Monday, January 5, 2015

Organic Masala Apple Sauce; Family Recipe Made Anew

: Garam Masala Apple Sauce :

Canning, pickling, and preparing things from scratch was always the norm at home growing up. We were raised in a mostly macrobiotic style household (with the occasional Polish food of course!), and food prep was treated just as important as going to the Doc for a check up. Most meals were approached from a healthful and medicinal perspective, using herbs and spices high in antioxidants and cold fighting ingredients like fresh garlic, sage and raw honey. And now that I really need to keep Celiac in mind when preparing food, I am finding that going back to my Macro roots is making all the difference.

Garam Masala fits this type of food very well, and most of our friends love it, because it utilized many favors that are common in baking, like cardamom and nutmeg, but with hot and savory hints of cumin, coriander, black pepper and clove. And it may sound like a contradiction, but many of these herbs, even the hot ones, are anti-inflammatory!

Apple and fruit sauces of all kinds could and can still be found in my parent's household, and if given permission, I will share Dad's recipe for spicy Cacao, plumb & Ume sauce (VERY medicinal!).

But for now, here is one from Mom, an oldie, but a goodie, with a slight Indian/Eastern twist from her favorite daughter :) Traditional Apple Sauce with a Masala upgrade!


 - 6-7 medium organic apples of choice (I love baking apples, featured in this post because they are not only soft and sweet and cook down well, BUT they also have a tang to them, which translates to a full multi level flavor in your sauce---> and more flavor means I use less sugar.)
*You can also go half sour apples and half sweet apples, or all sweet apples with a squeeze of lemon.

- 1/2 - 1 Cup Local, preservative free Apple Cider

- 1 Tablespoon organic Cinnamon or Pumpkin Pie Spice (for Masala Apples, I like the P. Pie spice!)

- 1 Teaspoon organic Garam Masala spice blend

- 1/4 - 1/2 Cup organic brown sugar (raw cane sugar + molasses) OPTIONAL - we use organic brown sugar because the flavor blends very well with this recipe AND organic molasses is full of trace minerals that we are usually deficient of! Think Iron, Calcium, Magnesium, etc.

 I have been drinking Beiersdorfer Orchard Natural Apple Cider for almost 2 decades now, and it is still the best apple cider I can find (and I dearly LOVE apple cider). It is made by a local farm in IN, and is completely just apples, not preservatives, added sugar, nada!

Some Kroger grocery stores carry it in their refrigerated juice section next to produce, otherwise I have no clue where to find it. I actually still get this down in Cincinnati when I visit because our Kroger in Columbus does not carry this brand.

It makes the perfect boiling base for our Masala Apple Sauce, and that is one of the keys to this recipe. But any all natural apple cider will do! And if desperate, apple juice can substitute.


 - Slice your apples thin. Leaving the skin on is optional, and can add a nice texture to your sauce, but I would only do this if you know the apples have not been sprayed. 

- Add all of your slices to a medium sized sauce pan.
I like my 2.5 Quart sauce pan for small batches of sauce.

   - Now you will add 1 - 1.5 Cups of Apple cider to your saucepan, or enough to cover the bottom by 1/2 inch.

 - Bring cider and apples to a boil on high for 5 minutes. Lower heat to Medium and add your Cinnamon and Garam Masala.

- Stir in spices, and cover apples for 10 - 15 minutes on medium heat, while occasionally stirring to prevent burning on the bottom.Your apples will become soft, and start turning into sauce.

- Add in your brown sugar if you so wish, stir completely and recover for another 5 minutes.

You don't need as much sugar if you use apple cider as your base. The natural sugars will help draw out more pectin in your sauce, and it will be thicker and less soupy sauce.

- Take of heat and set aside covered for 5 min.

- By now, depending on the apples you use, your apple sauce should be ready to enjoy!

TIME: About 30 min.    

SERVINGS: About 1 - 1.5 Quarts (I guess it depends on what you consider a serving!)

*Apple Butter - If you like a smoother consistency in your fruit sauce, nix the skins and simmer on low for another 20-25 minutes. Stir occasionally to prevent burning your sauce.

 Please look below for extra tips and links for blending Garam Masala if you would like to make your own spice blend from scratch!
If you have a hard time finding a Garam Masala blend, you can make your own, which is both rewarding and safe, since you can control what goes into your blend.
Here are some sources for Garam Masala blend recipes that I think work well:

Veg Recipes of India:

Epicurious :

About Food:

When looking to buy herbs and spices for medicine or for cooking, try your best to keep them organic. Due to recent deregulation, any 'conventional' herbs, spices and teas that are imported to the US are held and fumigated(for pests) and irradiated before being admitted to their US destinations. This means that not only do you have extra chemicals in your spices, but you also wont get nearly the same medicinal benefits if they have been irradiated. Organic herbs are held in pressure chambers for longer periods of time, so that they do not have to use toxic chemicals to ensure their safety

Monday, December 22, 2014

Oakland Park Nursery Pop Up Sale: 1st Show back, Last show of 2014!

Our Oakland Park Nursery Pop Up Holiday sale, was a blast! A huge THANK YOU! to Lisa Horkin, from Horkover glass for starting and coordinating this show. We had an amazing experience with this small group of awesome talent, and hope to be considered next year!

 As most of you know, this was my first show back, after taking a medical leave/hiatus this year. We could not be happier with your response to us reviving TSSO!

Not only were we hopping at the show, but online sales were great! We have sold out of many products and are thrilled to be placing more supply orders to make more herbal goodies for you!

The only problem I found at this show, was my picture taking ability (I know, worse problems could be had!). It may be time to retire the old camera that has served us so well these past 6 years, but you get the idea.

We have officially added our custom tea blends, 3Spirits, and Sunrise Herbal fruit punch. Now offered in 2 oz and 4 oz screw top tins, a perfect gift to the tea lover in your life!

Our goal with introducing our tea blends, is to re-familiarize our culture with REAL tea. Loose leaf teas most often are made from higher quality herbs, are also whole herbs, where an average bagged tea is the "shake" (yes, a naughty word for some! Not that kind of 'shake' kids! tsk tsk) or leftover herb from the bottom of the bin. Once you experience the full flavors, and herbal benefits of whole herb loose leaf, you wont go back!

These two blends are just the beginning of our tea line, so stay tuned!!!

 We have outgrown a single table space, and are applying to larger local shows with 10' X 10' booth spaces.

Now that we have studio renovations going as I type, we will be adding organic, cold process soaps back to the shop, and will be posting class information here. There will soon be a "Classes" tab, with a 2015 line up.

As soon as applications are confirmed I will also be posting a Show Schedule for my local shows. We are also looking into expanding our show route to out of state, so keep looking, we may make an appearance in your neck of the woods!

: Holiday Orders : We have also wrapped up the last of our Holiday orders, since we are so close. We hope everyone enjoys their Organic Herbal gift this year!

And as always, please do not hesitate to contact us with questions or concerns or just to say "Hi!"
Happy Holidays to All!
Peace & Love ~Kat & Tony
The Simple Siren Organics

Sunday, December 14, 2014

It has been a busy, and very adventurous 2013 & 2014 for The Simple Siren and for me personally. I have been exploring other Herbal modalities and will be going back to school this year for a Master of Science in Herbal Medicine!

Between the growing of TSSO, New Herbal studies, curating organic herbs as part of my job as an in house herbalist for a local Co-op AND my Celiac diagnosis, I have learned a lot as the time has flown, and it has been a great motivator to share with the wellness community!

Now I have a great start to recovery from Celiac damage, thanks to natural living, herbs and holistic health care, and creative Gluten Free cooking, I am relaunching this blog, to share these experiences as well as new threads on Herb Profiles, which will include History on the use of medicinal plants.

Also on the Agenda: Gluten Free Recipes, Cooking Medicinally, Growing food and medicine Eco Gardens, Herbal remedies and Wild Food foraging and Local Food and Wellness Product Reviews.

My hope is to be sharing all about my new adventures as I work towards my Masters and other projects that we have in progress at TSSO.

We will have studio upgrades to share with the New Year in 2015, tutorials and more!

Monday, February 27, 2012

St Patty's Day Give Away: The Hat Factory & TSSO!

Hello to everyone!

I wanted to let you all know that I am participating in a St. Patrick's Day give away through
The Hat Factory. Check them out sometime, they are quickly becoming an international name :)

The give away is happening on Facebook, and I will be providing 1 free tube of our popular "Green Ice" Organic Green Matcha, tea lip scrub.

Everyone has a chance to win (even more than one prize!) I encourage all of my lovely patrons to check out and support The Hat Factory and their give away, there are MANY talented folks participating, so there is a big chance to get some great handmade goodies!

Most of the artisans are also etsians, so it is a great way to
support local, handmade and also Etsy, which is a very positive handmade platform for the artistic world.

You can find more information on The Hat Factory FB page as well as on their webpage.

I wish good luck to everyone!

Monday, January 23, 2012

The Simple Siren Etsy Feature!

Well The Simple Siren awoke this morning to an empty etsy shop!
It appears as though we were featured in the night and missed it!
Our new for 2012, Organic Matcha green tea lip scrub was featured in this beautiful, fresh handmade treasury:

We want to thank all of our fellow etsians, friends and clients! Our shop sold out with more back orders and could not have done it without you!
We will be getting all of our extra orders from those of you who didn't get what you wanted before, by the end of the week.

We also want to thank CraftCult for keeping a vault for the front page treasury features, because without this we would not have been able to find this lovely treasury!
There are some talented folks and beautiful wares, so be sure to check them out!

Have a wonderful afternoon! It's a beautiful day in Columbus!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Holiday Gift Giving; United Plant Savers Membership

I know that those of you who follow my blog, know that I am an avid supporter of The United Plant Savers non profit organization. I am a memeber, and became one, because a very intuitive family friend and wonderful Alexander Technique teacher, thought to give me a membership for my birthday. I knew that Rosemary Gladstar had done some amazing charity and sanctuary work, even founding many herself. In all of the years that I have been studying her, I did not fully realize the extent of the sanctuary network until some years ago.

Rosemary Gladstar, Ashtree publishing

The Mission of The United Plant Savers organization is to protect the future of the planet's edible and medicinal herbs, which are quickly declining in the wild, do to over harvesting, deforestation and other detriments to their natural homes.
Many species are very difficult to cultivate ourselves due to their specific needs in their natural environment.

The way the plants grow, the strength and healing qualities are best defined when growing in these groupings, whereas they lack in quality and effectiveness where they are often grown separate in commercial agriculture

With a United Plant Savers membership, you gain access to online teaching materials, course work in herbalism, activism, an herbal journal and access to internships and just an abundance of useful information and seasonal rare seed and plant offers.

One of my favorite is their Golden seal give away, where they send you plants. This is a wonderful way to support the great Goldenseal sanctuary.

Goldenseal is still used in medicine today and is on the decline. It has been called the "Cure All" plant, and has been used in everything from mainstream medications to GNC supplements. It has a very long history as an antimicrobial and is a natural antibiotic - A very important aspect along with it's ability to fight ailments like Strep, UTI infections, acne, eczema, and can even strengthen the immune system to fight bacterial and fungal infections. It has been used for colds, digestive upsets, and any inflamed mucous membrane. Goldenseal can also alleviate sore throats, and intestinal, infections caused by microbes, such as traveler’s diarrhea.
The Goldenseal sanctuary has been established in Rutland, Ohio (great field trip Ohioans!)

 A membership or donation this season is a chance to do some good and to help our community.

Also: Goldenseal Sanctuary spring intern Ted Martello (aka TMello) is hiking the Appalachian trail as a fundraiser for United Plant Savers. TMello is proposing a penny for each mile he walks southbound from the beginning of the Appalachian Trail in Maine. His goal is to reach the trail's end by November or December, a total of 2175 miles (for a total of $21.75). 

The United Plant savers are also a platform for the voice of the Organic community, as an outlet for information and to work against  industry that hurts the environment, as well as a way to show the world what we can be, if we give ourselves the chance.

To sign up for a membership, or to give a great gift to a loved one, you can find all of the information you need on their home page:

Wishing everyone a wonderful Holiday season! ~ Much Love~ Kat

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Growing Valentines: Flowers that Grow & Never Die!

Let your love blossom this Valentine's day to come! Make up for those last minute efforts, and let us do the work! (Hey, you picked it out, there is something to be said for great taste!)

New in our line of "Living letters" and "Growing Gifts", are our 100% handmade, up-cycled paper flowers (made from scratch by myself and my partner in crime Tony Colque).
Just like our growing gift ornaments for the holiday season, these babies grow wonderful organic and heirloom gardens after you are done! This flower line will house beautiful butterfly blends, edible flower blends, and our favorite; Wildflower!

These dainty roses make the perfect, romantic statement to that special someone in your life, that say, "Like this rose, my love for you will forever bloom, but never die."~~~And that's a fact!

These flowers will come in other species styles(Violets, Tulips, etc.), but they are already being reserved for the holiday, so we will see how many come out!
These growing flowers will come in sets of 3 and 5, and will be available for custom batch orders, and will be added to our Wedding favor line dropping this Winter (just in time for Spring!)
(When custom ordering event batches, we request that we be contacted at least six months in advanced)

Dress up your special dinner, make a romantic path of petals, or a sensual trail leading to the bedroom!
These lovely accents are up to the task, and make a beautiful garden for two, just in time for Spring!

We will be posting our Valentine's gift boxes complete with a three pack of these cute little buds.
Stay tuned for more colors, styles and for our Organic Vanilla massage oil for two!

Have a great week everyone! ~Kat~