Winter

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! 

Warm and Cozy Winter Menu

I am sitting here on this bitterly cold winter night holding a cup of hot peppermint tea and browsing through my recipe binder to come up with our weekly dinner schedule.  I am sure that anyone who knows me is not surprised that I plan out our dinners ahead of time each week…I’m a tiny bit obsessed with planning ahead.  Which can sometimes lead to my downfall because, as we all know, it is impossible to plan something as volatile and unpredictable as LIFE.  But I’ll probably keep trying anyway!

So I have this hunk of a chuck roast sitting in my freezer that I bought on my last trip to our local butcher in anticipation of making my favorite winter recipe…Bloody Mary Pot Roast.  I am excited just thinking about it!  I love the way it makes the kitchen smell as it cooks all day long.  I love the way the meat falls apart under your fork when you reach in for a bite.  I love the way the gravy is thick and hearty and the perfect complement to smashed potatoes.  This is my definition of comfort food.

Sorry….in my excitement, I am getting a little bit ahead of myself.  I also wanted to post an example of one of our weekly winter dinner menus.  Hopefully one day we will have all of these recipes on our website…one step at a time, right?  So, for now, here is our menu for the week, along with the recipe below for Bloody Mary Pot Roast.  (Sorry, no pictures yet…one of my personal objectives for 2014 is to take more pictures of food!)

WINTER MENU

SUNDAY: Bloody Mary Pot Roast (see recipe below) served with smashed potatoes

MONDAY: Sloppy Joes on homemade wheat rolls served with our canned green beans

TUESDAY: Roasted Salmon with Lentils served over salad greens

WEDNESDAY: White Chili (made with leftover turkey from Thanksgiving) with buckwheat-corn muffins

THURSDAY: Pork Roast with White Beans and Cranberries served over quinoa and with the other half of that jar of canned green beans

FRIDAY (Pizza Night!): honey-wheat crust topped with feta cheese, caramelized onions, toasted walnuts, and broccoli rabe

SATURDAY: Roasted Tomato Soup (made in September and frozen) with broiled cheese toasts and salad

And now, for the feature presentation…

Bloody Mary Pot Roast

This recipe goes way back to when my friend and I used to run a personal chef service and we would make this favorite for our clients.  Back then, we would buy a bottle of Bloody Mary mix and pick up an envelope of onion soup mix from the grocery store and mix them up with some red wine to make the sauce.  But I have modified the recipe to make it more “from scratch” and the result is a much healthier and better tasting meal.  I hope that you enjoy this one as much as our family does!

  • 3 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 pound chuck roast
  • 1 1/2 cups red wine
  • 18 ounces tomato juice
  • 1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1/4 teaspoon hot sauce of your choice (add more if you like things spicy…I tone it down for the kids)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 6 Tablespoons wheat flour
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 Tablespoon arrowroot powder
  • 1 Tablespoon honey
  • 1 large onion, chopped into large pieces
  • 6 medium carrots, sliced
  • 6 celery stalks, sliced

Season all sides of the beef with a decent amount of salt and pepper.  Heat oil over moderately high heat in a heavy pan (I use our Lodge Dutch oven so that I can cook it all day on top of the woodstove).  Brown the meat on all sides , taking time to get a nice crust on the outside.  (Watch out!  They spit!)

If you prefer to use a crockpot, move the roast to your crockpot at this point.  Otherwise, keep it in your Dutch oven and pour the sauce over top, as detailed in the next step. Combine the red wine, tomato juice, Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, hot sauce, garlic, flour, salt and pepper, arrowroot powder, and honey in a bowl and stir with a whisk.  Pour over the roast in the Dutch oven or crockpot.  Place vegetables around roast and cover pot or crockpot.  Cook on low (or on the coolest section of your burning woodstove) for 8 to 10 hours.