Hard times for us all. But I’m so amazed by the indomitable spirit of all of you gardeners and cooks out there. We will get through this and in the meantime, let’s garden. And do yoga and take walks. And cook. Making healthy food for those you love does wonders to mend the soul.
A few tips for cooking now:
Use lots of chilis – the heat releases the brain endorphins which increase your happiness. Chocolate does the same thing, so maybe brownies are in order. Although I don’t usually do much posting of sweets, perhaps this is the time to indulge.
Katherine Hepburn’s brownies are famous. The recipe is so easy and delicious that it’s become the only one I use. I’ve added my own riff by adding chili pepper to it. So you get the chocolaty goodness topped off by a hint of chili. Not good for your body but definitely good for your heart and soul.
And her words to live by:
Don’t put too much flour in your brownies
Katherine Hepburn’s Brownies (borrowed from PBS History)
½ cup cocoa or 2 squares (2 oz.) unsweetened baker’s chocolate
1 stick unsalted butter
1 c. sugar
¼ c. flour
1 t. vanilla
¼ t. (or more) chile flakes
Pinch of salt
1 cup roughly chopped walnuts or pecans
Melt butter with the cocoa or chocolate together in a heavy saucepan over medium low, whisking constantly till blended. Remove from heat and stir in the sugar. Whisk in the eggs and vanilla. Stir in flour, salt and walnuts. Mix well. Pour into a well buttered 8-inch square baking pan. Bake at 325 degrees for about 40 minutes till a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool completely and cut into squares. The fudgy goodness is hard to slice so use a sharp knife and spatula.
Make plans to make elderberry syrup this year
Scope out the wild blooming elderberries in the next few weeks and make note of where they are so you can harvest the lucious purple berries in July. Elderberry syrup is simple to make and its immune-boosting qualities make a great reason to use it daily. Elderberry (Sambucus) is a powerful antioxidant and immune system booster, and they grow wild all over the woods and fields. Make your own tonic to keep you in peak health through the winter.
Collect and wash heads of elderberries. Clip as many stems off as you can and add the fruit and a very small amount of water to a good sized stock pot. Turn on to a simmer, and periodically mash the berries with a potato masher. After about half an hour of simmering, turn the mashed berries and seed heads out into a cheesecloth bag and let drain over a bowl. When cool, twist the bag squeeze as much juice out of them as you can. Then, either freeze the juice to use later or make your syrup immediately.
Measure into a sauce pan 3 cups elderberry juice and 1 cup honey or other sweetener of choice. Mix and simmer gently until thick. Refrigerate and use a tablespoon in a glass of water daily for health. You can also pour into pint canning jars, leave 1/4″ head room, seal with fresh canning lids, and then process in a boiling water bath for 20 minutes. Store in a dark cupboard.