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Onion Jam

2 lbs yellow onions, peeled and chopped

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 cup lightly packed light brown sugar

1/2 cup port

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Dash of cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

2 to 4 tablespoons honey (depending on the sweetness of the onions)

In a large skillet cook the onions in the olive oil until softened, 12 to 15 minutes.

Stir in the remaining ingredients and simmer the mixture until thickened, about

75 minutes. Serve at room temperature.  

Makes about 3 cups.

This is know in Russia as vzvar. You will see recipes made with dried fruit but

making it with onions is very common in Russia. You can use it as a condiment 

like relish but I put it on thick slices of good toasted bread like whole wheat, rye 

or sourdough.


Sore Throat Saver

8 oz of good quality lemonade

1 teaspoon of salt (more if you like, but make sure it all dissolves)

Heat the lemonade as hot as you can drink it without scalding yourself. Add the

salt and stir to dissolve. Drink slowly, letting it slide down your throat. 

Don't be tempted to sweeten it, it cuts the effect. You can always make honey tea

afterward, you're supposed to take lots of liquids when you're sick anyway.


My Grandpa's Winter Cures

Grandpa was of Scottish and Irish descent. His surefire remedies nearly always

included whiskey and molasses, whether you were a person or a horse. He didn't

get to doctor with my Grandma around but he shared his remedies with me.


For the Flu

To be made before bedtime. Make a pot of strong tea. Cut up a lemon into small

wedges, peel and all, and add to the pot. Then add 1 cup of whiskey (he used

Scotch but Tennessee whiskey works very well) and 3 or 4 tablespoons of honey.

Let it all blend together in the pot while you carry it to the bedroom. Get it bed,

pile on lots of covers, pour yourself a cup and drink it slowly. Keep drinking it a

cup at a time until the whole pot is gone. Then go to sleep.


To be made at breakfast. Make a pot of oatmeal (not the instant packet stuff, the

real stuff you have to boil). Add to the pot 1/2 to 1 cup of whiskey, 2 to 3

tablespoons of blackstrap molasses, 1 teaspoon each cinnamon, ginger, and

cloves. Add tablespoon of cream and raisins or nuts if you like. Eat as much as

you can and go back to bed. Your co-workers don't want your germs.


Please everyone, enjoy and add something. Winter is here.


Lots of folks make sure the pantry is stocked with tea and spirits for winter. Hot    drinks are always welcome and in some places, a downright necessity. Here are

two of my favorites from north and south of the border (U.S.). Dad's side of the family is French Canadian. My grandmother made me my first coffee when I was a kid, cafe au lait, half coffee and half milk. Here's a good French Canadian coffee drink I was given when I was a little older. I call it:

Below Zero Coffee 

Brew a 10 cup pot of strong French Roast type coffee. 

Add two cups heavy cream.

Add 1 cup maple syrup.

This coffee is for those going out in the real cold to work or play. The strong coffee gets you going, maple syrup gives you quick energy and the cream gives you fat and protein to keep going. If you are stuck inside and sitting, you can make weaker coffee, use half and half or milk and less maple syrup. But whatever you do, don't use pancake syrup! The real maple makes all the difference. Use another sweetener if you don't have it.

Mexican Hot Chocolate

A quart of milk

Two rounds or blocks of Mexican chocolate

(I used to have to wait around for someone to bring the good stuff to Los Estados Unidos but now you can buy Abuelita or Ibarra's brands in most grocery stores)

1 tablespoon vanilla

1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 teaspoon ancho or chipotle chili powder (no kidding, trust me)

Version I 

I don't like sweet and I like bitter chocolate so I add I tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder.

Version II

For those who like it sweeter I add 1/4 cup brown sugar, it gives flavor that goes with the spices instead of just sweetness.

Heat the milk in a heavy saucepan, add the chocolate broken in pieces, and slowly bring to a low boil. Keep it from scalding. When all the chocolate is melted into the milk add the spices, cocoa powder and/or sugar and whisk or beat until frothy. Serve with whipped cream on top and a cinnamon stick stirrer if you want to get fancy.

Some people add almonds to their Mexican hot chocolate. A young stocker I talked with about recipes at a local market mentioned he was lactose intolerant and uses almond milk. It dawned on me almond milk would be great for this for both vegans and the lactose intolerant.  

In case you are really in a hurry and still want hot chocolate that is special, my Mom used to hook a small candy cane over the side of the mug when she made us hot chocolate when we came in from the cold. Voila! Mint hot chocolate! Mix it with a cup of coffee and you won't have to go out in bad weather to Starbucks.

Hand creme, salve, lotion or ointment

I got this from one of my old books, Herbal Medicine by Dian Dincin Buchman.

Base For salve, lotion or cream she likes purified, liquified anhydrous lanolin. This comes from the washing of sheep's wool and is closest to human skin oils. Anhydrous just means water repelling, it's nothing chemical. You can get this in health food stores and I have used it myself. Some folks are allergic, so you should test first. For those who are or don't want to use an animal product I always use almond oil which she recommends as well. Also in health food stores you can get cocoa butter which will work but it might not be neutral enough for using with lavender.

Thickener Lanolin and cocoa butter are also both thickeners. An interesting  thickener she mentions is green apples. She says the fruit pectin in green apples is good in skin creams and ointments.

Hardener Beeswax (It's expensive but for a cream you would only need a tiny amount)

2 oz wax

8 oz lanolin or oil

Melt the wax, and add the base slowly to the wax, stirring until cool. This makes a basic ointment. You can adjust this to the consistency  by using less or more wax. For lanolin creme you would use less wax but the oil being thinner you'd probably that amount or just a tiny bit less.

To make your creme, crush fresh or dried herbs and simmer in the ointment mixture for several hours. The book is old so she says stovetop but I would use a crock pot. She also says you can bake the ingredients in the oven but doesn't give a temperature. Strain out the plant material and add the strained mixture to your jar. Make sure any water is simmered out. I know from experience this can cause mold.



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Replies to This Discussion

Hi Demeter,

I can tell you, when you are all stuffed up and can't smell and therefore can't taste, that oatmeal will get you to eat. Plus I think when I was a kid, the idea of the whisky as a forbidden thing was a lot more enticing than those medicines with horrid fake cherry flavor.

I wonder if peel and all with the lemons is a UK thing. My granpa's folks were straight from the old country. Americans usually discard the peel, which is too bad. All the good stuff is in there.

Hello All,

If you have elderberry in your area now is the time to gather cook into a syrup.  Elderberry is an excellent cough supressant as well asn if you take it early enough to exposure of a cold it may help prevent the virus from replicating.   It also makes excellent jams.




No elderberries in my area, unfortunately. I would love to have some on hand. I don't usually get sick but sometimes in winter I start getting that run down feeling. I bet it would be just the thing for me. I wonder where I could get a tree.

Mountain Rose Herbs sells dried elderberry for $12.50 lb.  The bushes grow all over the place here it just means I need to go out and harvest.



Thanks so much!

I'd still love to get a tree to plant in the spring but now I can go ahead and make the syrup. Nice project for these 0 degree days I don't go out.

Have heard of onion jam. Used on steak sandwiches it sounds yummy! It is time for cold & flu remedies.

My father used to give me the hot toddy...lemon juice, whiskey and honey. When my coughing got so bad it interferes with his enjoyment of the evening news he would make some. Not sure if it helped my coughing but I enjoyed it. Hahaha!

That's why I loved Grandpa's special oatmeal! The magic ingredient. Better tasting than Nyquil which I discovered is like 40 alcohol anyway!

NyQuil. Ugh. I took it once and my heart raced all night long. I was up all night pacing the apartment like a caged animal. Scared the crap out of me! Will never take it again! Ugh!


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