Saturday, October 24, 2015 was the start of the Hoarfrost Descends (Shuang Jiang 霜降) seasonal node. This is the last segment of Autumn as the next seasonal node is the beginning of Winter. The days are clearly getting shorter. In a few weeks we go off Daylight Savings Time, and when that happens the sun will be setting much earlier. The days are also getting colder. Here in New Jersey today the high will only be in the 50s, and evening temperatures are dipping into the 40s. Two weekends ago when I was in Massachusetts I saw snow flurries!
The ancient text Yue Jin Qi Shi Er Hou Ji Jie says, “the Qi is solemn during Hoarfrost Descends. It is when the Yin starts to condense.” Since we are moving into the Yin and colder part of the year, the first traditional recommendation for Hoarfrost Descends is to protect against the cold and preserve internal warmth. Be sure to dress appropriately for the weather on any given day. When eating, keeping the Spleen and Stomach warm helps warm the entire body. Traditional Chinese foods for Autumn include lamb and rabbit, and this is the time to eat more stews and soups. Spices also warm the body, such as ginger and cinnamon. Hoarfrost Descends is a traditional time to take tonics. Therefore, most people can take small doses of Spleen and Stomach tonics such as the Four Gentlemen (Si Jun Zi Tang), or other similar formulas. Generally speaking, for asymptomatic people, taking tonics in pill form at a lower but consistent dose is beneficial.
While it is important to keep the Spleen and Stomach warm, since Autumn is the Metal and therefore Lung season, supplementing the Lungs and preventing upper respiratory tract infections is a key seasonal strategy. One of the traditional teas for late Autumn is called Jin Qi Hua Cha (金芪花茶). Take 5g Huang Qi and 3g Jin Yin Hua and simmer in 1 cup of boiling water for 5-10 minutes. When finished, remove the herbs and let cool to just below boiling. Add 3g of good quality Jasmine Tea and let steep for only about 2 minutes. Strain and enjoy! This tea gently clears heat and drains fire. But at the same time it also supplements and rectifies the Qi, and harmonizes the center. It boosts the immune function and has a mild anti-viral effect. Alternately, the tea can be made using a granular concentrate powder.
One traditional recipe for Hoarfrost Descends is Angelica and Ginger Lamb Stew.
Angelica and Ginger Lamb Stew 當歸生薑燉羊肉
- 1lb. Boneless lamb meat, cut into cubes
- 6-8 cups water or chicken broth
- 20g Chinese Angelica (Dang Gui 當歸)
- 15g Fresh ginger root (peeled and sliced)
- Cooking oil (peanut oil is traditional)
- Black pepper
- Coat a thick metal pot with some cooking oil and heat over medium flame. Place cubed lamb meat in the pot and brown.
- Add water (or broth), angelica and ginger. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a medium simmer (other vegetables can be added as desired).
- Cover part way with a lid and simmer for about 90 minutes. Add black pepper and salt to taste.
- Remove Angelica before eating (or just eat around it!). Ginger can be eaten.
- Functions: Warms the yang and scatters cold, moves Qi and quickens the Blood
Here is another Hoarfrost Descends recipe. This one is really, really easy, and really, really tasty!
Steamed Egg with Goji Berries 枸杞蒸雞蛋
- 2 large chicken eggs
- 6g Goji berries (Gou Qi Zi 枸杞子)
- 2-4 teaspoons of organic vegan sugar
- If Goji berried are hard and dry, soak in cool water for 10-15 minutes to soften (this is not necessary with soft/fresh berries – if you need some call us)
- Crack eggs into a bowl and beat (as if making scrambled eggs)
- Add in a small amount of water, Goji berries, and sugar; mix well
- Put mixture in ramekin and place inside bamboo steamer; steam on medium-low heat for about 30 minutes
This dish supplements the Liver and Stomach (i.e., Qi and Blood) and treats headache and low back pain. Generally, it is thought that taking Goji berries in dishes like this or in congees is more appropriate in the colder weather, and Goji teas are better in warmer weather.
Stay warm and dry!