Monday, March 31, 2008

March Blog along wILd eGgS

Well I could not leave our March food blog along without wild foods. Spring is abounding here in the Ozarks and I am so blessed with this abundance at my fingertips.
On Sunday I ran out to snip wild nettles, chickweed and dandelion leaves from our property and sauteed them with a bit of wild onion tops.
Then added the last 4 eggs I had along with some smoked tofu and a slice of bleu cheese.

I have to be honest, it was not my favorite wild food meal, but our local My Brothers Salsa livened things up. I think parmesan or cheddar would have been better with this combination.

Tonite, again wild foods with polish sausage that has been simmering this evening with dock greens, henbit, dandelion leaves and chickweed that has been cooked in a coupel changes of water and then blenderized. Then I added some rice to that and it was very good.

Tonites meal cost me all of $2 and fed 4 people until very satisfied.

I look forward to whipping up more meals with our wild foods.

I actually decided that most of our wild roses will stay. I will try to get them in control better to keep them out of the play areas, however I know if I uproot them all I will regret not using their new leaves and flowers in tea and facial toners.

Thanks to all that joined the blog along. I loved the ideas. I even tried some vegan fare too which I did enjoy.

Friday, March 28, 2008


I take a break from food on occassion and give my body an easy digestive task by nourishing her with strong herbal infusions and rest if needed. This seems especially helpful after winter when I feel sluggish and reclusive.

Yesterday I took that break, and often I find that energy abounds in this time. I was able to handle my workload at the house and do some yard work outdoors. A friend of mine would come to mind on occassion, actually this entire week did her face adn name come into my mind.

Last night, after dinner was complete, my sweetheart called from his pizza delivery job to cause our attention onto a tornado warning.
I coudl not get my weather radio to work, and the internet had little to say about it, so I finished cutting a batch of soap I was working on, and headed down to out basement about 15 minutes after I sent the kids down there.

It was quite bright for 7:30 at night, especially in the middle of a storm. The spring is creepy with very dangerous weather usually this time of year.
I think of my neighbors in other areas of the state and country that have been effected with bad weather consequences. I hope I am prepared and my children and I pray.

The storm was mild compared to other places, last night. Once it passes, the birds sang their songs like nothing unusual had happened at all. Maybe they were singing of thankfulness. Thankful that it was mild here and that life continues on.

After a fairly restful night, and a pleasant morning, I received a surprise. A phone call from my friend whom I had been thinking of so much lately.


Monday, March 24, 2008

Molasses Crinkles and Easter Lamb dinner

Mix 3/4 cup soft butter
1 cup brown sugar (packed)
1 egg
1/4 cup molasses
in a decent size bowl because you are going to add this to it
Mix together
2 1/4 cup flour
2 t soda
1/4 t salt
1/2 t cloves
1 t cinnamon
1 t ginger

Stir them together and add to the above ingredients. Chill dough.
Roll into balls the size of large walnuts. Dip top in sugar. Place sugar size up 3 inches apart on greased baking sheet. Sprinkle each cookie with 2 or 3 drops of water to produce a cracked surface.

Bake until soft, not hard at 375 degrees for 10-12 minutes.

We had a glorious Easter dinner with the Gros family. Patrice is French, an organic farmer, and his wife Karen is a personal chef and amazing cook and woman.
There were 4 families present and all of us self employed. The evening started off Euro style with exquisite champagne and the kids had an egg hunt.
We talked and helped in the kitchen for awhile.

Then we were seated and had our meal of Farm fresh raised lamb

Farm Fresh Swiss Chard Tarts

Easter Bread

Roasted Veggies
I made this-you clean your produce and dry. Cut into bite size peices of quarters.
I used-red cabbage, beets,cauliflower, broccoli,green beans all tossed ina bowl with extra virgin olive oil, garlic powder, spike, nutritional yeast and kale.
Baked at 350 for about 45 minutes, with foil on top, then uncovered about 15 at 450 to get things brown. Added Fried onions in there too.


Plenty of wine and champagne.

A little song Manon Sang of Edith Piaf which now makes me want to rent Avignon Rose.

Here are the children

I answered the phone once and on the other line was a French woman:) So I handed the phone to Karen who speaks fluently

It was a wonderful time for all of our family!
And a special blessing because Friday kicked off another local gathering at my friend Michelle's. Ray was feeling under the weather so he stayed home with Liv.
The boys shot fireworks all night which is such a thrill for any young lad:)
The food and atmopshere was lively and joyful and it was good to visit with Michelle whom I had not really talked to in a very long time.
I am so blessed to see how they are progressing in their dream of land, animal ownership and gatherings. Here are the boys showing thier body paintings from that party.

What a beautiful weekend! The best is yet to come~

Friday, March 21, 2008

Life abundant

How often are we able to quietly contemplate our life, who we are and what our purpose is on this earth.
For me, a mother indeed. I have actively participated in raising 7 children. And have also had my heart completely broken by some of these children too.
It is not at all an easy task to be a mother because there is a thread of connection that binds much tighter and stronger than any other yoke I have experienced ever before.
When grandbabes come along you feel that thread too, but it is not as tight, nor is it connected straight through your heart, but goes through the heart of another first.
I have 3 littles at home now. They are certainly active in my herbal life since this is probably what I speak, eat , drink or seek most often. They are aware of how important plants are to Ray and I.
However, I am not certain I have planted good seeds in them, as I discover in myself that I have a little fear of nature.
I tend to be a work a holic in my home, I work hard! All the time.
When I finally do get out into nature, I feel refreshed and nourished into my soul.
I then wonder, why I waited so long to get outdoors? Then I recall, oh yes, because I have not been taught how to look for danger signs. In the Ozarks there are wildcats, bears, stinging insects and things I often fear that holds me back from taking more breaks with my children for them, and I, to be fed by the glory of the natural world.

Yesterday I woke up and was "aware" that a special day was about to unfold for my children. They are currently on spring break and I was unsure of how this was to come to pass. We were only planning on a thrift store run both to drop off and browse(or buy) and the farm store in search of rabbit manure.
The thrift store was not a huge score. I was in seach of a glass or ceramic water pitcher and nothing was found, but I did get some pretty blown glass water glasses and an old know the kind with turquoise color inside. It broke upon the first washing, but none the less I really like it and will find room for it somewhere.
Then we went to the farm store. They did not carry rabbit manure, but they did have rabbits. One look at those white little creatures and my kids were hooked.
$60 later that I really should not have spent on rabbit stuff, we brought home Jack.

So yes, it was a special day for the children. They love this animal.

One the garden front, I have fellow herbies helping me to ID the plants in my yard that I do not yet know. Such abundance! The chickweed is magnificent right now. The Elder is leafing out. Red buds, service berry and dogwoods are ready for their spring display, daffodils bring cheer to the soul and I am so grateful the previous owners planted them here, my comfrey is emerging up through the leaf mulch and the forsythia is waving in the wind and in case we had not felt the energy of spring yet, she is certainly letting us know.

I go outdoors, and also find comfort in nature, as the father of my grandbaby, Megan, goes to Iraq today to serve our country.
A war I protested before it began, now takes someone I love into its dark deceptive intention.
Brian, Megans Daddy, has always wanted to serve the country to defend us, even as a boy. So all I can do is pray for him and my sorrow for his safety is eased when I go outside and pour my emotions to the breeze. When another is connected to your family via marriage or birth, it is easy to claim them as your own for some reason. Brian feels in many ways like a son, as well as Sam, my other son in law. I wonder if my sons women will feel the same.
And against my will, lol, I will now be forced to make Integrity soap again, for Brian and my stepson, Kenny. Jeez, I just cannot break free from Integrity! :)

As I grow internally, I find that connecting with the plants around me helps soothe my soul and become a better person. Yesterday I planted strawberries, pansies, and we made about 30 newspaper seed pots and have them filled with soil ready for our seeds we will start. We chose 10 things to grow this year. Lemon Balm, Basil, Thyme, Arnica, St Johns Wort, Comfrey, Rosemary, Green Beans, Tomato and Peppers.
We chose only 10 so that we can devote ourselves to their nurturing, but I have a feeling that may turn into 30 things before spring is over. It is such a temptation to fill the yard with such useful things! We do have many others here already so nurturing them along too.
Not only that, but planting endangered plants in our woods is on the to do list as well.
We have ordered our seeds and a kids pack (which added at least 6 other items we had not planned in our original 10) from Horizon Herbs
I trust Richo and Mayche with my seeds. They have such passion for the plants and planet.

I know too, that I will be blessed at Foundation Farm when I can volunteer and learn from Patrice, who I adore, and am fortunate to spend Easter with he and Karen, his amazing wife and their 2 children (who are also amazing). I really love their family.
I have also been invited to a gathering tonite to celebrate spring with a local family and all thier guests on their farm.

It's in the air, a new season, time to take a break from the indoor world, and move outside where we belong and be part of the connectedness of human bond one again.
I think I am ready and expect to share good things with you in the days forthcoming

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Kids on Candy

Armed with a yellow colored candy cane, I divided the spoil between 2 humans, and here is the result.
Dont try this at home!

Meeshi and some other awesome foodie mama's

My online buddy Meeshi has shared these recipes this week and what joy to see something so simple and nutritious be enjoyed by all.
She shared pics of the kids making the muffins, they were that easy and I suspect the original muffin recipe could be a spin off of a famous recipe by Sandi called Pumpkin Muffins.
The food blog this month has been so fun. Lots of great ideas and different eating styles. I know Meesh is vegetarian, we also have a Vegan, and a Korean (I think she is Korean-she lives in Hawaii) and a few other American girls participating. So this well rounded handful of mothers makes it so interesting.
I gotta say, Sandi made a key lime pie and lime merangue pie too I think it was for St Patty's...very cool indeed.
I would share links but these are families and I try to get permission first.
Here is Meeshi's recipes today. I want them in my archives!!! lol

Honey Baked Lentils
1 cup lentils
2 cups water
2 tbsp honey
2 tbsp soysauce (I used Braggs)
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp ginger (I omitted this)
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
salt & pepper
In a baking dish (I use a loaf pan) combine all ingredients. Cover with foil. Bake at 350 until tender, about an hour. I stirred at least once during baking because the onions tend to rise to the top. We serve with rice and like it all stirred together.

Apple Pumpkin Muffins
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice (we substited a shake of clove, nutmeg and cinnamon)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 cup canned or cooked pumpkin
1/2 vegetable oil
2 cups finely chopped apples
In a bowl, combine the first five ingredients. In another bowl, combine the eggs, pumpkin and oil, stir into dry ingredients until just moistened. Fold in apples. Fill paper-lined muffin cups 2/3 full.
For a crumbly topping, combine 2 tbsp of sugar, 2 tbsp flour, a shake of cinnamon and 4 tsp of cold butter or margarine. Use a fork to combine and sprinkle over the tops of muffins. This recipe made 12 muffins, plus had enough batter left over to make a little cake.
Bake at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes.

She is peeking at us, I think


Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Anima Wilderness Events this summer

Anima Wilderness Learning Center & Medicine Woman Tradition
(by donation)
May 22-27: The Wild Women’s Gathering
A six day event for women only, with a focus on primitive camping, interaction with the natural world and personal rewilding: learning to trust our senses, instincts and needs – and to heed our callings and live our dreams regardless of constraints, norms, fears and habits.

June 12-17: The Woman Spirit Gathering
Another six day women’s event, a memory-making celebration of the spirit of womanhood, dedicated to self nourishment, sisterly sharing and sweet savoring – with inspiring teaching circles, wonderful outdoor feasts, swimming, singing and riverside dancing!

July 3-6: The Shaman’s Path Intensive
For men as well as women, a four day long workshop imparting insights and techniques for heightening awareness, connecting with inspirited nature, exploring alternate realities, instigating ecstatic states, developing our powers to affect events, and defining and fulfilling our individual most-meaningful purpose.

Aug 1-6: The Medicine Woman Gathering
Six days of presentations and discussions, plant walks and medicine making – for women who feel called to a healer’s life of intense awareness and personal responsibility. The Medicine Woman Tradition defines healing as contributing to wholeness and balance… of our selves, of others, and of the living world we are a part of.

Aug 29 -Sep 1: The Wild Foods Weekend
Four days of learning to identify, gather, preserve and deliciously prepare a wide number of the wild native foods of the mountainous West and Southwest – increasing observation skills, self confidence and our ability to survive, while helping us connect deeper to the natural world and cycles of life that we are each a natural part of.

For more information, or for Registration forms you can download, please go to the Anima Events page at:

Anima Center also offers Retreats with meals in riverside cabins, Vision Quests, personal Counsel, resident Internships and Apprenticeships, and empowering Correspondence Courses including the Way Of Heart, Shaman and Medicine Woman paths. There is no set charge for any of the various opportunities, services, courses and events… only a suggested, sliding scale donation.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Oui Oui..but no recipe

A day assisting Cuisine Karen
Cuisine Karen
Well darnit I left the recipes at her house...hopefully I can still get them when we see her next week when I might present you with our Easter meal pictures. (we are spending Easter with the Gros family)
The meal was amazing. The pictures dont do any justice. The flavors were light and beautiful. It was a special treat to be part of the class.
Karen had a cooking class this month with:
Blue cheese tartlets
Tartelets aux Roquefort

Roast rabbit with Dijon mustard sauce, carrots & olives
Lapin à la moutarde aux olives et carottes

Now, I wasn't sure I would like rabbit all that much, but it was very good. I also thought the blue cheese tartlets would be wierd, but whoa...amazing.
The first cuttings of Patrice's greens were also served with homemade vingarette.
So this is my special food blog Monday for you (posting early because tommarrow I need to get started on my tax paperwork)

This is the marinated rabbit in a white wine marinade.

Dredged rabbit is now browned to be roasted in the oven.

Tartlets being ready to bake

The supper once completed and honestly this picture does not do justice at all!

And since I have no recipes for you, I will share a pic we took today. Ben and I made our Milk Chocolate truffles.
2 oz unsweetened chocolate..melt and allow to cool to room temp
4 TBSP butter room temp
Once both are about the same temperature, mix together. Add 4 TBSP cream, a dash of stevia and a good squeeze agave nectar (or whatever you like to sweeten your foods with)
Add 2 tsp vanilla extract and mix again.

We spread out onto parchment paper, added pecan halves and let set up. Cut into chunks and put into a plastic bag in the freezer. This is a great sweet tooth releiver for our family.

Friday, March 14, 2008

My children..I love them so much

Been so busy to post this week I need to catch up. Has been a wonderful past week + witht he kids although busy for me, Ray has been slow with work and the kids have been happy with the warm weather that has sprung up lately.

Spring is on the way

This was actually a week or so ago, but I loved the picture with coffee in tow, my daughter in crocs as we walked the boys to their bus stop and the spring bulbs poking up through the snow....

Herbalist Spotlight~Lyn Ayre

I borrowed this picture from one of Lyn's website and the caption was that she was photo'd with her PHD.

Sharing an herbalist that loves working with perfumery as well was fitting for this week. Thank you Lyn.

Subject: Lyn E. Ayre, Ph.D.

Age: 56

Gender: Female

Marital status: married

Children: three grown children-ages 35, 36, 37; and six grandchildren ages

2-18.5 years.

Do you remember what was going on in your life that lead you to herbs?

I was living in rural British Columbia with my first husband and our two kids.

Self-sufficiency was the necessary life-style in that situation back in 1972. We

had an extensive garden including many culinary and medicinal herbs. I learned a

great deal about the effects of herbs on the body as I added them to some of my

favourite recipes.

How old were you at that time?

I was 21 years old at that time.

Can you share some of the work that has most influenced you? Such as books,

blogs, video, and lectures.

Until I enrolled in the Heart of Herbs Master Herbalist course, I had no formal

education. I’d just been growing and using the herbs I always had such as:

Rosemary, Sage, Marjoram, Thyme, Basil, Fennel, Bay, Calendula, Chamomile,

Cleavers, Dandelion, Garlic, Ginger, Lemon Balm, Peppermint, Spearmint,

Raspberry leaf, Red Clover, and Yarrow.

I’d also read many books on the subject of herbs and anatomy, as follows, and

all of them helped educated me and made me want to learn more:

The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Herbs Jiri Stodola and Jan Volak

The New Healing Herbs Michael Castleman

The Pill Book Guide to Natural Medicines Michael Murry

The Botanical PharmacyHeather Boon

The Complete Guide to Herbal MedicinesCharles Fetrow & Juan Avila

The Healing Spirit of Plants Clare Harvey & Amanda Cochrane

The Herbal Drugstore Linda B. White and Steven Foster

The Naturally Clean Home Karyn Siegel-Maier

Healing Herbal Teas Brigitte Mars

Healing with the Herbs of Life Lesley Tierra

Atlas of Anatomy-Know Your Body Emmett Keffee, MD

Traditional Herbal Remedies Michael Howard

When making plant medicine, are you drawn to any particular method?

When I collect herbs, I chant Om to the Mother plant. I give thanks to Gaia as

she is my earth Mother who takes care of every one of my physical needs

including my medicine. Source looks after my spiritual and energetic needs. Then

I dry the herbs in my food dehydrator and either tincture the material or infuse

it in oil. Of course, it is used in the food recipes I create as well as

medicinal teas, baths, pot pourri, given as gifts, and other ways. When

tincturing, I will use both the measuring system and the Simpler Method.

Do you have a most memorable event, conference, or one on one experience with

any of our herbal foremothers and forefathers or any other key person used in

your path of herbalism? And how has that influenced you today?

I was born and raised in the southwest corner of beautiful British Columbia. In

this beautiful land, we are surrounded by mountains, forests, and many varieties

of wild life. The Fraser River runs through our area only a few blocks away, and

the Pacific Ocean is nearby. This wild beauty has consistently captured my

heart. I’ve always experienced a heart-swell when I look at the plant life

around me. I’ve talked to plants and sang to them my whole life.

My most memorable herbal event to date is the discovery of Calendula in 2002. My

Spiritual Mentor of 26 years passed away in September 2001. As we were leaving

her property for the last time, my husband reached down and took a couple of

handfuls of seeds from one of her plants and stuck them in his pocket. We didn’t

know what it was, we only wanted something of hers to live on with us.

We planted these seeds in early spring. When the flowers bloomed, our neighbour

identified them as Calendula. I did research on this beautiful plant and began

to make Calendula Balm in 2002. I made ten jars and those same first customers

keep coming back for more. Each year, when the plants set seed, I give some away

to whomever is my student at that time. Calendula plants are now growing all

over the world and Louise Campbell Silver lives on. Her affect on my life was

incredibly deep and lasting. I will never forget her.

Where are you located?

Coquitlam, British Columbia, Canada

Do you work with the public and could you describe your work? such as: Do you

teach classes?

I do work with the public and I do teach classes but in Energy Healing and

Natural Perfumery. I don’t teach herbal classes just yet as I want to first

graduate from the Master Level course and another herbal course I’m taking in

person this fall of 2008. In this class, we go out into the bush and do some

wildcrafting and plant identification, bringing back the plants to Langara

College and making medicine.

Do you offer consultations?

It is my plan to do herbal consultation when I graduate. I have been doing them

on an informal basis over the years, doing lots of research for particular

cases. I look forward to broadening my scope of practice.

Do you travel for herbal work?

Not at this time.

How can people contact you to find out more about what you offer, calendar of

events, blogs, weed walks, etc?

I have two web sites and two blogs to do with energy healing and natural

perfumery. They are:

Lyn Ayre

Inner Journal

Scent of Nature


Do you have a vision for your work in the future or are you seeing how it


For over thirty years, I have been using herbs, that I have grown myself, for

cleaning products, health and beauty aids, food, first aid, and many other

reasons. I also use several over-the-counter herbs when I have an acute

situation. I have peace of mind when using herbal remedies, as I know what is in

the product and how it will affect my health.

By learning more about herbs, going deeper into the botany, chemistry, wild

crafting, and increasing my knowledge and experience of other certified organic

herbs that I have not grown myself, I hope to be able to help myself even more

so I will be really healthy. Eventually, I want to have a consulting practice

and help people physically as well as energetically.

Some of the personal solutions I am working towards are stabilizing my blood

sugar, eliminating cravings for sweets, coming to my idea weight, better memory,

deeper sleep, and more stamina. I am very confident that I will succeed. I’ve

been amazed by what I have read so far and I’m deep into a learning curve that

will take me to my ultimate goal of having a deeper understanding of the Heart

of Gaia.

There are many ‘jobs’ that a I could be suited for: growing and distributing

herbs; teaching about herbs; taking interested folks on herb walks, lecturing

about herbs, writing about herbs; owning/running a herb store; doing herbal

consultations; and working in a herb store. There may be others that I haven’t

thought of yet.

My plan is to do what I always do with that which I learn and that is to write,

teach, and help others via consultations. My husband has come on board with me

and will be expanding our herb garden this year. We have a good-sized order

pending for live plants and organic seeds. We are always interested in seeing

where Spirit will lead us next.

Most of the readers are new to herbs and if there is one word of wisdom or sage

advice you could leave them, what would that be?

I am a writer so it is unlikely I can do this in one word.

What I would like to convey is to be ever-curious; find out all you can about

the herbs you are interested in. Don’t skim over the contra-indications, rather

fully learn those, too. Herbalism is the world of possibilities: to overcome

chronic health situations, for health maintenance, for safe bath and beauty

products, for a clean home environment, and for a nutritious way to eat. The

possibilities are indeed endless.

I am so grateful to have you participating in this project I know you will

inspire others with your deep appreciation, knowledge and love of herbalism.

You are so welcome. Thanks so much for allowing me to share my love of herbs.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Comments and moderation

Spam comments totally take away from the essence of the people shared on this blog. Honestly it pisses me off bad to see some ridiculous post trying to get my viewers to click for some get rich quick scheme or product.

I currently have comments of moderation just for that reason. If I find out a better way I will. Please continue to comment if you like. I am sorry. I deplore spam, plain and simple.

Sunday, March 9, 2008


These recipes were obtained by Kalyns Kitchen
I love her recipes and we loved this soup. I over cooked the garbanzo's in the roasted chickpea recipe, it was still good but it could have been better. This was delicious though and we will be making this again. Hope you like:)

Chickpea (Garbanzo Bean) Soup Recipe with Spinach, Tomatoes, and Basil
1 cup dried chickpeas (garbanzo beans), soaked at least 8 hours or overnight in cold water
6 cups homemade chicken stock or 4 cans chicken broth (you could make this a vegetarian soup by using vegetable broth)
1 yellow onion, diced
6-8 cloves garlic, diced very small
1 T olive oil (or less, depending on your pan)
1 can diced tomatoes with juice (I like Muir Glen Organic Tomatoes)
3-4 cups chopped baby spinach (measure before chopping)
2-4 T chopped fresh basil (I used my frozen basil)
salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste

Soak chickpeas overnight or for at least 8 hours in cold water. Drain chickpeas and discard water, and pick out any loose skins that have come off.

Put chickpeas in heavy soup pot with chicken stock, bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until chickpeas are tender. This will depend on how fresh the dried chickpeas were, but for me it took about an hour. Use a spoon or stock skimmer to remove any foam that appears.

When chickpeas are tender, heat olive oil in heavy frying pan, then saute onions about 5 minutes, until fairly soft. Add garlic and cook 2-3 minutes more. Add onions and garlic to soup pot with diced tomatoes. Let soup simmer on low heat about 30 minutes.

Add chopped spinach to soup (adding a bit more water or chicken stock if needed) and simmer 15-30 minutes more. I used my beloved Braun Immersion Blender at this point to slightly break up the ingredients. If you don't have an immersion blender, you can put about 1/3 of the soup into a food processor or blender and pulse a few times. You can skip this step completely too, if you'd like a chunkier soup.

Stir in chopped basil and cook 5 minutes. Season soup with salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste and serve hot. This is wonderful topped with freshly grated parmesan cheese. (If you have some parmesan rinds, throw them into the soup while it's cooking for even more flavor.)

Crispy Roasted Chickpeas with Moroccan Spices

1 can chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
1 T olive oil
1/4 - 1/2 tsp. Moroccan Spice Mix
salt to taste (I used about 1/4 tsp. kosher salt)

Spice Mix:
2 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. ground coriander
1/2 tsp. chile powder (I used Ancho chile powder from Penzeys)
1/2 tsp. sweet paprika
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground allspice
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
(recipe called for a pinch ground cloves, which I did not have.)

Preheat oven to 350 F. (I was making this in my favorite Oster Toaster Oven, If you're using a regular oven, I'd double the recipe and use a large cookie sheet.)

Drain garbanzo beans into a colander and rinse well with cold water until no more foam appears. Let beans drain for 5-10 minutes, then pat dry with a cloth of paper towel if they still look wet.

While beans drain, make spice mix. (This is great on many veggies, so make the full amount and store in a glass jar.)

When beans are well drained and dried, toss with olive oil, spice mix, and salt. Arrange in single layer on baking sheet. Roast 40-50 minutes, or until they are slightly browned and make a rattling sound when you shake the baking sheet. (I roasted these for 50 minutes, but next time I would take them out a tiny bit sooner.) Serve warm or let cool.

(I think there are a lot of different spice mixtures that would taste good on chickpeas roasted like this. If anyone has a variation that turns out to be tasty, please leave the link in the comments.)

Herbalist Spotlight-The wonderful Ms Tina Sams of the Essential Herbal

~*~*~*~*~HERBALIST SPOTLIGHT-Tina Sams~*~*~*~*~*

I really admire this herbal sister. She is doing such a great work in the herbal world, not with fancy glossy, intangible, expensive journalism, but with real down to earth community publications. This is the only publication I seem to read all the way through and every issue brings me wisdom, and a sense of belonging to a greater group of people that love herbs as much as me. Either we are all off our rockers together, or a movement is coming together to make accessible the ancient traditional art of healing herbs.

I bring to you the Goddess of The Essential Herbal Magazine, Tina Sams.

Well let's see... I'm a 52 year old divorced woman, raising a 17 year old daughter. Those are the facts. In my head, I'm about 27. Not physically - oh no. Physically I am a fluffy little old lady. The mirror is not my friend (it's so negative!), and I manage to avoid it pretty well.

I have a long-term, long-distance relationship with the sweetest man on earth. That seems about perfect right now. It allows me space to work and raise this kid, while still giving me emotional support and love when the going gets rough.

Do you remember what was going on in your life that lead you to herbs?


We lived with my grandparents when I was young. My grandfather came from a long line of mountain people who farmed. He knew plants. He didn't know the real names for them, but he had a relationship with them. He knew how they smelled and tasted, what they were good for, and where to find them. We would go for walks, and he would offer small samples, crushing the leaves to give me a whiff. We picked berries, roots and leaves to take home. My grandmother was a thoroughly modern woman, embracing anything new and turning up her nose at the old ways. It embarrassed her, I think, when we brought things home so it was our good fortune that my mom would bake the berries into pies, the black walnuts into cakes and cookies, or brew us teas from the meadow mint.

I adored my grandfather and he died too young. Always when I am outside, shifting around fallen leaves to look for new growth or breaking a twig to get a scent for identification, I think about him. He gave me the interest and the ability. He showed me how exciting it can be to find the first nettle of the year, a new stand of elderberry...

And then I grew up. It seemed so cool to live in the city with all the hustle and bustle. I wanted to be a career girl, and make my way into the world. So I found a great apartment in a culturally rich section of town and began that trek. It started to become clear that every couple of weeks I would get edgy. If I didn't get out into the woods often enough, it started "the itch".

As I climbed the corporate ladder, my sister married a man who had/has a tree farm. She gardened and canned and preserved. She taught me more. We learned about perennial flowering plants and soon branched out into culinary herbs for gardening.

During this time I married and wanted to start a family. For nearly a decade we struggled with miscarriages, an ectopic pregnancy, and infertility. Finally my daughter was born, and suddenly the whole corporate world lost its shimmer.

My sister and I decided that it would be great fun to open an herb shop at the Renaissance Festival nearby. I figured that in 16 weeks of part-time work, I could make enough money to quit my "real" job. That was not even close to reality, but the job fell by the way-side anyway. It was too good to be home with my little Molly, and we learned to stretch a dollar. Soon we opened a full-time herb shop with an upstairs room where the kids could play. We stayed there for many years, growing a wholesale soap business at the same time.

Can you share some of the work that has most influenced you? Such as books, blogs, video and lectures.

The single most important book in my journey has been "Billy Joe Tatum's Wild Food Field Guide and Cookbook". It brought everything together for me, and began my passion for foraging.

Learning about herbs has not been a typical trip for me. When we started at the Renaissance Fair, we expected our customers to want culinary herbs. Period. That was SO not the case! Our customers were well versed in medicinal herbs, and we made copious notes each week. We'd take them home and study up on what they'd requested or taught us. Our customers have always been the true inspiration for our learning. That seems backwards to most people, but it was a strong push.

My sister and I also started in business before the influence of the Internet. At the time, there were lots of good books, and there were lots of GREAT herb conferences. We would travel to the conferences and hear renowned herbal speakers. We met and talked to the people from whose books we learned. It was impossible to leave a conference where you'd rubbed elbows with great herbalists and hundreds of enthusiasts and business people, without having lots of new information.

Additionally, we are within easy driving distance of The Rosemary House, ( a wonderful herb shop in Mechanicsburg PA. The founder, Bertha Reppert, is quoted and/or wrote sections in many of the herb books that were available in the 70's, 80's, and 90's. She was a charming woman who loved to share what she knew. Her daughter Susanna is very much like her mother in that respect, and I am fortunate enough to consider her a friend. The shop is celebrating their 40th year in May. They have incredible speakers and workshops. Most recently, they hosted a day-long seminar with Rosemary Gladstar, and in recent years have had workshops with Jeanne Rose, David Winston, and Susun Weed - among many others.

When making plant medicine, are you drawn to any particular method?

The simple answer is - whatever is available at the moment! Truly, it is just like cooking for me. There aren't any rules. I love the concept of "foods as medicine", and see every plant as an herb. At the same time, I would encourage people to try not to get hung up on exacting quantities or specific methods.

In other words, when I make a tincture, I put "some" of the herb into a jar with some alcohol to cover. That alcohol might be vodka if it is in the house, but it might just as easily be rum or brandy or even whiskey or gin. I use what I have.

The same goes for salves or balms. What kind of oil do I have handy? If the balm comes out too "loose", it just takes a little longer to soak in.

When our ancestors made preparations from plants, they used what was available, and it worked. Not only that, but each plant is different based on the nutrients in the soil where it grew, the quality of sunlight, amount of stress placed on the plant by amounts of rain or cold... There just isn't any "exact" when you are working with plants that you find for your own work.

Now soap is another story. The wholesale business is now my sister's, and I own the magazine and help out with the soap. That IS exacting, because it isn't for our own private use. When making something for sale, there is a need to be precise and specific.

Do you have a most memorable event, conference, or one on one experience with any of our herbal fore mothers and forefathers or any other key person used in your path of herbalism? And how has that influenced you today?

Well, without being too specific, there are herbalists and herb companies who attempt to convince people that only THEIR product will work for a given purpose. That has guided a lot of the way I look at things. It is more important to empower the individual to create their own herbal products. I resent it when I see that kind of advertising, and absolutely refuse to do business with those types of operators.

When we opened the shop we decided to carry Essiac. If you've ever looked into this product, you'll see that nearly everyone selling it suggests that only THEY have the true recipe. So we spent a full day at the Natural Products Expo questioning people about why we should carry their product. Finally at the end of the day, a vendor answered by saying, "well, I use the best ingredients possible, but there is nothing different about it. There is only one recipe." We proceeded to carry his full line of herbal extracts, because that was the truth.

That doesn't really answer your question, though.

Where are you located?

South Central PA Lancaster County, to be exact. Land of the Amish. This is really a spectacular place. Every time I travel, I am so glad to get back to the rolling hills, farm stands, and verdant fields of home.

Do you work with the public and could you describe your work? such as:
Do you teach classes?

My sister and I have taught many, many herbal classes. Soapmaking demos, herbal first aid, weed walks, and lately distillation are some of our favorites. We love to do talks together and bounce off each other.

Do you travel for herbal work?

Not enough. Occasionally we'll travel to a conference or a really good herb faire, but mostly I'm a homebody. In fact, doing the magazine is so much fun. I get to work in my yard!

How can people contact you to find out more about what you offer, calender of events, blogs, weed walks, etc?

Through the website -

We teach a few classes each year at both and at , both of which are herb shops in our area.

Do you have a vision for your work in the future or are you seeing how it unfolds? I see the magazine as a community. Sometimes I picture the readers as a huge group of friends who gather at the kitchen table with a mug of hot tea, sharing recipes and techniques. I love what I do.

Most of the readers are new to herbs and if there is one word of wisdom or sage advice you could leave them, what would that be?

More than anything, people need to learn to trust themselves. Reading and studying are fabulous, but in the end it comes down to knowing that you already know this stuff. It is part of us. It isn't some foreign, scary thing... it is part of who we are now and who we have always been.

Don't ever be afraid to try making something. This is nature... if it doesn't work, you can always compost it :-).

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Sarah Head of Springfield Sanctuary is our Herbalist Spotlight

Sarah Head is a wife of 30 years, and mother of 2 sons 25,23 and 20 year old daughter.

She is a 52 year old herbalist residing in

Solihull/Birmingham and Upper Slaughter in the Cotswolds (UK) and is involved in good works out there. I asked Sarah a few questions and here is her story to share with you all.

Do you remember what was going on in your life that lead you to herbs?

Sarah- When I was a teenager, I read all the Elizabeth Goudge books, most of which involved herbs in some shape or form, although I didn't really recognise them as such. I wanted to grow them, but the only herbs my mother used (despite being a farmer's wife) were parsley and mint. She kept an iron grip on what was cooked in the household and would not introduce anything new. (Still won't!) In a compromise, I did buy a small rosemary plant, but it disappeared one night. We bought two more plants and then we found a dead badger by the side of the third plant. We surmised he must have been ill and had eaten the previous two plants. In 1995 we went on the Internet and I met someone online and started writing a fantasy story together about an 8th century Cornish healer. I wanted to know what she would have used to help people so I joined the Herb Society and subscribed to Henriette's medicinal herb email list and started growing my own herbs and playing with them. In 1999, I decided I needed to learn how to use energy healing since my Cornish healer also used that on her patients. My local healing group had an article in the paper that week, so I joined them and the National Federation of Spiritual Healers and developed my healing skills. How old were you at that time? In 1995 I was 39

Can you share some of the work that has most influenced you? Such as books, blogs, video and lectures.

Sarah- It has mostly been the discussions of others using herbs. I have an extensive library of herbal books. I started off with David Hoffman, progressed to Matthew Wood and now Susan Weed's menopause excited me when I read it. I read Kiva Rose, Henriette, Darcy and Rebecca's blogs and they have all given me an extra insight into what to try, how to think about things differently, really useful recipes. I do use them as a reference as much as my books. I work full time and haven't had the energy nor the money to take three years out to train full time as a medical herbalist, nor do I want to take clinical responsibility for other people's care. I do want to encourage others to grow their own herbs and play with them.

When making plant medicine, are you drawn to any particular method?

Sarah- I dry herbs for teas, make fresh plant tinctures and vinegars and make fresh and dry double infused herbal oils and salves.

Do you have a most memorable event, conference, or one on one experience with any of our herbal foremothers and forefathers or any other key person used in your path of herbalism? And how has that influenced you today?

Sarah- I went to an oil and salves workshop with Christopher Hedley. It was four hours of stories about his practice which I have never forgotten. He is one of the great giants of our herbal elders and such a wonderful man!

How can people contact you to find out more about what you offer, calender of events, blogs, weed walks, etc?

Sarah- Yes, check my website
Springfield Sanctuary

Do you have a vision for your work in the future or are you seeing how it unfolds?

Sarah- Not sure. I've increased the number of workshops I hold this year to include 4 over the winter which I've held in my kitchen. This has enabled people who aren't able to travel to the Cotswolds to experience herbs and try things out. The numbers I reach are very small, but people seem to enjoy what I do. I've been told I'm doing the right thing, so I just have to wait and see how things develop.

Most of the readers are new to herbs and if there is one word of wisdom or sage advice you could leave them, what would that be?

Sarah- You will never really know a herb until you have grown it, harvested it and played with it, discovering what it can offer you. Don't rely on books or what you read on the web alone, get your hands dirty! You don't need a great deal to learn about herbs and then when you are confident in what you know and realise what you don't know, to then share that knowledge with others.

I am so happy Sarah shared with us her work over in the UK.

Monday, March 3, 2008

March Food Blogalong-Soup-Cake-Coleslaw by Mom and Liv

One Pan Cake as you see Liv stirring is made with
2 1/2 c flour (we used whole wheat)
1/2 cup cocoa
2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt

2/3 cup veggie oil (we used safflower expeller pressed)
2 Tbsp cider vinegar
1 Tbsp Vanilla
2 Cups cold coffee (we did half coffee and half herbal infusion as we did not have enough coffee-but you can use just water)
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon

Stir together flour, 1 1/2 cups sugar, cocoa, soda and salt in an ungreased 12 X 8 inch baking pan.

Make 3 wells in the mixture;pour oil in one, vinegar in one, and vanilla in one.
Pour in coffee or water or wahtever liquid you decided on adn stir with a fork until well mixed. Spread into an even layer.
Combine 1/3 cup sugar and cinnamon. Sprinkle half over batter.
Bake at 350 for 35-40 minutes.
Sprinkle remaining cinnamon sugar over hot cake. Cool 15-20 minutes before cutting. Makes 6-8 servings.

I also added ricotta cheese that we needed to use up.

The flavor of the cake was not too sweet (which we like) so for those that like sweet, a nice cream cheese of vanilla frosting would work well here too. Or adding nuts would be good too.

Cole Slaw
6 cups chopped cabbage
2 cups sliced red or green peppers (or both) (we did not have)
1 1/2 cups sliced celery
1 cup chopped onion (I only did half-Ray is not into raw onions)
3/4 cup shredded carrot (we did not have)
1/2 cup veggie oil (we used expeller pressed safflower)
1 1/2 tsp celery salt (we did not have so we used regular)
1 tsp cracked pepper
1/2 tsp celery seed (again no have)
2 tbsp sugar (we used agave nectar)
3 Tbsp cider vinegar
1 Tbsp dry mustard (oops -no havee either)

Toss veggies togheter in a large mixing bowl. Combine remaining ingredients;pour over vegetables. Toss to mix. Refrigerate several hours or overnight to blend flavors.

The soup as the video states and then added spices later -basil and oregano and a can of organic diced tomato and vinegar, but with vinegar and no tomato it wasn;t as good.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Ever notice that "What The Hell", is the right decision?

Or so says, Arlo Guthrie, quoting Marilyn Monroe last night in the Fayetteville, Arkansas venue.
This was my Valentine gift to my sweetie. I was a bit unsure I would enjoy the show, since he was popular when I was a babe, but I DID so much in fact that I am writing about it today to say, if he comes through your neck of the woods, GO:)

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Urtica Dioica-Stinging Nettles

Sprawled out nettles getting ready for washing

Thank you Julie for hosting this months blog party.
One of the first herbs I was taught about is Stinging Nettles. It began as a hearty addition to pregnancy tea I was consuming regularly, pregnant or not. Susun Weed and Rosemary Gladstar always had positive things to say about Nettles so I first consumed them dried in the pregnancy tea blend recipe by Aviva Jill Romm.

A few years of this, and the opportunity for fresh harvesting presented itself. A friend of ours offered them. He has an abundance by his creek beds.
Armed with paper bags, scissors and gloves, we worked carefully to avoid sting. You see, the stems and leaves of nettles have fine hairs which contain histamines and formic acid. If you have ever been bitten by an ant, you may have felt a similar sensation that stinging nettles gives when these hairs have been handled. Ants have formic acid in their sting.

So while children played about, Ray and I gathered with little consequence.

We washed our nettles and dried most of them at that time simply because we were a bit unclear as to what else could be done. This year, we have many new plans.

You see, nettles had been suggested to help fight allergies, which occur in most people living here in thh Ozarks, or at least transplanted folk like myself.
Our first few years would leave me sick for a couple months with severe allergy each fall. Nettles never helped. HOWEVER, this year I heard a lecture from The owner of Celtic Herbs who stated that fresh tinctured nettles works for allergy. Once the plant is dried, it loses that anti allergy effect.
So this is part of our divine plan this year, as well as freshly made vinegars.
Seeds have their own properties as well, and if the opportunty arises, we will tincture nettle seed.
Nettle seed has been found to help severe kidney problems. Also good for the hair and coats of animals.
Experiened nettle using herbalists also have found that chewing a few fresh seeds can be a stimulant.
Steeping nettle leaves or fresh roots in honey, I hear, is good for asthma.
Nettles roots are supportive to the prostate.
And Nettle leaves rich in vitamins and minerals such as calcium, choromium, chlorophyll, magnesium, zinc, iron, manganese, niacin, potassium, phosphorus, protein, riboflavin, selenium,silicon, thiamin, vitamin A, vitamin C, and vitamin K.

I encouraged my daughters to drink their pregnancy tea prior to birth since nettles is a large part of the blend. Being good in vitamin K and iron, this helps blood coagulation and hemorrhage prevention in the mother and newborn.

We also are eager for another way we love nettles. You see, once the plant is dried or cooked, that sting is gone. Once we heard of this, we decided to eat the green to try them, and OH MY. You want to talk about delicious!

I dont measure things so do your best with these directions. You cannot go wrong with whatever you come up with.
Using a large dutch oven, I simmer pork hocks until the meat is tender. I pull the hocks out and pull the meat off the bones and put the bones back into the pot to simmer the rest of the day.
This helps the meat retain some flavor but it is not neccesary. You could simmer those bones all day if you need to work or be gone, it wont matter really.
Remove the bones.
Then add clean nettle greens, the tenderest part preferably by clipping the leaves off the stems.
But you can also try cooking long enough so that the stems are tender enough to blenderize into a green puree if you dont want to mess with it.

However you do it I can assure you of pleasure in your dining experience.

As I served the nettle greens the first time I need to tell you I WAS NERVOUS. You can never assure that the books are right when it comes to culinary tastes.
Ray looked at me after his second bowlfull and said, Honey, I think this makes the best greens you have ever prepared.

So nettles greens are a keeper. There are many ideas out there too so if you would like to try soups and things, I am sure there are recipes out there by wild foodsists and the like.

But another PLEASURE I need to tell you about is how nettles smells as it is drying.
We washed all our nettles and had them on a table and the aroma caught my attention each time I drew near. I hope to write a description of that smell this year, because I cannot really tell you how amazing the fragrance of drying nettles without it in front of me.

I will be honest, if you have ever smelled a fresh cannabis sativa bud, it is a bit like that. Aromatic with green notes. Lovely.

Harvest time is usually April-June so it is coming soon. This is one reason why I take a small break in the summer so that I have time to wildharvest and explore plants for food and medicine and devote more time to make quality herbal items for folks(including my beloved family)
I am really looking forward to trying new vaiations of nettles as food such as adding potatoe and leeks to chicken broth or quiche. Spanokopita. Stuffed in pizza? Mmmmm come quickly nettles harvest!