June 25, 2008 · Updated 2:11 PM
"I'm a great believer in home remedies, all the way from the bluing and baking soda my grandmother used to put on my bee stings to ginger tea for upset stomach and some awful black goo my mother slathered me with when I had a chest cold. And now there's garlic, grape juice with Certo, vinegar (for just about everything), bing cherries, cranberry juice, aloe vera, etc., etc., all present somewhere in my medicinal bag of tricks. I thought I'd heard of most of the old home remedies, but I was wrong. Thanks to Chicken Soup and Other Folk Remedies by Joan and Lydia Wilen, I've now learned of some new-to-me but old and, hopefully, helpful remedies for some very common ailments, which I'm about to pass along for you to try or not, as needed. First, just in time to deal with possible post-Fair partying problems, or summertime parties in general, a hangover remedy that sounds bizarre but apparently works. Before I tell you about this one, however, I'd like to note that all of the folk remedies I'm about to mention here were reviewed by a panel of doctors and the comment regarding this hangover palliative was, Great remedy. So, if your head is aching, your tongue feels like the bottom of a parrot cage and both light and noise are torture, cut a wedge of lemon and rub it in your armpits.That's right, I said a wedge of lemon; rub it in your armpits. I could have used this information back when I was young and invincible but not immune to a hangover; now I just don't want to do the recovery time, with or without a lemon wedge in my armpits, so it may be awhile before I'll actually need to try this one. If any of you do, however, I'd appreciate hearing of your results. Even if you're not an imbiber, keep those lemons handy because they may cure your headache even if it's not hangover induced. Peel a long, wide strip of the lemon rind and rub the inside of it (the pith) on your temples, then put the rind strip across your forehead and secure it in place with a scarf or strip of gauze. Yes, I laughed, too, but while these sisters were on a television talk show, they cured the show's host of a three-day-old headache and evidently made an instant convert out of him. I'm willing to give this one a try when the next headache comes around. Now, if you happen to be an insomniac (and I've been there from time to time), it's a yellow onion that might be your salvation. Cut it into chunks, put them in a covered jar next to your bed. When you find yourself staring at the ceiling counting sheep, open the jar and take a deep whiff of onion, then close the jar and your eyes, think pleasant thoughts and, according to the lore, You should be asleep within 15 minutes. But wait! Is that a leg cramp coming on? Yikes! Ouch! Not to worry, however. Put a piece of silverware, preferably a spoon to avoid accidents, right on the cramp area. Doesn't have to be silver, stainless steel also works. If you don't have a piece of silverware handy, pinch the little trough area above your upper lip; the cramp should be gone in a few seconds. (I use this, by the way, to head off sneezes and cure hiccups).And finally, should you feel that ominous little itching sting that signals the beginning of a sty on your eye, rub the area a few times with a gold ring. If you catch it soon enough, it may stop the sty altogether, but even if it's already noticeable, the gold ring trick supposedly may prevent it from becoming a full blown beauty of a bad eye bug. I can see it all now. There I'll be, in bed, with lemon juice in my armpits, a strip of lemon peel bound to my forehead, a teaspoon resting on the thigh cramp, sniffing from a jar of onion chunks and rubbing my wedding ring on my eyelids. I can tell you right now one thing all of this is sure to cure and that's any amorous thought my best beloved might have had before he entered the bedroom. Recipes Speaking of home remedies, how about something to liven up your possibly jaded summertime taste buds. In China, peaches are a symbol of immortality; to me, they are the essence of summertime. They probably won't make me immortal, but the fresh peaches of summer (including nectarines) may be the perfect home remedy for summer doldrums, especially served up in this spectacular dessert.Fresh Peaches and Nectarines with Sabayon1/2 cup raspberry purée (instructions below)2 cups fresh peaches and/or nectarines, peeled, pitted and cubed4 egg yolks, at room temp.2 T. water1 T. plus 1 1/2 t. kirsch1/4 cup heavy cream or creme fraiche, whipped to soft peaks1 T. plus 1 1/2 t. sugar1. To make raspberry purée, use 1 pint fresh berries or one 10-oz. pkg. frozen berries, thawed and drained. Purée in blender or food processor to obtain about 1/2 cup purée. Spoon purée into 6 small gratin dishes or 6 oz. souffle or custard dishes, dividing evenly. Drain the peach/nectarine cubes well and divide among the 6 dishes.2. In the top of a double boiler, whisk egg yolks until foamy, then whisk in the water. Continue whisking until mixture is pale yellow, then place over simmering water. Whisking constantly, gradually add kirsch; whisk until mixture is very fluffy and mounds slightly when dropped from whisk. Remove from heat; beat until mixture cools to tepid, then gently fold in whipped cream and sugar.3. Place dishes on a heavy baking sheet and spoon the sabayon over the fruit (let the fruit show through the sauce slightly), then place under heated broiler about 4 inches from heat. When sauce is lightly browned around the edges (3-4 minutes), remove from oven and serve immediately.Preserve that essence of summer now in this wonderful conserve, then use it later to cure your wintertime blues. This may also have a calming effect on a disturbed digestive tract.Nectarine Ginger Conserve4 cups fresh orange juice (about a dozen oranges)5 lbs. fresh nectarines, peeled, pitted and cut into 1/2-inch pieces1 box (15 oz.) golden raisins1 jar (2.7 oz.) crystallized ginger, minced (also in boxes, in Asian food section)1 cup slivered blanched almonds1. Heat all ingredients except almonds to boiling in a large Dutch oven; reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, until slightly thickened (2-3 hours). Stir in almonds, then spoon mixture into hot sterilized pint jars, leaving 1/2 inch at top; cover tightly and cool. Refrigerate. Will keep refrigerated 3 weeks; frozen up to 6 months. Makes 5-6 pints. "