Sunday, September 30, 2012

It's All About the Pumpkin!

One more day and we begin the month of Halloween! I love when Holidays are at the end of the month because then you spend all month enjoying them. In fact, I try not to think about Holidays too much before their designated month. I hate it when stores bring out their Christmas stock in September. I don't mind planning for things in advance, but I hate taking away from one holiday because all I am thinking about is the next one. I mean Thanksgiving Day gets completely swallowed up if I start thinking about Christmas before it's proper time. I want to enjoy each holiday as much as I can. Holidays are one of the few times I allow myself to really just live in the moment and not worry about what comes next.

That being said...Since it is not October yet, this post isn't really about Halloween...it is about pumpkins, and Fall, and things to do in Fall with a pumpkin.

If your vegetable garden includes pumpkins you probably know there is more you can do with a pumpkin than rip out it's guts and chase your family members around with gooey fingers....ahh good times! Therefore, Stepford Sisters will be doing a series on pumpkin in Oct. That will be full of creative ideas for the use of your pumpkins. Lots of these ideas will come in the form of recipes because my favorite thing to do with a pumpkin is eat it.

So to start off the series here are some instructions for making your very own pureed pumpkin!

You can use the pumpkin puree in any recipe that calls for canned puree. As a general rule, 3 pounds of fresh pumpkin will yield about 3 cups of mashed and cooked pumpkin.

Bake:
1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Rinse the pumpkin under cool water to rid the skin of any residual dirt and dry well with a clean towel.
3. Cut the pumpkin in half. Remove the seeds and stringy fibers with a metal spoon or ice cream scoop. Save the seeds for toasting, if you like, and discard the innards.
4. Rub the cut surfaces with oil. Place them, cut side down, in a roasting pan and add 1 cup of water to the pan.
5. Bake in the oven until the flesh is tender when pierced with a knife. This takes approximately 90 minutes.
6. When tender, remove the pumpkin halves from the oven and place on a flat surface to cool.
7. Once cool enough to handle, but not cold, scoop out the pumpkin flesh.
8. Puree the pumpkin in a food processor, in a food mill, with a hand held blender or by hand.
9. Pumpkin flesh holds a lot of moisture. Line a sieve or fine mesh colander with paper towel or a coffee filter and set over a deep bowl. Let drain for about 2 hours and stir occasionally.

Boil:
1. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil.
2. In the meantime, rinse the pumpkin under cool water to rid the skin of any residual dirt and dry well with a clean towel.
3. Cut the pumpkin in half. Remove the seeds and stringy fibers with a metal spoon or ice cream scoop. Save the seeds for toasting, if you like, and discard the innards.
4. Cut the pumpkin into evenly-sized smaller pieces and peel.
5. Add to the boiling water and cook for about 25 minutes or until the flesh is tender when pierced with a knife.
6. Puree the pumpkin in a food processor, in a food mill, with a hand held blender or by hand.

Steam:
1. Bring a pot of water to a boil that will hold a vegetable steamer or colander.
2. In the meantime, rinse the pumpkin under cool water to rid the skin of any residual dirt and dry well with a clean towel.
3. Cut the pumpkin in half. Remove the seeds and stringy fibers with a metal spoon or ice cream scoop. Save the seeds for toasting, if you like, and discard the innards.
4. Cut the pumpkin into evenly sized smaller pieces and peel.
5. Place the pumpkin pieces in a steamer or metal colander and over the boiling water. Cover and let steam for about 50 minutes or until the flesh is tender when pierced with a knife.
6. Puree the pumpkin in a food processor, in a food mill, with a hand held blender or by hand.

To Freeze:
Once the puree has cooled entirely, place in freezer containers or ice cube trays. Leave room at the top (headspace) of the containers or individual ice cube compartments. Label, date and freeze the puree for future use.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Recipes from Stepford Week






All my recipes used throughout the week were from The Total Woman Cookbook by Marabel Morgan. I found this copy of it at the local library and I am loathe to return it! I am actually considering going online and buying my own copy.









I thought this was great! I only made a third of what the recipe called for since it was just the two of us, but I would make this for breakfast (or brunch, or a snack) every day.


Eggs in Toast Nests (so good!)



Trim the crusts off white bread and brush with melted butter. Then fit each slice into a cup of your muffin pan. Bake in 325* oven for 15 minutes or until lightly toasted. Remove from oven.
Break an egg into each toast cup. Add salt and pepper, and dot with butter. Cover lightly with foil. Bake in 350* oven 12 minutes, or until done.
Loosen Cups with spatula and serve hot on a platter with sausage links. Garnish with sprigs of parsley.


Fabulous Cheese Casserole
serves 6-8



8 slices of thick sliced white bread
2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1/4 cup melted butter
5 eggs
3 cups of milk
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 tsp dry mustard
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
6 strips of bacon cut in half



Trim crusts from bread. Cut each piece in three strips. Fit Strips together tightly in bottom of greased 2 qrt flat baking dish.
Pour melted butter over bread. Sprinkle with half the cheese. Repeat with the rest of bread and cheese.
Beat eggs and milk together and stir in the salt, pepper, and mustard. Pour this over the bread and cheese. Lay bacon on top. Refrigerate overnight.
The next morning bake, uncovered, at 350* for 50 to 55 minutes until puffed and firm in the center. Remove from oven just after guests sit down; otherwise it may tend to sink. (Tastes just as great, but doesn't look as glamorous.) Garnish with sprig of parsley in center.

Tomatoes Provencal
Serves 2
(This recipe is an adaptation of the one found in the Total Woman Cookbook) 

Ingredients
2 small ramekins of halved cherry tomatoes
salt
freshly ground black pepper
4 finely chopped shallots or scallions
2 finely chopped basil leaves
2 finely chopped tarragon leaves
2tsp chopped parsley
3 tbs olive oil
1 tbs wine vinegar
1 tsp Dijon mustard

Instructions
Season tomatoes with the spices. 
Mix the olive oil, vinegar, and Dijon mustard together, then drizzle over the tomatoes. 



 
 I made these as part of my international meal with the pork and brown sugar marshmallow rolls and they turned out really well!



Scrumptious Spinach
(Another adaptation...Shannon loved this, I did not) 

1 bag of fresh spinach stems removed
1/4 cup mayo
1/4 cup sour cream
1/4 cup dry onion soup mix
Parmesan cheese
slivered almonds

Mix together spinach, mayo, sour cream and onion soup mix. Divide into two ramekins and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and slivered almonds. Heat in a preheated 325* oven for 20 minutes.



 




 I forgot the nuts, and my meringue crust was more fragile than I anticipated, but it tasted great!



Friday, September 28, 2012

Recipes to use up extra egg yolks


Chances are if you bake you have a stack of recipes which use only the whites of eggs. Here are some ideas to use or store those extra yolks...

How to Freeze Egg Yolks

 

Place one egg yolk in each ice cube cavity of a clean ice cube tray. Add a pinch of salt to each yolk (if you plan to eventually use them in savory recipes) or a pinch of sugar (if you will use them in sweet recipes). Freeze overnight until solid, then transfer to an airtight freezer bag.

To use, thaw in refrigerator and then mix well. They will keep in the freezer for up to three months.

Leftover egg yolks can also be refrigerated for 3-4 days.

Recipe for one egg yolk


LAMB FRICASS√ČE

 Serves 2

1 large onion, chopped
1 Tbsp. light cooking oil
1 lb. lamb cubes (cut about 1½” square)
1 tsp. dried marjoram or oregano
1 tsp. dried basil
1 clove garlic, minced
¾ c. water
1 large egg yolk
Juice from ½ large lemon
1 Tbsp. water
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley

1. Heat oil in large heavy saucepan and soften onion – but do not let it darken.
2. Raise heat to high and brown the lamb cubes on all sides.
3. Add the herbs and garlic as the lamb is nearly cooked.
4. Add the ¾ cup water; cover and bring to the boil; reduce heat and simmer 1 hour, covered.
5. Remove the meat to a warm serving platter. Skim off the fat and taste the gravy for salt.
6. Lightly beat the egg yolk with the lemon juice and another 1 tablespoon water; add to the gravy, whisking over low heat until it thickens.
7. Pour sauce over the lamb, garnished with chopped parsley.

Recipe for two egg yolks



Fettucine Alfredo

Serves 2

4 tablespoons of butter
1.5 cups heavy cream
1 tablespoon salt
1/2 pound of homemade fettuccine
2 egg yolks
1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1. In a large sauté pan add butter and cream, turn the heat on to medium and cook until cream and butter are melted together, around 1 minute. Turn off heat.
2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add 1 tablespoon of salt and the fettuccine. Cook for 1 minute.
3. Strain pasta and add to pan with butter and cream. Turn the heat on medium.
4. Add the egg yolks, Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and black pepper.
5. Stir vigorously, mixing the egg yolks and cheese in and coating all of the pasta with the sauce.
6. Serve immediately from the pan, sprinkling additional Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese on top.

Recipe for three egg yolks



Duchess Potatoes 

(From inthekitchenwithkath.com)
 Serves 4-6

2 pounds Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
Salt
¼ cup heavy cream
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 egg yolks

1. Put the potatoes in a large pot and cover with water. Stir in about 2 teaspoons of salt.
2. Bring to a boil. Cover; reduce hit to a simmer and cook until tender, 20 minutes or so. (Exact time will depend on the size of your potato chunks.)
3. Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter and set aside. (It’s to brush on the potatoes before baking.)
4. When the potatoes are done, drain them and then put them back in the pot over the heat for just a minute or two to evaporate any extra moisture.
5. Remove from heat. If you have a potato ricer, use it to rice the potatoes. It’s the easiest way to get smooth mashed potatoes. If you don’t have a ricer, mash them using whatever method you prefer, adding the cream, 2 tablespoons butter, nutmeg, pepper and egg yolks as you mash. Just don’t over-mash them or they’ll become gummy.
6. If you have riced the potatoes, stir in the cream, the other 2 tablespoons of butter, nutmeg, pepper and egg yolks.
7. If you have one, use a pastry bag with a large star point to pipe the potatoes on a baking sheet. Otherwise, make rounded potato mounds on the baking sheet.
8. Using a fork, make ridges on the potato mounds.
9. Brush the potatoes with the reserved melted butter.

At this point, you can refrigerate the baking sheet and bake the potatoes later if you want.

10. Bake the potatoes in a preheated 425˚ oven for about 20 minutes.


Recipe for four egg yolks



Baked Custard Recipe

 Serves 4 

1 cup evaporated milk, undiluted
1 cup water
4 large egg yolks
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
fresh nutmeg or ground nutmeg

1. In a medium saucepan, combine milk and water; heat to scalding.
2. Beat egg yolks slightly; add sugar, salt and vanilla. Gradually add hot milk to eggs, stirring constantly.
3. Divide into 4 custard cups and set in a pan of hot water. Bake at 325° for 50 minutes, or until tip of knife comes out clean when inserted in custard.
4. Sprinkle with ground nutmeg or grate fresh nutmeg over top of each custard. Serve warm or cold.


Recipe for five egg yolks



Soft Egg Ravioli

 Makes 4 servings
 Note:  Truffles add luxurious appeal, but the ravioli are fantastic without them. 

 Filling:
1 cup whole-milk ricotta cheese
2 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon peel
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon (generous) ground black pepper

Pasta:
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 large egg yolks
6 tablespoons (or more) water
5 teaspoons olive oil
9 large eggs

Butter truffle sauce:
6 tablespoons water
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 12 pieces
1 tablespoon truffle oil*
3 small or 2 medium black truffles, very thinly sliced

*Truffle oil can be found at some supermarkets, specialty foods stores, and Italian markets.

For filling:
Mix all ingredients in small bowl. Refrigerate while making pasta. 

For pasta:
Whisk flour and salt in medium bowl; make shallow well in center. Add egg yolks, 6 tablespoons water, and oil to well. Using fork, whisk water, egg yolks, and oil. Gradually work in flour from around egg mixture to form crumbly mixture. Knead in bowl until dough comes together, adding more water by 1/2 teaspoonfuls if dry. Turn dough out onto lightly floured work surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes. Divide into 4 equal portions. Cover with plastic wrap; let rest on work surface 30 minutes. 

Line 2 baking sheets with parchment. Turn pasta machine to widest setting. Flatten 1 dough piece to rectangle (cover remaining pieces with plastic wrap). Run dough through machine 2 times. Fold uneven ends over to make straight edge. Adjust machine to next narrower setting. Run dough through machine 2 times, dusting lightly with flour if sticky. Cut dough strip in half crosswise for easier handling. Repeat running dough through machine 2 more times on each narrower setting until pasta is generous 1/16 inch thick (setting #2), dusting lightly with flour if sticky. 

Whisk 1 egg in small bowl for egg wash. Place dough strips on work surface. Cut each strip into three 4-inch squares, trimming as needed. Place 3 pasta squares on 1 prepared baking sheet. Place 1 rounded tablespoon ricotta filling in center of each of 3 squares, spreading filling to 2 1/2-inch circle. Make well in center of filling large enough to hold 1 egg yolk. Carefully break 1 egg open and separate yolk from white (reserve egg white for another use). Gently place egg yolk in well of filling. Brush edges of pasta dough with egg wash. Carefully place 1 pasta square atop egg yolk, pressing edges of pasta squares together to seal tightly, enclosing yolk and filling completely. Dust ravioli lightly with flour. Repeat procedure with remaining pasta, ricotta filling, yolks, and egg wash for a total of 8 ravioli.  
Ravioli can be made 4 hours ahead. Refrigerate uncovered.
 
For butter truffle sauce:
Pour 6 tablespoons water into large skillet and bring to boil over medium-high heat. Add butter and stir until melted and bubbling. Stir in truffle oil and sliced truffles. Season sauce to taste with salt and pepper. Remove from heat. 

Meanwhile, add enough water to large skillet to measure 1 1/2inches; sprinkle with salt. Bring water to boil. Working in 2 batches, gently slide ravioli into skillet, egg yolk side up; adjust heat to keep water below rolling boil and cook just until pasta is tender, being careful not to overcook egg yolks, about 3 minutes (do not turn ravioli over). 

With slotted spoon, transfer 2 ravioli to each of 4 plates. Spoon sauce over.



Thursday, September 27, 2012

The Leaves are Falling, and Backs are Hurting

For a few weeks now, I have seen the impending signs of leaves falling from the trees very soon. I LOVE seeing leaves turn colors and how they change the bright green landscape of your yard to a more cozy fall theme. But, never fail, every year the joy of these leaves is shorter and shorter lived as we grow older and realize those "beautiful leaves" must be dealt with and disposed of.

I have many mature trees on my property, and probably average a total of 100 lawn bags a year from weeds, pruning trees, grass clippings, and leaves. Of those 100, 60-70 are just fall leaves. I'll think of someone else before me, poor garbage man having to move 20 bags a week into the truck! Although the picture of the home depot bags isn't from me, it is a pretty accurate depiction of what I have each fall.

Now, on to me, poor me...and my poor back! Raking leaves takes its toll on your body. I usually get blisters on my hands, scratches on my hands and arms, and a very achy back from raking and bending over. So, as with my yearly summer experiences with poision ivy, my rivalry of fall is raking leaves.

I think with a few years experience under my belt, and a clear head BEFORE the chore is ready to be complete, I have some tips for others who need to make this as quick and pain free as possible.

My theory is close to that of Jairica's "If you see a chore that needs done and can be done in less than a minute then do it now, don't wait". With leaves, they become heavier and harder to rake the longer they sit on your lawn. This is especially true if it rains or you mow your yard. Mowing leaves makes it look better temporarily, but just makes small leave bits get down further into your grass and require more vigorous raking in the long run.

If you rake smaller amounts of leaves (say twice a week) you won't have as much to pick up at once and they will be floating over the grass rather than getting stuck in it. If you can help it, rake before it rains. However, many times it is rain that motivates the leaves to fall from the trees.

Another tip for raking is to get an extension to add to your rake handle. It is the back's equivalent to lumbar support in a chair. If you get this handle extension, you are able to maintain better back posture and not bend over as drastically. It works for shoveling, mopping, sweeping and raking.

In addition to using an ergonomic type extender or handle, I suggest using lawn bags from Sam's club. The price is cheaper, and the bags are slightly bigger than most. This large bag only applies to leaves which are bulky but not heavy. If you are digging up sod, I would get smaller bags!



Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Fall Yard Clean Up Check List

Depending upon what region of the country you live in, and what type of weather you get your gardening clean-up and preparation for winter could be drastically different than someone else. Because I typically procrastinate, or even completely avoid fall yard work, I always regret it later. I decided this year I was going to make a list of all the things that I really had to do for the well being of my yard and plants. 


First, your vegetable garden. Any gardener realizes that vegetable gardens need nutrients in the soil in order to produce plants that thrive and yield a decent number of fruits. In the past, I would just leave the plants to rot and return the nutrients into the soil. I recently read however, that tomato plants are very prone to disease and fungus. Of all the plants you grow, that is one to definitely pull out and throw away. Also, if you have leaves with black spots, you don't want to keep these around because they are also diseased.

Secondly, the plants in your garden that grow back year after year (ornamental grasses, iris, hostas, seedums, and day lilies) you should look into when the best time to cut them back is. Of all these plants, I only cut back my irises, hostas, and lilies in the fall. I really like the look the ornamental grass and seedums have during the winter time. Just make sure you cut them back early in the spring. One time I put it off and I had a terrible time cutting the old dry grass without damaging the new green growth.

Third, bring any pots or planters into your garage. If you leave them outside all winter you can have the smallest amounts of moisture inside the pottery or ceramic that will freeze (water gets bigger when it is frozen) and crack your pot. I have one that is especially heavy because I never take the dirt out, but I always manage to get it inside the garage so that I can enjoy it again the next year.

Another thing to do in the fall that I rarely do but should is "fluff" your mulch. If you remember from my post earlier this spring, I did a lot of work mulching my yard this year. With 2-4 inches of mulch, it can get packed down and start rotting. If you take a rake and mix it around it will help the mulch to decompose at a slower rate saving the need for too much additional mulch the next year. Yes, when it snows it will get packed down again, but you can fluff it again in the spring to see how much is necessary to add.


Not relating to plants or your yard, but equally important, there are other outdoor tasks you should do early.


Always make sure you unhook your garden hose from the outside spigots. You don't want water to freeze later in the winter and break anything or cause leaking that can damage the outside or inside of your house. You should also winter-proof your patio furniture. Some people have space to bring furniture inside, but if you don't you should at least get cushions protected and try to cover your furniture with plastic. This will help protect it from snow and the sun.

Another outside project to do now is clean out your gutters. When snow starts to melt you don't want a disaster of snow, ice, debris, and backed up water weight to break off your gutter. Plus, you always want water to flow freely away from your house so you don't have roof, gutter, or foundation issues.

Lastly, a dreaded chore-cleaning the garage. We don't currently park our vehicles in the garage, but every once in a while when temperatures get really low or snow and ice are predicted for the near future, I wish that I had cleaned out the garage so I could park inside. No one wants to clean the garage once it is already cold, so plan ahead now and do it while the weather will let you pull all your stuff out, rearrange it, and have space for a vehicle (or that outdoor furniture you thought you had no room for!).

Are there any other essential falls projects you do to get your yard ready for winter? Comment and let us know!



Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Diary of a Stepford Wife

Hey all!

Jairica Stepford here and I just wanted to write you all a little note telling you about my week! For five days I transformed myself into the perfect Stepford wife. It's a whole new me! I'm happy and I'm healthy, because I understand what's important in life,  my husband, my family, and making a perfect home. It's a lesson every gal needs to learn!



Shannon had Monday off for the holiday so we got to spend the whole day together! I helped him in the garden, we visited his family, and had a great time!







All week was simply wonderful, I got so much done! I cleaned using all my favorite products!









I also had the opportunity to serve many nutritious and tasty meals for Shannon to enjoy!







The best part was the real sense of accomplishment I got in caring for my husband's needs!


Nothing is more fulfilling than seeing the real difference you make in the lives of others. I could just tell how much more relaxed and happy Shannon was knowing when he got home he could really just unwind and not have to worry about anything else!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Challenges of Stepford Week

Stepford Week was challenging in many unexpected ways.

The first being how difficult it was to make it interesting to write about. I don't personally find housework very entertaining, but that wasn't the only issue. This week I wasn't just playing the role of a housewife, but a Stepford housewife. While I thought it would be a fun role play game, I found it very difficult to write about. I had to lose my personal interests and only think about my husband. For a Stepford wife the husband is her only interest. Now, I am not saying my husband isn't interesting....but I had trouble describing the ho-hum week as interesting. I think it would have been easier if I had stayed in character like Stephen Colbert. Unfortunately, I litterally just thought of that. It never occurred to me until I wrote it just now. At least it gives me a great idea for tomorrow's post. Tomorrow I will give you a taste of my Stepford personality!



The second challenge was all the cleaning. I don't mind cleaning, but like most women I know, I started feeling resentful about my lack of help. That dental floss incident really effected my attitude. It shouldn't have, Shannon even apologized though I didn't mention it to him at all. I think it bothered me because it was at the end of a long week of me trying to pick up after him and I was constantly suppressing my feelings in order to keep myself from nagging. When things get pent up like that, the smallest thing can make them explode.



Challenge number three was preparing a hot breakfast (almost) every day. I love hot breakfasts, but I am not a morning person. I can't stress that enough. I am not a morning person. When I cook breakfast it is never before 9am and since Shannon leaves for work before 7:30am this was a real problem for me. When forced to get up that early I am lucky if I don't mistakenly pour the coffee in the cereal instead of milk. I think using the oven was a very brave and foolish gamble. Luckily, I did not burn the house down.


The final challenge was how Shannon reacted after the week was over. On the last day I thought he was sad it was over, but I was mistaken. He was angry! The day after Stepford week was over I was helping Shannon with dinner and when I found I couldn't do anything without a criticism from him, I left him and his bad mood alone. Of course, this only made his mood worse.

 
 By the time he came upstairs Shannon wasn't holding anything back. After fighting for a good horrible fifteen minutes, I finally figured out the issue. Shannon had somehow gotten it into his head that after this week I was never going to cook or clean for him again. Honestly, I do not understand the minds of men at all. However, I was able to help him understand mine and realize I wasn't giving up all aspects of wifeliness.


Sunday, September 23, 2012

Fall: Time for Chili

Chili is something that has become bigger than itself. There are competitions and cook-offs and everyone has their own opinion about what belongs in chili and what doesn't.

Well, I'll say it, I'm not picky. I enjoy the fact that people make chili in many different ways. There is no right or wrong to me, but I do have my favorites. So, I will share a few recipes over the fall season and give a few new ideas. My motto: always experiment, who needs an actual recipe anyway?!

Here are some of my favorite things to put in chili, not all at once, and some ingredients don't mix with others, but they give you an idea for ingredients you might not have tried:

-okra
-corn
-roasted corn
-beef steaks cut small instead of ground beef
-ground beef, chicken, pork, or turkey
-tomato sauce
-chicken stock
-cumin
-chili powder
-cinnamon
-garlic (powder or fresh minced)
-celery (seed or minced celery)
-pumpkin
-stewed tomatoes
-beans (kidney, northern,black, etc.)
-jalapenos

Ideas for items to serve with the chili:
-crackers
-sour cream
-shredded cheese
-rice
-pasta (like spaghetti noodles)
-tortilla chips or Frito's
-corn bread
-thick cut loaf bread
-baked potatoes

As you can see from the collection of chili photos on the right, chili can be many different colors and consistencies. As long as its edible, not burnt, and not overly spicy there is no wrong way to make chili!


Saturday, September 22, 2012

Mint-It does great things

Over time, one thing has remained constant: man kind has looked to herbs and natural plants to help cure and aid with all types of ailments. As chemistry as been studied and advanced there are ways to make artificial alternatives that do have positive affects on the human body.

While science is wonderful, I still try to stick to the origin of all good things (organic/natural/non-scientifically modified). Today I would like to talk about MINT.












Mint. We all know it. Usually as an artificial flavor in things from starlight mints, to gum, or even mint chocolate chip ice cream.

Less of us know mint in its natural form. Just in the last week, as an impulse buy I purchased some MetroMint water. Why? I was thirsty and it sounded good-and it was. But in no way shape or form was I going to continually buy water at almost $2 a bottle just because it was a little minty (or mint and lemon depending on the choice).

I took it upon myself to see if I could make my own mint water AND have it taste as pure, clean, and refreshing as the purchased water. I went to the grocery store and bought fresh organic mint for $2.50 a package (it has like 100 leaves) and some lemons.

I used 2-4 leaves of mint for about a liter of water, along with a very small slice of lemon. I do a quick squeeze of the lemon and peel because the peel has the more potent lemon oil. I do not leave the lemon slice in the water because it makes it bitter and too strong. For the mint, I take my fingernail and puncture the leaves several times without breaking off pieces. I stir it around the water then squeeze the leaves to get all the water and oil out, then dunk it again and squeeze again. Using fingernails really helps get the mint oil out of the leaves. I also throw out the mint after instead of leaving it in the glass.  Although, I stumbled upon this really cool pitcher with space for whatever you are infusing your water with. It might be awesome if it doesn't get too bitter!

I am loving this way of preparing water. It tastes more pure, refreshing, and tastier than plain water. I started thinking though, there must be some benefits of mint as well. So here is what I found at organicfacts.net:

-Mint aids in upset stomach
-mint aids in fresh breath and inhibits harmful bacteria growth
-aids in digestion
-aids in curing headache and nausea
-helps soothe and cool respiratory disorders and cough
- might help cure cancer because a specific enzyme
-used in aromatherapy (helps calm)



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