Rhubarb and Lemon Balm Kompot

What is kompot/compote? It is a non alcoholic drink made with a combination of fresh fruits ( stone fruits and berries), sweetener (sugar or honey) and spice (cinnamon, clove, vanilla, etc.) It is not fermented like kvass or an oxymel. It can be served hot, room temperature or chilled. It is popular in Eastern Europe, the Middle East and the former USSR. It was created to use up large amounts of fruit and in times before canning or certain types of food preservation. It is very refreshing in summer or warming in winter. It is often very lovely to look at too, ruby red is a common result.

My teens were totally willing to try this once I called it “rhubarb lemonade”. Lots of ice is really essential to the aesthetic experience on a hot summer day. It was a big hit with my family. “Leftover fruit” can be mixed into yogurt, granola, turned into a spread, put in a smoothie etc.

Rhubarb and Lemon Balm Kompot

Bring 6 cups of water to a roaring boil in a large stock pot.

Add 1 generous bunch or handful of fresh lemon balm leaves, do not chop.

Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes.

Strain out the lemon balm with a slotted spoon, leave the infusion behind

Add in…..

3 stalks of rhubarb coarsely chopped-2 cups

2/3 cup of sugar

1 apple coarsely chopped-2 cups

6 whole crushed green cardamon pods

1 whole lemon, seeds removed and sliced.

1 tsp of finely chopped fresh ginger root, peeled first.

Reduce to low and simmer 20 minutes. Turn off heat.

Let cool to room temperature. Refrigerate and serve over ice.

There is no need to strain out the cooked fruit and spices. They are part of the beverage.

Lemon balm is a perennial found in the Mint family. Its many tall, auxiliary, four sided stems have very small two lipped flowers at their tips. A favorite of bumblebees these can be white, lavender or pink. The leaves are brilliant green, heart shaped/oval with a point. These are oppositely arranged with slightly serrated margins. Most members of the Mint family possess highly aromatic essential oils which repel pests. Mellissa has a unique smell of artificial lemon. This herb can grow as high as two feet tall. Easy to grow- it prefers moist, rich, well drained soil in shade or partial sun. Lemon balm grows well in pots and in most climates but can self seed and become an invasive plant. Remove volunteers/babies as they appear to prevent this.

Melissa is versatile and has a long history of use. It is cooling, calming, and cleansing. Its antispasmodic action makes it useful for treating menstrual cramps, general pain, headaches and infant colic. As a digestive it reduces indigestion and gas. High levels of the volatile oil cintronellal are helpful for depression, insomnia, restlessness, nightmares, teething, and anxiety. Lemon balm is a favorite tea with children due to its mild taste. Powerful antiviral and antibacterial properties make it popular to treat childhood illnesses, the flu, colds, and viruses in the herpes family. As an antihistamine it is useful for allergies and eczema.

Lemon balm can be applied externally on sunburn, wounds, burns, insect bites, and boils.

Medicinal Parts:leave and immature tops. Due to loss of volatile oils it is better to use it fresh or frozen rather than dried.

Energetics:sour, cool, dry


Contraindications:Hypothyroidism. If you have a bee venom allergy do not use the essential oil in homemade bug repellant as bees love the smell.

Lemon balm appears in recipes to wrap fish. It can be a substitute for basil or parsley in pesto, salsa and tabouleh. Replace it for green in salad, soups, and sauces. Try it in a jelly, curd, or butter. Slip it into muffins and other baked goods.


I have tried many remedies for sleep support in my kids (who are now teens). Glycerites, syrups, teas, tinctures, and flower remedies. This idea has been the most successful. The key is calling it “chai”. During the summer I chill it and throw in some boba. It also helps that is does not look like medicine or have an herbal taste.

Dream Dust

Grind the following measures of dried herbs and set aside-

2 TBSP of California Poppy Flowers

1 TBSP of hops flowers/cones

2 TBSP of tulsi

2 TBSP of rose petals

2 TBSP pf white vervain leaves

2 TBSP of skullcap

2 TBSP of mugwort leaves

2 TBSP of catnip

2 TBSP of rose petal

2 TBSP of chamomile flowers

Grind 4 TBSP of coconut sugar with

1 TBSP of oatstraw

1 tsp of lavender flowers

1/8 tsp of cardamon powder

1 TBSP of dried orange peel

Mix everything together.

Measure out 1 tsp of dream dust and add to the hot “dairy” beverage of your choice right before bedtime. Stir, let steep for 5 minutes and then strain. Consume when warm. Store unused dust in a jar that is stored in a cool, dark, place. For young people consider adding a bit of vanilla extract. If you want to skip the straining step you can use a fine tea filter.

This plant is a perennial or annual in climates with colder winters. Leaves are alternative, feathery ( finely dissected), and sage/blue green. Bright orange flowers have four petals, numerous stamens, and long needle shaped seed pod. It can grow 1-3 feet high, its long stems filled with white sap. Prefers growing in a well drained, sunny location.

Historically California poppy has been used for mild pain relief, sleep support, insomnia, fever, diarrhea, anxiety, headaches, stress, and coughs.

Latin/Binomial name: Eshscholzia californica

Botanical Family: Papaveraceae

Parts used: flowers, the whole plant

Energetics: cooling, dry, bitter

Element: air

Contraindications: considered safe for everyone is reasonable doses. Individuals with depression should not use this herb. Non addictive.

Spiritual uses: to support balance, positive spiritual growth, opening the heart, and trust in ones inner wisdom. Teaches us to depend on ourselves and our resources rather than things offered up by others. Useful when there is a situation involving addiction, restlessness, fantasy, or unhealthy attraction/dependence on another person.

You may have trouble finding much on the medicinal uses of this state flower of California

-May you sleep deeply and have lovely dreams

Herbal Calamine “Lotion” (chamomile)

The weather is just starting to get nice. Plants and insects are making their appearance to coincide with more time spent outdoors. It is good to be prepared for things like bug bites/stings, poison ivy/oak, acne, boils, and itchy rashes of all kinds. This lotion contains ingredients to soothe, heal, draw out, prevent infection, and neutralize. Giving relief to symptoms such as swelling, redness, pain, inflammation, heat, stagnation, irritation, and itchiness. You can make this “lotion” in a single use batch. OR you can make larger amounts of 1)powder, 2)liquid, and 3)oil to save time and effort. Combining them later as needed, storing them separately. If traveling or camping one can just store small amounts in appropriate containers for later use. The addition of chamomile powder and essential oils to this product supports healthy skin and reduces microbial growth. Not to mention giving it a lovely, relaxing scent.

Homemade Calamine Lotion

Powder ingredients-

4 TBSP of sea salt

4 TBSP of baking soda

4 TBSP of betonite clay

1 TBSP of finely powdered dried chamomile flowers

Oil ingredients-

10 drops of lavender essential oil

10 drops of peppermint essential oil

10 drops of chamomile essential oil

4 tsp of herb infused olive oil. Possible choice of medicinal plants could include-mugwort, yarrow, plantain, calendula, feverfew, basil, lemon balm, hops, coriander, thyme, sage or nettles.

Liquid ingredients-

Enough witch hazel to make a paste

Directions-combine all the “powder” ingredients, set aside. Combine all the “oil” ingredient, set aside. Measure out 4 TBSP of powder and 1 tsp of oil. Add to a bowl with enough witch hazel to form a smooth and creamy lotion.

Store unused portion in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

You could omit the liquid and use the oil and powder ingredients in a salve recipe. Pour you mixture into a small tin or lip balm tube for easy, on the go application.

Caution-discontinue use if signs of allergic reaction occur or symptoms worsen.

German Chamomile. Is an annual. Latin Name -Matricaria recutia/chamomilla. Family-Aster. Sub Family-Anthemideae (aromatic members of the aster family). Like all asters, this plant is missing the green sepals. Instead it has translucent bracts (modified leaves) surrounding the flower head. Numerous tiny five petaled disc flowers fill the yellow round center which is surrounded by a ring of white single petaled ray flowers. Similar to a daisy but much smaller in size and different leaves. Each flower sits a top a short stalk attached to a long leggy stem ( may grow to 24 inches) which has numerous blooms. The alternate leaves are brilliant green, fine, and feathery. Chamomile has a sweet pleasant aroma, almost like apples. Roman chamomile is similar in appearance but shorter and often a ground cover. In the garden this plant prefers any kind of soil, regular watering and full sun for best growth. This cultivar sometimes escapes to be found in pavement cracks or an empty urban lot. Self seeds and spreads easily under the right conditions. Not to be confused with pineapple weed which can be found growing “wild” in many places.

Chamomile contains several volatile oils and constituents that assist the recovery and health of skin or mucous membranes. Studies show that this herb is anti-microbial specifically for candida, staph, strep, e. coli and fugal infections. Compresses, lotions, salves, washes, douches and gargles have been used externally to cool and speed the healing of burns, eczema, acne, dermatitis, insect bites, psoriasis, cracked nipples, bleeding gums, toothache and eye infections. The flowers have a long history of being used in hair products like dye, shampoo and rinses. They have also been used to flavor food, drinks and scent incense, massage oil or dream pillows. Matricaria reduces inflammation, clearing toxins and heat. Herbalists like chamomile as a sedative for insomnia and anxiety. It is very well suited for restless, nervous and hyperactive kids. A weak tea can support cranky, teething, and colicky babies or reduce nightmares and bedwetting in children. A study shows that this herb acts on the smooth muscle of the intestines and uterus, helping them relax and stop spasming/cramping. The flowers of this plant have been used to treat ulcers, gas, heartburn, morning sickness, IBS, indigestion, diarrhea and other digestive upsets. Herbalists use this plant for menstrual pain and migraines related to PMS/hormone shifts. It is thought that chamomile can reduce the pain of rheumatism, sciatica, and lumbago. Inhaling the stream from an infusion clears phlegm and may reduce the symptoms of asthma.

Parts Used: flowers

Energetics: Bitter, sweet, moist, neutral

Element: Water

Spiritual and Emotions Uses:calming when there is restlessness and irritation. Releases emotional tension. Harmony and peace. Stability when one has changing emotional states.

Contraindications-avoid large doses in pregnancy. Do not use if you are allergic to ragweed or other members of the daisy/aster family.

Salmoriglio (Oregano)

What is salmoriglio? Is is a condiment from Italy that is used as a marinade or sauce. Thinned it can be used in a dressing, thickened it can be used more like pesto. The base is olive oil, lemon juice, salt, garlic and fresh herbs. It can be used to tenderize meats/seafood/protein before grilling, to baste vegetables before roasting, as a spread in a sandwich, or mixed into grains. It has a fresh and sour taste, reminding me a lot of chimichurri or harissa. A jar of it can be stored in the refrigerator for months. One can use add any combination of leafy, mineral rich herbs or foraged plants including-arugula, chickweed, nettle, lovage, borage, purslane, lambs quarters, plantain, mallow, dock, sorrel, chicory, violet, catnip, lemon balm, nasturtium, marjoram, feverfew, sage, tarragon, hyssop, red clover, thyme, mint, yarrow, and miners lettuce. I even saw an on-line salmoriglio recipe with monarda. My additions were dandelion and fennel.


1 cup of fresh dandelion leaves coarsely chopped

1 cup of fresh parsley coarsely chopped

1 cup of fresh cilantro coarsely chopped

1/4 -1/2 of high quality olive oil

1/2 tsp of smoked salt

1/2 tsp of ground pink peppercorns

1 tsp of ground dried coriander seeds

1 TBPS finely chopped fresh fennel leaves

2 TBSP of fresh chives finely chopped (or garlic)

2 TBSP of fresh oregano finely chopped

Juice and zest of a small lemon

Combine all ingredients in a blender or food processor. Pulse until your desired consistency is reached. Can be thinned with water or a high quality vinegar. Leftovers can be place in a clean canning jar and stored in the refrigerator.

As a member of the mint family oregano/wild marjoram has its own aromatic essential oils. It is a common perennial found all over the world. Lots of small, ovate shaped, gray/green leaves grow oppositely on a single, downy, square stem (sometimes purplish). These are dotted with very small depressions. This plant grows about 24 inches high. Numerous, tiny ,two lipped white flowers ( with pink or purple tints) grow on erect, terminal clusters. Oregano often appears to grow as a bush shaped patch. It will thrive in just about any soil, tolerates drought, and prefers full sun.

Many older classic herbals leave this herb out as it is more known for culinary use in the US. If you wish to dig deep into the medicinal uses of Oregano you might consider resources originating from Hispanic cultures and countries. Here you will see it used for “cold invasion” or a more bile/pitta constitution. Oregano is gaining more popularity in the west for its antiseptic/antiviral and vasodilating properties. Historically this plant has been used to treat childhood illnesses, headaches, the flu, fever, colds, bronchitis, and asthma. It may help with digestive issues such as colic, gas, indigestion, nausea, vomiting, poor appetite, and parasites. Some herbalists have used it for problems related to menstruation, cramps, headaches, earache, insomnia, inflammation and high cholesterol. Externally it is used as a liniment, poultice, or compress for sprains, injuries, swelling, pain, itchy skin, animal or insect bites/stings, dizziness, and bruising. When inhaled as steam it can help clear and open the lungs, relieving a bad cough. In Hispanic cultures oregano is a popular remedy for conditions of a “spiritual” nature where it might be used in a ritual spray, bath or cleansing.

Latin Name: Origanum vulgare

Botanic Family: Lamiaceae/Mint

Parts Used: leaves

Energetics:pungent, bitter, warm, dry

Element: air

Contraindications: avoid all but culinary use during pregnancy

Hops Culinary Oil

Last summer I harvested a bumper crop of hops. I was never a fan of this herb until I grew my own. My dried hops is nothing like what I have purchased in a store or on-line. Because I timed the harvest just right and dried the cones properly, I ended up with a product that was brilliant green and so fragrant. I was able to achieve its true taste and aromatics without the bitterness. There were notes of pine, citrus and florals. I quickly became very fond of my hops based morning chai. It is now almost a year later and the dream pillow I made with this plant still smell heavenly.

I used my creative super powers to find several ways to use up my bounty. This culinary oil is superb on roasted vegetables, starches or grains, grilled meats or proteins, and savory stews or soups. Such a simple and quick way to impress guests. A bottle of this oil makes a very attractive hostess gift.

Hops Culinary Oil

Loosely fill a pint canning jar 1/2 way with hops cones. Grind 1 TBSP of pink pepper corns and 1 TBSP of coriander seed in a mortar and pestle. Add to your jar. Fill with high quality virgin olive oil, stir, let settle and tap on a counter to release bubbles. Top with more oil if necessary. Store in a cool, dry, and dark place. There is no need to strain this oil.

In spring the perennial rootstock of hops will send up several spiny, woody, angular stems/shoots that can be up to 20 ft. long. These “vines” like to climb, twist and attach. Hops is known for its “aggressive” and smothering growth. Leaves are darker green, rough, cordate, serrate, opposite, palmate, with 3-5 lobes. These grow on long stems from off of the vines. Flowers are quite small, without petals, and grow in clusters on separate plants. Male flowers are small panicles/racemes appearing early in the summer. Female flowers, are catkins. These grow in size to form numerous, larger, vibrant green, highly aromatic “flowers”/strobiles with overlapping layers of bracts/scales (technically a cone shape fruit). Hops can be found growing in hedges, in the woods and sometimes along a stream as it prefers damp soil. It does well cultivated in the garden.

Hops has been used to treat insomnia, stress, muscle tension, anxiety, restlessness, hyperactivity, headaches, pain, fever, low milk supply, mastitis, menstrual problems due to low estrogen, hot flashes, menopausal symptoms, poor appetite, diarrhea, gas, IBS, Chrone’s disease, inflammation, digestive tract infection, ulcers, and rheumatism . As a bitter, it supports the liver, spleen and digestive system. Hops is a good diuretic for several conditions like cystitis, edema/water retention and kidney stones. Its antispasmodic properties make it useful for coughs and gastrointestinal spasm. Externally it has been used to treat dandruff, eczema, acne, boils, rough skin, rashes, growths, sprains, abscesses, bruises and wounds. A poultice can be helpful for headache and earache. The vines have been used to make cord, cloth and paper just like hemp which is in the same botanical family. Hops could also be used as a source of pectin.

Latin name: Humulus lupulus

Botanical Family: Cannabidacae

Parts Used: female cones/strobiles “flowers”

Energetics: cold, dry, bitter, pungent

Element: air

Spiritual Uses: To support our efforts when we need to achieve a goal. Helps us to develop patience, cooperation and perseverance. Some things take a long time to manifest. Be open and receptive as often the unexpected/unwanted can be the most beneficial to us in the moment. Reminds us that giving and receiving must come from the heart. Encourages us to share ourselves with the community. But with the caution that any gift should be truly needed and requested by the receiver. This prevents energy depletion and resentment. Calming when one fears loss. Sometimes we need to loose everything in order to gain what we most want.

Contraindications: Do not use during pregnancy. Because of its sedative effect hops may not be appropriate for those with a history of depression or the use of prescription sedatives. Can cause contact dermatitis or eye irritation in sensitive individuals. Dried hops that are several months old will have a stimulating effect. This herb has a history of suppressing menstruation in women and sex drive in men. Many not support those struggling with infertility. Prolonged high doses may stress the kidneys.