Time for Thyme Tea?

So, last weekend I started coughing a bit, no big deal. I tried to exercise, get rest, eat healthy so that I could knock out whatever was going on. To no avail. Yikes! The cough got way worse rather quickly. I didn’t feel that badly, not really a fever or very slight one, kind of tired, goo dripping down my throat. Well, the cough was unlike any cough I’ve had. Coughing so much I would throw up. And all sorts of other fun things. Good grief. Did call the doctor. Since I am on a cartload of meds for hypertension and my heart, some options are limited. He suggested I try an antihistamine, which has helped. But in a fit of desperation I went searching for herbal remedies. Apparently, in Germany thyme as well as other herbs are widely recognized as effective for coughs and other conditions. I could not really find a reference that was verifiable, but went to WebMd to look up supplements for cough. And lo and behold, thyme and honey, as well as some others were listed as being possibly effective.¬†http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/condition-1127-Cough.aspx?diseaseid=1127&diseasename=Cough&source=2

So, throughout the duration of this week, I’ve been drinking thyme and honey tea. I put either a bunch of thyme sprigs in a teapot and pour hot water over them. Or, I use a tea ball and put 1/2-1 tsp of dried thyme in the ball in the cup and then pour the hot water. After five or ten minutes I stir in the honey. I don’t know if it is the hot liquid or if the honey and thyme have special properties that help. All I can say is that it helps significantly. Last night in the middle of the night I got up and made a cup of the tea and brought it back to bed. Quickly, it settled my hacking. It tastes fine, although I’m a little tired of thyme right now, but it is definitely helping. I usually have awful awful coughs. My throat muscles seem to over-react and so they are in over-drive with the slightest provocation. Am so excited to find something that helps.

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Scarlet Runner Bean stew for Meatless Monday

Yummy. These are beautiful, big, colorful beans, which cook up very nicely. I get most of my dried beans from Rancho Gordo (www.ranchogordo.com) , which sells excellent quality dried beans. It is definitely worth getting top quality raw ingredients. It makes a difference in how much time it takes to cook and also the overall flavor. I took a cup of these and soaked them for a couple of hours. Next, sauteed an onion and some kale and garlic in a little bit of olive oil. Threw in a jar of homecanned tomatoes, some oregano, and a healthy pinch of red pepper flakes. Let the mix simmer a while. Decided it needed something more and chopped up probably 2 cups of cabbage. Added 1 T. of red wine vinegar. It was actually quite good. Served it with rice. I intended to sprinkle with parmesan cheese, but forgot to do so. Excellent. Healthy. Frugal.

Apricot Almond Tart

This is an adaptation of several recipes. Wonderful dessert. Absolutely delicious. I used the tart pastry recipe from Alice Water’s The Art of Simple Cooking, with several modifications: I used chilled tequila for 1/2 the cold water. Would have used vodka but didn’t have any. Also substituted one T. of vinegar for an equivalent amt. of water. I have read that vinegar reduces the gluten making it easier to roll out. The alcohol makes it flaky, at least that is my understanding. After making the dough in the processor, I let it chill in the fridge for a couple of hours before rolling out. I did use butter in the pastry, but want to try using oil for half of the fat next time. I’d already made so many changes, I wanted to see how this worked before making more changes to the pastry recipe.

The filling was a recipe from Gale Gand’s Sweet Dreams from Food Network website¬†with several changes. The recipe called for puff pastry, but since I didn’t have any, I used the tart dough. I also used dried apricots, a handful, which I put in a small bowl with about 1/2 c. water and microwaved for a minute, then let sit for 30 minutes or so, until soft. I wound up using substantially more apricots than the original recipe called for, and we really liked the result. Plus, it is difficult to find good quality, flavorful fresh apricots, so I usually substitute dried. Finally, at the end, the recipe called for dusting with powdered sugar. Before doing that, I microwaved a couple of tablespoons of raspberry jelly to liquify it, then brushed it over the top of the tart to give it a little glaze. Then I dusted it with a sprinkling of powdered sugar. I will definitely make this again.

My guests loved the recipe.

As you can see, I make alot of modifications, partly based on what I have on hand, partly just personal preference.