Thursday, August 11, 2011

Making Herbal Sugar (guest post)

This blog post is brought to you by my friend PJ Graham, who makes the most delicious cookies and baked goods. Here, she shares a way to add some variety to your cookies and other sweets. Enjoy!

Sweeten Things Up with Herbs

You may have heard about herbal butter or oils, but herbs can infuse something sweet as well – sugar! You can do this with many fresh herbs such as rosemary, lavender, lemon verbena, thyme, and mint.

To make an herbal sugar, you will need:

• 2 cups cane sugar

• 3 to 6 sprigs of the chosen fresh herb

• Small jar or container with an airtight lid

Place the sprigs of fresh herb in the jar or container. You can bruise the herbs to help the sugar absorb the oils more readily (some folks even grind the herbs in a mortar and pestle and leave the herb specks in the sugar).

Pour the sugar over the herb and seal the lid on the jar. Shake it well. Let it sit to absorb the herb’s oils – the longer it sits, the stronger the flavor will be. For most herbs, it’s best to let the sugar absorb the oils for several days and up to two weeks (rosemary is an exception – I’ve made usable rosemary sugar in just a few hours). Shake the jar once or twice a day.

When the sugar smells as strongly of the herb as you desire, remove the herb sprigs and reseal the jar until you want to use the sugar.

Stored out of direct sunlight in a sealed container, the sugar can stay good for a long time. If it loses the true smell of the herb, it’s time to throw it out.

Using Herbal Sugars

So how do you use herbal sugar? These sugars can add a special touch when used to sweeten tea or lemonade. Add subtle herb flavor to sugar cookies by rolling the balls of dough in an herbal sugar before flattening them. Or, replace plain sugar with herbal sugars to add a unique twist to a standard recipe. My secret recipe for Rosemary Apple Pie includes rosemary sugar – it makes a huge difference!

If you’re not comfortable winging how to use herbal sugars, here’s a recipe to get you started:


1/3 cup rosemary sugar

3-3/4 cups flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon of salt

1 cup butter, slightly softened (or margarine or butter-flavor Crisco)

2 cups sugar

2 eggs

1/4 cup milk

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 to 1 teaspoon lemon extract

Zest of one lemon (or add more extract)

1 to 1-1/2 tablespoons fresh chopped rosemary

Grease cookie sheets and set aside. Preheat the oven to 375°.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, soda, cream of tartar, and salt. Set this aside for later.

In a large bowl, beat the butter for a few seconds to break it up and then add the sugar. Beat until fluffy. Add the eggs, milk, vanilla, lemon extract, zest, and chopped rosemary; beat until combined. Add the dry ingredients, beating just until combined.

Shape the dough into 1- to 1-1/4-inch balls, roll in the rosemary sugar, and place two inches apart on the cookie sheets. Flatten each ball slightly with the bottom of a glass. Bake for 8 minutes or just until they start turning golden in color.

Note: Because they continue to bake after removing them from the oven, it is always better to slightly undercook cookies rather than overcook them.

Let the cookies sit on the sheet for a minute or two before moving them to a cooling rack.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Need a Weekend Appointment?

I'm pleased to announce that starting in February 2011, I will be offering appointments on the first and third Sundays every month.

Hours will be from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Please schedule any Sunday appointments by noon on the Friday before to ensure there is time available for you.

You can make your appointment by calling me
@ 620.231.0172
or by email:

Friday, March 5, 2010

DVD review: A.M. & P.M. T'ai Chi with David-Dorian Ross

As you know, I'm always looking for ways to improve health and well being. While in MT school, I was fortunate enough to be able to take t'ai chi lessons from a wonderful instructor. But when I was back in Pittsburg, I no longer had that resource.

With the DVD: A.M. & P.M. T'ai Chi with David-Dorian Ross and CJ McPhee, I've been able to start back with this wonderful practice.

The DVD has two twenty minute sessions, one for beginning your day with increased energy; the other to help you wind down from your day and release stress and tension. The video is easy enough for beginners, and you'll soon find your flexibility improves so that the movements become smooth and flowing.

Filmed on the beach, with rolling waves in the background, it's soothing
just watching that! Add David-Dorian and CJ's clear instructions for the gentle and easy movements and you'll soon find yourself enjoying increased energy and a feeling of peace throughout the day.

You can find the DVD at David-Dorian's site or from Wherever you get it, I think you will be pleased with its gentle, easy to follow instructions.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Hammocks and that Vestibular System

Late last year I wrote about how I viewed Mayan hammocks as a pain management option, in addition to being a great relaxation tool. I mentioned how the gentle rocking/swaying of the hammock could stimulate the vestibular system. Today I'd like to give you the details on why that system is important to everyone, from babies to the elderly.

When asked about the vestibular system, most people will often relate it with balance and inner ear issues. But the VS has more influence on our bodies than you think.

The VS affects all the sensory processes of the body, which makes it important to make sure it is in the best condition. More importantly, the VS is intricately involved with another very important system: the vagus nerve.

The vagus nerve is actually two cranial nerves,
extremely long, which earned them the nickname "Wandering Nerves". Extending from your brain stem to the viscera (your internal organs), with branches to the heart, lungs, stomach, and ears, they gather incoming information from the body. This information helps the brain make sure the body is working efficiently. The vagus nerves also dispenses instructions to the body on how to work at peak performance.

This is valuable to know, because appropriate stimulation of the vagus nerve will help you slow your heartbeat, lower blood pressure, and bring about a relaxation response.

Which is where the vestibular system and the vagus complex connection comes into play. When you rock in a chair or swing in a hammock, you gently stimulate the vestibular system and therefore the vagus complex, leading to mental and physical relaxation without much effort on your part.

The vagus complex is also responsible for your digestive system, so if you are having a bit of trouble with constipation, gas, etc. it might be beneficial to try rocking, gentle bouncing on an exercise ball, or swinging in a hammock (are you noticing a theme here?) if more water and your regular exercise aren't doing the job. (Of course, check with your primary health care provider to make sure there's no major problems first!)

Don't have time for rocking or swinging? Since the lips and mouth are richly supplied with connections to the vagus nerves, try pinching your lips, chewing gum, or (gently!) biting your lips. Any of these will also help you avoid eating when you are stressed. Remember to breathe, drink a glass of water, and rock in your seat for additional tension relief.

Consider investing in a hammock or comfortable rocking chair for their considerable health benefits. In my opinion, it's been the best money I've ever spent on myself, and I think you'll feel the same once you give them a try.

Wishing you the best of health,

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Don't Wring Your Hands. . .Rub Them!

I've always been fascinated by reflexology, whether it be foot, hand, or ear reflexology.

When I have time, I like to Google the "interest of the moment", so today I looked for "Hand reflexology". I found this wonderful interactive chart, and wanted to share the link with you:

Simply move your cursor over the drawing of the hand to see what your fingertips influence, or over a word in the list to find out the spot on the hand related to it.

There is also a link there for a foot chart, but our hands are so much easier to reach. Plus, you can press/rub the reflex spots on the hands just about anywhere, anytime without your great aunt wondering why you're pinching your palm. : )

Remember, reflexology is not meant to replace the care of a primary health care provider. Err on the side of caution and get your situation checked out by your doctor, especially if you are experiencing more than a minor ache or pain.

Have a happy and relaxed holiday!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Improve your energy level!

I love Donna Eden's books, and will be doing a review of her latest, "Energy Medicine for Women" after the holidays. Until then, here's something to get you started:

I've used the 3 Thumps to fight bronchitis before. . . now I use them to prevent it!

Stay warm,

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Relaxing Video

For those of you who like to see beautiful kaleidoscopes, this is a beautifully relaxing video. It would make a terrific Christmas gift!

Ken Mayering ( has been a jewel. When I first found his sample video on youtube, I liked it, but felt the images changed too fast to be relaxing. When I commented on it, he offered to slow it down. I loved the results, so ordered one this morning.

So visit his website, find a speed that you like, and contact Ken about your preferences. I can't wait to get mine, relax into the hammock, and bliss out!