Archives for posts with tag: Vodka
Truffles with nuts and chocolate dusting in de...

truffle magic!

The pinnacle of the dark, dreary days of winter is a purgatory that rests between Christmastime and Spring… February. Installed into February is a day that is supposed to be a celebration of “Love”. Many lament the commercialisation of Valentine‘s Day, and resent the high expectations and sadness that come with so many of our holidays.

Traditional Valentine’s expectations dictate that one should enjoy chocolates, give expensive gifts, and be in love. Well, let’s take some of the good from those traditions and embrace them! Even if you are single, you deserve some chocolate. Actually, you deserve more chocolate. Feeling a bit bloated after a winter’s eating? This is an opportunity to sharpen your skills in making HEALTHY treats. Herbal-infused organic chocolate truffles, anyone? Or perhaps a cup of Healthy Hot Chocolate? True love. Love is in a good cup of tea, a soothing bath that invigorates the spirit, or a beautiful hand-made gift box to hold treasures.

The brains behind the Fleurbain concept, Tammy Schmidt, Clinical Herbal Therapist and Natasha Henderson, visual artist and arts instructor, are offering an Herbal Creativity Spa Weekend workshop in February. There is an option to take one or both days during the Herbal Creativity Spa Weekend, on Friday the 11th from 7 to 10pm and Saturday the 12th from 1 to 4pm.

Friday night, we will enjoy a relaxing glass of wine (or herbal tea) with some dessert treats and fine cheese. Participants will learn how to make an herbal Love Potion. The Love Potion is a special euphoric herb that is distilled in a vodka base. Everyone will get to take home a sample of this to try themselves! Tub Teas are all the rage, and for good reason. What could be better than infusing your entire body in an organic, herbal bath that is designed to soothe the body, mind, and spirit? Participants will learn some of the properties of the herbs used in this special Valentine’s Tea Bath, and take home a sample. Finally, we will make a Boudoir Gift Box, a gift box made from scratch that will be decorated with fine fabrics, papers, lace, and beads. It will be suitable as a gift box for chocolates, jewellery, fine treasures… and can be re-used to hold your favourite special things.

Saturday afternoon starts off with a healthy, delicious beginning. Participants will learn how to make Healthy Hot Chocolate (yes, this version is truly healthy), and enjoy a cup. While sipping our treat, we will make organic chocolate truffles, which will be flavoured with high quality, organic herbs for unique flavours. These are perfect to tuck into the Boudoir Boxes made the previous evening. Then we will think about the physical and mental well-being that a good bath brings, and make a felted soap loofah for our next bath. These soaps combine sheep’s wool with a high-quality Ginseng or Evening Primrose soap to be an exfoliating and moisturising addition to your bath. Finally, we will create a batch of Love Tea to take home and enjoy.

All courses use the finest quality, pure and organic ingredients. Take one afternoon or evening for $75, or treat yourself (or a friend!) to both sessions for $135. Location of workshops will be in a Montreal artist’s studio, converted to a Valentine’s Factory for our workshops. Please email fleurbain(at)gmail.com for information and registration.

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Raspberries

Raspberries!

One day a guy tried to sell me a supplement made from the red colour that is naturally occurring in raspberries.  At the time, I laughed and laughed. Raspberries are one of my favourite fruits, why would I start taking them in a capsules and miss out on the full experience of tasting them?

Many people take supplements of particular parts of plants.  Research has helped state the benefits of these plant constituents in a precise manner and people can supplement with high doses of these constituents.  And in the case of raspberries, research tells us that the colour in raspberries are anthocyanin pigments.  Found in blue-red fruits, such as blueberries, blackberries, grapes, hawthorn, cherries, and raspberries, anthocyanin pigments are one of the 5 families of flavonoids.  Flavonoids function as plant pigments in colourful fruits and flowers and they are abundant in plants.  They are known for anti-inflammatory, anti-allergic, anti-carcinogenic and antiviral properties.  Anthocyanidins are also important anti-inflammatories that aid in wound healing by reinforcing the natural cross link of collagen that forms the matrix of connective tissue.  And as I type this, I wish I was enjoying these little blue-red bundles of beneficial constituents.

In some cases, it makes sense to supplement the diet with therapeutic doses of particular plant constituents.  For the most part, I prefer to get these beneficial plant constituents from the plants themselves.  I enjoy eating and drinking; it is as simple as that.  I also see a spiritual aspect to it all.

Water is a universal solvent.  We get this because most of us at some point have witnessed someone making tea and coffee.  Alcohol is a fine preservative and solvent.  Sugar is another fine preservative.  What do you get when you put the three together and add a few botanicals?  A stable liquid that can taste good and it can even be good for you.

St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur

Delice de Sureau Image by TheDeliciousLife

If you enter the liquor store you will see many bottles that were originally tonics.  In fact, many of our modern sodas were once used as tonics.  These fermented beverages were important because they were stable drinks that people could rely upon.  Not only in terms of safety, but also as a product that would strengthen and sustain.  The people making drinks knew the benefits of the botanicals they were using and made drinks to nourish others.  These days though, I feel that beverages are often a mere shell of what they once were.  We don’t know what is in the bottle, it is often much too sweet and it is sweetened with highly controversial sweeteners such as GMO high-fructose corn syrup.  It might be coloured with a dye that is not nutritional in any way (there go my anthocyanins!)  The flavours are to mimic tastes in particular ways.  It may be generally regarded as safe, but it has nothing to do with nutrition!  It is the experience, the flavour sensation that is important.  It is assumed that you are not looking to these drinks for any benefit other than pleasure.   From this herbalist’s perspective, there is room for growth in our understanding of what we are ingesting.  Rather than being pleased by a flavour that imitates something good, I would rather look for foods and drinks that taste good, because they are good for me.  (And, this is not to be confused with the trend in functional foods.  Good food is functional, pointe finale.)

I don’t want a world where all the pleasures of eating and drinking are gone.  I am not going to start a drab way of living that involves taking supplements as a means of sustenance.  At the same time, it can be tricky as I shop for food and drink because I so often fall for something that looks good, but has little benefit to me, other than a taste experience!

So, this is how I do it: I make things I might want to enjoy in the months ahead.  These are two simple examples.  There are many ways to keep the fun in functional.

Raspberry Liqueur

Making a stable liqueur is easy.  Use quality ingredients that are clean and mould free.  Use clean vessels.  Ensure that at least 25% of the volume weight is either sugar or pure alcohol or a combination of the two.

Ingredients

300 grams raspberries (fresh or frozen)

200 grams sugar

700 ml vodka, cognac or brandy

And for a little more inspiration: add some other flavourings: vanilla bean, organic orange peel (avoiding the white pith) and honey.

Pour the above ingredients into a mason jar.  Agitate a little bit daily and let it sit for two weeks in a dark corner of your countertop.  Using a cheese cloth and a sieve, strain the raspberries from the liquid.  Decant the liquid into a nice (clean) bottle with a good (and clean) stopper.  Use your creativity to make a charming label with the name of your product, ingredients and date that it was made.  Serve as you wish, perhaps with sparkling water and a twist of lemon.

*after you are finished with the fruit, you can add it to a trifle pudding or you can bake it in a cake.

**Don’t use honey, unless you include a large amount of alcohol.  Honey and water will ferment turning your product into mead.  This is not a bad thing, but it does require a little more knowledge and care.

Raspberry Vodka

200 g raspberries

800 ml vodka (40%)

This is the exact same method as the above recipe.  Pour the above ingredients into a mason jar.  Agitate a little bit daily and let it sit for two weeks in a dark corner of your countertop.  Using a cheese cloth and a sieve, strain the raspberries from the liquid.  Decant the liquid into a nice (clean) bottle with a good (and clean) stopper.  Use your creativity to make a charming label with the name of your product, ingredients and date that it was made.

Studies prove that consuming excessive amounts of sugar and alcohol is detrimental to the body.  Moderation is key in fully enjoying the benefits of these beverages.

By: Tammy Schmidt, Montreal


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