The expanding Year!

 

dav

I love January! Particularly this early part of the year.

From the shortest, darkest day on December 21st there has been such a sense of stillness and waiting.

Even when I’m out running over the fells in the dark with icy sleet blasting the side of my face, I can still feel it. In fact especially then. It’s like the whole year is holding its breath and teetering on a balance point not quite ready to start rolling again.

dav

But now it is; here we go! It’s already gathering quite a bit of speed.

Here come the snowdrops!

Look at all the bulbs go! It’s complete, January magic. I was out in the garden laying some old flags out as a path to my compost bins and transplanting the snowdrops that would otherwise get squashed by the slate, when I was caught out by how light it still was into the evening. I had a robin helping out, but also, suddenly, other birdsong too. As I finally gave in to darkness, a couple of owls started calling from the woods too.

Meanwhile, back in my clinic everyone has flu. Or a cold. Or is coughing! It’s been quite a year for coughs and colds, but this latest one is really nasty.

So here are some things to do for now.

slow down.

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Really! Try to get a feeling for the stillness that’s still here in the year. Our senses know that the days are still very, very short. It’s cold outside. Our bodies want us to catch up on sleep. To wrap up warmly, drink hot drinks, sit comfortably with silence and maybe a good book. Enjoy some deep stretching. Spend time talking with good friends. Make plans (I love that bit!) and make the most of the quiet and dark while it’s still here.

To ward off the colds, or to get better faster if it’s too late, here’s one of my all time favourite recipes for a therapeutic, flu busting hot potion!

Enjoy!

in 1 big mug put;

1 desert spoon concentrated apple juice or eg spiced winter cordial. You can make your own elderberry cordial in late Summer which works well with this, or you could put all the other ingredients into a mug of non concentrated apple juice and warm them all together in a saucepan. I’m proud to report that I succeeded in bottling and pasteurising my own apple juice this year so that’s what I’ll be using!

1/2 stick of cinnamon warming and good for aches

2 cloves more warmth

2 thumb nail sized pieces of fresh ginger even more warmth as Winter colds are usually energetically Cold in Chinese Medicine.

2 star anise clears phlegm and it’s an amazing anti viral

2 or 3 pieces of whole orange including the peel lots of vitamin C and the peel helps settle your digestion.

add any of the following ingredients as appropriate;

1 thumb nail sized slice of fresh turmeric  this is a great anti-inflammatory if your throat or sinuses feel inflamed.

2 pods of green cardamon this is a Spleen Qi tonic so good if you feel nauseous or if you’ve lost your appetite or have been sweating a lot.

1 pod of black cardamon this is a Kidney Yang tonic, so good if you’re feeling low and flat, or tired and chilly when you should have recovered.

half a teaspoon of goji berries these are a kidney Yin tonic so good if your sinuses and chest feel dry after the cold, and if you can’t sleep for feeling jittery at night.

 

 

 

A therapeutic, spicy, pumpkin soup to help eat up your pumpkins!

 

October 31st is here again and I’ve collected all my pumpkins into the safety of my green house before the first frosts.

It’s been a terrible year for growing pumpkins and all other Winter squash here in the Lake District. They thrive on late Summer sunshine and, although we had a beautiful Spring, July onwards rained more than I like to admit. The one squash that did well was a tromboncino, a beautiful squash that left the remains of my climbing bean supports draped in little, twisting, lime green trombones.

But Halloween has its needs, and I sacrificed two of my small collection of round squash to light up my clinic window for tonight. These, in the photo, are a delicious Rouge Vif d’Etampes and a little, blue Crown Prince.

Now both of these are far too tasty to throw away, so I’ve put together the recipe for the therapeutic, spicy, pumpkin soup that I’ve made with my pumpkin innards.

Here you go. Remember, the key with pumpkins is to do everything you can to add flavour. These two types of squash are sweet and nutty without too much help, but if you’re carving a big round American pumpkin, then up the quantities of spices a bit and keep tasting

  • Cut the top off your pumpkin and scoop out the innards with your hand (very gruesomely appropriate for Halloween!
  • scoop out the flesh with a spoon and knife, cut up the big chunks a bit, place on a baking tray with olive oil and salt and pepper and roast until it begins to brown. This step really helps boost the flavour.
  • Meanwhile slowly fry up four chopped red onions until caramelising.
  • Add four chopped garlic cloves, a half thumb sized, chopped piece of ginger,  the same amount of washed and grated fresh turmeric (or three teaspoons of dried turmeric powder) and continue to fry for a couple of minutes.
  • Add 3 chopped sticks of celery, three chopped, large carrots, a chopped, red pepper and a small red, chopped, chilli pepper. Stir, add a slosh of water to stop it burning and cook with the lid on and occasional shaking or stirring for 10 mins.
  • Add three teaspoons of marigold bouillon, three heaped teaspoons of baharat spice mix, one and a half litres of water and all the baked pumpkin (I hope you started with your biggest saucepan!)
  • Add a mug of red lentils and simmer for twenty mins.
  • Add 2 cans of chopped tomatoes, a slosh of red wine vinegar and a few handfuls of spinach or chard leaves and cook for another ten mins.

Whizz it before eating and grate some cheese on top when you serve. I like a blob of rose harrisa too.

So from a therapeutic point of view the squash is a fantastic Yin tonic, which is just what we all need for going forwards into Winter with our batteries fully charged! It’s packed with minerals and vitamins;  lots of immune-supportive vitamin A, folate, B6 and potassium as well as loads of free radical- scavenging vitamin C. The spices in the Baharat (one of my favourite spice mixes) are warming and help fend off Winter colds. The turmeric is anti inflammatory and the chilli and ginger balance its coolness to keep the soup warming. So delicious and good for you too.

Now off to squeeze into my Witches costume (Oh I’m in it already!)