Here’s a terrific sampler of simple home remedies you can use throughout fall and winter, or anytime of year, when you’re feeling less than your usual excellent self. The instructions are given in each recipe, and most of these can also be found in my book,The Wild & Weedy Apothecary. Do you recognize any recipes from your childhood? Do you have any recipes to contribute?
You will use a whole head of garlic for this recipe.
To peel the garlic, lay each separated clove on a cutting board, then smack each one soundly by laying the side of a chef’s knife on the clove and then hitting the side of the knife with your closed fist – watch out for the blade – then remove the peel. If you don’t have a chef’s knife, just use the heel of your hand and press down real hard until it “pops”. Next, toss the crushed cloves into a small saucepan with 1 quart of water, and simmer until soft, about 20 minutes. Mash up the garlic in the broth with a fork, then strain. A pinch of sea salt for flavor doesn’t hurt. Take half a cup every couple hours. This can be repeated the next day if you still have symptoms.
The next day, strain the tea, reheat until just warm and add 4 tablespoons honey and 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar; do not let the brew come to a boil. Take one or two tablespoons for adults, a teaspoon for children (but not babies), every hour or so, for 2 days. After that, refrigerate the syrup (for up to a week) or use it to baste chicken.
Take 3 to 4 whole unpeeled apples, slice thin, place in a saucepan with 1 quart water, and bring to a boil; reduce heat, then simmer until soft, about 20 minutes. Strain, stir in 2 tablespoons honey, then cool to serve. Drink throughout the day as needed.
To make Barley Water, use a ratio of four parts water to one part barley.4 cups water1 cup barleyhoneyfresh lemonAdd barley to the water and bring to a boil. Lower heat and cover, gently simmering until barley is cooked, about 45 minutes. To serve, strain, and add honey and lemon to taste (if desired) and drink the liquid warm or cool.
Boil 1 cup water, add 1 tablespoon chopped lemon peel, a pinch each sage and thyme (fresh or dried), then steep 15 minutes. Strain, then add the juice of half a lemon and a small dab of honey; drink at least twice a day.
To make 1 pint:Take 2 large heads of garlic (not just the individual cloves, but the whole head), wash well, then smash each clove soundly against a cutting board with the side of a heavy chef’s knife (no need to peel unless they are dirty). Place the smashed garlic in a pint-sized jar and cover with about 1 to 2 cups good apple cider vinegar; use enough vinegar to keep the garlic completely covered, but it’s okay if some of it floats. (Don’t expect to use this jar for anything else, except Zip, ever again.) Place a small piece of waxed paper or plastic over the jar to prevent corrosion, and then screw on the lid. Label and date.
This tea combination taken at the onset of a cold or flu helps you “sweat it out”.
To make plain yarrow tea or the flu combo, place 1 rounded teaspoon dried herbin 1 pint (2 cups) boiling water, cover and remove from heat;steep for 10 minutes, then strain, sweeten if desired, and drink hot 1 cup at bedtime.Let the rest cool to drink in the morning.Be sure to stay warm under the blankets to sweat it all out,changing out of your wet pajamas if you have to.
Vinegar makes a great cleaning product, it even cuts grease on a messy stovetop. While plain old white vinegar works just fine, I make a three-quarter strength vinegar spray by diluting with one-fourth water and adding several drops each of all the citrus essential oils I have, plus rosemary oil, in a sprayer bottle. I don’t feel so weird then, placing veggies or whatever directly on the counter, knowing I’ve sprayed it with a food-grade substance instead of something made from words I can’t even read let alone pronounce. You could make an infused vinegar for this use as well; herbs known for their antiseptic properties, such as thyme, rosemary, and the mints, would be good choices, along with aromatics such as clove, cinnamon, and allspice (use whole spices and not powdered). Plain white vinegar, as well as lavender vinegar, makes a good addition to the final rinse in the clothes washer, as it helps remove any soap left in the water, very excellent for washing baby diapers and blankets and so on. Lavender vinegar makes a good wash for bedrails and toys and such when the kids are sick; it has a soothing yet refreshing aroma-therapeutic quality, and it just makes everything smell cleaner (the Latin word for lavender, lavare, means “to wash”). I highly recommend using vinegar as a general household cleaner, even when you’re feeling well!