Archive for Garlic

The Strange World of Garlic Usage

Posted in Cooking, Food, Health, History, Life, Science, Tea with tags , , , , , , , , , on March 20, 2013 by urbannight

Once upon a time, when I was feeling poorly, a friend told me to rub garlic on the bottoms of my feet. My big question was how this was supposed to help my cold. It made no sense. Since then, I’ve looks up uses for garlic. There are some really strange ones out there.

To start with, garlic seems to have some antibiotic properties. This means it can kill some bacteria and fungus. It is supposedly good against viruses but I’m not sure about that. Viruses usually just need to run their course. It may help prevent mold. Throughout history, it has been used for many medical purposes so I would have to guess some of them were helpful enough for people to keep using it.

Garlic is supposed to help reduce acne. But that is strange to me. Acne is not a bacterial issue. It a build up of oil, dirt, dead skin flakes, lotions, and make-up. It’s a build-up of anything that can block the pores. It’s been proven that eating chips and pizza will not cause acne. It is partly a skin care issue and partly an issue of some people being more prone to it than others. Some health conditions may make it worse. But I always thought that was because the condition was influencing the health of the skin by causing some kind of imbalance. Your skin is actually an organ. So I would think running garlic over the skin would just add garlic oil to the mix of stuff clogging up the pores.

While we are on skin, a cut garlic rubbed into cold sores is supposed to help them heal faster. Now this makes a little more sense than using it to treat acne. The antibiotic nature of the garlic has something other that dirt and oil to kill and lead to healing.

Another skin condition it is supposed to help is Athlete’s foot. Garlic is an antifungal. Athlete’s foot is a fungal infection. You crush or smash some garlic and put it in a footbath of warm water. That gets the oils out of the garlic and spreads the oils over the feet as you soak in hot water. This sounds logical, more logical than running garlic over your feet for a cough.

Making a paste of minced garlic, olive oil, facial cleanser, and sugar, massage into the skin, and rinse, is supposed to tighten and exfoliate the skin while drying out acne. I suppose it might dry and tighten depending on the facial cleanser being used. The paste with sugar as a defoliant probably does work.

It’s supposed to help clear up psoriasis. Now they have identified an acid contained in garlic that is working on a certain omega fatty acid in the skin so this may have some truth to it.

This is a strange one, as putting garlic oil on a mole, several times a day, and coving with a bandage, is supposed to remove a mole. Sounds like duct tape, which has some chemical or compound in the adhesive that is supposed to do the same thing.

Now for some non-skin related uses.

It supposedly can be minced and put in mineral oil for a full day, and then the infused oil is mixed with a bit of liquid soap and some water and put in a spray bottle. Spray on plants as a natural pesticide. Liquid soap isn’t natural. Can it still be called a natural pesticide? I guess bugs don’t like garlic. This reminds me that they used to say eating a lot of garlic would keep mosquitoes away. That has been disproven. Some say infusing it in the mineral oil and then mixing that with water and lemon juice and using it as a spray on may work. Much like the homemade pesticide.

You are supposed to be able to mend hairline cracks in glass by putting crushed garlic over it to fill the crack. Not sure that I would want to do that. Wouldn’t you still see a line? Even more so than the hairline crack?

Apparently fish like garlic. Some fishermen swear by it to bait their hooks.

It may work as a road de-icer. As the story goes, a spice maker had a batch of bad garlic salt and donated it to a town to put on the roads on winter. I’m not sure the garlic had as much to do with it as the salt.

Massaging the scalp with garlic or garlic oil is supposed to stimulate hair growth.

Here is one of the stranger ones again, cut a sliver of garlic and tie a string around it and put it in your ear to combat an ear infection. Not something I would want to do. The other version of this is to crush some garlic, place it in hot olive oil for 5 minutes. Then you strain and cool the oil. Use it as ear drops. You may be able to find ear drops made of garlic oil in home natural heath food store or someplace like Whole Foods.

Similarly, it can be peeled but not cut, put into a strip of cheesecloth, and inserted using a tampon applicator in order to treat a yeast infection. Like athletes foot, it is a fungal infection. Only in this case, it is caused by the body’s natural bacteria getting out of balance allowing for the growth of this. The ‘good’ bacteria normally eats this naturally occurring ‘fungus’. When something kills the good bacteria then you produce too much of this and get an infection.

One item I found on one site was using thin slices of garlic over a splinter and the splinter will work itself out. I’m not sure how that is supposed to happen. Is garlic a wood magnet?

Internally, some people find regular consumption of garlic eases gas. For other people it causes gas. Make minced garlic into a tea for sore throats and as a cough syrup. It is supposed to reduce the duration of a cold as well and regular consumption of it is supposed to help prevent colds. Researches believe that it is a component called allicin that does this.

Compounds in garlic are supposed to send signals to the brain that you are full. So a dish with a lot of garlic in it may make you feel fuller faster. Thus you eat less of it. And it is supposed to rev up the metabolism so you burn more calories. So it may have minor weight loss properties.

Speaking of ‘wood’, it’s been used as an aphrodisiac for just about forever. It is suspected that it is because garlic aids in blood circulation, so blood is pumped to the extremities more efficiently. So it ‘may’ increase a man’s endurance.

Using it with some a rather strange list of food ingredients may clear out intestinal parasites. Icky.

Spicy Beef Soup

Posted in Food with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on November 28, 2012 by urbannight

Spicy Beef Soup

Brown up ground beef in a pot.
Cut half an onion in slightly thick slices, then 1/4 the stack.
Mince one garlic clove.
Peal the rest of the garlic but leave whole or cut big ones in half.
Sprinkle browning beef with Cayenne. Stir well.
When beef is nearly done, add the onions and garlic.
Sprinkle with more Cayenne. Stir well.
Cook until beef is done and veggies are softened.
Add 1 cup water and beef bullion.
Once bullion is completely dissolved, add another cup water and half a cup of small elbow pasta or other pasta.
Cook until softened.
Add more water if needed.
Add more Cayenne to taste.

Good for when you are coming down with a nasty head cold.

How to Get Rid of Mucus in Your Throat

Posted in Entertainment, Life, Movies and Theatre, Tea, Writing with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 31, 2012 by urbannight

This is how I feel when I have a sinus infection and am searching for relief.

The title is a search term that brought someone to my bolg.  For some reason, it really amused me.  Maybe because I’ve had issues with it.  Maybe because I woke up at 4:00 am with a sore throat, swollen glands, and totally congested.  So I thought I might address the issue.

So I promptly went and made dinner (smashed potatoes, a hamburger patty, and herb gravy for beef).  While cooking and eating dinner I watched Chalet Girl.  It didn’t bore or annoy me in the first 5 minutes.  This was good.  Bill Nighy came on the screen.  This was better.  It was at that moment I knew I would finish the movie and, at the very least, like it.  I loved it.  A winning skateboarder takes a job at a chalet in the Alps in order to help support her father after they were in a car crash that killer her mother.  She has never skied and this puts her in an awkward position with her coworker.  She comes across a snow board.  This resembles a skateboard.  So she gives it a go.  And the movie progresses from there.  Give it a go.  It won’t clear your throat but it will entertain you and distract you from it.  Just like it distracted me from writing the post after I got out the first paragraph.

One of the most common methods is decongestants.  After all, the mucus is coming from the sinuses.  The only problem with these is that sometimes they really dry you out.  You end up with dry mouth, dry nostrils, dry eyes, over dryness in more delicate areas.  And if it isn’t very effective, you can’t really take much else for a few hours.  I tend to fluctuate between using them a lot and using them as a last resort.  I’m in a ‘last resort’ sort of place now.

Soup is good.  Hot soup.  Steaming soup.  Spicy soup that gets the sinuses flowing and hot in temperature that  sort of ‘melts’ it from your throat.  I like Chicken Soup from Hell.   Dice up a chicken breast, brown in some olive oil.  Toss in onion and garlic. LOTS of onion and garlic.  Add water.  Add bullion. Add seasoning.  The most important being the cayenne pepper.   In fact, the chicken is just to give the soup some thing to actually eat in it.  The point is to get the onion, garlic, and cayenne into the system for their health and cold fighting properties. 

They say hot tea works, especially hot mint tea.  I never found this to be true.   Inhaling the steam while it cools enough to actually drink it just doesn’t get enough through the sinuses.  The hot tea helps the throat somewhat, but usually, once it gets to drinking temperature, it doesn’t clear the throat as well as soup in general does.  Now if you take a pure mint tea bag and use it as a smelling sachet, that does work clear the sinuses and eventually the throat.  A warning, you will be inhaling small particles of mint leaves and it will turn your mucus a deep green when you next blow your nose.

Nasal sprays work fantastic on the nose and can sorta clear the throat.  But they leave a horrible taste in the back of the throat, make the nose feel raw, can lead to increased sore throats, can lead to increased congestion when they wear off, and can result in a cycle of constant use to clear the increasingly worse congestion.  And you should never use them for longer than seven days.  So I’ll only use them at bed time if I’m too bad off to fall asleep.  I and use them very sparingly.

There is an old chorus trick of gargling or drinking lemon juice to clear the throat of mucus.  This can be somewhat effective.  But if you have an actual sore throat, this can also sting.   On a similar note, I’ve found gargling with strong alcohol (think vodka and such) to be helpful in the short-term.  The very short-term.  For 15 minutes or so.  probably not worth it really.  Unless it’s to get some relief while you are cooking soup or something.  Or you want a few drinks so you don’t care about the annoying, thick, choking mucus in  your throat that is really annoying you.

And then there is my personal favorite, the neti pot.  This like device washes the sinuses out with a saline solution.  It helps pull it out of the back the help clear the throat.  This also makes the mucus shift and makes you want to spit a few times which also helps.  You have to blow your nose a couple of times in the 5 or 10 minutes after using it so that helps too.  It really makes you feel better in the nose and throat.  And if you feel like you are coming down with a sinus infection, regular use every 4 – 6 hours helps prevent said infection.  By clearing it out regularly, it can’t build up a ‘pool’ of infected mucus in your sinuses and thus the body’s natural defenses are able to better fight off any infection and you can avoid having to over use antibiotics from the doctor. 

So, the neti pot is my favorite method of not only clearing my nose, but clearing out the thick gunk that builds up and coats the throat, so it feels like you cannot clear your throat.  That’s as long as I remember to actually use it. Some days, I don’t notice it until I’ve left for work and it will annoy me all day long.  I hate it when that happens.  I had bought a second one to keep at work and a second box of the saline, but somewhere along the line one set vanished and I once again must remember to carry mine around with extra packets of saline.

Halloween is in the air! And so are Sinus Infections.

Posted in Holiday, Life, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 16, 2012 by urbannight

It you are going to be a ghost, do it with style.

To start with, I’ve been trying to fight off a sinus infection.

If you base it on thick, gunky mucus that is 50 shades of green, then it was definitely an infection. They say you can’t possibly get rid of infections without antibiotics, but I’m not so sure. I’ve had pretty good luck with regular irrigation via a netipot. Sure, it takes time and you have to do it, consistently, about every 4 hours. Drink plenty of tea and soup, garlic and cayenne are good tools. So is onion. But the color gets better, the mucus starts to thin some. Eventually you are back to normal.

When you compare it, antibiotic take a good 10 days, you have to take them anywhere from twice a day to every 4 to 6 hours. And then you increase your resistance to then and help create antibiotic resistant strains of various bugs and diseases. Not to mention the rather high odds for women to get ‘other’ infections because antibiotics also kill the good things in our bodies we need.

I think I’ll stick with my netipot.

This fight over who rules my sinuses has been going on since the weekend. Monday I nearly stayed home. Then I decided I would go in and see how things went. Maybe I could leave early if I was getting worse. Well, that was a bad idea. We were short two compilers in another department so the unit I’m in had to help cover for them. There was no leaving early.

Tuesday, I didn’t feel any better. I was in a good mood and decided I could get through the day. I did it Monday, after all. OMG (yes, I really typed it). I ended up leaving in a very cranky mood. It wasn’t triggered by a caller for a change, but by a co-worker.

Wednesday I felt much worse and took the day off. I slept. I got 14 hours of sleep. I also ran out of medicine last night and it was too late to bother going to the store. But good sleep has helped get rid of the sore throat, clear up part of the headache, and green has cleared up to white. My ears are still bothering me. I dislike the way my sinuses drain into the ears.

And I had ‘weird’ dreams all night. Now I normally have weird dreams. These were weird even for me. The result was that I was up early, bright eyed and bushy tailed. But that energy didn’t last long and I’m ready for a nap now. It will be a long day.

But the day is improved by the wonderful, blustery, windy, overcast sky. This morning’s weather was perfect, beautify, just what I like. I love fall and all it brings.

It brings more wind, more clouds, sometimes more rain; leaves turn colors, fall, and make great big piles to bury oneself in. It leads to naked, skeletal tree limbs, reach out, reaching up, clawing at the world and sky. The air turns crisp, and cold, and sharp, and scented with wood smoke and the hint of a future winter.

I love Fall. It is my favorite season. I feel the energy that summer steals from me starting to return. And it marks the return of my favorite holiday. Halloween. I would do Halloween all year round but no one wants to let me.

On the way to work I saw a sign for Spirit of Halloween. It is one of the two Halloween superstores that open up around September. I love these stores. Massive collections of costumes, decorations, party ware, wigs, makeup, hats, masks, the fun never ends.

We also have a local decorating store, called Nobbies that usually has a fantastic Halloween selection. At least it did until last year. That was a rather significant let down. They had their usual large display of costumes. But the actual décor was significantly reduced. I have to admit it was somewhat depressing.

Perhaps even distressing.

Yes, distressing. The spending on Halloween now rivals the spending on Christmas, but last year, thinking people would not be spending as much, the stores stocked less. Much less.

Still, this is another year. Another Dollar. Another Halloween. Another chance to find that perfect item that you can justify leaving out all year long. Another opportunity to increase my skull collection.

They say diamonds are a girl’s best friend. I think they seriously underestimate the happiness that can be found in a good skull.

Chicken and Rice Noodles and the danger of cooking with a migraine.

Posted in Food, Life, Uncategorized, Writing with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 6, 2012 by urbannight

There are all these ways to cook with less oil to make things healthier.  But I’ve discovered a secret.  And I will share it with you.

 

If you want to properly sauté up onions and garlic, and get the onions close to caramelizing without them starting to char up, you really need to use more oil and not less.  For a veggie that is very strong and bitter, it amazes me that it has enough sugar in it to caramelize when cooking.  I’ve found that I like mine best if I stop just as it is hitting that stage.

 

SO . . . I started by mincing up three slices of onion and adding a heaping spoon of minced garlic from the jar.  I dumped it into the heating oil and sprinkled with cayenne.  Yes, I use a lot of cayenne.  I love it.  Like I may have mentioned before, it has a lovely sweet mild flavor with heat that comes through otherwise mildly flavored dishes.  And it adds a lovely heat to strongly flavored dishes without altering the flavor.   

 

The smell of onions and garlic sautéing in olive oil is one of my favorite smells.  Unfortunately, migraines screw with your sense of smell.  Not for everyone, but definitely for me.  You probably don’t really want to know that it smelled like cat piss to me.  I was very unhappy about that. 

 

While I kept an eye on the minced herbs (because, really, an onion is more of a very large herb than a veggie) I diced up a chicken breast.  It was a lovely chicken breast.  If I had been thinking, I would have taken pictures of my lovely sautéing onions and garlic as well as the chicken breast.  I have, in the past, tried using precooked chicken.  It ends up tasting rather horrible with a terrible texture.  No matter how horrible I feel, if I don’t start from raw chicken breast from the meat counter, it doesn’t turn out right.

 

Now this is the trick, to not only cook the chicken, but to get it to start to brown up without the onions starting to fry themselves.  I stirred often and let it sit for short bursts and for once managed this trick perfectly.  At this point, I had used no salt at all.  I used a salt-free chicken and poultry seasoning my parents sent me from their last trip to Hawaii.  I added several cups of water and two chicken-flavored bullion cubes.  And the salt goes through the roof.  If I had been thinking, I would have picked up low sodium chicken broth.

 

I opened a package of rice noodles.  It was in 3 ‘sheets’ for lack of a better description.  I took out two and put the last back in the bag for another time.  Gripping a sheet firmly in each hand, I twist it in the middle to break it in half, slowly and carefully, so not to send bits of rice noodle in every direction.  I have tried cutting it with kitchen sheers but that just made a huge mess.  I stirred the noodles in, covered it, and let it cook until the noodles were done.

 

By this point, it lost it’s distressingly unpleasant aroma.  It smelled quite good.  It tasted even better.  I could have had two bowls of leftovers.  But I decided to have a second bowl instead.  I would have taken a picture of it today but it just doesn’t look as pretty in a Ziploc bowl as it does in a proper bowl at home.  So no pretty pictures for you.  I really have to do better to remember the camera when I cook up delicious things.

OMG, Black Bean Heaven!

Posted in Art, Food, Life, Uncategorized, Writing with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 2, 2012 by urbannight

Start w/ half pound stew meat.  Dice up into smaller pieces.  Brown in olive oil. I used Alpine Touch seasoning at this stage.

Add 3 cups water and one beef bullion.  This has enough salt so don’t add any more.  Unless you like really salty food.  Cover and simmer until beef is tender.

In small pot or pan, heat olive oil, mince onion and garlic, amount to taste.  I added Cayenne here.  Saute until soft and just starting to caramelize.

While I was stirring the above, to keep if from burning, I peeled and sliced 2 small potatoes.  I added these to the pot and then added the onion and garlic. Add black pepper to taste.

Cover and simmer while reducing the broth about half way.  Potatoes will be almost done.  If your broth isn’t reduced enough, raise temp and take lid off for a couple of minutes.

Open, drain, and rinse one can of black beans.  Add.  Cover and simmer until beans are heated through. Turn off heat and add 1/4 cup of potato flakes.  I like to use that over a flour or corn starch thickener.  But you can do it whichever way you want.

Really, it was heaven in a bowl.

Stuffed Portabella Mushrooms

Posted in Art, Education, Entertainment, Food, Life, Uncategorized, Work, Writing with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 30, 2012 by urbannight

I have not tried these yet.  I intend to soon.  Possibly this weekend.  I was in the lunch room to heat up my soup when I over heard two women talking about it.  So I got nosey and asked how she made it.

Brush the round top of the mushroom with an Italian dressing.

Remove the gills from the mushrooms.

Saute garlic and spinach until wilted.  (I would say that if you got mushrooms with stalks you might chop the stalks and add to this part.  Green onion or just chives might be good to add as well.  And I’m a big fan of Cayenne so I might add a bit here as well.)

Drizzle a little Italian dressing over the stuffing and stir in, then stuff the mushroom caps.

Sprinkle a bit of cheese over the top.

Bake in over for 18 to 20 minutes at 375. 

It sounds lovely.  Crumbled bacon or minced scallops might also be good in it.