Great book gift ideas

Still looking for a few great gift ideas for the chef or foodie in your life? I have a few excellent suggestions for you today. This is a very varied mix of books touching on recipes, travel, health and treasures to be found in the pantry.

I have been enjoying every moment spent leafing through these books, testing their theories, trying out recipe and planning a few future seasoning purchases. I am including the main description of the books and a “my-2-cents” paragraph for each. Enjoy!

Yunnan_Cookbook

Tasty reading ahead, KEEP GOING… →

Homemade Herbal Tinctures and two kitchen reference books

I remember being mystified by the idea of placing cucumber slices on your eyes to reduce puffiness as a teen. Then I saw a recipe to make a mask for my face with something like an egg white and honey. After that is was mayonnaise or olive oil as a hair mask. I eagerly ‘devoured’ all these homemade beauty recipes.

As I got older I got more curious about healing myself with natural remedies. I have no issues with taking a prescription pill but I won’t say no to trying a more natural route, as a stand alone treatment or as a complement. I have cleared itchy scalp with vinegar hair rinse (it’s my new conditioner actually) and helped clear headaches by rubbing peppermint essential oil on my temple and forehead. My latest big homemade remedy discovery is Herbal Tinctures.

tincture 01

Tasty reading ahead, KEEP GOING… →

Mint Basil Pistachio Pesto

Do you grow herbs in your garden? I do but I cook a lot less in the summer so I end up with more herbs than I can handle! A great way to use up a bunch of herbs in one shot is by making a pesto. And let me tell you food blogs are all about pesto right now! I am so amazed by the creativity and variety of pesto out there.

I combined a few recipes to make my own version. I live in a highrise and I have sun only after 3 pm. It can be a challenge for herbs to grow in abundance but mint it never an issue. So of course my pesto with be mint heavy. Check out my Mint Basil Pistachio Pesto recipe.

Mint Basil Pistachio Pesto

Tasty reading ahead, KEEP GOING… →

Cookbooks Galore: my most recent recipe inspirations

I have been building a mountain of new cookbooks lately. So many recipes so little time. And I will need new shelves too for storage. Ah the joy of turning the pages and salivating at every new picture of fun recipes. I thought I would share with you all the latest titles newly added to my collection.

corn cakes 2

Summer Corn Cakes: a raw food recipe

Tasty reading ahead, KEEP GOING… →

Tabouleh Salad

There is nothing like buying a little bit of fresh herbs to give humph and a clean flavor to a dish. Sometimes all you need is a couple of tablespoons. And then you are left with a bunch of herbs without planned use. In comes the bunch of parsley I purchased for the Tyrolean Knodel I made again last week. I only needed a little and I had so much left.

I often freeze my fresh herbs but they tend to be left forgotten. Parsley is not a herb I use a lot so I wanted to make something different while still fresh. There is only one recipe that I know of that requires parsley in large quantity, the Tabouleh Salad.

tabouleh 036

I would have to say Tabouleh is probably one of the first Middle Eastern foods I have ever eaten, it acompanied a Lebanese fast food dish. Tabouleh claims its origins in Syria and Lebanon but it became quickly popular all over the Middle East, each country putting a twist on it.

tabouleh 042

I have consumed countless Tabouleh versions since my first one.  Some were an eye opener and many were a huge disappointment. I believe this recipe below is the best Tabouleh I have ever tasted. I really like the texture of the Israeli couscous in here, a nice variation but a similar size on the traditional bulgur. The seasoning is so simple but full of taste. The parsley is not overbearing in this recipe either. I highly recommend you give this one a try.

tabouleh 021

I have you seen these nifty herb scissors? I got them for Christmas after I exclaimed jealousy to my mom who had gotten a pair as a hostess gift a couple of year’s back. Five blades easily chop up fresh herbs without bruising the leaves too much. A little plastic comb gets the herbs in the blades out. It’s my new favorite gadget.

 

Tabouleh Salad

Recipe Type: Salads & Soups
Cuisine: Middle Eastern
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Ingredients
  • 1 bunch of fresh parsley stems removed, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons of fresh mint, chopped
  • 1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
  • a handful of cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 1/2 tablespoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 cup dry Israeli cousous, cooked
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Instructions
  1. Combine all ingredients and mix well.
  2. Serve immediately or chill in refrigerator for 2 hours before serving.
Notes
Feel free to substitute the Israeli couscous with a regular couscous or the traditional bulgur.

 

Ayurvedic Herbs: let me breathe, a tea for lungs and asthma

OK so I have not cooked all week. Working hard to get movement back in my wrist at physio (which is torture but going very well) and it was my birthday last week…so I was not the one cooking. Hence I think this is a great opportunity to publish my second post of Ayurvedic Teas. In m first post I gave you all the recipe for a very sedative tea when you are having a bought of insomnia.

Although I don’t have an official diagnosis since last late spring I often have asthmatic symptoms. This is due to my weakness in getting bronchitis. And I find with spring’s allergies my breathing can be more difficult. I now have a prescription pump but I wanted to see if I could get a little bit of natural help by researching my book The Yoga of Herbs for herbs that calm the excited lungs. Well I found a mix that worked. I have to warn you it has an odd aftertaste but it does bring relief. You can use it when you have a cough , bronchitis, asthma or anything related to the respiratory system.

Photo from www.satnam.eu

Ξ Asthma and Lung Tea Ξ

1/2 tsp Lobelia
1/2 tsp Mullein
1/2 tsp Hyssop
1/2 tsp Ashwagandha
1 cup of water

Put 1 cup of water in a pan and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and sprinkle the herbs on top. Cover and let steep for 15 minutes. Strain out the herbs. Ideally drink 3 times a day but.

I am lucky as in my city there is a store that sells such herbs by weight, but if you don’t have such a store there are great online stores like Mountian Rose Herbs which has a huge selection. Let’s take a quick look at the properties of each herb used:

Lobelia stimulates the nervous and respiratory system, helping one to take deeper and stronger breaths.  It is a relaxant and also helps with nicotine withdrawal.

Mullein is an expectorant (loosens mucous), has anti-bacterial properties and has an soothing effect on the respiratory tract.

Hyssop is an expectorant (loosens mucous) and can be used as a gargle for sore throats.

Ashwagandha, known as Indian ginseng, is well known for its restorative benefits and strengthens the immune system. It helps with chronic inflammatory disorders, like asthma.

Nee a crash course in Ayurveda? OK here we go. Ayurveda is a traditional form of medicine used in India which has been around for about 5,000 years. It is considered an alternative medicine in the Western hemisphere. In other words it can work but no doctor will know about it. Still today 80% of the population in India use Ayurveda. The main goal is to treat the mind, body and spirit as one. Treatments and practices include diet, exercise, meditation and massage. Each person has one of three main constitutions (doshas): Vita, Pitta or Kapha. Once you know your main one and which other may be unbalanced, you can prepare medicines to help heal your ailment according to your constitution. The book I mentioned above will help you figure it all out. I am only somewhat familiar with the herbal healing aspect of Ayurveda. The energy and medicinal quality of herbs or spices are classified and used to balance your doshas. For short term use this recipe should work what ever your dosha is.

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor nor am I a trained healthcare professional.  This post is for informational purposes only. This information should not be used as a substitute for a consultation or visit with a physician.

Ayurvedic Herbs: Knock you out and go to sleep sedating tea for insomnia

After a few lovely nights of insomnia this would probably be my drink of choice too! I am quite familiar with insomnia, we have been best buds (enemies ) since my teen years. I have tried every thing, no need to send me suggestions. Please, don’t! I have heard them all!

I recently had a particularly bad bought of sleepless nights …partly due to the cutting in half a certain prescribed medication. I needed to find some form of reinforcement. I recently mentioned in a post that I was playing around with herbal concoctions along the beliefs of Ayurvedic herbal healing. Well I am sharing here my first herbal tea. I know this is not exactly your normal recipe post but I am sure some of you will be more than happy to test this tea out.

Many people are content to drink a cup of  Chamomile tea to help them take a trip to slumber land. For me  Chamomile relaxes me but does not make me drowsy. I needed something that would literally SEDATE me. I researched my book The Yoga of Herbs for herbs that would knock me out. I was so thrilled with my mix, I really felt sedated within 20 minutes and fell asleep easily. I a,m always keeping a jar of this stuff around the house. I make big batches of the dried herbs. If you only want to make one cup used 2 tsp per cup of water.

Nee a crash course in Ayurveda? OK here we go. Ayurveda is a traditional form of medicine used in India which has been around for about 5,000 years. It is considered an alternative medicine in the Western hemisphere. In other words it can work but no doctor will know about it. Still today 80% of the population in India use Ayurveda. The main goal is to treat the mind, body and spirit as one. Treatments and practices include diet, exercise, meditation and massage. Each person has one of three main constitutions (doshas): Vita, Pitta or Kapha. Once you know your main one and which other may be unbalanced, you can prepare medicines to help heal your ailment according to your constitution. The book I mentioned above will help you figure it all out. I am only somewhat familiar with the herbal healing aspect of Ayurveda. The energy and medicinal quality of herbs or spices are classified and used to balance your doshas.

My recipe below is good for anyone if used occasionally so don’t fret about it not being good for your dosha balance.

Ξ Good Night Sedating Tea Ξ

1 1/2 tsp Valerian
1 tsp Passionflower
1 tsp Skullcap
1 tsp Lavender
1 liter of water

Put your water in a pan and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and sprinkle the herbs on top. Cover and let steep for 15 minutes. Strain out the herbs. This amount will be good for 3 days. About 30 minutes before going to bed warm up 1 cup and enjoy.

I am lucky as in my city there is a store that sells such herbs by weight, but if you don’t have such a store there are great online stores  like Mountian Rose Herbs which has a huge selection. Let’s take a quick look at the properties of each herb used:

Valerian: treatment of choice for anxiety and insomnia, sedative, muscle relaxant and aids in preventing panic attacks. The root is the part used and it is very odorous – good or bad, for you to decide. Just keep it in a hermetically sealed jar.

Passionflower: a gentle sedative that soothes nervous tension and alleviates insomnia.

Skullcap: calms excitability and anxiety, mild relaxant, enhances meditation and awareness.

Lavender: calming and soothing, sedative, and has balancing effects on the mind and body.

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor nor am I a trained healthcare professional.  This post is for informational purposes only. This information should not be used as a substitute for a consultation or visit with a physician.