Everything INCLUDING the Kitchen Sink…

My adventures in the kitchen

Using Food to Heal June 17, 2009

Filed under: Herbs,Remedies — Carey @ 11:46 am

I grew up in a family that had some very serious health issues. We spent days at the hospital in the early months of my sisters illness, to finally be told there was nothing that medicine could do except give a 4 year-old adult doses of Phenobarbitol and Dylantin. My mother then set out on an exploration of every homeopathic cure all known to man (at that time – I’ve seen a bunch of new ones since then!). None of them cured her, and some of them were downright nasty, but I’m sure I’m a healthier person today because of them.

After the countless hours spent with doctors to no avail, my mother pretty much turned her back on the whole idea of doctors being of any use (except as a suitable match for me). I’ve never completely outgrown that, and recently my daughter and I have started actively pursuing herbal and natural remedies.

For the time being, we’re making do with dried herbs that we get from the health food store, but in the last month our yard has “sprouted” a couple dozen new pots, with everything from rosemary, sage, dill, cilantro, marjoram, basil, lemon grass to arnica, tansy, lemonbalm, comfrey, mugwort, tea tree, turmeric, curry leaf, and a few others I can’t think of right now.

A couple of examples of how and why we like these types of remedies –

About a week and a half ago I smashed my thumb. It almost immediately turned dark purply black. And hurt like a son of a gun (it bruised all the way down to the joint). I made a “tea” of sage and water and started soaking my thumb in it. Within a half hour it didn’t hurt at all. I kept soaking it off and on during the day (mostly when it would start hurting again, or itching) and it would relieve it. By the next day the discoloration around the point of direct impact was almost completely gone. Jess made an “herbal oil” that I was able to bandage my thumb with over night a couple of times. And now, the bruising at the actual point of impact is starting to fade, and I don’t think I’m going to lose the nail.

Day before yesterday my eyes started getting really itchy. I’ve been having trouble with them for several weeks now due to allergies, but it was minimal. Day before yesterday, it almost felt like I had pink eye, they were so bad. Jess made a strong tea of chamomile, red clover and mullein. There was of course immediate relief from the coolness of the compress, but after about 15-20 minutes the itching was significantly reduced, and after 2 or 3 applications, they had quit watering.

Now granted, when I need to go somewhere, this takes more time than I can give it, but as much as possible I much prefer this to putting drugs in my body to find out years later I’m damaging my kidneys, or liver, or whatever.

We bought a couple of books at the health food store that cover a pretty nice range of herbs and foods and how they are beneficial and what for. We are looking forward to experimenting more with picking our medicines out of the yard!

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Every Jar in the House… June 2, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Carey @ 8:18 pm
Tags: , ,

Summer is here! The thermometer outside proclaims it, with a high of 90F forecast for today. The flowers proclaim it, with bursts of red, blue, yellow, pink and orange. The trees proclaim it, with boughs heavy with leaves and birds nests. And, most importantly, the local Farmer’s Market proclaims it!!

I’ve gone to the Farmer’s Market about once a month the entire winter, but the selection was minimal, and consisted mostly of winter veggies. This past weekend we went SHOPPING!! We came home with peaches, strawberries, blueberries, a dozen bunches of herbs, peonies, snapdragons, fruit pies, tomatoes, peppers, squashes, fabulous herb plants (both medicinal and edible) and fantastic Greek food.

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And what to do with this embarassment of riches? Canning, of course. Sunday was an all day fest of cooking and canning. The results included 17 quarts of fabulously rich, healthy vegetable and chicken broths and 7 pints of spicy relish. We also made 8 pints of citrus marmalade, 12 pints of strawberry-champagne-merlot jam, and 4 pints of champagne-ginger- honey-lemongrass-peach jam that will forever and always be my favorite jam. Too bad we just kinda threw it all together – I’d love to be able to duplicate the peach one!! I didn’t quite get the proportions right on the strawberry jam, so it’s more of a syrup, but I’ll have no problem at all using it as a topping on pancakes and waffles!

Veggies, on their way to Veggie broth!

Veggies, on their way to Veggie broth!

Strawberries and peaches marinating for jams...

Strawberries and peaches marinating for jams...

We had bought a case (that’s 12 each, for those who don’t can) of quart, half quart, half pint and 4 oz jars last week in anticipation of our Farmer’s Market haul. Our haul ended up being better than we’d anticipated, necessitating a grocery store run Sunday morning, at which time we availed ourselves of all the remaining 4 oz jars the store had, 3 more cases. At the end of the day, all that remained were 2 half quart jars. All the others are now filled with yummies.

We have decided that this year these will be the foundation of our gift giving. Next weeks batch will include a selection of sugar free jams for my dad (who is diabetic) for Father’s Day. And we’ll combine them with breads/biscotti for Christmas gifts this year.

Spicy Relish, waiting for the lids...

Spicy Relish, waiting for the lids...

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Strawberry jam...

I had gotten burned out on canning from my childhood, where we were known to can upwards of 100 quarts of tomatoes or applesauce at a time. Now that I can choose what and how much I can do at a time, I’m excited for the concoctions we’ll end up with by the end of the year. On the list to do are beans, soups, tomatoes (make the BEST spaghetti sauce), applesauce, pears/pear sauce, and whatever other miscellaneous things we pick up during the year!

A good days work!

A good days work!