Do you know how to make rich, dark brown gravy the natural way? Without the store-bought box or package of gravy? No package of seasonings or dyes ever touches my gravy. I learned this trick from my mother years ago. Before you put the turkey in the roasting pan, slice up a small onion and a few cloves of garlic and add them to the bottom of the pan. As the turkey cooks, the onions and garlic will brown up, colouring and flavouring the juices, creating wonderful dark brown gravy.
You can puree the onions and garlic with the gravy if you like your gravy smooth and lump-free, or leave it chunky. This trick works for roast beef or pork as well.
A few other holiday dinner tricks:
Gluten-free brown gravy thickener: reserve (approximately) 1 cup of the water you boiled your potatoes in before you drain them. That water contains lots of potato starch, which is naturally gluten-free. Add the reserved water to your gravy, let it simmer for 10 minutes until the gravy thickens. Works like a charm, without the use of a roux made of wheat flour.
Decorating your dinner table: I like to use whatever is colourful in my garden at the time. In spring it is tulips or other bulbs. In fall I use leaves, ornamental grass spikes, and decorative gourds. Place the collected items in a vase, display on a cake pedestal, or lay them right on the table cloth (leaves work well flat)
Getting the creases out of your table cloth: Do you ever forget to take your table cloth out early enough to remove the folds/crease? Or change your mind on which table cloth you want to use at the last minute, and then cringe at the creases? Remove wrinkles and creases, without the use of an iron, from table cloths or your clothing with a wrinkle remover in a spray bottle. Keep some in your laundry room and bedroom for a quick fix.
I hope these tips come in handy when you are preparing your next holiday meal. Our Canadian Thanksgiving is this weekend, so I plan to use them all.
How do you know you have environmental allergies or sensitivities to common products and even foods? Listen to and trust your body! I have learned the validity of this simple piece of advice over the years.
For example, this is my evidence that I have personally compiled and learned to listen to. How many of these (or similar reactions) apply to you?
sneeze when walking past the highly scented laundry soap and fabric softeners in a grocery store?
sneeze or cough when popular (Febreeze comes to mind) room deodorizers or air fresheners are used?
cough when adding soap to your sink or dishwasher?
get an instant tightness in your chest when walking by a house whose dryer vent is on spewing the scent of Bounce into the air?
get the same reaction from yards sprayed with fertilizer and or weed killer, from blocks away?
have to open the windows and turn on vents before cleaning bathrooms?
get an instant headache walking through the fragrance department of a store? (why do they have to place those right at the entrance to the store?)
get an instant headache from the different perfumes in a crowd? For example, I dread going to the NAC (National Art Center here in Ottawa) because each elderly lady there seems to have an entire bottle of perfume on. The blend is not pleasant!
get stomach cramps and diarrhea after eating some foods.
get skin rashes after eating certain foods.
I saw an article recently about cancer causing ingredients in many common dish soaps. The offending products include:
Legacy of Clean
Simple Green Naturals
Bon Ami Dish Soap
I must admit I have never heard of many of these brands of dish soap, but do know Dawn, Palmolive, Sunlight, Finish and Cascade are on my avoid list as they bother me. I used to have to leave the room when running the dishwasher.
These reactions that I have experienced are the reason I use Melaleuca products in my home. They are all natural, many with tea tree oil (from the Australian melaleuca plant) as a main ingredient. By using these products, I have reduced my contact with ingredients that aggravate my allergies and sensitivities. I no longer have to open the bathroom window when cleaning, and can run the dishwasher while working in the kitchen.
If you have similar reactions to any products or foods, trust and listen to your body. You may have allergies and sensitivities too. Then get proactive to improve your health and the quality of your life. Remember, you are in the driver’s seat!
Dear John, as promised, I found a rock for your garden. It’s a beauty; pinkish-colored rock with specks of black mica to sparkle in the sun. Just like the one you admired in my front garden, only much bigger.
John was a dear neighbor that passed away from cancer recently. Last summer I helped him and his wife reconfigure and enlarge the garden in their front yard. We left room for a large rock, but it could not be just any rock. You see, John was a geologist and loved rocks. He had a specific one in mind. Although we looked for one last fall, we could not find the perfect rock. I have a much smaller rock in my garden across the street from his that he admired. I was on the lookout for something similar for their garden.
When John passed away I consulted with our neighbors to see if they liked the idea of purchasing a rock for John’s garden in lieu of flowers at the funeral service. Knowing of John’s love for rocks and nature in general, everyone was on board and willing to help. I continued my search for the perfect rock.
Recently I talked a client into removing this beautiful rock from a garden site he wants me to modify. The rock just happened to be the pink and black version I was searching for. Many thanks to Michael Blackie of NeXT restaurant. After hearing of my search for John’s rock, he donated the rock (free) to the cause. Another neighbor volunteered to remove and deliver the rock to its new home as I did not have the equipment to do so. Thanks, Sean Fagan of Shamrock Home Upgrades, The grandson of yet another neighbor received a bonus ride on the tractor.
I am so grateful to live in this wonderful neighborhood that is full of kind, caring, and compassionate people like John. Every time I see his rock sparkle in the sun I will be reminded of his cheerful grin and sunny disposition.