Monday, October 26, 2009

Friends in the Fall

And so it continues. The crisp fall weather along with the rain made for a long day indoors. However, the view from my back door near sunset was pretty. Some of the trees still have plenty of leaves while others look very bare. It is sad yet invigorating! We are moving on to the next phase of the year.

But with this next phase comes the winter cold. I mentioned in a previous post how four of seven in my family have been ill with the flu. Now they are all dealing with cold-like symptoms, and I unfortunately, have not been able to keep myself from getting it. I had been pumping myself with Vitamin C and and my daughter's Viral Immune Boosting drops. So far, she has not gotten it, but I am in the beginning stages. Hopefully, this will be my one cold of the season!

Since I am all about natural things, and I love Vitamin C, I couldn't imagine how pioneers did without it. Going to a CVS or Walgreens on a street corner was not an option in those days. However, they were not without Vitamin C at all. What they did have was lots of foods from their garden that were rich in Vitamin C. Foods like cabbage, potatoes, spinach, strawberries, and red peppers are full of this immune boosting vitamin. Pioneers ate these kinds of food to help their bodies try to fight the cold. Obviously, there were other things pioneers did, but eating Vitamin C rich foods when they were sick helped them gain strength (from eating) and fight the virus (with natural remedies). Perhaps because they ate these types of food all the time, their immune systems were stronger against the common cold. Who knows?!

Here is a recipe I found in Yoga Journal that is supposed to help boost the immune system if you are starting to feel under the weather.

Immune System Booster Soup

4 cups mushroom or chicken broth
1 small onion, chopped
4-10 garlic cloves, to taste, crushed and chopped
1 carrot, grated
4-8 fresh shitake mushrooms, sliced
1-3 tablespoons grated ginger, to taste
1 lemon, juiced
3 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped

1. Bring the broth, onion, garlic, carrot, mushrooms and ginger to a slow boil.
2. Reduce the heat and simmer on low, covered, for 15 minutes or until the vegetables are soft.
3. Remove from heat; add the lemon juice and parsley. Cover and steep for 5 minutes. Serve with crusty bread.

If you want something more tradional that perhaps would have been made in the 19th century, try this recipe.

Rustic Cabbage Soup

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
a big pinch of salt
1/2 pound potatoes, skin on, cut 1/4-inch pieces
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
5 cups stock, vegetable or chicken
1 1/2 cups white beans, precooked or canned (drained & rinsed well)
1/2 medium cabbage, cored and sliced into 1/4-inch ribbons
more good-quality extra-virgin olive oil for drizzling
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, freshly grated

Warm the olive oil in a large thick-bottomed pot over medium-high heat. Stir in the salt and potatoes. Cover and cook until they are a bit tender and starting to brown a bit, about 5 minutes - it's o.k. to uncover to stir a couple times. Stir in the garlic and onion and cook for another minute or two. Add the stock and the beans and bring the pot to a simmer. Stir in the cabbage and cook for a couple more minutes, until the cabbage softens up a bit. Now adjust the seasoning - getting the seasoning right is important or your soup will taste flat and uninteresting. Taste and add more salt if needed, the amount of salt you will need to add will depend on how salty your stock is (varying widely between brands, homemade, etc)...
Serve drizzled with a bit of olive oil and a generous dusting of cheese.

Either one of these delicious soups would help boost one's immune system and fend off the terrible cold (as well as taste good), and they are so much better than medication and pills!

After researching all of this, I now want to go try these soups. But first, the grocery store, since it is past garden season, and I haven't properly prepared for winter like the pioneers did. Oops!


Sunday, October 25, 2009

Tea Always Helps

Well, along with the colder weather comes illnesses. I don't know if it is weaker immune systems when the weather turns or if it is just the fact that the swine flu is running rampant this year. So many people have been or are sick, and we haven't even reached November yet! In my household alone, four of seven people have been sick all week. I don't know how many cups of hot tea I have made! The favorites here are Chamomile, Lemon, and Peppermint, all herbal teas from this sampler.

While taking care of them all, I have been thinking about what people did before medicine and vaccinations and central heating. We have access to a lot more now like Ibuprofen, cold medicine, cough drops, and yes, flu vaccines. But what did the pioneers do to help them when they were sick? Rest was probably the number one thing. (We need more of that today. We are just too busy these days!!) Hot beverages, such as a Hot Toddy, were used as well. Of course, each family had their own version and name for this beverage. It's soothing to the throat and helps you relax enough to get some sleep.

Here is a simple Hot Toddy recipe you can make. Try hot tea with lemon juice, honey, and some Bourbon. If you want to spice it up, add some cinnamon or clove. It is bound to relax you even if you are not sick!