Homemade Herbal Spice Soda + Cherry Ice Squares served with Smoked Hickory Salt and Vinegar Dehydrated Zucchini Chips
I must first start by saying that this weeks food story turned into quite a LONG one. So let me apologize in advance for the length. I promise(well I HOPE) not to disappoint. You see, when my brain latches onto an idea it will then take it for a spin. This spinning motion spawns lots of little thread like off shoots. My creative side picks up these threads and weaves them into a tapestry. It's when I step back that I realize my tapestry…and in this particular case...depicts 3 recipes and a craft project. YIKES!! That's when the visual ideas of how to tell this tapestries story start flooding into a vision. It's both Entertaining and Overwhelming. I gave up a long time ago trying to control and simplify this process. I now embrace it…well some days just roll with it as I'm a perfectionist with a ginormous capital P. But navigating this external process is probably best left for another day's discussion because on TOP of all the above…the initial inspiration that started the creative weaving came from a product my Granny Hall sold in her Health Food Store. The story just wouldn't be complete without paying homage since last week was the first anniversary of her passing. SO...a couple of recipes, a little craft project, and some personal background is what you'll find as you continue with this adventure(taking a deep breath now and exhaling).
Let's start at the beginning…I had an idea to create a Homemade Herbal Spice Soda. The inspiration came from a product my Granny Ferby carried in her Health Food Store. It was an Herbal Soda called China Cola….an alternative to traditional colas. Or shall I say colas as we know today because traditionally colas or cola syrups where created many many years ago as a pick me up elixir made from natural herbal and spice ingredients. It was sweetened with pure sugar sources and not the artificial sweeteners present in some of todays diet counterparts. My Granny preached for years about the potential harm of artificial sweetners and as a result I've never really touched the stuff. So whenever I craved a carbonated drink, I always grabbed a China Cola OR a Cherry China Cola. Yeah, they had that one too. That's where the inspiration for the Cherry Ice Squares took shape. I thought, instead of adding a homemade cherry syrup straight to the Herbal Spice Soda mix let's create ice cubes that will slowly melt and release the cherry flavor throughout the drink. And then I thought(my excitement building) what better way to enjoy an Herbal Spice Cherry Ice Square Soda then with a bag of chips!!!!!!!! Ahhhhhh, but no ordinary bag of chips. Keeping with natural and healthy here so the chips I envisioned were dehydrated…because I like to pretty much dehydrate everything. Zucchini was my choice as it resembles a potato chip and is the perfect vehicle to absorb flavor. Super easy to prep. Total package. If you don't own a dehydrator I highly recommend checking one out. There's definitely a little more effort involved but totally worth it. Now of course the idea train didn't stop there. I remembered I had a few drink carriers left over from a previous China Cola order and thought let's repurpose them. On top of dehydrating everything I also recycle everything. So this was going to be fun. I love chalkboard spray paint so I took a can to the drink carrier and voilà. New repurposed picnic accessory that you can write and draw all over. Seriously, how cute is that!!!!
Now that we're ready to start this food story adventure I'd like to close by adding how grateful I am for my Granny's holistic upbringing. It provided a solid foundation that continues to enrich my own healers path. And even though she passed away a year ago last week her influence still travels far. She built a one of a kind holistic environment that energetically pulled people to want to know more. They would come into the store from all over just to hear her speak. A large wooden dining table set in the store to accommodate this very purpose. She cared so much about the health and well being of others…especially her family(4 children, 11 grandchildren, & 5 great-grandchildren). At times, she was even referred to as Dr. Ferby because of her knack for steering people towards whole health. I don't know a life without her holistic tools and am delighted to see the gradual change in perspective people are experiencing these days. I was the girl always running around with flower essence bottles, popping homeopathy pellets, drinking loads of vitamin C, and taking acidophilus. It's nice to see that now I'm not the only one. Granny was ahead of the curve in so many ways and my hope is to follow her example. Here's a picture of her below.
So NOW let's get started. Continue below to follow this food story adventure. And thank you in advance for your patience. OH…and don't forget to check out the video at the very end. You can also check it out in the Motion Gallery under the Visual Tab:)
Here's what you'll need to get started...
Homemade Herbal Spice Soda
2 tbsp Lavender Buds
2 Cinnamon Sticks
1/2 tsp Powdered Nutmeg
1/2 tsp Cardamon
1 Vanilla Bean
1 tsp Clove
1 Licorice Stick
1 tsp Powdered Ginger
1 tsp Anise Whole
1/4 tsp Pink Peppercorn
1 tsp Coriander Seed
1 Lemon Zest & Juice
1 Lime Zest & Juice
1/4 Orange Blossom Water
3 tbsp Molasses
1 cup Cane Sugar or Raw Sugar or Coconut Palm Sugar
1 1/2 cup Water
Place Cardamon, Clove, Anise, Pink Peppercorn, and Coriander in a mortar and pestle. Briefly muddle to gently break up the pieces.
Then add the muddled spices to a sauce pan along with the remaining ingredients.
Place on medium heat and simmer for 25 minutes. Remove from heat to rest for 15 more minutes...then strain mixture.
Let cool for 20 minutes before transferring to a dispensing container. Then place in refrigerator to chill.
When ready to serve, place a couple of Cherry Ice Squares(recipe below) and a few Ice Squares in a glass and add some Herbal Spice Syrup. Start with a tbsp of Herbal Spice Syrup per 8 oz of liquid(you can make adjustments to your liking)…then add Sparkling Water.
Cherry Ice Squares
1 Bag of Fresh Cherries
1/4 cup Maple Syrup
1 cup Coconut Water
Give cherries a quick rinse with water and place in a sauce pan. Add the Maple Syrup and Coconut Water. Simmer on medium heat for 30 minutes. Remove from heat and strain.
Transfer juice to a large dispensing container or measuring cup and pour into a square ice cube tray.
Place tray in the freezer to create Cherry Ice Squares.
Smoked Hickory Salt and Vinegar Dehydrated Zucchini Chips
Apple Cider Vinegar
Prep Zucchini by giving it a quick rinse. Cut off the end pieces then cut the whole part into thirds. You might have to make some small adjustments to the cut ends to ensure they are level. Using the blade attachment on a food processor set at notch one, place one piece at a time through the feed tube and process per manufactures instructions(Note: by placing the cut zucchini pieces in the far left of the feed tube will ensure less slippage and more accurate slicing, especially for smaller zucchini pieces that do not fit snug).
Place Zucchini slices in a bowl and add Smoked Hickory Salt, Smoked Paprika, and Apple Cider Vinegar. Mix together and soak for 20-30 minutes. I'll leave the amounts to your discretion. Usually a heaping tsp of both Smoked Hickory Salt and Smoked Paprika is a good starting point per around 3 medium Zucchini…and enough Apple Cider Vinegar to almost cover the pieces. Use a little more or a little less to your taste. The Apple Cider Vinegar will help release the water in the Zucchini so the liquid will expand some. It will also water down the taste so if your want a real Apple Cider Vinegar bite you might take the Zucchini slices through the soaking process a second time.
Once Zucchini slices are prepped and ready, lay flat on a dehydrator sheet and sprinkle with a bit more Smoked Hickory Salt.
Place loaded trays in the dehydrator and set temperature at around 125(sometimes I'll bump that up to 135 for a faster drying time). It'll take up to eight hours depending on the temperature set. If you're going for live food then set temperature at 105. This will extend the time to around 12 hours or more. Again, always refer to the manufactures instructions…these instructions are based my experience using an Excalibur Dehydrator. It may seem like a lot of time invested for something so small but I assure you dehydrating in this way is super delicious and super duper good for you.
Bonus: Repurposed Drink Carrier
Here's what you'll need...
Cardboard Drink Carrier
Chalkboard Spray Paint
In an outdoor location, place Cardboard Drink Carrier on a piece of plastic or drop cloth. Use the Chalkboard Paint per manufactures instructions to coat the entire surface inside and out. Wait 30 minutes and repeat(Note: use a mask to cover your nose and mouth while spraying, this will cut back inhaling the spray paint particles). Let fully dry one day before use. Then draw or write any message you like. I decided to draw a sprig of Lavender on mine. Have FUN.
Hopefully by now you're not TOO overwhelmed by the above visual overload to enjoy the video below of the entire food story process. It's a quick bit of motion fun taking you through each recipe component.
Now let's put it all together. Grab a glass and load up with Cherry Ice Squares and a few Ice Cubes, add in the Herbal Spice Syrup and top off with Sparkling Water then pile a handful of Smoked Hickory Salt and Vinegar Dehydrated Zucchini Chips into a bag and you are ready to eat. Better yet…fill a couple of bottles and place in your Repurposed drink carrier. Grab a blanket and take ALL your goodies outside and have a picnic. ENJOY:)