Archive for the ‘Herbal Info’ Category
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|22 November 2013
Isn’t that cover gorgeous?
We are so excited to offer this amazing new book that was self-published earlier this year by Dina Falconi (author of Earthly Bodies Heavenly Hair) and botanical illustrator Wendy Hollender. It’s called Foraging & Feasting!
This field guide and wild food cookbook celebrates local bounty and traditional foodways. Filled with beautiful, instructive botanical illustrations, and 100 delicious, enlightening master recipes, you will reach for this one again and again. Each of the master recipes can be personalized with various botanicals, depending on what’s available during the season, to create endless meal options.
This collaborative celebration of food and art weaves together Dina’s 30 years of passionate investigations into wild plant identification, foraging, and cooking, with Wendy’s deft artistic skills honed over 15 years as a botanical illustrator, resulting in an abundance of recipes and illustrations that honor wild plants and creative ways to bring them into our lives.
Visit our website for a complete list of Book Offerings to satisfy all of your botanical inspirations!
Posted by|19 November 2013
Whether it’s craving a warming hot toddy or dreaming of sweet and spicy apple cider, ‘tis the season for the toasty, comforting scents and flavors brought to us by incredible mulling spices like cinnamon, cloves, allspice, and star anise. There is something positively historic about the spicy hot drinks served up this time of year and I wanted to get to the bottom of why I can’t get through a November and December without several warm mugs of spicy hot yummm!
My research took me on a journey that was anything but linear. It seems that Northern folks have been coming up with excuses to serve up spiced beverages—particularly alcoholic ones—for centuries! While there is just no getting away from the ritualized, community-building aspects of sharing big bowls of spicy ales and punches, my favorite story of the spiced “wassail” involves the indigenous populations of Southern England. It appears that in the apple-growing, cider-producing parts of Medieval Britain, the Winter cider celebrations were a way to sing and celebrate the health of the apple trees to ensure a good harvest of cider apples for the coming year.
One folktale even tells of the ancient “Apple Tree Man” who resides as a spirit in the oldest apple tree in the orchard and by offering up the last mug of mulled cider by pouring it over the tree roots, the bounty of the next year’s harvest could be expected. I’ll raise a mug to that!
I’ve created a recipe for mulling spices that works great with apple cider or wine or other festive drinks, and I am sharing a few delicious beverages to inspire your own winter toasts and celebrations. Bags of this mulling spice also make wonderful gifts! It can even be boiled on the stovetop as a nice spicy potpourri! Why not put together a gift basket of the spices, with some fresh apple cider, tea and/or a bottle of red wine to share? Feel free to copy and paste the recipes onto lovely cards to go along with your yummy gift…
Mulling Spice Mix
(click to enlarge)
½ cup organic cardamom pods
¼ cup organic orange peel
¼ cup organic lemon peel
¼ cup organic ginger root
¼ cup organic whole cloves
¼ cup organic allspice berries
organic star anise, whole pods (optional)
Put nutmeg and cardamom pods in a thick plastic or cloth bag and whack with a mallet or heavy rolling pin to break into pieces. You can also do this in a food processor or spice grinder, but don’t grind too fine. Put nutmeg and cardamom pieces in a bowl and add the cinnamon chips, ginger root, orange and lemon peel, allspice berries, and cloves. Scrape the inside of vanilla beans and add to this spice mixture (you can save the vanilla pods for homemade vanilla extract or to infuse sugar or honey.)
This makes about 2 ½ cups–enough mulling spices for several recipes. You can put about ¼ cup in a cotton drawstring bag or wrap in cheesecloth and tie well. Toss in 1-2 star anise pods per bag, if you’d like. Suspend the cinched or tied bag in the wine, cider or punch. I like to toss in a couple whole cinnamon sticks too for flavor and because I love the way it looks simmering in the pan.
1 bottle red wine (your choice)
½ cup fresh orange or pineapple juice OR ½ cup elderberry syrup
1 bag mulling spices (above)
½ cup brandy (optional)
Directions: Pour red wine and fruit juice in a large sauce pan (if using the elderberry syrup, wait to add it after the wine has heated up and simmered.) Toss in mulling spices and extra cinnamon sticks, if desired. Heat slowly over medium heat until steaming and little bubbles form around the edges (pre-boil.) Turn down heat to low, cover and let simmer for 20 minutes or so. Remove lid, remove mulling spice bag, and add brandy and elderberry syrup (if using.) Stir well. Serve with a slice of orange and a cinnamon stick (if desired.)
Mulled Orange Tea Hot Toddy
2-3 cups water
¼ cup Orange Spice Tea
¼ cup brown sugar or honey (the honey will add a definite “honey” taste)
1 cup apple cider or juice
1-1/4 cup bag of mulling spices (above)
6 ounces bourbon, whiskey or spiced rum
2 teaspoons butter
Optional cinnamon sticks and orange slices for garnish
Directions: Bring water to boil and pour over Orange Spice Tea (in an infuser or tea bags) and let steep for 20-30 minutes. Remove tea bags and put tea, sugar or honey, apple cider or juice, butter, and mulling spices in a pan and heat slowly over medium heat for 15 minutes until very hot. Remove from heat, remove bag of mulling spices and add bourbon, whiskey or rum and ladle into mugs or glasses. Garnish with cinnamon sticks and sliced oranges.
6 cups fresh apple cider
Optional ¼ cup organic maple syrup
1-1/4 cup bag of mulling spices (above)
Optional organic cinnamon sticks and freshly grated nutmeg for garnish
Directions: Add apple cider to large pan. I tend to think fresh apple cider has just the right sweetness, but if you’d like a little more, add ¼ cup organic maple syrup and stir well. Toss in the bag of mulling spice and gently heat on medium for 20 minutes or so until very hot. Remove from heat and ladle into mugs, adding a cinnamon stick and a scratch or two of freshly grated nutmeg for garnish.
Posted by|12 November 2013
It was a difficult year for the Osha (Ligusticum porteri) harvest in the Rockies. Our wildcrafters work in remote stands and use propagation techniques such as reseeding and replanting broken parts of root crowns to ensure that the area is healthier and the Osha is more abundant when they return three to five years later.
However, with the heavy rains and flooding that occurred along the Front Range this year it was difficult for our harvesters to get into the mountains. We are working with and encouraging better study and management of this incredible and powerful plant to ensure healthy future harvests, but this year will be scarce. With our focus on and support of home and small-shop herbalists, we will be limiting the amount that any one person can order this year.
I have been working with my herbal mentor Howie Brounstein of the Columbines School of Botanical Studies for recommendations of substitute plants and approaches. Thankfully, there are excellent replacements for Osha in our spice cabinet and home medicine drawers.
In our kitchen we find Thyme. Thyme, like Osha, has aromatics that help push our lungs to improve blood flow and function, as an expectorant. When the cold season comes around, I load up my soup stocks with Thyme. I will water them down a bit and sip them throughout the day. The mix of garlic, ginger, and dried mushrooms like Shiitake in the stock help to build a more invigorating tonic. Try this Shiitake Ginger Garlic Miso Soup recipe with Thyme added.
In the European tradition, we find the expectorant Horehound and Elecampane. Typically used as a tea or tincture, these are very traditional and dependable aromatic lung remedies with general immune stimulation also.
While we are pushing our lungs with aromatics we should also protect them with demulcents. Marshmallow root and mullein both soothe the irritation brought on from coughs, dry winter air, and dusty air. Many classic formulas combine aromatic plants with demulcent plants that have lung affinities. Honey really helps to combine and mellow the flavors and is a solid throat soother on its own.
A newer plant for the Western herb community is Umckaloabo. This African Pelargonium is used in European pharmacies for seasonal lung ailments. Typically a tincture or extract of the root is prepared and added to a pleasant tea with tonic and lung soothing demulcents.
Osha is an amazing North American plant. As a long-lived non-timber forest product it has proven difficult to cultivate in fields. Those of us who rely on this medicine should work to support the goal of planned and reasonable management and study to ensure our continued use of this plant. Our forests are not just for timber. Intact and healthy ecosystems support the medicinal and aromatic plants that grow below the trees. As herbalists who use these plants, we should work with forest managers to protect our ecological heritage and our continuing engagement with it.
You can learn more about our work with the Osha Sustainability Study here!
Posted by|11 November 2013
If you’ve never tried kombucha, then you’re in for a treat! This delightful fermented beverage is revered for its probiotic qualities and many purported health benefits. With a unique flavor, it is fizzy and tingly like no other beverage in existence.
Fermenting foods and beverages at home was a common necessity for centuries. Thankfully, we’re now seeing a return to these roots! Healthful traditional foods and fermented preparations are making a comeback and have become somewhat trendy in recent years. Kombucha can now be easily purchased in health food markets nationwide, but most of it is pasteurized and the cost is often restrictive. Fortunately, it’s easy, inexpensive, and fun to make at home! Plus, you can adjust the flavor and sourness to your liking.
Like other traditionally fermented and live-cultured preparations, kombucha has been enjoyed for thousands of years by cultures around the world. The history of kombucha tea is long and somewhat controversial, with Russia, Japan, China, and Korea all credited with its origin. The Chinese origin states that the beverage appeared in 221 BCE, and was believed to be an elixir of immortality called ‘The Godly Tsche.’ Another story reports that the beverage was introduced to Japan in 441 AD by a Korean doctor named Kombu. Kombu used the revered tea to help soothe the emperor’s digestive problems, and it grew in popularity over the centuries.
Kombucha is a symbiotic colony of yeast and bacteria, a living culture containing beneficial microorganisms and nutrients. Studies tout that kombucha binds to toxins and removes them from the body, cleanses the liver and other organs, improves digestion, energy levels, and the immune system. Although the exact origin of kombucha and its benefits are unproven and disputed, there’s no denying that kombucha is a delicious and wholesome drink!
Basic Kombucha Recipe
Makes 1 gallon (scale recipe up or down depending on the size of your vessel)
- Kombucha SCOBY
- Starter liquid (brewed kombucha reserved from a previously brewed batch)
- Glass or lead-free ceramic container
- Organic Black or Green loose-leaf tea (Camellia sinensis). Use unflavored tea, as essential oils and flavorings can adversely affect the culture. Favorites for black tea varieties include English Breakfast, Assam, Ceylon, Darjeeling, and Ancient Forest. Excellent green options include Green Sencha, White Peony, Silver Needles, and Oolong.
- Organic cane sugar
- Distilled, spring, or well water. Chlorinated or treated water can harm the kombucha culture.
- A clean piece of cloth, towel, or a handkerchief and a rubber band to cover the container
- Bring ¾ of a gallon of water to a boil, then turn off the heat and immediately add 4 TBSP of loose-leaf tea and 1 cup of organic sugar. Cover pot with a lid, and cool to room temperature.
- Strain out the tea leaves, and pour the liquid into your glass or ceramic container.
- Add your scoby and 1-2 cups of kombucha starter liquid.
- Cover the container with a clean cloth, kitchen towel, or handkerchief and a rubber band. Place it in a dark area out of direct sunlight, where it won’t be disturbed or moved. Make sure that the cloth or towel is breathable, yet that the weave is tight enough to keep fruit flies, gnats, and other undesirables and contaminants out.
- Your scoby may sink or float on the top, both are okay. In 2-3 days, you may see a translucent jelly-like mass floating on the top of your tea. This is a new scoby beginning to form. Leave it undisturbed so that the baby can grow properly.
- Taste your kombucha periodically, depending on the temperature of your home and how sweet or sour you’d like it to be. Most batches will be ready in 7-14 days. Ideally, the kombucha should have a slightly sharp and acidic bite.
- When your kombucha is ready, carefully remove the scoby, then pour the liquid through a filter and into bottles. Remember to reserve 1-2 cups for the starter liquid for your next batch.
- Separate the new baby scoby from your original one (now a mother), and keep whichever one looks healthier. You can give the new baby to a friend or start a “kombucha hotel” in a separate glass jar. Simply include some kombucha starter liquid to cover the scobies. Each time that you brew a batch of kombucha, a new baby will grow to join your kombucha family.
- Place the scoby and 1-2 cups of starter tea back into your container, brew a new batch of tea, and start all over again!
- You may leave the kombucha unflavored or include any number of tasty additions. Experiment with fresh or dried fruit, berries, herbs, and spices for whatever flavor suits your mood.
- Kombucha will naturally have a slight fizziness. To increase the carbonation and level of tartness, leave the bottled kombucha on a countertop for several days after bottling. Keep bottles stored in a refrigerator once finished fermenting.
- Always clean your hands, utensils, and anything that might touch your kombucha with hot water and distilled vinegar. Do not use soap, (especially antibacterial soap) as it may harm or kill the kombucha culture. Your kombucha is alive! Make sure to handle it with care.
- Only use lead-free glass and ceramic for fermenting. Kombucha will absorb toxins out of the container that it’s brewed in (much like how it pulls toxins out of our bodies).
- Kombucha scobies have an unusual appearance, scent, and feel, but don’t let this discourage you! You’ll quickly grow accustomed to their odd appearance and will get used to handling them.
- Store your kombucha away from your stove and other cooking appliances. The aroma, smoke, and flavor can all impart into your culture. Bacon kombucha? No thanks!
- The easiest place to get a scoby is from a friend or co-worker with extra babies. Most kombucha brewers have several scobies waiting for a new home. If you can’t find a scoby locally, you can purchase one online or grow a scoby from a bottle of store-bought kombucha.
- If the kombucha scoby grows mold, throw the liquid and scoby into the compost and begin with fresh materials.
- Have fun and experiment! Kombucha is an acquired taste, and everyone likes it a little different. There are hundreds of recipes available, each one with its own ingredients and techniques.
Part 2 Coming Soon…
Flavoring Your Kombucha
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 a bout with the common cold or seasonal flu. 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 cold-fighters like garlic, ginger, onion, and immune boosting shiitake mushrooms. I love to sip this soup, flu 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 cold and flu viruses. 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
Posted by|23 October 2013
Numen is the first feature-length documentary to celebrate the healing power of plants. The film features stunning footage of medicinal plants and thought-provoking interviews with Dr. Tiearaona Low Dog, Rosemary Gladstar, Phyllis Light, and many others to present an inspiring vision of how we can transcend conventional healthcare and move towards safe, effective and sustainable plant-based medicine.
Through this project, the producers aim to raise awareness about medicine and the medical industry in the same way that the organic food movement did for the food industry. Numen will inspire and encourage you in your quest to think deeply about the sources of your medicine and how your healthcare choices affect you and the larger web of life. The film calls for a re-awakening of traditional knowledge about plants and their uses. The hope is for Numen to spark new conversations and debates about health and wellness and inspire real, tangible actions to build a grassroots medicine movement. To help sow the seeds of that movement, the film will be available for FREE until October 30th.
You can watch the trailer and find the free online screening of the entire documentary here!
Posted by|22 October 2013
Our autumn post from Kiva Rose Hardin is here! Her beautifully written articles marry the personal with the scientific, lore with experience, offering untamed and fresh insight. Herbalist, wildcrafter, artist, and storyteller, Kiva Rose lives in a canyon botanical sanctuary within the Gila Wilderness of New Mexico. She is also the co-director of the HerbFolk Gathering, held each September in the mountain Southwest, coeditor of Plant Healer Magazine, and publisher of the just released historical novel, The Medicine Bear as well as The Plant Healer’s Path by Jesse Wolf Hardin, and maintains an herbal blog, The Medicine Woman’s Roots.
Every autumn when the weather starts to shift, folks in the village inevitably start to come down with fevers and various respiratory issues. The sudden demand for every sort of immune tea and tincture reminds me to make sure I have enough cold weather tonics on hand for the whole winter! There are many possibilities, from Elderberry Elixir to Astragalus decoctions to garlicky chicken soup, depending on the person, climate, and particular bug going around. One of my perennial favorites though, is an easily made apple cider vinegar based preparation that tastes wonderful on its own, or can be added to any number of savory dishes year round.
My Gila Harvest Cider is yet another variation on the infamous Fire Cider and Super Cider created by various herbalists like Rosemary Gladstar. Many of these creations are based on being super hot and spicy, and seeing as my belly just can’t handle that kind of thing I decided to make something a bit different. The cider still feels warming and a tiny bit stimulating but lacks the GI bang & burn of some other preparations that may not be appropriate for those with sensitive bellies.
Kiva’s Gila Harvest Cider
- 1/2 to 3/4 cup fresh Turmeric (roughly chopped)
- 1/2 to 3/4 cup fresh Ginger (grated or finely chopped)
- 1 head fresh Garlic (minced)
- 2-3 Tbsp fresh Rosemary (roughly chopped)
- 1 small handful Sundried Tomatoes (roughly chopped)
- 2 Tbsp Coriander (crushed in a mortar and pestle or powdered)
- 1 small handful dried Hawthorn Berries (whole)
- 2 Tbsp fresh grated Orange Peel
- 3/4 Cup fresh Basil (I used the stems that were leftover from pesto making, roughly chopped, Tulsi could also be used)
- 1 whole Red Chile
- approximately 3 cups Apple Cider Vinegar
- raw honey to taste
- 1 quart canning jar
I make mine in layers, starting with the Turmeric and working my way up to the Chile, but you could just as well mix it together beforehand, but then you’d miss the amazing display of colors that happens with the herbs all stacked on top of each other. You can adjust amounts to suit your taste and to properly fill your jar. After you add all the solid ingredients, pour the ACV over the top until the jar is full. Let sit for about six weeks.
Strain the Cider, preserving both liquid and herbs. Add honey to taste to the Cider. You can then refill the jar of preserved herbs with ACV again if you like for a slightly weaker Cider (you can freshen it up a bit with more Rosemary and other spices). Or you can put the herbs through the blender with a new batch of ACV and have a super concentrated version.
This stuff is amazing on nearly anything, with soups, salad dressings, spooned on steamed veggies, you can even marinate meat in it. I’ve even been known to drink it occasionally, cuz it’s that good. The warming, tonic herbs help build and maintain the immune system, increase circulation and generally enhance your sense of well-being. The Basil and Hawthorn add a lovely relaxing aspect, and the whole potion is a potent digestive helper.
To order The Plant Healer’s Path by Jesse Wolf, Kiva Rose, Paul Bergner, David Hoffman and more, go to the Bookstore & Gallery page at: www.PlantHealer.org
Posted by|21 October 2013
As we come upon the season for gifts and giving, searching for earth-friendly, natural, and beautiful packaging can be a bit of a challenge. It is so nice to have something lovely and useful for sharing homemade tea blends, potpourri, or edible holiday treats, so we challenged ourselves to see what we could create.
We used just a handful of herbs to dye our 100% cotton muslin bags and turned to the Handbook of Natural Dyes, by Sasha Duerr for inspiration. Since these gift and goodie bags won’t need to stand up to washings and wearings, as clothes would, we opted for simplified process for our dyeing project. This could easily be adapted to dye cotton cloth for wrapping or larger fabric gift bags.
Here’s how we made these adorable bags:
Dye Ingredients & Supplies
1 cup Madder Root
1 cup Turmeric Root powder
1 cup Alkanet Root
1 cup dried Elderberries
In a glass bowl or large jar, cover cotton muslin bags with water and soak for several hours (8+) or overnight. At the same time that you set your bags to soak, place one cup of dyeing herb in a quart Mason jar and fill with 3-4 cups boiling water. We let this herb-water mix also sit for several hours or overnight.
Drain the water from the cotton bags and use ties, knots, or rubber bands to create designs if desired, and put bags in the dye bath, making sure they are completely submerged. We left the herbs in the water the entire time we were coloring the cloth.
We pulled a few bags out at various intervals for increasingly darker colors. Once removed from the dye bath, rinse the bags in tepid water until the water runs clear. You could use a Tablespoon of white vinegar in the dye bath to ensure that the colors fix or, if you want to tackle other fabrics, we suggest you read up on the use of a mordant in Sasha Duerr’s book.
We then just let the bags air dry and ironed them with a medium hot iron to get out all the cottony crinkles.
This is such a simple dyeing project! It would be great for kids or work well as a family or classroom project. The herbs can be composted when you’re finished and you might even like to try some other great dyeing herbs like Goldenrod, Bilberry Fruit, Parsley, and Horsetail.
Now that we have our lovely gift bags, it’s time to think about the gifts!
Have fun crafting!
This post comes to us from Kori, our Public and Media Relations Coordinator! A West Coast native, Kori is a seasoned nonprofit activist and community organizer. Having launched six adult kids, she spends her free time in her burgeoning organic and very urban “farm”—taming Heritage chickens, building top-bar beehives from reclaimed materials, baking, brewing, and preserving.
Posted by|17 October 2013
Oooh…here’s another amazing herbal freebie from the upcoming Taste of Herbs course!
Rosalee de la Foret wrote six recipes to correspond with the five tastes she teaches during this new online course. The recipes range from tom kha soup, to oxymels, and even a delicious cacao-rich chocolate cake. That’s some pretty tasty herbalism!
Posted by|15 October 2013
Have you been enjoying the Flavor Wheel we offered as a free download last week? It’s such an incredibly practical tool for anyone learning about natural health and herbal remedies. We love it!
Maybe it inspired you to look deeper into choosing the right herb for a specific person’s need?
Well, if so, we are super excited to present a wonderful new online course that simplifies that process and provides a roadmap for making these choices easier…
It’s called Taste of Herbs with Rosalee de la Forêt!
Want more details?
Visit the Taste of Herbs website now to learn all about this fantastic new course.
Posted by|14 October 2013
Are you attending the Free Herbalism Project’s fall event this Sunday?
We are just a few days away from gathering together with the plants to sip free tea and learn from beloved Oregon herbalists Howie Brounstein and Steven Yeager! All of us here at Mountain Rose Herbs are so happy to be hosting this special free series of herbal gatherings and hope to see you there! This is going to be good…
Free Herbalism Project
Sunday, October 20th 2013
Mount Pisgah Arboretum
Basic Botany Workshop
12pm to 1:30pm
Howie and Steven will help us explore basic terminology needed to identify medicinal, edible, and poisonous plants growing in the garden or local forest! Designed to give participants the skills to understand botanical descriptions in herbal texts and gardening books, and become familiar with important vocabulary for the identification and appreciation of plants. We’ll investigate plant anatomy, family characteristics, and use a botanical key. Come speak the language of plants!
Medicinal Plants of the Northwest
2:30pm to 5:00pm
Howie and Steven will take us on an in-depth journey through the wealth of medicinal plants growing right here in Oregon. Learn about the many useful calming, alterative, aromatic, demulcent, diaphoretic, diuretic, bitter, and astringent plants that thrive in our region.
Plus, several food carts and The Free Tea Party will be joining us again!
A fundraiser for the Columbines School of Botanical Studies!
All profits raised through the sale of t-shirts, books, tinctures, and other goodies during this event will be used to create a student scholarship, purchase classroom microscopes, and to upgrade the school’s computer. Check out the sweet new botanical t-shirts we will be debuting there!
For more event details please visit: