Added some new ideas for Christmas gifts in my “Gifts from the Kitchen” tab – click here to get to the link!
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Good idea to have this on hand through the Winter months.
This is wonderful for a sore throat, congestion, cough and even symptoms of nausea. Honey is antibacterial, anti-viral and immune building, plus it soothes a sore throat quite nicely. The ginger calms a nauseated belly and it is extremely anti-inflammatory. The lemon aids digestion, promotes detoxification of the liver and is a wonderful source of immune boosting vitamin C.
- Omit the seeds and squeeze 5 whole lemons into a mason jar
- Add 4 tbsp of grated fresh ginger
- Add 3 tbsp of Apple Cider Vinegar
- Fill the space left in the mason jar with honey, preferably unpasteurized* to get the healing benefits of the honey
- Good Whiskey 2 tbsp (for adult versions) to be added to your cup of hot water.
How to enjoy: For a sore throat or cough, take a tsp of this syrup as you would a cough medicine. For a bedtime cup of tea to help you sleep – Place 2 tsp of elixir (aka magical potion) into 1 cup of hot water. Let cool slightly before drinking. Keeps for several weeks in the fridge. Tastes like heaven!
There’s all the typical pickling and freezing you can do at this time of year. But one of the staples for my kitchen is homemade Sundried Tomatoes and Roasted Garlic.
With Garlic, I lay a tinfoil tray on the BBQ (just purely because of the strong odor your house will endure for days). Set your BBQ on low, cut the tips off your bulb of garlic line the tray with as many as you can fit, then lightly spray or coat them with olive oil. Loosely set a piece of tinfoil over the top so they won’t dry out too fast. It takes about an hour – but keep an eye on them. When the outer layer of each bulb starts to turn light brown they are done. Set them aside until they cool and then pop each clove out into a sealable jar, and top it with good olive oil. I add a 1/2 tsp of sea salt to each jar to stop the olive oil from hardening in the fridge.
Slice Roma tomatoes (fresh from your local veggie stand) in four (once down the middle starting from the top) then slice each half from the top. Lay on a cookie sheet, sprinkle with salt and dried basil, then spray or coat in olive oil. Put it in a 300 degree oven for 1.5 to 2 hours – until they become darker and gooey. Let stand until cool. For thinner slices pack in olive oil. For thicker slices – bag and freeze for gourmet winter sauces.
These are both key ingredients when I cook in my kitchen – there’s nothing like having these on hand when you make homemade hummus or salads.
Collecting neat bottles is where I start, either from yard sales or thrift stores. It helps me get inspiration to want to put that delicious gold herbal oil into them! It really is a simple process for such a huge reward…play with different combinations of herbs. My personal favorite is roasted garlic with rosemary! (I add a head of roasted garlic to the jar with the fresh rosemary.)
Here it is step by step….Place herbs in a clean mason jar. If using fresh herbs, then wilt them first for 12 hours to remove most of the moisture (too much moisture will cause your oil to go rancid), cut into small pieces, and crush with a mortar and pestle before adding to jar. You can skip these extra steps if your herbs are dried.
Pour oil into the jar, making sure to cover herbs by at least 1” of oil and leaving at least 1/2” of space at the top of the jar so that the herbs will have room to expand. If your herbs soak up all of the oil, then pour more on top to ensure that the herbs are well covered. Stir well, and cap the jar tightly.
Place the jar in a sunny and warm windowsill, and shake once or more per day.
After 4-6 weeks, strain the herbs out of the oil using cheesecloth. Make sure and squeeze every precious drop of oil out!
Pour into those decorative glass bottles, and store in a cool dark place. The oil should keep for at least a year.
Harry Potter’s Butterbeer
- 1 cup light or dark brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons water
- 6 tablespoons butter
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon cider vinegar
- 3/4 cup heavy cream, divided
- 1/2 teaspoon rum extract
- 4 12 ounce bottles cream soda
- (adult version add real rum & butterscotch snapps – after mixture has cooled)
- In a small saucepan over medium, combine the brown sugar and water. Bring to a gentle boil and cook, stirring often, until the mixture reads 240 F on a candy thermometer.
- Stir in the butter, salt, vinegar and 1/4 of the heavy cream. Set aside to cool to room temperature.
- Once the mixture has cooled, stir in the rum extract.
- In a medium bowl, combine 2 tablespoons of the brown sugar mixture and the remaining 1/2 cup of heavy cream. Use an electric mixer to beat until just thickened, but not completely whipped, about 2 to 3 minutes.
- To serve, divide the brown sugar mixture between 4 tall glasses (about 1/4 cup for each glass). Add 1/4 cup of cream soda to each glass, then stir to combine. Fill each glass nearly to the top with additional cream soda, then spoon the whipped topping over each.
Traditions upon Imbolc – Celebrate with Mulled or Spiced Wines, household duties are Spring cleaning and at sunset or just after ritual, to light every candle or lamp in the house – if only for a few moments. (symbolizing re-birth) Meditate in the candlelight with your Spiced Wine and organize your thoughts as you did to your home.
IMBOLC (Candlemas) (February 1-2)
(Brigid’s Day) Not common to all Pagans, this is very popular with Wiccan’s and various Celtic sects. Imbolc is a Celtic festival marking the beginning of spring. Most commonly it is celebrated on 1 or 2 February Brigid is the Celtic goddess of fire and inspirational Hearth & Home Deity (Poetry, Smithcraft and Healing) as well as yet another representation of the Fertility of Femininity and Love. The holiday was, and for many still is, a festival of the hearth and home, and a celebration of the lengthening days and the early signs of spring. Celebrations often involved hearth fires, special foods (butter, milk, and bannock, for example), divination or watching for omens, candles or a bonfire if the weather permits. Imbolc is traditionally a time of weather prognostication, and the old tradition of watching to see if serpents or badgers came from their winter dens is perhaps a precursor to the North American Groundhog Day.
Brigid had such a strong following among the Celtics that the Christian church decided it was easier to assimilate her into their own system, and so there came about the making of Saint Brigit and all the stories they created about her so that her followers would leave their old beliefs enough so they would not side with the Druids, who were known at that time as ‘the snakes’ because of their tendency to have tamed snakes that were used to help produce various healing mixtures via their venom, and who were violently opposing the Catholic church. In History, of course, the druids lost against the overwhelming odds presented by the church, led by a man who would then be himself sainted by the church, their Saint Patrick (who was no clergyman but a warrior). Thus Christian rule of various sorts came into Ireland. Handcrafts are often sacrificed to Brigid or dedicated to her as they are started on this day. Its celebration is done with many candles and as usual much feasting. The Christians also took, moved slightly and used this date by creating St. Valentine and using the day for one of chaste love reflections. Imbolic marks the recovery of the Goddess after birth of the God. The warmth of the power of the God fertilizes the Earth and so the earliest beginnings of spring occur. This is a Sabbat of purification, a festival of light and fertility. It’s also a traditional time for initiations into covens and self-dedication rituals. Also known as: Feast of Pan, Feast of Torches, Oimelc.
BAKED CUSTARD WITH GINGER- 3 Tablespoons Brown Sugar, 3/4 teaspoon Finely Grated Fresh Ginger, 3 large Eggs, lightly beaten, 2 1/2 cups Milk, 1/3 cup Granulated Sugar, 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract, 1/4 teaspoon Cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon Salt, 1/4 teaspoon Nutmeg. Method: Mix brown sugar with ginger and divide evenly onto bottoms of 6 buttered individual custard cups or ramekins.
In medium mixing bowl, blend eggs with milk, sugar, vanilla and seasonings. Pour evenly into prepared custard cups. Place cups in a large deeper pan, then fill with hot water to come halfway up sides of cups (a hot water bath).
Bake at 350 F. oven for 35 to 40 minutes, or until knife inserted near edge comes out clean. Remove cups from bath. Run knife around edges to loosen. Place serving plate over top of cup and carefully invert custard onto plate. Serve warm or cover, chill and serve cold.
DUBLIN SUNDAY CORNED BEEF AND CABBAGE- 5 pounds Corned beef brisket, 1 large Onion stuck with 6 whole cloves, 6 Carrots, peeled and sliced, 8 Potatoes, peeled and cubed, 1 teaspoon Dried Thyme, 1 small Bunch Parsley, 1 head Cabbage (about 2 lbs) cut in quarters. Horseradish Sauce:, 1/2 pint Whipping Cream, 2 – 3 Tablespoons prepared horseradish. Method: Put beef in a large pot and cover with cold water. Add all other ingredients except cabbage and bring to a boil with the lid off the pot. Turn to simmer and cook for 3 hours. Skim fat from top as it rises. Remove the thyme, parsley and onion. Add cabbage. Simmer for 20 minutes until cabbage is cooked. Remove the meat and cut into pieces. Place on center of a large platter. Strain the cabbage and season it heavily with black pepper. Surround the beef with the cabbage, carrots and potatoes. Serve with horseradish sauce. Horseradish Sauce: Whip cream until it stand in peaks. Fold in horseradish.
The origins of the Yule Log can be traced back to the Midwinter festivals in which the Norsemen indulged…nights filled with feasting, “drinking Yule” and watching the fire leap around the log burning in the home hearth. The ceremonies and beliefs associated with the Yule Log’s sacred origins are closely linked to representations of health, fruitfulness and productivity. In England, the Yule was cut and dragged home by oxen or horses as the people walked alongside and sang merry songs. It was often decorated with evergreens and sometimes sprinkled with grain or cider before it was finally set alight.
In Yugoslavia, the Yule Log was cut just before dawn on Christmas Eve and carried into the house at twilight. The wood itself was decorated with flowers, colored silks and gold, and then doused with wine and an offering of grain. In an area of France known as Provencal, families would go together to cut the Yule Log, singing as they went along. These songs asked for blessings to be bestowed upon their crops and their flocks. The people of Provencal called their Yule Log the trefoire and, with great ceremony, carried the log around the house three times and christened it with wine before it was set ablaze.
To all European races, the Yule Log was believed to bring beneficial magic and was kept burning for at least twelve hours and sometimes as long as twelve days, warming both the house and those who resided within. When the fire of the Yule Log was finally quenched, a small fragment of the wood would be saved and used to light the next year’s log. It was also believed that as long as the Yule Log burned, the house would be protected from witchcraft. The ashes that remained from the sacred Yule Log were scattered over fields to bring fertility, or cast into wells to purify and sweeten the water. Sometimes, the ashes were used in the creation of various charms…to free cattle from vermin, for example, or to ward off hailstorms.
Some sources state that the origin of Yule is associated with an ancient Scandinavian fertility god and that the large, single Log is representative of a phallic idol. Tradition states that this Log was required to burn for twelve days and a different sacrifice to the fertility god had to be offered in the fire on each of those twelve days.
A yule log is a large and very hard log which is burned in the hearth as a part of traditional Yule or Christmas celebrations in several European cultures. It may also be associated with the Winter Solstice festival or the Twelve Days of Christmas, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, or Twelfth Night.
Just a short re-cap for those of you just joining us…Winter Solstice, the time of the year when the days get longer and the sun begins to return was truly a cause for celebration among our ancestors in Scandinavia. Their Midwinter Feast lasted at least twelve days. So there are the twelve days of Christmas.
Most Christmas traditions are rooted deep in ancient Yule rituals, many coming from the Vikings. Historic evidence indicates that Jesus was not born on December 25, but in the Spring. Why is then Christmas celebrated on December 25? A common theory is that the Christian church designated this date as the day of Christ’s birth to coincide with the Nordic Mid-Winter Solstice celebrations, as well as with a Roman mid-winter fest called Saturnalia, in order to “facilitate” the conversion of “heathens” to Christianity. Even a man dressed up as “Ol Man Winter” handing out presents originated here, as well as decorated trees and pine boughs, mistletoe, large celebratory dinners & drink. Scandinavian forefathers were not alone in celebrating the Winter Solstice. All over the world, and throughout history, people have celebrated the sun’s return after the winter with a wide diversity of rituals and traditions. So spice up that Wine, sing some traditional songs and plan your own “Yule” traditions.