Sunday, March 31, 2013
Saturday, March 30, 2013
A home remedy that works! Combinations of honey, lemon, and tea are age old remedies for soothing a cough or sore throat. Turns out there's actually some science behind them; these old remedies can really work! What luck that they taste good, too--way better than those drug store cough syrups.
Studies have shown that honey can calm a cough as well as, or even better than, over-the-counter cough medicines. Honey has antimicrobial and antioxidant properties and can fight bacteria. Combine it with the nutrients in lemons & other citrus, herbs, and spices, and you've got a natural, delicious way to treat cold and flu symptoms. Blends of honey and citrus can be swallowed straight from a spoon or stirred into hot water or tea. The steam and warmth of hot tea and water are also soothing to sore throats and can relieve stuffiness.
- Warning: Never give honey to a child younger than age 1 due to the risk of infant botulism, a rare but serious form of food poisoning.
A great gift for a sick friend or tea lover! I always want to do something for a friend who is under the weather, but never know how to help. A jar of one of these syrups is just the thing. They are such delicious stir-ins for flavoring hot tea or water, that they make a great gift for tea loving friends, too. I have a printable gift tag you can attach to the jar. You'll find it further down in this post.
My kitchen laboratory. After seeing a variety of honey and sore throat concoctions on Pinterest (see links at bottom of this post), I've spent some time over the past couple of months experimenting with infusing honey with different blends of citrus, herbs, and spices. My goal was to create combos that taste good and are thought to have healing powers.
- Disclaimer! I have absolutely no training in nutrition or medicine. My syrups are all based on information I've gathered on the internet. Of course, if you are experiencing severe cold or flu symptoms, or have diabetes or other health conditions, you should consult a doctor.
I settled on 5 favorite flavor combinations that I'm sharing today. Truth is, they're not just for soothing a sore throat or cough. These syrups taste fabulous stirred into hot water and tea even if you aren't sick. I've loved having them on hand for flavoring my afternoon cup of tea.
Step-by-step photos for making
5 Honey Citrus Syrups
- honey -- I used regular pure, unfiltered honey and buckwheat honey. I initially purchased both at Whole Foods, but found a better bulk price on Amazon.
- citrus -- lemons, limes, oranges, and clementines
- herbs -- fresh rosemary & mint
- spices -- ginger (fresh or dried/ground), whole cloves, ground cinnamon, ground cardamom
fresh or dried/ground ginger, cloves & cardamom, cinnamon, peppermint, rosemary, citrus
Organic, washed citrus recommended. Because the fruit isn't peeled, I highly recommend using organic citrus in these syrups. Wash it well, too, to remove any possible contaminants.
What you should know about honey. Well, there's a lot. You'll find a good summary here. For the purpose of making these syrups, here are some tips:
- Unprocessed, local honey is best. There are various degrees of processing available. Raw honey is the least processed and has the most nutrients. It is however more expensive and less widely available. If using regular honey (not raw), look for 100% pure, unfiltered, unheated varieties. I found some at my grocery store.
- When honey is exposed to high heat it loses many of its nutrients and benefits. Avoid pasteurized honey that has been exposed to high heat. Microwaving honey is not recommended.
- Honey comes in many varieties with different flavors depending on where the honey bees collected their pollen. The darker the honey color, the stronger its flavor, and the higher its nutrients and antioxidants.
- Buckwheat honey is among the most nutrient rich honeys and has been found to be an effective cough suppressant. It is very dark and has a strong molasses flavor. Some like it, some don't. I prefer to mix it half and half with milder honeys for the best flavor & nutrient combo, and to save money (buckwheat honey is more expensive than lighter honeys). You can read more about buckwheat honey here and here.
- Honey should be stored at room temperature to avoid crystallization. It has natural preservatives and will not spoil. If it does crystallize, set it in a bowl of hot water for a few minutes to restore its consistency. This amount of heat will not compromise its nutrients. (Note: The honey syrups in this post should be refrigerated, because they contain citrus and herbs. The combination of ingredients keeps them from crystallizing in the fridge.)
Slice the citrus into rounds. I quarter the rounds of larger citrus like oranges, and half the rounds of limes, lemons, and clementines.
Using ginger. I tested these syrups using both fresh and ground dried ginger, and ended up preferring the ground dried version for the best & easiest flavor punch. Plus, I didn't have to worry about the dried ginger spoiling. (You still get the nutritional benefits of ginger in it's dried form.) If you prefer to use fresh ginger, I recommend grating it rather than slicing it. In my samples using sliced ginger, I could hardly taste the ginger--grating it helped.
- Fresh ginger tips: Peel it easily with the tip of a spoon. Grate it with a Microplane.
How to stack and mix the syrup ingredients. I'm assembling a lemon ginger honey jar in the illustration below:
- Add half of the lemon slices, then half of the ginger, then half of the honey; give it a stir with a chopstick, table knife, or other long thin object. Move the lemon slices around to make sure the honey runs between them.
- Repeat with the remaining lemon, ginger, and honey; stir and top off with more honey, if needed, to fill the jar.
- This can be done in any size jar. I used half-pint (1 cup jars). The jars should be approx. 3/4 full with citrus. This allows room for at least 1/2 cup of honey per jar.
- Hint for assembling prettier jars (if you care about that): place some of the lemon slices vertically down the sides of the jar so that full slices are visible from the outside. They tend to stack horizontally otherwise.
From thick to thin syrup. Within 3-4 hours the syrup is ready to use. The honey draws the juices out of the citrus, so give it a stir to combine the honey and juice. The result is that the thick honey transforms into a thin syrup consistency. If you prefer a thicker consistency, increase the ratio of honey to citrus in your jars.
- Another way to thicken this is to heat & simmer the mixture for approx. 15 minutes; the honey and pectin in the citrus will naturally gel as it cools. However heat destroys many of the nutrients. Personally, I'm happy with these in a thinner syrup consistency so that I benefit from as many nutrients as possible.
1. Lemon Ginger Honey
2. Clementine Cardamom Honey
3. Lime Mint Honey. (Note: After about a week the delicate mint leaves begin to darken and should be removed to avoid decay and spoilage. The mint flavor remains infused into the honey.)
4. Lemon Rosemary Honey
5. Orange Clove Honey(cinnamon may be added to this one, too, if you like)
3 honey combos. Below are the Orange Clove Honey Syrups made with different honey combinations.
- all regular light honey (mine was an orange blossom honey)
- half regular honey and half buckwheat honey -- a nice blend of mild and strong flavored honeys; this is my personal favorite for enjoying good flavor along with the nutrients in buckwheat honey
- all buckwheat honey -- honestly, I didn't like the flavor of this one at all--way too strong for my palette.
Storage and shelf life. These should be covered and stored in the refrigerator. As you use the syrups, you may continue to add more honey to the jars to keep them full. They are good for at least 2-3 months, maybe longer. Honey is a natural preservative; and citrus has a low pH (high acidic) level that gives it preservative power, too. If you add other more fragile fresh ingredients (like mint leaves), the syrup may not keep as long. I haven't tried using food-grade essential oils in these, but that may be another option for adding flavor and nutrients that won't spoil.
How to use these syrups:
- Swallow a spoonful or two of honey syrup to soothe a cough or sore throat.
- Stir a heaping tablespoon (or more to taste) into a cup of hot water.
- Stir a heaping tablespoon (or more to taste) into a cup of hot tea.
A great gift for an ailing friend or tea lover!
Print a sheet of these tags for adding the finishing touch to a gift jar of honey citrus syrup.
To use the tags:
- Print these on card stock, cut them out with scissors, punch a hole in the corner, and hang them from a ribbon or string.
- Print them on sticker paper and stick them to your gift. Or, stick them on with tape.
Click on this image to download a printable sheet of tags:
These make a unique, thoughtful get well gift. Or, an "any time" gift for tea lovers.
I've been fortunate not to have caught the flu that's been going around. Nevertheless, I've been stirring these tasty syrups into my hot tea regularly. They give it just enough flavor and sweetness.
Make it a Yummy day!
1. A lemon. Make sure you purchase an organic lemon since some non-organic lemon seeds may be “duds”, incapable of germinating. Any organic lemon will do, but if you have climate or space restrictions, you may want to try looking for a specific variety called a “Meyer” lemon. Meyer lemons are a smaller type of lemon, often grown for ornamental purposes, and are thus better suited for indoor containers. I chose Meyer seeds for these reasons, but you can use any seed that makes sense for your situation.
2. Potting soil. I would guess that any potting soil will do, but I suggest using one with a blend of peat, perlite, vermiculite, and organic fertilizer. Every single one of the seeds I planted in this type of certified organic potting mix have sprouted beautifully, so I think it’s fair to say that it works.
3. Container/pot. A container (with drainage holes) that is 5-6” deep and a few inches in diameter will be sufficient for sprouting; however, the seedling will need to be re-potted into a much larger container. Mature lemon trees prefer a container that is wider rather than deeper, so I suggest planting your seedling in a pot that is 10-16” deep and 12-18” in diameter. Your baby tree will happily make itself at home in this larger container for the next few years, at which time you may want to upgrade again.
4. A grow light or lots of sun. Lemon trees need a lot of light, especially when they are sprouting and require 10-14 hours of it each day. If you don’t have a consistently sunny window (like me), get a grow light. They don’t cost much and will prove their worth in healthy green foliage.
Method for sprouting the lemon seed:
1. Pre-moisten your potting soil. Put some soil into a bucket and mix in some water until the soil is damp all the way through.
2. Fill your container with the pre-moistened soil. Leave about an inch of space below the rim of your container.
3. Slice open your lemon and choose a seed that looks completely full of life. Pop it into your mouth and suck on it until all the flesh is removed and the lemon flavour is gone. Do not allow the seed to dry out at any time. It needs to stay moist in order to germinate. I suggest keeping it in your mouth until you’re ready to plant.
4. Plant your seed! While it’s moist, plant your seed about 1/2″ below the soil level. Cover it completely with soil and water well with a squirt bottle or gentle watering can.
5. Cover your container with breathable plastic to keep your seeds warm and moist. I used a piece of clear garbage bag with holes poked into it and a rubber band to securely hold it in place.
6. Place the container in a warm location and observe for the next few days. Keep in mind: your seed needs warmth and moisture in order to germinate. Don’t allow the potting soil to dry out completely. Also take caution that you don’t cook your seed in its little greenhouse. Too much heat and moisture could lead to a rotten seed! You’re aiming to achieve a nice balance, so if you feel like the soil is warm enough without the plastic then it’s probably safest to remove it.
7. In about two weeks you may notice a sprout emerging from the soil. Once it appears, remove the plastic (if it’s still on) and place the little guy in a warm location with plenty of direct sunlight. Supplement sun with your grow light if needed.
8. Care for your new baby and watch it grow! Provide it with:
- Water. Ensure that the soil is damp at all times, especially when your lemon tree is young. Do not allow it to sit in a puddle of stagnant water though; those drainage holes are there for good reason.
- Sunlight. Place it in a warm sunny window where it will receive eight hours of direct sunlight each day, or supplement some sun for a grow light. Since Toronto rarely seems to get any sun in the winter, my sprouts reside in a well-lit window under the warm rays of a grow light for 12 hours each day.
- Food. In order to keep your lemon tree healthy and growing the soil will eventually need to be replenished with nutrients. I suggest feeding it an organic fertilizer, such as compost or vermicompost, once it has developed a nice little set of leaves. Dig a little trench around the base of your tree, fill it with compost and water it well. Or, serve it up as compost tea. Try feeding it twice a year or as needed, but do not overfeed! When it comes to fertilizing, less it best; so if in doubt, put it off a bit longer. (Another option is to start your seed in potting soil with vermicompost or worm castings mixed into it).
- Love. Spend some time looking at your new citrus friend. Pay attention to its growth. Feel it, talk to it, sing to it, but don’t try to dance with it. Get into the habit of watching for browning leaves and checking the underside of leaves for pests. Just like us, our plants can fall victim to bugs and disease and may sometimes require some extra love and affection.
Thursday, March 28, 2013
Sunday, March 24, 2013
Saturday, March 23, 2013
- Two female cats are sitting on the fence passing the time of day when a
really handsome tomcat walks by and winks at them.
'Oh darling, did you see that one?' one of the felines opines. 'I wouldn't mind sharing a dead mouse with him.'
'Oh, forget about him,' her friend tells her. 'I went out with him once, and all he did was talk about his operation.'
- A tomcat was heard running up and down the alley for hours. A neighbour called his owner and asked what was happening. The owner said, 'Well, I had him fixed today, and he's going around cancelling all his engagements.'
I’ve never understood why women love cats. Cats are independent, they don’t listen, they don’t come in when you call, they like to stay out all night, and when they’re home they like to be left alone and sleep. In other words, every quality that women hate in a man they love in a cat.
Thousands of years ago cats were worshipped as gods. Cats have never forgotten this.
What’s the difference between cats and dogs? Dogs have owners, cats have staff.
What are cats? 1. Cats do what they want, when they want. 2. They rarely listen to you. 3. They’re totally unpredictable. 4. They whine when they are not happy. 5. When you want to play they want to be left alone. 6. When you want to be alone, they want to play. 7. They expect you to cater to their every whim. 8. They’re moody. 9. They leave their hair everywhere. 10. They drive you nuts. Conclusion: Cats are small women in fur coats.
Four men were bragging about how smart their cats are. The first man was an engineer, the second man was an accountant, the thirdman was a chemist, the fourth was a government worker. To show off, the engineer called to his cat, ‘T-square, do your stuff.’ T-square pranced over to a desk, took out some paper and a pen and promptly drew a circle, a square, and a triangle. Everyone agreed that was pretty smart. But the accountant said his cat could do better. He called his cat and said, ‘Spreadsheet, do your stuff.’ Spreadsheet went out into the kitchen and returned with a dozen cookies. He divided them into four equal piles of three cookies each. Everyone agreed that was good. But the chemist said his cat could do better. He called his cat and said, ‘Measure, do your stuff.’ Measure got up, walked over to the fridge, took out a quart of milk, got a ten-ounce glass from the cupboard and poured exactly eight ounces without spilling a drop. Everyone agreed that was good. Then the three men turned to the government worker and said, ‘What can your cat do?’The government worker called to his cat and said, ‘Coffee Break, do your stuff.’ Coffee Break jumped to his feet, ate the cookies, drank the milk, pooed on the paper, bit the other three cats, claimed he injured his back while doing so, filed a grievance report for unsafeworking conditions, put in for Workers’ Compensation and went.
In a jar mix lemon slices, organic local honey and ginger. Refrigerate. Mixture will soon form a "jelly". Add a spoonful of the jelly into a mug and add boiling water and VOILA!
For more info on how to make and use, click the link above. — com Arona Marie, Nancy Tornillo-Harris, Kris Kenney Boggs e Jennifer Boudreau Garza.http://
Friday, March 22, 2013
“Show me your friends and I’ll tell you who you are.”
“The mind is like a parachute – it doesn’t work until it’s open.”
“Education is your passport to life. Once you’ve got it no one can take it away from you.”
“You are not moving until that plate is empty.”
“If a job is worth doing, it’s worth doing well.”
“Don’t let your eyes be bigger than your stomach.”
“Prepare yourself, the opportunity will come.”
“While I breathe, I hope.”
“Don’t worry about being popular, worry about being good. Popular comes and goes, good always works.”
“Always look forward, never backwards.”
“Marry for money and you’ll earn it.”
“Banks will happily loan you an umbrella when the sun shines. As soon as it rains they ask for it back.”
“Every day you can get out of the bed is a great day.”
“You can’t make an omelette without breaking eggs.”
“All the flowers of tomorrow are the seeds of today.”
“What’s for you, won’t pass you.”
“Prevention is better than cure.”
“Always be yourself – and always take a safety pin when you go out.”
“There is no one from whom you cannot learn something.”
“Never trouble trouble until trouble troubles you. For if you trouble trouble, trouble will trouble you.”
“Listen to all but follow your own instincts.”
“It takes al sorts to make a world.”
“Treat people the way you would like to be treated yourself.”
“Remember your manners.”
“What you want to do, you can do.”
“We’ll sit down when we get all the little jobs done.”
“If you have a talent, never hide it.”
“Life is for living, not for throwing away.”
“You can walk a thousand miles but you can only take one step at a time.”
“If you are bored, it’s an insult to yourself.”
“Know your own country first before you go off travelling to other countries.”
“A good start is half the work.”
“Watch your language because it’s a precision tool: it’s a scalpel, not an axe.”
(From the book "My mother always used to say" by Valerie Bowe)
- 4 cups (480 grams) bread flour (I used Pillsbury)
- 2 tsp active dry yeast (I used Red Star)
- 2 tbsp sugar
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/2 cup milk
- 2 tbsp butter, diced
- 2 tsp salt
- 2 eggs + 3 egg whites, lightly beaten
- 1 egg yolked mixed with few drops of milk
- *more flour for dusting the working area
- In a mixing bowl add 2 cups of flour, sugar and yeast. Whisk to combine.
- In a small saucepan, add the water, milk and butter and heat until lukewarm (~ 110F). Pour over the flour mixture, stir to combine and let it rest for about 10 minutes until the sticky dough starts to rise and gets a spongy texture.
- Add the lightly beaten eggs mixed with the salt and with the dough hook on, start kneading, slowly adding the remaining 2 cups of bread flour.
- When all the flour is added, increase the mixer speed to medium-high and let it knead for about 3-4 minutes or until the dough cleans itself from the sides of the bowl.
- If it's still sticky add just a little bit more flour. The dough should be soft and elastic and just a wee bit sticky to your fingers.
- With the help of a spatula, place the dough into a buttered bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let it rise at room temperature until doubled in volume. It should take little over an hour.
- When the dough is risen, place it on a lightly floured surface, divide into 3 and roll each piece into a 15 inch rope.
- Braid the ropes, pinching the ends and tuck them under to seal.
- Gently place the braid on a cookie sheet. If it's easier for you, you can braid it directly on the cookie sheet.
- Cover with plastic wrap again and let it rest for the second time for about half an hour.
- Meanwhile, heat the oven to 400F.
- Just before placing the bread into the oven, brush it with the egg was (1 egg yolked mixed with few drops of milk).
- Bake for 30 minutes or until nice and golden.
- Let it cool before slicing.
Thursday, March 21, 2013
Author: Robyn Stone | Add a Pinch
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
¾ cup cocoa
2 teaspoons baking powder
1½ teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon espresso powder
1 cup milk
½ cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup boiling water
1½ cups butter (3 sticks)
1 cup cocoa
5 cups confectioner’s sugar
½ cup milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
½ teaspoon espresso powder
Preheat oven to 350º F. Prepare two 9-inch cake pans by spraying with baking spray or buttering and lightly flouring.
For the cake:
Add flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, salt and espresso powder to a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer. Whisk through to combine or, using your paddle attachment, stir through flour mixture until combined well.
Add milk, vegetable oil, eggs, and vanilla to flour mixture and mix together on medium speed until well combined. Reduce speed and carefully add boiling water to the cake batter. Beat on high speed for about 1 minute to add air to the batter.
Distribute cake batter evenly between the two prepared cake pans. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until a toothpick or cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes.
For the Chocolate Frosting:
Add cocoa to a large bowl or bowl of stand mixer. Whisk through to remove any lumps.
Melt butter and pour into bowl with cocoa powder. Whisk together until well-combined.
Add sugar and milk to cocoa mixture by adding 1 cup of sugar followed by about a tablespoon of milk. After each addition has been combined, turn mixer onto a high speed for about a minute. Repeat until all sugar and milk have been added.
Add vanilla extract and espresso powder and combine well.
If frosting appears too dry, add more milk, a tablespoon at a time until it reaches the right consistency. If it appears to wet and does not hold its form, add more confectioner’s sugar, a tablespoon at a time until it reaches the right consistency.
Wednesday, March 20, 2013
THE SERENITY PRAYER
GOD GRANT ME THE SERENITY
LIVING ONE DAY AT A TIME;