Most of us know the story...three kings came bearing gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh, but have you ever wondered just what frankincense and myrrh are? As a child, I thought myrrh was dish soap! My mother always purchased "Mir" probably because it was one of the least expensive available. I could never understand why a king would bring such a thing. I finally took the time to look them up.
It turns out that Frankincense and Myrrh are both aromatic tree resins and have been used throughout history as a perfume, incense and medicine.
The bark of the Frankincense or Myrrh tree is slashed allowing the resin to bleed out and harden. These hardened resins are called tears. The trees start producing resin when they are about eight to 10 years old. Recent studies have indicated that frankincense tree populations are declining, partly due to over-exploitation
While Frankincense is used in perfumery aromatherapy, and occasionally as an ingredient in skincare lotions, myrrh is used as an antiseptic in mouthwash, gargles, and toothpastes. As for their use as a medicine for a multitude of ailments, there is still not sufficient evidence of safety or efficacy to support it's use.
That said, my favourite gifts are almost always those I can eat. They're fun to make, they don't have to fit, they don't gather dust, and they're usually delicious!!
Here are a couple of my favourites:
MARINATED GOAT CHEESE:Ingredients
- 1 goat cheese log
- 1 tiny chile pepper
- 2 strips lemon zest
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 sprig fresh oregano or thyme
- 1 sprig fresh fennel or ½ tsp. fennel seeds
- 1 garlic clove
- 2 c. extra-virgin olive oil
Cut goat cheese log into 4 equal pieces; Form into balls. Pack all 4 balls in a sterilized wide-necked jar. Add chile, lemon zest, bay leaves, oregano, fennel seeds, garlic to jar. Pour in olive oil to cover cheese.
Seal jar and refrigerate until chilled, about 4 hrs.
ROSEMARY & THYME SPICED NUTS2 tablespoons olive oil3 cups mixed nuts (pecans/almonds/peanuts...)2 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary½ tablespoon chopped fresh thyme1 teaspoon cumindash of cayenne pepper½ tablespoon packed brown sugar1 teaspoon salt½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 300°.
Place nuts in a medium size bowl. Heat oil in a small saucepan over medium-low heat until just warm. Add rosemary and thyme and stir until aromatic (about 1 minute). Remove pan from heat and stir in cumin and cayenne pepper. Pour the flavoured oil over the nuts and stir to coat evenly. Sprinkle with sugar, salt, and black pepper. Stir again. Transfer to an edged cookie sheet. Bake for about 15 minutes, stirring after the first 10 minutes. Let cool. Pour into clear glass jars, wrap with a ribbon and Voila!!! The perfect gift...delicious sprinkled in salad, easily packed away for an energy boost while skiing or enjoyed in front of the fire with your loved one. Enjoy...and Happy Holidays!
The true story behind the
ancient origins of Halloween began 2000 years ago with the Celtic festival
called Samhain celebrated on November 1st. It was seen as a liminal time, when the spirits or fairies could more easily come into our world. On the night before Samhain,
people believed the dead came back as
ghosts. They would leave food and wine on their doorsteps to keep
roaming ghosts at
and would wear masks if they
the house, hoping to be mistaken
as fellow ghosts. The Christian church
turned Salhaim into All Saints day and
then in the 8th century it became All Hallows Day. The night before was
known as All Hallows Eve and then later shortened to Halloween.
We all know about trick or treating, but what about
Souling or Guising? All 3 of these traditions originated in Medieval Britian on
All Souls Day, November 2nd. The needy would beg for pastries known as soul cakes and in return they would pray for People’s dead relatives. This was known as
“souling”. In the medieval Hallow’s eve tradition of “Guising”, young people
would dress up in costume and accept food, wine, money or other offerings in
exchange for singing, reciting poetry or telling jokes.
19th century America, Scottish and Irish immigrants revived
old traditions. It has since been know as “Trick or Treating”.
of us are opting to host Halloween parties for our children
than continue with the trick or treating tradition. Because of
this, I thought I’d post a few healthy, easy to prepare, Halloween snacks to
offer to your little ghouls and goblins. Enjoy!
What you'll need
: Apples and Slivered Almonds
How to make them: Just
quarter and core an apple, cut a wedge from the skin side of each quarter, then
press slivered almonds in place for teeth. Voila!! Scary apple grins.
Note: If you're not going to serve them right away, baste the apples with orange juice to keep them from browning.
Spooky Spider Eggs:
Prepare your favourite deviled eggs, then cut pitted black olives in half
lengthwise and nestle one half on top of each egg for the body. Cut the other
half crosswise into thin slices to form the creepy legs.
Banana Ghost Pops:
Cut banana in half widthwise. Push
a Popsicle stick into each half through the cut end, cover each pop with
plastic wrap and freeze until firm (about 3 hours).
Once frozen, roll in vanilla yogurt, sprinkle heavily with finely ground coconut, and decorate with chocolate chips, currants or raisins. Return the pops to the freezer until ready to serve. If you prefer a sweeter treat, replace the yogurt with melted white chocolate. Yumm!