Seasonal Recipes

ingredients for homemade cinnamon ginger tea

Cinnamon Ginger Comfort Tea

So I’ve been making a lot of this recipe lately. 

This is a homemade tea that I make all through the winter or anytime that somebody in the family is feeling under the weather.  It contains no actual tea leaves and, therefore, contains no caffeine so it’s completely safe for kids and also great to drink right before going to bed at night. 

 

Whether it’s for a sore throat, a non-stop cough, a sniffly nose, or just feeling rundown, it feels like someone in the family has had a cup of this comforting cinnamon-ginger tea every day of the past month.  I make large pots of it and store it in Mason jars in the fridge and then reheat it as needed over the woodstove.  It is so incredibly soothing and all of the ingredients are either antibacterial, antiviral, or both.  So it’s great at fighting off cold and flu virus or other infections.

 

I’ve pieced together the ingredients in my tea remedy based on research and recommendations over the past few years and I think you will agree that the result is a warm, soothing cup of tea that is as comforting as it is healing.  Even if you don’t have a cold or a sore throat, it’s just nice to warm up with a cup of hot tea on a cold day.  I also like to use the cinnamon-ginger tea as a base to steep my tea bags or loose leaf tea.  For example, I might heat up this tea and pour it over some green tea leaves in the afternoon or pour it over a bag of chamomile tea in the evening.  You can’t go wrong!

 

The recipe contains cinnamon, ginger, honey and lemon – all of which are super healthy for your immune system.  Both honey and cinnamon have antibacterial, antiviral, and anti-fungal properties.  (Plus they taste great!)  Honey is a natural immune system booster, loaded with antioxidants, and has been proven to reduce nighttime coughing and improve sleep.  [However, due to the risk of botulism, never give honey to a child under the age of one.]  Ginger is great for reducing inflammation.  Lemon juice will boost immunity and fight infection and is an excellent source of Vitamin C.  The acidity in lemon juice will cut through mucus and kill bacteria.  Hooray!  All good stuff!

 

 

Cinnamon Ginger Comfort Tea
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Ingredients
  1. 1 ½ - 2 quarts of water
  2. 1 Ceylon cinnamon stick (more on this below…)
  3. 1 teaspoon ginger, minced (I use the bottled minced ginger but, obviously, fresh would be better)
  4. 1 lemon, juiced (no need to remove seeds)
  5. 1/4 cup of honey
Instructions
  1. Heat water to boiling in a kettle on the stove. While the water heats, break apart the cinnamon stick and place it and the ginger into a medium-sized pot.
  2. When the water comes to a boil, pour it over the cinnamon and ginger in the pot, cover the pot with a lid and let steep for 5 minutes. Remove lid and stir in the lemon juice and honey.
  3. Once honey has dissolved, pour tea through a strainer and enjoy!
Life From Scratch http://lifefromscratch.com/

 

A note about cinnamon:  When it comes to cinnamon, any cinnamon stick will do but I’ve started to look for the “Ceylon” designation when I buy cinnamon.  If the cinnamon that you are buying does not contain the word “Ceylon” on the label, then it’s most likely Cassia cinnamon, which is related to cinnamon but is not the real thing.   Cassia cinnamon contains much higher amounts of a chemical called “coumarin”, which can lead to liver damage when consumed in large quantities.  And, by the way, “large quantities” can be exceeded simply by sprinkling cinnamon on your oatmeal in the morning or drinking a cup of cinnamon-based tea.  So I’m not taking any chances.  I saved my old cinnamon sticks for homemade potpourri on the stove.  But I’ve switched over to Ceylon for all of my cooking needs.

[Here’s an informative post where I first read about Ceylon cinnamon, if you are interested in reading more about it.]

 

So curl up with a cup of homemade tea and stay warm this winter! 

Chips and Homemade Salsa

How to Can Salsa

 

Here are my top 10 reasons to can your own homemade salsa:

1.       You will save money

2.       You will always have a quick appetizer to grab off your shelves and bring to a party or to open up for your family game night

3.       You will avoid (un)”natural” flavors and preservatives that come in the jar of salsa from the grocery store

4.       You could give them out as gifts at Christmas time

5.       You have control over the spice level in your salsa

6.       You will have something to do with all of those tomatoes growing in your garden or the ones that everyone else is giving you because they have too many tomatoes growing in their garden (it’s too bad you can’t make a salsa with all of those cucumbers and zucchini piling up on your counter….maybe Joe will write another post about canning pickles so that you can use all of those cucumbers and zucchini everyone has been giving you!)

7.       You will enjoy hours of fun in the kitchen with whichever loved one you have convinced to do the canning with you

8.       You may or may not have to clean salsa off the ceiling when you are done….oh wait, that’s not necessarily a good thing, is it?  Well, at least you’ll have a good story to tell! 

9.       You will have something to talk about during visits with your 99-year old grandmother

10.    You will feel really good about yourself and what you have accomplished…see below…

 

I always feel really good about myself after canning tomatoes because we use the leftover tomato juice in the bowl to make a homemade Bloody Mary that is like none other that I have ever tasted.  So fresh and delicious…and did I mention that it makes you feel good about life? 😉

Homemade Bloody Mary using leftover tomato juice after canning salsa

 

Here is the recipe that Joe and I use every year to turn tomatoes, peppers, onions, and garlic into a homemade salsa that we can enjoy all year long.  Last year, we started with 30 lbs of tomatoes and canned 30 pints of salsa.  So you can roughly count on a 1 lb-to-1 pint ratio. 

 

We hope that you enjoy it as much as we do!

 

Homemade Salsa
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Ingredients
  1. 14 c tomatoes, washed and cored (no need to peel, chop, or drain them)
  2. 3 c onion, quartered
  3. ½ c chili peppers, optional
  4. 3 c green, yellow, or red sweet peppers
  5. 10 cloves garlic, peeled
  6. 1 c tomato sauce
  7. 1 c ketchup
  8. ¾ c vinegar
  9. 10 Tbsp cornstarch or arrowroot powder
  10. 2 ½ Tbsp salt
  11. 1 Tbsp chili powder
  12. 1 ½ tsp ground cumin
Instructions
  1. Place tomatoes, onion, peppers, and garlic in a large food processor and process until chopped. Set aside.
  2. Combine remaining ingredients in a large pot. Cook just below medium heat for 30-60 minutes, until the sauce is thick and dark.* Remove from heat. Add chopped vegetables to sauce and stir until combined.
  3. Ladle salsa into hot sterilized pint jars, leaving 1/2-inch headspace at the top. Seal with sterilized lids and process jars inboiling water bath for 35 minutes.**
Notes
  1. (Makes 10 pints.)
  2. *If sauce is not thickening up at this point, add more cornstarch or arrowroot powder, stir and cook some more until thickened.
Life From Scratch http://lifefromscratch.com/

**NOTE: If this is your first time canning, it would be worthwhile to either check out Canning 101 on the Ball website or one of the Ball canning books.  We have this one and refer to it every year but it looks like a new version came out earlier this year so you could also try that one.