Posted in Entertaining

How to Throw a Memorable Dinner Party

Five records were stacked and ready to start playing as soon as the first guest pulled up. The table was set. Small wine goblets brought out for the occasion. Fresh sunflowers filled canning jars. The dinner party was about to begin.

I decided to throw a four course dinner party for friends, complete with wine pairings. My own garden created inspiration and filled the menu, along with local mushrooms, wine, and cheese. Homemade pasta and sourdough baguettes rounded out the menu.

This was an elaborate party, but it was easily managed by planning out each detail ahead of time. The menu was written on a door painted with chalkboard paint. The chive pasta was made Thursday. The Limoncello cake was made Friday in anticipation for Saturday’s dinner. On Friday I also blended a simple gazpacho style soup using lots of fresh veggies and olive oil in my Vitamix, added seasoning to taste, then stored it in the refrigerator. The soup was served cold topped with crab, which was removed from its cans Friday and stored in a glass container in easy reach in the fridge. Ten sets of plates and bowls were set out on the counter for easy plating.

Everything that could be prepped ahead of time was, like harvesting vegetables, pre-cutting the iceberg lettuce, and making the salad dressing. The white wine and champagne were put in the refrigerator as well.

Saturday morning I met up with girlfriends, rested until after lunch, then hit the ground running baking bread and setting the table. The potatoes were parboiled then smashed and placed on a cookie sheet. I poured crushed garlic and olive oil over the whole thing and put it in the toaster oven to start after the soup course.

Before guests arrived, the wine was opened, a pot of boiling water was started and kept on low for the pasta. The pasta sauce made with garlic and oyster mushrooms was started to the point of adding cream and was then kept off the heat until it was time to pull it all together for the third course.

Cups of coffee and delicious lemony cake was served. Guests meandered the garden, played with the dog, sipped wine and found things in common with each other. The whole dinner was a success. It it is a wonderful gesture to invite those you love from different circles and spoil them with great food and drink and company.

A simple affair is also easy to pull off. Put on a pot of soup. I wanted to make my woofers (farm interns) a truly Colorado meal, so I made them green chile, heated some tortillas on the gas stove, juiced some prickly pears and made the most delicious margaritas ever. The point of a dinner party is to come together as friends and community. Joining together over food is a great way to keep relationships alive and well. It adds such sweetness to life.

Cheers!

Posted in Herbal Remedies

How to Use Aloe and Cactus to Heal Wounds and Diabetes

I am like the dad in the movie, “My Big Fat Greek Wedding,” except instead of Windex I often yell, “Put some salve on it!”  It is my go-to for everything.  My daughter and I make a fine pain salve.  It literally heals everything from nerve pain to sun burn.  I have an intense skin salve that heals irritated and damaged skin…unless the patient keeps scratching!

Doug gets some pretty wicked patches of eczema in the winter.  As if it weren’t dry enough here in Colorado, winters are filled with forced hot air from furnaces that further leave our throats parched and skin in shambles if we don’t moisturize every day (with our lotion, of course). http://whitewolfherbs.com

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Here it is July and one patch on Doug’s leg is not going away.  “Did you put salve on it?” I holler from the next room.  “Yes” is always the response but I know he is not applying it as much as he needs.  And it itches, so he scratches.

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It now looks like I threw a kettle of boiling water on his leg now.  (I didn’t.)  The heat was gently rising from it yesterday.  So, I took over treatment.  Thank goodness I am an herbalist.  I gave him a shot glass of infection killing herbal extract and set to work cutting two pieces of aloe open long ways.

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After about ten minutes the heat was gone from his leg and the gel was saturating into the wounded skin.  I cut off the end of a sock and had him wear the tube around his leg.  He put salve on it this morning.  I will continue working on it and he should be healed in no time.

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The same gel that is found in aloe vera is found in some cacti, particularly prickly pear, which is very common around these parts.  Our new farm that we are moving to has a bit of it.  I dream of prickly pear margaritas in the summer on the porch watching the sun set behind the mountains.  (It’s medicinal, folks.)  We had so much rain this year that the cacti flowered majestically and there will surely be fruit now to juice.

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Nopales are found in many grocery stores.  They are the fronds of de-spiked prickly pear used in many Mexican dishes.  Succulents and cacti heal themselves by sealing the wounded end with their own gel.  That gel is what we are using to heal wounds.  The gel inside prickly pear and aloe vera is anti-viral, anti-bacterial, anti-biotic, anti-fungal, anti-parasitic, and demulcent (meaning gelatinous and soothing).  Scrape the gel from the pods and use.  Careful with store bought aloe vera gel, it is often full of chemicals.

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Aloe Vera and Prickly Pear have another super power.  That same gel helps stabilize blood sugars and offers pancreatic support.  Simply place a six inch piece cut in half into a quart jar.  (Please use gloves if you are harvesting prickly pear.  Took me a month to get all those thorns out of my hand!)  Add a cinnamon stick, 3 bay leaves, the peel of an organic orange, a 1 inch knob of ginger, and a 1/2 inch knob of turmeric.  1 Tablespoon of Ginseng will really help because it is an adaptogen (helps heal organs).  It is, however, endangered and mighty expensive.

Now fill this concoction with vodka or rum.  Sit it in the window for a week and then place in a cupboard or somewhere you won’t forget for another three weeks.  I put mine out in the full moon.  It does make a difference.  Do not strain it out.  Let it keep brewing.  The dose for diabetes is 1 teaspoon a day.  One can check their blood sugar, take a teaspoon of medicine, then check it again in 15 minutes.  It works that fast!  (I have to do the obligatory statement of I am not a doctor, stay on your medicines, talk to your doctor…yadiyadiya.) I have two more recipes for Diabetes and a miracle wound healer in my book, The Homesteader’s Pharmacy

An aloe vera plant in the window is good practice for any homesteader and a prickly pear in the yard is lucky…unless you step on it.