Hi there and winter blessings,
I hope this blog post finds you well - nice and warm, perhaps rugged up in a blanket or sipping on a hot tea, or in a room with a toasty heater, or perhaps even out and about with a lovely big scarf and cosy jumper. We've just passed the winter solstice and although our days are growing longer now we're still in winter.
I do love winter, what it entails and symbolises. Each year I welcome it with open arms. I enjoy the slowing down, the going inwards, the warmth of the many creature comforts that we're so blessed with (like ugg boots, hot water bottles and warm food). This year, as we enter into the season of slowing down and stillness, we're also met with a time of re-entering the outside world and daily life (i.e. now that the COVID-19 situation is settling down in our country). Kids are going back to school, many of us are going back to work, more people are on public transport again etc.
It's still a time, however, where our immune systems traditionally benefit from more support and TLC thanks to the colder weather and bugs being spread (I'm just talking about typical sniffles, colds and flus). Just as Mother Nature likes us to have extra support during this time, she also provides us with the tools to make this possible - cue the magic of herbs and certain nutrients. So, I thought I'd share a couple of my favourite recipes that you can make with ingredients from your own garden and kitchen to help support you and your loved ones during winter.
Fire Cider Vinegar
Adapted from Rosemary Gladstar
This is the jar on the left. There's a very long story about Fire Cider Vinegar: how it all began; a law suit and the rights of the collective use by all people of herbal remedies. I won't go into it here but here's a link if you'd like to know more. Fire Cider is used as a tonic, it stimulates your circulation and boosts your immune function, helping prevent colds and flus.
1⁄2 cup grated fresh horseradish root
1⁄2 cup onion, chopped
1⁄4 cup garlic, chopped
A couple of finely chopped fresh birds eye chillies (or powdered cayenne pepper or whatever your prefer or have on hand)
Just under 1⁄4 cup fresh sage leaves, chopped
Just under 1⁄4 cup fresh rosemary leaves, chopped
1. Put all the herbs into a sterilised glass jar
2. Top with enough vinegar to cover it by at least 5 centimetres
3. After 3-4 weeks, strain it and keep the liquid – it’s the bit you want! At this stage some people add honey. If so, warm the honey so it’s easier to mix in and add it to taste.
4. Label it and store in the fridge or somewhere cool. It’ll keep for several months.
Adapted from Aviva Romm
This is the lovely jar on the right and is based on a recipe that dates back to the 5th Century when the world faced one of the biggest and most devastating plagues in known history. There's another long but very fascinating story about its origins. There are many different versions of it and it's also known as Four Thieves' Vinegar or Seven Thieves' Vinegar.
1⁄4 cup each of fresh chopped tulsi, lemon balm, rosemary, thyme and sage leaves
4 cloves of fresh garlic
2 cups of apple cider vinegar
You’ll also need a glass jar with a lid (preferably not metallic)
1. Strip the herbs from their stems and chop them on a cutting board. You don’t have to chop them too finely – just enough to release their aromatic scent
2. Press or chop the garlic
3. Place the chopped herbs into the jar and press the garlic into it
4. Add enough vinegar to cover the herbs fully and cover the jar with a lid (if you only have a metal lid, put a piece of wax paper in between)
5. Refrigerate or leave in a cool place for 5 to 7 days, then strain the liquid into a clean glass jar.
6. Discard the herbs and you’ve got your vinegar. It’s that simple!
Additional important cautions about Thieves' Vinegar
If you’re pregnant, omit the sage from the recipe; it may contain a substance called thujone which can cause miscarriage. Also, if you're pregnant, don't use Thieves' Vinegar as a daily tonic – just enjoy it occasionally as a salad dressing ingredient.
Sage can also dry up breast milk, so if you’re breastfeeding, it’s okay to use it in salad dressing occasionally, but preferably, just omit the sage from the recipe.
Enjoy as a salad dressing
To make a salad dressing, mix 2 tablespoons of the Fire Cider Vinegar / Thieves' Vinegar with 2 tablespoons plain apple cider vinegar and 1⁄4 -1⁄2 cup extra virgin olive oil (or tahini!), depending on how sharp you prefer your dressing. Add salt, black pepper, and optionally 2 teaspoons raw honey. Mix well. Dress your salad or steamed greens.
Enjoy as a tonic
A small shot daily will be an excellent tonic (remember to rinse your mouth with water after having vinegar as it will erode tooth enamel, you also don't want to brush your teeth straight away as the vinegar may soften the enamel on your teeth and the brushing will erode it ).
Coming down with a cold?
Have a teaspoon of Fire Cider Vinegar added to warm water every few hours.
Have 1 to 2 tablespoons of Thieves' Vinegar every 3 - 4 hours.
There are endless variations of these recipes, don't let yourself be limited to just these two. See what herbs you can grow, or wild craft; see what's fresh at your local growers' market and have fun experimenting. Enjoy! x