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March 2014

Milady's Kitchen Apothecary: Flax Seed Tea!


Every article I read these days about omega 3 oils is touting flax seed as a miracle food. Chock full of fiber, omega 3 oils and lignans it's truly a remarkable little seed that left to sprout produces the loveliest little flowers!  Flax's only problem? You have to use it as soon as it's ground or pressed or it will begin immediately to oxidize and go rancid. I've had this argument so many times with flax seed aficionados that I've lost count! There is one way to use flax seed though and get all of it's benefits and that is by making it into a tea. I learned about this for the first time as a little girl when I would go over to my riding instructors house. She was a very crusty old Irish woman named Noreen Bailey, with a thick brogue and a way with horses that was more magical than anything I'd ever seen. She was also  full of old time herbal remedies for her horses , many of which I still use to this day. flax seed tea was one of them. Use flax seed tea, one cup a day in your horses feed and you'll begin to see amazing benefits in hoof growth, coat health and most importantly digestion! 

Kitchen Apothecary: Flax Seed Tea!

I'd always go upstairs to get a lovely cup of the Irish breakfast tea that she always had warming on the stove, add some lemon, honey and a tablespoon or two of the gelatinous mess that she always had cooking as well. What was in that pot was a long simmering batch of flax seed tea, more commonly known in the UK as linseed jelly. All it was was several cups of flaxseed simmering for a couple of hours in several quarts of water. After a short amount of time the water begins to turn glutinous as the flax seeds get soft. Simmer it for a few hours and you've got a jelly that's unrivaled in its health benefits and lasts for a few days in the refrigerator. 

It also has another wonderful use and that is as a tea. Mrs. Bailey taught me that when you've got a rotten cold the thing to do is put a cup of flaxseeds in a pot of water (about 4 cups) and let it simmer. After it's thickened add 1/2 a cup of port, the juice from  one lemon,1 tablespoon of cinnamon, 1/2 a cup of maple syrup and 1/2 a cup of honey. Let it simmer for about 8 more minutes and pour it into a cup. Mrs. Bailey always used Jameson's in hers which is where I may have developed a taste for Irish whiskey early in my life.  It will take you a moment to get used to the texture, but I promise that if you have a rotten sore throat you'll thank me. Flax seed tea is very slippery , goes down easily and the seeds will help your digestion when your stomach is a wee bit achy. You can also mix some if this into your morning oatmeal. Do this for a while and you'll really notice the benefits, much more so than if you buy it preground or in its oil form. People ask me all of the time  if I have a secret for my long lush hair and this  would be it. Try it and see if you don't notice the difference too!


Flax flowers and seeds picture from webmd.

Food Alchemy- Farmers Market Finds- Uncommon Grains!


I value the winter farmers markets so much. They keep me connected to a food supply chain that would normally dwindle during the cold months and they regualarly inspire me. Yesterday was one of those times. I have a dear friend Jane, who is 75 plus and magnificent , we work the Dye garden together down at The Western reserve Herb Society gardens  which are housed at The Cleveland Botanical Gardens. Because WRHS is a group full of herbalists and cooks,  every meeting culminates in a magnificent luncheon potluck. Last week, Jane showed up with the most magnificent loaf of bread and a pot of fromage blanc. She said.." this is the best bread I've ever eaten" to which I replied, "I can't eat it unless it's gluten free". She smiled in that twinkling Irish way that she has and said..."you can eat this dear, it's gluten free!" 

I was taken back. This didn't look like any gluten free bread that I'd ever seen, nor did it taste like any gluten free bread that I've ever eaten. It was chewy and stretchy, with a perfect crust. It was absolutely delicious and gave me absolute bread eating pleasure and those of you who absolutely can't live without a perfect baguette and brie know exactly what I'm speaking of! 

She gave me the rest to take home, which I spent the next few days spreading with goat cheese , lettuce, tomatoes and avocados and dipping into soup. I vowed to meet her at the Shaker Square indoor farmers market so that she could  introduce me to the vendor. Fast forward to yesterday. I'm taking care of my grandcats this weekend and they live right around the corner from the market. Jim went to Tai Chi yesterday morning and I drove to the market. Of course I ran into Jane right away, who grabbed me by the arm and took me over to a table of the most glorious gluten free baked goods that I've ever seen all made by a small  local company neamed Uncommon Grains

I immediately bought a baguette of rye bread and a parmesan rosemary boule. I also bought tow vegetable tarts and wonder of wonders...two peanut butter cookies that I knew that Jim would love. We both feel ever so much better not eating gluten, but giving up cookies has been tough for him:) i also bought a bag of pizza crust which it turned out didn't have a direction label on it. The gentleman took my name and email and promised to send me directions in a day or two. 4 hours later I had them in my inbox along with a lovely personal note. That's such a pleasant way to buy your food, don't you think?

At any rate, I'm not clear what they do that makes this bread (and the tart crust ..oh my god!) so wonderful. I know that very clearly it's not your normal mixture of pasty looking gluten free grains and they must use some kind of well aged starter, because this bread has the holes and crevices that rival  the loveliest  French loaves.

To say that I'm blown away is an understatement. As a health coach, I'm constantly looking for wonderful gluten free sources for my clients and until now I've not found a bread that I felt that I could recommend. For all of you who aren't local Clevelanders, maybe there will be  cookbooks someday.This is bread worth waiting for! This is kitchen alchemy at it's finest...the transformation of alternative grains into something that is so rich , dense and chewy that you don't even realize that you're not eating bread made from wheat and added wheat gluten (yes, they add more gluten to quick rise bread to compensate for having to make it faster.)  


Kitchen Alchemy- Farmers Market Finds

The delightful gentleman from the Uncommon Grains table at the Shaker Square indoor farmers market!


Kitchen Alchemy- Farmers Market Finds


      The loveliest gluten free rye bread...Who knew that such a thing could ever exist!


Kitchen Alchemy- Farmers Market Finds

Our Gluten Free Brunch! Absolutely delicious tarts with fresh beets, zucchini and mushroom duxelles, farmstead blue cheese and goat cheese, organic pork rillettes, smoked trout , rye bread and parmesan rosemary bread...all gluten free...all delcious!

 Kitchen Alchemy- Farmers Market Finds


One incredibly happy husband!


 As an aside...Today I went to my local coffee shop (Phoenix Coffee) to pick up some tea for Jim. I looked in the pastry case and there were gorgeous gluten free baked goods from Uncommon Grains. I brought home a chocolate peanut butter tart that was to die for and a cheddar chive scone that one bite of erased the memory of several gluten free home prepared scones that were absolutely disgusting.  Life is truly a miracle:)