November 14, 2008

Herbed Turkey Recipe or How I Broke Out of my Left Brained Cooking Mode

OK, admit it. Every year, the same old turkey. I know it's a tradition, but if you're looking for something a little different and wonderful, read on!

After becoming "herbie", I decided that there was something sacrilegious about not cooking with herbs in everything I did. One Thanksgiving I decided to throw caution to the wind and experiment on my family. (Quite frankly, that was the beginning of experiments on my unsuspecting brood. They are all still my favorite guinea pigs!!)

Grabbing my helpless, unsuspecting Honeysuckle White from the water, I plopped it on the counter and opened up the herb cupboard. I was fairly new to herbs so I had a little sheet on the inside of the cupboard that showed all the things herbs go best with. I started scanning for anything that would work with poultry or anything feathered. There were several wonderful selections which all happened to be staring out at me begging for a culinary debut.

I started pulling out jars like a woman possessed. (If you've ever met me, I pretty much act that way all the time!) There was the traditional sage. Marjoram, rosemary, oregano, lemon balm, savory. As I stared at the collection of jars and bottles before me that old overwhelmed feeling started in the pit of my stomach. Being seriously left brained, (I don't think I even have a right lobe at all) I am one of those cooks who follows a recipe down to the letter, so this was scary to say the least and on a level with jumping from a 100 foot building at most. But I was determined. I pushed on.

I thought perhaps the muscle test might work. You know, that thing where you hold out your arm and with the other hand hold something close like sugar and see how your body reacts when someone tries to push down on the outstretched arm? Well anyway, the turkey wasn't cooperating at all. I lifted a wing and held a spice close. No response. Hmmmm. Finally I decided to get in touch with my creative side, whatever that was. I opened jars, sniffed, put two jars together and sniffed. This went on for 15 minutes. My husband walked in, took one look at me, shook his head and kept walking. (He's done that a lot lately, come to think of it.) Next the sons who, just because they are adults now and out of the house, think they know everything. ("HERBED Turkey? What the heck is THAT! Come on, MOM! Just make it the way you normally do!") But I was a woman on a mission. Can't be an herbie if you don't live it.

Finally, I decided on the sage, the rosemary, the marjoram and the oregano. Plus some chopped garlic I had handy. And of course salt and pepper.

I poured some olive oil into a bowl. (Much healthier than butter, which Mom used to use to rub on the turkey). Then I added the spices. About 1/2 cup of olive oil. I purposely didn't measure, cause real cooks don't measure. (Wonder who came up with THAT lie?!) Then about a tablespoon of each of my selected spices. I mixed it up well and proceeded to pour a small amount into my hand. As it dribbled through my fingers, (that move needs work) I quickly got my hands over the turkey and let it run out. Next I grabbed the bowl and poured a small amount on "Tom". Then I began the first avian massage. I worked and massaged until my 20 pounder was covered from neck hole to the part that went over the fence last as well as inside with my special brew. I convinced myself that this would also make the meat much more tender, so I put my whole heart and soul into it. I kept pouring and massaging until I had used up all the contents. There I stood, over my victim with my hands greasy and in mid air. (another confused but sympathetic look from my husband). Even if it didn't taste good, this was the most fun I've ever had preparing food!

We always stuff our birds, so that went in next. My loving hubby grabbed the bowl of stuffing out of the refrigerator and placed it next to the bird on the counter. ("Why don't you just wipe your hands off?") SNORT! Be CAUSE, I want all that nice mixture to get into the stuffing as well. Men!

After stuffing every last bit into the cavity and the neck skin, Tom was ready for the oven. I put him in at 325 degrees with some foil over the top to seal in the steam. The house smelled heavenly and soon, men and dogs were wandering in to "Help with the basting"! (Where were these guys when I was wrestling this 20 lb slippery beast?)

About 30 minutes before he was done, I took Tom's foil blankie off so he could get nice and brown. And then, the moment of truth. My husband proudly carved and everyone ooo'd and ahhhh'd at my masterpiece. I waited expectantly while everyone else dug in. Tick tick tick tick. (Now I know how Alex Trebeck feels!) WELL?!!!

Amidst grunts, slurps and nods, I got the message that the Herbed Turkey was a success. It was wonderful and tender and the herbs gave it a wonderfully subtle but delightfully different taste. I smiled happily as I spooned out some more stuffing. Wait a minute, what's that thing? Looks like paper. I pulled it apart from the stuffing. THE GIBLETS! (I wondered what had happened to those!) So, lesson learned. Make sure you do a thorough body cavity search before embarking on this adventure!

Bon Appetite!!

I just want to give special thanks to all my customers and clients for the great year we've had! (You know who you are!!!!) May your holidays be blessed and full of God's great bounty.

Karen

Happy Herbal Thanksgiving!!!!!

Hi Everyone!

I can't believe it's November already. This year has just flown by and we've already had snow several times here in Michigan's beautiful Upper Peninsula.

Thanks to everyone who wrote in about the TV Spot. We had lots of fun doing it, and it lets everyone get a little look at the shop, and me!

Well, 2008 has almost passed us by and as I look back through the blog entries, it occurs to me that I neglected to put ANYTHING in about Calendula, the Herb of the Year for 2008. Mea Culpa!!

So, before the closing bell, here's a wonderful little recipe that is very easy for you to do at home and will use up some of the calendula you may have saved from your harvest. It's a nice Herbal Salve that is very easy to make, yet has the wonderful healing properties of calendula and comfrey. No water, so no worries about buggies! The recipe can be doubled or even tripled if you want to make up some nice gifts for Christmas giving, (did I say that OUT LOUD?!) and for all you women who have hunters for husbands, this will help those rough, hunting hands and any other wounds that may come back from camp!!


Use as a topical first aid cream for cuts, scrapes, blemishes and bruises. Apply to injuries to speed healing and prevent infection.

Ingredients:1 tablespoon oil(sunflower, safflower, almond, apricot, I like to use jojoba. Avocado is also very nice!)

1 teaspoon granulated beeswax
10 drops lavender essential oil
10 drops eucalyptus essential oil
3 drops tea tree oil

1 teaspoon very finely chopped calendula petals
1/2 teaspoon comfrey leaf cut and sifted or crushed in mortar and pestle
1 vitamin E gel cap

Directions:Use a one oz. glass container. Prick a hole into the vitamin E capsule with a pin and squeeze out the contents. Add all ingredients. Mix well with a toothpick. Place container on a microwave safe dish. Microwave for 1 minute or until all wax is dissolved. Stir with a toothpick. Place in freezer to speed cooling and consolidation.


There you have it! Now, in keeping with the season, I've done two blog entries this month. The other one is one of the first articles I wrote concerning my switch from Traditional Thanksgiving Turkey to Herbal Thanksgiving Turkey. It lets you in on a little bit more of me and my clan and is actually a great recipe if you're ready to start using herbs in your cooking! Enjoy!!

October 23, 2008

I'd Like to thank the Academy!!!!!!

Well, things at All Goode Gifts are just jumping, in spite of the current state of the economy! A lovely young girl named Elizabeth from our local television station came out to the shop and spent a good hour with me and one of my favorite local customers, Lisa.



The result is a lovely little video that I've posted here for you to see. It focuses on my beliefs about herbal alternatives, how we do things and some very nice comments from Lisa, whose favorite product is the Peppermint Body Wash!



Here's the video!


video


We are so thankful to Channel 6 in Marquette for the coverage! And to Lisa for her kind words!


August 25, 2008

Back to School? Already!?

Hi Everyone,

Well, I can't believe how fast the summer has passed me by. I've been busy harvesting herbs, picking wild blueberries, making pesto to preserve my basil for the winter and September is only 1 week away! Where on earth did the summer go?

Fall is actually my favorite season. I love the smell of wood stoves being cranked up on the chilly nights, football season, the extraordinarily beautiful colors of the woods where we live and warm, apple cider with cloves, cinnamon and a little orange peel. But alas, when the kiddos go back to school, it seems everyone I know ends up sick.

Children are back inside classrooms instead of being out in the sunshine and fresh air. They are breathing recycled air, being exposed to others with all sorts of maladies and, if they haven't eaten particularly well during the summer, dealing with compromised immune systems that cannot fight off the buggies that will come.

There are several things to do, starting with making sure their diets are as healthy as they can be. Try to eliminate as much sugar as you can. There is scientific research that tells us sugar depletes the effectiveness of our immune systems, yet our children consume more of it than any other nation. This, plus a lack of exercise is contributing to the almost epidemic levels of childhood obesity and childhood diabetes. These are not experienced at our levels any place else in the world and study after study attribute it to our diets and sedentary lifestyle.

Luckily, there are plenty of fall/winter sports your children can become involved with, so encourage them to get out there and exercise. Your local YWCA/YMCA have some wonderful programs for children, so check those out as well.

Lots of healthy green vegetables, fresh fruits while you can still get them - avoid the juices, lean meats, no fried foods and plenty of sleep every night are essential to keep your little ones happy and healthy.

OK, so where do the herbs come in? Well, echinacea and goldenseal have been the "go to" standard for centuries for the immune system. I don't personally suggest goldenseal for children as it is stronger and pretty bitter to the taste. Also, go for glycerites instead of alcohol based tinctures. They taste sweet, so the little ones will take them. Here's my short list of the herbs that will help with the upcoming cold and flu season and to build up those little immune systems:


  • Elderberry
  • Valerian
  • Echinacea
  • Chamomile
  • California Poppy
  • Catnip
  • Lemon Balm
  • Catnip
  • Skullcap

Now the herbalists among you may have noticed several herbs in there with sedative properties. Absolutely! I think they are very important to help the children get the critical sleep they need, from 8 - 10 hours per night. Try giving your little bunnies some chamomile or lemon balm tea with honey one hour before bed. I have also had great success with my customers who have children with ADD or ADHD with these formulas.

Or, you can get the glycerites from me at www.allgoodegifts.com in the Apothecary. These are listed under the Herbal Elixirs section. I also have a "Baby Bunny Tonic" for babies and pre-schoolers to help with colic, diarrhea, colds, flu, coughs, upset tummies, teething, irritability and sleeplessness.

So bundle up, get outside, enjoy the fresh air, and have a wonderful start to the school year!

Until next time!!

Karen

August 6, 2008

Foods for Healing

In addition to the myriad of herbs available to help make our lives more pleasant and healthy, there are many foods that can help us achieve that balance of wellness and health in our bodies.

I've attached a link to a beautiful little video put out by The School of Natural Healing, a wonderful school established by Dr. Christopher. This article has been floating around the internet, but I wanted to offer the video to all my readers. Here's the link:

http://www.herballegacy.com/Gods_Pharmacy.html

One of the easiest/hardest things we can do for our continued longevity and health is to eat a good diet. It's easy because you don't need a lot of complex machinery, it's readily available and it's fairly inexpensive. It's hard because our lives are so hectic, almost everything pre-packaged is full of harmful preservatives and chemicals and frankly, cooking from scratch is time-consuming.

But the benefits are far-reaching. It is amazing in my practice when I consult with clients. The first thing we address is diet. All recommendations start with dietary recommendations. After several weeks of doing little things like switching from white flour to whole wheat, stone ground flour, substituting honey for sugar, making the switch to decaf coffee etc., there is an amazing Ah HA! experience that everyone goes through. Who would have thought that something so simple would make such dramatic results. But it does and I've seen it time and time again in every sort of malady.

Here's a list of my dietary "Seven Deadly Sins":

  • white flour
  • sugar
  • artificial sweeteners
  • fried foods
  • pre-packaged foods
  • artificial preservatives
  • caffeine

All of these play havoc with the endocrine system. This affects the hormones as well as the immunity. Making simple substitutions will make a world of difference in your health and energy levels. Not to mention slow those kids down who are on a constant "sugar high".

Try more fresh fruits, fresh veggies, lean, hormone free meats, whole grains, pure dairy and pure water in your diet. Easy to do, hard to get started, but oh so worth it!

Valere! (Be Well!)

July 4, 2008

Time for Sunscreen!

Hi Everyone,

Well, summer seems to be in full swing around the nation. Even here in the upper peninsula, the sun seems to be shining brightly and folks are getting out and soaking it up.

You should always use something on your skin when you go out in the sun. I always wear a hat. It seems sesame oil is the best natural carrier oil to use, but it cannot be rated by SPF, so may not be satisfactory to many customers.

With qualms about skin cancer everywhere, sunscreen is the number one product going to the beach and pools with people, but which ones are the safest from a health standpoint? The SPF rating is only part of what you need to know, since it only tells you about UVB (sunburn) protection. That's why EWG's rating system includes critical information on UVA protection, how stable the product is in the sun, and potential health hazards of ingredients.

One of our favorite sites is EWG.org or the Environmental Working Group. They have several wonderful databases and a special one for skin care products. Lots of research here. EWG has a rating system that includes critical information on UVA protection, how stable products are in the sun and potential hazards of ingredients. We have a link on our website at
www.allgoodegifts.com so go check them out.

A recent article of theirs listed the top 10 "safe" sunscreens to use. Here's the list:

Keys Soap Solar Rx Therapeutic Sunblock, SPF 30

Trukid Sunny Days Facestick Mineral Sunscreen UVA/UVB Broad Spectrum, SPF 30+

California Baby Sunblock Stick No Fragrance, SPF 30+

Badger Sunscreen, SPF 30

Marie Veronique Skin Therapy Sun Serum

Lavera Sunscreen Neutral, SPF 40

Vanicream Sunscreen, SPF 35

UV Natural Sunscreen, SPF 30+

Sun Science Sport Formula, SPF 30

Soleo Organics Sunscreen all natural Sunscreen, SPF 30+

So stay safe out there. Have fun, but remember to take care of your skin! Until next time!

July 1, 2008

Eight chemicals that should NOT be in your personal care products

Quick. Go to your bathroom and grab some of your favorite personal care products. We're going to play a little game here called "What the heck is going on my skin?"

Which organ of the body is the largest? Tick, Tick, Tick. Time's up. The SKIN! Are you surprised? Many people don't really think of their skin as an organ, but everything you put on your skin eventually ends up in your body. Yep - EVERYTHING! So it's critical if we want to maintain a healthy state of wellness, that we watch not only what goes in our bodies, but what goes on them as well.

Now, have you got your goodies? Turn them over and look at the ingredients on the back. How many of them can you NOT pronounce? Be honest! Even if you took phonics in elementary school and can manage to "sound them out", how many of them do you really recognize? Do you know what they are? What they do?

Many of the ingredients you see there are used for preserving the product so it can stay on the shelves for an extended period of time. Below is a list of eight ingredients that you should avoid like the plague in your personal care products. This would include soap, body wash, shampoo, body sprays, hair spray, hair mousse, hair gel, deoderant, anti-perspirant, conditioners, moisturizers, etc.

Mineral Oil, Paraffin, and Petrolatum – These are petroleum products that coat the skin like plastic, clogging pores and creating a build-up of toxins, which in turn accumulate and can lead to all sorts of skin problems. They slow cellular development, which can cause you to show earlier signs of aging. Suspected cause of cancer. Disruptive of hormonal activity. By the way, when there’s an oil spill in the ocean, don’t they rush to clean it up – fast? Do you REALLY want to put this stuff on your skin?

Parabens – Widely used as preservatives in the cosmetic industry (including moisturizers). An estimated 13,200 cosmetic and skin care products contain parabens. Studies implicate their connection with cancer. They have hormone-disrupting qualities – mimicking estrogen – and interfere with the body’s endocrine system. Not a good idea for women suffering from PCOS, PMS, infertility issues, breast cancer or menopausal problems. And these things are in EVERYTHING, gals.

Phenol carbolic acid– Found in many lotions and skin creams. Can cause circulatory collapse, paralysis, convulsions, coma and even death from respiratory failure.

Propylene glycol – Used as a moisturizer in cosmetics and as a carrier in fragrance oils. Shown to cause dermatitis, kidney or liver abnormalities, and may inhibit skin cell growth or cause skin irritation.

Acrylamide– Found in many hand and face creams. Linked to mammary tumors in lab research.
Sodium laurel or lauryl sulfate (SLS), also known as sodium laureth sulfate (SLES)– Found in car washes, engine degreasers, garage floor cleaners… and in over 90% of personal care products! SLS breaks down the skin’s moisture barrier, easily penetrates the skin, and allows other chemicals to easily penetrate. Combined with other chemicals, SLS becomes a “nitrosamine”, a potent class of carcinogen. It can also cause hair loss. SLES is sometimes disguised with the labeling “comes from coconut” or “coconut-derived”.

Toluene – Poison! Danger! Harmful or fatal if swallowed! Harmful if inhaled or absorbed through the skin. Made from petroleum or coal tar, and found in most synthetic fragrances. Chronic exposure linked to anemia, lowered blood cell count, liver or kidney damage, and may affect a developing fetus. Butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT) contains toluene. Other names may include benzoic and benzyl.

Dioxane– Found in compounds known as PEG, Polysorbates, Laureth, ethoxylated alcohols. Common in a wide range of personal care products. The compounds are usually contaminated with high concentrations of highly volatile 1,4-dioxane, easily absorbed through the skin.

Dioxane’s carcinogenicity was first reported in 1965 and later confirmed in studies including one from the National Cancer Institute in 1978. Nasal passages and liver are the most vulnerable. Dioxane is easily removed during the manufacturing process by “vacuum stripping”. Warning: It is a synthetic derivative of coconut. Watch for hidden language on labels, such as “comes from coconut”.

OK, so you may be asking, why does the FDA allow these chemicals in your products if they are so dangerous? Great question. The FDA limits the amount that may be used in personal care products. (So they MUST know something, yes?) The normal "accepted" amount is .1%

I can hear many of you saying, "Come on, Karen, that's pretty minimal", and you're right. But that amount is PER PRODUCT. So, if you're using several products and they all contain these ingredients and you're doing it every day for 365 days a year for 10-50 years, . . . I think you see where I'm going.

I truly believe that many of the problems we are encountering as a society can be traced back to some of this. So if you're truly looking for a balanced state of health and wellness, take a look at those labels. If you absolutely cannot LIVE without your "super duper, make you look 20 years younger cream", then maybe you can start using a pure, natural goat's milk soap to bathe with or a pure castille body wash. Start small and try to wean yourself off some of this and read those labels. You'll be surprised how even the very expensive as well as some of the "all natural" products out there are full of hidden dangerous chemicals.

All Goode Gifts prides itself on not using ANY of these products EVER in anything we make. Come and visit us at
http://www.allgoodegifts.com/ and see if we can't offer you a wonderfully healthy alternative to your personal care products.

June 18, 2008

Herbs for a Hospital Stay

Hi All!

Well, I just spent the last two days in the hospital for some minor surgery. I'm not a big proponent of hospitals or doctors, but sometimes, they are necessary. It occurred to me that others who want to keep their bodies as pure and unpolluted by pharmaceuticals as possible may face a pending hospital stay with some trepidation.

Not to worry. There are several things you can do to help your body heal faster and get you back to a state of balance and wellness quickly.

First, always let your doctor know of ANY herbs you take on a regular basis or are taking for something specific, like hawthorn for your heart. It's important that they know this as herbs can have interactions with pharmaceutical medications.

Prior to my stay, I made sure that I built up my immune system with some of my favorites like echinacea, goldenseal and holy basil. I also take plenty of vitamins A, C, E and selenium, as well as zinc every day, so I increased these a little two weeks before my scheduled stay.

I stopped all herbal formulas 72 hours before the surgery. During my stay I made sure that I drank plenty of water to keep my system flushing.

After returning home, my regimen consisted of eleuthero root, which helps facilitate recuperation during convalescence. I also add ginseng and schisandra which are adaptogenic and help support the body's resistance to stress. In addition, I am eating plenty of raw yogurt to get the beneficial bacteria that the antibiotics killed back into my system. Any time you take antibiotics, they kill not only the bad bacteria, but the good as well, so make sure you replace them with acidophilus supplements or pure, raw yogurt.

Lastly, I am in the process of a short, 2 week liver cleanse made up of burdock root, dandelion root and milk thistle to help the liver purge all the impurities.

The doctors were amazed at how quickly I was up and about and my vitals were normal from the time I came out of the operating room. It helps to have your body in top condition before you go in and to get it back into a state of balance as soon as possible when you return.

There are many herbs that can help with this, but if you have questions, or need a custom formula to get you ready for a hospital stay or just back on your feet afterward, send me an e-mail. Until next time, Be Well!

Karen

June 13, 2008

All Goode Gifts New Blog!

Hi Everybody!

I'm so excited about our new blog! This is something I've been wanting to do for ages, but just never got around to it. After some encouraging from a very dear friend, here we are!

This blog will not only keep you up to date with what All Goode Gifts is up to, but will provide answers for many of your herbal questions as well as occasional recipes, new featured products, pictures of our home in the "Great North Woods" or anything else I can come up with.

If you have questions you'd like to see answered or addressed here, please e-mail me at allgoodegifts@yahoo.com and we'll get them up there.

Keep coming back!