Posted by|17 December 2013
Sweet oranges studded with whole cloves are hung in houses for their wonderful scent or tossed into pots of bubbling cider this time of year. The perfume they emit reminds us of fire-warmed homes filled with family and friends. Traditionally, what we now call pomanders, were mixtures of aromatic herbs and resins kept in glass vases or lockets and used to purify the air or to protect against sickness. Today people carry on the custom by decorating oranges with cloves and allowing them to dry out. The fragrance can last for several years and may be stashed to freshen winter linens.
If you are looking for a great last-minute gift for the holidays, lip balm is always a great choice. Who doesn’t love lip balm? This recipe is a special celebration of the season with sweet and spicy notes and a creamy, soothing consistency that anyone can enjoy.
Pomander Lip Balm
1 TBSP organic Cocoa Butter
2 TBSP organic Sunflower Oil
1 TBSP organic Olive Oil
1 TBSP plus 1 teaspoon Beeswax
15 drops organic Sweet Orange Essential Oil
5 drops organic Clove Essential Oil
A few drops of Vitamin E Oil (optional, but recommended)
Coarsely chop the beeswax or use beeswax pastilles. Place beeswax, butter, and oils in a small pot or glass Pyrex measuring cup and gently heat in the top of a double boiler until the beeswax and butters have melted. Remove from the stovetop and add essential oils and Vitamin E Oil. Immediately pour the mixture into lip balm containers. Allow to cool completely before placing caps onto the lip balm containers. Your lip balm is finished! Makes approximately 10 lip balm tubes.
Posted by|12 December 2013
Meet our winter friend, Snow Herbie!
With a cardamom smile, rose bud nose, cinnamon stick arms reaching out for a hug, and two eyes made out of star anise, this sweet buddy was created by our staff members Meghan and Miriam to help keep spirits bright during a rare snow storm at Mountain Rose last week. Pretty darn cute!
Posted by|11 December 2013
In the latest issue of Eugene Magazine, I’ve shared five of my favorite herbal sipping treats for winter celebrations. Be sure to grab a copy of the Winter 2013 issue to try them all including Chai Snow Punch, Orange Spice Manhattans, Spiked Vanilla Cocoa, a beautiful Elderberry Champagne Cocktail, and this very special Rose and Cardamom Eggnog…
Rose & Cardamom Eggnog
2 fresh, organic eggs*
3 oz (by volume) organic granulated sugar
½ tsp organic cardamom seed powder
2 oz brandy
2 oz spiced rum
6 oz organic whole milk
4 oz organic heavy cream
2 tsp organic rosewater
organic nutmeg shavings to garnish
Beat very fresh organic eggs in a blender or food processor for one minute on low speed. Slowly spoon in the sugar and continue blending for one minute to combine. With blender still running, add cardamom, brandy, rum, milk, and cream. Blend the ingredients together for one minute. Chill thoroughly to allow the flavors to meld. Stir in the rosewater and serve in two chilled glasses, grating nutmeg on top before serving and an organic rose bud if you’re feeling sweet.
* We suggest caution in consuming raw eggs due to the slight risk of food-borne illness. To reduce this risk, it is recommended that you use only fresh, properly stored, clean eggs with intact shells, and avoid contact between the yolks or whites and the shell.
Posted by|09 December 2013
Making your own gifts this year? Need a little last-minute inspiration?
We’ve collected some of our favorite recipes for all sorts of homemade goodies from sweet treats to natural bodycare formulas and medicinal staples to help you share the herbal love with friends and family. Most of these recipes can be made in just one day and none of them take longer than a week. There’s still time to craft all of these delights!
Did you know that most perfumes are manufactured using synthetic chemicals, even petroleum? Many of these ingredients don’t have to be listed on the labels, but are known allergens, hormone disruptors, and irritants. The majority have never even been studied for cosmetic use! This is pretty scary, but the good news is that we can easily create our own perfumes using natural ingredients. Here are three of our favorites.
This blend truly smells like the forest. Uplifting, grounding, meditative, and comforting.
4 drops Spruce essential oil
2 drops organic Fir Needle essential oil
2 drops organic Cedarwood essential oil
1 drop organic Vetiver essential oil
1 drop organic Bergamot essential oil
1 tsp organic Jojoba Oil
Drip all essential oils into a glass bottle and roll between palms to evenly mix the oils. Add Jojoba oil, and roll again. Add additional essential oils if you desire a stronger perfume.
Sweet Summer Perfume
A relaxing and warming blend reminiscent of summer, with a lightly floral aroma complemented by hints of spice and cedar. Especially useful during times of stress, anxiety, irritability, or depression. A great lift-me-up during the cold and dark winter months!
10 drops organic Lavender essential oil
5 drops organic Chamomile essential oil
4 drops organic Cardamom essential oil
1 drop organic Cedarwood essential oil
1 drop organic Geranium (Rose) essential oil
1 tsp organic Jojoba Oil
Drip all essential oils into a glass bottle, and roll between palms to evenly mix the oils. Add Jojoba oil and roll again. Add additional essential oils if you desire a stronger perfume.
Rejuvenating, uplifting, energizing, and stimulating. This blend is good for mental clarity, lack of focus, and fatigue.
13 drops organic Peppermint essential oil
13 drops organic Rosemary essential oil
5 drops organic Lemon essential oil
5 drops organic Sage essential oil
5 drops organic Juniper Berry essential oil
1 tsp organic Jojoba Oil
Drip all essential oils into a glass bottle and roll between palms to evenly mix the oils. Add Jojoba oil and roll again. Add additional essential oils if you desire a stronger perfume.
Cocoa Calm Lip Balm
Taking some cues from aromatherapy for this silky lip balm recipe, we decided to try a relaxing combination of lavender and clary sage. Both of these sweet and floral essential oils are associated with calming properties that also uplift one’s mood. It turned out to be a wonderful blend! Of course, you can always experiment with your favorite essential oils to create a custom fragrance, or leave them out completely and allow the cocoa butter and coconut oil scents to shine through. This is a great basic formula that is easily transformable!
1 Tbsp organic unrefined Coconut Oil
1 Tbsp organic Cocoa Butter or 4 organic Cocoa Butter Wafers
2 Tbsp organic Sunflower Oil
1 Tbsp plus 1 teaspoon grated Beeswax or Beeswax Pastilles
10 drops organic Lavender Essential Oil
5 drops organic Clary Sage Essential Oil
a few drops of Vitamin E Oil (optional, but recommended)
Place chopped beeswax and oils in a small pot or glass Pyrex measuring cup and gently heat in the top of a double boiler until the beeswax has melted. Once melted, remove from the stove top and stir in the essential oils and Vitamin E oil. Immediately pour the mixture into lip balm containers. Allow your balm to cool completely before capping the containers. Makes enough to fill 10 lip balm tubes or three 1/2 oz tins. Enjoy!
Rose & Geranium Bath Bombs
This is such a fun project! These wonderfully rosy smelling bath bombs are fizzy and all-natural.
Combine dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Slowly drizzle in Olive Oil and essential oil while stirring to prevent fizzing. Slowly spritz with hydrosol while stirring constantly until the mixture begins to clump together. The blend should be just moist enough to hold when pressed together with your hands, be careful not to add too much moisture. Add rose petals, press into molds, and allow to dry 2-3 hours before unmolding. Let bath bombs cure for one week before using them, then store in an airtight container. You can shape your bath bombs by using a melon baller, ice, candy or soap molds, clear plastic two-sided Christmas ornaments, egg cartons, or anything else you have on hand.
Chai Spice Oatmeal Cookies
On the hunt for the perfect seasonal cookie, we spiced up oatmeal cookies with some very special homemade chai powder. These cookies are crunchy, sweet, salty, warming, spicy, aromatic deliciousness. Go ahead and make a double batch if you plan to share these at a gathering – they go fast!
1 cup organic all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/3 teaspoon sea salt
1 3/4 sticks softened organic butter
1 cup organic sugar
1/4 cup packed organic light brown sugar
1 large organic free-range egg
1 teaspoon organic vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups organic old-fashioned rolled oats
Powdered Chai Spice Mix
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, powdered spice mix, and sea salt together.
3. In another bowl, beat butter and sugars until fluffy and creamy. Add egg and vanilla to the butter and sugar mixture and beat until combined. Scrape bowl with spatula.
4. Gradually add flour mixture to the butter mixture and stir until it just becomes smooth.
5. Gradually add oats and mix until well combined.
6. Roll 2 tablespoons of dough into balls with your hands. Place on parchment lined baking sheets about 2 1/2 inches apart. Gently press down each ball to about 3/4-inch thickness using fingertips.
7. Bake until cookies are golden brown, about 13 to 16 minutes, rotating baking sheet halfway through. Transfer baking sheet to wire rack to cool. Makes 22-24 amazingly delicious chai cookies!
Making mustard from scratch is so easy! It’s also wonderfully versatile since you can spice it up, experiment with different vinegars, or mix it into all sorts of other recipes. They look lovely as a set in glass jars with pretty labels and twine.
Brandied Honey Mustard Recipe
Combine mustard seeds, 1/3 cup water, brandy, and vinegar in a bowl and stir well to completely submerge the seeds. Cover and allow to soak at room temperature for 3 days. I like to swirl the bowl around a little each day to see the transformation. After 3 days, pour the mixture into a blender, add honey and salt, and blend until smooth. Store in a sealed jar and refrigerate. I recommend using a plastic lid or using some kind of barrier to keep the vinegar from corroding the metal.
For variations, follow these tips:
- Add 1 tsp to 1 tbsp of aromatic seeds during the soaking process.
- Dried fruit should be added during the soaking process.
- Add dried herbs, seasoning powders, or fresh fruit just before blending.
- For less sweet mustards, cut the sweetener by half.
Hoppy Ginger Brew
This homemade sparkling soda is a delightful non-alcoholic option for hop lovers! Refreshingly gingery and floral, this pop makes a wonderful treat when served ice cold. Feel free to experiment with this concoction as a mixer for cocktails too. It goes beautifully with bourbon or rum. The recipe below makes one 16oz bottle of soda, but you can quadruple it (at least) to make a larger batch. You can also swap out the hops for another herb that you enjoy or even chai!
1 ounce fresh organic ginger juice
2 ounces fresh organic lemon juice, finely strained
1.5 ounces organic hop flower simple syrup
1.5 ounces unflavored simple syrup
10 ounces warm water
25 granules of dry champagne yeast
You can use bottled ginger juice or grate and squeeze the juice from fresh ginger root pulp using cheesecloth. I always fresh squeeze my ginger and the result is definitely worth the extra labor. Pour the ingredients into a 16oz bottle, cap tightly, and shake well to mix. Store the mixture in a warm, dark place for exactly 48 hours. After 48 hours, refrigerate immediately to stop the fermentation process and enjoy chilled.
To make Hop Simple Syrup, bring 1 cup of organic white sugar, 2 cups water, and 2 cups of dried organic hops just to a boil and stir. Remove from heat, allow to cool, strain into a jar and store in the refrigerator. To make unflavored simple syrup, follow the same directions but leave out the hops.
Berry Rooty Syrup
Keep your loved ones well this year! Our good old friend elderberry syrup is a definite go-to when we feel our immune systems weaken, but with the addition of adaptogenic schisandra berries and eleuthero root, along with more immune support from echinacea, this formula packs a big punch. You can also modify the recipe a bit by leaving out the echinacea for a delicious pancake, waffle, ice cream drizzling syrup!
3 cups cold water
¾ cup organic elderberries
¼ cup organic schisandra berries
¼ cup organic eleuthero root
¼ cup organic echinacea root
1 organic cinnamon stick
¾ to 1 cup raw local honey
1.5 ounces brandy (optional)
1 tsp fresh grated ginger root (optional)
Combine herbs with cold water in a pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and allow herbs to simmer for 30 to 40 minutes. Remove from heat and mash the berries in the liquid mixture. Strain the herbs through cheesecloth and squeeze out the juice. Measure the liquid and add an equal amount of honey. Gently heat the honey and juice for a few minutes until well combined. Do not boil! Stir in brandy and bottle in sterilized glass. Label and keep refrigerated for up to 6 months.
Mama and Baby’s Massage Oil
Any new mamas or babies in your life? Selecting the best products and ingredients for skincare can be daunting, and baby’s skin is even more delicate and sensitive. Many commercial baby care products even include toxic ingredients that have been linked to allergies, cancer, developmental problems, and organ dysfunction, in addition to many other harmful side effects. No thanks! This soothing and gentle massage oil is perfect for nurturing mama’s and baby’s sensitive skin. Apply after bathing for massages, cradle cap, or anytime that skin feels dry. You can also pour a small amount into bathwater for a luxurious pampering bath.
Organic Sunflower or Sweet Almond Oil
2 parts Organic Lavender flowers
2 parts Organic Calendula flowers
1 part Organic Rose petals or buds
1 part Organic Chamomile flowers
1 part Organic Comfrey leaf
Vitamin E Oil
Fill a glass jar ¼ – ½ full with the herb mixture, then fill to the top with Sunflower or Sweet Almond oil. Pour into a crock-pot, double boiler, or electric yogurt maker, and make sure there is at least an inch or two of oil above the herbs. Gently heat the herbs over very low heat (preferably between 100 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit) for 1-5 hours until the oil takes on the color and scent of the herbs. Some texts recommend heating the oil 48-72 hours at a controlled temperature of 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Turn off heat and allow to cool. Once the oil is ready, strain using cheesecloth, and bottle into dry and sterilized amber bottles for storage. Store in a dark and cool place. Vitamin E Oil may also be added to prolong the shelf life.
Happy Holiday Crafting!
Posted by|05 December 2013
Here’s the morning volunteer shift of our most recent wetland clean-up. This was the final Mountain Rose River Project of 2013! We had 12 employee volunteers who cleared 12 cubic yards of blackberry and Scotch Broom from around our building and 60 gallons of trash from Stewart Pond and the West Eugene Wetlands.
Whew…that’s a good day at the office!
Posted by|02 December 2013
The holiday season can be a hectic time with feasts and gatherings and traveling, but it also offers a special opportunity to reflect on all of the precious things that bring joy and comfort to our lives. A hot cup of tea, a spoonful of elderberry syrup, a bowl of delicious curried soup, or a dab of homemade perfume on the wrist are all small reminders of how herbs enhance our everyday experiences.
In celebration of all that we’re thankful for, we decided to give away tokens of our gratitude. For the next 10 weekdays, we will be offering up our favorite herbal goodies to help support your health and wellbeing - because what we are most grateful for is you! We are so thankful for this passionate, creative, and conscientious community of people who truly care about protecting our natural treasures and sharing the tradition of herbal healing. You all inspire hope in the world. Thank you!
Today is Day 1 and we’re giving away one of our Classic Essential Oil Samplers!
Posted by|25 November 2013
Here’s the first video from our Free Herbalism Project series!
Before her inspiring talk at Mount Pisgah last August, Rosemary Gladstar spent a few extra days wandering with us through the garden and forest to reveal wisdoms of the green beings that bring us joy and help us heal. It was a beautiful week filled with stories, shared knowledge, exploration, and lots of laughter.
There will be many more episodes to come from this special visit, and to start, we thought this lovely little lesson with tips for growing and using shiitake mushrooms was perfectly appropriate for the season ahead. Enjoy!
Posted by|21 November 2013
Posted by|14 November 2013
Here’s a little sweet cinnamon romance to inspire your autumn recipes!
Posted by|07 November 2013
Autumn on the river sure is stunning. We’re admiring all of the lovely medicinal plants growing alongside the rushing Deschutes here at the American Herbalists Guild Symposium in Bend, Oregon.
Looking forward to this long weekend of shared herbal wisdoms!
Posted by|05 November 2013
Found growing in moist forests on the decaying trunks of fallen trees, Shiitake mushrooms have been an important medicine and food source in Asia for thousands of years. These “flower mushrooms” are known to be potent immune system boosters that are frequently taken to help support the body during an occasional bout of seasonal sniffles. They’re also really delicious, with a nice meaty texture. Food is medicine, right?
The stories say that a thousand years ago, a farmer decided to score a moist log and then packed wild Shiitakes into the notched wood. To his happy surprise, the inoculation was successful and soon whole mushrooms grew from the trunk, making Shiitakes one of the first cultivated fungi. These much beloved mushrooms can be taken as an extract, tea, or in capsule form. They’re also commonly used in cooking and can be easily reconstituted to use in soups, stir-fries, curries, and sautés, or powdered and used in gravies.
Recipe: Shiitake Miso Ginger Soup
Oh, the miracle of fermentation! Miso is a traditional Japanese fermented soy or rice paste that offers savory deliciousness. Its healing power is often compared to good old chicken soup – especially when paired with sickness-fighters like garlic, ginger, onion, and immune boosting shiitake mushrooms. I love to sip this soup, sniffles or not! This is an easy, rustic recipe that can be adjusted to your taste with additional herbs and veggies.
2-3 inch fresh organic ginger root, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 head of roasted garlic cloves, peeled and mashed
5 to 10 raw garlic cloves, chopped (depending on how medicinal you need it to be)
½ cup organic miso paste
½ organic onion, chopped
2 organic carrots, chopped
1 Tbsp butter
fresh cracked pepper to taste
In a stock pot, sauté ginger and onion in butter until the onion just begins to sweat. Add the raw garlic and 1.5 quarts of water to the pot and bring to a boil. Add mushrooms then lower the heat, cover, and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes or until the shiitakes are fully reconstituted. Remove from heat and add miso paste, stirring until dissolved. Next, add the mashed roasted garlic. Stir well and ladle the soup into your favorite mug.
Recipe: Oregano & Thyme Garlic Bread
What’s a good soup without garlic toast? Oregano, thyme, and garlic are all well-known in folk medicine to support your immune system and ward off seasonal sicknesses. This is my favorite recipe to make when I’m coming down with a fever. Delicious smells fill the house and my forgotten appetite returns in no time.
2 slices of your favorite bread, (I like organic sprouted grain sourdough)
2 Tbsp organic olive oil or butter
1 tsp organic oregano
1 tsp organic thyme
3-4 cloves raw garlic, coarsely chopped
Mix the oil or butter, herbs, and garlic together in a bowl. Add salt and pepper to taste. Spoon the mixture onto the bread, being sure to get as much garlic and herb as possible. Bake on a cookie sheet at 350 degrees until the bread becomes toasty and the garlic just starts to turn golden