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Cinnamon’s Sexy History

I’ve really gotten into baking this winter. During the “snowstorm that wasn’t” over superbowl weekend I got to the grocery store a little late to prepare for being locked indoors due to the impending snowstorm of doom and found that all the sliced bread was gone. So I bought yeast and flour and I spent the uneventful snowpocalypse proofing dough and making various rolls and breads. It was awesome.

One of the better fruits of my baking labor (if I say so myself) was a cinnamon bread. Nothing too fancy: I simply rolled out the dough before baking and applied a generous heap of cinnamon and sugar before rolling it up in the loaf pan. Of course, it was the night of the superbowl, so there was WAY too much food and my bread didn’t get finished. Then it got forgotten. Then it got old. I was cleaning the kitchen today and saw it, still sitting there two weeks later, when I noticed there wasn’t any indication that it was that old.  No mold. That’s a little crazy when you figure the sandwich bread I bought AFTER that has already gone moldy and been thrown away… and  I know I didn’t add any preservatives to my dough. Except for the cinnamon of course.  Which got me thinking about cinnamon…

Cassia

Cassia

The word “Cinnamon” has been applied to a variety of different (but related) substances since it was first “discovered” in 2000 B.C.E. In the modern market, there are two different kinds of cinnamon: what is considered “true cinnamon” (Cinnamomum verum) and Cassia cinnamon (Cinnamomum cassia). True cinnamon is endemic to Sri Lanka and is sometimes referred to as Ceylon cinnamon. It is more sweet in flavor and is the more expensive of the two spices. Cassia is sometimes referred to as Chinese cinnamon because it was first imported from China although it is now widely cultivated throughout Asia. It is usually what is found in grocery stores when you purchase cinnamon and almost certainly what you are buying if the country of origin is Thailand, Vietnam, or China.  Continue reading

The Stinking Rose

Sorry it’s taken me so long to write this next entry. My phone was stolen and dealing with the loss of so vital (and expensive) a device really sucks the wind from your sails. But never fear, Sarah Sexy Plants is back and is ready to tell you about her personally favorite kitchen ingredient: Garlic.
Garlic for yeast infection cure

One of the most widely known herbs, garlic (Allium sativum) has roots in almost every culture and cuisine. It has been used by humans for over 7,000 years and while it is native to central Asia, it spread quickly throughout the settled world becoming a staple spice from the ancient Egyptians to the Chinese and (of course) the Romans. However it has been used medicinally for just as long.

Ancient Asian herbalists used garlic to treat high blood pressure and a Egyptian medical text from 1550 b.c.e. lists garlic as the cure for over 22 problems (including headache, intestinal worms, and heart issues). In the more modern era, doctors included garlic as part of their house call kit to disinfect prevent disease and by 1900 Dr. T. Sydenham claimed it was a cure for smallpox. Perhaps we shouldn’t go that far, but modern science shows that there are some beneficial properties of the garlic bulb. In World War I and II garlic juice was applied to moss and used to dress soldiers’ wounds on the battlefield. The reason? It prevented gangrene from setting in. The reason is the smell.

The characteristic odor of garlic is present because of the compound allicin. However this compound also has antibiotic and antifunigal properties in addition to its smell. It has been shown to exhibit the equivalent action of 1% penicillin. I bet you didn’t know that was laying around your kitchen.

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