Monday, March 2, 2015

The Remedy

I remember my mother telling me once, after emerging from a rather debilitating bout with the flu, that she felt so bad she thought she'd have to rally to die. Oh, boy, do I get that. Things started going south for me about a week ago. I'm talking way south. Like Antarctica south. What began as sniffles blossomed into a colossal headache, clogged sinuses, and sleepless night after sleepless night of relentless coughing. I plowed through boxes of tissues, drank gallons of tea, and watched a lot of Hallmark movies. I went from having my authoritative, sexy, big girl voice, to having the voice of a cartoon character, to no voice at all. In my late night bouts with delirium I started thinking aboutThe Waltons.  Yep, momma, daddy, John-Boy, the lot. I began to think about the Baldwin Sisters and the recipe, which ultimately reminded me that I had a recipe of my own.

It's an old folk remedy, but since I'm an old folk, umm, person, I can probably claim it as well as anyone. It's a cough calmer consisting of three common ingredients: honey, lemon, and gin.  My recipe makes 8 doses, and unlike the chemically-laden cough suppressants sold in drug stores, you can take this as often as needed.

There is actually science behind this combination. Gin is an effective expectorant. Lemon provides vitamin C that may strengthen the immune system. Honey has been found to be an effective cough suppressant.  Both lemon and honey have antimicrobial properties (significant ability to inhibit the growth of microbes that can cause infection). Nothing can shorten the duration of a cold, but this can treat the symptoms.

Not fond of the taste of gin?  Me neither, and I'm not all that keen on honey, but when these three ingredients come together, the taste is rather extraordinary and it goes down smooth. It is NOT, I repeat, NOT intended for children or anyone who has issues with alcohol. It is soothing, cough calming, and can help you sleep. 

Cough Remedy
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice*
2 tablespoons good (local if you have it) honey
2 tablespoons gin

Stir ingredients together until the honey completely dissolves and is incorporated. Store in refrigerator until needed. Can easily be doubled, tripled, etc.

1 tablespoon = 1 dose

*I use my own home grown (a potted tree that I recommend everyone own) Meyer Lemons. If you don't have your own, please use fresh, organic lemons. I suggest

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Thursday, February 26, 2015

Eccles Cakes & a Poirot Tisane

Revisiting a charming post from 2011 for Throwback Thursday.  Join me for some Eccles Cakes, a puzzling mystery, and a cup of tea.   

The little Belgian with the egg-shaped head who is always in full command of his little grey cells (particularly when it comes to solving a mystery) was fond of his daily tisane.  In fact, Agatha Christie's Hercule Poirot often accounts this as being the reason why his little grey cells are superior to others.  My guess is, judging by his rotund frame, that he liked his sweets equally as well, and Londoner that he eventually became, he undoubtedly indulged in the Eccles Cakes available at Fortnum & Mason.
  This recipe is one I've been using for years.  It's from Bon Appetit's November 2002 issue, and is, thus far, the best one I've found for both taste and authenticity.

Eccles Cakes

 3/4 cup dried currants
1/3 cup golden raisins
1/4 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
1/4 cup chopped candied orange peel
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon grated lemon peel
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 sheet frozen puff pastry (half of 17.3-ounce package), thawed
1 egg, beaten to blend (for glaze)
2 teaspoons sugar

Mix first 8 ingredients in medium bowl until well blended. Filling can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate. Bring to room temperature before continuing.)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Roll out puff pastry on lightly floured surface to 1/8-inch thickness. Cut out four 6-inch-diameter rounds. Place filling on half of each round, dividing equally. Brush edges of rounds with beaten egg. Fold pastry over filling, creating semicircle and enclosing filling completely. Press edges firmly to seal. Transfer to heavy large baking sheet. Brush with beaten egg. Sprinkle with sugar.

Bake pastries until deep golden brown, about 20 minutes. Transfer baking sheet to rack and cool pastries 5 minutes. Using metal spatula, carefully remove pastries from baking sheet.  Cool.

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