Intern Adventures!

This is my 3rd year of having interns help me out with planting, harvesting, product making, foraging and more.

Early Spring garden planted…

early spring 2017

We also go on fun adventures!

You never know what we will be doing…it all depends on what is growing and who calls me to come harvest an abundance of something. This Spring we went to Dawn’s to harvests lots of elder flowers and will be going back there shortly to harvest the berries.

elderflowers

Just LOOK at the size of these bushes!

dawns house

Calendula later in the spring…

calendula late spring

One day we ventured over to Athens to the UGArden, run by the UGA students. My friends Maisy and Noelle take care of the Medicinal Garden and love the additional hands to help harvest. Here is the chamomile we harvested  –

uga chamomile

As soon as the pine catkins were starting to fill with pollen, we harvested the catkins. Unfortunately this year I only got out a couple days so did not collect as much as I wanted! Still a fun time 🙂

pine catkin harvest 2017
Pine catkins full of yellow goodness

The passionflower took over the garden so it needed to be desperately harvested –

passionflower

lots and lots …

passionflower harvest

Sometimes we just need to take off on a hike into the woods, more often than not!

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We only found 1 good mushroom – ONE!!! A beautiful reishi and yes in the background those are kudzu flowers, KUDZU FLOWERS in June!!! That is plain nuts, they should not be out until August, crazy weird Georgia weather this year.

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I forgot to get pictures of our wild cherry harvest but we made cherry shrub, a fruity vinegar and sugar syrup that was sooooo darn delicious. 🙂

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I love my interns and feel so blessed to be able to have them here helping me and to be able to teach them about herbal medicine. This is just a dream come true and it is all about the journey!

Blessings to you all,

Anne-Marie

Recipes Using Lemon Balm

I don’t know about you, but here in Georgia, Lemon Balm can overtake a garden when you don’t trim it back and soon it will be like kudzu! Nah, not THAT bad and much easier to pull out.

lemon balm

Lemon Balm is a delicious and wonderful medicinal herb! I like herbs like lemon balm because it takes no effort to grow it, just plant it and it will spread if you let it, like any other mint family plant. I have been harvesting it here, at a friends house and even had some given to me….it is like the yellow squash of herbs. 🙂

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I have a few recipes below but this one is, “use it all, no waste” kind of recipe. Don’t throw away those stems – they make a delicious lemonade drink and it is easy peasy!

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Before I get to it, let me tell you a bit about the properties of this herb.

Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis) – looks like mint, is in the mint family but as soon as you crush a leaf, you get the vague scent of lemon pledge! I know…weird but then TASTE it. Sweet and lemony!

Medicinal Benefits: anti-viral –  useful for herpes/shingles, anti-anxiety, calming, for mental clarity, great stomachache herb for children especially when it accompanies anxiety/nervousness, relaxation, ease pain and discomfort from indigestion (including gas and bloating, as well as colic  Grave’s disease (hyperthyroidism), chronic fatigue and more.

**from Herb Wisdom 

“The herb is used for nervous agitation, sleeping problems, functional gastrointestinal complaints, menstrual cramps and urinary spasms.

It is thought that the volatile oils in lemon balm contain chemicals that relax muscles, particularly in the bladder, stomach, and uterus, thereby relieving cramps, gas, and nausea.”

To make a regular tea – take 1-2 teaspoons of lemon balm to 1 cup of boiling water, steep 10-15 minutes. and now for my tea/drink –

Lemon Balm Stem Iced Tea

  • 1 bunch of fresh stems, chopped up,
  • 2 Tablespoons sugar, I used costa rica free flowing sugar – yum
  • 1 lemon, squeezed
  • water
  • ginger slices

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Fill a 1 qt jar or coffee press with the stems.

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Boil a quart of water. Pour over your stems and let steep 20 minutes.

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Strain and put into a 2 quart container, add sugar or honey and ginger. Mix well. Add 1 more quart of water or ice. Chill and enjoy!

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More recipes:

Lemon Balm Glycerite: Weigh 2-3 ounce of fresh lemon balm and add to a pint jar. Measure 6 ounces of vegetable glycerin and pour over lemon balm. Mixing well, cover it. Shake daily for 3 weeks and strain into an amber bottle.

Dosage is 2-3 dropperfuls for adults or less according to weight of child. I have even used this for dogs in small doses for upset stomachs.

12 Things to do with Lemon Balm

Honey Lemon Balm

I hope you enjoy your day today!!!

Anne-Marie

Stinging Nettle, Amazing Benefits and Spanakopita!

One of most favorite recipes….thought it was time to revisit it! Enjoy. 🙂

Bella Vista Farm

What do you think of Stinging Nettle? I am always amazed at how much this plant can do for you. Stinging Nettle (Urtica dioica) is chock full of medicinal and nutritional benefits. It is called “stinging” for a reason – fine, stinging hairs filled with formic acid, just like fire ant bites, cover the entire plant. So you thinking, why in the heck do I want this plant if it is going to hurt me? Trust me, you will love this plant once you hear about all the good stuff!

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Let’s start with the medicinal benefits:

Herbal Actions – Blood Tonic, astringent, diuretic, hypotensive, anti-inflammatory, mild styptic, UT tonic.

Those stinging hairs also contain histamine and when the leaves and stems are freeze dried, the histamines are contained  and capsulized. The nettle then acts like an anti-histamine in your body. These capsules may help your allergy symptoms when taken daily.

A tincture…

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United We Stand, Divided We Fall

In lieu of all that is around us now, I thought I would chat about this highly divided topic. You know the old saying, “United We Stand, Divided We Fall”. It has been used in songs, speeches, articles but where did it come from?

My thoughts, it came from biblical times, possibly this verse from Matthew 12:25

25 Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and every city or household divided against itself will not stand.

Think about that for a moment, whether you are a Christian or not…

united-we-stand

That scripture or the United We Stand saying can relate to more than it implies. How about a home where husband and wife fight all the time, cannot ever agree, will not budge on their opinion. They think they are both correct and will not bend. No bending, no flexiblity…nothing…period! Think if a tree, it is flexible, bends with the wind but when stiff, old, damaged – it will break. BREAK and not ever stand again, gone forever. A marriage that has no bending, no flexiblity will break, be divided and eventually be gone. But if each person will just give a tiny bit, listen without judging, try even though it may be wrong in their eyes, be kind to one another….maybe , just maybe that tree will strengthen, be nourished and grow and stand tall. Like the mighty oak.

tree

Our country is like a bad marriage right this moment. Judging occurred waaaayyyy before our new President took office. Because he was not the norm, different, strong, wasn’t gonna take any crap, crass and not refined in his speeches. BUT WHY do we have to be refined, perfect, with fake smiles, make promises to make others happy? Is that what people want? Maybe they do! People say things they do not mean later. EVERYONE does! No one person is perfect and without fault. Also think about this…people who boast about crazy, eye popping, shock and awe type content usually are seeking recognition. Think about high school, there was always that one guy or two that would say “hey guess what I did with Mary or Susie last night”, really they did nothing, nothing..maybe a kiss, maybe nothing at all but they NEEDED affirmation or a “thatta boy” high five.

ACTIONS speak LOUDER than words. I know I am going all cliche here but trying to make sense of all of this division and un-unity.

I am not proud of my fellow women that marched for many reasons I do not quite understand but yes some women truly marched peacefully, respectfully, for rights that I do believe in, not extremists just normal rights we all stand united on. Yes we need more compassion for others that are different, more education for children with disabilities and not take rights away already in place. But let’s face it, no one is going to take women’s rights away from them. Rules may change I am sure but we are not going back into the dark ages, it just won’t happen. I will admit, I am on the fence on the main issue with women, NOT THE PINK P*** HAT CRAP, but with the abortion law. YES I do think in the case of rape, abuse, danger to the mother, a young teen who acted stupidly and without care and thought to what might happen, should have that option very very early on in pregnancy. ONE TIME! I hear too often of teens, twenty -somethings having multiple abortions, what? WHAT? Multiple!! That is murder with intent, disregard for control, for responsibility or for their body. Don’t hate me. I don’t care if I get flack for this, seriously, I am my own person with my own opinion but still…I stand united with all of my people, my country, my America, my freedom, the laws -to be followed not be abused or defied.

Rules are made to be broken but laws are not. Without law and order we have chaos, chaos leads to mobs that may become angry protestors, possibly then riots break out, people break into stores, businesses, steal and destroy things( never could understand that everytime there is a riot, folks are running down the street with tv ‘s or other electronics??!). Riots lead to divisions and hate and unlike that broken marriage that may just end, could fester and become a war…a war between ourselves. We do not need another civil war in our country. We need Unity, We need Community and remember UNITY is in COMMUNITY. 🙂

So my final thoughts on this subject? How about for one stinking day – we share peace, love, happiness, acceptance, patience, prayer, hugs, kisses, kindness, helpfulness, support, promise, hope, atta girls and smiles. Who is with me????

Let’s start today – you can share the last paragraph on sharing on your fb page or instagram, tag me on it if you wish. Let us start our own movement – sharing the love!!

Love to you my friends –

Anne-Marie

 

 

Medicinal & Edible Benefits of Hibiscus

The colors of Fall are beautiful with the trees changing into an array of yellow, red, gold, orange and brown. You don’t expect to see many plants producing as you do in the Summer.

hibiscus-close-up

There are some exceptions of course. The beautiful Hibiscus Roselle (Hibiscus sabdariffa), with its ruby red calyces and deep burgandy stems. After flowering, the calyx swell with a seed pod at which time we harvest the calyces and peel the red outer covering off to use for teas and jellies and more!

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The leaves, flowers and calyces are all edible. The calyces are well known around the world for their gorgeous red color for your teas. In Jamaica they call their drink,  Jamaican Sorrel which is made from the hibiscus calyx along with fresh ginger and sugar. It is delish!!!

I do have one hibiscus plant but it bloomed late so I only have a few calyces to pick BUT I am lucky enough to have some good friends that invited me to the farm they work at to pick all I wanted!

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My Hibiscus plant

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My friend Denise helped me process this giant load of hibiscus. I could not have done it without her. 🙂

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fresh hibiscus peeled from seed pods. Pic Credit*Denise Hardin
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the leftover pods pic credit* Denise Hardin
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All my trays of drying hibiscus!
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My favorite photographer Denise Hardin

Here is an Herb Profile for you about Hibiscus:

Herbal Lesson on Hibiscus

Hibiscus sabdariffa, also known as Roselle or Jamaican Sorrel, is a beautiful tropical plant with reddish green leaves, red stems, red calyces and pale yellow flowers with a red center. It can be grown here in Georgia if started early enough because it flowers in late summer.

Edible uses: The leaves, flowers, calyx are all edible. The red calyx swells up after flowering and then peeled to dry for teas.

To make tea: Use 1 T fresh calyces or 1-2 teaspoons dried per cup of water. Steep 10 minutes. Sweeten.

SYRUP/CORDIAL
This syrup will keep for at least a year. Once opened, it will keep for months if refrigerated. The syrup is delicious over crepes, fresh fruit, custard, ice cream. To make cordial, a very small quantity of syrup can be added to a glass and filled with water. The syrup can also be added to milk to make a delicious drink.
5 cups sugar
4 cups water
4 cups calyces, chopped
Heat the sugar and water in a large saucepan until the sugar is completely dissolved. Add the calyces and bring to the boil. Lower the heat and simmer gently until the volume of liquid is reduced by a third. Remove from the heat and strain. Bottle the syrup while still hot into clean bottles and seal. The strained calyces can be eaten as a dessert with ice cream or custard.

Medicinal Uses:  Good for the cardiovascular system – can help maintain healthy cholesterol and blood pressure levels. Full of antioxidants, high in vitamin C

Cooling to the body and astringent due to the tartness so helpful for fevers, excess fluid, hot flashes, sore throats.

Hibiscus and Ginger Tea : 4 T fresh hibiscus and a few slices fresh ginger to a quart jar, add boiling water, let steep 10-15 minutes. Sweeten with sugar, honey – I used coconut sugar.

www.bellavistanaturals.com – Anne-Marie Bilella  – Bella Vista Farm

Have a beautiful day friends!

The Benefits of Queen Anne’s Lace

Queen Anne’s Lace (Daucus carota) otherwise known as Wild Carrot is part of the Apiaceae family of plants or commonly called the Parsley Family. Until recently, I never touched Queen Anne’s Lace for fear that it may be a poisonous relative – hemlock to be exact! One is edible while the other, well you know the story of the Greek philosopher, Socrates? Sentenced to death by drinking the poison hemlock, yikes!

This year I finally, FINALLY decided to really look into that pretty wild carrot flower and see how hard really it was to identify it. Pretty, darn easy….seriously….if you pay attention to the color and texture of the stem, the leaf type and the flower. See Queen Anne’s Lace has something special in the very center of the flower, not ALL the flowers but if you find that special mark then you definitely got the correct plant. So what is that special mark?

Look closely at this picture, not my pic but it is from the Edible Wild Foods website –

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What do you see?

No, it is not dirt or a bug it is a dark colored flower in the center! Well in this case there looks to be two or three. Another cool thing about the flowers – when one starts to get old, instead of turning brown, it starts to close up like a this -like a birds nest!

QueenAnnesLace111111985554 Whereas Poison Hemlock turns all brown

The stems – this picture is credited to Darryl Patton, The Southern Herbalist

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It looks pretty obvious, doesn’t it? BUT still make sure you have help the first few times to be sure!!!

So what are the benefits? For one thing EAT IT!!! It has a white carrot root but you should dig it up early spring otherwise now, here in the South as it is in flower, it would be tooooo woody. The flowers can be battered and friend, mmmmm or make a jelly from the flowers like I did.

QAC flowers

I cleaned all the blossoms of critters – 😀 then measured out 4 cups of blossoms. I added 7 cups of boiling water, slightly cooled for 5 minutes. Cover and steep for 30 minutes and strain.

I measured about 6.5 cups of the infusion into a clean pot. Add 1/2 cup lemon juice, stir and add the pectin(approxiamtely 6 Tablespoons or two boxes). I used low sugar pectin but you can use regular as in the original recipe from Edible Wild Foods. Stir really, really well with a whisk!

Bring to a rolling boil that cannot be stirred down. Then add your sugar, in my case of low sugar, I added 2 – 2.5 cups. Bring up to a boil again and cook for 1 minute. Test the consistency. My set up quite fast!! Have jars ready, fill, wipe clean, add lids and process in water bath canner for 5 minutes for 8 ounce jars.

Medicinal Benefits GALORE!!! Here is a list of what I found, although not tested by me yet.

You know the saying, ” An apple a day keeps the doctor away”? A wild carrot a day, might keep death away!” Hmmm…that’s what I read.

Queen Anne’s Lace is known to be analgesic, anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, hangover preventative, migraine remedy, expectorant, antihistamine, helpful for the kidneys and liver, cancer preventative and much, much more. Read here for more info! As soon as I have some experience with this plant medicinally, I will let ya’ll know!

jelly

 

Jelly Recipe

  • 4 cups fresh QAL Blossoms
  • 7 cups water
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 2 boxes or 6 Tablespoons pectin

This made 6 half pints plus a 4 ounce jar.

Go find a knowledgeable friend and pick some Queen Anne’s Lace! Have a great day –

Anne-Marie

Medicinal Benefits of Mimosa

The following post was from a couple years ago but after collecting my mimosa blooms yesterday, I thought you would enjoy it! 🙂 AM

Bella Vista Farm

Did you know Mimosa had medicinal benefits?

mimosa drink

NO! Not the yummy drink Mimosa, although that would be good right now, I mean the TREE Mimosa(Albizia julibrissin).

market pics 008 (1024x768)Nearby tree that I will get the flowers from.

mimosa-flowerFound this gorgeous picture!!!

This year has been a whirlwind of herbal learning!!! I was in an herbal class earlier this spring taught by one of my favorite herbalists, Patricia Howell, and learned sooooo much. One herb that caught my attention was Mimosa with its beautiful pink, feathery blossoms which by the way, smell incredibly sweet! Since the class was February or March, now I can’t quite remember, I did not pay much attention to finding Mimosa since it was not going to bloom until June. But I did go out and buy the extract – Albizia Calm. Notice on the label, it supports mental calmness, yeah I’ll take some of that thank you!

albizia calm

http://www.planetaryherbals.com/products/GP1867/

Why…

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My Favorite Green – Stinging Nettles!

I love when the Stinging Nettles are coming in!! My favorite green of all time. I am probably the only one that gets excited to see the nettles spreading all over the garden in places that they weren’t before. 😀

stinging nettle
stinging nettle

If you didn’t know, I hide nettles in EVERYTHING I can think of: ranch dressing, soups, eggs, veggies, all spice blends, smoothies, teas…yeah everything. Here is my favorite ranch dressing recipe –

RANCH DRESSING adapted from the Tightwad Gazette

  • 2 Tablespoons dried parsley
  • 2 Tablespoons dried stinging nettle
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp. paprika
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper
  • 1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper

Mix all of the above into 1 cup of buttermilk and 1 cup of mayonnaise(not the fake stuff either, make sure there are only a few ingredients. Hellmann’s is my fave!) Make 1 pint. Keep in the refrigerator for up to 7-8 days. IF you do not have buttermilk, use regular milk but only 1/2-3/4 cup.

And before we get to the nettle lasagna and more good recipes here is a little something, something on the crazy good benefits of stinging nettle right HERE

Nettle Lasagna? – holy moly – YES!

lasagna

Recipe below:

Spring Lasagna with Asparagus, Peas and Stinging Nettles
A Recipe from TheBittenWord.com, with inspiration from Martha Stewart Living and Gourmet

Serves 6-8

1 pound sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
2 pounds asparagus, trimmed
1 medium white onion, diced
5 cups loose stinging nettle leaves (see note); baby spinach can be substituted
2 cups fresh or frozen peas
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
4 1/2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
4 ounces mild goat cheese
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
2 lemons, very thinly sliced
12 no-boil lasagna noodles

Note on preparing stinging nettles: Wearing gloves, place fresh nettles on a cutting board. Separate the leaves from the stalk. You can use the stems and leaves from the top 6 or 8 leaves on each stalk. You can also use the lower leaves, but discard the thicker stems as well as the main stalk, as they will be too thick and reedy to eat.

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare stinging nettle leaves (see note above), and prepare asparagus: Cut the tips off of each asparagus spear and reserve them. Then cut asparagus spears into 1/2-inch pieces and set aside.

In a large saucepan over medium high heat, cook sausage, breaking up pieces, until no longer pink, about 6 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer sausage to paper towel-lined plate.

Into same saucepan, add 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, then the pieces of asparagus spears. Sauté asparagus until crisp-tender, about 4 minutes. Remove from pan and set aside.

Add remaining olive oil to pan, then add diced onion and sauté until just softened and beginning to turn golden brown, about 3 minutes. Add stinging nettle leaves and sauté until wilted and cooked through, about 3 more minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

Cover lemon slices with cold water by 3 inches in a saucepan. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer for 7 minutes. Transfer to a paper-towel-lined plate using a slotted spoon.

Make the roux: Melt butter in a different saucepan over high heat. Stir in flour; cook for 2 minutes. Whisk in milk. Bring to a boil, stirring. Reduce heat. Simmer for 1 minute. Remove from heat. Whisk in Parmesan and goat cheese, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.

Spread 1/4 cup of the roux in a 9-by-13-inch baking dish, then top with a layer of noodles. Top with sautéed asparagus, half the sausage, one third of the remaining roux, and another layer of noodles. Top that with sautéed nettles and onions, peas, half the remaining roux, half the lemon slices, the remaining sausage and another layer of noodles. Arrange the remaining lemon slices and the reserved asparagus tips on the top layer, then pour on the remaining roux.

Cover dish with parchment-lined aluminum foil and bake 28 minutes, until top is golden and bubbly. (You may want to finish it under a broiler for 2 minutes.) Let stand 10 minutes.

More amazing nettle recipes!!!

Enjoy the yumminess!!

Anne-Marie

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