Flu Therapy

Another day at World View Institute in Launceston.  I love the rhythm here – lectures Monday and Tuesday and then a day off (at least for me) which is just as well because I am still fighting a cold and have not felt well since I first caught the flu back in Los Angeles about 3 weeks ago.  Not my favourite way to travel but then in our work we don’t always get choices in such things.

However along the way I have learned a lot about how people treat their flu symptoms and thought that as flu season is just about to hit in the Northern hemisphere and everyone is concerned about the spread of H1N1 flu and what they can do to avoid the bullet that I would share some of them here.

Yesterday the students prayed for me which was probably the best remedy of all but as well as that I have been offered everything from the traditional over the counter flu remedies – not something I recommend to lemon and honey – very soothing and sustaining and the most therapeutic of all – chicken soup.  Of course chicken soup has been used for hundreds of years as a flu remedy but it is only in recent years that science has proven it really does have therapeutic effects and so we can suddenly all breathe easy and accept that we can take our dose of chicken soup daily.

Just for fun this morning I did a google search on chicken soup as a flu remedy.  I was amazed at the results that appeared and thought that you would like to see some of these too.

Chicken soup: Nature’s Best Cold recipe – this article contains a wealth of information including some of the research, what brands have been tested (after all the corporations all want to cash in on this) and good homemade recipes

I also liked this Ultimate Flu-Busting Chicken Soup recipe because it has lots of tomatoes, garlic and spices.

For those that like it really hot and spicy here is another recipe that is guaranteed to clean out the sinuses

Chicken Chili Soup

But evidently any hot beverage can make a difference too according to this new York Times article, which is a huge relief to me as my favourite cold remedy is not chicken soup but a hot drink of vegemite and garlic – which probably grosses out all my North American friends but I can assure you it really is very therapeutic and contains lots of vitamin B.

So what is your favourite flu remedy that you think the rest of the world needs to know about?

First Apple Cake for the Season

I just made my first apple cake for the season for our MSA Board meeting tomorrow.  It is a great way for me to relax once I have all my materials ready for the Board members.

Our apple crop is not as big as usual but there are still plenty to enjoy.  This recipe was given to me by Janet Hutchison the wife of our Board chair – Janet’s grandmother became a widow with seven children (all under the age of thirteen) when she was still in her thirties. She was still climbing her apple trees to prune and spray even in her seventies. Janet was fortunate enough to grow up living next door and enjoyed her fresh pies, cookies and this delicious apple cake. Enjoy!

  • 6 cups Apples,Peeled & Diced
  • cups brown or raw Sugar
  • ½ cup Oil
  • 1 cup Walnuts,Chopped
  • 2 Eggs,Beaten
  • 2 teaspoons Vanilla
  • 2 cups whole wheat Flour
  • 2 teaspoons Cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons Baking Soda
  • ½ cup Yoghurt

Stir together apples, sugar, oil, nuts, eggs and vanilla. Sift flour, cinnamon, baking soda & salt. Add flour mix to apple mixture. Bake in a 9×13″ pan at 350℉ for about 45 min or until toothpick comes out dry. Freezes well. Serve with ice cream or whipped cream

Top with Cream cheese frosting 8 oz cream cheese, 3 tbl margarine, 1 tsp vanilla 1 1/2 cup powdered sugar OR top brfore baking with 2tsp cinnamon, 1/3 cup brown sugar, 2 tsp flour, 1/4 cup rolled oats

Per Serving (not including toppings which I usually leave off: 308 Cal (38% from Fat, 6% from Protein, 56% from Carb); 5 g Protein; 13 g Tot Fat; 1 g Sat Fat; 3 g Mono Fat; 44 g Carb; 2 g Fiber; 30 g Sugar; 16 mg Calcium; 1 mg Iron; 336 mg Sodium; 33 mg Cholesterol;

What Do We do With All the Tomatoes?

Brandy Boy tomatoes - delicious

Brandy Boy tomatoes - delicious

Yesterday I posted a twitter update that read “Enjoying the aroma of drying tomatoes.”  Unfortunately some of my facebook friends interpreted that as “dying tomatoes”  and so there have been a few rather pointed comments about the state of my garden.  That of course made me realize that I have been rather silent about what is happening in the garden over the summer – partly because the summer garden seems to keep growing and producing without me needing to do anything at all except wander around admiring the flowers and the growing produce.

Of course there is always watering to be done but most of the time that is a delight rather than a chore as it gives me an opportunity to admire the fruits of our spring labours.  This year has been an exceptionally hot summer in Seattle contrasting with the record cold winter that preceded it – record hot July temperatures contrasted with record cold January which has meant that the garden has produced a little differently from previous years

We are enjoying wonderful tomatoes – especially the new Brandy boy we tried this year.  It is similar to the Armish heirloom Brandywine but on smaller plants and a couple of weeks earlier production which is a real plus here in the Pacific NW.  It has certainly produced big beautiful and delicious tomatoes – many of them weighing more than a pound each.  We have had many feasts of sandwiches;  Our favourite recipes begin with a good loaf of crusty white Italian bread:

Fry some bacon (wish we could get good English bacon here), place on bread, cover with cheddar cheese and melt under the grill.  Top with big slices of the sweetest tomato you can find, sweet onion and avocado.  Spread another slice of bread with mayo or mustard for the top slice of the sandwich and enjoy.  Best eaten with good potato chips.

For a vegetarian version grill slices of summer squash and big portabello mushrooms and use in place of the bacon.

I also bottle lots of marinara sauce and dry lots of cherry tomatoes at this time – wonderful packed in olive oil with herbs and garlic.  We use them in omelettes, salads and pasta dishes over the winter.

Colouring as a Spiritual Practice

Greets from a cool and overcast Seattle.  My beans are growing, tomatoes ripening and squash proliferating.  Last night I was furiously processing some of the produce before Tom and I head out of town tomorrow afternoon for a few days – made 2 Hunza pies and a cheesy tomato bake to take with us.  Dried my first jarful of cherry tomatoes too.  Keep watching the plants anxiously hoping they will be as prolific as last year.  Used squash, tomatoes, chard, garlic and herbs from the garden.  We are heading into Canada so cannot take fresh produce but the pies looked so good I was tempted to eat them immediately but then Tom made his version of BLTs for dinner and I changed my mind.. delicious.

The Book of Kells

The Book of Kells

Today’s post in the What is a Spiritual Practice Series is by Danielle Grubb Shroyer.  Danielle is the pastor of Journey Church in Dallas.  She is the author of The Boundary-Breaking God:  An Unfolding Story of Hope and Promise (Jossey-Bass, 2009) and speaks often on issues of theology, church leadership and emerging communities of faith. She blogs at danielleshroyer.com You might also like to check out this post on her blog Hermeneutics as Art gives another thoughtful perspective on a different aspect of art and faith.

I love to color.  I realize this is convenient when I have two young children who still find it an enjoyable activity while many of you probably cannot remember the last time you picked up a seafoam green Crayola.  But coloring for me isn’t just a mom activity.  I have always found something wonderfully calming about sprawling on the floor with a brand new box of crayons.  The somewhat repetitive motion of coloring back and forth and that swoosh-swoosh-swoosh sound the crayons make on the paper does wonders to clear my head and help me regain my focus.  I remember specifically one instance in college when I was overly stressed about a Hebrew midterm I had coming up.  My roommates came home and found me in the living room armed with cookies and a coloring book and wondered if perhaps I had lost my mind.  Actually, I was trying to find it.  And I dare say it worked.  It gave me a break from the chatter in my own head, the incessant onslaught of thoughts and ideas.  Coloring feels, for me, very much like the beginning of a yoga session when you begin to focus on your breathing instead of your task list.  And wondrously, the intentional narrowing of focus gives freedom again for your mind to return to its work with clarity and renewed purpose.

You can imagine I was thrilled to discover one day while roaming Barnes and Noble a wonderful little book called <em>Praying In Color</em>, where author Sybil MacBeth describes her practice of coloring as a form of prayer.  For someone whose wordiness and word-centeredness often dominates, the idea of allowing colors and shapes (and perhaps, the occasional word or name) to do the praying for me was a welcome balance.  And it helped me realize that all those times I set my bickering children down in front of a jumbo coloring page and smiled as I watched their frustrations melt away, the times when my own stress began creeping up my shoulders and I fought back with aquamarine crayon in hand, these were acts of spiritual discipline.  They were ways of redirecting our hearts and minds toward a more peaceful place.

Recently I went on a weekend prayer retreat and the spiritual director laid out pages of mandalas and boxes of colored pencils for us to use during our down times.  She said the practice of coloring these symmetrical patterns has been used for thousands of years as a way of helping people organize their thoughts, calm their minds and create a sense of peace.  The colors we choose to use also make us aware of how we are feeling, and perhaps more capable of doing something productive about it.  I had not colored with mandalas before, and I have to say they did provide a very prayerful, meditative time.  But if you happen to be in a pinch, your daughter’s Strawberry Shortcake coloring book might work just fine, too.

Its Basil Time

The posts in the last couple of days about cooking as a spiritual discipline have turned my thoughts towards the garden and what to do with the wonderful produce that is pouring out of it.  My mouth is watering at the wonder of the delicious dishes that will emerge in the next few weeks.  This is a wonderful way to both practice and share our creativity (though I must confess Tom is much more creative than I am in this area)

The basil is growing profusely in the garden just waiting for the tomatoes to ripen in order to make our favourite tomato, feta and basil salad.  This is one that Tom has perfected over the years and so I hope that I have recorded it accurately.

Basil, Tomato and Feta Cheese Salad

1 cup fresh basil, chopped

2 cups of several tomato varieties of all different shades (red, yellow, green, chocolate), chopped

1 cup sweet onion, chopped

1 cup feta cheese, crumbled

½ cup kalamata olives, chopped

Mix ingredients together and serve with an oil and balsamic vinegar dressing.

However in the mean time I am making lots of pesto.  Here are my two favourite recipes one for traditional Italian green basil, the other for the more anise flavoured Thai basil.

Basil Pesto

We love this on bread, pizza dough or mixed through pasta with dried tomatoes

1 cup basil leaves

1 cup spinach (or other greens)

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1/2 cup pine nuts

1/4 cup olive oil

Combine all ingredients in a food processor until smooth.  Keeps fresh in the fridge for several weeks if you cover with olive oil or can be frozen by ladling into ice cube containers and placing in freezer until solid.  then transfer to a plastic bag.

Thai Pesto with Coconut Cream

This is great with Thai curry or as a sauce in rice noodles.

  • 1 cup Thai Basil
  • 2 stalks Lemongrass
  • 2 Lime Leaves
  • 2 tablespoons Green Onion
  • 1 Ho Chili, Seeds Removed
  • ¼ teaspoon Salt
  • ¼ teaspoon Sugar
  • ½ cup Coconut Cream
  • 2 tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 4 tablespoons pumpkin seeds,Shelled Raw
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced

Combine the basil, lemon grass, a couple of lime leaves, green onion, chile, a dash of salt and honey, coconut cream & oil. Add garlic & pumpkin seeds. After whirling till smooth in the food processor, let the pesto sit in the fridge for several hours before using.