Friday, September 22, 2017

Arnica Salve Recipe

Arnica Salve for Bruising and Muscle Pain

Thankfully, I recently made a batch of Arnica Salve. Not more than a few days after I made the salve, I took a hard fall while stepping through the front door of my house with my arms full of heavy bags. My right knee and left elbow took the brunt of the tumble. I limped into the bathroom to inspect the damage, and my elbow and knee were already swelling and turning purple. (My left hip had some bruising too, but wasn't nearly as painful. Small graces!)

I gently but thoroughly rubbed on the salve, and kept this regimen up about four times a day for a week. Not only did it help with the bruising, but I felt as though it took some of the pain away for a time after each application.

Was I ever glad that I had this salve in my arsenal! And it's easy for you to do the same. Here's how I made it:

Arnica Salve

1 cup olive or coconut oil (I used a combination)
enough dried arnica flowers to completely infuse the oil
1/4 cup beeswax pellets (sometimes called pastilles)
essential oil of your choice (optional)
2 wide-mouth half-pint canning jars or other suitable containers, sanitized
2 lids for the half-pint jars (I use the plastic storage lids that Ball sells.)

If you have a double boiler, you're in luck--use that for this next part. But if you don't, do what I do. I use a smallish Pyrex mixing bowl that, when set on another saucepot, fits snugly with plenty of room underneath so I can add water. Voila! A DIY double boiler.

To the Pyrex mixing bowl, add the oil and arnica flowers, making sure that the oil is pretty much filled with the arnica. I imagine that if you use a half-cup, that would be plenty, but I usually use more. (This is based on my notion that the more arnica, the stronger the oil will be, but I have no idea if that's correct. Yet, it pleases me, so I do it.)

 Turn on the heat to about medium-low. You don't want to boil the oil, but rather, get it barely hot. Let the oil/arnica mixture sit there for about 45 minutes, stirring gently every so often, and turning the heat up or down as needed. Remember! Never let the oil mixture come to a boil.

Take the oil off of the heat and strain out the arnica using several layers of cheesecloth or a flour sack-type kitchen towel so all the bits are caught. Pour the strained oil back into the Pyrex mixing bowl or double boiler, add the beeswax, and on low heat, stir until the beeswax is melted. (This won't take long because the oil is already hot.)Once the beeswax is melted, add essential oil if using (I love lavender), stir it in, and then pour the salve into the prepared jars. Keep the lids off the jars until the salve has cooled and set up. Screw on the lids and store the salve in the bathroom, a cupboard, or even the fridge if your house is hot (like during a heat wave in summer and you don't have air conditioning).

Following are some handy links for online purchase of supplies:

Organic dried flowers, herbs, and much, much more at Mountain Rose Herbs.
Beeswax, essential oils, and lots more at Glory Bee
Canning jars and plastic lids can be found at Ball/Kerr canning supplies.
And then, of course, there's always Amazon.

Making your own salves and ointments is easy and so, so satisfying. I hope you try some today!

Blessings to you and yours,
Georgia, plain and simple

Saturday, April 29, 2017

5 Great Tasting Taco Recipes

I think tacos are great any day of the week. In fact, I love them so much, that rarely a week goes by that doesn't include tacos for at least one meal. I have a number of different recipes that I use to keep things interesting, and I want to share five of my ideas in this blog post.

We'll take a quick look at how to prepare five of my favorites: classic ground beef tacos, spicy shrimp tacos, sauteed scallop tacos, chicken fajita tacos, and pork and black bean tacos.

Classic Beef Tacos

1 lb. ground beef
1 onion, diced
2-4 T. chili powder
1/4 cup (more or less) water
1-4 T. chili powder (depending on how much heat you like and how hot your chili pepper is)
1 tsp. ground cumin
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 tsp. garlic powder or crushed garlic

For garnish: 
1 bunch fresh cilantro, snipped
1-2 tomatoes, chopped
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 cup shredded Monterey pepper Jack

Spicy Shrimp Tacos with Pineapple Mango Salsa

3-5 large shrimp per serving, depending on size
Tony Chacere's Creole Spice
1 cup pineapple, diced
1 cup mango, diced
1/2 cup red bell pepper, diced
1 paste (also called plum) tomato, diced
2 green onions, chopped (use the white parts and part of the green parts)
2 T. lime juice
1 T. lemon juice
2 T. cilantro, plus more for garnishing
1 jalapeno pepper, finely chopped
corn tortillas

To make the salsa: Mix together the pineapple, mango, bell pepper, tomato, green onions, lime juice, lemon juice, cilantro, and jalapeno. Refrigerate while making the shrimp.

To cook shrimp: If the shrimp still have their tails on, gently grasp the meat near the tail end and pull; the shrimp should slide out of the tail. Sprinkle the Tony Chacere's Creole Spice onto the shrimp. (If you haven't before used this spice mix, know that's it's quite spicy, so use a light touch.) Heat a small amount of oil in a saucepan and cook the shrimp, turning once halfway through cooking. It should take only about 4 minutes to cook the shrimp. You'll know they're done when the meat turns white and pink.

Heat the tortillas, add the salsa, and top with shrimp. Add a bit more of the cilantro if desired.

Chicken Fajita Tacos

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, thinly sliced
1/2 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
1/2 yellow bell pepper, thinly sliced
1/2 green bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 small to medium onion, thinly sliced
1 tomato, chopped
3-4 T. chili powder, more or less, depending on taste
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. cumin
1/8 cup water
4 T. lemon or lime juice (or use a combination of the two)
corn tortillas
cilantro for garnish
cheddar cheese (optional)

In a saucepan on medium heat to which a small amount of oil has been added, sauté the chicken for several minutes, turning the pieces to get both sides. When most of the pink is gone from the meat, add the peppers and onion and continue to cook for about 5 minutes or until the peppers start to soften. Add the tomato, chili powder, garlic power, cumin, and water and sauce, stirring occasionally, until much of the water has evaporated and the peppers are cooked. Add the lemon/lime juice and cook for another few minutes until the juice has reduced somewhat

Heat the tortillas and spread the chicken mixture across the tortilla. Garnish with cilantro, and cheddar cheese if using.

Sautéed Scallop Tacos with Yogurt Lime Drizzle

about 6 small bay scallops per serving
thinly sliced cabbage
1 small onion, thinly sliced
avocado, peeled and sliced
1 cup plain yogurt
3 T. lime juice
1/2 tsp. cumin
1 clove garlic, minced
salt and pepper to taste
corn tortillas

To prepare the yogurt lime drizzle: Mix together the yogurt, lime juice, cumin, garlic, salt and pepper, and some of the cilantro. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

If the muscles are still attached to the scallops, remove them. Rinse the scallops and pat them dry. Dredge them in flour and shake off excess. (You can also gently shake them in a baggie to coat.)

On medium-high, heat enough oil to cover the bottom of a saucepan. Sauté the scallops, turning to sear all sides. Cook just until done, which should only be about 4 minutes, but could be longer depending on the size of the scallops.

Heat the tortillas; layer on the cabbage, onions, avocado, and scallops. Drizzle with the yogurt lime sauce and garnish with cilantro.

Pork Tacos with Salsa Verde and Black Beans

This is a great meal to make on days when you're busy outside of the home because you can slow cook the meat and quickly finish up when you return home in the evening.

1 small boneless pork roast
1 small onion, chopped
1 jar salsa verde
1-2 cans black beans
corn tortillas
thinly shredded cabbage
shredded cheese, optional (Pepper Jack cheese is good, but you can use Monterey Jack or Cheddar)

Place the pork roast and onions in your slow cooker and cook according to the slow cooker's directions. When almost ready to serve, shred the pork using two forks; add the jar of salsa verde (you don't have to use the entire jar) and let the mixture heat up while you continue.

Place the undrained black beans in a saucepan and heat until the liquid is gently simmering and the beans are hot.

Heat the tortillas, spread the cabbage on top of the tortillas, next add the pork, and top with the black beans (use a slotted spoon to spoon out the beans so the liquid stays behind). Garnish with some cheese if using.

Well, there you have it. Five tasty taco recipes. Feel free to use these as a jumping-off point for your own creativity. You can use flour tortillas if you prefer, or add or delete ingredients to accommodate your family's unique taste preferences. I hope that you find a new family favorite from among these.

Blessings to you and yours!
Georgia, plain and simple