Love your lips!

by Ginger Lazarus

As the winter season comes, there is one indispensable item that gets much more attention: Lip Balm.

At HAALo there are many lip balms to choose from, all locally made, and wonderful in their own ways. All of our lip balms include beeswax and essential oils, but what is really interesting is the difference in texture based on the types of oils, butters, and fats used.



With two newer additions to the shoppe we wanted to share our feelings about them all, and we won’t even say stocking stuffers anything about the suddenly-close holidays.

Plant Medicine’s Vanilla Honey Lip Balm: This lip balm actually smells of Citrus more than the Vanilla, though both are present. Of all of HAALo’s lip balms this one is the silkiest. It glides on beautifully from the tube, immediately lending its moisture to parched lips. It also has the most ingredients, including several herbs, which are grown organically in the maker, Kim Kinjo’s garden, and honey and wax from her own bees. This lip balm is all oils with beeswax and can absorb a little more quickly into the skin.


Remedy Garden: This line of lip balms come in several wonderful scented flavors, each with its own thoughtful formulation of butters and oils, making each of them feel very unique on the lips. The varieties include, Orange Shea which has a base of shea butter for a little heavier feeling on the lips, Lemon Custard which is oil based for a lighter lip balm, Herbal Healing which has a pleasing and light floral scent with shea butter and oils including the super skin healing rosehip seed oil for winter or sun damage, and lastly, the winter favorite, Peppermint Cocoa, using a cocoa butter base with peppermint essential oil which makes us long for the snow and nights by the fire.

Elka Herbals’ Let it BEE Balm: Labeled for use on the lips and the cuticles this balm is the heaviest of the bunch, presumably from the quantity of beeswax used, and additionally having shea butter AND cocoa butter as well as coconut oil. Let it BEE Balm is also recommended for minor cracks and cuts—your cuticles will love you for this.


This balm stands up to heat a little better than the other lip balms in tubes. It also coats the lips pretty heavily so they feel protected, but may warrant a redo application (wipe off any residue, then reapply the lip balm).

Madame Doktor Belladonna’s Old-Timey, Not Too Classy Lip Balm: This lip balm comes in 4 scents, and is the most unusual in our group due to its main ingredient: Lard.

Its creator imagines a post, peak-oil world where exotic ingredients like shea butter (from Africa) would not be available or at least affordable. Her balm is based on turn-of-the-century recipes in which animal fats in cosmetics and perfumes was common. (See enfleurage).


Old-Timey lip balms come in small metal slide tins, rather than plastic tubes, though they have the same volume (.33 oz). It is very smooth in texture, sinks in, and stays with your lips longer than some of the other balms. It also stands up to heat the best of the bunch. Flavors include: Jasmine Honey, Lavender Cocoa, Ginger Cardamom, and the very special reserve White Ginger Lily.

HAALo-lipbalmFor those who like a strongly scented lip balm, we recommend:

  • Plant Medicine Vanilla/Honey Lip Balm
  • Remedy Garden Peppermint Cocoa
  • Old-Timey, Not Too Classy Ginger Cardamom

For those who prefer a mild scented lip balm, we recommend:

  • Remedy Garden Herbal Healing
  • Remedy Garden Herbal Lemon Custard
  • Old-Timey, Not Too Classy Jasmine Honey
  • Old-Timey, Not Too Classy White Ginger Lily

Somewhere in the middle you will find:

  • Remedy Garden Orange Shea
  • Elka Herbals Let it Bee Balm
  • Old-Timey, Not Too Classy Lavender Cocoa


Ginger-Lazarus-madame-doktor-belladonnaGinger Lazarus is a former professional and award winning belly dancer, burlesque showgirl, and currently is pursuing her love of singing, as well as MCing for various events, and speaking in HAALo’s podcast as Madame Doktor Belladonna. Ginger loves to cook, bake, and dabble in things like making cordials, jellies, and most recently salves and lip balm. Gingah is the Administrative Ninjah for HAALo.

Local Harvest: savory seeds make flavorful additions to fall cooking

by Denise Reynolds, Enchantress of Spices for HAALo

I was recently gifted with two home-grown seed spices from Gene Mesick to play with in the kitchen. For the past few years Gene has been growing and harvesting bronze fennel seed and celery seed. Since I’ve generally only used fennel seed in my Indian cooking and to make tea, and celery seed is a spice I haven’t used at all, I was eager to introduce them into my culinary playground.


Celery Seed

First, I did a little research on celery seed. This “seed” is actually a fruit. It’s from a different variety of the celery plant than is used to harvest celery stalks. It is suggested as a quick alternative or addition in any recipe that calls for celery.

We may think of celery as a humble culinary addition though it is a mainstay of several flavor bases, such as the French mirepoix, the Cajun “holy trinity,” Old Bay Seasoning, and poultry seasoning.

Celery seed is like a stronger version of celery, and avoids the stringy fibers when they may be an undesirable addition to a recipe, such as in a soup purée.

The scent is complex, pungent, and citrusy, and smells like a combination of dill pickles and bitter orange. The smell brings me back to the pungent and medicinal smell of Tempe Wick’s House, a colonial era house I grew up visiting in New Jersey. As with many herbs and spices, it has many therapeutic benefits from being a diuretic to supporting the liver. It has also been shown to act as a mosquito repellent.

The taste of celery seed by itself is strong, bitter, astringent, a bit numbing, salty and has a hint of what I can only describe as roasted lemon peel. If my description of its scent and taste doesn’t seem appetizing, let me add that it is precisely the polarity of its flavors that add richness and complexity to a dish. Like salt, it creates harmony by pulling flavors together without covering them up. It’s best to use it ground since it can be a bit grainy and intense if left whole.


Bronze Fennel Seed

The bronze fennel paired nicely with the celery seed in roasted delicata squash I made over the weekend. Butter, salt and fried sage leaves sprinkled on top made for a flavor bonanza!

Gene grinds the bronze fennel in small batches since the seeds have a strong flavor. This makes it easy to sprinkle into various dishes like the ground lamb dish I made to go with the squash – in a base of sautéed onion, chicken broth, pureed tomato, and a bit of port, I added ground cumin, lots of ground coriander, cinnamon, and a hint of ground cloves with slivered almonds, currents, and chopped apricots. Delish!

The fennel added such warmth, and worked well with the cinnamon to tie the savory and sweet flavors together.

Fennel is another spice that is a key ingredient of several ethnic spice blends such as North African ras el hanout, Chinese five spice powder, French herbs de Provence, and Indian garam masala. Its warm and sweet scent has a coziness about it but with a high perfumy note, that creates such a unique signature.

Its widespread use in spice blends is a big indicator of its ability to harmonize a dish, just like celery seed. And fennel is widely used to calm stomach upset, so your meals have a built in digestive aid.



Rather than give you recipes this week, I’m going to encourage you to play with celery and fennel seed. Gene will be harvesting the seeds, grinding small batches, and bringing them into HAALo by the end of October. Come and try out these local culinary playmates.

Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Try ground celery seed in salad dressings with a little minced onion, garlic, and Dijon mustard.
  • Try a raw bulb-fennel salad (paper-thin slices on a mandolin) tossed with Meyer lemon juice and zest, salt, chopped fennel greens, and then sprinkled with ground bronze fennel seed.
  • The subtleness and aromatic nature of tarragon goes well with each of these. I’m going to try this trio as a rub for my next roasted chicken.

I’d love to hear what ideas you come up with during your culinary playtime! Enjoy!!


Denise Reynolds, The Enchantress of Spices, is a culinary sensualist and founder of The Sensual Feast. She consults and teaches cooking workshops offering the opportunity to delight in the preparation, flavor, and deep nourishment of food as a gateway to pleasure and sensuality.

Learn to experience the kitchen as sacred space and how, as we play in the kitchen, we have the opportunity to inspire our lives again and again with every meal.

Check out her Facebook page The Sensual Feast for event details and the following video for a little taste of her classes.

Original Cin: Will the “true cinnamon” please stand up?

by Denise Reynolds, Enchantress of Spices at HAALo

Its location for centuries shrouded in mystery, its acquisition a dark cloud in European history, a spice so valuable it was kept in treasure chests, and once burned by a king to atone for his guilt-ridden quest. Cinnamon, a distant relative of bay laurel, is mentioned in a 5000 year old Chinese book of medicine and it was used by the Egyptians at least as far back as 2000 B.C.


By the sixth century B.C. cinnamon had become known as “an aroma of divine worship and of sensual luxury,” writes Andrew Dalby in “Dangerous Tastes”. It was the first culinary spice sought after by Europeans in the ancient world and I find it curiously ironic that it is also the first culinary spice we are given/drawn to as children. Sweet and fiery, clovey and complex; a fragrance that tantalizes, smells of whimsy and fancifulness, of danger (like red-hots) and of comfort (like cinnamon-raisin oatmeal).

Cinnamon seems to be as much shrouded in mystery today as it was in the ancient world because of the multiple varieties available and used by different cultures. We predominantly use Cassia cinnamon that can be from one of several species or cultivars. This type originally came from China and Southeast Asia, is easier to cultivate, and thus, less expensive. It has more fire and is also sweeter tasting than Ceylon cinnamon, originally from Sri Lanka.


Ceylon cinnamon is milder, sweet without being spicy hot, and has more complex flavors that highlight the citrus and floral notes. It has the botanical name of ”Cinnamomum verum” which translates as “true cinnamon” and herein lies the cinnamon debate. This is the type of cinnamon that was originally imported into Europe and is still used there and in Mexico.

With the ancient cinnamon trade being such a bloodthirsty and lucrative spice to control, it is likely that when the cheaper Chinese cinnamon came on the market that this name was given in order to convince people that Chinese cinnamon was a fake. They are different, but closely related, species from the same genus of Cinnamomum. One isn’t any more real or “true” than the other; it’s just a matter of preference.

In addition to taste there are two other main defining characteristics; texture and medicinal qualities. Cassia cinnamon sticks are the hard “quills” we’re familiar with while Ceylon sticks are several layers of papery thin bark rolled into scrolls that look cigar-like (you might have seen these in Mexican spice sections of grocery stores).

Both types of cinnamon are used medicinally. I will leave those qualities up to the herbalists to decipher except to say that there is some concern about the coumarin content of Cassia cinnamon. If you use more than 2 teaspoons of cinnamon per day you may want to look into the dangers of coumarin, which can cause liver damage and interfere with blood coagulation.


To most of us cinnamon is associated with sweet comfort foods: apple pie, cinnamon rolls, oatmeal, mulled-cider, and my personal favorite – campfire roasted apples (roast on a stick till soft, peel while warm and roll in cinnamon and coconut sugar –yum!). When my mom was growing up, her mom didn’t keep cookies in the house and so to make a treat for the kids she would make up bread and butter with cinnamon sugar. It can stir those kinds of pleasant memories for most of us, and it does make food seem sweeter, even without the addition of sugar.

Cinnamon is more often used as a savory spice in Morrocan, Indian, and Mexican cooking, as well as Chinese and other Asian cusines. It’s a key-ingredient in ethnic finishing spices like Chinese five-spice powder and Indian garam masala.

To introduce you to the savory side of cinnamon I’ve included a few recipes to pique your taste buds! Also, try keeping ground cinnamon on your counter and adding a spoonful to something you’re making to taste the effect. Sprinkle it in your coffee! Add it to whipped cream! Or, nibble on slivers of Ceylon cinnamon stick with bits of dark chocolate – cinfully good.

Ok, back to the savory side of things: I’ve included three recipes below for you to try. Indulge yourself in the aroma and taste of sensual cin!

In bulk, HAALo carries both ground Cassia and Ceylon cinnamon, chips of cinnamon (Cinnamomum Verum), Cassia cinnamon twigs (Gui Zhi), Vietnamese cinnamon bark (Rou Gui) and Cassia cinnamon sticks.



Cinnamon-Spiked Tomatoes (Served on chevre or other cheeses and crackers)
serves 8-10 as an appetizer


1 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes
1 teaspoon olive oil
1/4 of a medium jalapeño, seeded and minced
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon honey or sugar
salt and pepper

Drain the tomatoes and put in a medium bowl.

Heat the olive oil in a small saucepan on medium heat. Add the jalapeño, season with a pinch of salt, and sauté for 1 to 2 minutes, allowing the jalapeño to soften and mellow a bit. Add the cinnamon, cook for 30 seconds, and remove from heat.

Add the jalapeño and cinnamon mixture to the tomatoes, then add the sugar. Stir to combine, and add more salt and pepper to taste. Serve on cheese and crackers.

Variation to add richer flavor: Reserve liquid from tomatoes. Mix a pinch of salt into tomatoes and let sit for 10 minutes. Spin tomatoes in a salad spinner to reduce moisture content. Add this plus the reserve liquid to pan and reduce before adding jalapeno.


Roasted Acorn Squash with Cinnamon Butter
Serves 8 as a side dish


2 acorn squash (about 1 1/2 pounds each), unpeeled, quartered lengthwise, and seeded
1 tablespoon olive oil
Coarse salt and ground pepper
4 tablespoons butter
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. On a large rimmed baking sheet, toss squash with oil; season with salt and pepper. Arrange on sheet, cut side down, and roast until easily pierced with a paring knife, 35 to 45 minutes.

In a small saucepan, melt butter over medium heat, stirring, until golden brown, 4 to 6 minutes. Immediately pour into a small bowl; stir in cinnamon. Place squash on a serving platter; top with cinnamon butter.


Chicken Biryani Spiced with Cinnamon



1 cup basmati rice
3 tbsp. olive oil
2 tsp. whole coriander
3 chiles de arbol, crumbled by hand
1 ½ tbsp. kosher salt
2 ½ tsp. ground cinnamon
6 garlic cloves, finely chopped
4 skinless, bone-in chicken thighs
4 skinless, bone-in chicken legs
1 large yellow onion, chopped
1 2″ piece ginger, roughly chopped
1 jalapeno, stemmed, seeded and finely chopped
¼ cup toasted sliced almonds, for garnish
Fried shallots, for garnish
Cilantro leaves, for garnish

HAALo Shopping List

coriander seeds
ground cinnamon
dried chiles



Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Put the rice in a small bowl and cover with water; let it soak for 20 minutes. Drain the rice and set it aside.

Heat the oil in a 4-qt. Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the coriander and chiles, and cook, stirring occasionally, until fragrant, 1-2 minutes. Add the salt, cinnamon, garlic, chicken, onion, ginger, and jalapeno, and cook, stirring frequently, until the onions soften, about 6 minutes.

Stir in the reserved rice and 1 ¼ cups water, and bring to a simmer. Cover pot and transfer to the oven; cook until rice is tender and chicken is cooked through, about 35 minutes. Transfer the pot to a rack and let it sit, covered, for 5 minutes. Uncover and fluff the rice with a fork. Transfer to a serving platter and garnish with almonds, fried shallots, and cilantro.


Denise-Reynolds-HAALo-sqDenise Reynolds, The Enchantress of Spices, is a culinary sensualist and founder of The Sensual Feast. She consults and teaches cooking workshops offering the opportunity to delight in the preparation, flavor, and deep nourishment of food as a gateway to pleasure and sensuality. Learn to experience the kitchen as sacred space and how, as we play in the kitchen, we have the opportunity to inspire our lives again and again with every meal. Check out her Facebook page The Sensual Feast for event details and the following video for a little taste of her classes.