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Archive for the ‘Herbal Recipes’ Category

Last year at this time my little piece of land was being hit by yet another snow flurry.  The many feet of snow that had fallen in December was slowly decreasing yet the whole ground was still blanketed in a thick covering of snow turned ice. Down the valley, towards the Sound the weather was not quite so intense but it was still so cold and the plants were slow growing.  That is why this winter has surprised me with its lack of “wintryness.”  I was able to begin spring harvesting in earnest weeks ago.  I was wandering through the woods down the creek bed towards the river when I saw the first nettle rosettes, the plum tree is heavy with buds about to burst open and early spring salad greens of peppergrass and chickweed are popping up in every bit of bare soil I see.  Last week, when we all harvested together it was shocking to find nettle shoots already up to my knee.  No plant harkens spring or calls in the season of growth and harvest like nettle.  It often one of the first medicinal plants ready to harvest each spring and so perhaps it is not surprising that is is also the plant by which many people are first introduced to herbs and also the plant that has called many wise women to down the path of herbalism.  This plant that sprouts first is the woods often sprouts first in our hearts.  I call nettle the gateway plant 🙂

Blessed with an abundance of nettles in my woods this time of year, we eat them almost daily, along with daily infusions at night we eat them in soups and stews and add nettles to our dinner in anyway possible.  I have included a few of the best recipes I have come up with over the past few weeks.  I apologize for the lack of pictures, I left my camera at Ellen’s,  but know that if I included the recipe here it was definitely worth remaking 🙂

To begin, I made a soup, sweetened by the natural sugars found in organic or home grown acorn squash and made creamy with a “healthy” portion of cultured cream cheese. Topped with roasted squash seeds,  its a savory treat on these chilly early spring nights.

Cream Of Nettle Soup

1 acorn squash- halved and baked-reserve seeds

1 onion-diced

4 cloves garlic

1/2 inch piece of ginger grated

Heaping bowl of young nettle tops

1/2 tsp coriander seeds

1/8 tsp nutmeg

6 oz cream cheese

water or broth to cover

Begin by baking the squash in a 400 degree oven until it is soft.  In a pot, saute onions garlic and ginger until translucent. Add coriander and nutmeg and cook with the onions for one minute. Wearing gloves, roughly chop nettles and add them to the pot and cook them until they have wilted, this may have to be done in portions as the nettles wilt and create room for more.  Scoop meat out of squash and add to pot, fill with enough water or broth to amply cover all the ingredients and smash up the squash meat, simmer for 20 minutes. Allow the  soup the cool down a bit and add the cultured cream cheese, if you prevent the soup from boiling the active enzymes in the cultured cheese will not die.  With a stick blender blend cheese into soup, serve in bowls, drizzle with olive oil and top with squash seeds

Roasted Squash Seeds

Butter

Squash or Pumpkin Seeds

Salt

Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Clean off all squash remnants from the seeds by soaking in a bowl of water, when clean place all seeds on a single layer on a clean kitchen towel and dry.  Add a tablespoon or so of butter to a cast iron pan and saute with a bit of salt until the seeds are lovely and brown.  Place pan in oven and cook for 15- 20 minute or until seeds are crunchy and delicious, serve on soups, salads or just eat them as is.

Another perrenial favorite is a quiche made with the sweet green tops of early spring nettle, eggs from my hens and deliscious organic cream and cheeses over a seedy crust of flax and sesame, eliminating grains and ensuring it is gluten free.

Nettle Quiche with Flax/Sesame Seed Crust

Crust:

1/2 cup Flax Seed

1/2 cup Sesame Seeds

1 Egg White

1/4 cup Olive Oil

In a well greased pie pan mix ingredients and pat the mixture against the bottom and up the walls of the pie tin.  Cookk in a 350 degree oven for 8-10 minutes remove and then fill

Quiche Filling:

1 cup cheddar or semi-hard cheese of your choice

2 cupped finely chopped nettles

1/4 cup onions

4 eggs plus yolk left over from the pie crust

3/4 cups cream

6 strands of saffron or spices of your choice

Sliced tomatoes

Saute onions and nettles until soft and wilted.  In a bowl whisk cream and eggs and saffron.  In pie crust layer cheese on the bottom cover with nettle/onion mixture and pour the custard over it all.  Arrange tomatoes on the top and bake for 10 minutes at 400 degrees, reduce heat to 350 and bake additional 20 minutes or until the quiche is set.  Serve with a mixed wild green salad.

I have a secret, one that I am often scoffed at for and hear sounds of disgust made by those who know it of me.    I love organ meats! When I was 5 and before my family became vegetarian, we had some old time farmer neighbors in Iowa. They would often serve me up a portion of liver and onions and I relished it.  I later wondered through all those years of vegetarianism why everyone complained about liver when I knew it to be delicious.  My husband does not quite agree with me so I find ways to incorporate it in his meals so he is not too offened by the taste or soft texture. This final dish is an example of how I really do try and add nettle to EVERYTHING this time of year.  It also is a way I am able to incorporate beneficial pastured organ meats into our meals in a way where my husband doesn’t have to choke them down.

Ground Beef and Liver Dolmathes with Nettles

1 pound ground beef

1 medium onion, diced

4 Chicken livers- sauteed and then finely chopped

1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley, flat leaf if available

1/4 teaspoon dried mint, crumbled

2 cups of  Nettle- chooped super fine in a food processor

1 egg

2 tablespoons butter, melted

Salt and pepper

1 jar preserved grape leaves

1/4 cup beef broth or water

Combine all ingredients in a bowl except grape leaves and broth. Using only the best and most intact grape leaves, lay them shiny side down and fill center with approximately 1 tablespoon of filling.  Roll leaves as you would a burrito and lay them seam side down in a large oven proof pan.  Continue until all leaves are stuffed.  Barely cover with broth or water and cook in a 350 degree oven for 1 hour.  If you have any remaning meat you can simply fry them in a little olive oil and eat like meat balls.  Drizzle with sauce and serve!

This a traditional sauce to serve with dolmathes.  This recipe came from the owner of the house we stayed in while in Santorini on my honeymoon.

Egg & Lemon Sauce (Avgolemono)

2 eggs
Juice of one Lemon

Reserved Broth

Beat eggs well; gradually beat in lemon juice. Pour off about 1 cup of hot broth from dolmathes. Beat the broth into the egg mixture. Remove plate from top of dolmathes. Gradually pour the egg mixture into pan; tipping pan to blend the egg mixture with remaining broth in pan. Cover pan; remove from heat and let stand for 5 minutes. Serve hot or at room temperature

So these are some of what I have been doing with this bounty from the forest floor.  I’ve been feeding not only my heart and filling my tummy, but nourishing my adrenals and strengthening my liver and giving this winter-worn body a high dose of absorb-able vitamins and nutrients.  Grab your gloves and if nettles have sprung near you harvest, fill your baskets and and let springs first gift fill your belly and strengthen your soul.

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016The leaves have changed. 

My land is covered in a veil of fallen leaves, remnants of summers prime.  We are entering the darker time, the static withdrawal, the pause before the re-fruiting.  This is the transition time.  The apple trees still have a few ripe fruit clinging to their branches even though the leaves have turned yellow and orange.  Random hawthorn trees are yet covered in bunches of blood red haws.  And in the underbrush, rosehips hang from leafless  bushes like so many cherries.

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Crataegus phaenopyrum- Washington Hawthorn

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Rosa nootka - Nootka Rose

These last remaining fruit beg to be used.  Harvest and dry them.  Mix into tea blends and savor on the cold mornings to come.  Cover them with brandy to flavor and add medicine, mix the infused spirit with hot water and honey and enjoy on fire warmed nights.  Or simmer into sweet preserves that can be enjoyed on the winter days ahead.

Here is my recipe for a fruit butter using this trifecta of fall. Begin with apples and add rosehips, hawthorn berries and a touch of cinnamon, the result is a heart healthy preserve that tastes vaguely of citrus.  Enjoy it through the winter.

022Rosehip, Hawthorn, Apple Butter

4 lbs Apples

2 cups Rosehips- seeds removed

1 1/2 cup Hawthorn Berries

1 cup Cider Vinegar

2 cups Water

2 cups Sugar

Juice of one lemon and rind

1/2 tsp cinnamon

Cut apples into pieces leaving seeds and skin.  Add all fruit to a large pot along with cider and water, bring to a boil and simmer for twenty minutes or until all  the fruit is soft.  Put all the fruit through a food mill and discard the skins and seeds.  Return to pot and add remaining ingredients.  Simmer on low heat stirring often until the mixture has significantly thickened.  You can tell when it ready because a spoonful put onto a room temperature plate will thicken and gel.  No pectin is needed as these fruit all have large amounts of pectin.  Pour into half pint jars and can in a water bath for ten minutes.019

Brief Notes On The Heart Healing Properties Of  Each Fruit

Hawthorn- Among other things, the berries or Haws of the the hawthorn tree have been used for centuries as a medicine for the heart and cardiovascular system.   It prevents heart disease, strengthens the  cardiac muscles and promotes circulation.

Rose Hips- Are higher in vitamin C than citrus fruit, however the vitamin C is said to be destroyed with heat, so do not hope to get your daily dose of C from the above preparation. However, rosehips are known to be a beneficial tonic for the heart and other organ systems.

Apples-  Apples are a natural source of iron.  Ingesting apples or fresh apple juice daily has been effective in blood building and treatment of anemia.

Cinnamon- Cinnamon  prevents clotting of the blood.  It therefore acts essentially as a blood thinner, reducing the effects of hardened arteries and decreasing blood pressure.

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On September 17 2009,  I welcomed my first baby into the world.  I was either incredibly lucky that my labor lasted only nine hours or incredibly unlucky that my labor began at midnight with back to back contractions that didn’t let up for nine hours straight:)  Either way, it was an incredible experience that began nine months prior.

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 Throughout my pregnancy and now with the little baby here, I have utilized so many of the plants I have come to know over the years.  Many of them I used only topically, as so many herbs are contraindicated for pregnancy.  But here is a list of the plants and preparations that I found indispensable throughout this process.

 

 

  

Pregnancy

Nettles–  This plant seems to come up often for possible treatment of so many ailments in herbal medicine,  and I certainly found it essential for my pregnancy.  I opted not to take prenatal vitamins and instead drank a daily infusion of nettles and thimble berry leaves.

Nettle’s nutritional and medicinal qualities are well known to many but I thought  I would detail a bit of what it can do specifically for the pregnant woman. Nettles contain large amounts of calcium, iron,sulphur, phosphorus, and potassium as well as vitamins A, C, D, and K.  Taken as an infusion throughout pregnancy, nettle can help reduce or eliminate leg cramps and muscle spasms and ease the pain during and after child birth.  It is high in absorb-able mineral salts, including calcium which helps with leg  and uterine pains.

It is famous as a tonic for the urinary tract, and while many women suffer from UTI’s while pregnant a stiff decoction can help flush out the marauding, painful bacteria.  A pregnant woman also has 50% more blood circulating through her body than she did before pregnancy and therefor her kidneys are working 50% harder.  Nettle’s help keeping the kidneys healthy is a boon to any pregnant women.

Vitamin K shots are often given to newborns to prevent internal bleeding, drinking or eating large amounts of nettles in the last month of pregnancy can help ensure that there is already ample vitamin K in the blood stream eliminating the need for supplementation and the concer of potential bleeding.

herb walk 001

Thimble berry (wild raspberry) Leaves– Thimble berry grows in dense thickets around my land,  and after finding that it can be used interchangeably with Red Raspberry leaf for pregnancy, I opted to use it.  I collected and dried many basketfuls of this herb. Raspberry leaf has a long tradition of being used for pregnant women.  Known as  a “birth herb”  it is a uterine tonic that both relaxes the uterus and tones it for the work of expanding and then contracting.  Raspberry leaf  is rich in vitamins including C, A, B1, B3 and E.  Taken as an infusion, it is also useful in the postpartum period to help increase milk production and ease uterine cramping.

Comfrey–  The only other plant I was really able to utilize during my pregnancy was comfrey in the form of a topical cream to help prevent stretch marks. Comfrey is soothing, relaxing and healing to the skin, it contains allantoin which is a cell proliferater and tissue healing agent perfect for rapidly stretching skin.  I did not end up with any stretch marks, and whether that is due to the skin healing properties of comfrey or my own genetics I can’t say, but I will definitely use it again.  I also found another use for this cream by accident.  After spreading the cream on my belly I would rub the excess into my face.  I was struggling with some hormonal acne and as long as I put the comfrey cream on my face the acne seemingly disappeared.

Labor and Postpartum

I had on hand a few herbs to use during labor. In my case I didn’t end up needing them, but I thought I would list them anyway.

Labor Enhancer Tincture–  I made a simple tincture of equal parts Blue Cohosh, Black Cohosh and Trillium Root.  However my labor progressed so fast that the idea of enhancing it seemed ludicrous.  Unfortunately, blue and black cohosh do not grow  in my area so I relied on dried herbs for the tincture.  However, trillium does grow here.  According to Micheal Moore, dried trillium root offers little more than nutrition and therefor is not recommended for use.  The plant also has a slow and tenuous growing cycle and is becoming ever more limited in its growing area therefore wasting the dried herb seems unethical.  I live in the woods and was able to find a large stand where I harvested but one root and tinctured it in a very small amount of alcohol.  Seeing as I was only hoping to use it once,  I certainly did not need much.  All three of these herbs promote uterine contractions, this can be very useful in the event of stalled labor.  If you are having and out of hospital birth,  a tincture like this can come in very handy if your labor is not progressing and you are being threatened with hospital transfer.

Shepard’s Purse Tincture– Shepard’s purse is commonly used to stop  bleeding or hemorrhaging, particularly from the uterus.  It is a hemostatic herb, meaning that it works as an internal astringent to stop bleeding.  The herb works so well that one midwife tried giving the herb preventively only to find that the afterbirth was heavily clotted and did not pass easily.  I had this herb on hand just in case. I didn’t expect to use it but thought I would rather be safe than sorry.  I also did not end up needing it’s assistance. My uterus was just as anxious to contract as it was to labor 🙂

Motherwort–  Beginning at 36 weeks gestation , I began taking a half dropperful of motherwort daily.  I had a wonderful pregnancy but was beginning to find those final weeks a little tiring.  Motherwort has calming and mildly sedative properties owed to the presence of bitter glycosides that are beneficial in treating the anxiety and trauma related to ensuing child birth.  It also helps prepare the uterus for the upcoming birth.  While it is considered safe for the final weeks it is definitely not recommend to be taken before.

herb walk 002

I also have found it indispensable for these postpartum weeks when the hormonal changes that inevitability ensue after birth began to take hold and nights of diminished sleep began to add up.  A dropperful a day of this plant has certainly kept my nerves from getting frayed and allowed me to continue to enjoy this experience.

Mastitis–  It has only been three weeks that I have been a mom, but in this time I have had or been threatened with 4 cases of mastitis.  The first two times I was unprepared and spent a grueling day with flu like symptoms, painful breasts and a high fever.  After a few Internet searches I found there were two schools of thought  in terms of treatment. The common choices seemed to be to take antibiotics or to put a cabbage leaf on your breast.   I chose the cabbage leaf.  The first time I used it, I went to bed with a fever and very sore breasts,  4 hours later I woke up to feed the baby and the fever had broken and the pain in my breasts had gone away.  Since then I have also started taking a tincture of Echinacea when I feel those first electrical like pains  in my breasts and that seems to have kept it at bay since.

Nipplewort–  This plant grows profusely in my garden.  My local field guide describes it as a plant that was traditionally used to treat sore nipples.  The french name is herbs aux mamelles, indicating its traditional use for treatment of cracked or ulcerated breasts. What is strange is that is all the information I could find on this plant,  perusal of all my herbals and extensive Internet searches turned up no information on it use for treating sore nipples.  Despite the lack of information I infused the leaves of this plant in olive oil early this summer.  I made a salve with it by adding a bit of beeswax and equal parts pure lanolin and infused oil.  From the day the baby was born I applied this directly to my nipples after each feeding.  My breasts still ached, cracked and blistered, but after only six days of breast feeding they were fine and feedings became painless.  This seems awfully fast in comparison with other mothers who claim it took least two weeks and up to three months for the pain to cease.  Maybe its time this plant was reintroduced to the postpartum world!

Baby

Whenever possible I want to avoid using chemicals or drugs on me or on this new little baby.  In that vain, I created a few products to help her little bottom.

 herb walk 003

I read so many rave reviews of Weleda’s diaper rash cream.  After reading the label I decided that I could make a similar cream and save the money.  I can say in our short three weeks together,  I have only noticed a sign of diaper rash twice, and each time it was gone at the next changing after applying this cream.

Diaper Rash Cream

3/4 cup  Sweet Almond Oil infused with Calendula and Chamomile

1/3 cup Coconut Oil

3/4 oz  beeswax

Melt these ingredients on the stove top, cool to room temperature in a bowl.

With a stick blender, mix

3/4 cups Aloe Vera Juice

Pour into containers and use whenever there is a sign of rash.

The last item I’ve used is a simple baby powder.  Avoid using talc on the little ones,  its is similar in composition to asbestos and has been linked with lung cancer.  Commercial powders are also full of fragrances that should be avoided.

Baby Powder

1 cup Cornstarch or Arrowroot Powder

2 Tbls. Betonite Clay

2 Tbls. Kaolin Clay

1/4 cup Lavender Flowers

Grind the lavender flowers in a blender or coffee grinder and run through a sieve to winnow out any big pieces.  Combine ingredients and mix.  Apply to baby’s diaper as needed.

I hope this might help a few of you out there.  My pregnancy was really a delight, my labor ( though intense)  couldn’t have been better,  and my baby is a dream.  I really do feel that I owe much of the ease of the entire experience to the plants that helped me through it. 

Blessings- Kate

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elderberry I would consider my “culinary point of view” to be – one of a sneaky cook. My goal is to make dishes that my family will eat, AND that are good for them. As my children get older, at times that is hard to accomplish. Elderberries are an amazing healing food. They taste wonderful. First off, picking them is quite an easy task, a pair of clippers and I think it took me 15 minutes, along with pictures, and smelling the wonders of the woods. I live on the “EAST SIDE” of the cascades, I still have to drive a little to harvest these beauties. What a great reason to take a drive. The fruit harvest is in full swing here, nectarines, peaches, apples, hazelnuts and walnuts are coming on. Fall always fills me with a sense of gratitude for the abundance of this valley.

I will not go into the medicinal use of this plant, as Kate has already done a magnificent article about its use. I will start with a basic syrup recipe; this will keep in the fridge for 3 months. It can also be frozen, or canned, however the enzymes in the honey are destroyed when you can the juice. My old stand by for preserving food is Putting Food By by Janet Greene.

 

pearsElderberry Syrup

3 cups elderberries (blue or black, not red)

2 cups water

 

Simmer for 30 to 40 minutes. Mash berries, strain, add 1 cup honey, return to pan and simmer 5 minutes. Cool and store in jars in refrigerator.

 

 

This syrup can be used for pure enjoyment, for ice cream, shortcake, smoothies, yogurt…. (Medicinally- eat up to 4 teaspoons a day)

 

From this batch I made:

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Poached Bosc Pears, in Elderberry syrup 

 

 

desert

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mead Hazelnut encrusted Chicken with Elderberry sauce

 

I also put up canned Peaches with Elderberries and Honey Elderberry Jelly And……..

 

d4zg8cv_6469w5b4gn_bNectarine and Elderberry Cobbler

Base
7 cups fruit
3 tablespoons flour
½ cup sugar (sweeten to taste, sweetener of choice)

 Mix together and place in baking dish. Heat in 400* oven till juices are bubbling around the edges. Then add topping and bake another 20 minutes or until golden brown.

Topping
1 ½ cups unbleached flour (or whole wheat pastry flour)
3 tablespoons sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp salt
6 Tbl. Butter (coconut oil, or organic shortening -palm oil)
¾ cup liquid (heavy cream, butter milk, milk, almond milk…)

Mix dry ingredients. If using whole wheat pastry flour, the liquid will absorb differently. Use less liquid. Also, use less liquid if your choice of liquid is a thinner consistency (like almond milk). The dough should look like drop biscuit dough, not too wet. I prefer my dough a little dry. This is my master cobbler recipe; feel free to substitute other fruit.

Enjoy the celebration and harvest of fall! Ann

*Note- Elderberry seeds are considered slightly toxic untill cooked,  so please cook your berries (as in all of these recipes) or strain the juice before using.

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When you live in an area as verdant as I do, it’s easy to keep the calendar by when plants come into bloom and when it is time to harvest all the bounty that surrounds us. Since living here in the Pacific Northwest,  I’ve learned that dandelions flush in May, foxgloves bloom in mid June and they are replaced by purple fireweed in July. In August, furry spikes of hardhack cover the roadsides.  In the early February, Indian plum puts out leaves first and nettles start sprouting in march.

The summer months offer a tasty way of keeping the calendar; around here we are overrun with berries.  Some of these berries are medicinal and some of them only offer medicine for the senses like sweet treats, the colors of faceted gemstones, bright lanterns and robins eggs.  With so many varieties around I’ve learned to keep a careful watch and remember when to start looking for the harvest.  There are yet a few berries remaining from the summer’s glory days, the rest are mostly memories.  But seasons change and next year, just as the one before, the cycle of abundance will begin again.

May- the first delicate berries arrive

salmonberries

Salmon Berry - Rubus spectabilis

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
The first on the bushes, watery and slightly sweet, a wild flavor that wets your palate for the coming season.

  

  

June- keep looking,  there is more ripening on the vines 

 
Red Huckleberry - Vaccinium parvifolium

Red Huckleberry - Vaccinium parvifolium

 
Red, gem-like globes. Tart, but they tickle the tongue. 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Trailing Blackberry - Rubus ursinus

Trailing Blackberry - Rubus ursinus

  
  Our native, early ripening blackberry. Small and delicate, but sweeter and tastier than it’s invasive cousin.
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  

Thimbleberry - Rubus parviflorus

Thimbleberry - Rubus parviflorus

  
  A seedy variety of the raspberry.  Early, ruby colored, soft fleshy fruit.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
July – An exercise in abundance
Blackcap Raspberries - Rubus leucodermis

Blackcap Raspberries - Rubus leucodermis

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
If you find these, covet them and tell no one 🙂
Black Huckleberry - Vaccinium membranaceum

Black Huckleberry - Vaccinium membranaceum

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Tart, but a treat on the trail.
 
Saskatoon Berry - Amelanchier alnifolia

Saskatoon Berry - Amelanchier alnifolia

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Gather these and delight, a subtle sweetness like no other.
Oregon Grape - Mahonia Nervosa

Oregon Grape - Mahonia Nervosa

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Bitter eaten off the vine, but a rich and potent deep purple treat when sweetened.
Wild Strawberry - Fragaria virginiana

Wild Strawberry - Fragaria virginiana

 
Look low to the ground, and keep your eyes open, these tiny gems go fast but make farmed strawberries look like food for the fowl.
 
 
 
August- Head to the hills and let your baskets over flow with Blue
 
Low Bush Blueberry - Vaccinium caepitosum

Low Bush Blueberry - Vaccinium caepitosum

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
The Hikers delight!
Alsakan Blueberry - Vaccinium alaskaense

Alsakan Blueberry - Vaccinium alaskaense

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
The juicy basket filler.
Oval Leaved Blueberry- Vaccinium ovalifolium

Oval Leaved Blueberry- Vaccinium ovalifolium

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
The taste of late summer.
 
 
 
September-  The brambles give back
Himalayan Blackberry - Rubus discolor

Himalayan Blackberry - Rubus discolor

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
The invader is bountiful at the end of summer,  providing a temporary reprieve from is poor reputation.
Cutleaf Evergreen Blackberry - Rubus lacinatus

Cutleaf Evergreen Blackberry - Rubus lacinatus

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Harder to find but it has a  gentler taste than the Himalayan.
Salal - Gaultheria shallon

Salal - Gaultheria shallon

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Sweet Salal, a native and forgotten favorite.
 
 
 

The summer offers so many gifts. The amazing thing is that there are MORE berries,  my list stops short to include only the most palatable varieties. Imagine what it means to have too many berries! Perhaps you live in a place where you are not blessed with fruit that falls off of the bushes as we are, but look around.  The planet is a lesson in abundance; wildflowers, rivers, flatlands and deserts all offer their gifts.  Some places have things to be eaten, some places have pure serenity and some have strong medicine.  Some places offer simple living, temperate ecosystems, too much water, too much snow, too much heat or simply too much visual beauty.  Take note of it all, make a list of those things that are abundant,  be thankful and if you can, eat too many berries.

 
Blessings- Kate

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Fall Preserves

Fall Preserves

It was sunny in the grove of cedars that surrounds Ellen’s magical home as we arrived last Friday.  We came bearing baskets full of peaches, plums and pears, dried figs, cherries and rose hips, jars of Oregon grape juice, bundles of sage and rosemary and handfuls of ripe salal berries.  This months gathering was to be about canning.  I brought my supplies to provide a basic overview but expected a lot of experimentation and was excited to see what amazing creations would come from the day.

 

Ellen, who eats only raw food, created  both delicious and interesting  “preserves.”  She used a few different raw food tricks that I’m sure she would be better explaining than me but included in the list was a peach and salal berry sorbet and an Oregon grape, pear and lemon zest leather made in the dehydrator.  She then experimented using Irish moss seaweed as a thickener to make a jam out of Oregon Grapes, Pears and a touch of lime.  But the most amazing preserves she made came at the end of the day when she paired garden sage with peaches and made  a sauce simply by blending the two items together and another puree of peaches in which she added rosehips and vanilla to the mix.  The combination of the sage and peaches was more than delicious.   Please try it!

Mira arrived with mounds of peaches she had gathered from a neighbor’s tree and began blanching, peeling and quartering them.  She filled several quart jars with the peaches and covered them in a simple syrup made with agave, these were to be canned and eaten as is.  She then began simmering some peaches and rosehips on the stovetop before she had to go.  I finished off the jam by adding agave to sweeten, a touch of cinnamon and a bit of the sage at Ellen’s suggestion and finished the jam in jars.   I think that it was definitely one of the better cooked jams ever made.

Megan created a masterpeice with the jam she made by adding dried figs and  fresh apples to a pot and simmered them until they were a uniform consistency. She then added rosemary and lemon juice and poured a lovely glistening earth colored preserve into her jars.  She also blended salal berries that she picked directly off the bush in Ellen’s yard, with Oregon grape juice, blueberries and cherries to make into a fruit leather.  The resulting mix of berries was heavenly.

I arrived with two baskets of red plums and asian pears from the trees on my land and a bundle of sage from my garden.  I first made a simple preserve by blending some of the pears and plums together and cooked them down.  I then made a jam that included only the plums as well as sage from my garden and a 1/4 tsp or so of cinnamon.   I haven’t tasted them yet as I came home with a jar of the peach , rosehip and sage jam and that was what I eagerly opened to  serve with breakfast on Saturday morning.

After so much time in the kitchen I watched as Megan and Ellen made some moxa out of mugwort they had gathered and dried.  Megan lit some and calmness overcame the room, outside the weather began to change and clouds rolled in.  We talked of dreams, plants, burning man, relationships and Saturn’s return. 

August has ended and though the summer is not over it reminds me that it is on it way out and the seasons of drawing within are upon us.  Though this meeting we did not harvest any herbs we indulged in the abundance of the pacific northwest.  Blessed with wild fruits and cultivated fruits that grow with ease in our yards and feral on the roadsides ,we harvested the abundance from summer and brought it within and preserved them to be used throughout the darker months.  I am grateful with for the time of communion in a kitchen with beautiful women celebrating the summer and welcoming the fall.

Ellen’s Creations

Peach and Sage Sauce – Peach, Sage, Rosehip and Vanilla Puree – Peach and Salal Berry Sorbet – Oregon Grape, Pear and Lemon Zest Leather – Oregon Grape, Pear and Lime Jelly

Mira’s Creations

Peaches in Agave Nectar – Peach and Rosehip Jam

Megan’s Creations

Fig, Apple and Rosemary Preserves – Salal Berry, Oregon Grape, Blueberry and Cherry Leather

Kate’s Creations

Asian Pear and Red Plum Jam – Red Plum, Garden Sage and Cinnamon Preserves

Joint Creation

Peach, Rosehip, Sage and Cinnamon Jam

 

Next month: Hawthorn, devil’s club and other things to be decided.

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