Hearthbeats: Recipes from a kitchen witch

Well ladies and gentleman… I had a much different article planned… but we had some major happenings in our home… They say the October is the time of change… well woohoo!!! Change it did… My daughter had influenza A and then 3 weeks later the N1H1 virus… and my computer crashed and burned and not only took all my hard drive… but my external hard drive as well… so when put into a spot to write another article I decided to research herbal remedies for cold and flu.. And I found loads of stuff… I will include links at the end for you to look for remedies yourself…

Many people have been turning away from chemical based medication and going back to herbal based remedies… I am including some that I have used (that I remember) and some that I think look good…

So here we go…..

First a caution or two…. First please read thoroughly and herbal remedy you may purchase… and discuss with your Doctor before taking as they may interact with other medications you are taking… or do the same thing, thus doubling what you are taking… and secondly I have read in a few different places that Peppermint tea may interfere with the beneficial action of homoeopathic remedies.

WATER WATER WATER… on of the best things you can do is hydrate… drink lots of fluid, tea, soup, water, juice… it works to loosen the mucus in your nose and lungs and make it slippery enough to be expelled when you sneeze or cough.

Ginger is considered the best home remedy for colds. Drink a cup of ginger tea several times (at least 3 times) a day.  Ginger contains many antiviral compounds. And it tastes good. To make a tea, add 1 heaping teaspoon of grated fresh gingerroot to 1 cup of boiled water. Allow to steep for 10 minutes. If you use dried ginger powder use 1/3 to 1/2 teaspoon of powdered ginger per cup.

Take a soothing herbal bath with chamomile, calendula, rosemary, and/ or lavender if you are restless and irritable, Keep the water comfortably warm and treat yourself to a long, lazy soak.

Add Peppermint or eucalyptus to a pot of boiling water place a towel over your head and lean over the pot and breathe in the fumes.

In Eastern Europe, ginseng is widely believed to improve overall immunity to illness. It appears that regular use of ginseng may prevent colds.

It is recommended aniseed as an expectorant for getting rid of phlegm. In large doses, it also has some antiviral benefits.
Make a tea by steeping one to two teaspoons of crushed aniseed in a cup or two of boiling water for 10 to 15 minutes. Then strain it. Anise is often chewed by Asian Indians after their meals. It is also one of the ingredients used in “Indian Chai.”
Suggested dose: one cup of tea, morning and/or night. This should help you cough up whatever’s loose and also help you fight the cold.

Horehound (flowers and leaves) also useful for sinus troubles, used in cough drops.

Echinacea (leaves and roots) this herb acts as an anti-viral agent. Can be taken in pill form, as a tea, in a liquid or rubbed on inflamed areas of the skin as a salve.

Feverfew will help relieve headache.

Peppermint tea can be used for headache, nausea and poor appetite associated with the flu.

And this article would be incomplete if I did not add the best medication or remedy of all time… Grandma’s (or Momma’s) Chicken soup. The combination of chicken, onions, celery, carrots… create something that not only sooths the soul but actually makes you feel better… whether it is the heat from the broth, or some chemical reaction that happens when you combine and cook these things together…it has been the major source of healing and comfort during any illness…So here are a few recipes to help you out.. Add or subtract from them as you need to… to make your very own Grandma’s chicken soup.

Grandma’s Chicken Soup


8 chicken thighs
2 carrots cit into rounds
2 celery stalks cut into ¼ in slices
1 large onion chopped
8 cups of water
1/3 tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
¼ tsp poultry seasoning
1/8 tsp thyme
1/8 tsp rosemary
1 cup cooked egg noodles or pasta or rice


Put the thighs in a large sauce pan or Dutch oven.
Layer the carrots, celery and onion over the chicken.
Add water, salt, pepper, poultry seasoning and thyme.
Cook, covered, over medium heat until mixture boils.
Reduce heat and simmer for about 45 minutes or until the vegetables and chicken are both fork tender.
Remove chicken; cool.
Remove the chicken meat from the bones; discard the bones.
Cut chicken into bite-sized pieces.
Heat mixture to boiling; add in the noodles, rice or pasta.( I add to the dish when ladling the soup.. the room temp. noodle cool the soup a bit and they do not get over cooked and mushy)
Stir the chicken back into the soup – simmer for two minutes, and serve.


1 young (3-4 lb.) chicken with neck, gizzard, heart, wings, back bone
1 tbsp. salt
2 qts. Water
2 med. onions, whole
1 tsp. pepper
4 carrots, scraped or diced
3 stalks celery, cut in 2 inch pieces
1 parsley sprig

Clean chicken and cut into serving pieces. Place chicken in pot, cover with water and cover pot. Bring to full boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Add whole onion and simmer 30 minutes more. Add salt and pepper and simmer 15 minutes more.

Meanwhile, wash vegetables and cut into bite size pieces. Add in 15 minute intervals in this order: carrots, celery, and parsley.  Cook until chicken is tender.

Before serving let soup cool, then skim off fat. If allowed to chill several hours, fat will rise to top and solidify for easy removal. Strain soup, if clear broth is desired, discarding any vegetables you do not like. Return chicken to soup or serve separately.

Note: If a creamier soup is desired, mash potatoes can be added to soup, or a mixture of flour and ½ & ½. The discarded vegetables can be pureed until smooth and returned to broth if you desire a bisque.

Chicken Matzo Ball Soup

2-1/2 to 3 lb. chicken, cut up
6 cups water
1 cup onions, sliced
1 cup carrots, sliced
1 cup celery, sliced
1 tsp. dried dill
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. white pepper
Matzo Balls (recipe follows)

Place the chicken in 6 cups water, bring to a boil and then skim the fat.
Reduce to a simmer and skim again.  Add onions, carrots, parsnips, celery,
dill, salt and pepper.  Simmer covered for 1 to 1-1/2 hours until the chicken
is tender.  Add water is needed.  Remove the chicken and discard the skin
and bones.  Shred the meat and set aside.  Remove the vegetables, strain
stock and skim the fat.  Return the chicken and vegetable to the stock.
Reheat to a simmer and serve with Matzo Balls.

Matzo Balls

2 tbs. plus 1 tsp. chicken fat ( margarine, softened will work but not be as tasty)
2 eggs, well beaten
1/2 tsp. baking powder
3/4 cup matzo meal
1/2 tsp. salt
white pepper to taste
4 quarts boiling water

Beat the chicken fat or margarine into the eggs.
Add the baking powder, matzo meal, salt and pepper.
Refrigerate for 1 hour.
Shape into 1 inch balls.
Boil partly covered for 20 – 30 minutes.

So there you have it… I hope that this finds you armed and prepared for cold and flu season… or at least sends you in the right direction…

Links to good WebPages




Happy Hearth and Blessed eating…
Until next month

The Heartkeeper