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Fire Cider

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I put a lot of stock into traditional remedies. When all is said and done I believe in a balance between the amazing discoveries and innovations of science and technology and the herbal medicinal remedies that are the result of hundreds and thousands of years of human evolution and experimentation. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing, black or white, it can be a blend- the old AND the new, all working together to keep us healthy and strong.

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This school year I’ve maintained a steady cough/cold since approximately September 1st. It’s fluctuated from really bad to barely noticeable to full blown flu, and I expect it’ll stay with me until about June. It’s one of the consequences of me being a preschool teacher- I get sick and stay sick for most of the year. Even after more than a decade working with kids I still catch everything, so do my best to keep my body strong so that I am able to fend off as much as possible.

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In the past this has meant combining plenty of fermented foods and probiotics (sauerkraut and water kefir are two of my standards) with a diet of organic whole foods, a solid amount of garlic, and immune boosters such as elderberry. This year, after a particularly horrible round of the flu made it through our classroom (and town and country and, it seems, world), I decided it was time to step up my game a bit and brew a little fire cider.

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Fire cider is a traditional recipe with deep roots in folk medicine. Like any dish with a long history there are countless recipes, ingredients, and techniques available, as many as there are Appalachian grandmothers. The touted benefits are also incredible- it is antibacterial, decongestive, anti-inflammatory, antiviral, anti fungal, it promotes circulation and helps with nausea and gut health. It’s a fermented miracle tonic that tastes damn good on its own and even better splashed on top of a bloody mary.

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A few years ago I was complaining to my Grammy about my chronic ear infections. Her response? “I’m not into all that hippie dippy shit but put some olive oil in it” (ever the good Sicilian). I am into all that hippie dippy shit and so I threw some olive oil right in my ear. Worked like a charm (as does vinegar). My point is, even if you’re not the type of person that has a cupboard full of tinctures, it certainly can’t hurt to add a few herbal remedies to your routine. In this age of rapidly mutating super viruses maybe what we all need is the power of fermented superfoods.

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Fire Cider

The beautiful thing about Fire Cider is that you can adapt the recipe to what you have on hand, or what herbs and ingredients you’d like to take advantage of. Use this recipe as a starting off point and experiment!

1 head of garlic, peeled

3″ fresh ginger, peeled and sliced

1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped

1 lemon, peeled and quartered

1 grapefruit, peeled and quartered

1/4 cup grated horseradish (fresh if you can find it)

1/4 cup local honey with honeycomb

1 tbsp cayenne pepper

Raw apple cider vinegar

Combine all of your ingredients in a large jar or glass bottle. Top with apple cider vinegar and shake well. Ferment in a dark place, shaking once per day, for at least 4 weeks and up to 6 months. Strain and add raw honey to taste. Drink straight or mix into drinks or food.

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Boudin Balls

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There are many things we love about my brother-in-law, Bradley. He is kind, funny, good at mediating family arguments, and most importantly, he loves my sister. But perhaps the best fringe benefit of having a brother-in-law from Baton Rouge is that he brought boudin into our lives. And for that, we will forever be grateful.

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Boudin (pronounced bou-dahn) is a Louisiana specialty, a Cajun tradition that adapts the French boudin blanc to what was readily available in the Acadian settlements. Cajun boudin is pork liver, ground pork shoulder, rice, parsley, green bell peppers, onions and spices all cooked, mixed together, and stuffed in casing. The cased boudin is then grilled or smoked and served with hot sauce, making it irresistibly delicious.

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Bradley and Lauren bring boudin with them every time they visit, which meant that by the time I visited Avery Island, Louisiana, a few years ago with Tabasco I knew to be first in line every time boudin was served. One of the highlights of that trip for me was our visit to a local boucherie called Legnon’s to watch them making boudin. The process was incredible, I’m still in awe by how quickly those women were able to stuff and segment those sausages!

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We made a batch of boudin for Dan’s big birthday party a few weeks ago, and after we’d exhausted all the casing available we fried the remaining filling into boudin balls and served them with a spicy chipotle mustard. We smoked the boudin links and squirreled away a few in the freezer, which I will be cooking up this week in celebration of Mardi Gras. That, and the beignet dough I’ve been saving!

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Boudin Balls
adapted from Emeril‘s recipe for boudin

1 1/4 pounds pork shoulder, cubed

1/2 pound pork (or beef) liver, rinsed and cubed

1 quart water

1 small white onion, chopped

3 cloves minced garlic

1 small green bell pepper, chopped

2 stalks celery, diced

3 tsps salt

2 tsps cayenne powder

1 tsp black pepper

3 cups cooked rice

A handful of chopped parsley

A handful of chopped green onion

In a large pan combine the meat and half of the vegetables (bell pepper, onion, garlic, celery) and half of the spices with the water. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Simmer for 1 1/2 hours. Drain, reserving a cup of broth. Put everything through a meat grinder with a 1/4″ die, along with the remaining fresh vegetables and half of the parsley. Mix the ground meat and vegetables with the rice, remaining parsley, green onions, and remaining spices. Refrigerate for 1 hour. *

Heat high-temp oil to 375F. Use your hands to pack the boudin into balls approximately the same size as golf balls. Fry for 3-4 minutes or until golden brown. Serve hot, with spicy mustard or hot sauce to dip.

*instructions on stuffing boudin in casing

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Lovely Internet 2.13.15

2.13.15

1. This is what happens when we vilify a people, a community, a religion because of the actions of a small group of terrorists. We need to find a way to peacefully coexist. There is room in this world for mutual respect and understanding of our differences.

2. Two organizations are working to tackle race in Asheville City Schools (including my brother Ryan’s amazing girlfriend, Erin, who is in the top photo!)

3. This would be a lovely addition to my kitchen.

4. I’ve never drawn myself naked, but I have been drawn by friends (art school!) and I’ve drawn others naked (again, art school!). It gives you a very interesting perspective on the human body to translate it into charcoal.

5. Death to the chicken finger!

6. I spent last week sick with the flu digging further and further into my family history. I learned an amazing amount and discovered that for the most part my Rosemond side of the family were Scots-Irish and English settlers that came throughout the 17th and 18th centuries and settled in the mountains of North Carolina. This has sparked a renewed interest in the history of mountain folk- both those that I descended from and those that were a part of their community, their region, their lives. It is so important, as white Southerners, to recognize and celebrate the influence of African culture in our history and traditions.

7. Girls are awesome and they do get to decide what’s girly.

8. A different way to talk with children about sex.

9. How cool is this?!?

10. Dean Smith was an amazing influence on our lives, both as Carolina fans and as a family. His death was an incredible loss, but I hope that he’s found peaceful rest.

For more tidbits from Elena the person, follow me on twitter (@elenabrent or @biscuitsandsuch), instagrampinterest or facebook. Subscribe to my bloglovin’ feed to make sure you never miss a post. Follow along with MissElenaeous for thoughts on everything other than Southern food.

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