Master tonic…mastered!!

With all the talk about “master tonic” going around on the internet and among my friends I decided to give it a try this summer. After all, we were growing all the ingredients so I figured I had  nothing to lose. Here’s my little patch of horseradish, which looks amazingly like dock. I’ve inadvertently tried to chop it out twice! I can say it’s very hardy stuff and has withstood the onslaught of my hoe quite nicely.

In case you’ve never heard of “master tonic”, it’s a mixture of horseradish, chili peppers, onions, garlic and ginger which is fermented, strained and then drank as a tonic to cure just about anything that ails you, or so they say! I’ve been thinking that with that combination it may kill me before it cures me but I’m always willing to try something once. You’ll find the recipe at the end of this post but here it is in pictures first.

First ingredient: horseradish

Having no experience with horseradish, I really had no idea what to expect when I went out to harvest it. My husband informed me that it grows down and would be difficult to dig but I figured I didn’t need a great quantity so I could handle it. To make a long story short, hubby dug it.  After having the driest summer on record, it was a bit like digging something out of cement. So, here is what I got with the piece on the left being one that I’ve peeled already. I took seriously the warnings that any processing of horseradish should be done outside.

Here is my food processor with chunks ready to be blended. I did the blending in the greenhouse where there was good airflow at the time. Make sure you keep your face away from the processor when you take the lid off after blending…whew…strong stuff!

This is what it looked like after a good whirl in the processor. Looks a bit like wood pulp…mmm can’t wait to try it.

After the horseradish all the other ingredients seemed quite simple to process. I did of course wear gloves to chop the ends off the hot peppers. I didn’t have enough chili peppers so used some jalapenos. The recipe said to use equal amounts of all the ingredients but I didn’t get real obsessive about measuring them. The ginger was freshly dug out of our hoop house and of course we always have plenty of onions around here so I was ready to do some serious blending.

This is my pepper mixture…

isn’t it beautiful?

Ahhh, lots of fresh garlic.

Everything being combined in a large bowl.

The final mixture in the jars. Now it just needs raw apple cider vinegar and some time to ferment.

Timothy decided to try the ground mixture before I started the fermentation process.

And his response!!!

After fermenting for several weeks this is the finished, bottled product. Bring on winter…I’m armed and ready!! Now if someone could just give me some tips on how to get this down. I was told you should put it in your mouth and swish it around but after trying a couple tablespoons of it, I can tell you this is not for the faint of heart! It’s a bit like drinking hot sauce right out of the bottle. I also wouldn’t recommend drinking it before going out in public or on a first date. It really doesn’t do much for your breath!

 

Master Tonic Recipe

Equal amounts of garlic, onions, horseradish, ginger, hot peppers

Organic, raw, unfiltered, apple cider vinegar

All ingredients must be fresh and preferably organic.

Different recipes call for different ways of processing each of the ingredients but I ran each of them through my food processor and then combined them all in a large bowl.

Fill glass jars about 3/4 full with the raw ingredients. You can use a large gallon jar or smaller ones. Just make sure you have a good lid for them.

Fill the jars to the top with the raw apple cider vinegar. Close the jars and shake to mix well.

Store the jars in a dark place and be sure to shake them once a day for at least 2 weeks. I’ve heard of some people letting them ferment for 2 months or more.

When you’re ready to strain it you can use a colander with a cheese cloth liner or you can do like I did and run it through a colander first and then through a cotton towel. The solids can be put in a cotton towel and squeezed to get out as much of the liquid as possible. I’ve been told the solids can be saved and frozen to use at a later date as a zippy seasoning in your cooking. I haven’t tried this yet but I’ve got it in the freezer.

The liquid should be  bottled in amber bottles or kept in a dark cupboard. No need to refrigerate.

For daily immune boosting, drink 1-2 ounces, two or more times each day. Put it in your mouth, swish around, gargle and swallow. Don’t dilute it with water or the effect won’t be as powerful.

If you’re fighting an infection, take the tonic 5-6 times per day. It can be used during pregnancy and it’s safe for children although I’m not sure how to get it down them!

You can make a huge batch each time since it doesn’t need refrigeration and it will keep indefinitely without any special storage conditions.

Here’s to your health!!

Herb and Scallion Rice

We ran across this lovely and simple, recipe in a Martha Stewart magazine. We love it and thought you might also!

Isn’t it beautiful?

It is so simple. Get your blender out and blend the following until smooth:

1 2/3 c water

1/2 c packed fresh cilantro

1/4 c packed fresh mint

2 scallions

1 garlic clove

Heat 1 T olive oil in a saucepan. Add 1 cup Jasmine rice and stir to coat. Cook until slightly toasted, 1 to 2 minutes. Add  the herb mixture and 1 t salt. Bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low, and cook, covered, for 20 minutes. Remove from heat, and let stand, covered, for 10 minutes. Fluff with a fork before serving.

That’s all there is to it!

We always double the recipe now when we make this. It’s such a nice side dish with many things and it’s fantastic added to tomato soup. I’m thinking some chopped, dried tomatoes added to it would be wonderful also.

 

Since I’ve found myself with an abundance of mint right now I decided to make a few batches of the puree and put them in the freezer. I can’t wait to pull this out some cold winter day and have it with a steaming bowl of roasted tomato soup…ahh the taste of summer will return!!

Some beauty in our fall gardens

Well, it’s officially fall now and we’ve experienced our first light frost. It’s always sad to see the heat loving summer plants go (I’m already missing you basil…sniff, sniff) but we’re relishing in the abundance of beautiful fall crops (hello cilantro!) With shorter days and cooler temps, everything seems to perk up and colors become more intense. At our local market people often comment on how beautiful our yard must be, as if we live in some wondrous Shangri-La. After my kids get over their fits of snorting and giggling, I politely explain that most everything that is beautiful is at market and that our little farm isn’t all that gorgeous.  One of the hazards of being self employed at home is that there is always work around me just begging to be done and I tend to focus on that work and not the beauty. So, a couple days ago, I decided to ignore the voices in my head and grabbed the camera and set out to see just beauty.

I think Tom Thumb lettuce has to be one of the prettiest things we grow and it has the side benefit of being mighty tasty!

 

The zinnias perished with the frost but the roses continue to bloom.

I’m watching these brussels sprouts carefully as we rarely get our timing down correctly in order to get a good crop. Most years we get brussels peas!

The winter storage cabbages are starting to form heads and they relish the cold weather so I’m keeping my fingers crossed that they’ll make it.

The arugula and beets in the tunnel are coming along nicely and I’m looking forward to roasted beets come cold winter days. Too bad I’m allergic to arugula as I really love it.

 

This lovely rose, Mon Petite Chou (My Little Cabbage) is my favorite!

The bees are busily storing up for winter.

This solidago, Fireworks, is magnificent!

Although the plants aren’t so pretty, the tomatoes in the tunnel continue crank out lovely fruits.

After a long, hot and dry summer, I love the look of fresh new crops developing. These tiny carrots are growing by leaps and bounds and will feed our family nicely this winter.

These much underrated marigolds have been real workhorses this summer, producing buckets of stems every week.

The cooler it’s gotten, the brighter this celosia has become.

One of the final lilies of the summer.

Isn’t it wonderful how a camera can focus on just the lovely? I think I’ll try looking with a camera’s eye more often!