We are three sisters united in our search for the divine - in food, libation, literature, art, and nature. This blog will capture the true, sometimes decadent, at times humorous, and every so often transcendent adventures of the Salvation Sisters.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Roasted Chicken and Green Chile Hash with Poached Eggs

by Michelle

   Last weekend, over a casual family brunch, my daughter declared quite unexpectedly that the plate of hash she was enthusiastically tucking into was her favorite breakfast. This inquiring mind could not quite accept this new information on face value alone. I gently challenged her: better than pancakes? Yes, she affirmed without hesitation. Now don't be misled, Maddie loves pancakes but apparently she likes the hash more. Who knew? Understanding Maddie's undying love for the combination of butter and maple syrup, I was taken completely by surprise. Like any good detective, I had a follow-up question. So let me get this straight... do you like this hash better than daddy's French toast made with cinnamon raisin bread? A two second contemplation was followed by a resolute yes. Well, knock me over with a flapjack, I continue to learn something new every single day.

Roasted Chicken and Green Chile Hash

   Every week I contemplate the conundrum of how to creatively use leftover chicken beyond a sandwich filling or salad topping. Of course, there are the standards: chicken enchiladas, Buffalo chicken pizza, chicken pesto pasta, tortilla soup, chicken curry salad and multitudes of casseroles.
   Since I always have chicken in the refrigerator, the deciding factor for going forward with preparing hash is if there are leftover baked potatoes on my kitchen countertop, or if stored for more than a day, in the refrigerator. If I'm baking potatoes for a roast chicken dinner, I always add a few more to the oven to make hashed potatoes within the next few days.
  To prepare baked potatoes, I scrub russett potatoes well and then puncture each potato once with the tines of a fork. I prefer to wrap individual potatoes in aluminum foil. I bake the large potatoes at 400° for approximately 75 to 90 minutes until tender. When the potatoes are ready, I remove from the oven to a serving plate that goes directly to the table. The potatoes stay piping hot for another 15 minutes or so until ready to eat. Leftover potatoes are unwrapped immediately so they can begin to cool down to room temperature without delay. Mishandled potatoes can lead to food poisoning. No kidding.
  As a general rule of thumb, one large russett potato will serve two people. Last weekend, two large potatoes comfortably served three people, and could have happily fed four people with the addition of toast and jam.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Serendipity, Syd and Overnight Cinnamon Rolls

by Linda

"Serendipity is the art of making an unsought finding."
                                                                       ~Pek van Andel

Some things are meant to be. I know that in my heart of hearts. I believe that the story of how I met our cousin, Syd, serves as an example of how strange and wonderful things happen around us every single day. We need only to pay attention, ask the right questions, and magical things can happen.
   In 1987 I met a woman introduced to me as Syd when I started working at The Ballard Inn in the Santa Ynez Valley. I had been hired as the “chef” at the inn, preparing breakfast in the mornings, and high tea in the late afternoon for the guests. Syd served breakfast in the dining room a few days a week for this small and exclusive bed and breakfast which was just a block from her house in the quaint town of Ballard.

Our cousin, Syd.
   Syd and I worked together for quite some time, completely unaware that there was any connection between us. In time I came to appreciate her sense of humor and intelligence. I was further intrigued when I found out that Syd was a talented artist, with a completely original style and point of view. I sensed that she was entirely her own person, authentically herself, and I grew to like and respect her. Syd, for her part, happily munched on my creations, reported any rave reviews about my food from the dining room, and we happily talked about this and that. We gradually got to know one another and our friendship grew.
   As I remember it, one afternoon we got to chatting in the kitchen about our childhoods and where we grew up as people will do who decide that they do indeed like one another, and may as well invest the time and energy it takes in getting to know more about one another's lives. I just happened to mention to her that I had fond memories of spending time with my maternal grandparents, Earl and Maxine during the summers in Redlands, California. 
   Syd surprised me by saying that she had spent time in the summer in Redlands, also, and that she had family from there. I was surprised because I had not encountered many people living in the Central Coast who knew where Redlands was located on a map. I usually had to explain that it was 50 miles from Palm Springs as a means of giving it a place in the geography of California that people could relate to. With the revelation that we shared a history in this location, we looked at each other with puzzled interest. I, just for grins, asked her the name of her family in Redlands. She answered Wilkins. I was taken aback, since that was the maiden surname of my maternal great-grandmother, Maude. I recall that I spluttered out that Wilkins was a family name for me, too, but that all of the Wilkins were a long time dead. 

Syd, with her mother, Margaret.
   Syd and I stared at each other with eyes widening... growing more incredulous by the minute. She told me she was going to go and give her dad, Bert, a call. Bert and Syd's mother, Margaret, lived in Ballard, also, across the street from Syd and her family. In a burst of inspiration I told her to ask him if the name Igo meant anything to him as she was flying down the hallway in her excitement. In a few minutes Syd burst back to the kitchen to give me a message from her Dad. He said, "Stay put, I am coming over there."  
   "As the world turns", as we sisters like to say, Syd’s mother, Margaret, and my grandmother, Maxine, who were both still alive at the time, were first cousins who had lost touch with each other years before. Neither had any idea that their progeny were living in close proximity, in fact working together, in a small town in the Central Coast of California, far from their Redlands roots. The next thing I knew I was I was meeting Bert, who was white-haired, wiry and a practical joker with a wicked smile. 
Syd's dad, Bert.
   He brought with him a very old photo album tucked under his arm. Bert put the album down on the kitchen counter and started turning the pages, stopping at a photo of a very large family gathering. Bert asked me if I recognized anyone. To my amazement, there was my Papa, Earl, with his arm around another man in the front row of the photo. I pointed and said, "That's my grandfather, but I don't know who that is that he has his arm around." Bert smiled widely and said simply, "That's me." You could have knocked me over with a feather. Not only was that my grandfather in the photo with Bert, but I was able to pick out my grandmother, her sister, my great grandparents, and my great-grandmother's sisters. Bert, Syd and I stood misty-eyed and stunned silence...we were having a family reunion. We figured out in the end, that my great-great-grandfather, and Syd's great-great-great-grandfather had been brothers.

First row, third from left is our grandfather, Earl and fourth, is Syd's Dad, Bert.
   Over the next few weeks we met each other's families. I met Syd's brother, Nate, Syd's mom, husband and two girls. Syd in turn, was introduced to my husband and twin boys, my sister Juliette, also an artist, and Juliette's son, Paul. Syd and Juliette discovered in very short order that they had a whole lot in common, and for a brief happy time in our lives, not too long after they met, Syd and Juliette decided to split the rent on a vacant shop across the street from my house on Elm Street in Solvang to use as a workshop/art studio. Juliette had a sign making business at the time, and Syd's business, Sheep Floozy continues to thrive. Juliette worked on her sign commissions, and Syd painted furniture with bright, wonderful colors and her designs which she sold at a shop in downtown Solvang. I used to love to go across the street and sit on the crushed red velvet couch that they had installed in the corner of the large space, and watch them work while we talked and laughed.
   Margaret, Bert, Maxine and Earl all have both been gone many years now, but they did meet again before my grandmother died shortly thereafter. I fondly remember their reunion with them sharing some stories and a good laugh over the old days. They all were very pleased that the family had found its way back together again.

Syd's wedding present to Michelle, a Sheep Floozy designed picnic basket.
   All of this happened almost 25 years ago, although of course, it seems like only yesterday to me. Our children grew up and both Syd, and Juliette have become grandmothers. I would like to be a grandmother, too, but so far my son, Jordan, is not cooperating. We are now spread out by distance since Juliette and I both moved far from our home in the Santa Ynez Valley, but we still stay in touch with Syd and keep track of each other's families through the wonders of the social network. Both of Syd's daughters are artists like their mom, and one has a shop on Etsy.
   We remain grateful that we found each other, and to this very day, I know we all feel lucky to have discovered the secret we had in common. It seems just as likely that Syd and I could have worked together for the time we did and never have discovered that we were long lost relatives. This story anyway, had a happy ending, and I am especially fond of those.

Linda's Overnight Cinnamon Rolls

This is a recipe that I made every morning at The Ballard Inn. A hot tray of cinnamon rolls slathered in gooey icing on the breakfast buffet is enough to make diners almost swoon, as I have witnessed many times in my baking career.
   The trouble in general with cinnamon rolls though, is that they are a yeast dough and, of course, need time to rise... so making them can be an onerous chore for the baker who has to rise before the sun to be able to get them on a breakfast table when it is still the breakfast hour. This recipe became my solution to that problem.
   One needs to simply make the dough the night before, and let it do the first rise overnight in the refrigerator. The next morning, pull the dough out of the fridge, remove it from the bowl, and allow to sit our for 15 minutes on your cutting board before rolling out the dough. After the rolls are prepared and fitted into a baking pan, they are ready for the last rise before being baked off in the oven. This second rising time allows the baker to enjoy a leisurely cup of coffee, and make other breakfast preparations if desired. Easy!

Refrigerator dough:
1/2 cup hot water, about 100° to 105°
1 Tbsp granulated sugar
Two 1/4-oz envelopes active dry yeast
5 large eggs
3/4 cup of safflower oil
3/4 cup of milk
6 cups of flour (plus more for kneading)
1/2 plus 2 Tbsps granulated sugar
1 tsp of salt

Filling and final assembly:
5-6 Tbsps melted butter, brushed on rolls and pan
1 Tbsp ground cinnamon
1/3 cup brown sugar
1-1/4 cups chopped walnuts or pecans, optional
1/2 cup raisins, optional

3 cups powdered sugar
about 1/2 cup milk
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/8 tsp lemon extract

Special equipment:
Rolling pin

1. Line a 13x18-inch baking pan with wax or parchment paper. Coat with spray oil and set aside. Alternatively, you can also oil a big salad bowl that is large enough for the dough to double in size as it rises.
2. In a 1-cup Pyrex, combine the hot water with the sugar and the yeast. Stir and set aside for about 10 minutes, until the mixture is foamy.

3. In the bowl of a KitchenAid mixer with the whisk attachment, mix together the eggs, oil and milk. Add yeast, mix again.
4. In a bowl, combine the flour, sugar and salt. Replace the whisk attachment with the dough hook. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir until completely blended, about 2 to 3 minutes. The dough will be soft and sticky. Turn the dough out onto a floured board and knead until the dough just holds it shape, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer the dough to the prepared pan, lightly mist the surface with oil, cover tightly with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator overnight.
5. In the morning, remove the dough from the refrigerator, and let stand at room temperature for about 15 to 20 minutes until slightly softened.

6. Lightly dust a work surface with flour. Invert dough, remove wax paper and discard. Roll out the the dough into a 16-inch by 12-inch rectangle. Brush generously with melted butter and sprinkle evenly with cinnamon and brown sugar. Top with nuts and raisins, if using.

Place the rolls so they are barely touching in the pan.
7. Roll up lengthwise into a cylinder. Cut the log in half. Cut each half in half to yield 4 smaller cylinders. Cut each quarter into 3 slices. Place rolls, cut side down and loosely touching each other, into a pan or pans that have been brushed with butter. (I use one large pan that measures 10-1/2" x 14-3/4" x 2-1/2".) Brush the tops of the rolls with melted butter and cover with plastic wrap.

Unglazed rolls fresh from the oven. The kitchen smells amazing.
8. Preheat oven to 375°F. Set the prepared rolls in a warm spot and let rise for 30 to 60 minutes until double in size. Remove plastic wrap and put rolls in oven. Immediately reduce temperature to 350°F and bake uncovered for approximately 30 minutes. While the rolls are baking, prepare the glaze.

Once removed from the oven, glaze the rolls right away.
9. To make the glaze, whisk together the powdered sugar, milk, vanilla and lemon extracts. Thin with additional milk if necessary for a pourable consistency. When the rolls are finished baking, remove from oven to cool on a rack. Generously coat the rolls with 2/3 of the powdered sugar glaze. After 15 minutes, drizzle the remaining frosting. Serve immediately or let cool in pan. Yields: 12 large rolls.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

The Great Cake Controversy: Maraschino Party Cake

by Linda

"I will use the world and sift it,
To a thousand humors shift it,
As you spin a cherry."
~Ralph Waldo Emerson

   My family has been making my Grandma Elsie's Maraschino Cherry Cake for over 50 years. It appears to have been, according to my research, a very popular cake back in the day. It has fallen out of favor in modern times, much like our family's Persimmon Pudding. My guess is that is has something to do with Maraschino cherries and their juice containing large amounts of Red Dye #5, a known carcinogen. But when I was a kid, we just thought the cherries were delicious.
   The Maraschino Cherry Cake was my birthday cake when I turned two. According to my mother (and photographic evidence that I have seen with my own eyes), my Grandma Elsie and Grandpa Charlie hosted my party that year, with one of Grandma's famous backyard barbecues. Grandma's Maraschino Cherry cake was the show stopper pièce de résistance of the party. My cake was a tall three-layer affair, piled high with pink Fluffy Boiled Icing, decorated with colored candy sprinkles and topped with bright birthday candles... perfect for a little girl's birthday. Apparently though, with so much excitement, presents, and attention focused on me (and with Grandma's evening parties famously running late), I decided to have a meltdown of epic proportions that is remembered to this very day by those in attendance over the age of two.

   In all truth, the last time I made Grandma's Maraschino Cherry Cake was in the 1980s. I made it for my friend Blanca's baby shower, and I decorated the frosted cake not only with colored sprinkles, but also with plastic Care Bears (very popular at the time), pink and blue bows and topped with fresh flowers. The baby that I made that cake for is now a grown up and is a very talented artist... painter, Karina Puente. Sigh... how have 20-something years passed in the blink of an eye?
   Earlier this summer, my niece Maddie made her first, all by herself, layer cake for her mother's birthday. She and Michelle decided to do an update on Grandma Elsie's Maraschino Cherry Cake, since no one in our family had made the cake in 25 years, but it is still remembered fondly. Further impetus was that our cousins have been requesting that we post more of Grandma's recipes on Salvation Sisters.
   For Michelle's cake, Maddie and Michelle decided to use Maraschino cherries that are not made with the horrible, cancer-causing red dye. They also decided to whip the egg whites before adding them to the cake batter, and to brush the layers lightly with marschino cherry liqueur. They also decided to not color the Fuffy Boiled Icing pink.

   Maddie's cake was a gorgeous specimen, and all was well until the cake was sliced at Michelle's birthday party and served to our Mother. Mom ate her slice, but was none too pleased with the changes that were made, and Michelle and I have continued to hear about it ever since.
   A few weeks ago while on the phone with Mom, when I happened to mention that I was writing the blog post for Grandma Elsie's Maraschino Cherry Cake, my mother's voice became alarmed. She stated emphatically, the cake that Maddie and Michelle made is most certainly not Grandma Elsie's cake, and should not be represented as such in our post. After some discussion, we moved on, thankfully, to another topic.
   Upon reflection, and with more discussion, (additional sigh...), here is how Michelle and I have decided to resolve the matter. We will publish Grandma's Original Maraschino Cherry Cake recipe, red dye and all, no beaten egg whites, and no cherry liqueur... along with Maddie and Michelle's updated, less toxic version, thus preserving our family history, and providing an alternative to those wishing for one. Ahhh, the sweet sound of family peace restored, and everyone is happy once more. Lovely!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Summer Food Rituals and Eggplant Parmigiana

by Linda

"A ritual is a set of actions, performed mainly for their symbolic value... There are hardly any limits to the kind of actions that may be incorporated into a ritual." ~Wikipedia

   I love seasonal food rituals. I love preparing and eating all of the traditional foods associated with major holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas. As for me, I also celebrate Eggplant Parmigiana Day. Eggplant Parmigiana is a dish that I associate with long days, warm weather and garden plots that are producing at their peak. My Grandma Elsie grew eggplant in her garden when I was a girl. I recall her breading and frying up slices of eggplant, that we girls would eat plain, dipped in catsup.
   In later years I learned to make Eggplant Parmigiana which I love. I make Eggplant Parmigiana once in the summer each year without fail, just as I am driven by my own internal clock to pull my ice cream maker out of storage to make at least one batch of our family's homemade lemon ice cream before Labor Day arrives. The summer would not be complete for me without making these foods, which in my mind, pay homage to the sun, and happy memories of many summers past.

My son, Joshua and I on the Cayucos pier in October of 2005.
   One particularly memorable summer a few years ago, I was staying at my friend Richard's beach apartment in Cayucos, California on the weekends. Cayucos sits just off of Highway 1 near Morro Bay. I adore this sleepy little beach town that has a wonderful farmer's market on Friday mornings during the summer season. It is adjacent to the pier.

The Farmer's Market in Cayucos on a Friday morning in mid-July.
   Richard's apartment sat on a hill, and was just a short walk to the pier and the minuscule downtown. The apartment was designed with floor to ceiling windows and a nice deck, all of which commanded a panoramic view of the Pacific Ocean. What wonderful weekends I spent there for several years before I moved up north. 

Michelle, Maddie and I passing a pleasant afternoon on Cayucos Beach.
   On one particular Friday morning near midsummer, I walked over to the farmer's market after having my Saturday morning cup of coffee on the pier. There I found the farm stand tables filling the beach parking lot stacked high with glowing purple eggplant, fragrant and blazing red vine-ripened tomatoes, and woven baskets piled high with just-harvested bunches of basil. As my eyes took in all of the summer's beautiful bounty, I knew at once that Eggplant Parmigiana Day had arrived.

   I spent the rest of the day in a blissful state of euphoria, while I prepared my own marinara, let the sliced and salted eggplant leach its bitter juices on to a half sheet pan to ready for breading and sautéing, and I kneaded dough for French bread. I languidly sipped a delicious glass of zinfandel (which the area is known for) by Tobin James. As I worked joyfully, I allowed myself to be hypnotized by the unceasing coming and going of the waves on the shoreline below, as I tried my best to name the ever-changing shades of blue on the surface of the water that stretched as far as my eyes could see in any direction.

The view from Richard's condo.
   This year the voluptuous purple beauties showed up at my own market a couple of weeks ago. It was a thrilling moment for me after enduring an incredibly long, cold and wet Nor Cal Winter and Spring. Those luscious eggplant were a sight for sore eyes desperately in need of a sun-drenched Mediterranean vacation. I quickly plucked the two most gorgeous specimens off the table, and took them home, cheered by the visual confirmation that summer was here at last, and that the morrow would be Eggplant Parmigiana Day. The next morning I enacted the ritual once more of the peeling, slicing, salting, waiting, breading, frying and layering. It is a process that I cherish. The results of my days efforts were satisfying and delicious, just as I knew they would be, which is the beauty of enacting a ritual.
   At the end of the day, every nuanced bite was an acknowledgment of my present abundance and good fortune. Each taste on the tongue announced the arrival and celebration of yet another summer, but also provided a portal into summers past. For the conclusion of this year's Eggplant Parmigiana Day there was also a bowl of our family's lemon ice cream for dessert. I reveled in the warm evening outdoors on my deck under the giant oak tree, offering up thanks for my good fortune at being alive on that particular summer's day, and, it almost goes without saying... I didn't forget to make a toast and a blessing to the sun.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Root Beer Marble Ice Cream

by Michelle

   I am not blessed with a great memory like my sister, Linda. She can memorize volumes of text and can recite long passages of poetry. In high school, she took Spanish, German and French in the same semester and earned an A in each class. She can reel off the medicinal properties of plants and the impact on a human body. So in-depth is Linda's knowledge that she sounds as if she is a medical doctor. In fact, we often refer to her as Dr. Townsend when seeking her advice on how to cure whatever might be ailing us.
   My husband is similar in the way that he can remember conversations with great accuracy. Especially the conversations he has with me, much to my chagrin. His keen memory doesn't seem to work in my favor in personal disagreements. As a couple, we are a prime example that opposites attract.
   My best friend from high school, Dan is also known as Dan-The-Man. He also answers to his current rank of Lieutenant. That's right... Lieutenant Dan. Upon his promotion, I immediately trotted down the well-worn path of Forrest Gump jokes that littered the gutters of his reality. Dan told me straight-up, with only the slightest hint of his trademark humor, that my jokes were not in any way original. The news did not come as a surprise to me or lessen my enthusiasm for the obviously stupid. I digress.

   My original point for bringing Dan into the conversation is that Dan remembers things from high school that I do not. He has been downright incredulous with me at times with things I fail to remember. I do remember that he taught me how to drive. And, for that, I will always be grateful.
   I think my lack of a strong memory is why I take so many photographs. I seem to be obsessively documenting my life. Similar to the movie Momento, I take photos to remember. (I am happy to confirm that there are no additional similarities between my life and the aforementioned movie.)
   This is why, when I do have a random memory, something that should have been in one memory bank and out the other, but has nevertheless stuck with me through the years, I take note. This particular memory has to do with, yep, you guessed it—Root Beer Marble Ice Cream.

Dan took this photo of "young happy me" on the beach in Santa Barbara.
 In my formative years, I lived in the small California Central Coast town of Solvang. An acquaintance once asked where I grew up, when I responded Solvang, she threw her head back and laughed. When I inquired what was so humorous, she said, "Oh, I thought only elves lived there." I grimace-smiled like my friend Dan does when hearing, yet again, a lame Forrest Gump joke.
   The small village of Solvang is a mix of paved roads and cobblestone walkways, half-timbered buildings with thatched roofs and picture perfect windmills. Solvang Park resides between downtown Solvang's two traffic lights on Mission Drive. Across the street from the park lived a small, narrow ice cream shop on 1st Street. As I recall all the flavors were made by Dreyers. When I shared with Linda, she seemed to recall that the little shop served up Burnardo'z ice cream, a small company that was based in Los Alamos, California, just up a short stretch  from Solvang on Highway 101. Linda's favorite was Burnardo'z Rocky Road. If we are to trust a source, we'll go with Linda's recollection based upon my glowing assessment of her mental prowess.

Celebrating Danish Days 1977 in Solvang Park posing in front of Danish author 
Hans Christian Andersen's statue. I'm wearing apparel befitting for 
my elementary school's participation in the annual parade.
  The ice cream shop was owned by a sweet, elderly couple who always seemed to manage to remember my favorite flavor. They would send me on my way with a smile and two huge scoops in a waffle cone. More often than not, I would sit at the park under the shade of the trees and happily slurp the ice cream and eat the cone until every last tasty bit was consumed.
   In an attempt to reconstruct this happy experience from my youth, I have searched extensively for a Root Beer Marble Ice Cream recipe without success. No recipes on the internet or in my cookbooks... at least not that I could find.
   The field has been narrowed to the capable team of me, myself and I to create Root Beer Marble Ice Cream. I will rise to the challenge. I should perhaps put my skills to something worthy that could really change the world, but hey, Root Beer Marble Ice Cream to celebrate the 4th of July sounds like a good use of time to me. Lofty goal? I think not. It's all about making a  syrup, which thanks to Cooks Illustrated, might be as easy as boiling a liter of root beer to a cup of syrup*. Next, make a really great vanilla ice cream (easy-peasy). Finally, swirl the syrup into the soft homemade ice cream and then harden in the freezer.
   Instant time machine? I think not, but this time around I get to share a memory in the making with my daughter and husband. At least I hope so. I'll take a picture, just in case I get a little fuzzy on the details.

*It's not. I wish it was easy as reducing soda pop to a syrup. My life would have been considerably easier this past month. I started my experiment with Virgil's Root Beer - a tasty brew. By the time I reduced the excellent root beer to one cup, it tasted like carmelized vanilla with perhaps a faint undertone of root beer. The flavor was considerably better when I added a tablespoon of Blackmaker™ Root Beer Liqueur to the reduced soda pop. Not completely satisfied, I considered my options. A quick Google search uncovered a Root Beer Syrup made by Sonoma Trading Company and stocked at my local Williams-Sonoma store.

   I think I might have visibly winced when I shelled out $16 dollars for the syrup. Similar to when, just a few weeks ago when I purchased the Edmond Fallot Dijon Mustard. A small price to pay, I assured myself, in the name of research. The purchased syrup was better than the reduced root beer concoction. To reduce icyness once frozen, I added one tablespoon of the Blackmaker Root Beer Liqueur to one cup of the purchased Root Beer syrup. The next step was to make the vanilla ice cream.
   My first attempt to add the syrup to the frozen custard would aptly be named Root Beer Float Ice Cream. Not what I was striving for, but delicious all the same. In the final analysis, the "float" occured when the room temperature syrup diffused into the unripened ice cream (see note below). Not content to stop short of my mission of a true marbled ice cream, I resolved to try again.
   For round two, I decided to make my own syrup based upon reading a terrific Sassafras and Homemade Root Beer blog post by Hank Shaw of Hunter Angler Gardener Cook. There are no Sassafras trees in my neck of the woods, err... barren desert that is, but I can purchase just about anything I desire at Amazon.com. A quick search yielded Sassafras Root Bark, Cut and Sifted Burdock Root, and Wintergreen extract. The rest of the ingredients were lounging in my spice cabinet or readily available at my local grocery store. I decided that I would follow Hank's recipe and add-in one crushed whole nutmeg to the "tea" ingredients and then a touch of vanilla paste to make the syrup my own.
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