Keeping Healthy as the Weather Turns Cool

The breeze is turning chilly, cool weather is late this year – last October we were already burning most of the day! This year, we still have nights that don’t require a fire in the stove. But late or soon, the seasons are shifting, and we already have our first cold in the house.

Poor Ilya has a sad little cough, not enough to dampen his spirits during the day, but definitely enough to make night-time a struggle. Colds are pretty much inescapable if you have kids, and your kids have friends to play with! But thankfully, their also pretty easy to fight. We have our cough-cold Oxymel – which Ilya loves drinking in ‘fuzzy water’ (sparkling water), pots full of herbal teas with honey (I like mullein, lemon balm, and bee-balm with a little bit of mint), and for the grown-ups (because no one wants to deal with Sick-mama!) we have a freshly mixed “master-tonic” – too spicy for the kids to handle, they won’t touch it!

A master tonic is super easy to make – it’s actually an oxymel too! – and like most herbal remedies, it can be edited to include more of what you have and less of what you don’t! Mine is heavy on the garlic, and the onions, because I have a bunch of them! And I threw in some rose-hips as well, because our wild-roses did pretty well this year! Mine is very light on peppers, I only got one from my plants this year, and it was a little one.

Altogether, I put in a whole, large onion; a whole bulb of red-russian garlic, one hot pepper (jalapeno? I think..), a moderately sized, peeled and chopped ginger root, a big chunk of horseradish root (they are taking over my garden!) – also chopped up small, a 1/4 cup of rose-hips, and a tablespoon of turmeric powder..oh, and a sprinkle of the last of the bee-balm on top!

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I let in all steep in a quart and a half of raw apple cider vinegar (the kind with “the Mother”) for two weeks, strained it out and mixed the infused vinegar with about a cup (more or less is fine too!) of raw, local honey.

This stuff is like fire! It’s awesome! Don’t mix it with water when you take it, just take about half a shot and feel the burn!

(*Do I have to say “I’m not a doctor, don’t pretend I am!”?? Well there, I said it.*)

It’s been great, because, while Seth has a killer immune system, mine is kind of crap. And I need all the help I can get to stay healthy!

Along with all these tonics and teas, we have another awesome weapon against illness in our house! I made it last night actually, to drive away Ilya’s cough and the chilly, rainy October air: Chicken and dumpling soup.

I’d roasted a chicken for Sunday’s dinner, so yesterday, I put the bones and skin and whatever else was leftover into a big soup pot. I let it get to a boil and then moved it over the the ‘cool’ part of the stove (on a non-wood-stove, this would be a low setting) It sat there all day, just making broth, until about two hours before dinner, I strained out the bird, added in about 2/3 of a bulb of garlic (about 5 cloves), 4 medium potatoes, 3 huge carrots, herbs (bay, sage, oregano, salt, pepper, a tiny bit of turmeric, and paprika), and about 1/4 of a cup butter. Then I let that cook on the middle of the stove (medium-heat), covered for about an hour.

And while that cooked I made dumplings: two cups of flour, 1/4 cup butter, 1/3 cup grated cheddar/asiago/gouda (pick one! or mix them all in!), one egg, and enough milk to make a soft, sticky dough.

Then, I pulled off chestnut-sized balls of dough and dropped them one-by-one into the simmering soup. They cook for an hour or a half-hour or a couple hours, (depending on how long it takes to get the rest of dinner ready!) and the soup tastes like wellness in a bowl.

We ate it with sourdough bread, apples, and red wine while the rain fell loud one the roof of the yurt.

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