Spices of Life – Turmeric

Spices of Life – Turmeric

Following on from my popular blog series

Cooking with herbs

I have decided to start a new series, called Spices Of Life. Over the coming month I will introduce you to the many benefits and recipes. I hope it will help you to discover a world of flavours out there and best of all most of them come with added health benefits.
Bon appetit !

We are kicking this season off with

Turmeric, the spice of good health

fresh turmeric flower

is part of the ginger family and predominately cultivated in India and Southeast Asia. The fresh turmeric plant has pretty flowers and the fruit is ginger- like.

In order to make the fresh turmeric last longer, the plant is first boiled for 40 minutes and then dried in hot ovens, finally it is ground into the orange-yellow powder that most of us know as turmeric. It has a warm, pepper-like earthy flavour and it an essential part of many curries. Its vibrant colour is also used as a fabric dye.

Turmeric’s best known health benefits are that it is anti-flamatory and a potent antioxidant.  

Read more about tumeric’s health benefits and supplements

Turmeric in the kitchen:

So here are easy to cook and tasty recipes:

Scrambled eggs with turmeric:

A great way to start the day. You will need:

½ garlic clove, finely chopped – 100g spinach leaves -4 large eggs – 50ml coconut milk- 2 tsp grated turmeric –  2 slices sourdough bread, toasted

    1. Put the coconut oil in a non-stick pan over a medium heat. Lightly fry the garlic, add the spinach leaves and wilt for a few mins – add a splash of water if they stick.
  1. Whisk the eggs with the coconut milk and turmeric. Season well. Add to the pan with the spinach and stir continuously for 5-8 mins until the scrambled eggs are at the desired consistency. Serve on slices of toasted sourdough.

Chicken Biryani:

300g basmati rice – 25g butter -1 large onion, finely sliced -1 bay leaf -3 cardamom pods -small cinnamon stick- 1 tsp turmeric- 4 skinless chicken breasts, cut into large chunks -4 tbsp curry paste – 85g raisins – 850ml chicken stock- 30g coriander (½ chopped, ½ leaves picked) and 2 tbsp toasted flaked almonds to serve.

    1. Soak 300g basmati rice in warm water, then wash in cold until the water runs clear.
    1. Heat 25g butter in a saucepan and cook 1 finely sliced large onion with 1 bay leaf, 3 cardamom pods and 1 small cinnamon stick for 10 mins.
    1. Sprinkle in 1 tsp turmeric, then add 4 chicken breasts, cut into large chunks, and 4 tbsp curry paste. Cook until aromatic.
    1. Stir the rice into the pan with 85g raisins, then pour over 850ml chicken stock.
    1. Place a tight-fitting lid on the pan and bring to a hard boil, then lower the heat to a minimum and cook the rice for another 5 mins.
  1. Turn off the heat and leave for 10 mins. Stir well, mixing through 15g chopped coriander. To serve, scatter over the leaves of the remaining 15g coriander and 2 tbsp toasted almonds.

Turmaric for Health and Beauty:
Surprisingly turmeric is also a fantastic skin cleanser and should be used by anybody who suffers from psoriasis, dry skin, dark circles under the eyes and wrinkles.

Here is a face mask I found that will help you with a clear complexion

Turmeric Face Mask for Glowing Skin compiled by Dr. Axe

Total Time: 10 minutes

Serves: 1–2 applications

INGREDIENTS:

  • ½ teaspoon turmeric powder
  • ½ teaspoon organic apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon of organic, raw, local honey
  • ½ teaspoon milk or yogurt
  • [optional] 1 drop lemon essential oil or fresh lemon juice for additional skin brightening

Directions:

  1. Wash face and hands first to remove impurities and any make-up.
  2. In a small bowl or jar, mix the turmeric powder with the honey, apple cider vinegar, milk or yogurt and optional lemon oil. Try to get a consistency that will stick to your face. Be careful not to make it too thin as it may drip.
  3. Apply the mask carefully avoiding your eyes.
  4. Allow the mask sit on your face for 15–20 minutes then rinse with warm water.
  5. If you have any leftover, you can cover and leave in the fridge for your next application.
  6. Apply twice a week for best results.
Cooking with herbs – winter rocket

Cooking with herbs – winter rocket

Welcome to the LWTM – ‘Cooking with herbs’ blog series

In this blog series you will find historical information and recipes about the most commonly used kitchen herbs. They do not only add flavour, but they also make a positive impact on our health and well-being. To find out more about other kitchen herbs, please type ‘cooking with herbs’ into the search box.

Winter rocket – barbarea vulgaris winter rocket

This herb grows about 30 to 60cm (12-24 inches) tall and has shiny, dark green leaves. Between April and July  it displays clusters of bright yellow flowers.

This herb shows a particular tolerance to beetles and moth and is the home of choice for many butterfly species. It is often planted on the side of a vegetable patch to encourage pollinators and to make sure the ‘ordinary crop’ is left alone.

Because of the superb flower display, this herb is often sown as a decorative plant and only few know that it is very useful in the kitchen.

How to cultivate it
Winter rocket is easily grown and the leaves are usually harvested before the flowers come out, so up until April. Add these aromatic leaves to your normal salads or steam them with a knob of butter and garlic as a side dish.

In late winter/early spring your body needs vitamins and winter rocket provides you with lot of vitamin C. In fact together with sloe and rosehip, winter rocket is one of the great, home-grown providers of vitamin C. Other health benefits include: blood cleanser and helps to maintain a good functioning digestion.

Here are a few recipes how to use winter rocket

1.  Mixed leaf salad bowl 

Ingredients: A small head of lettuce (chopped), two handfuls of winter rocket, 2 fresh carrots (cut into small pieces), 4 medium sized tomatoes and a few radishes. Wash and cut to size and then put them into a large salad bowl.
For the dressing: 6 tbsp olive oil, 3 tbsp wine or apple vinegar, salt, pepper, 2 glove of garlic and a bunch of parsley. 

Make the dressing in a separate jar and keep it apart. Drizzle the dressing over the salad and mix it in with two folks, so the salad is well-covered in dressing.

Tip: Only use as much salad and dressing as you will eat. If you keep them apart, this salad will keep well for a day or two. If the salad leaves start to wilt, then soak them for an hour in vinegar water (a bowl full of cold water and add a tbsp. of cider of wine vinegar). In an hour, the salad will be crisp again.

2. ‘Pick me up’ – tea 

Boil 3 cups of water and put them into a jug, then add a handful of winter rocket and leave to steep for 10 minutes. Drain the herbs and fill the tea into a thermos flask, sip throughout the tea. This is a great vitamin C booster and will help you with your concentration, so a ‘must try’ for everybody in the need of a natural boost.

 

 

 

Natural home cleaning

Natural home cleaning

Fresh lemons.

In my view natural is always best and now that the spring clean is  round the corner here are a few top tips for
‘organic house cleaning’.

1. Toothpaste: Who would have thought, but brushing your taps with toothpaste will make them shine again. It is also great for removing watermarks from wooden furniture. Just put some tooth paste on a cloth and rub the wooden surface. Leave to soak in for a while and then polish off. Normally the watermarks should have completely disappeared. I suggest you try a small corner before attacking the whole of your furniture, especially antique furniture.

If you have a piano and the keys have gone yellow, just brush them with a toothbrush and tooth paste and they will be white again, just like your teeth.

Use toothpaste to repair CDs or DVDs with minor scratches. Dab some toothpaste on the back of the CD or DVD and gently spread in a circular motion. Delicately rinse with water and a tissue.

2. Baking powder: Sprinkle baking powder into  your sink and leave them for around 20 minutes. Then put white vinegar in a spray bottle and spray the baking powder with the vinegar, finally rinse off with warm soapy water and your sink will sparkle again.

Another good use for baking soda is when you burnt food in a pot or pan. Don’t scratch the surface, by trying to scrub the burnt food off. Just sprinkle some baking soda into the pan and add some water and bring to the boil. The burnt food will come off quite easily and you can wash pan and pot as normal. In severe cases you have to repeat the baking powder boiling a few times. But it will save you many pots which would have been useless or scratch otherwise.

If your oven needs a good clean combine 5 teaspoons of baking soda, 5 drops of washing up liquid and some water to create a paste.  Coat the inside of the oven with this paste and leave overnight. The next morning again spray it with vinegar and leave for another 20 minutes. Then you can sponge it off with water.

Have you got stains on your glass hob? Start by mixing baking soda and water in a small dish. Spread the paste over the stained area and let it to set for 10 minute, then clean it off with soapy water. Or pour lemon juice/white vinegar over the baking soda paste to release tougher stains. Use a dry cloth to wipe off any remaining streaks.

3. White vinegar: I can’t believe when I look into some kettles what amount of limestone they contain. This is not good for the kettle and it is certainly not good for the body, as take in limescale with every cup of tea. So it is important (not just for your kettle’s health, but also for your health) to descale your kettle, coffee machine, egg cookers, etc. on a regular basis. The best way to do this is to fill your kettle with white wine vinegar and leave overnight. Then bring it to boil and discard. Now fill the kettle with fresh water, boil and discard again (to get rid of any smells). Now the kettle is ready to use again and you can keep it for much longer !

You can also descale your taps and shower heads by placing kitchen towels soaked in white vinegar over them, again leave overnight and rinse off in the morning. Some stone surfaces like marble or granite don’ like vinegar, so if in doubt always test on a small corner.

4. Lemon: Dried on food that won’t easily wipe off inside your microwave? Cut a lemon in half, squeeze the juice into a glass bowl containing half a cup of water and pop the squeezed lemons in as well.

Warning: never place anything metal inside a microwave. Place the bowl inside your microwave and turn it on for 3 minutes. After the ping, leave it for a further 5 minutes before removing the bowl. Now wipe clean the food splashes with a damp cloth for a sparkling interior.

To make your place smell fresh and clean take a small saucepan, fill to about two-thirds with water, slice a lemon and add a few sprigs of rosemary.

Add 1-2 tablespoons of vanilla extract and let it simmer for a marvellous smell around your house.
5. Cream of tartar: to get rid of any stickiness on your extractor fan and cooker hood mix a tablespoon of cream of tartar and a few drops of water. Rub the solution onto the area firmly with a sponge and wipe with a damp paper towel.

6. Cola: Put 750ml of the fizzy drink into your kettle and boil it. This should be sufficient for most kettles but make sure you don’t fill beyond than the ‘max’ level.Pour away the hot liquid and rinse thoroughly with water. Repeat this until the limescale has gone. Personally I don’t think it is as efficient as white vinegar, but it will do for mild lime scale. Colas are also brilliant toilet cleaners, just pour some cola into your toilet and leave for a while whilst you clean the toilet seat and other surrounding. Your toilet will sparkle again.

 

 

Cooking with herbs – dandelion

Cooking with herbs – dandelion

dandelion leavesWelcome to the LWTM – ‘Cooking with herbs’ blog series

In this blog series you will find historical information and recipes about the most commonly used kitchen herbs. They do not only add flavour, but they also make a positive impact on our health and well-being. To find out more about other kitchen herbs, please type ‘cooking with herbs’ into the search box.

Dandelion  – Taraxacum officinale

Dandelions often grow in lawns and that is a reason why most gardeners see dandelions as a garden pest that spoils their perfect lawn. Only a few people know that the dandelion plant is actually a very useful and healthy kitchen herb.

Its name comes from the French ‘dent de lion’ which means ‘lion’s tooth’.  It refers to the shape of the leaves which vaguely resemble lion’s teeth. In the English folklore dandelion  is often referred to as ‘piss a bed’, because it has such a strong diuretic effect. That is the reason why dandelion leaves and teas should be used as part of a successful  weight loss regime. The dandelion tea is blood cleansing, clears the kidney and bladder and ‘make you go to the loo’. The same effect, if a bit milder, is achieved when eating the fresh dandelions leaves, for example as part of a spring/early summer salad.

The golden flowers need to be harvested before they turn to white blooms that disperse in the wind. Then they can be used to make dandelion honey (please see recipe below) and picked when still yellow, it won’t self-seed as much, keep the dandelion population in check.

The dandelion root is  mainly used in form of tinctures for ailments such as gout, rheumatism, as a blood cleanser and for people who suffer from diabetes.

Spring salad bowl:

Take a handful of lettuce, a handful of young spinach leaves, a few leaves of dandelion and mix together with a few cherry tomatoes and slices of cucumber. Then add a few leaves of chopped dandelion leaves. Finally crumble some feta cheese on top and add a dressing of your choice.

My favourite dressing is: 1 tbsp olive oil, 1 tbsp of apple cider vinegar, 1 tsp of dijon mustard and some pressed garlic, add a few drops  of water, mix all together in a jar and add to the salad.

Dandelion honey: 

It is quick and easy to do. Dandelion honey is a good alternative to plain white sugar when it comes to sweeten your tea, breakfast porridge or you can even bake with it. Why not ask your children to make it with you, as they can help you gather the bright yellow flowers.For a couple of jars of dandelion honey you will need:

  •  150/200 dandelion heads, 1 kg of jam sugar or brown sugar, juice of a lemon. A couple of sterilised glass jars. The easiest way is to collect used  jam jars and then boil them in a big pot for a couple of minutes to sterilise them, finally  leave them to dry on a kitchen towel. Ideally do this the morning before filling them, so they are still very clean.
  • Collect the dandelion heads from your garden and  get rid of the green stalks. Then  put the flower into a cooking pot and add about 1 litre of cold water.
  • Cook the dandelion heads briefly until the water reaches boiling point. Then take the pot off the fire and leave to stand for 24 hours.
  • The next day strain the cold mixture through a sieve into another cooking pot. It will leave you with a ‘yellow looking water’. Add about 1 kg of brown sugar (you can also use jam sugar if you don’t want your honey to be runny). Now cook the mixture, whilst occasionally stirring, until it reaches boiling point. Then reduce the flame slightly and cook for another few minutes. At the end, stir in the lemon juice and take off the heat.
  • Fill the hot mixture into the sterilized jars and cover the jars with cling film. Leave the jars open until the mixture has cooled down and the put the lid on over the cling film. When stored in a cool, dark place it will keep for a couple of months.

 

Cooking with herbs – tarragon

Cooking with herbs – tarragon

Welcome to the LWTM – ‘Cooking with herbs’ blog series

In this blog series you will find historical information and recipes about the most commonly used kitchen herbs. They do not only add flavour, but they also make a positive impact on our health and well-being. To find out more about other kitchen herbs, please type ‘cooking with herbs’ into the search box.

Tarragon  – artemisia dracunculas

Tarragon belongs to the Artemisia family, (like dandelion and vermouth) and comes originally from Siberia and the West coast of the US. It grows over 1m tall and has fine green leaves, which are very aromatic and used in the kitchen. 

But tarragon has also medical properties and is  especially helpful for the digestion, kidney and bladder, rheumatism and gout. People used to drink  tarragon water: Boil one litre of water and leave three to four tarragon twigs in the water, then sip this water throughout the day. Its main health properties is to help the digestion, especially with bloating, but also aids with the production of urine and helps with the general elimination process. It is also an antiseptic and can rid the body of worms and parasites.

It was brought to Europe throughout the Middle Ages by the Crusaders who returned from the Middle East. It was used as a treatment for foul breath, toothache and anaemia. The word ‘tarragon’ is believed to come from ‘tarkhun’ which means little dragon in Arabic, as it was used to heal snake bites. Another herbal recipe prescribes chewing tarragon will help with persistent hiccups.

Tarragon In the kitchen:
Its aromatic fresh leaves are used in the French or generally Mediterranean kitchen. Tarragon has an aromatic property reminiscent of anise due to the presence of estragole. Taste to put in conjuction with helpful properties for the digestion make it a favourite kitchen herb and it can be found in sauces, such as sauce Bernaise or as flavouring in mustard, soups, salads and even as tarragon vinegar.

 Sauce Bernaise:
Ingredients: 1 tbsp water, 1 tbsp white wine vinegar, 1/2 small onion (chopped),
I chopped tarragon leaf (keep the stalk), 1 egg yolk, 75g melted butter, salt and pepper to season. 

  • Place the vinegar, water, onion, and tarragon stalk into a small saucepan over a medium heat and simmer, until you have half a tablespoon of liquid remaining. Strain the liquid into a bowl and set aside.
  • Place the egg yolk and tarragon vinegar reduction into a food processor and blend together until light and frothy.
  • With the food processor still running on its slowest speed, add the melted butter, 1 tbsp at a time, until the sauce is thick and smooth. Be careful not to over beat the mixture as it may separate.
  • Stir in the chopped tarragon and season, to taste, with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

this sauce works well with steak and steamed vegetables

Tarragon salad dressing: 

Ingredients: 1 tsp of chopped tarragon, 1 tsp of dijon mustard, 1 tbsp honey, 5 tbsp olive oil, 2 tbsp of wine vinegar, salt & pepper to season.

Mix all these ingredients together in a big salad bowl and then top up with fresh leaf salad mixed with ruccola or raddicio salad. Mix the salad, so the dressing coats lightly all the leaves.

How to make Seville orange marmalade

How to make Seville orange marmalade

Seville marmaladeYou don’t have to be Paddington bear to love home-made marmalade.  I really enjoy it as part of my leisurely week-end breakfast, together with a bagel and a good cup of coffee.

The ‘queen of all marmalades’ is the Seville orange marmalade. Seville oranges are slightly bigger than normal oranges and have an exquisite bitter-sweet taste. The main season for Seville oranges is January/February time. Have a look at the LWTM calendar and look out for the jam jar symbol, as these indicate the best dates to make jams and pickles.

If you prefer a lighter, slightly sweeter taste, then use the Seville marmalade recipe below, but instead of Seville oranges use
a standard variety.  The next question is how much peel should I use. Again, that is a question of taste. Some people add lots of coarsely shredded orange peel, others prefer the peel to be thinly sliced and  then there are marmalades that don’t contain any peel at all.  The beauty of making the marmalade yourself is that  you can choose how thick or thin you want your shredded peel to be. The choice is all yours.

Seville orangesWhere does Seville orange marmalade come from?
At the turn of the 18th century Janet Keiller’s husband, a sailor,  brought some Seville oranges back with him when he returned from a ship voyage from Spain back to his home in Dundee, Scotland. In order to make this precious cargo last longer, Janet decided to make a preserve. The recipe she used was loosely based on ‘marmelo’, a Portuguese quince paste. Her jars proved
to be such a hit that it formed the basis of the Keiller marmalade factory, founded in Dundee in 1797.

Some marmalades leave the peel off, others include it in shredded or thinly minced form. Below you will find the Scottish version with the peel added. This recipes produces around 1.3kg (3lb) of marmalade.

Ingredients: 900g (2lb) Seville oranges (best unwaxed or organic), 1.4l (2 ½ pints) water, 900g (2lb) caster sugar, juice of 2 lemons

1)      Wash and scrub the oranges well and put them whole into a clean pan. Add the water and slowly boil the oranges for around 90 minutes. Then take the boiled oranges out and keep the water.

2)      Carefully peel these oranges and then cut, shred or mince the peel into small strips.

3)      Peel the pith from the oranges and discard it. Then take out the pips and put them into a small muslin bag.

4)      Cut the peeled oranges into halves and then slice each half into thin slices. Finally put the orange slice, minced peel and the muslin bag containing the pips into the orange water. Bring the mixture to the boil and simmer for another 5 minutes. Then take out the muslin bag and discard it.

5)      Take the pan off the heat and stir in the lemon juice and sugar. Keep stirring until the sugar has completely dissolved.

6)      Then put the pan back on the stove and bring it again to the boil. Do this quickly and once it bubbles, take it off the stove and fill it into sterilised glasses. Cover with cling film and let the marmalade cool down.