Monday, December 3, 2007

we are toasty today!

yesterday, my dad came over and helped greg finish putting the chimney on the house and viola! we are now cooking with wood instead of gas...

this is such a huge financial relief. every winter for the past 3 years of living here, we have spent a minimum of $450/month in the winter to heat our house using gas (keeping the thermostat set at 58). now we'll be spending virtually nothing since we have lots of available firewood around us. i am thrilled to not worry about being sucked into the financial blackhole of juggling bills to pay the gas for the next 6 months.

it's a tiny stove but it's supposed to heat 2000 square feet which is what our house is. so far though, the upstairs is still pretty icy but i keep the doors to the stairs closed so that little bear won't climb them.

i'd have to say it was in the mid 70's in the play room (the room we installed it in) and 66-68 in the kitchen (the next room over) which is a HUGE improvement from the usual 58 that it usually is in the winter.

now for fine tuning the art of keeping the stove lit and burning fuel effeciently. i grew up in a house that used wood stoves for heating but i was never allowed to take part in stoking the fire so it's all new to me.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

winter recipe blog party

this month's local herbal blog party theme is winter recipes hosted by dreamseeds.

winter is creepy in on us here, finally. the cooler weather struck about a week or so ago, i believe on thanksgiving day to be exact. we are in the process of installing a wood burning stove which will continuously host a pot of herb root tea simmering away, ready for me to drink.

one of my favorite wintertime drinks is a dandelion chai recipe i found online a few years ago. i've adapted it to suit my preferences and it is a big hit with myself and my kids. they request it every morning.

1 cup roasted dandelion root
6 T anise seed
3 T cardamom pods, somewhat ground down or crushed to break up
3 T cloves
6 cinnamon sticks broken up to little bits
3 T dried ginger root
1 1/2 tea back peppercorns
12 bay leaves, crumbled up

mix together and store in a glass jar. add 1 T for each cup of water in a tea ball. bring to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes. add approximately 1 T each honey and milk per cup (adjust this to your taste preference).

this recipe was originally found on prodigal gardens which has a wealth of herbal recipes on it.

this warming drink is excellent for nourishing the liver and aiding in circulation which my body seems to need more of during the winter. it is spicy but not overpowering.

in following with our ancestral heritage, this time of year is traditionally meant for slowing down our lives and bulking up. heavier foods are welcomed such roots, meats, fats and nuts. roots such as potatoes (white and sweet), carrots, onions, garlic, beets, turnips and sunchokes become a staple that will last through most of the winter. meats were often plentiful now as animals could be butchered and left outside to freeze, keeping them from spoiling. acorns, walnuts, hazelnuts, etc. would be gathered and stored. acorns need to be sorted and any with holes in them thrown out as they contain worms that will eat their way through.

sunchokes are another family favorite. they can be prepared any way that a potato would be fixed: fried, mashed, boiled, sauteed, roasted, broiled, etc. they can also be eaten raw although they really do not have much flavor until they are cooked. one of my favorite recipes is very simple:

broiled sunchokes

2 c. sliced sunchokes
olive oil
rosemary chopped coarsely (can be fresh or dried)

place the sunchokes in a bowl and sprinkle with olive oil. toss and coat them completely. add about 1-2 teaspoons of salt, a pinch of cayenne and about 2 teaspoons of rosemary and toss again. spread them out on a baking stone and put under the broiler. turn them after about 5 minutes or once they brown on top. allow them to cook a few more minutes until brown on the bottom. put them in a bowl and garnish with a sprig of rosemary. try not to eat them before you put them on the table!

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