Elderberry Syrup and Colds….

A few years ago, we were headed on a trip to North Carolina in the spring and our little one started with the sniffles.  I was pretty sure that nothing was going to stop me from visiting my sister, so off we went to Whole Foods to visit the vitamin guru there.  He suggested that we give our little guy elderberry pills often, until he was better.

So we did…and it worked!!

Ever since then, we’ve had a steady stock of elderberry  lozenges/pills in the cupboard.  Then I saw the syrup, easy to swallow and tastes great.  Whenever we get colds, it’s a one-two punch of the elderberry pills and syrup.  But, they syrup is expensive, it can be upward of $24 a bottle for organic! Yikes!!

We recently went to the Common Ground Fair here in Maine and bought a bottle of elderberry syrup from a local company. While it was great, it lasted us only a few days and had agave in it, which I am not a super fan of.

I thought, if they can make it, I can too!  So I started researching it and found organic elderberries online, ordered some, got busy and then put them aside.

My Mom recently got a bad cold and I thought, no better time than the present.

The benefits of elderberries, especially where colds are concerned are big!  They are a great source of vitamin C, are full of antioxidants, have anti-vial and anti-histamine properties.  Elderberries also reduces mucus and inflammation of the sinus and mucus membranes.  I also recently found out that it can help with your complexion and wrinkles!

 I AM IN!!

It is recommended that you take a daily amount of 1-2 teaspoons and 1-2 tablespoon every couple of hours when fighting a cold or flu.

Now, as I said, I made this in a hurry for my Mom, so the pictures aren’t great.  Next time I will do a better job with the pictures and update them when I do.

So, here is the recipe:

1 1/2 cup dried Elderberries

7 cups water

2.5 teaspoons cinnamon

4.5 Tablespoons fresh ginger root or ginger powder

2 Teaspoons cloves

2 cups raw, local honey

(It is important to make sure that you allow your elderberry syrup to cool to below 90 degrees before adding honey in order to keep the integrity and healing powers of the honey.)

Place the elderberries, water, cinnamon, ginger and cloves into a pan.  Bring the mixture to a boil, cover and bring down to a simmer.  Continue cooking for about an hour and a half or until the mixture has reduced by half.

Strain out the berries.  I couldn’t see throwing the berries away so I shared them with the pigs and chickens.  They loved them, gobbled them right up!

Let the liquid cool to about room temp.  Add the honey and stir well.  Pour into bottles and refrigerate.  It will last several months in the refrigerator.

My kids LOVE the flavor of the syrup.  Sometime when I make iced tea, I throw a couple of handfuls of dried elderberries into the tea as it is steeping.  I strain the tea, add some, ice, juice and honey and YUM!

Do you use elderberries?

I have heard that you can make wine out of them as well!  That would certainly make any cold more bearable. 😉

Off they go….

Off they go…

When we got these little ones over 6 months ago, we knew what their purpose joining us here on the farm was.  We respected, loved and cared for these animals from the moment they arrived to us.  We vowed to give them a healthy and stress free life in turn for them providing us with healthy, stress free meat for our family.

That time came this past Sunday…

I knelt down, looked each one of these creatures that I’ve been caring for in the eye and said a heartfelt thank-you.

It was now time and we had work to do.

The sun was shining for the first day in what felt like forever!  We gave them some of their favorite food to buy us a little time to make the necessary preparations…it is true that a pig will do just about anything for food.

We backed the trailer in, filled it with hay and positioned the ramp, we were ready to go…or so we thought.  When the time came, the gate was opened.  I stood in the trailer, shook the bag of food and after checking out the situation, 3 of the 4 came walking up  the ramp.  The other, well he wasn’t going anywhere.  He was going to make us work hard today. 😉

After a muddy 2 man, 2 woman, 1 hog, country fair style pig scramble, he was on the trailer and they were ready to go.

Once the trailer pulled away, the farm-yard was still sunny, but very quiet.  I have to admit that it was a little sad, they were my little buddies, always ready to greet me because I usually came bearing food. 🙂

Will we do it again?

YES!

 Our first year with pigs was a success!  And by success I mean, we raised healthy, well cared for, drug free, stress free pigs and my FEAR of them getting loose and having to chase them all over God’s green earth didn’t happen…thank goodness!

  We are very fortunate to have land and the time to grow food for our family and friends.

That is our pig adventure for now…

Perhaps next year, we’ll add some pastured chickens for meat….maybe. 😉

My Baby is 3….

We recently celebrated my little one’s 3rd Birthday.

As much as I discourage my kids falling into the marketing and advertising traps, this little girl fell hard for Hello Kitty and I couldn’t say no to those giant blue eyes!

She got her Hello Kitty birthday complete with a Hello Kitty cake and decorations that I printed and strung.

We kept the decorations up for a week, then had to explain to this beautiful 3 year old that they had to come down, it was just time.  So we put them in the closet for use in another craft somewhere down the road. 🙂

On each little ones birthday, even through the celebration, craziness and hubbub, I find myself alone for a few minutes thinking about how fast they are growing.  I find myself looking into the future and seeing them finding their own way eventually away from me and it is just like a scene out of a movie.  Me – sad that they are leaving…them – smiling and happy to be spreading their wings.  I allow myself this realization one day a year because I don’t want them growing up too fast and I fear that if I think about it too often that it will come true.  So for now, it’s back to a 3 year olds birthday party and enjoying them just as they are today.

Quick note on the cake..I don’t use artificial food coloring so for the bow, in my spice grinder, I ground some freeze dried raspberries and added that to the buttercream. OMG!  It was amazing, like getting punched in the face with a giant raspberry, everyone wanted that piece!  I also used turmeric for the nose and natural licorice for the whiskers, eyes and mouth.

The last of the warm summer days…

Every year about this time I look around and think, did I have my windows open enough this summer?

Did we get enough fresh, warm air?

Did we do all that we wanted to this summer?

The answers:

There is never enough open window time. 🙂

The air is always fresh, though not always warm. 🙂

No, the summer escaped us, but all of the major ideas were accomplished.

Our garden was not uber fruitful this year.  We had a giant crop of cucumbers early on, before the beetles got them.  The  tomatoes did well before the hornworms got them.  Zucchini also did well, before the beetles came…We just donated the garden to the pigs, they loved it and are still digging out there, for a few more weeks anyway.

The seasons seem to change so fast around here!  One day it’s sweltering, the next the fire is roaring.  I fear that I’ve hung my last load of laundry on the line until the spring.  As much as I will miss all of the outside doings, I will have more time to take care of things inside now. 🙂  Bring on the baking, blogging, crafting and homeschooling!

I am ready.  We have had a very busy summer and are ready for a little slowdown.  We have some buttoning up of the farm around here, the chicken coop needs to be cleaned out and winterized, the pigs off to the butcher, summer gadgets put away for the winter and on and on….

Now that the warm weather is coming to an end, the grill will go away and so will one of our favorite meals.  It’s quick, a great vessel for leftovers and tastes great…

Since this is a quick grilling pizza, your sauce and toppings must be warm when they are put onto the pizza.

We used some leftover bacon from breakfast and garden goodies to make this one…

Pre-flip…

Post Flip.

Grilled Pizza!!

1 Dough ball

Leftovers from the fridge, garden etc…

Sauce

Cheese

 You can buy dough at the store or make your own.  I always pick one up while shopping, it keeps great in the freezer and is so quick and useful.  This dough was an organic sample given to us (perks of the “other” job)

Pre-heat grill to high, scrape your grill clean.  It often helps to take an old, clean towel drizzle  it with  olive oil and rub down the hot grill grates (quickly) using tongs to hold the towel.

Let dough sit out at room temp for about 20 minutes.  Rub a little olive oil on a sheet pan (leaving the corners dry).  Hand stretch the dough then place it on the tray.  Stretch the dough to the corners of the tray pressing the dough into the dry corners  (it helps the dough from shrinking back).

Meanwhile heat your sauce stove top.

Sauté all of your toppings.  I often just do this in a pan on the grill, top down with the pan handle sticking out while it is heating up….why waste the heat. 😉

Now….

Turn your grill to medium-high.  Slide your dough off the pan an onto the grill.  Close the grill and wait a few minutes.  Your dough will rise.  You are looking for nice grill marks on the underside and a nice crust.  Once that is formed, using a big spatula, place the spatula under the dough and begin to lift, quickly place your other hand to guide the top when flipping and continue the flip.

Now it’s time to top your pizza with the warm sauce, cheese and toppings.  Close the cover and allow cheese to melt and bottom to get a nice crust.  Once this is done, lift one side of your pizza, slide your original pan underneath and Voila! Dinner!

So Easy…you can omit the sauce and make it into a flatbread….

Pre-cook eggs, add salsa instead of sauce and you’ve got breakfast pizza…

Give it a try!  It’s an easy way to keep the kitchen clean and cool. 😛

If anyone out there has any organic remedies for squash beetles and hornworms, I’d love to know! 🙂