This is my 3rd year of having interns help me out with planting, harvesting, product making, foraging and more.
Early Spring garden planted…
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.
Just LOOK at the size of these bushes!
Calendula later in the 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 –
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 🙂
The passionflower took over the garden so it needed to be desperately harvested –
lots and lots …
Sometimes we just need to take off on a hike into the woods, more often than not!
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.
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. 🙂
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!
Bitters…have you ever tried them? Do you know what the benefits of bitters are? I am here to tell ya!
Bitter is a flavor that many Americans think is wrong. You hear all the time, “yuck too bitter!”, “needs more sugar” ad stuff like that. We NEED that flavor in our diet. America loves their sweets more than any other country in the world.
If you frequently feel lethargic after meals, bloated, constipated or just crummy in the tummy, you may benefit from taking a tincture of bitters before or after each meal. I find it works great before meals. As soon as you put the tincture on your tongue, it stimulates the salivary glands producing your first digestive juices which is telling your stomach to get ready, here comes the food, start the digestive process!
Not only that, it may help –
regulate blood sugar
increase absorption of vitamins
help the liver
BUT who is it not for???? Someone with IBS with diarrhea – we don’t want to encourage that for goodness sakes.
There are many commercial bitters on the market today with an array of flavor profiles but it is super easy to make. Of course if you don’t want to make it yourself, I can make it for YOU!
There are so many herbs and fruits to choose from when creating your bitters as well as choices of alcohol. I personally prefer to use brandy, it is mild and helps the medicine go down, so to speak.
First choose your bittering agents, one or a combination: Use between 10-50% of total ingredients.
Gentian Root – the bitterest of all bitter herbs on the planet. Very strong!!! Don’t go overboard.
Dandelion Root and Leaf – a common bitter that is eaten but does well in a tincture
sarsaparilla, wormwood, artichoke leaf – I have not tried yet
Orange, lemon or grapefruit peels
Flavorings or aromatics to help the flavor profile:
Spices, herbs, fruits:
Cardamom, Cinnamon, Coriander, Coffee, Ginger, Fennel seeds, Black pepper, Vanilla beans, Cacao nibs(because chocolate goes with everything!)
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.
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!
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!
My friend Denise helped me process this giant load of hibiscus. I could not have done it without her. 🙂
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.
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.
I am celebrating 50 years….born 50 years ago in 1966! Holy moly how did THAT happen?
For the last month, I have been dreading turning 50, thinking I will be an ancient, old lady. 😀 I mean really, 50 – a half-of-a-century.
This week I had the realization that it is always better to celebrate life, successes-even small, milestones rather than dwell on past mistakes or worry about the future and getting old. If I really think about it…I am only middle age because many of my grandparents, great grand parents and great-great aunts have lived to 90 and beyond.
I thought about what I have accomplished up until this point in my life and there has been a-l-o-t of things, exciting things. I could not find all of my photo albums, you know, before we decided to keep all of our pictures in cyberspace? Here is my little “walk down memory lane and celebrate life”. Hope you enjoy it!
Before we get to the pictures – what else celebrates 50 years this year? My mom told me on an apron she gave me: 50 years of the Country Music Awards, the Monkey’s (yeah you have to be old enough to know who they were) 😉 the first Super Bowl and 50 years of Southern Living Magazine.
I was lucky to have my Mom, my Gram and my Nanny – 4 generation of women!
I was a cheerleader in high school but not at school – it was nearly impossible to join. This was with a youth association, we had the best time for a couple years!!
Missing a few years of pics, cannot find those photo albums – grrr 😀
Horses became a big part of my life in Georgia. We rode for pleasure, trails and then competed, became a student of Parelli Natural Horsemanship, attained my own goal of Level 3 Liberty 2010 and Level 2 riding with my current mare Tina(not pictured). The video is here if you care to watch. Freestyle riding video
I was lucky to be picked to work at the 96 Olympics in GA as a barn manager. I was totally excited to braid an Olympic horse’s mane!! The pic on the right is in Oympic Village the night before the bombing.
After 9 years of trying to conceive – our miracle baby was born. The biggest celebration of life!
Look at that munchkin face – so adorable!!
I met my tribe – women who love everything homesteading! I have learned so many things from these ladies and the friendships are treasured and to be celebrated!
The things you learn….
celebrating our first mushroom logs that WE innoculated together in 2013ish
Meeting the famous Rosemary Gladstar – just wow!
So remember, don’t fret about the past or worry about the future, celebrate your accomplishes, live your dreams and enjoy the moment.
Calendula & Dandelion Breakfast Egg Cups…doesn’t that sound delicious? Last night I read a blog post from GatherVictoria.com and she had this recipe I JUST had to try!!! And you know …if you don’t do it right away, you forget all about it and it gets lost somewhere in cyberland.
I did not have every ingredient that she used so I improvised with what was growing right now!
Calendula (Calendula officinalis) is growing like crazy, I had plenty to pick from. The recipe only calls for 3 Tablespoons of petals so you can have enough from 5-6 blossoms. Even though calendula is used mainly for medicinal purposes as a vulnerary herb to heal cuts, scrapes, burns and internal wounds, it is also edible and looks beautiful in a salad or in these cute egg cups. Calendula contains antioxidants in the form of flavanoids and carotenoids(beta-carotene converts to Vitamin A).
Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) – the leaves of dandelion are diuretic without removing precious potassium and they are very helpful for the liver removing toxins from the body. The green leaves are bitter, bitter is good, but don’t stress, they won’t be too bitter in this recipe!
Tarragon (Artemesia dracunculus) – tasty herb that is used in fish dishes, bernaise sauce and it has a anise-like flavoring to it. I LOVE this herb!
Lambsquarters (Chenopodium album) – relative of the beloved quinoa. Otherwise known as Wild Spinach. An excellent substitution for any green that packs a punch of nutrition: Vitamin A, B1,2,3,5,6, C, protein, iron, manganese, magnesium and more! It does contain oxalic acid so you don’t want to eat a ton of this everyday. Oxalic acid can cause kidney stones if you are prone to these.
Gold ole garlic and onions!
This is soooo easy and add anything else you like, be creative, invent a new egg cup!
Recipe for Calendula & Dandelion Breakfast Egg Cups
6 eggs, beaten
splash of half and half
1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
2 Tablespoons fresh dandelion leaves, chopped
1 Tablespoon fresh tarragon, chopped
3 Tablespoons fresh lambsquarters, chopped
3 Tablespoons fresh calendula petals
1 garlic clove, chopped
1/4 large onion, chopped
pinch himalayan sea salt
black pepper to taste
1/3 cup fresh mozzarella crumbled or feta
Wash you fresh eggs and beat them in a bowl with the cream.
Saute onion on med low for a few minutes til soft, add the garlic and the greens. Cook just 1-2 minutes.
Add fresh calendula petals and cheese to eggs. Add the greens mixture, salt and pepper. Mix up.
Grease a muffin tin – grease it a lot, mine stuck!!!
Pour your mixture into the tin, mine filled 11 cups. Bake in a preheated oven at 350o for 20 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes or so and eat them up!
You can freeze the leftovers for a fast breakfast, just defrost in the fridge and reheat in the oven(wrap in foil or a covered dish).
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. 😀
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!
Spring Lasagna with Asparagus, Peas and Stinging Nettles
A Recipe from TheBittenWord.com, with inspiration from Martha Stewart Living and Gourmet
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.
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.
I was reading through a beautiful post on the Herbal Academy of New England just now referencing the secret meaning of herbs.
When we look at flowers, we sometimes describe them in how they make us feel or how they look. For example, when I look at a Calendula blossom, I think how sunny this flower is with its bright, cheery disposition and I smile. 🙂
Looking at the list from secret meanings post it shows that Calendula means Health. I can see that! Think about it a moment….if a plant makes you happy and cheerful with a sunny disposition, how can you NOT stay healthy!!!
Here is the full article shared from the Herbal Academy. Also if you ARE interested in any of their offerings, please click the link on my side bar, I would greatly appreciate it!
Enjoy – Anne-Marie
Below from the Herbal Academy of New England
A Few Herbs and Their Meanings:
Remembering the secret meaning of herbs and including them in our daily lives as points for contemplation and by giving tussie-mussies are beautiful ways to pay tribute to the ties between plants and humans that have existed for thousands of years. As we seek to connect with others and the natural world around us, it’s delightful to indulge in little “secrets” now and then, and let our desire for a little mystery and whimsy out to play in a time-honored tradition with a modern twist. Here are a few more herbs and their meanings to get you started (Laufner, 1993):
Don’t you just love the Spring? Actually it will be officially Summer in a couple week – wow! I love Spring because I can start picking flowers and herbs to use in my infusions, tinctures and all the beautiful other creations. One of my absolute favorite flowers is calendula – beautiful, sunny calendula!
This year I am growing two full raised beds with calendula – only one is producing flowers right now. Did you know the more you pick the blossoms, the more they grow? Really. At first I would have 2-3 to pick, then 5-6, then 10, now I am up to about 30 per day on average.
Most of the blossoms come inside to be laid upside down on a clean tray to dry. I do it this way so they don’t shrivel up into a little unidentifiable nothing!
So before I get to the recipe and tutorial, here is a little something for your herbal notebook on Calendula!
Calendula (Calendula officinalis)
Calendula is part of the Asteraceae family of plants. It is a ray flower with many petals in orange and yellow with muted green leaves that are about 4-6″ long and rounded at the tip., It is a self seeding annual that can grow to 2′ tall.
Herbal Actions: Vulnerary, Lymphatic, Anti-bacterial, Antiviral, Anti-fungal, Anti-inflammatory and Emmenagogue
Internally, calendula is used for chronic colitis, surgical wounds, ulcers, chronic sores, varicose veins, candida, lymphadema, rinse after tooth extractions, fungal infections.
Externally it is used for wounds, cuts, rashes, burns, cracked nipples after breast feeding.
Basically Calendula promotes all kinds of wound healing. 🙂
**As always, check with your medical/herbal practitioner before starting any herbal remedy or do more research to make sure it is right for you.**
Calendula Infused Oil
Take a few cups of calendula blossoms, fresh or dried and add enough coconut and olive oil to cover all the blossoms completely in a crock pot. For 3 cups blossoms, you would need about 4 cups total of oil. I uses half coconut and half olive oil.
Put a thermometer in the pot, do not cover. Heat on low to warm, depending on your personal crock pot since some run very hot. Keep temperature between 110-150o, ideally and definitely below 160o so you don’t get crispy fried calendula!
Heat for about 3 hours, turn off and let cool until you can strain it. Sometimes I will cover the pot with a cooling rack and towel while it is cooling down.
Strain through a muslin or cheesecloth lined mesh strainer into a clean glass bowl. Let this bowl sit covered on your counter overnight and then decant the oil into another bowl or jar. This allows the sediment to go to the bottom of the first bowl(if there is any water or particles) and you will have clear pretty oil.
Now you can use your oil in herbal recipes or put it in the refrigerator(LABELED) where it will keep for up to a year.
So what will you make? Let me know! Please share this post with your friends – thank you 😀
I don’t know what happened to April, it just came and went in the blink of an eye!! So I must apologize to my readers for not blogging much the last two weeks.
Many cool things happened this month. We had the launch of our Herbal CSA with 10 shareholders and the distribution of the Spring Herbal Basket –
A couple weeks ago, at a last minute decision, I drove to Asheville, NC to the Mother Earth News Fair just to meet Rosemary Gladstar – the most famous, amazing, inspiring herbalist of all!!! Of course I did some of fun stuff too, I was there anyway. 🙂
If you ever get the chance to go to one of these fairs, I think the next one is in Pennsylvania, you MUST! Holy Moly homesteading/farming/herbal classes galore and the shopping – ahhhhhhh!
I met a few folks from Mountain Rose Herbs – here is Josh in the booth. They gave out samples of herbs and lots of stickers!!! I even got a stack of stickers for the Herbal Notebook Class – of course with their permission. 🙂 You can buy some of these sticker on their web site for about a buck – awesome.
The first class was on Herbal Beauty Products – loved it! It was with Sue Goetz, author of Herb Lover’s Spa book. She gave a bunch of fabulous recipes out. Here is one –
Bathing Blend Recipe
Whole organic oats – my guess would be 1/2 cup
Lavender – 1 T
Lemon Verbena – 1 T
Rose Petals – 1-2 T
Add to a muslin bag or a cotton sock. Tie to the faucet and let very hot water run over it. Then add cool water to the temperature you prefer. Sit and enjoy a relaxing soak!
Next I went to a Wild Foods class – yep right on target! The guy’s name was Alan and I can’t for the life of me remember his company…..oh wait No Taste Like Home. Here is his website. I want to go on one of his amazing adventures!
He gave us a list of the top 100 wild foods – ramps, acorns, ants(hell no!), puffballs, purslane, apples, beautyberry, hawthorn berry, sassafrass leaf….the rest in the link.
David Christopher did an entire talk on comfrey. It was eye opening to learn all the different ways comfrey(Symphytum officinale) can be used and to not be so afraid of the the PA’s(Pyrrolizadine Alkaloids). It is used for bruising, broken bones, slipped discs, sprains, muscle pains, severed fingers etc…He explained that the Symphytum officinale is lowest in PA’s, especially the larger older leaves and how it can be taken internally on a short term basis without negative effects unless someone was also taking many pharmaceuticals in which case could affect the liver. Soooo I think I will use Comfrey internally but probably just for my family until further investigation. 😀
Oh and if you wanted books – mega amounts of homesteading books.
And one I need to save for –
My HIGHLIGHT of the day? Meeting Rosemary Gladstar of course, and getting one of my books signed!!! Oh my was I ever excited – you can see it in my face! rosemary was as sweet as she looks, so friendly and chatted with me as if she already knew me. Sigh…oh to go study with her one day. I can dream can’t I?