Cold Kicker Tonic, and Friendship

Today, I am doing something new. I am highlighting someone else’s blog. (Photo comes from Keeper of the Home)

We have a lot of talented, creative, well-informed citizen ‘journalist-bloggers’ (you say potato, I say po-TAH-to, who is limit the definition of journalist nowadays!) out there on the internet who are sharing a incredible wealth of information, tips, tricks, resources and knowledge to what amounts now as ‘the world’. All the information that we used to have to go and dig for in the bowels of a library is at our fingertips, in the comfort of our homes. Heck, we can sit in our PJ’s or sweats and fill our minds with a cup of coffee at hand. For me personally, that has been a blessing. I’ve always had a sensitivity to the florescent lighting in those buildings and so I shun them like the plague.

Todays blog highlight is called “Keeper of the Home” and you can go here (**Or see below for the recipe**) to find the Cold Kicker Remedy I am referring to.

This recipe came from my ‘grocery store friend’. Back when I was blessed enough to live on the east side of the bay area (oh, I long for the weather and scenery there) and I met my friend Jamie. My girls were runts back then, 2&4, when we moved from Oregon to California. It was an awesome home in the suburbs of Concord. I had on my property a Meyers Lemon tree, a pomegranate and grapefruit tree. We lived on a cul-de-sac at the foot of beautiful hills (deemed mountains, here in the midwestern flatlands ), mesquite trees from which I’d collect the pods to smoke meat on the grill, incredible farmers markets that were chockfull of heirloom produce, and sigh…..the weather. As I sit here staring out at the never-ending white wasteland of Minnesota, knowing there is still yet another 2 full months of winter-like weather, I long for that more temperate climate and abundant varieties of produce.

Back to the story.

For those who have no experience of living on the West Coast, it is particularly appealing for its’ transient, mobile and flexible communities. People migrate up and down the coast for jobs and family. I was born in California, my family moved to Oregon when I was 6, but my relatives lived back in southern CA and also up in Washington State. We put a lot of miles on the cars, driving up and down the coast to visit relatives, friends and vacation. I grew up thinking nothing of a 16 hour drive to have Christmas with my cousins. In college, I had many friends from up and down the coastline whom we’d visit. I think you get the point: We are mobile. As such, there is a spontaneity and openness in people I’ve not found here in the midwest. When you meet someone, and if you like them, you make friends. You invite them in to your home. You connect, because you never know how long they may stay in your area.

That is how I met my friend Jamie in the grocery store. I was with my girls, one in the cart and one at my hip, feeling at that time overwhelmed by the simple task of grocery shopping with 2 littles. Don’t get me wrong, my girls were angels compared to some of the behavior kids get away with nowadays. But I’ve always had high expectations for good behavior from my kids and more so back then.  Roaming from aisle to aisle I kept passing a woman with 4 kids and 2 shopping carts. Her oldest, a boy, pushed one cart with the youngest a boy; her oldest daughter was at her side, while the 2nd daughter sat in the shopping cart seat. She was going through the aisle calmly and orderly, kids quiet, well-mannered and well-behaved. I stopped dead in my tracks and complimented her on what an inspiration I thought she was! (We mom’s really do need positive feedback to keep us trudging through the day!)

We chatted for a bit, then she moved on, and a I finished up my shopping. We were destined to become friends, because there she was right behind me in the check out line! We got to chatting more, and exchanged both emails and phone numbers. Over the course of the next 6-9 months, we chatted via email as her 4 kids all went consecutively through the infection, incubation and scabbing of chicken pox. Finally, about 7-9 months after meeting in the grocery, we got together. I remember seeing her and laughing to myself that my mental image of her had changed in the course of time!

We have remained friends since sharing recipes and our lives back and forth over the distance. She sent this recipe to me quite awhile back, but it was this winter season that I actually used this tonic. We have had a bad winter here in MN. Lots of people have been coming down with the flu, and all other sorts of buggy nasties. I, however, have been dosing myself with this natural tonic, and have remained illness free. I’ve felt a couple of times that initial grunge that precedes an illness, but with a daily dosing, have never come down with anything.

Homeopathic remedies do work. I know we live in a world that is blessed by anti-biotics, but those are abused by the medical profession and I worry about the over-prescribing of them. When it’s not a bacterial infection (which most aren’t) there is not need for antibiotics.  Seems to me, an ounce of prevention is well worth the investment if we are to prevent anti-biotic resistance from becoming an issue.

This tonic taken straight is not for the faint of heart. Personally, I’ve grown to love the taste. It reminds me of a wonderfully spiced artisan vinegar. You can use it in a vinaigrette if that is the only way you can get it in. For me, I put a couple tablespoons in a shot glass, down it, and follow it with water. For those who have acid reflux, this really does help. I know it’s counter intuitive, but it does help. Starting the day with something acid forces our normally acid system to stop producing acid. It helps balance your gut out.

Since I am in need of a fresh batch, this recipe is out and ready to share. This time I am contemplating adding Tumeric, for its’ anti-oxidant properties. Brew yourself up a quart and then let me know what you think.
See the link above to read the entire recipe.


  • 1/4 c. ginger root, freshly grated
  • 1/4 c. onion, freshly chopped
  • 1/4 c. fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 1/4 c. fresh sage leaves, chopped
  • 1/4 c. grated horseradish
  • 4 cloves of garlic (you can up it to 6, if you feel adventurous)
  • 2 Tbsp. ground cayenne pepper
  • organic apple cider vinegar to cover

Jada our Foster ‘Child’

Jada our Foster 'Child'

Meet Jada. (My Miss Mia is the black blob she is laying on) Little Jada is 6 months old and came to us from a friend who’s daughter lost her place to live and so cannot care for her puppy. We have no idea if she will ever be able to take care for her again, but in the meantime we can provide a healthy, safe and disciplined environment for her.

I have always had humane society ‘adopted’ lab-shepherd mixes, Miss Mia is my 3rd This is my first experience training a different breed, let alone a pure bred pitbull. I am sad that pits have such a bad rap, and I am horrified at the culture of dog fighting that has taken a wonderful family dog and created a sense of fear over this breed. As a dog lover, I can’t bear to think of what people do in the name of making a buck. In my opinion, the two-legged animals that participate in that aren’t fit to be breathing air.

On the positive side: SHE IS SO SWEET!

She makes us laugh daily with her pogo stick legs. She literally springs straight up and down when excited, her little body just a-quivering with excitement. She has a tiny tongue that is just itching at every opportunity to roam free on anyone or thing in the vicinity. (we are working on that). She is smart as a whip, which is good for training, but also means she can outsmart me at times! She is loving and already devoted to my family. Unlike labs, who tend to bond to one member of the family, she is an equal opportunity lover.

I was worried that my 4 year old Mia might get a little jealous sharing attention. But our other lab-shepherd mix (who was 15) had to be put down this summer and I think she has been a little lonely. She seems to be fully enjoying the playful company of the puppy, as our older dog was more than a little grumpy in her old age and didn’t really want to ‘play’.

On a final note what I find just hilarious is that Miss Mia has a full sized bed she can sleep on, but it is this teeny tiny pink puppy bed that she is drawn to! Miss Mia is 75 lbs, but somehow she manages to curl up in to a small enough ball to squeeze on that to it!

Shrimp Pasta in a White Wine reduction sauce

Shrimp Pasta in a White Wine reduction sauce

When I need a quick meal, I turn to my pantry and freezer, looking for what can be defrosted quickly.

Shrimp is a sure bet for a quick nights meal. I lay mine out on parchment on top of my granite. The stone pulls the cold out of the shrimp and defrosts it lickity split.

While your shrimp is defrosting, start the water in your stock pot over high heat and get your sauce going:

Chop a couple of large shallots in to a fine dice,

Melt a couple tbsp of butter in a saucepan and add the shallots, cooking until they are translucent. Add a good generous glug of white wine (about a cup). I used a chardonnay. It should be a wine you would drink, since you will be reducing it and icky/off flavors will only get amplified.

Reduce the wine by more than half, until it starts to look more golden in color and all the alcohol has been burned off. If you start with 1 cup, reduce to 1/3ish. I eye-ball it based on the starting level in the pan.

Add 1-1.5 cups of seafood stock, fish stock, lobster or shrimp stock; or in a pinch, chicken stock. Reduce this by half again.

Your water should be boiling by now, generously salt the water and cook the pasta according to package directions. If you are using Gluten Free Pasta, you will drain and rinse the pasta in hot water. You must generously salt the water or your pasta will taste flat. I use the palm of my hand for about 6 quarts of water.

Back to the stock, while it is reducing, prep your veggies. In this dish I used some leftover baby spinach, part of a leftover heirloom tomato, defrosted green peas, and a little finely diced red pepper. I put these in a large serving bowl with some fresh finely chopped parsley.

When the shrimp are defrosted (you can use a colander and running cold water to defrost, but be sure to pat dry), toss with a generous amount of fresh minced (or put through a press) garlic, salt, pepper (I used Szchewuan) and a good squeeze of lemon. Cook in a sauté pan over medium-high heat with a good dollop of olive oil. Don’t waste extra virgin oil, just use regular. They should be done in about 2 mins top. Set aside and keep warm.

When your sauce is done reducing, add a squeeze of lemon, some crushed tarragon, remove from heat and swirl in a couple tablespoons of unsalted COLD butter. Swirl until the sauce looks thick and glossy.

When the pasta is al dente (meaning it has a bit of bite to it, not super soft), then use your tongs and straight from the pot, to add the pasta directly to the sauce. You want some of that starchy pasta water to help thicken the sauce and add flavor. (If you are cooking GF, save a small amount of water, drain, rinse and then add the noodles. Add water if you need to loosen it up in the sauce) The heat of the sauce will continue to cook the pasta. Do not overload the sauce with pasta, you most likely will not use a whole package of pasta, eyeball it. Pour the entire thing over the top of the veggies and toss till the spinach wilts.

Serve with the shrimp on top, a glass of the white wine, and a nice salad on the side.

*See recipe modifications to make with GF noodles.