Recipes

Lovage: Budgetwise Plant For Health and Taste

Posted by on Jun 25, 2017 in Do-It-Yourself, Frugal For Everyone, Gardening, Health, Herbs, Recipes | 21 comments

Lovage: Budgetwise Plant For Health and Taste

Lovage is such a useful herb yet it is seriously underused. Known in Holland as the Maggiplant it is a perennial herb that once planted keeps on producing forever, basically giving you a celery type product for free. It smells somewhat like beefy celery and makes a fabulous substitute for celery in soups and stews besides having a myriad of other uses, including cosmetic and medicinal. Growing Lovage: As lovage plants and seeds are difficult to find locally it makes more sense to buy a plant from a Herbal Garden Centre. (One plant is all you’ll need.) It is easy to grow, requiring average, moisture retaining soil and a sunny spot (some shade in hot climates). It is a tall plant growing to 5-6 feet (2 metres) so should be planted at the edge of the garden or at the back of the flowerbed. It is one of the first plants to appear in the Spring and one of the last to die in the Fall. Lovage can be harvested throughout the growing season. Like all herbs, pick after the dew has dried. Cut the stalks and pull off the leaves. It is best used fresh but can be frozen – simply chop the leaves and stalks and freeze in ice-cube trays covered with water or, even easier, place the leaves and stalks in freezer bags.  Lovage – Medicinal: Lovage will deliver its many health benefits either as a tea or when added to food. Lovage Tea (tastes like a broth): To make: Add 1 tsp. finely chopped lovage leaves, root or rhizome (underground stem) for every 1 cup of boiling water. Let steep for 5-10 minutes or to taste. Health benefits: Boosts immune system; Coughs, colds and bronchial problems – contains eucalyptol which soothes irritated tissue; it is an expectorant which helps loosen phlegm and mucus; Boosts kidney health – encourages healthier urination which decreases the risk of kidney stones; helps prevent urinary tract infections; Menstrual relief – can relieve menstrual pain including severe cramping and bloating; may also act as a mood booster during this time; Digestion aid – as an anti-inflammatory, lovage tea will help reduce irritation of the bowels, reduce bloating and flatulence, soothe upset stomachs; may improve appetite; Anti-allergenic – contains quercetin (histamine inhibitor) which reduces allergic reactions, itchy eyes and runny nose; Anti-inflammatory: Relieves migraine headache pain; Improves blood circulation; Relieves arthritis, rheumatism, gout and other joint pains. As with all herbs, lovage must be used with care. I believe strongly in the adage “All things in moderation”. Pregnant or nursing women should avoid lovage. Anyone with chronic health issues, especially kidney or heart disease, should NOT use this herb without prior approval from their doctor. Lovage is an aquaretic which stimulates healthy urine flow without losing electrolytes. This increases water loss when fluid retention is a problem. However, to prevent excessive water loss, anyone taking water pills should avoid this herb. There have been some reports of increased photosensitivity associated with lovage use. This could increase risk for sunburn and skin cancer which makes sunblock and protective clothing a must.   Lovage – Cosmetic/Medicinal: Leaves applied directly to skin can: Reduce the itch and redness from psoriasis; Help control acne. A decoction used as facial wash or added to the bath can: Increase blood flow to the skin which improves skin tone, making skin feel and look smoother and healthier. To make a decoction: Place a ¼ cup chopped lovage leaves in small pan, add 4 cups cold water, cover and place on low heat to slowly simmer for 1 hour. Strain...

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Dutch Pea Soup – Winter’s Ultimate Comfort Food

Posted by on Jan 17, 2016 in Recipes | 39 comments

Dutch Pea Soup – Winter’s Ultimate Comfort Food

If you’ve been thinking ‘Baby, it’s cold outside’, then it’s time for Dutch Pea Soup, winter’s ultimate comfort food. This rich thick soup is a complete meal in itself – the stick to your ribs type of soup that warms you from the inside out. Back when I was growing up this soup was started with pork hocks and this hearty, fatty fare was actually necessary considering the conditions of those days. We slept in unheated bedrooms, school buses were not heated and since girls were not allowed to wear slacks to school it meant we froze while waiting for the bus and while on the bus. We covered our shoes with plastic overshoes which kept out the snow but failed to keep out the cold, etc. We needed those extra fats and calories to counteract all that. Now with central heating, insulated long-johns, heavy duty socks and boots, heated transportation everywhere, and in general, a more sedentary lifestyle, we no longer need all that. As a matter of fact, those fats and calories will now do us more harm than good. Therefore I now start the soup with a lean meaty hambone. No matter though, it still tastes great. Here’s my recipe for dutch pea soup, using simple, low-cost ingredients that turn into a filling soup, great to ward off winter’s chills. Dutch Pea Soup: 12 cups cold water 2 cups (450g – 16oz) quick-cooking, dried, green split peas 1 meaty hambone 2 celery stalks, chopped 2 carrots, diced 1 large potato, peeled and diced 1 large onion, chopped 1 large (2 small) bay leaf Salt and pepper to taste, added at end of cooking. Place the peas in a heavy pan, like a dutch oven. Add the hambone, cover with the 12 cups cold water and bring to a boil over medium heat. Skim any foam that forms. Put a lid on the pan and turn the heat down a notch or two so that the soup continues to simmer gently for 1-2 hours. This is a thick soup so it needs to be stirred occasionally to keep it from sticking to the bottom. Remove the hambone, add the celery, carrots, potato, onion and bay leaf and continue to simmer for another hour or two. Cut the meat from the hambone into small pieces, add it to the soup and let simmer another 15 minutes. Remove the bay leaf, add salt and pepper to taste. Serve. Dutch Pea soup tastes great the first night but even better the next day. That makes it a great soup to make on a weekend for serving on Monday evening. This soup can also be made in a slow-cooker starting with the peas on the bottom, then layer each of the veggies on top, add the hambone, 3 cups of broth and 3 cups of water, the bay leaf and just let it simmer away for the day. Follow regular instructions for adding salt, pepper and the ham meat. Dutch Pea Soup freezes well so any leftovers can be frozen in meal-size portions. Lovely to have on hand for those really crazy, hectic days. We had a lot of soup at home – probably because it was a low-cost way of feeding a large family. Whatever the reason, we always enjoyed our soup with this Dutch Pea Soup being a winter favourite. Hope you enjoy. Talk to you again next week, Lenie If you enjoyed this post – others will too. Please share. Would love to have you follow me on Pinterest  or  Twitter or browse my Etsy...

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Spice Tea – Yummy Cold and Flu Blaster

Posted by on Dec 6, 2015 in Health, Recipes | 40 comments

Spice Tea – Yummy Cold and Flu Blaster

Since the cold weather has arrived I’ve replaced my morning smoothie with this Spice Tea, a variation of the popular Chai Tea. It’s made with everyday spices selected for their immunity boosting properties and specifically aimed at keeping colds and flu away. A great thing about this Spice Tea mix is that the ingredients are everyday spices and products found in most homes thereby eliminating the need to run to specialty stores. The basic Spice Tea Mix contains the following ground spices: 1 Tbsp. each of – Allspice and Cloves 1/4 cup each of – Cardamom and Nutmeg 1/2 cup each of – Cinnamon and Ginger Contents from 16 Tea Bags – Can be black or green Mix everything together and store in air-tight jar in a dark location. This makes slightly less than two cups or about 28 tablespoons mix. To make a pot of Spice Tea: 2 cups milk – whole, soy (best for lowering cholesterol) or rice milk (most hypoallergenic) may be used 2 cups water 2 – 3 tsp. raw honey 3-4 Tbsp. spice tea mix, more or less depending on personal taste. (Best contained, see note below). Directions: Put all the ingredients in a medium size saucepan and slowly bring to a boil. Let simmer for 3 to 5 minutes. Remove the spice bag(s) and pour into a teapot (or straight into cups if preferred) and serve. Lightly sprinkle with favourite spice – our spice of choice is cinnamon, it really is yummy. NOTE: The first time I made this I added the loose spice mix right to the liquid in the pan. That was a mistake. I didn’t realize that the spices would expand the way they do and ended up with such a thick mixture that only half of it would go through the strainer. Because of my herbs I always have a quantity of self-sealing tea bags around and use them to make up spice tea bags ahead of time, filling them loosely to allow room for expansion.  The  large tea bag (pot size) is filled with 1/4 cup mix and the smaller ones use 3/4 Tbsp. mix. The same could be done using squares of cheesecloth, as shown. The packages will still need to be stored in an air-tight jar in a dark location. To make Spice Tea for one: 1/2 cup milk – whole, soy or rice milk 1/2 cup water Dab of raw honey 1 to 1 1/2  Tbsp. spice tea mix (2 tea bags). Directions: As above. Health Benefits of the Spice Tea components: BLACK TEA – Helps prevent cardiovascular disease; controls cholesterol; protects HDL the good cholesterol; strengthens the immune system; rich in the antioxidants that help cut the risk of cancer; promotes a general feeling of well-being. ALLSPICE – Soothes symptoms of colds and flu; relieves stomach related problems – constipation, flatulence, indigestion, vomiting; eases menstrual cramping; stabilizes blood pressure and blood sugar levels; anti-bacterial, kills germs on teeth and gums, relieves tooth ache. CARDAMOM – Immune system booster; soothes mucous membranes and lessens respiratory allergies; improves blood circulation; relieves stomach related problems – flatulence, heartburn, nausea, vomiting; increases appetite; supports the digestive system. CINNAMON – Natural pain reliever; fights colds, flu and sore throats; anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and anti-fungal; stimulates circulation; helps detoxify the body; helps balance blood sugar levels; lowers cholesterol; helps relieve stomach problems – nausea, diarrhea; lessens menstrual cramps; calming agent. CLOVES – High in antioxidants that help support the immune system. An expectorant, helps clear mucous membranes and cut phlegm; warming, soothes symptoms of flu and colds; pain reliever – relieves toothaches...

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Lip Balm – So Many Uses, So Easy to Make

Posted by on Nov 22, 2015 in Common Products - Uncommon Uses, Health, Recipes | 42 comments

Lip Balm – So Many Uses, So Easy to Make

Now that the cold weather has arrived many of us will have a lip balm tucked in purse or pocket. It works great at keeping those lips soft and kissable. But did you know that it’s also very useful in many different situations? And did you also know how easy it is to make your own all-natural lip balm that works better than many expensive products? Lip Balm for Skin Care: Winter cold and indoor heat combine to leave skin dry and cracked. Sometimes that needed lotion just isn’t available which isn’t a problem as long as lip balm is handy. Smooth lip balm over nail beds to moisturize rough cuticles; Smooth out those rough, scratchy elbows; Moisturizes and heals chapped hands, fingers and knuckles. Protect skin from windburn – apply a generous layer all over exposed skin; Protect from sunburn – does not have any SPF but good as an emergency use for short periods; Lip Balm for Grooming: The homemade lip balm (recipe below) is very much a gentle healing ointment. Soothes and moisturizes that fragile area underneath the eye; Gently removes eye makeup; Minimized fine lines around the eye; Blend with a little eye-shadow to make eye gloss; Remove mascara smudges; Protect your skin before colouring hair – first add a layer of lip balm to the hairline; Combat frizz and flyaway hair – put a dab on a finger and pat the hair down; Smooths eyebrows – keeps those stray hairs in place; Grooms the mustache and keeps it looking the way it should. Lip Balm for Emergency First-Aid: Dab a bit on a small cut to stop the bleeding and prevent infection; Prevent blisters from forming by applying a generous amount on the rubbed-raw area; Nursing mothers can relieve soreness by rubbing lip balm on nipples; Protect healing scars from sunburn; Soothe irritated skin from colds or allergies by applying some lip balm with a tissue in and around the nose. Lip Balm around the House: Keep zippers zipping smooth by running lip balm up and down the zipper a few times; Dab on a small hole in an umbrella – waterproof too; Lubricate drawer tracks with lip balm; Wipe lip balm all around the thread of light bulbs before screwing into the outdoor fixture – makes the bulbs much easier to remove; Remove label residue – leave it on for a few minutes to work, then wipe off; Coat screws and nails to ease them into wood; Unexpected meeting and your shoes are scuffed? No problem, simply put some lip balm on a tissue and wipe; Put a dab on the knot of shoelaces to keep them tied; Protect a dog’s paws by applying lip balm before heading out in the winter. Great little multitasker, right? Now for the recipe. All the ingredients can be found at a good health food store.Homemade Lip Balm – Ingredients: 2 Tbsp. beeswax, grated 2 Tbsp. coconut oil 1 Tbsp. cocoa butter (this can be replaced by shea or mango butter) 3 vitamin e capsules 2 tsp. pure vanilla extract or any other pure extract of choice – I used peppermint. Directions: Put the grated beeswax, coconut oil and cocoa butter into a measuring cup Boil 1 cup of water in a small pan that is large enough to hold the measuring cup – once the water is boiling, remove from heat, place a canning ring on the bottom of the pan, set the measuring cup on top of the canning ring and return to low heat until everything is melted together Remove from heat and, using...

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Wine Making – Just For Fun

Posted by on Oct 18, 2015 in Do-It-Yourself, Recipes | 34 comments

Wine Making – Just For Fun

Wine making is normally considered rather a complicated affair, requiring special equipment and ingredients. But for the non-connoisseur, wine making can sometimes be easy and fun, using standard household equipment and easy to find ingredients. The first time I tried this, it was done more for the fun of doing it than for expecting great results. As it happened, the wine turned out much better than expected. Of course, you can’t expect it to compare to the high quality wines prepared by wine producers and aged for years, but I personally think it compares favourably to some of the more inexpensive wines you can buy. Wine Making 101: Sterilize a gallon container – glass preferred, stainless steel second choice; Gather the ingredients together; 6 cups sugar 1.36 L (about 1.2 quarts) bottle of Grape Juice – white or red 1/3 cup raisins 7 – 8 cups of cold water Heel of a loaf of bread 1 yeast packet Pour the grape juice into a stainless steel pan and add the sugar. Over medium heat, bring to a boil, stirring until it becomes a light syrup; Remove from heat, pour into the prepared gallon container; Add the 7-8 cups cold water; Add the raisins; Place the bread heel on top of the liquid; Sprinkle the yeast on top of the bread heel; Cover lightly, DO NOT CLOSE TIGHT; Set the jar in an out of the way, preferably dark corner, and leave it alone for a week to 10 days – you’ll see little bubbles forming along the top of the jar; Line a colander with a double layer of cheese cloth, then place the colander over a large glass dish or stainless-steel pan; Pour the contents of the wine jar into the colander to strain; Rinse the wine jar to get rid of any sediment; Return the strained wine back to the clean wine jar1 (gallon container), cover it and refrigerate for a day; 1 You can also pour some of the strained wine into the empty grape juice container – just don’t fill it overfull – and close it with the cap. And that’s all there’s to it. Now enjoy – CHEERS!! Talk you you again next week,...

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Cooking Tips for Reluctant Cooks

Posted by on Sep 20, 2015 in Frugal For Everyone, Recipes | 53 comments

Cooking Tips for Reluctant Cooks

There are people who like cooking and others who don’t. I belong to the latter group. It’s not that I really hate cooking; it’s just that it interferes with more interesting activities. But since cooking is a prerequisite to eating it needs to be done. Cooking itself wouldn’t be so bad if that was all it took. But it comes with making a mess which then needs to be cleaned up. I often felt that I spent an hour cooking and a further hour cleaning up for a meal that took less than half an hour to consume. As my blogging friend Jacquie would say “Where’s the Justice?” I think everyone who does any cooking or baking has certain dishes they really don’t like to make and some that they don’t mind too much. My Top Three “Dislike” Cooking Dishes: Making pie crust – easy remedy, buy the frozen ones; Making biscuits – replace with bread rolls made with bread machine; Making muffins – another easy one – make quick breads instead. My Top Three “I Don’t Mind” Cooking Dishes: Soup – easy to make, nutritious, can make enough at one time to give us no-fuss lunch for a week; Bread – using the bread machine turns this into an easy job. Bonus, it makes the house smell wonderful and if timed right can even form the base for supper; One-Pot (or slow-cooker) meals. Most of these can be made in the morning and forgotten until it’s time to eat. It took a little longer to figure out how to cook less – and make a mess less often – but it turned out it can actually be done quite easily. Bonus, cooking less really cuts back on energy costs. Favourite Time and Money-Saving Cooking Tips:   Cooking Tip # 1 – Schedule Cooking Time. Schedule the cooking. Choose a time when you’re least busy and set that time aside to do the cooking. Just  knowing that cooking is the job of the moment makes it easier to stay focused. Cook two or three different dishes in big batches, each batch enough for 2 or 3 meals and freeze. If some are ‘make now – serve later’ foods that require final touches make a note of it on the freezer bag. Cooking Tip # 2 – Use Master Mixes. One of my biggest time savers is making up and using master mixes. I love them. Master mixes cut prep mess way down and you’re always prepared to quickly put a meal together. The following mixes are courtesy North Dakota State University and Utah State University. The Snackin Cake Master Mix is from one of my recent posts. All of them are quick and easy using products normally found in the home pantry or fridge. Buy the ingredients on sale – twice a year one of the local stores features flour on sale at half price. Since flour is the main ingredient in pantry mixes buying at that time saves me a bundle. Ground Beef Master Mix – Used to quickly make dishes such as Stroganoff, Spaghetti, Enchilada Casserole, etc. Ready Quick Mix – A pantry mix similar to Bisquick at half the price. Do It Yourself With Mixes – This one lists a variety of different mixes: Seasoning Mixes, Meat Coating Mix, Chicken Flavoured Rice Mix, etc. Snackin Cake Master Mix – With this mix you can quickly throw a cake together with minimal cleanup. Cooking Tip # 3 –  Make Now – Serve Later. On the surface this seems to be similar to the big batch cooking –...

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