Popovers

When you are on vacation, everything tastes beter … and when the food is fabulous you are going to remember it forever. This is what happened to us when we visited the Arcadia National Park in Maine. We ate lunch at the park’s restaurant where they served popovers with every meal … the smell and the taste of these lovely rolls and of course the breathtaking view will stay with us forever.

Popovers are the American version of Yorkshire pudding, a British speciality. These souffle-like rolls are airy and custardy. They are made with an egg batter and baked in a muffin pan. The inside is hollow and the outside has a nice crust with a savory flavor. I like to serve it with jam and butter. Enjoy!

RECIPE

Makes 12 popovers.

Ingredients

  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 cup sifted all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Pinch of baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon butter, melted

Method

  • In a large bowl, whisk together the flour and salt.
  • In a seperate bowl, wisk together the eggs, milk and melted butter. Add to the flour mixture and mix well until no lumps remain.
  • Butter a muffin pan.
  • Evenly distribute the batter among the cups in the pan. Fill each cup until they are about two-third full. Put some water in cups that don’t have any batter.
  • Bake for 15 minutes at 450F.
  • Reduce the oven temperature to 350F and bake for another 20 minutes or until the outside is crusty and brown. Do not open the oven door until the last 5 minutes to prevenr the popovers from deflating.
  • Remove from the oven and let sit for 5 minutes. Take popovers out of the pan.
  • Serve warm.

enjoy!

Photo and text by twincitiesherbs.com.

Homemade buttermilk

This must be one of the best life hacks …

I am a big fan of buttermilk. I use it often in many of my recipes from pancakes to muffins … it makes food soft and gives an interesting tart flavor. The acid in the buttermilk will help rise the quick breads as the buttermilk reacts with the baking soda and the baking powder. It also breaks down the gluten in the flour making it is easier to digest so it is an important ingredient in the kitchen. I used to get buttermilk often from the store but since I learnt this simple little trick, I haven’t bought any.

So why make your own? Well for one it is cheaper. Also, it is likely you have milk at home and really all you have to do is add some acid to curdle the milk. I like to use apple cider vinegar but other acids will work like regular white vinegar or lemon … and that is it. Seriously, will you ever buy buttermilk at a store again?

RECIPE

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of milk minus 2 Tbsp milk (almond milk works nice too)
  • 2 Tbsp Apple cider vinegar or white vinegar or lemon juice

Methods

  • To make 1 cup of buttermilk, measure out 1 cup milk and remove 2 Tbsp of it.
  • Pour into a small dish.
  • Add 2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • Let the mixture sit for about 15 minutes and then it is done.

Photo and text by twincitiesherbs.com

History of spiced heart honey cookies (no recipe)

Winter is not over yet, in fact we are still in the middle of it. To be a little more exact, we are half way between winter and spring on the northern hemosphere. I can usually feel the Earth’s energy starting to wake up but spring is not here yet. We can finally experience the promise of the light, fertility and growth.

Come celebrate this Winter Magic! In accordance to Pagan traditions, this occasion has been celebrated for thousands of years by Europeans. One special food they make is the honey cookies. So yes this celebration is similar to Valentine’s day. The cookies were gifted as a fertility token to girls by boys or given as good luck charm to little children. Heart was always a popular shape but sun or animal themes were often used as well.

There is so much folklore, legend and history behind these lovely spiced cookies! They are made to honor the old, wise women in their culture. In Ireland they call her Brighid, in Russia they are called Baba Yaga. These women are the Earth’s Godesses. The cookies are not just beautiful but are packed with nourishing ingredients that grandma would use.

This is still the time to stay focused inward and get ready mentally for the year to come. Clean and clear the space you live in and invite love or universal love into your life. Set your intentions. Do things that your heart desires.

Another spectrum of love is hatred, anger and jealousy. When you invite love into your life, you might experience these feelings too. Don’t be affraid of them just acknowledge them. These emotions can be found in the Grimm story of Hansel and Gratel.

Traditionally, honey, rye flour and forest herbs were used to make these delicious cookies. Honey, the main ingredient has been used as medicine since ancient times. It is well known for its nutritious value and supposedly sweetens life as well. Oh and it is aphrodisiac! In addition to honey, our ancestors prepared the dough with rye flour but today people tend to use white flour. They also put foraged herbs and dried fruits in the cookies. Of course, these ingredients varied from country to country and region to region but often included fennel, lavender, rose petals, juniper berries, sumac etc. Since the exotic spices arrived from the East, people have been baking the cookies with these spices. These included a mixture of ginger, cardamom, cinnamon, all spice, nutmeg etc.

Photo and Text by wordpress.com.

Pickled garlic – the Chinese way

Here is an old time favorite of mine … It was getting colder here so I thought it would be time to prepare for the winter. I enjoy eating garlic during the colder months, it is very healthy but I can live without that harsh taste. Pickling the garlic keeps all its health benefits but the garlic loses its strong taste. So this week, I would like to post a recipe for pickling garlic, the Chinese way. It is so easy to make and it is so delicious … but yes it will take 12 weeks to make…

In the recipe, proportions are given. The amount will depend on how much garlic you use. I used 4 heads of garlic. You can figure out the liquids after you put the garlic in the jar. Add the peeled garlic, enough to fill about 3/4 of the jar. Mix the 2 liquids, about half the soy sauce and half the rice vinegar and pour over the garlic. Make sure the liquid covers the garlic.

You will also need a jar. I like to use a wide mouth jar so I can take the garlic out easily. Also, I sterilize the jar before putting anything in it.

RECIPE

Ingredients

Jar of garlic, peeled

1/2 part soy sauce

1/2 part rice vinegar

1/2 part honey

Directions

Please see above for directions.

Peel the garlic. When you peel the garlic, make sure you do it gently and not cut the garlic. If you do, not a big deal, just the cloves will be a little unappealing but still edible.

Fill the jar 3/4 full with the peeled garlic.

Pour the vinegar/soy sauce mixture over the garlic and let it macarate for 6 weeks. Make sure the garlic is well covered with the liquid.

Then after 6 weeks remove the vinegar/soy sauce mixture and discard half of it. Replace it with honey. Pour this liquid back in the jar. You can gently warm up the honey so it can be mixed with the macerate.

Wait for six more weeks and then the pickled garlic is ready.

enjoy!

Text and photos by twincitiesherbs.com

Nourishing the immune system during the pandemic (no recipes)

First, I would like to express my heartfelt condolences to all the people whose loved ones have been effected by this virus. May God be with them.

People react to crisis differently. Some people start to hide, others worry about the stock market and then there are those who want to become the heroes. So I’m in the third group and have been thinking to write about what to do during this pandemic. I’ve been contemplating to write this blog for at least a month so here I go finally. I know my blog is all about food in general but after all I don’t have a boss who tells me what I can do. I really would not want to offend anybody or push ideas on others but I’m hoping my writing will help someone.

We are experiencing something new, a game changer for sure these days. I feel it is quite uplifting that we are all doing the same thing. It is hard to believe that we are dealing with the same issues on the entire Earth but at the same time it is a bit eery that the whole world is in a lock down …

There has been an interesting phenomena since people have heard about the pandemic … the toilet paper shortage…  What is the deal with toilet paper especially that the virus does not necessary cause diarrhea? … and it is not just the Virgos who are doing it. This got the attention of many psychologists too. Here is my take on it …. People got so scared and wanted to do something, just anything to protect themselves. In fear, people started running to the stores buying toilet papers.

So I would like to write a blog on what people could do in addition to buying toilet papers and now this leads me back to the original mission of my blog …  using natural foods to stay well and be happy. I would like to take the opportunity to do a blog on what to do for the immune system at an energetic level. It is not an easy concept though in our culture. 

But before I do that, let’s talk about the nature of this virus quickly. From an energetic perspective, it is a cold virus that is capable of causing dampness that can lead to toxicity. So what does this mean? Natural Medicine differentiates conditions based on their nature: cold, hot, damp, dry. This is a cold disease that is capable of injuring the warm loving organs the lungs and the spleen. If they don’t work properly, fluids can accumulate so there can be wheezing, shortness of breath, digestion problems, loose stools, vomiting etc. In the third stage, accumulated fluids can start becoming toxic. So keeping the lungs and the digestion healthy would be crucial for a strong immune system. This is based on the reports of Chinese doctors who had treated people with the virus.

So let’s get back to the topic of this post, the immune system. What is the immune system? We can all agree that it is the body’s mechanism to defend against foreign bodies. But what do you do to keep it healthy? Just for the records, currently, modern medicine does not understand how to keep the immune system healthy. So let’s turn to ancient medicine to find out what we can do at the energetic level. According to Ancient Chinese Medicine, the defense system comprise of the lungs and the skin. They are the organs of first line defense that are in contact with the outside world.

In Natural Medicine everything is connected in our body. The lungs further work with the spleen to make this defensive energy so the food we eat is crucial. Of course, healthy kidneys support the lungs and are important to move fluids, too- remember the dampness issue. Then the healthy liver removes the toxins from the body. Of course, if our qi, the life force is not moving efficiently, things can stagnate. Our mental state can influence this entire process, too. A healthy body with a strong immune system is more capable to deal with foreign bodies.

So what can we do?

  1. Relax! Honestly the best thing to do is to stay calm. Try not to panic. If you are stressed, the body cannot work properly. Do things that you enjoy, reading, hiking, dancing etc. Of course, meditation is always great. Fear may effect our kidneys negatively. A fear ridden kidney will not be able to nourish the rest of the body and we will not be able to war off pathogens as well as a healthy body should. Not to mention that we do things that we later will regret when we are scared.
  2. Exercice! Exercise makes your lungs work harder. The fresh oxygen is the greatest for the lungs. Try to go outside as much as you can. I see so many more people walking outside than before.
  3. Eat healthy! It seems like this virus has made a lot of people start cooking and eating healthy. Try to eat with the seasons and your constitution. The best right now is to eat more cooked foods and soups especially if you tend get cold and get problems during the colder months. Please, check my blogs on the lungs (Metal element) and the spleen (Earth element). Avoid greasy, toxic and over-processed foods. I would try to limit dairy and sweets if you tend to have dampness issues like shortness of breath, cough with sputum, edema, gain weight easily. Remember we are in the spring season (wood element) and are trying to nourish our lungs and digestion. All the carminative kitchen spices for digestion (ginger, caraway seeds, rosemary, thyme, lovage, cumin, fennel) and pungent spices (horse radish, raw turnips, hot peppers, cinnamon, garlic, onions) are great. Foods that help drain, transport dampness are moong beans, asparagus and cranberry juice. Don’t forget the fermented foods to keep the digestive tracts healthy. All my recipes are supposed to nourish the immune system but the best foods for now would be the ones that I have posted in the past 6 weeks.
  4. Stay hydrated! Drink lots of water.
  5. Sleep! Make sure you get as much sleep as your body needs.
  6. Just like with any upper respiratory problem, nourishing the immune system is important. Taking immune system remedies is great but it is also important to deal with individual issues.
  7. Help people in need. This will give an immense boost to our hearts, like I said before, everything is connected in our body.

Of course, none of these recommendations will kill the virus but that is not the goal of Natural Medicine anyway. According to Chinese Medicine, nourishing the immune system in general is important for staying healthy. This is the interest of the ancient Chinese work called Shang Han Lun (around 200 AD), the discussion of cold diseases, that is one of the greatest contributions to the world of Natural Medicine. It was composed by Zhang Zhong Jing (142-220 AD) who lost many members of his family during the great epidemics of the time. “It was the first clinical manual that described the pathology and treatment of diseases caused by invasion of exterior pathogenic factors systematically”. In addition, the theories and the formulas go beyond exterior invasions and are used every day for cases in the absence of an exterior invasion. I would like to mention that historically, Shang Han Lun’s principles are mirrored in the work of the famous Greek physician, Hippocrates.

Hippocrates (460-370 BC) is known today as the Father of Medicine. He lived through one of the worst epidemics of our humanity, the Plague of Athens (430-426 BC). He contributed a great deal to Natural Medicine as well. He observed how diseases progressed in different people and arrived at the conclusion “It is far more important to know what person has the disease than what disease the person has”. He recognised what an important role the immune system and people’s constitution played in the recovery of his patients during the epidemics. His great contribution to everyday diet was the addition of the valuable carminative (digestive) herbs that are today known as kitchen spices (garlic, onions, hot peppers, cinnamon, ginger, caraway seeds, oregano, rosemary, thyme, lovage, cumin, fennel). He saw that digestion is crucial for good health and wanted to make sure people would incorporate these herbs on a daily basis. 

DISCLAIMER. Please, note that these are recommendations for nourishing the immune system on an energetic level and are not a replacement for medical care from a physician. Also these recommendations are no way a guarantee so you can avoid getting the virus.

Stay healthy!

Source:

Text, pictures by twincitiesherbs.com.