References to anise date back to the sixth century BC when Pythagoras mistakenly believed that simply holding the seeds in the hand could prevent epileptic seizures. The Romans cultivated anise for its fragrance, flavour and medicinal properties. A popular Roman spice cake included anise, bay leaves and cumin. It was served after heavy meals, especially wedding feasts, and performed the dual roles of both a dessert and a digestive aid. Anise today is still widely used for its aromatic, culinary and medicinal qualities.
The spice has traditionally been used in protection and meditation incenses. It is supposed to ward off evil and sleeping on a pillow containing aniseeds will prevent nightmares. A sprig of anise hung on the bedpost will reputedly revive departed youth.
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This article first appeared in the February, 1982 edition of BC Outdoors magazine.
Seven of us trooped off the bus into the spectre grey of that January dusk. As we silently marched into the Outward Bound compound of A-frame bunkhouses, we must have looked like prisoners about to serve time. The Gulag Keremeous.
Inexplicably, nobody spoke. Then we were directed to our allotted bunkhouse, where we found two others who had arrived earlier from Toronto via Calgary and Penticton. This prompted introductions all around and the ice was broken.
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Filed under Outdoors, Travel
Henny Youngman once suggested that you could have a lot of fun by walking into an antiques store and asking, “What’s new?”
If that’s the case, Henny would be ecstatic in Snohomish, Wash., where more than 100 antiques shops are clustered in the historic downtown area. And this is in a community of a mere 5,500 souls.
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Like no other season, Christmas is disposed to olfactory-triggered nostalgia. In particular, the aroma of coriander, nutmeg, allspice, cloves and cinnamon, can open the floodgates to the memories of Christmases past.
Decorations like pomanders add beauty to your home during the festive season. Making them is a fun project for the whole family: children get enthusiastically involved in the hands-on creative activity.
Make a Holiday Pomander To make a holiday pomander you will need the following:
Four to six firm, thin-skinned oranges (lemons, limes and/or apples will also work)
1/2 cup (125 ml) of ground cinnamon
1/4 cup (60 ml) of ground cloves
Approximately 100 grams of whole cloves
1 Tbsp (15 ml) of ground allspice
1 Tbsp (15 ml) of ground nutmeg
1 Tbsp (15 ml) of orris root
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In Watership Down, Richard Adams wrote, “Many human beings say that they enjoy the winter, but what they really enjoy is feeling proof against it.” Cheering ourselves with the following warming winter spices is a great way to do that.
One of the oldest cultivated spices, cumin was a popular spice and medicinal herb in ancient Egypt. It was used for illnesses of the digestive tract, to treat coughs and chest colds, and to relieve pain, particularly for toothache. Three pain-relieving compounds have been found in cumin, along with seven that are anti-inflammatory and four that combat swelling.
Indian ayurvedic medical practitioners recommend drinking a cumin, coriander and fennel tea to help clear up acne. Combine the herbs equally for a total of one teaspoon and steep for 10 minutes in hot water. Strain the tea and drink three cups a day after meals. Even if it doesn’t clear up your acne, it will certainly help your digestion. Like its close relatives caraway and anise, cumin invigorates the entire digestive system and alleviates flatulence and bloating.
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Herbed Carrot Soup
“A man may esteem himself happy when that which is his food is also his medicine,” wrote Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862), American philosopher, author and naturalist. What was true 150 years ago is even more true for us today. Our typical North American diet of processed and fast foods, full of sugar and trans-fatty acids, contaminates our bodies with free radicals – leading villains in the aging process as well as cancer and other diseases.
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As long ago as 1840, German doctors discovered that the urine of people who ate cranberries contained a chemical called hippuric acid. The doctors were researching the finding that these same people had a significantly lower incidence of urinary tract infections (UTIs) such as cystitis and pyelonephritis.
By the 1960s, when doctors were dispensing antibiotics like candy, the use of cranberries to counteract UTIs had fallen out of favor. Researchers claimed that tests showed the acidifying effect of cranberries and cranberry juice was inadequate to prevent infection.
However, as late as 1994, a Harvard University study involving 153 elderly women with repeated urinary tract infections showed that regular consumption of cranberry juice cocktail decreased the frequency of UTIs. Recently, in a clinical trial yet to be published at the time of writing from Weber State University in Utah, a concentrated cranberry product in dehydrated, capsule form – equivalent to 12 to 16 six ounce glasses of cranberry juice a day – was found to be equally effective. Some health professionals recommend the capsules over cranberry juice because of the sugar content of cranberry cocktail and the unpalatable taste of the unsweetened juice.
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