July 27, 2012

Cherry Butter...

This summer I've noticed a rise in food costs, but one item that seems to  have been on sale here often is cherries.  They don't necessarily grow well here, so I don't have access to trees.  I appreciate when they are affordable, plentiful and the quality is good.
The ones I've been getting have been very sweet, and besides eating them, they fit in well with my cherry butter recipe.
I've made several batches of this recipe so far this summer, and have enough for us to enjoy as well as gift to others when the holidays arrive (which will probably be sooner than I expect).
The thing I love about this recipe is the Pomona's Pectin.  Traditional pectin that you would buy from the store to make jams and jellies relies on the sugar added to make it gel.  This is why it is so important to not alter the recipes.  Pectin is found naturally in fruit, and it is possible to gel without using a product, but when I'm making big batches, I prefer a sure thing.
Pomona's Pectin has 2 pouches along with an instruction page.  One pouch contains the pectin and the other contains a calcium product that when combined with the pectin allows your fruit to gel and set.  This way, you can use as much sugar as you like, or you can use honey or other sweeteners as well.  You can also customize the size of your recipe for the amount of fruit that you have.
The recipe I've used in the past had called for 4 cups of cherries and over 2 cups of sugar, but I found that it was really unnecessary with the sweetness of the cherries that I was getting.

Cherry Butter
6 cups cherries, pitted and run thru a food mill.
2 cups sugar
6 tsp Pomona's calcium water (directions in box will tell how to concentrate and blend)
3 TBS butter
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp almond extract
4-1/2 tsp Pomona's Pectin
3/4 cup lemon juice

1. Mix the cherry pulp and sugar and calcium water together. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat. Stir constantly while cooking to dissolve the sugar and keep from scorching.
2. Add the butter to settle the foam.
3. Add cinnamon and almond extract when all sugar is dissolved and stir well.
4. Combine the pectin with the lemon juice, (use quickly as it will solidify) and add it to the cherry mixture. Return to a boil stirring with a whisk vigorously for 3 minutes. Reduce heat.
5. Can as desired.  I processed for 10 minutes in a boiling water canner.

July 24, 2012

Variation on Children's Composition tincture

A few weeks ago it hit me that it was summer.  My ignored herbs and garden were actually quite forgiving and were still producing despite my negligence. 
Then it struck me.... I have a small child in the house again.  Winter and cold/flu season will be here before I know it, and will I be prepared?
I had actually just had my 2 older kids, now 14 and 10, finish off my last batch of Children's Composition.  It is usually my first, go-to formula when colds start to show up.  My older children have very rarely been sick in recent years, and I attribute this to good nutrition mainly, but also the liberal use of this herbal formula when sniffles start or there is a tickle in their throats.
The formula from the ABC Herbal consists of elder flower, peppermint and yarrow in an alcohol or glycerin base.  In the past I've made identical batches in both vodka and food-grade glycerin, and combined the end result for a tincture that my kids will enjoy.
I hate to repeat myself, and after further reading thru Green's Herbal Medicine Maker, I decided to change it up a bit.
I used a dark rum for my alcohol tincture with the same proof as the vodka I used to use.  I think it tastes better personally.  To the alcohol I added dried peppermint, fresh yarrow diced, dried elder flowers and a small amount of dried licorice root.
The glycerin tincture was prepared with fresh elderberries and fresh peppermint, chocolate mint actually, that was pureed in the blender with the glycerin.
After 3 weeks (minimum should be 2 weeks) of sitting in a cool, dark place with daily shakes, my tinctures were completed.
I have to admit that the glycerin smells amazingly of chocolate mint and should make it quite palatable for any children who require a dose.  For my older kids I usually give a dropperful or 2 as they feel they need it, every 2-3 hrs.  For my smaller guy I will probably start with a few drops.

July 23, 2012

What's Going On...

One year.
A lot can happen in one year.
I was looking back and I haven't posted since August of 2011.  I was changing my body with a vegan diet and exercising.  In my head I was pondering running a half-marathon and planning more travel.
Then life changed.
Change isn't necessarily good or bad.  It's just that something different has come along.
Well, here's my something different.

Apparently the diet and exercise got me to a very healthy place, and at 43, I now have a wonderful, new addition to my family that will keep me young for years to come.