exploring, preserving: past, present

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Autumn, Sore Throats, and Tea Time

Our house is full again. We host Chinese students learning to speak English at a local university. I love to cook, and I love to learn to cook new things from them. A go to recipe that many of our girls have happily made with me is a simple mix of raw honey, freshly chopped ginger, and fresh sliced lemon.


A couple of teaspoons of this in hot water is great to soothe sore throats. The ginger gives it a nice little kick. It’s also a tasty addition to any cup of dark leaf tea. Yum.



Saturday Upsides – finding the Positive!

I’ve been thinking about starting “Saturday Upsides” posts ever since Bonnie started them a month or so ago. This Saturday (yesterday) seems the perfect situation to highlight for my first post like this. But first, the back-story….

Bonnie from Recipes Happen had the idea to do Saturday posts that look for the positive in things/situations that might, on the surface, look not so positive.

Now for my Saturday story. Yesterday (Saturday), I woke up feeling horrendous. Near-migraine, chills, stomach pains…and all this had been building since Wednesday night. But I thought it would eventually just go away. Not so! So a 7 am trip to the walk-in clinic confirmed I needed antibiotics and bedrest.

Okay, that means my Saturday would be spent in bed, cuddling with my dog Selah. That’s not so bad, right?

Selah, my 9-year-old Shih-tzu.

That in itself could be considered the upside of my Saturday. But I did have one other upside. I found enough energy to gather 3 very simple ingredients to make what I had always wanted to make–a mixture of honey, ginger, and lemon to use in hot water for when I’m feeling icky.

This concentrate is so easy to make.  Just take two lemons, slice them very thinly, and place into a 500 or 750mL jar (size depends on the ratio of honey to lemons you want, I chose 750mL). Chop up 2tbsp of fresh ginger and add to the jar. Pour unpasteurized honey over the top, making sure you mix to get rid of air bubbles.

Two tablespoons of this mixed with hot water is so good.

Actually, a tablespoon of this with a shot of rum or whisky is also quite medicinal.  😉

So, my Saturday that could have been me moping away the day had two upsides: I cuddled all day with my dog, and I tried a recipe that I had wanted to make (and it took only one minute of my time!) that will help me feel better!

Want to join the Saturday Upsides conversation? Just add Bonnie’s picture and link (see above) to your post and join us!  (And thanks Bonnie for starting the trend!)


Making Lip Balm…First Time Success! #Recipe included.

I’m branching way out of my comfort zone tonight, but it wasn’t as far (or as difficult) as I had anticipated.  I made lip balm. Really, *really* easy! All recognizable ingredients, none of the butenes or other chemicals companies add to make it “shiny” or “pretty”.

Here you see all I used…except the honey and beeswax

I used a recipe from Frugally Sustainable (click here for their recipe), but I reduced it because at first I didn’t want to make a lot of it (didn’t know if I’d like the recipe), and as I was making it I realized I only had enough sweet almond oil for about half of their recipe.  All in all, it worked out in the end. My adjusted recipe is at the end of this post.

L’Occitane Shea Butter

There are only a few places in my city that sell pure shea butter. I lucked out and found organic fairly traded stuff from L’Occitane (this stuff in its pure form is great for psoriasis, shingles, cracked heels…).

Sweet almond oil and vanilla oil

I’m still looking around for better sources for the essential oils I know I want to collect for more recipes (like shampoo bars, soap, and … more lip balm!). A craft store sold these tiny vials for way too much money, but since this was my first attempt I splurged instead of waiting to find bigger jars from a better and cheaper source.

kitchen scale

This is my brand new kitchen scale. I love it. It measures to 5 pounds maximum, and that’s all I’ll need for the recipes I want to try. And it only set me back 20 bucks! (I picked it up at a big box store from their kitchen section.)

Charcoal-filtered Beeswax

BeeMaid Honey (Manitoba) has a warehouse in my city, and an outlet store where you can pick up raw and filtered beeswax, raw honey, wicks, molds, jars, beekeeping supplies–it’s awesome! I bought 8 pounds of filtered beeswax. The lipbalm recipe requires only an ounce or so, and I plan to use the beeswax for candlemaking and other recipes too. (Yes, more blog posts!)

local BeeMaid unpasteurized honey

This Manitoba honey is so yummy on buttered toast in the morning…mmm. I’m hoping it will make the lipbalm be just as yummy (grin).

A few pictures of the lipbalm-making process now follow, and this took only five minutes from start (measuring) to middle (melting and mixing) to finish (cooled product):

Sweet almond oil, beeswax, and shea butter melting together.

After stirring in vanilla oil and honey to the melted mixture, contents are poured into containers.

Cooled lipbalm–I made two 35mL containers.

Notice that the container on the left looks like it has two layers? That’s probably some of the honey that settled on the bottom. To avoid that, I should have been stirring madly while pouring the mixture into the containers before cooling.  (Stirring is not necessary while cooling.)

With the amount of ingredients I had at hand, and with my desire not to go overboard with my first attempt, I made two 35mL containers. (The containers are actually single serving salad dressing containers!)

So, here’s my adjusted-for-size as well as adjusted-for-ingredient-availability recipe:

Honey and Vanilla Oil Lipbalm

1 tbsp (1/2 oz.) sweet almond oil

1 tbsp (1/2 oz.) shea butter

2 tsp (1/3 oz.) filtered beeswax (raw beeswax is okay, it will just colour the balm beige)

3/4 tsp (0.7 oz.) raw unpasteurized honey

1/4 tsp vanilla oil

Melt sweet almond oil, shea butter, and beeswax in pot over low heat. (This will happen quickly with such a small recipe!)

Remove pot from heat. Stir in vanilla oil and honey. To ensure the honey does not settle into its own layer but instead is incorporated into the entire mixture, it is important to stir “madly” at this point! I recommend stirring while pouring the contents into whatever container(s) you are using too.

Once mixture is poured into container(s), let sit on counter to cool (uncovered). Seal container(s) when cool. Enjoy!