Parsnips Glazed with Hyssop and Figs

There is only way to dress up parsnips and get a reluctant person reason to try this vegetable for the first time. With our new hoop house setup, I can get fresh hyssop all year round even when there is a foot of snow outside. The combination of dried figs and fresh hyssop is magical for a cozy winter meal with friends or just family.

Glazed Carrots with Hyssop

Make a stovetop glazing infusion with….

1 cup of water

1/2 cup of mirin

1/2 -1 cup chopped fresh anise hyssop leaves

1/4 cup of honey

Simmer on low for 30 minutes, and strain.

Add 1/2 cup of chopped, rehydrated dried figs. Bottle.

For the roasted parsnips (carrots can also be used)

2 large parsnips chopped into large pieces

1 tbsp water (or chicken stock)

1 tbsp butter

1/4 cup of glaze

Roast in an oven at 400 for 45 minutes.

Garnish with…

1 tsp finely chopped hyssop, salt & pepper to taste

Agastache is in the mint family. It is one of the few cultivated medicinal herbs that is native to North America. This perennial grows up to three feet in height. It has brilliant green leaves that are oval/spade shaped with pointed tips. These are oppositely arranged on a square stem and have a fuzzy underside. Anise hyssop has very small purple/blue flowers densely arranged on a spike, typically at the end of each stalk. It prefers to grow in moist habitats with full sun. When rubbed with the fingers the plant has a pleasant anise/spicy scent. This subtle flavor makes it fun to use in all kinds of recipes from sorbet to lamb.

Anise hyssop has a warming stimulating action that clears heat. It supports the the lungs, digestive system and spleen. Historically it has been used for bloating, nausea, gas, indigestion, vomiting and diarrhea. It can be added in a respiratory formula for flu, fever, colds, asthma, bronchitis and sore throat. The aerial parts can be used in a poultice to be applied externally for migraine, heatstroke, sore, fungal infections, bruises, bug bites, and burns.

Parts used:Flowers and Leaves

Energetics:pungent, sweet, warm, dry

Element:air

Contraindications: None, can be used regularly as a “tonic”or in culinary dishes. Anise hyssop has the same medicinal uses as Hyssopus officinalis but different essential oils and constituents. Hyssopus is much stronger and should not be taken in large doses or in the long term as medicine.

Soothing Bath For the Spirit (MARIGOLD)

By the end of the herbal year I have run out of ideas for how to use the rest of my abundant harvest of plants. Drying herbs for winter baths make lovely gifts. There will come a day in February when one is low in energy and craving a sensual experience that enlivens your very soul. This specific combination of plant helpers is sure to grant that wish. When it comes to formulating a bath mix I am all about letting instinct and aesthetics guide my hand. There are no measurements or proportions for this recipe. Let the time of day, month, weather, and your garden whisper instructions as to what you need to harvest and how much.

Soothe The Spirit Bath

Rose

Chamomile

Lavender flowers and Leaves

Calendula

Lemon Balm tops and leaves

Sage

Rosemary

Marigold flowers

Strip aerial parts from their stems. Allow small amounts to air dry in baskets placed in a cool, dark and moisture free environment. In the summer I use a bench in my kitchen for this. Large, fleshy leaves like clary sage or resinous flowers like calendula are best dried quickly in a dehydrator. When all ingredients are truly crisp, gently add together and mix. To preserve color and volatile oils package immediately. Store away from light, humidity, and heat.

Here is a link for self care using baths, a longer post on using plants for bathing.

Tagetes

If you want to know about the medicinal properties and uses of Tagetes you might have to consult herbals from other cultures (Mexican) or regions in the American Southwest. Even though pot marigold (calendula) and Tagetes (marigold) have a few things in common, like their names, they are not the same species. One can not be used as a substitute for the other. I tend to only use marigolds externally, as a way to support the spirit. Historically they have been used internally as an infusion for inflammation, fever, edema, migraines, common cold, flu, chills, pneumonia, food poisoning, gas, diarrhea, stomachache, nausea, menstrual problems and colic. It is very common to use Tagetes flowers in baths, incense and ritual sprays where there is fear or trauma. Externally marigold is helpful for rashes and skin infections. No matter how you use it, the flowers clear “wind”, dryness and heat.

Marigolds are native to North and South America. They are in the aster family. The plants can be a 1-2 ft. tall , highly aromatic annual or perennials depending on the climate. Tagetes many leaves are dark green and very pinnate. The flowers are 4-6 cm in diameter and come in shades of yellow and orange, often with darker or maroon highlights. Varieties can have single or multiple rounds of petals. The dried floral heads are well known for their ability to self seed and produce an abundance of plants the next year. This plant grows well in dry climates and poor soils.

A few varieties have tasty edible flowers- Tagetes patula (French marigold), Tagetes tenuifolia (Gem marigolds), Tagetes lucida (Mexican mint marigold) and Tagetes minuta. These can be used as an inexpensive substitute for saffron in condiments, savory dishes and desserts with their subtle flavors of anise, basil, tarragon, or citrus. The blooms can also be used as a yellow dye for textiles and their high carotenoid lutein content is used as a food coloring worldwide. Marigolds are well known in agriculture as an effective repellent for all types of pests. They widely cultivated in numerous countries to be used in rituals, festivals, and celebrations.

Contraindications (internal use): Aster/ragweed allergy. Pregnancy.

THYME , Chamomile, and Oatmeal Sugar Scrub Bars

Last week my neighbor gifted me a large basket of culinary herbs. It was prefect timing as we had an unexpected freeze during the night. I also needed several projects to keep me distracted over a weekend stuck inside due to wildfires. I am always amazed at the creative combinations of ingredients found in all the homemade beauty products. The following recipe was an inspiration after viewing several other ideas published on-line. The use of both oatmeal and sugar works well to exfoliate dry skin so typical of this time of year.

Thyme and Oatmeal Sugar Scrub Bars

Coarsely process rolled oats in a coffee grinder , you will need 2 heaping TBSP.

In a food processor grind fine- 1 cup of white sugar, 1 TBSP of fresh thyme leaves, 2 TBSP of dried chamomile flowers, and 5 drops of lemon essential oil (or add 1/4 tsp of lemon zest), 1 tsp of vanilla extract. Add in….

1/4 cup of olive oil

6 ounces pour and melt soap base (goat milk, shea butter etc. just not clear)

Once fully melted, remove from heat and swish to mix. Cool just enough to insure that it is just liquid enough to pour into soap molds.

Quickly add in the dry ingredients, mixing well with a fork.

Pour into molds and let harden.

Remove and store in a cool, dark place when set.

Thymus vulgaris

Thymus is a member of the very large Labiatae/mint family. As one would expect it has several volatile oils that contribute to its smell and properties. Thymol and carvacrol are both antibacterial and anti-fungal. Thyme soothes inflammation and promotes tissue repair. Topically it cleans out infected wounds. A bath, liniment, or massage that contains thyme may help with rheumatism, shingles, warts, insect bites, staph infection, athlete’s foot, ringworm, lice, scabies, candida/yeast, dandruff, sore muscles, arthritis, neuralgia, bruises, sprains, injuries, sciatica, and large cuts. Internally this plant is known for its ability to “warm” various organs. It supports the immune system and increases circulation. It dries, loosens and clears phlegm. Thyme has been used to treat coughs, sinus infections, fever, bronchitis, the flu, headaches, gas, colic, diarrhea, poor appetite, indigestion, and viral infections. As an antiseptic mouth wash, thyme has been used to treat sore throat, laryngitis, bad breath, sores, and gum disease.

Thymus has a woody square stem, Depending on the variety it can grow from 1-10 inches high and often takes on a shrub like appearance. Some types creep and make good ground cover between pavers. The tiny white, pink or lilac flowers can be arranged in clusters around segments of the stem or only at the tips. Like other members of the mint family, the flowers petals are fused into a two lipped funnel. Its numerous small, flat, leaves are a bright, grey or dark green color. They have an ovate to lanceolate shape which rolls slightly on the edges. Some cultivars like lemon thyme are varigated (bi-colored). This easy to grow plant prefers dry soil and full sun.

Parts used: leaves and flowers

Energetics: pungent, bitterm warm, dry

Element:fire and water

Spiritual and Emotional Uses: For courage and strength over the long haul

Contraindications:Pregnancy, thyroid issues. Avoid in large doses or longterm use. The essential oil should never be used internally. Use with caution externally as it can irritate skin and sensitive tissues.

Fever Tincture (ELDER)

Fevers can present at any time of year and affect people of all ages. They are a normal result of our body killing off bacteria or viruses and activating the immune system. Most are not pathological but a healthy and natural strategy to deal with common but mild infections. Fever can also be caused by cancer, medications, vaccines, heat stroke/sunburn, teething and a few chronic diseases. Please consult with your medical provider if a fever does not respond to treatment or presents with a seizure, rash, stiff neck, confusion, listlessness, vision changes , light sensitivity, abdominal pain, throat swelling, , difficulty breathing, frequent vomiting or diarrhea. In infants under 3 months a fever over 100.4 requires immediate medical care. In older infants and children temperatures above 103 are a concern. For adults consult for a fever over 104 degrees Fahrenheit. Attention should be paid to preventing dehydration. Regular fluid intake, a lukewarm bath, cold compresses, and rest help provide comfort and relieve symptoms. Fevers can be accompanied by headache, aches/chills, shaking, sweating, fatigue, and hot/flushed skin.

My fever formula contains the following herbs-yarrow flowers, elder flowers, catnip leaves, dandelion root and leaves, violet leaves. I choose plants based on their abilities to remove heat/stagnation, induce sweating, provide comfort, and address mild symptoms.

S. canadensis

Elder Latin Name: Sambucus. Family: Adoxa/Adoxaceae. Common names- there are “blue”, “black” and “red” elderberry subspecies. To avoid confusion and ensure safe/accurate ID and harvesting, it is best to use Latin names. Elder is a tall bush that drops its leaves in the fall. The leaf shape and color can vary between subspecies (long, lance shaped, and pointed or pinnately compound, and toothed) but in general are arranged oppositely on the 10-30 branches/canes. The small “white” flowers form a crowded cyme/cluster. They have a strong unpleasant smell and bloom sometime in the late spring. The small, ripe, smooth berries can be blue, black or red. They form dense clusters.

ALL elders contain two alkaloids that convert to cyanide ( a poison) when exposed to the acids in the human stomach. These toxic chemicals are found in the seed, root, branches, green stems, and leaves. BUT not the flowers or the RIPE fruit that surrounds the seed. There are several wild elder subspecies that Not everyone is in agreement about whether some are more toxic than others. To be safe I cultivate and only harvest from S. nigra and S. canadensis. Both are easy to find in nurseries.. You can also propagate elder from cuttings. I failed to get my new bushes to overwinter twice. But now that they are established they are almost invasive and have to be pruned every year. The Flowers are at their peak sometime in June. The berries will be ripe in late fall. The flowers are always edible especially if you remove their green stems. The berries may need special preparation such as cooking well and straining out their seeds. Elderberries must always been eaten when fully ripe!

There have been reports of people getting sick from eating the ripe dried berries (not cooked). Yet several of my teachers and the Botanical Safety Handbook mention no concern with using dried berries without cooking them first. I powder them and add them to honey. Many herbalists tincture the ripe berries (both fresh and dried) without cooking them first but do strain out the seeds. Very few people feel comfortable using other parts of the plant. Do your research and use your best judgement.

Elder berry and flowers encourage the body to release toxins through sweating, moving stagnant blood and urination. Elderberries contain constituents that prevent viruses from penetrating cells. Elder has been used since ancient times to treat fluid retention, colds, flu, hay fever, asthma, hot flashes and childhood infections. This plant is very useful for relieving a cough, opening the lungs, increasing oxygen saturation and breathing capacity. It has a long history of being used as a laxative, purgative, and organ tonic. It supports the nerves and digestive system. The berries are high in Vitamin C, and contain small amounts of iron and potassium. You will find them in syrups, jams, pies, and cobblers. Externally the flowers are used in skin and hair products such as salves, lotions, toners, and rinses. They have been used in eyewashes, gargles and compresses for headache, skin conditions, bruising, sunburn, and pain. They will lower a fever, relieve a sore throat, help with congestion. and clear heat as a tea or tincture. In recipes you can find them in salads, drinks, jelly, and baked goods.

Parts Used:Berries and flowers internally. Leaves externally.

Energetics:cool, bitter, sweet, dry 

Element:water

Spiritual/Emotional uses:for protection, prosperity, blessing and good luck. Often present at transitions like birth and death.

Contraindications:-dehydration. Only consume the flowers or cooked berries. Research Elder’s role in cytokine storms.

An Herb and Spice Holiday Season

Oh the sights and smells of the winter holiday season. As the days get colder, shorter and darker our physical and energetic body feels the need to rest. The process of journeying inward can lead to stagnation. That is why winter traditions incorporate the aesthetics and medicinal properties of certain plants. Spices known to stimulate a sluggish digestion, move stuck energy, “heat” the body and increase circulation. As scents, decor, medicine, drinks or sweets-these ideas will fill this time of year with festivity, warmth, coziness, comfort and good health as your gather to celebrate with loved ones.. Many of these recipes are fun to try with kids.

Saffron Winter Holiday cake

Pomander Ball-draw a design onto an orange with a ballpoint pen. Using. a toothpick poke regular holes along the line of your design. Insert whole cloves. (optional) cut a length of ribbon and make a loop, tie a knot. Use a brad or thumbtack to attach it to your orange

Traditional Chai Tea

Ingredients

A one inch piece of fresh ginger coarsely chopped

1 cinnamon stick broken and crushed

1/2 tsp of black peppercorns

1/2 tsp of whole fennel seeds crushed

2 TBSP of loose black tea leaves

3 cardamon pods crushed

3 star anise pods crushed

2 cups of milk or substitute

Packed of brown sugar or substitute to taste.

Place 2 cups of water to a large saucepan. Bring to a boil and add your spices and ginger. Simmer tea for 1/2 an hour. Strain and reserve liquid. Add liquid “milk” and sweetener back into your original pan. Heat for 3 minutes. Serve immediately.

Spice Ornaments

Ingredients

1 cup applesauce

2 TBSP cinnamon power

2 TBSP ground clove powder

2 TBSP ground cardamon powder

2 TBSP ground allspice powder

2 TBSP nutmeg powder

3-4 Tablespoons of white school glue

Directions

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees.

Place all of the ingredients into a large wide bowl.

Use a rubber spatula or wooden spoon to mix ingredients with a rubber until the “dough” comes together.

Divide the “dough” into 4 parts. Roll a part in between two sheets of wax paper until it is ¼ inch thick. Don’t roll any thinner or they may crack in the oven.

Cloth trivet stuffed with play sand and ground spices. Releases a lovely smell/aromatherapy when a hot beverage is placed on top.

Stove top potpourri

Ingredients

3 cups of fresh orange peel coarsely chopped. Oranges with a thick peel work best.

1/4 cup of whole cloves

1/4 cup of fresh, fragrant conifer needles

3-4 cinnamon sticked broken and crushed

5-6 larger star anise seed pods crushed

1/8 tsp of powdered allspice

12 fresh juniper berries

3 fresh bay leaves crushed

7 green cardamon pods

fresh cranberries or ross hips for added color (optional)

Place all ingredients in a large pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer on a very low temperature for 30-60 minutes. Check the water level frequently to prevent scorching/burning. Adding more if necessary.

Incense-finely powdered spices combined with flower petals and leaves. I like to toss a teaspoon on top of incense burner or outdoor fire pit.

Kidney Rub Oil-infuse olive oil with warming spices like bay. Apply at bedtime over both kidneys. You can add a hot water bottle or heating pad as well. There will be a big improvement in symptoms related to “kidney deficiency”.

Immunitea/aide-a hot or cold beverage of turmeric powder, lemon juice, fresh ginger ,feverfew and honey. Perfect for boosting the immune system, supporting blood circulation, and reducing inflammation. Can be used to lesson symptoms related to water retention, joint pain/stiffness, poor circulation, cold hands/feet, and respiratory illnesses.

Orange Peel Oxymel

GOLDEN MULLEIN CHAI

Candied Orange Peel

Gluten Free Gingerbread

Conifer Cookies

Mulled Apple Cider

Ingredients

3 large cinnamon sticks broken/crushed

4 cardamon pods crushed

6 star anise pods crushed

4 whole nutmeg crushed if possible

pinch of allspice powder or 1 TBSP of allspice berries

2 TBSP of crystalized ginger chopped

2 TBSP of dried currants

2 TBSP of fresh lemon zest

1/4 cup of fresh orange peel chopped

3 TBSP of whole cloves

2 TBSP of whole peppercorns

6 cups of apple cider or juice

maple syrup if desired for sweetness (depends on the sugar content in the apples used for pressing).

Place all ingredients in a large pot. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer on a very low temperature for 30-60 minutes. Check the liquid level frequently to prevent scorching/burning. Adding more if necessary. Mulled drinks are wonderful when prepared outside over a big fire or stored in a thermos when engaging in cold , winter activities outdoors.

Other ideas to explore-spiced roasted nuts, a homemade pumpkin spice candle, essential oil infused pinecones, cookies/baked goods made with spices, and garlands/decorations made with cinnamon sticks etc.