Thursday, November 25, 2010

Hatcho? Hugs? Huckleberries!

In March, I went on a wonderful 3 day vacation with my girls. On the way, we stopped at the Seed Bank in Petaluma. What a fabulous place! I was tempted to buy everything, just to be reminded that I just about kill everything exotic.

So, I picked a pack of huckleberry seeds, and some Gypsy tomatoes.

My huckles grew...I was so excited! I finally got them in the ground. Now, I am not sure where huckleberries normally grow, but I have never seen them here. I bet my huckles wished they never knew me in the summer...105 degrees and melting.

They survived the summer (which was milder than usually, but we had some scorchers), the sporadic watering, the aphid infestation (ew), and Rex. As the huckles ripened, I picked them and put them in the freezer.

Today I went to pick more. The freeze last night really damaged the leaves. So picked a basket and a half of huckles, and said farewell until the spring. I hope my two bushes (which are well over 6 ft, before I cut them back) survive.

In celebration of many celebrations happening this weekend, I will make huckle muffins!


Have a Happy ThinkFULL day!
Much love,

Friday, November 19, 2010

Apples, Apples, Apples...& a new family member.

While much of the rest of the country is already enjoying the first snow, we here in the California "low lands" are just feeling the first "eek" of chill. I love the first favorite time of year is now. Especially in the mornings when everything is fresh & dewey...

Did I mention before that autumn is my favorite time of year?? :)

I always look forward driving up to Apple Hill with my family to buy apples. Granted, nowadays Apple Hill comes to you at the Farmers' Market, but we still drive up the mountain instead. We had to wait for it to get colder, and I will NEVER go on a weekend, so we finally made it up there on Monday.

We returned with close to 50lbs of APPLES...yum.

I thought I would come home and make apple everything. Instead, all my energy went to a million other things, including my new baby.

Let me introduce you to our newest family member, LuLu:

Yep, she is a beauty! And since the cute PG&E man fixed her today too, she is both beautiful & functional. So what is a girl to do? Apple everything. Just so you know the pivotal importance of LuLus arrival, I have always swooned at these old ovens. My kitchen cabinets are original 1950 metal cabinets, now painted rad, but still metal :). Most of my neighbors have ripped these out for more modern kitchens, my kitchen is unmodern, and I still believe I bought this house because of the cabinets (sure as hell was not the neighborhood....). I feel like a long lost child has found her way home....ahhhhh. Ok, enough of that.

Apple Cake

5-7 apples, peeled & sliced
1 stick butter
3/4 cup sugar
pinch of salt
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp baking powder
2 1/4 cup flour
swig of milk :)

Heat oven to 356 degrees. Yes, 356.

Whip butter smooth. Add sugar & eggs, and beat for a least 4 minutes. Add vanilla. Sift flour & powder (or not..), add to mixture and alternate with milk to keep the batter smooth, but not runny. Should have a rather stiff consistancy.

Grease medium spring form. Spread batter on bottom, then layer apples, careful not to overlap too much.

Bake 60-70 minutes.

Sprinkle with brown sugar, cinnamon, and almond slivers. Serve with whipped cream :).

My applesauce is simple apples, cloves, and cinnamon. I don't even add sugar, except in the end I may add a bit brown sugar or maple syrup to thicken it up.

And with all those fabulous apple cores, I make scrap vinegar. Also adding cloves & cinnamon (are you seeing a pattern?).

Salute', my friends, have a fabulous weekend! I hope I have inspired you to be apple-ly.
Much love,

Friday, November 12, 2010

Time to unpack the Quick Healers.

After being under the weather for a day or two, I thought it would be the perfect time to share some of my favorite "family quick heal" tips :). In this house, as soon as I see signs of a cold or infection, I start to work. We choose not to get flu shots, and are always out & about, so we are constantly subjected to germs.

A preventative, and cold buster: Elderberry Syrup! It is so simple to make your own, and much cheaper than buying it. There is a wonderful tutorial at Mountain Rose, (which, by the way, is where I get all my dry herbs. If you click on the button over on the side, Herbmagik will get some brownie points :)...). I make a big pot and store it in the fridge. You can mix the syrup with water kefir (my kids love this!), pour it over syrup, etc.

For sore throats make a strong sage tea with honey. I always make extra tea and keep it in a mason jar. Gurgling with it several times a day helps get rid of the infection. This is also soothing for any sores that pop up in the mouth due to colds.

If you are already stuffy, make onion soup. Very simple:
Take 2-3 large onions, chop. Heat a large pot with olive oil, glaze onions until they are almost brown. Add 2-3 cloves of garlic while the onions are cooking. Add as much tumeric as you can stand. When onions and garlic are glassy, add about 4 cups of water. Simmer for 30 minutes. If you like it, add some fennel seeds while you are simmering, this helps sensitive bellies digest the onions better :). Salt & Pepper to taste, serve steamy.

Vitamin C can be easily acquired and administered to young & old with a mix of hibiscus & rosehips. Just put in a french press, this way the herbs can sit while the tea is sipped. No matter if it cools, this tea tastes yummy cold too. I make two pots in the morning, and the kids sip it throughout the day (much better than sweet juices).

Walk!! Bundle up and go outside while it is cool and crisp. There is nothing like fresh air for the lungs, and letting your skin breathe :).

Steam baths. Stuffy heads can benefit from steam baths. Add a little mint & comfrey to the water. Take a bowl, fill with boiling water, put your head over it, cover with a thick towel and BREATHE. Great for your skin too!

Sleep as much as possible.

Hope some of this helps you get through the germy season. Please add any tips you have! We usually get over any cold/flu symptoms within 2 days, but of course I am not a doctor, so please use with care :).

Friday, November 5, 2010

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Banishing the PASTA, because it gets on my nerves.

I made a few Samhain promises to myself (for new beginnings) that I will surely regret sooner than later.

For at least 4 weeks, I will refrain from eating white sugar (I don't eat much anyways, but occasionally...), and white flour (this will kill me). I love pasta. I can eat pasta three times a day, without any fancy topping.

I have tried whole wheat pasta (yech...), brown rice pasta (acceptable taste, but do not like the consistancy), and rice pasts (great for soups, not so great for solid food). My friends have suggested trying different brands of wheat pasta, so I will do that.

Why do I torture myself??

I am currently on a healing journey. For those who don't know: I was a in a car accident 19 years ago that smashed my bottom 5 vertebra. It also tore of some other vital strains of nerves, but some of them are coming back with a vengeance. After 1 year of suffering pain and not sleeping (thus my all nighters, my body is used to it), I tried Acupuncture. I helped while I was at the office. Now, I take pain meds when necessary (in other words, when I want to sleep). Since I refuse to do this my whole life, I am on a journey of healing. was a long explanation :).

There are several things in this circle of healing:
1. Eliminating all stress factors (yep, that means people too. Love 'em..but..)
2. Eliminating foods that may cause inflammations
3. Regular exercise.
4. Sleep training (yawn)
5. Daily infusions of Nerve/Calcium Mix (same parts Oatstraw, Nettle, Horsetail...prepare as infusion. Thank you, Rosemary Gladstar!
6. Daily infusions of blood cleansing tea.
7. SLEEPING!! No sleep is such a strain on nerves. Both mental & physical.

Good night, sweet ones.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

I am in bread heaven...

When I got this book at the library, I was a skeptic.

No knead bread, made in the oven, then looks like THAT?? No way.

Next, the prep. Really, only about 5 minutes, yet it has to ferment, yes ferment, for at least 12 hours.

This will be a very short post. All I can say is do yourself a favor and TRY IT! This is officially my favorite bread book now. It does take some planning, but you will figure it out. Look at this beautiful bread....

This is my second try. I just ate half the bread out of the oven, and my kids will probably reprimand me in the morning when they look for that "yummy smelling" bread mama was baking :).

Check out the book:


I made the basic recipe. I would post it, but it comes with very detailed instructions, just too long to type. I also encourage you to buy/borrow the book, as the illustrated instructions are very helpful.

Enjoy!! Happy baking....

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Mrs. Frankenstein and her nettles.....

The things that excite me..:).....

P.S. My water kefir grains are very promiscuous, and keep multiplying :). I am happy to share....

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Autumn is in the air.............

Though it is still hot here, my garden is telling me it is preparing for autumn.

It is as if the tomatoes, cucumbers, tomatillos, and nasturtiums are losing their sizzle; all the plants are going within.

It is the time of year I look outside and wait for the chill :). I also want to follow my plants' lead an go within :)...hibernate.

I will begin to set seeds for our wintergarden. Lots of greens & salad.

If you are not on my facebook page, check out the short film my son made with salad in mind at

It has inspired a donation of salad for his garden from Alison at Peas & Harmony.



Monday, September 6, 2010

The morning after......

Today I wanted to share with you what happens several weeks AFTER I post pics....It seems there are always wonderful resources online to start things, but it never shows how they are supposed to look like.

Mine things may not be as they are "supposed" to, but at least you will have a visual. So, enjoy.

A few bottles of water kefir, flavored. Our favorites so far: Cistus tea (a rock rose, it would be the pinki. The one next to it has vanilla extract and cinnamon, and the third bottle has sarsasparilla :). So good...and fizzy good enough for the kids to think "soda".

This is my peach Scrap Fruit Vinegar. Not quite ready to dump it, but tomorrow :).
Compare it to .........

The plum vinegar! It is a beautiful ruby color. In about two weeks we will be enjoying wonderful plum essences in our salad :).

And last, but not least, the trick for all those chaotic Goddeses like me :). I put coffee filters with rubber band on top to keep the flies out and the air in. When I make vinegar, I put the date the the filter, so I know when I have to strain it, etc.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Waste not, want not, and all that jam....

This weekend has been off the wall. My house is filled with fruits and vegetables...bought & gifted. A late start to the Farmer's Market on Sunday made me miss my strawberries, but we walked away two large sacks of apples, peaches, plums, nectarines from one stand for under $10 (he did NOt want to take them home!). Always great deals at the end. I also found "French" plums :)....we Germans call them Zwetschgen, and swear they are not French :).

Then my family and I went on our annual self-pick to the blackberry farm. YUM!! We enjoy our weight in berries while we are picking, and then take home a heaping flat. Blackberry jam for the rest of the year...just finished off our last jar, perfect timing. This time I put cloves & cinnamon in with my jams..the house smelled heavenly! I don't put sugar in my jams, use No Sugar Pectin, or recently, Pomona. I put in a little honey for sweetness :).

What am doing with some of the bruised fruit from my heaping fruit bags?? Inspired by Tiffanie, I am making Srcap Fruit Vinegar!! Thanks to Wild Fermentation, this house is wastin' NOTHING! I can't wait for them to be done! My kitchen is starting is starting to look like a farm lab....mason jars everywhere.

Scrap Fruit Vinegar is easy to make. Just fill a mason jar with your bruised fruit (even apple cores), and 1/4 cup of sugar. Cover with a cheesecloth, or use coffee filters secured with a rubber band. Let bubble and brew for one week (check out the pic below). Strain out the fruit and compost. Recover, and ferment 2-3 more weeks, after which it will be ready to use :). Fabulous, yes?

Bubbles, after one day....

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

What else can I ferment????

A few weeks ago I began my fermenting adventure with Kraut :)...finally. "Wild Fermentation" inspires me to ferment everything I can get my hands on...veggies, fruits, dairy, sourdough.....

I am partaking in the "Preserving the Bounty" challenge at The Nourished Kitchen. If you need ideas, check out their great recipes, one of my favorite is Raw Milk Yoghurt. I have raw milk sitting on my window sill as I type, I wonder what it will turn into? This week, they are hosting a fabulous contest for all beginning fermenters :)!!

If I win, I am going to ferment peaches and try to make my favorite: Moonshine :).

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Diastatic What??? Making and using Diastatic Malt....

Ok, I hope I am not the only one who has never heard of "Diastatic Malt" before.

I love baking bread, but have not been able to replicate the beautiful, yummy, crusty bread I grew up with in Germany. Though I have come close...I am not yet there.

I recently purchased "Rodale's Naturally Great Foods Cookbook" at my favorite bookstore...the thriftstore :). This is a great book, with sections separated by grains. Under wheat bread I found the mysterious Diastatic Malt.

Taken from the book:
"Diastatic malt has long been a secret of professional bread makers in Europe. It is made from sprouted grains that have been dried and ground. In bread recipes, it replaces the sugar or honey needed to feed the yeast and brown the crust. Because diastatic malt is full of enzymes and vitamins, it increases the nutritional value of the bread. In addition, the action of the enzymes on the yeast and flour improves both the flavor and appearance of the bread; it creates a finer texture and helps the bread stay fresh.

Diastatic malt can be made at home using wheat berries, purchased from a health food store, and your food dehydrator. When using it in bread recipes, remember that it is very potent and only a small amount is needed.

Don't forget that your dehydrator makes a wonderful place to raise your bread.

The method: Place one cup of wheat berries in a wide-mouth glass jar and add 4 cups tepid water. Cover with a piece of nylon net; secure with a rubber band. Let soak about 12 hours. Drain off water (save for soup stock or use to water your plants - it�s full of minerals). Rinse well with tepid water, and drain completely. Repeat rinsing process 3 times a day for 2 days or until the little shoots are about the same length as the grains.

Rinse and drain once again. Place on teflon sheets and allow to dry at medium heat in your dryer. Grind dried sprouts to a fine flour in an electric grinder or blender. This will yield about 1 cup of diastatic malt. Store in a tightly closed glass jar in the refrigerator or freezer. It will keep indefinately."

And here is how Heike did it:

I cut our a piece of screen, and make my sprouter with a Mason jar.

Put one cup of wheat berries in a mason jar. Fill with water and SWISH! Turn upside down and shake out vigorously. Then place at an angle in a bowl, so that any excess water can run out. Do this two times a day ( I leave my on my sink, this way we do it whenever we are near. Great job for kids!), until you see sprouts.

Spread out on a cookie sheet and set out in the sun. I put a screen over mine to keep the birds from having a party. I bring them in at night...and after 3 days they are bone dry.

GRIND!! I will save you a huge mess and dishes. I tried to grind mine in my beloved Kitchenaid Food Processor. Big bust. Then I put them in my cheap, 10yr old mixer, pushed GRIND, and voila'....Diastatic Malt.

I will try the Wheat Bread and Black Bread and post the recipe after I experiment..

Have fun sprouting!!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The Kraut is making 'kraut :)

I have been contemplating making Sauerkraut for a long time. For one thing, we love it...especially on hot links. I also know what good Sauerkraut tastes like, since, yes, I am really born and raised German :).

Last week my favorite hardware store was having a "25% off everything that fits in your cart" sale, and that beautiful crock I have been fondling every time I go just jumped right in there.

At about the same time I signed up to join the "Preserve the Bounty" challenge(d) at The Nourished Kitchen. Normally not one to join such committed adventures, :), I was hooked when I read that we will be preserving the old fashioned way, with Mother Nature. As long as it is edible when I am done, without too much dirt from grubby little hands that can never stay way, I am good.

Imagine my delight when the first week's challenge is announced: FERMENTATION!! That is serendipity.

So, my friends, I am making Sauerkraut in my beautiful crock. And I am going to share with you. It is quite simple, yet you should really check out Wild Fermentation. Sandor Elix Katz is quite entertaining, and he makes it all look very easy. Though the site is very comprehensive, I ordered his book.

First, chop up about 5lbs of cabbage. I used red and green, because I want pretty PINK sauerkraut.

As I put the cabbage in the crock, I sprinkle it with sea salt and stomp it down with my firs to release the water in the cabbage. I add salt as I layer. Very therapeutic...

Voila'! Weigh it down with a plate (though I will make myself a round wooden cover soon) and a large glass jar or gallon milk jug.

Now you just need to check it, and keep down the pressure. Check out Sandor's site for details. I will post as it progresses.

Happy fermenting!

P.S. If you are German, and take offense to the word "Kraut" (and yes, I was called one as I was growing up with military kids), please don't. I say it with pride & love :).

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Ewww :(

I thought I had posted the recipe for the strawberry/mint jam I made a few weeks ago.

I was gifted a box of strawberries at the fruit stand at the end of the day, and they needed to be eaten pretty much immediately. So we ate a bunch, and I decided to jam the rest. I found a recipe for the strawberry/mint jam, and did it.

It said to let it set at least for 3 weeks so the mint could mingle.

Sure glad I did not give any of it away!

It was gross. That is all there is to it. The recipe called for "mashing" the berries, and quite frankly, I won't ever do that again. We like our jam with chunks of identifiable fruit.

I came here to link to the recipe and write "DON"t DO IT!", but alas, it has vanished.

With that said, I bought a beautiful flat of fat, sweet berries today, and made a new batch of jam. I added some lavender to two of the jars, can't wait to see how it tastes. We still have a few weeks of good berries, and I am ready to stock up for the winter :).

Thinking of strawberry/rhubarb for my next experiment.......

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Preparing for Lammas

On August 1st, we will celebrate Lammas :).

Traditionally, if you live with the seasons, Lammas marks the "bringing in the of the first wheat harvest". It is also the time to think about preparing for the winter.

I obviously do not grow wheat, but today my son brought in a pretty big bounty from our little backyard garden.

Things are beginning to ripen. The tomatoes that I planted in a box and a bucket are doing much better than the tomatoes I planted in the earth in a bed. I believe it is because the earthen ones got the shivers when we had a cold spell. I get a tomato sporadically, but not the bountiful harvest I had planned on. Soon, I will be bursting with "Gypsy" tomatoes! We are beginning to get new cucumbers every day. I planted Armenian, Long, Regular, and Lemon cucs. The Lemon cucs are nowhere to be found, but the others are coming along nicely. Lots of tomatillos growing, that will make some fabulous green salsa.

I have RHUBARB!!! Even the huckleberries are coming along nicely, getting purple. Next year, I will plant more.

What is not working: Strawberries and chili peppers planted in Topsy Turvys. Sage..:(...

In a few days we will make Lammas bread to eat with our harvested veggies and celebrate our Lammas Feast. The recipe I have is old, long, and typewritten in a book. I found on online for you to enjoy :). I will post mine when I have a bit of time to copy it in....

Two of my favorite books for rituals and recipes to do with kids are:
Wheel of the Year, Living the Magical Life

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Peaches - Blemished Bliss :)

I am a fan of blemished fruit :). All summer long I delve in less than "perfect" fruit, ripe fruit, or fruit that is threatening to smother their owner :).

We will eat it, jam it, puree it.....mmmm...

Today, my wonderful friend brought me a box of peaches that were a little "blemished". Oh my Goddess, super duper sweet.

We cut away the nicks, and ate a ton.

Then we made some Paula Deen Peach Cobbler, see results above :).

Warning. You must love butter, sugar, and yummy calories. Don't forget the home-made whipped cream.

Paula's Peach Cobbler Recipe

Enjoy :)!!

P.S. Notice how the whipped cream could be a cat with lemon balm ears?? LOL!!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Enjoying our first batch of brew!

Yesterday was the day!

We got to "tap" our first batch of ginger soda! After waiting 2 weeks for it to bubble and brew, we were anxious to taste our homemade concoction. Especially my son, who babied and fed his Ginger Bug vehemently for 7 days; hard commitment for THIS 8 year old boy!

I was a little apprehensive, as our ale looked quite flat sitting on the shelf. Don't let that quiet look fool you!

I unscrewed the top just a tad....WHOOOOOOOOSHHHHH!


There was some serious carbonation happening in that bottle! It took about 10 minutes of slow release until we could finally get our lips on our brew.

YUMMY! Need I say more?

We have been experimenting with our water kefir brews also. My favorite sofar: plain with some lemon. My kid's favorite sofar: Vanilla Cream (just add some vanilla :)...), and lemon with cinnamon chips (like that one too!).

Happy brewing!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Rhubarb & Nutmeg Jam


From the many jams we made last year after I finally got all my "gear" and figured out how to check a "gel"....I have to say the Rhubarb Nutmeg is the family favorite.

My daughter says it tasess like cola...My son thinks it is candy.

Thanks to my wonderful friend Marie, and her patch of fabulous green rhubarb, I have made a new batch tonight, just as our last glass is dwindling to nothingness.

Here is the recipe I found online last year:

8 cups rhubarb, or 4.5 cups cooked
6.5 cups of sugar (wheeeeeeeeeeeeeee!)
1 package of pectin
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon butter

I follow this recipe, except I use "no sugar pectin" and about 1 cup of honey. I grate the nutmeg fresh, and put it in at the end. Warning: we love nutmeg, so the strong aroma is great for us...make sure you don't use more than you can chew.


Saturday, June 26, 2010

Nasturtium Love

Love, love, love Nasturtiums....Kapuzinerkresse :).

Their beautiful bright flowers and green hued leaves are not only a treasure for the eyes, they are YUMMY. I planted a ton of different varieties, and now they are becoming aboundant. Once in bloom, the blossoms wilt fairly quickly.

So what's a witchy girl to do? Eat them!

I have been putting the blossoms in our salads or as a pretty garnish forever, but now I am going to try some of the recipes from my books, or you can google "Nasturtium Recipes".

Nasturtium Butter
12-14 blossoms
2-4 leaves
1 stick of butter, softened
1 clove of garlic (optional)
Lavender (optional)

Pick petals, wash, and check for critters. Dry. Chop petals and leaves. Mash garlic, if you use it. I have very strong chives in my yard, so I use those instead. Chop flowers into butter (think Cold Stone Creamery). I put in a little lavender, since I have it, and I love it :).

Put in jar (I used a 1 pint jar), sprinkle with lavender, put in fridge. 1 stick of butter fits nicely in a jar if you don't pack it down. I like it "fluffy", so the flowers don't get smashed. If you pack it in, you can probably do 1.5 sticks, just add more flowers accordingly.


Thursday, June 24, 2010

Braumeister....addicted to brew.

I was recently introduced to home-made Ginger Ale by Ayla at ChrysalisWoman. Not only did it taste yummy, I was intrigued at the process of making it. Now, I am not usually one to jump on the opportunity of "feeding", "turning", "culturing", "watering", anything on a daily or consistant scares me.

I thought starting a Ginger Bug would be a great summer experiment for my son. I was right, he is quite the little Braumeister (Brewmaster), and is responsible for feeding the bug daily. After 7 days of feeding the ginger bug every day, we finally had the frothy base we needed to brew our ale and bottle it. We added some Sarsaparilla to the syrup to give it a little extra taste. Now we need to let it ferment for at least 2 weeks....

We took a little of our Ginger Bug and started a new one. Now the process won't take so long, and we will continously brew. What a great alternative to soda! If you google "Ginger Bug", or "Ginger Soda", you will come up with a plethora of brewing tips & recipes!

I ordered some water kefir grains (the growing of beneficial bacteria...mmm....).The water kefir...yum. The initial batch came dehydrated, so it takes a few days to get started. After that, you can continuously reuse your grains. We added some lemon and had a tingly lemonade. I did start the newest batch with sucanat, which is dried cane sugar, instead of organic sugar. The sucanat has a molasses flavor, and is supposed to help the grains multiply. Waiting to see what the difference will be in taste.

I also tried my hands at joghurt to try to replicate the joghurt I love so much from Germany. Sofar, I have killed both batches. It is a bit fickle, as it needs warmth to start to culture. The first time I left it too close to the oven when baking bread (instant curdle), and the second time the house got to warm. We don't use the AC unless it is close to 100, so I will have to find a way to do this now that the days are getting hotter.

Great place to explore and order cultures is

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Bugs bite.......Mama bites back.

My sweet blooded little Goddess came back from camp COVERED in bites...even though I succumbed to letting her use the super duper chemical bug spray this time. Last year, she got off the bus and said: "Mama, your natural bug spray did NOT work on these bugs!".

Anywhooooo...she is back, and now I am here to stop the insistant itch.

This recipe is taken from Rosemary Gladstar's Family Herbal (one of my favorite "go to" books). Can also be used on scratches, so it is good for the scratched open bites too.

Insect Bites
4 parts green clay
1 part aloe vera powder (I omitted this an used aloe vera gel to mix. It cools & soothes, and I had it on hand :)..)
1 part comfrey root powder
1 part chaparral or goldenseal (organic) powder

Mix in a glass jar. Take a little out and mix with water into a paste (I used aloe vera gel instead of the aloe powder) and apply to bites, or wounds. You can add some lavender or tea tree oil, I did not because my princess does not like the smell :).

I will cover the left over paste with some Seran wrap and a rubber band, store it in the fridge. This way, I can easily reapply during the day, and it will be cool :). If it dries, just remoisten with gel or water.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Scenes from my backyard & recipe : Nasturtiums

Nasturtiums have always been a favorite of mine :). I remember vast walls of old bridges or houses covered with them. When I was a child, I swore these were all enchanted....

Now I have a few varieties in my backyard, they are planted to and fro. The first ones to bloom are the Red Empress. In their honor, I made a salad with them tonight :). Enjoy!

Cucumber Garden Salad

2 large cucumbers (mine are not ready yet, thank Goddess for the Farmer's Market :)...)
I used one Armenian and one long English
A variety salad
Sour Cream
Mustard powder or regular Dijon

Slice cucumbers in fine slices. Sprinkle generously with salt and set aside to "pull" water. Once you see a good amount of water drawn from the cucs, drain. Dollup with a few BIG wooden spoonfuls of sour cream :). Stir. You will notice a nice frothy sauce forming. Season with mustard, pepper, and dill.

Wash and dry salad.

Mix with cucs.

Put on plates and garnish with Nasturtiums (which have a slightly peppery taste).

Serve & Enjoy!

Friday, June 11, 2010

First (almost) ripe Boysenberry

My son goes outside every day to see what is ripening. He counts the figs. If anything is BARELY ripe, he feels the need to be the first to taste it.

This is our first almost ripe Boysenberry. Now, we only have green ones :). I planted this bush in the fall. It is supposed to be thornless, unfortunately it is developing some nasty big thorns :(. I just wrote the company who grew it a letter today. I was not wanting a rambling, thorny, berry bush in my jungle.

Everything is coming along nicely, as long as these winds don't blow it all to Kansas....

Head of Ranch Security. Watching the veggies grow, and waiting for voles who have not met him yet....

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Drying the bounty......

I am graced with an abundance of some herbs, in particular Rosemary, Lemonbalm, Mint (both pepper and spearmint), Borage.....and recently, Mugwort.

Though I enjoy just looking at them or brushing up against them when I am out and about in the yard, I have been experimenting with different methods of drying and preserving this fabulous bounty.

This picture is not me in my yard :), but me at my friend Julie's demo garden (see more below).

Please share if you have had success drying or preserving (tincturing?) that are not mentioned.

Lemonbalm: The best thing so far for me: hanging upside down to dry. It does not take very long, and I have learned to take down the sprigs as soon as the leaves are crispy to preserve the lemony freshness we love. It is a bit tedious to remove the dry leaves from the sprigs without them crumbling to nothingness (I like LB big, like Texas...), but am getting the hang of it after my third harvest.

Oregano: Hang. Dries easily, and I just zip it right into a container by stripping the branch.

Chamomille: Plant tray laid out with a piece of screen, sitting on a piece of newspaper to catch anything that falls through...

Rosemary: Hanging. Strip right into the container. I use the stripped branches for my Kitchen Witches :).

Lavender: Cut fronds and tie upside down in a paper bag. As Lavender dries, just shake the bag. The little lavender buds will shake down :).

Calendula: Got to visit my friend Julie at the farm where she sells her organic plants (check out Peas & Harmony), and they are bursting with Calendula! Picked some, and am drying in plant trays. This way they get air all around, no turning necessary. I have read that they need to stay out of the sun....

I also have a ton of mint. I am not sure that I want to dry it, but will try mint jelly and mint pesto start with. Will report back when I do. The same with the Borage. The little white flowers taste like cucumbers :), other than that, we have only used the new leaves in "Gruenne Sosse".

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Tough love....

Today I had to enforce some tough love in my garden....

I had 4-5 foot high stalks of borage, covered with flowers. I left them as long as possible, since the bees were having a heyday with them. Today, I pulled them out. The Borage is a bit of a bully, spreading and seeding as it pleases :). Between it, and Ms. Lemonbalm, well they were crowding my whole herb bed. Not to mention that have spread their little children way outside of the box, they are homesteading all over the backyard.

Normally, I let this wild rumpus go, I enjoy it.

In this case, I had to be a leader and pull out the Borage, and a bunch of Lemonbalm so my Echinacea could finally get some breathing room and grow!

As I was pulling, I discovered many new little Borage & Lemonbalm babies....they multiply like rabbits.

The Borage was too far gone to use, but I just hung the second harvest of Lemonbalm to dry, as well as more Oregano. Just in time to take down the first round and store. I love how my kitchen smells when I hang them in there to dry.

Like a summer in Italia.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Mugwort & Rye afternoon companions

This afternoon we began another round of clearing out, and in between I decided to try a new recipe for Rye bread.

I will have to tell you tomorrow if I like it, it always tastes better the next day.

Thanks to the recommendation of my beautiful friend Ayla of Chrysalis Woman (, I also started some Mugwort vinegar. I did not fill the glass completely, my sweet Mugwort is pretty strong and I did not want it to overwhelm with its' strong taste :). I only had a few small sprouts right now anyways. Will be drying the rest to burn.

Vinegars are a wonderful way to infuse your favorite herbs for use in salads, over beans, etc, etc. Just pack a clean Mason jar to the top with herbs. Slightly warm raw apple cider vinegar (don't use cheap apple vinegar, the raw one with the mother is best. :)...), cover herbs, and cap. Make sure to shake the jar a little every day (give it some good magic!) for at least two weeks. Strain, and enjoy!