Friday, July 24, 2015

--Four Thieves Vinegar--Use summer herbs for preventing or beating winter illness

I love that our garden is providing us with so many fresh herbs this year!  Thank you Lord for the rain and sunshine! All winter and spring, I enjoyed the Four Thieves Vinegar that I made last year.  I either like to take a spoonful of it in a bit of warm water, or add a spoonful to my salads, cooked greens, or rice dishes.
The legend of the four thieves dates back to medieval days.  It is said that during the plague, four men were robbing the homes of those sick and dying.  Somehow they managed to survive and avoid the disease.  They were believed to be wearing rags around their faces that were soaked in vinegar and herbs.  The powerful antibacterial and antiviral properties warded off the plague!
Today, we can use the vinegar to boost our immunity and keep colds at bay.
Always use apple cider vinegar that is with the mother...I use Braggs.

  • Combine fresh herbs from your garden including:          thyme
  •                                                                                          oregano
  •                                                                                          basil
  •                                                                                          sage
  •                                                                                          lavender
  •                                                                                          garlic

Fill a quart jar 1/2 to 3/4 with herbs and cover with ACV

The picture is tilted, but the herbs should be completely submerged in the vinegar.  Allow to infuse for 4-6 weeks in a dark area.  Remember to shake occasionally.
Once your herbs have infused, strain and store in a glass bottle.  It will keep on your counter for at least a year.  It will help you make it through long, cold winters with little illness, and it tastes really good.  Of course, you can always make a drink with the vinegar and equal amounts of honey as well.
Hope you make some now for the coming winter.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Easy recipe-Lavender, Rosemary and Sunflower seed crackers

     I really love the scents of rosemary and lavender in my lotions, soaps and various medicinal concoctions.  Besides applying these as essential oils, there is another great way to fill your home with the scents of herbs...bake with them!  Not only does this make a nice, naturally gluten free snack, you also get the added benefits of lavender and rosemary.  Both of the herbs are great for digestion, and are calming and soothing to your system.
     So, I got several recipes from Pinterest for gluten free crackers, and then decided to tweak them with the ingredients that I had on hand.  They turned out really good, especially served with either Kerrygold cheese or homemade cashew butter.

Lavender-Rosemary crackers

  • 1/2 cup raw pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
  • 1/2 cup raw sunflower seeds
  • 1/2 cup black sesame seeds 
  • 3 gloves of garlic, minced
  • 1-1 1/2 Tbl of chopped fresh herbs
  • 2-3 Tbl water
  • 1 Tbl extra virgin olive oil
  • 1-1 1/2 tsp Celtic sea salt
Lavender and Rosemary from my "apothecary"
Cover the mixture with wax paper to flatten onto a silpat

  1. Using a food processor, mix the the seeds, salt and garlic until a thick paste like mixture is formed (it took 45 seconds)
  2. Add the herbs, water and oil and pulse several times
  3. Slowly add the water 1 Tbl at a time and pulse until mixed and a "dough" forms (it took about 20 seconds)
  4. Put the mixture on a silpat, or parchment paper, and cover with wax paper or parchment paper and roll with a rolling pin to about 1/4" thickness
  5. I couldn't get mine completely square, but it doesn't really matter
  6. Bake in a preheated 375* oven for 15-20 minutes, then carefully flip the crackers over and score lightly with a knife.  Turn the oven off and  reset the pan into the oven for 5-8 minutes more until dry in the middle and slightly golden in color

     I hope you give these a try, please let me know if you do.  What other homemade crackers have you tried?
Many Blessings,

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

DIY anti-itch treatment...prepare now for the bugs of spring!

     Now is the perfect time to start a batch of anti-itch treatment.  We all know that with spring comes a multitude of biting bugs!   I know that all of God's creatures serve a purpose, but that doesn't mean that we have to like it when they decide to bite, sting or use our skin as a personal playground!
It is so easy to make a nice, relieving remedy for the annoying itch that accompanies these possible attacks.  It all starts with fresh herbs and witch hazel.  I order the chamomile from, and the rosemary and the lavender are from last summer's garden. ( I buy the witch hazel at the drugstore).  Simply fill a pint sized glass jar with about a half a cup of each herb, and then cover with witch hazel.  No need to measure, I just give a small handful.  Put it in a sunny window for about 10 days, or put away from direct light for 3 weeks.  After it has infused, you will need to strain it, and then the infused liquid will be a life saver when applied to an itch!  Simply store in a glass jar and apply to the skin with a cotton ball, it will remain fresh for at least 6 months (I have never had any left after that amount of time, so it may be fresh even longer).
Chamomile, Rosemary and Lavender

I added the link above to my homemade antibiotic cream just in case you need that for different skin irritations.  Do you make any of your own remedies, I would love to hear about them!

The properties of these herbs work well for the anti-itch, and/or pain from a sting, but you could use different combinations depending on what you have.  Lavender is good for literally everything, chamomile is very soothing to the skin, and rosemary is an analgesic.  Let me know if you've tried other herbs that work well for you!
Many Blessings,

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Quick, easy and hearty gluten and grain free lunches

     On this long journey to regain my health, I have been experimenting with "paleo" ideas, as well as "elimination diet" ideas.  I really love my go to lunch of either a sandwich,  re-heated leftovers, or scrambled eggs.  However, this is my 3rd week on an elimination diet, so I am skipping the eggs and gluten free bread right now.  I also love quinoa or brown rice for quick lunches, but right now they are out too.  So, I wanted to share a couple of my favorite and most filling lunches.

Salmon patties with wilted cabbage.

First off, I love salmon patties made with quinoa flakes and eggs as the binder.  Being grain free and egg free right now, I made them with coconut, almond flour and mashed sweet potatoes they were just as good!  

**I use a pouch of Chicken of the Sea salmon
    add one baked, mashed sweet potato
    add any chopped veggies on hand (I use shredded carrots and/or bell peppers)
    Add chopped garlic, and onion if desired, I used roasted garlic this time...yum!
    I added about 2 Tbl each of coconut, and almond flours (I don't actually measure, just look for                     consistency)
**Make into patties and fry in coconut oil 
**I saute'd purple cabbage, jalapeno peppers, and carrots as a side dish...simply cut thin, saute in coconut         oil, and add spices of your choice, salt and pepper

Pan fried chicken thigh
Pickled beet salad

For my second favorite, quick lunch, I like chicken and a hearty salad.
**Dredge a thigh in a mixture of 1/4 cup coconut flour, pinch each of cayenne, garlic powder, onion                  powder, thyme, salt and pepper.
    Fry in coconut oil until done and crispy on the outside
**Make a salad of your choice... mine featured spinach and some pickled beets that I made this fall

I hope you try these easy lunches, and let me know how you like them!  
Many Blessings,

Monday, February 10, 2014

So many projects, so many happy days!

Elderberry gummies

Jewelry I'm making
I have been so busy making yummy new gluten free foods, and Paleo inspired foods.  I have made so many things that ended up being fantastic, and therefore added to my favorites cookbooks.  I will one day get around to putting them each on this blog, but at the time that I made them, I simply made pictures and posted them on Google+!  
Hubby and I found new hobby...home roasting coffee beans

Lip balm
Mark and I received 4 lbs of green coffee beans from Santa this Christmas, and we have fallen in love with roasting our own beans!  Then last week when my birthday rolled around, he gave me a home steamer, so that it's easy to have fresh cappuccinos everyday!

Stove top steamer!  

I always make time to supply myself and my family with homemade lotions, lip balms and vitamins. Recently I added a new of making jewelry out of broken pieces!  So, for now, I have many irons in the fire, and plan to share some of my favorite findings soon.  Many blessings, Joanna

Friday, November 8, 2013

Gluten free, Dairy free Pumpkin Bread Muffins

     Now that fall has arrived, I find myself burning my favorite candles all day: pumpkin spice, cinnamon, and Christmas cookie.  I made a new batch of body scrub using pumpkin pie spice and vanilla, and I made a room spray of cinnamon and clove essential oils.  Now with all the scents of fall, I am craving the tastes as well!
     Now since I have to be gluten free, I had a hard time finding recipes that featured ingredients that I had on hand.  As I've said before, when the mood strikes me, I have to bake right then!  So, if some ingredients aren't available, I substitute.  Many times such substitutions aren't good, and I consider the attempt a fail.  However, other times I am very happy with the results, and this was such a time!

      I had originally shared a post about making the muffins with a cream cheese glaze, but I didn't want to use as much sugar as it seemed to take to make it taste good, so I omitted it, and stayed with the basic muffin.  If you don't mind the sugar, I'm sure it would be fabulous with cream cheese frosting!
     As I said in that post, I combined recipes from +Martha Stewart , +Jules Shepard , +Bob's Red Mill ,and one of my Grandmother's old church cookbooks.  I'm sure that any one of these would be great standing alone, but I didn't have all the ingredients I needed, and/or the recipe wasn't gluten free, so here is what my resulting recipe is:

  • 6 Tbl. Earth Balance butter
  • 1 1/2 Tbl. molassas
  • 1 1/4 cups Sugar in the Raw
  • 2   eggs
  • 2/3 cup orange juice
  • 1 cup of pumpkin puree, plus 2 Tbl. of pear or apple butter
  • 1 cup Bob's Red Mill Gluten free flour blend
  • 3/4 tsp Xanthan gum
  • 1/2 cup Almond flour
  • 1/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking solda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1/2 cup dried blueberries
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries

  1. Preheatr oven to 350* and oil a muffin pan, or 4 mini loaf pans
  2. Cream the butter, molasses, and sugar
  3. Add the eggs one at a time and mix well
  4. Add orange juice, pumpkin puree, and pear or apple butter, mix well
  5. Sift all dry ingredients together in another bowl
  6. Slowly add the pumpkin mixture into the dry ingredients bowl, stir well
  7. Add dried fruits
  8. Spoon into prepared pans
  9. Bake 4 mini loaves 45 min. or until done in middle, and muffins 25-30 min. or until done in the middle.
  10. Cool 10-15 minutes and turn out
     These were very moist and made the house smell as warm and inviting as my fall candles!  The best part was enjoying a muffin and a cup of Russian Tea.  I love the fall!!!
Many Blessings,


Monday, September 16, 2013

DIY pumpkin and green pea dog treats

     Well, here we are in my favorite time of year...fall!  I love the cooler weather, the crispness in the air, the excitement that it's almost time to wear jeans and boots, and the prospects of pumpkins in all shapes, sizes and tastes!  I always say that the tastes of pumpkin, ginger, cinnamon and apples equals the tastes of fall.
     I have been experimenting with some new gluten free pumpkin baked goodies for me, so I thought it was time to make a new treat for my four-legged baby, Marley.  She loves the other treats that I have made for her is one of her favorites, as this one featuring blueberries 
     Now we've traded in the blueberries for pumpkin, and I threw in some green peas too.
Marley's Pumpkin Treats

  • 1/2 cup plain canned pumpkin (not pie filling it has sugar)
  • 2 Tbl bacon grease
  • 1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1/4 cup cooked green peas (I used frozen, and don't add anything to them)
  • about 1-2 Tbl brown rice flour (I added some without measuring just to get to the consistency that resembled a cookie dough)
  • drop on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper, and bake in 350* oven for about 10 minutes


Just like the other dog treats I make, I keep them in the freezer, and pull a couple to reach room temperature on the day that I will give them to her.  These aren't crunchy like the peanut butter bacon ones I mentioned above, so I thought they may be less desirable, not so!  Marley loves them.  Do you make treats for your dogs, I'd love to hear about it!