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, December 25, 2011

Cocktails To Go-Go and Linda's Strawberry Lemon Drop Cocktail

by Linda

"I don't know what to do!" cried Scrooge, laughing and crying in the same breath; and making a perfect Laoco├Ân of himself with his stockings. "I am as light as a feather, I am as happy as an angel, I am as merry as a school-boy. I am as giddy as a drunken man. A merry Christmas to every-body! A happy New Year to all the world! Hallo here! Whoop! Hallo!"~ Charles Dickens
   Truly...  more than once even, I have slaved for hours preparing food for groups of people who haven't had much to say afterward. I have to admit, it is a very disheartening experience. Through the years I have discovered that there is a sure fire way to get maximum recognition with the output of minimal effort. My secret? Pack up a bag of your favorite cocktail ingredients for your next outing with friends and play bartender. This tactic also works well with family members, especially sisters. They do a happy dance when I show up with the Bar Car.
   Wishing you all, both far and near, a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Linda's Strawberry-Lemon Drop Cocktail

   My recipe is a revision of Ina Garten's basic Lemon Drop Cocktail. I prefer the lemon infused vodka with lemon juice because I think that the cocktail picks up an added depth of flavor. The strawberry vodka adds brightness to the mix and is a fun twist. It also lends the drink a festive pink hue. This cocktail is the big sister to our Hard Strawberry Lemonade. Be advised... the Drop packs a wallop. Use caution!

1 cup strawberry infused vodka (not sweetened)
1 cup Absolut citron vodka
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup superfine sugar or 1/2 cup agave syrup (agave syrup will cause a slight change of color)

1. Mix all of the ingredients together in a pitcher. Whisk well, the sugar will take a minute to dissolve.
For each cocktail, pour 3/4 cup of the mix into a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake vigorously and pour into a cocktail glass. Garnish as desired.

   Sugared rims are just too sweet for me, but they sure are pretty, and would be appropriate for this cocktail. Strawberries, lemon slices or twists are also perfect choices for garnishing, as well as small orchids.

Other Items Needed by a Traveling Bartender:
Small cutting board
Cocktail shaker
Sharp paring knife
Citrus juicer
Measuring cup/ shot glass
Salt or sugar

Linda's Raspberry Lemon Drop

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Southern Art and Banana Cream Pie

My Traveling Tales by Michelle

   Similar to my sister, Linda, I am especially fond of coincidence (aka synchronicity). You know... those times when the intersection of one's collective experience is connected in a surprising or unexpected way. My sister, Juliette, likes to call this type of occurrence a "coinky-dink". Such was the case this past October, when I connected Chef Art Smith with my dear friend Stephanie; two people that have not yet had the pleasure of meeting each other.
   I arrived in Atlanta on a rainy evening. The taxi ride to the InterContinental Hotel in Buckhead was slow due to numerous accidents on the freeway. The taxi driver grumbled that the rain was the first significant downpour of the transitioning seasons, and he said, with exasperation, that "nobody" knows how to drive in the rain. I think the same complaint is bemoaned by professional driver's (and everyone else, for that matter) around the world.

    Checking-in to the hotel was a breeze, the bell captain whisked my bags to the front desk, and the manager granted my wish for a quiet room with a view. The room was adorned in colors of black, red and gold, and the huge windows framed a view of downtown and the brightly lit water color of the streets below streaming with traffic. From the water streaks on my window, I knew I would not be venturing outside of the hotel. I would also be dining alone. My colleagues were not due to arrive until after my self-imposed bedtime.

Self-portrait with camera in the hotel room window.
   I rode the elevator to the lobby, and located the lounge. I ordered a Cosmopolitan and took in my surroundings. Across the main room I spied a gorgeous buffet of desserts: cakes, pies, cobblers, chocolate delicacies and candies. Beyond the sweets table stood a hostess stand near the draped entrance to the restaurant, Southern Art. Eureka! I had found the source for my evening's dinner. I also admired the multi-colored chandeliers.

The sweets table at Southern Art in the InterContinental Hotel Buckhead.
   Before long, I was comfortably seated in a wing chair at a table for two on the upper tier reached by climbing a few steps. The hostess amiably informed me that the restaurant was not officially open to the public. By serving hotel guests, the staff was preparing for the media blitz and the forthcoming Grand Opening later in the week. Seated at the table nearby were three gentlemen, one dressed in black chef's attire. They had several dessert plates on the table and they were talking intently.
   My waiter, a kindly gentleman, brought me fresh biscuits and pickled vegetables to savor while I contemplated the menu. I was pleasantly surprised that my waiter knew the menu intimately. Every entree that I inquired about he would describe to me in detail, and even knew the cooking techniques. When I complimented him on his knowledge, he said that he had tried everything on the menu. Not just him, but the entire staff. Good going, Chef! My pet peeve when dining out is when the staff is unacquainted with the menu. I loathe the response from a waiter, "I've never tried the ________, but it is a very popular item."

   I eventually settled on the center cut filet mignon served with a pureed chutney sauce, sauteed spinach and whipped sweet potatoes. As I savored my meal, the chef rose from his table, and stopped by to see me on his way to the kitchen. Chef introduced himself as Art and inquired after my meal. It was at that moment that I connected the double entendre of his name and the restaurant's. "My meal is delicious", I said, and I meant it. Chef Art asked if I was planning on having dessert. Truthfully, I wasn't, even though the abundant display I had encountered earlier was very tempting. Inherent in traveling and eating in restaurants, is the danger of packing on the pounds, but I asked politely what he would recommend. After a moment's reflection he endorsed the Banana Cream Pie, listed as Banana Pudding on the menu. We exchanged a couple more pleasantries and Chef Art departed for the kitchen. 

Southern Art's Banana Pudding.
   After my sumptuous dinner was cleared, I succumbed to the Banana Cream Pie. As I savored the dessert, I realized I had forgotten just how good Banana Cream Pie can be. Midway through the dessert, Chef Art stopped by once again to ask after the pie. "Out of this world", I replied. I complimented him on the gorgeous sweets table, and he said, I wish you would try my aunt's peanut brittle. I mock groaned, and said I couldn't possibly eat another dessert. I had to draw the line somewhere. Without a moment's hesitation he called to the nearby waiter to put together a to-go box box for me. I went upstairs to my room and peaked inside. There was a mound of shiny peanut brittle and two beguiling truffles moonlighting as lollipops. I discovered the next day just how tasty the treats are. Chef Art's generous gesture toward me illustrated exactly what I have always heard about legendary Southern hospitality.

   I ate at Southern Art many times over the next few days for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Everything that I tried was delicious and the food was beautifully presented. Chef Art was there morning, afternoon and night. I kid you not. The man is nothing if not filled with reservoirs of strength and stamina. The restaurant and the three menus are reflections of his Southern heritage. He even has the pickle recipe stitched into the carpet leading up a set of stairs. If I heard correctly, his aunt's peanut brittle recipe is stitched into the carpet on the second set of stairs. I admire Chef Art's hands-on approach and his obvious love for the business.
   On my third night in Atlanta, I ate at Southern Art once again for dinner with my friend and colleague, Adel. He was craving dessert, and I highly recommended the Banana Cream Pie. Sad to say for my Weight Watcher's program, I ordered my second piece of Banana Cream Pie. It was just as tasty as I remembered it two nights before (hee, hee). Counting calories can commence tomorrow.

The whole pie as displayed on the sweets table at Southern Art.
   Similar to the first night, our waitress knew the menu inside and out. She gushed over Chef Art... "Well, you know, he has competed on Iron Chef and was Oprah's personal chef." I knitted my eyebrows and pursed my lips. I dove deep in to my memory banks. I watch Food Network. I own hundreds of cookbooks. I devour food magazines (figuratively, of course!). Chef Art was not on my radar. I drew a complete blank.
   Soon after my return home, I was perusing the cooking section of Bookmans, a popular second-hand book and entertainment exchange store in Tucson. I was not looking for anything in particular and my eyes quickly roamed the titles, when my brain registered "Art Smith". Stop. Go back. I located the book and pulled it off the shelf. I experienced instinctive recognition on two fronts: 1) On the cover was the chef I met in Atlanta whose Southern hospitality was at the forefront of his operation, and 2) this is a cookbook that my friend Stephanie owns.

   When I recognized the cover, I knew without looking further that the cookbook contained the recipe for an excellent Spring Lasagna. Stephanie has prepared the creamy white lasagna on several occasions by popular request. With a wry smile on my face and blurting a small laugh, I could hear the word "coinky-dink" echoing through my head. I called Stephanie, and said, "I have a story for you." When I reached the part when Chef Art introduced himself to me, Stephanie erupted in laughter; instant recognition. I laughed, too. Chef Art - Oprah's former personal chef, Iron Chef contender, cookbook author, and multiple restaurant owner - was unknown to me, a self-subscribed foodie. Now that I've connected all the dots, while standing in the middle of a book store, I think how big the world is and yet so small. It makes me love life all the more.

Banana Cream Pie

Products We Love: Isi Whip-It!

by Michelle

   This is a magic whipped cream dispenser. The Isi Whip-It! spreads joy throughout the land. Think of this gadget as the Pied Piper of kitchen equipment, where it goes, the children and adults follow. Simply fill the canister with heavy cream and one shot of sugar syrup, such as Flavorganics Vanilla (my favorite). Screw on the lid, insert a N2O charger into the appropriate compartment, gently shake 4 or 5 times and instant-presto you've got whipped cream for the dispensing. An added bonus is that cream stays fresher in the Whip-It!... about 7 to 10 days under refrigeration. The Isi Whip-It! is a perfect holiday gift. Few can resist the charms of freshly made whipped cream. 

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Michelle's Cheesy Scalloped Potatoes

by Michelle

   This is one of my favorite sides to serve during the holidays. I recall one year I made a rather large double batch for a sizeable Halloween party. I had assembled the casserole at home and had prearranged to bake the potatoes on-site. When I arrived, the oven had not been preheated. No big deal, I thought, as I placed the heavy casserole into the oven. My friend's husband turned on the oven, or so I thought, and I blithely went off in search of the Pineapple Martinis (a.k.a. Happy Juice).
   Just over an hour later, I returned to check on the progress of the potatoes. I was shocked to find the oven stone cold. Dressed as Cruella de Vil, my response to the discovery was eerily similar to the character I was protraying when Cruella discovers that the 101 Dalmations puppies have escaped. The expletives that flew from my mouth left no lingering questions as to my mental state.

   My friend's husband sheepishly admitted that the gas feed had inadvertently not been turned on at the same time the temperature had been set to bake on the oven. My ire clearly rankled, good friends that were crowded in the kitchen did their best to diffuse the situation. With their gentle coaxing, I went forward with baking the potatoes even though dinner was about to be served. The cheesy potatoes took a little longer to bake than I had anticipated, and the sausage dinner was a distant memory by the time the potatoes were ready to be served. With dismay, I placed the fragrant and bubbly potatoes on the table, thinking to myself, what a waste of great food. Much to my amazement, by the time the party was over, all the potatoes were gone, every last bite gobbled down. Just little specs of crusted remains provided evidence that a boat load of potatoes had once been there. All's well that ends well.
   For gatherings in December, these potatoes are a sheer delight served with a beautiful holiday ham and cranberry sauce or tomato gratin. Cheesy Scalloped Potatoes also are a welcome replacement for mashed potatoes, which was my choice in October when we served Steak Diane for my mother's birthday party. However you choose to serve this dish, it is destined to be a crowd pleaser that will be requested again and again.

Michelle's Cheesy Scalloped Potatoes

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Linda's Favorite Cheesecake

by Linda

   I remember very well the day that the executive chef at the Los Olivos Grand Hotel presented me with a letter from Gourmet magazine. It seems that a customer had been to dinner at our restaurant, Remington's (now defunct), and loved the cheesecake so much that she wrote and requested the recipe.

My friend, Rebekah, begins the decorating with fresh raspberries.
   It is truly one of the best cheesecakes that I, and so I have been told on many occasions, many others have ever tasted. It is not too sweet, creamy and delicious. I love it with the fresh raspberries and homemade raspberry sauce. It is a perfect dessert to make for the holidays, not only because of the colors, but because it can be baked two days ahead of the event. At the time that Gourmet requested the recipe, I chose not to share it... silly me! I share it now as a holiday gift from the Salvation Sisters to you.

Linda's Favorite Cheesecake

For the crust:
3/4 cup coarsely ground walnuts
3/4 cup finely crushed graham crackers
3 Tbsps melted, unsalted butter

For the filling:
4 8-ounce packages cream cheese at room temperature
4 extra large eggs
1-1/4 cups granulated sugar
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
2 tsps vanilla extract

For the topping:
2 cups sour cream
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract

Special equipment:
A 9 or 10-inch springform pan

Fresh fruit, such as raspberries or blueberries
A sauce, such as fresh raspberry
Whipped cream

1. To preheat the oven: Arrange two oven racks so one sits in the middle of the oven and the other at the highest position. Place a cookie sheet on the top rack (it will shield the cheesecake and prevent it from over browning). Preheat oven to 350°F.
2. To make the crust: combine walnuts, graham crumbs and butter. Press compactly onto bottom of springform pan. A measuring cup with a flat bottom is great for this purpose. Bake the crust for 10 minutes and allow to cool.
3. To make the filling: In a large bowl, using a mixer with paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese until smooth. Add eggs, sugar, lemon juice and vanilla and mix thoroughly. Spoon the mixture over the baked crust.
4. Set the springform pan on a baking sheet to catch any butter that may seep during baking. Bake a 9-inch cake for 50 to 55 minutes and a 10-inch cake for 40 to 45 minutes. The cake will rise and crack in several areas; do not worry... it will settle again, cracks will minimize and the topping will smooth the surface.
5. Remove the cheesecake from the oven and let stand at room temperature for 15 minutes. Retain oven temperature at 350°F.
6. To make the topping: combine sour cream, sugar and vanilla extract and blend with a spoon or whisk. Do not over stir! Spoon topping over the cheesecake, starting at the center and extending to within 1/2-inch of the edge (it will eventually run over the sides). Return the cheesecake to the oven and bake 5 minutes longer. Remove from oven and let cool on a rack, then refrigerate cheesecake for at least 24 hours or up to 3 days. Before putting in the refrigerator, press plastic wrap to the surface so that the top of the cheesecake will not dry out. When ready to serve, remove the plastic wrap and springform pan. Use a knife to lift the cheesecake from the base of the springform pan. Allow the cheesecake to come to room temperature before serving for best flavor, about one hour.
7. Delicious served with fresh fruit and a fruit sauce, especially raspberry. Decorate with whipped cream or as desired.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

A Word About Garlic, Linda's Gremolata and Grilled Rack of Lamb

by Linda

   A few weeks back one evening at work, we had a lecture scheduled for our customers and the speaker did not show. The topic for that night was called Making Your Kitchen Spice Cabinet Your Medicine Cabinet, and as the manager on duty, I was summoned to decide how to deal with the twenty or so people in our Wellness Center who were getting restless and would be very disappointed to be sent home sans lecture. Having studied herbal medicine for the past twenty years, and having had formal training... with the consent of the audience, I agreed to pinch hit for the scheduled speaker, who as it turns out, had a family emergency. As I have written previously, any culinary herb that I can think of has medicinal properties. This bold statement from me produced a few raised eyebrows from the group, but I challenged them to name a spice or herb, and I would tell them the healing properties. This led to a lively discussion in which we all participated in sharing stories about our favorite herbal allies, as like to call my plant friends.

   Among my very favorites in the group of herbal heavyweights is garlic. Much has been written about garlic. Garlic has a very long history of culinary use dating back to the building of the pyramids in Giza. Remnants of garlic have been found in cave dwellings that are over 10,000 years old. Egyptian tombs, dating back to 5,700 years ago, were found to contain sketches of garlic and clay sculptures of the bulb. Countries that consume the most garlic in their diets have the lowest incident rates of cancer, especially digestive-related cancers and cancer of the colon. Garlic is thought to be antiviral and is antibacterial and antifungal. Homemade garlic oil from fresh garlic is one of my favorite remedies for a bacterial ear infection for children or adults. It is inexpensive to make, and extremely effective. Michelle used garlic oil exclusively for my niece Maddie's occasional earaches when she was growing up, and consequently, has never needed to use the normally prescribed antibiotics.

   Fermented garlic, also known as Black Garlic, is new to the culinary scene here in the United States, but is a traditional component of Korean cooking. Kyolic garlic supplements are made from fermented/aged garlic and were created after World War II to combat radiation poisoning in Japan. Aged garlic has been shown to be effective at helping the body eliminate heavy metals and in maintaining a healthy cholesterol balance.

Testing has shown that fermented/aged garlic contains twice the antioxidant powers of raw garlic, and eliminates the issues that some individuals have with odor from eating raw garlic. However, consuming raw garlic is one of my favorite ways to combat the onset of a cold. Eating a significant portion of raw garlic is difficult, because it is so strong and can upset the stomach. I like to press the raw garlic clove through a garlic press and then mix with a little raw honey and butter. This mixture can be eaten on bread or crackers and consumed throughout the day, although be advised that the mixture will still burn in the mouth and nostrils and you will reek of garlic. This remedy is not meant for children! Raw garlic can also be made into a drink, which is the way my sons (when they were teenagers) always requested it. Again, press the garlic cloves and mix with honey, add warm water and fresh lemon juice. The powder from digestive enzyme capsules (you must pull them apart... a tedious process) can be added as well. In my experience, garlic can often knock out the bug before it has a chance to get established, and will keep infection from developing in the lungs. For all of these reasons, and because I think it is such a delicious part of countless recipes, garlic is one of the staple ingredients in my pantry. I am never with out it, and I keep my heads of garlic in a beautiful woven basket from Vietnam on my kitchen counter at all times.

Recently when Michelle came to visit, we had one of our favorite celebratory meals on the last night of her stay. I made a big batch of Gremolata (which is a mixture of garlic, fresh herbs and lemon peel) with my mortar and pestle. Then we slathered the paste on two racks of lamb while we went out to picnic at one of our favorite vineyards in the beautiful Alexander Valley.

Deep breath in and then out... for at least this day, "Yes, this is my beautiful life."

Cowgirl Creamery "Mount Tam" and Jimtown Store "Spicy Pepper Jam"
We left the lamb to marinate in the wet rub until we returned to prepare our celebration feast.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Recipe Boxes, Cookbooks and Linda's Orange Wheat and Nut Quick Bread

The Memory Keepers by Linda

It seems to me that our three basic needs, for food and security and love, are so mixed and mingled and intertwined, that we cannot straightly think of one without the others. So it happens that when I write of hunger, I am really writing about love and the hunger for it, and warmth and the love of it and the hunger for it; and then the warmth and richness and fine reality of hunger satisfied; and it is all one. ~ MFK Fisher, The Art of Eating
   There has been much discussion recently in print and on the internet about cookbooks becoming a thing of the past. The New York Times featured an article this past week in its Dining and Wine section written by Julia Moskin entitled, "Are Cookbooks Obsolete?" In the same vein, one of the food bloggers that I follow, David Lebovitz, had this to say in response to this topic in his post that arrived in my inbox a few days ago:

"It's interesting reading some of the talk regarding if the internet is ready to replace cookbooks. Sure, there are people furiously clicking around wherever they can for a chocolate cake recipe. And there are hundreds of thousands of chocolate cake recipes that you can find using a search engine. But to me, that's not enough. When I want to spend my precious time and funds making something to eat, I don't want to merely find a recipe. There's nothing compelling about a downloadable list of ingredients. It just leaves me cold. I want the author or writer to tell me about the recipe, what inspired them to create it, or how it came about."

   I couldn't agree more. As someone who has over 300 cookbooks at the ready (I am not kidding), my cookbooks feel like old friends that I wouldn't part with for the world. Lord knows that I have lugged them along on every move much to the dismay of the movers that I have hired to haul them to each new location where I have taken up residence in the last decade. Each cookbook represents a time in my past, the place and with whom I purchased it, or a particular interest of mine at the time. The book might also have been a cherished gift from someone that I love who knows my passion for food and cooking. The ones that I use often are scribbled with margin notes, and contain my changes or additions. It is my hope that my collection of cookbooks will be passed on to the next generation of our family of cooks who will smile and have a wistful moment when they run across a smudge of chocolate and read the notations made long ago in my less than elegant script. I experienced just such a moment just this morning. I shall explain...

   For our second Thanksgiving post we are sharing a recipe that came to us from our maternal grandmother, Maxine. Our Nana was born in Redlands, California in 1914, and did volunteer work for the Redland's Assistance League for over 30 years beginning in the 1950s. The history of the organization is that in 1931 a group of women came together with the common goal of wanting to improve the lives of those in need. A constitution was prepared and the name Assistance League of Redlands was adopted. As part of the active social service program, work was begun at the Community Thrift Shop. The organization is still serving the community today. Nana attended the Camellia Luncheons that were annual charity fundraisers for the group. Each year, the ladies that attended the luncheon where given a recipe card set from the menu. Each set of cards contained all of that year's featured recipes.

   These sets were printed in pink, on white cards that could be easily placed in each attendee's personal recipe box. My Orange Wheat and Nut bread evolved from one of the Camellia Luncheon recipes from the luncheon in 1979. It would seem that these once ubiquitous recipe boxes have also become, for the most part, a thing of the past. That said, I am not letting go of mine. Even in its present rather shabby state, it is a treasured possession. My recipe box is about 30 years old and contains recipes that I began copying by hand in my early twenties. In those years, Nana would often send me handwritten index cards with a new recipe that had captured her fancy, included in a letter along with a crisp twenty dollar bill. As a new bride married to a college student, I struggled from paycheck to meager paycheck which I earned by working at the university in the accounting office, to make ends meet. Those letters of love and generosity from my grandmother were such welcome gifts. Many years after her death, my recipe box still contains the old Camellia Luncheon cards tied at the corners with colorful bits of ribbon that she saved for me, and her own handwritten recipes signed off with her trademark version of a happy face topped with a hat and flower.

   This morning as I searched for the Camellia Luncheon cards to take a photo, I pulled out one of Nana's handwritten recipe cards. I ran my fingers across the faded ink, and then held it close to my heart for just a second. In a leap across time and space, I am standing by her side in her turquoise kitchen with large bay windows that overlook the Redlands that she loves... the very kitchen in which we made so many meals together when I was old enough, while we laughed and shared secrets as pots bubbled joyfully on the stove.
   Our Salvation Sisters' blog is our way of keeping those memories alive for ourselves and our children, and for the generations to come, who most likely will not have such a recipe box. This is our virtual recipe box, and we offer it to you with love. We have so much to be thankful for... from Michelle, Juliette and Linda... Happy Thanksgiving, Everyone!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Osmosis Day Spa and Linda's Detox Herbal Tea

My Traveling Tales by Linda

My order of red clover and calendula blossoms along with yarrow flowers, peppermint and
nettle leaves arrive from Pacific Botanicals in Oregon.
   After living in West Sonoma County for the last six years, I finally paid a visit to the renowned Osmosis Day Spa Sanctuary in Freestone, California. A few weeks ago, on a clear and sparkling October day that was unbelievably mild with just the right amount of warm, I traveled with five girlfriends to this beautiful location not far from my home, for an afternoon of pampering and relaxation.

   Upon our arrival we were greeted by Mercedes Jones, the Guest Services Manager. Mercedes who was born and raised in the area, first gave us a little bit of the spa's history. The founder of Osmosis is Michael Stusser who discovered the healing powers of the Cedar Enzyme Bath on a visit to Japan where he was studying traditional landscape gardening and Zen. He returned home to open the first Cedar Enzyme Bath in this country in 1985. He built a prototype 400-square-foot facility in a Sebastopol backyard out of recycled wood from a chicken coop. In 1987 the bath was featured in the Sunday section of the San Francisco Chronicle, and the Cedar Enzyme Bath quickly gained a following. Osmosis moved to its present location in Freestone in 1989. The spa and grounds have been a work in progress ever since. The most recent addition is a beautiful Meditation Garden which was a four-year project dedicated in June of 2003.

The beautiful and serene meditation garden at Osmosis.
   Once we had placed our personal belongings in a roomy locker, we were invited to change into kimono-style robes. Our first treatment of the day included a foot soak (which is really a leg soak) in the cedar enzyme chips. While the six of us perched on the sides of the bath with our legs buried up to the knees, we sipped tea and nibbled on lunch. The enzyme bath temperature is about 130 degrees, so your legs get very warm, and so does your whole body.

Our warm enzyme foot bath and lunch await us.
   Our amiable bath attendant continually refilled our waters and tea, and brought us cold washcloths for the face or neck. After we all became deliciously relaxed, it was time for the group to divide in half. I was in the group of three that chose to get a massage as my next treatment, and the other half of our group went to have facials.

    It was a blissfully relaxing experience that I find myself calling upon in the weeks after my visit in any stressful moment. I currently have the photo of the wide and comfortable hammocks situated in a private courtyard serving as my screensaver on my computer at work. The hammocks are equipped with the headsets that play soothing Hemi-Sync music (which is available for purchase in the alluring Osmosis gift shop). When feeling harried, I gaze at the hammocks on my screen and take a deep breath in, and then a deep breath out, remembering the profound sense of serenity that I experienced there that afternoon.

    Also for sale in the gift shop was the herbal tea that we sipped prior and during the enzyme foot bath. It was a delicious blend of herbs that included peppermint, red clover, nettles, and yarrow. I had forgotten how delicious and soothing herbal tea can be. The tea is made by Taylor Maid Farms, a local company based in Sebastopol, that makes a blend especially for Osmosis. I purchased a tin, and brought it home to try. Having had herbal training myself, it occurred to me that I should make a batch and share with my friends and family for the upcoming holiday season.

   I promptly placed an order with my favorite herb farm, Pacific Botanicals, near Grants Pass, Oregon, which I visited on my vacation this past August. I decided to customize my blend and add calendula flowers which will bring sunshine into one's life according to the Doctrine of Signatures during the cold and dark winter months that we are prone to in Northern California. The descriptions that follow are a very abbreviated summary of what the herbs in my blend do for the body.

Peppermint ~ An herb that is estimated to have been in use for over 10,000 years. Peppermint provides an invigorating essential oil that soothes the stomach and bowel.

Red Clover ~ An herb which also has a long history of use. The benefits of Red Clover tea is that it contains a high level of phytoestrogen that helps regulate the biochemistry in the female body. It is also thought to have cleansing properties.

Nettles ~ According to David Hoffmann, one of my teachers, "Nettles are one of the most widely applicable plants that we have. They strengthen and support the whole body. Throughout Europe they are used as a spring tonic and general detoxifying remedy."

Yarrow ~ Yarrow is thought to lower blood pressure and is traditionally administered for wound healing. In magical lore it acts as a shield of protection.

Calendula ~ Calendula flowers are anti-inflammatory, and help stimulate the production of bile. In other words, they are good for the gallbladder and digestion. There is some evidence that they fight cancer, and as mentioned previously are a great antibacterial. There is a long and very safe history of use.

   This past week, a large box was delivered from Oregon full of freshly dried herbs. When I picked up the box, I could not help but smile at the uplifting scent of peppermint that engulfed me. You can see for yourself the results of my tea-making endeavors. This one box of herbs will make tea for all of my family and friends, with enough left over to be able to prepare a very strong tea and add it to my hot baths this winter along with Himalayan bath salts. Just thinking about it I am feeling more relaxed already.

Linda's Detox Herbal Tea

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