Saturday, September 22, 2012

French Onion Soup

What a great soup for the first day of Autumn, french onion soup with a french baquette. I just love making this soup with vidalia onions because they are not to harsh, more on the sweet side of the onion family.
So here`s the recipe I use;


1/2 lb firm vidalia onions, -- sliced
1/4 cup butter
2 tablespoons corn or olive oil
3 tablespoons flour
1 quart chicken broth
1 quart beef broth
8 slices French baquette bread
1/2 cup swiss cheese, -- shredded
1/2 cup parmesan cheese, -- grated


Saute onions in butter and oil until onions are transparent, but not well browned.
When tender, turn heat to lowest point and sprinkle with flour, stirring vigorously.
Pour into Dutch oven and stir in broths.
Heat thoroughly and divide among 8 oven-proof bowls.
Mix equal parts of cheese to smooth paste and spread over bread.
Float a slice ofbread atop each serving.
Place all bowls on oven rack 4" from broiler heat and broil until cheese melts.
Serve at once.
Leftover soup freezes well up to 6 months.

You have really got to try this, its really delicious!!!

Now onto the other end of the spectrum, in the Fall we start closing up windows and odors stay inside with us. So here is an all natural recipe for an air freshener for your home, minus all the chemicals...

I love the concept of Febreze and other products that are intended to remove odors and freshen things up. Goodness knows that our home has lots of places that can use just such a spray-- the kitchen garbage can, the diaper pail, the downstairs bathroom, the minivan.
When I began to switch over my household cleaning supplies to gentler versions that cleaned minus the toxic chemicals, I thought that my air-freshener days were over. Though it smells great, when you start researching the ingredients in products like Febreze (BenzisothiazolinoneSodium PolyacrylateCyclodextrin, and synthetic fragrance, for example), you quickly discover that it's not the sort of thing that you want floating through your home.
Sometime last year, I discovered this simple recipe for making my own freshening sprays. This is incredibly inexpensive, it smells pretty, it works on odors and it takes so little time to make.

You can double this depending on the size of your bottle.
12-15 drops of pure essential oil (I like grapefruit, orange, lemon, and lavender, but go with any scent that you enjoy)
1/2 cup white vinegar
1 1/2 cups water
You can also make an even stronger version of this spray by using a higher ratio of vinegar to water and upping the essential oils (more like 20 drops) to use in a small diffuser bottle. This works better for just a quick spray into the air to freshen up a bathroom before guests, as opposed to the less concentrated spray that you would spray directly onto/into items.

Thats all for today!
Have fun freshenening your inside air, you can pick up any of these scents of essential oil at your local health food store.
As Always!
Keep It Clean!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Fall Is In The Air !!!

A beautiful day in New England!

You have just got to love this time of year! The air is crisp and cool ! The sky couldn`t be any more blue!

What a great day to go apple picking!
So we jumped into the car and drove off to Greenville Rhode Island. We went to an old familiar apple orchard. And to our surprise they`ve added a hay ride down to the apple fields and back!

Pumpkins everywhere, fresh Rhode Island maple syrup (From Charlies Sugar House in Greene, RI), gourds, and apples galore!!!
The trees were loaded with apples. As we picked them, we had to sample a few of them too. Fresh, crisp and juicy...

We didn`t get enough, you can never have enough apples... Only kidding a peck of macs and a half peck of macouns. Some small orange pumpkins, a beautiful bright burgundy mum and off we went to find Nick some apple cider. The cider press was broken unfortunately at Steeres Orchard.

We can`t have a complete apple picking day with out apple cider. The orchard cashier in the barn directed us to Jaswell`s Orchard in Smithfield, RI. Their cider press is operating. So Nick got his apple cider and some fresh baked pastries. A BONUS!!!

Its nice to have Nick home for a few days from college!  A bonus weekend off, no classes due to Rosh Hashanah. He goes back on Tuesday night for classes on Wednesday.

He`s adjusting to college life and I`m adjusting to him being gone. It helps that I`m working everyday at my job and also in my shop!

A really fun filled day! And the weather was gorgeous!

Now its been a while, but I am getting back into the blog groove, now that it gets dark earlier and everything. When the weather is nice and it stays light out late, its hard to sit myself down and do my blog.
I`ve got some common herbs to share with you tonight and some basic information on them. If you can treat an ailment or condition naturally, then thats what I`m all about.

Aloe Vera (Aloe ferox, A. barbadensis).Internally, concentrate Aloe ferox resin is used as a strong laxative. Externally, the clear gel from the A. barbadensis leaf, is used to treat burns, abrasions, skin injuries, and in cosmetic products. A juice made from the gel is used as a drink by many consumers.
Astragalus(Astragalus membranaceous). Used in traditional Chinese and East Indian medicine for its immune-enhancing and tonic properties. Research has indicated its usefulness as a supportive tool for a variety of chronic immune problems.
Bilberry (Vaccinium myrtillus). A European version of blueberry. Bilberry extract is rich in purple/blue pigments having numerous benefits for the eyes and cardiovascular system. In Europe, bilberry extract is used as an antioxidant. Also used to help increase microcirculation by stimulating new capillary formation, strengthening capillary walls and increasing overall health of the circulatory system.
Cascara Sagrada (Rhamnus purshiana). The bark is used as a stimulant laxative, especially in cases of chronic constipation. The name "sagrada" refers to "sacred bark"—a name given to it by early Spanish explorers in the Pacific Northwest. As an approved, safe and effective laxative, cascara and cascara extracts are found in numerous over-the counter laxative preparations in the U.S.
Capsicum (Cayenne, hot pepper) (Capsicum species). Internally, cayenne acts as a circulatory stimulant, induces preparation, and is used to stimulate digestion. Several over-the-counter products for external use in arthritic and rheumatoid conditions contain capsaicin, the hot principle in the oil of capsicum, as the active pain relieving ingredient. Topical capsaicin preparations are also used for the relief of pain associated with herpes zoster ("shingles").
Chamomile (German) (Matricaria recutita). Used internally, chamomile flowers are antispasmodic and used to relieve digextive upset. A popular remedy for indigestion, flatulence, gastrointestinal spasms, and inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract. Often used as a bedtime beverage, its mild sedative effects have not been adequately scientifically proven. Externally, chamomile extracts are useful for inflammation of skin and mucous membranes.
Cranberry (German) (Vaccinium macrocarpon). Recent research suggests that cranberry helps to prevent urinary tract infections caused by E. coli bacteria, particularly in people with a history of recurrent infections. Cranberry is an excellent example of how common foods can have health benefits beyond their nutritional qualities.
Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale). The young leaves are widely used as salad greens and in tea as a natural diuretic. The roots are a mild laxative and promote bile flow and liver function.
Dong Quai (German) (also spelled Tang kwei or Danggui) (Angelica sinensis). One of the most widely used herbs in traditional Chinese medicine, it is primarily used in herbal formulas as a "female tonic" to treat muscle cramps and pain associated with difficult menstrual periods. Dong quai should not be used during pregnancy.
Echinacea (Echinacea purpurea and related species). Also called Purple Coneflower and native to the U.S., this plant was the most widely used medicinal plant of the Central Plains Indians, being used for a variety of conditions. The leaf and root are mildly antibacterial, antiviral, and used for wound healing. German research has confirmed, in numerous clinical studies, the usefulness of Echinacea purpurea in strengthening the body's immune system as well as prevention and natural treatment of colds and flu.
Eleuthero(Siberian Ginseng) (Eleutherococcus senticosus). This distant relative of true ginsengs grows in Siberia, Manchuria, China and Northern Japan. It has been used by Russian cosmonauts and Olympic team members as a general tonic and to reduce physical and mental stress. In Germany, Siberian Ginseng is approved as a tonic to invigorate and fortify the body during fatigue or weakness and to increase work and concentration as well as an aid in patient rehabilitation.
Evening Primrose (Oenothera biennis). Evening primrose oil (EPO) is a relatively recent entrant in the herbal remedy world, having been marketed for only about 20 years. Essential fatty acids (EFAs) such as gamma linolenic acid (GLA) found in EPO are vital components of cellular structure; a deficiency of EFAs may be responsible for a host of conditions and diseases, including cardiovascular ailments, menstrual irregularities, arthritic inflammation and hyperactivity in children. The oil, usually available in capsule form, and taken orally, has been demonstrated to be effective in the symptoms of PMS.
Feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium). Feverfew has analgesic (pain-relieving) properties. It has been used as a folk medicine for menstrual cramps since Greco-Roman times. At least three published clinical studies in England in the 1980s confirm the efficacy of feverfew leaves for prevention and moderation of the severity of migraine headaches.
Garlic (Allium sativum). Garlic mildly displays a host of benefits: it is antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral, hypotensive (lowers high blood pressure), and lowers cholesterol and fat in the bloodstream. Garlic is used in Europe as an approved remedy for cardiovascular conditions, especially high cholesterol and triglyceride levels associated with risk of atherosclerosis. It is also generally regarded as a preventive measure for colds, flu and other infectious diseases.
Ginger (Zingiber officinale). Ginger is another great example of how a plant can be used as a food, spice or medicine. It has been used to treat nausea, motion sickness and vomiting. Ginger has a long history of use for all types of digestive upset and can be helpful to increase appetite.
Ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba). Standardized extract of ginkgo leaf increases circulation and has shown antioxidant activity. Hundreds of European studies have confirmed the use of standardized ginkgo leaf extract for a wide variety of conditions associated with aging, including memory loss and poor-circulation. Ginkgo extract is also used clinically in Europe for tinnitus (ringing in the ears), vertigo, and cold extremities.
Asian Ginseng (Panax ginseng). One of the world's most famous herbs. Ginseng is classed as an "adaptogen," a relatively recent term coined by Russian researchers to describe ginseng's general tonic properties. Adaptogens are herbs that increase the overall resistance to all types of stress. Other herbal adaptogens include Astragalus, Siberian Ginseng and Schizandra. Asian Ginseng (Chinese and Korean) is renowned for its ability to increase energy and endurance.
Goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis). Goldenseal root has a long history as a native American herb used by Indians and early settlers for its antiseptic wound-healing properties. It is also used for its soothing action on inflamed mucous membranes. A popular remedy for colds and flu.
Hawthorn (Cratagus oxyacantha). Hawthorn has a long reputation in both folk medicine and clinical medicine as a heart tonic. In Europe, hawthorn berry preparations are widely used by physicians in heart conditions, such as mild forms of angina. Hawthorn is safe to use for extended periods of time, according to European studies.
Licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra and G. uralensis).Licorice is one of the most widely used medicinal plants in the world, commonly used in European, Arabian and Asian traditional medicine systems. It is soothing to inflamed mucous membranes; often recommended in treatment of gastric and duodenal ulcers and cough and asthma remedies. Licorice extract displays a stimulating action on adrenal glands and is thus useful in fatigue due to adrenal exhaustion. Licorice and its extracts are safe for normal use in moderate amounts. However, long-term use or ingestion of excessive amounts can produce headache, lethargy, sodium and water retention, excessive loss of potassium, and high blood pressure.
Milk Thistle (Silybum marianum). Milk Thistle has a long history of use in European folk medicine as a liver tonic. Silymarin from milk thistle has shown a protective effect against many types of chemical toxins, as well as alcohol. An extract of milk thistle is used to improve liver function, protect against liver damage and enhance regeneration of damaged liver cells. clinical studies have confirmed the usefulness of standardized milk thistle extracts in cases of cirrhosis, toxic liver and other chronic liver conditions.
Passion Flower (Passiflora incarnata). Contrary to the implications of its name, passion flower is not a stimulant, nor does it incite passion; instead, it has mild sedative and calmative properties. Taken internally, passion flower is usually combined with other sedative herbs for various types of nervous conditions, including insomnia and related disorders.
Peppermint (Mentha piperita). Internally, peppermint has an antispasmodic action, with a calming effect on the stomach and intestinal tract. As a tea, extract, or in a capsule, peppermint is useful for indigestion, cramp-like discomfort of the upper gastrointestinal and bile duct, irritable bowel syndrome and inflammation or irritation of the gums.

Until later...

As Always