ya!

 

FIRE CIDER – The People’s Medicine! (recipe always in flux)

A few years ago, a coworker of mine came in with a bottle of fire cider that her mother had sent her and dared all of us to give it a taste….we were nervous at first, especially me, I DO NOT LIKE spicy things…  But I tried it….it was spicy and sweet and complex and it got my blood moving. which is exactly what it’s designed to do!

As soon as I figured out just how easy it is to make, I set out to make my own.  I make it differently every time I do it, although there are some *must have* ingredients in there…I’ll get to that. 🙂

The recipe is based on a number of recipes handed down potentially since the days of the Black Plague, but it’s been perfected and titled by Rosemary Gladstar, a matriarch of the modern herbal community.

It’s an immune booster, a digestive aid, a blood stimulant, a winter warmer, a cold chaser.  It’s a great thing to have around and SUPER easy to make.  You can drink it straight, mix it into juice, put it on a salad, mix it with hot water and honey like a tea (you can also inhale the steam to get your sinuses moving).  It’s pretty magical stuff.

You can watch Rosemary make it and talk about it here:

There are tons of variations on this recipe, but the key ingredients are garlic, onion, horseradish, ginger, cayenne, apple cider vinegar and honey.  You can add other varieties of pepper, peppercorns, turmeric, cinnamon, rose hip, other members of the allium family, citrus, fennel, thyme, lavender, echinacea, parsley…basically if it makes you think: immune boosting, full of vitamin c, warming, blood stirring, or digestive….you can throw it in there.

Today as I was repeatedly strolling the farmer’s market (it was a glorious day here…and anyone who follows me on Instagram saw my silly vintage cape ensemble that I was strolling in)….I kept noticing the brightly colored peppers on all the stalls.  I don’t like spicy food, so I only ever use peppers for fire cider.  I also knew I had ginger at home because of my recent ginger soda endeavors…so I decided to make my first batch of fire cider for the year.

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Current Batch of Fire Cider Includes:

  • 2 small local vidalia onions
  • 1 heirloom cayenne pepper
  • 1 peach habanero pepper
  • a big chunk of horseradish (probably about a half a cup of chopped root)
  • about 6 little chunks of turmeric root (about 1/4 cup of root bits)
  • an orange
  • most of a lemon
  • a 6 inch piece of ginger root
  • about a quarter cup of scallion tops (I had them lying around)
  • two full heads of garlic (pressed)
  • a big chunk of rosemary from the garden
  • an entire bottle of Braggs apple cider vinegar

It’s all chopped up and chucked into a half gallon mason jar.  I’m actually using one of my super vintage ones because it has a glass lid – vinegar tends to corrode the metal ones, which isn’t so nice.  If you’re using one with a metal lid, everyone says to stick a piece of waxed or parchment paper between the lid and the jar.

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Once it’s macerated for 4-6 weeks (and shake that baby occasionally, it does really help), I’ll strain out all the veggie matter and mix in honey to taste.  I actually have a rosebush in my yard that’s going to hip nicely…so I might make a honey/rosehip syrup and mix that in.  The fun part is that you don’t have to adhere to any recipe strictly.  You can make it differently every single time if you want to.

I keep the big bottle in the fridge, but I have a small bottle on my bathroom counter with an eyedropper and I take it if I’m feeling like I’m starting to get sick, if my stomach is upset, or if I’m really cold….or sometimes just for fun.  If I feel like I need a big dose, I mix it into OJ.  I also like to keep a small bottle in my travel bag and take it while I’m traveling…I think it’s better than Airborne.

If you want to read about the current (and really appalling) trademark controversy over fire cider (essentially a corporation has placed a trademark on a folk remedy that isn’t theirs to trademark and has been sending nasty letters to herbalists all over the country to have them change the name of their product), please go here: http://freefirecider.com/  – also consider signing the petition here to revoke this trademark.

Traditions not trademarks!

Lactofermented Ginger Beer

Last soda recipe!  Ginger beer.  Ginger is a traditional remedy for upset stomach, remember mom bringing you ginger ale when you were sick?  There isn’t a whole lot of ginger in the store brands, but something like this is sure to deliver the healing power of the root *and* it tastes awesome.

Another bonus this time of year is that it’s the right season for the classic Dark & Stormy cocktail…and to make a good Dark & Stormy, you need a Ginger Beer that can stand up to the spiced rum.  This one should do it *and it’s pretty good for you* – could balance out the alcohol?

Ginger Beer Ingredients:

  • 8 cups water (filtered preferred)
  • 4-6 inches of ginger root (grated)
  • 2 limes (you could use lemon, but lime is better) juiced
  • 1 cup ginger bug (recipe here!)
  • 1-2 cups sweetener of your choice (not honey – it’s anti-bacterial and you need the bacteria)

Do this:

  1. In a heavy bottomed pot: add the water and ginger.
  2. Bring the mixture to a simmer and simmer covered for 20 minutes.
  3. Turn off heat, add sweetener and stir to dissolve completely.
  4. Leave the pot covered for 30 minutes.
  5. My favorite part of all the recipes I found involved cooling the wort (the thing about to be soda) to blood temperature! Generally you want to cool it to somewhere between 80 and 90 degrees so as not to hurt your ginger bug. I found that I had to pop the pan into the fridge for about 15-20 minutes to get there – but spot check it, you definitely don’t want it cold. I also found that none of my kitchen thermometers got cool enough and I had to use my under-the-tongue medical thermometer. When your ginger beer has cooled, squeeze in the lime juice and stir.
  6. Strain it to remove the plant material (ginger gratings and lime pulp). To get it all out, your might need a jelly bag. Mine still has a small amount of plant material which will generally settle out.
  7. Strain off a cup of your ginger bug liquid and add to the ginger beer.
  8. Pour your soda into bottles (again, I’m a fan of swing tops like these). Allow it to sit in a warm or room temperature spot in your home for 3-5 days.
  9. After 3-5 days of fermentation (watch for bubbles rising!), you will have ginger beer unlike one you’ve ever tasted.

For a solid Dark & Stormy, you’ll need 3 ounces of this (a little less than a half a cup), 2 ounces of dark rum (1/4 cup) (Gosling’s is the traditional brand), and a squeeze of lime juice.  Place ice & all ingredients in a bar glass, stir, and garnish with a lime.  That should chase any early-Fall chill away. 🙂

 

 

Sunburn Central!

So it’s the 7th of July, and everyone in the house managed to get at least a spot of sunburn over the holiday.

I forgot the correct order of operations and put on sunscreen after I had my swimsuit already on, so there’s a funny burn band along my décolletage where it must have shifted. Summer has officially begun.

Between us, there are 3 aloe plants in the house, but it’s hard for me to commit an entire plant to this project, so I decided to make something a little broader spectrum.

Herbal Skin Cooler
6 Plantain Leaves*
2 Bags of Green Tea (organic preferred)
6 Healthy Sized Branches of Peppermint (not spearmint!) or 5-6 Bags of Peppermint Tea
4-6 Meaty Aloe Leaves

*Plantain here does not necessitate a trip to a Caribbean market, it is a common weed in your yard and looks like this:

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Do this:
* Put the kettle on!

*Gently wash the plantain leaves (more of a rinse, really) and crumple/mush them into the bottom of a quart sized mason jar.

*Cut the green tea bags (and peppermint if you’re using tea bags) and empty the tea into the jar.

*Smush the peppermint branches (stems and all) into the jar (if using branches).

*Fill the jar about halfway (should cover at least most of your plant material) with hot but not boiling water.

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*Set the jar on the counter to cool for 2 hours, shaking occasionally once it becomes cool enough to handle.

*Get the goo out of your aloe leaves. After some trial and error, I decided on slitting the leaf up the middle, cutting off about a 2-3 inch section at a time, flattening the section out, and then using the side of the jar to scrape the goo into the cooled tea. For good measure, I threw the aloe leaf husk parts into the tea as well.

*Cool/steep that in the fridge for at least an hour, shaking occasionally.

*Strain the cooler into a separate jar (or spray bottle) and then store in the fridge for up to 10 days.

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You can dab or spritz this refreshing cooler on any part of your body, but definitely hit up the sunburn spots first.

Plantain has amazing healing properties, peppermint has a cooling kick, green tea is soothing and antioxidant, and aloe does what aloe does…

I was just out watering the garden and when I came back, I spritzed it on my face, neck, and pulse points and felt instantly cooler.

Enjoy!