Loving Your Weeds: A Healing Plantain Salve

April 14th, 2014 § 2 comments § permalink

Bet you didn’t know that right in your own backyard you may have one of the most soothing plants known to man…and it probably gets mowed away with the grass.

Plantain oil and salve in a compatible environment.

Plantain oil and salve in a compatible environment.

Lucky for you, it is not to late to save it. Time to let this magical weed grow and grow until you have enough to add to your medicine chest.  What is this amazing gift, you ask? Why, its the plantain!

Plantain grows close to the ground and is characterized by a ribbed appearance.  The species defines the size of the leaves.  In PA they often look like this or flat and broad.

Plantain grows close to the ground and is characterized by a ribbed appearance. The species defines the size of the leaves.  This is of the buckhorn variety.

Born of the plantago species, there are over 250 varieties in the United States, most commonly the broadleaf and the buckhorn.  The crushed fresh leaves can be applied directly to small cuts, sores, bee and wasp stings, eczema, insect bites and sunburn.  According to the Encyclopedia of Alternative Medicine, plantain has healing properties because of the high allantoin content. Allantoin is often found in over the counter moisturizers and salves such as this one.

Plantain is as good a treatment for the pain of a bee sting as it is for diaper rash.  I often use it on shaving burn/cuts and it does quite well in this regard.

If you are in an area that does not have plantain or you are timid this first time, it can be bought dried from a reputable source.  I do, however, recommend seeking it fresh.

The first step in making the salve is infusing an oil.  I stuff a mason jar (see above) with the leaf and oil, making sure to cover the leaves completely.  Do this to make sure it does not mold (trust me).  Leave the jar in a dark corner for at least a month or gently warm on a stove for at least four hours.  I often double infuse the oil, changing the leaves at the end of the month.  When finished infusing, strain the oil through cheesecloth or something similar.

Note:  I prefer the cold process but this does take patience.  Now is the time to start!

How will you make this oil into a salve? In short you will:

Step 1: Slowly melt oils with beeswax, swirling pan over heat source.

Step 1: Slowly melt oils with beeswax, swirling pan over heat source.

 

Step 2:  Let mixture cool until hardened.

Step 2: Let mixture cool until hardened.

 

Step 3:  Scoop your salve into sterilized containers.

Step 3: Scoop your salve into sterilized containers.

See how easy that was?  I was intimidated for years but it is incredibly easy.

Now that you have a basic recipe, you can add other herbs (like calendula and lavender if this is for a babies’ bottom), carrier oils and essential oils if you wish.  Keep the beeswax on the low end for a soft, spreadable salve and on the high end of 2 TBSP for something just short of chapstick.  I prefer the middle ground of 1 1/2 TBSP.

Enjoy the process!

Plantain Salve

Ingredients:

Instructions:

1.  In a small pan, melt oils with beeswax, slowly swirling pan over heat source.  You want to melt the beeswax with as little heat as possible so as not to disturb the volatile structure of the olive oil.

2.  Pour directly into containers, or if easier, let cool and scoop into sterilized containers.

3.  Spread liberally on diaper rash, eczema, bug bites, dry skin, bee stings or small cuts.  Be soothed.

I am currently using salve from last summer but give it a sniff or pitch it if you are worried.  Longevity relates to the freshness of the oil, storage conditions and bacteria introduction.  Use fresh oil, keep it cool and use clean hands!

Love,

Sheila

References

Elmore, C.L. & McGiffen Jr, M.E. (2007) Pest Notes: Plantains.  University of California, 2007.  Available online. Accessed April 21, 2013.

http://www.altmd.com/Articles/Plantain–Encyclopedia-of-Alternative-Medicine

www.bulkherbstore.com

 

*Medical disclaimer: I am not a licensed medical professional. What I do is purely for research and/or personal/family use. I cannot be held responsible for improper use. Always seek advice from a medical professional if you have doubts.  These claims have not been approved by the FDA (No kidding?!).

Paid endorsement disclosure: In order for me to support the creation of Love & Wild Honey, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products/services from this blog. If this is done, it is only with products that fit my personal ethos.

Living In-Between & Silky Blood Orange Curd

April 5th, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink

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“The heart has a language the lips know not.  Two people who love each other deeply have no need of poor human words to profess their love.  The silence of love is more eloquent than any amount of prattling, especially when one of the two concerned is God, who is love itself.” -Gaston Courtois

I wonder how many people are out there that are like me?

People that awkwardly stumble over their words in the middle of meetings. People who in new social situations neglect to find the right thing to say…or something, ANYTHING interesting to say. People that can express themselves much more deeply through the written than the spoken word, who find themselves barely capable of remembering what they ate for breakfast let alone the research they did last week. People who “UGH, [facepalm]” more often that not. :)

Can I get a raising of hands here?

Blood Oranges 2 Blood Orange Juice

I used to have such deep anxiety over my inability to articulate myself when I really wanted or needed to until I began studying the Desert Fathers. Who would have known that silence was equally if not more acceptable to God than a chattering mouth! Isn’t that what the world has deemed to be the pinnacle of success…constant words and constant activity?

Slowly I am coming to see that True Love does not need the “right” words. True Love does not want us to become anxious and scared when a situation does not turn out as we wished it. True Love has a greater plan and it is likely much more far reaching than we will ever see.

Uh, this might take time, but I am growing to accept that too.

And wouldn’t you know it, life is giving me the old “just BE already” right now! Nothing ground breaking is occurring here in Pittsburgh, in fact we are all kind of living in between. People here are ready to shed their winter coats and take on the freedom and lightness that comes with spring but the days are bipolar. One day we bask in the warm embrace of the coming season and the next we are given the cold shoulder of days past. Bearing with these days is all we can do. They are a constant lesson in adaptation and being.

Being. Learning to be and not worry is as fitting right now with the seasons as it is with our spiritual lives. Neither winter nor summer, neither embroiled in tragedy nor brilliant light. Maybe John Lennon was onto a similar thing as Gaston?

This recipe is ever so fitting. If you have never had curd it is soft and sweet and kind of like a really light custard. It is perfect on muffins, scones or swirled in yogurt to brighten up this crazy weather. Classically it has been served over a meringue as well. This makes for a super sweet treat.

The key to curd is slooowwwwly bringing it up to temperature. You do not want those eggs to scramble. Ick. You want a smooth custard. And let me tell you, this curd is just that, fluffy, silky, smooth and delicious. Spread it and savor the buttery, citrusy deliciousness!

Blood Orange Curd w:Meringue

Blood Orange Curd

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup blood orange juice
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice
  • 9 egg yolks
  • 2/3 cup organic cane sugar
  • 6 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • zest of 2 blood oranges
Instructions
 
Bring to a strong simmer a few inches of water in the bottom of a bain-marie (double boiler) or small saucepan of water. In the top portion of the bain-marie or in a small bowl resting on top of your saucepan, slowly bring to a simmer the blood orange juice, lemon juice, sugar and zest, whisking gently.
 
Slowly begin to pour in egg yolks, whisking vigorously. Keep whisking until the curd has thickened sufficiently. This should be when it coats the back of a spoon and does not drip off. If you see the eggs start to scramble, lower heat or take off the bowl for a bit, continuing to whisk. Remove from heat and stir in butter until incorporated. Strain out zest and any egg using a fine mesh strainer.
 
Jar curd and let rest on counter until it has come to room temperature. Let rest in refrigerator until cool and enjoy!

Blood Orange Curd

 

Love,

Sheila

Paid endorsement disclosure: In order for me to support the creation of Love & Wild Honey, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products/services from this blog. If this is done, it is only with products that fit my personal ethos.

Love in March + a Giveaway

March 16th, 2014 § 3 comments § permalink

To Write

From my perch the world seems awfully weird today. The brisk westerly wind wrestles with the warming rays of the late winter sun. Their battle rages around me as I sit in wait.

I savor each moment the sun’s rays body check the wind and warm my face through the large glass windows. I breathe out gingerly when they pull back leaving a soft light to rest on the screen of my computer. The wind gusts, the rays warm. Gust. Warm. The two play out their battle over the last days of winter. Soon spring will come.

In the last quiet days of winter, I seek solace in the contemplative haven that winter brings. Curling up with some new-to-me English tea w/cream, a book to nurture my newly acquired crochet skills, a spiritual reading to help navigate the heart and some delightful handcrafted torrone from Gaby et Jules that bring a delightful retreat from the noise of the modern world.

March Treats

Crochet Scarf Beginnings

There is a simplicity that March lends itself to.

Recipes begin again to find their natural ease.

Salmon is baked with just salt & pepper until just cooked through then sliced and placed in fresh corn tortillas with buttery avocado, spicy arugula & smooth sriracha mayo (click for mayo recipe).

Fish Tacos

Part of this simplicity involved getting back to the natural for me. Winter holes us up and we often seek comfort in whatever lets us be lazy and warm. Wendy’s drive-through and pre-prepared foods led the lazy for me. Shocking? Real life.

Well, learning to create my own lotion from the lovely Moirin of Bridget’s Apothecary (interview soon to come) was part of the journey back to natural simplicity.

Reading up on natural cleaning recipes that I can experiment with for spring cleaning was another. Lucky for me, I have all this wool yarn to finally make some felted dryer balls and I have piles of laundry and a perpetually icky hard water tainted shower that lends itself to needing to find some handy cleaning products. Unfortunatley. ;p

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Need a super bright spot in this post? The sweet as pie and über talented creator/researcher Heather at Mommypotamus is helping me spread the March love by allowing me to give away two copies of her book DIY Natural Cleaning Recipes so you can join me in this spring renewal. I trust her recipes implicitly as I know her research and testing is top-notch. Interested? Fill out the form below!  Good luck and happy spring-is-a-coming!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Love,

S

Paid endorsement disclosure: In order for me to support the creation of Love & Wild Honey, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products/services from this blog. If this is done, it is only with products that fit my personal ethos.

On Love & Silence + Dark Chocolate Almond Buckwheat Cake

February 11th, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink

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This is part of a three post series on love & sweets for the day of Valentine. View post one and two.

“The first stage of this tranquility consists in silencing the lips when the heart is excited. The second, in silencing the mind when the soul is still excited. The goal is a perfect peacefulness even in the middle of the raging storm.”

– St. John Climacus

We live in such a noisy world. Even if we retreat to the silence of the countryside our electronic devices follow us in all of their constant chatter of the world. If we are lucky enough to silence these devices, the mind is a rumbling with worries, concerns, to-do’s and desires.

Learning to love solitude of the world is not hard for me. Time alone has always been a great want of mine and one I deemed necessary for survival. Solitude is easy, silence is more of a challenge. After a year of studying the Desert Fathers I have come to some wonderful information…..one can silence the soul. Whaaaat? Yeah, it isn’t easy and when I perfect it I will get back to you but I can say one thing, for the moments that I can taste that sweet, sweet contemplative silence where “I” become naught and my soul shuts up….well, it rocks.

What does silence mean? It means you are not as easily overstimulated. It means 30 teenagers can be running around and you are not ready to pull out your hair, in fact you see joy in the craziness. It means loud beeping toys, screaming babies and conversations that surround your work become mere background or when lucky, become unnoticed. It means you see joy in all and God in everything. It is a worthy life goal and one certainly worth fighting for day in and day out.

Days that require solitude still exist and when I am lucky to carve that out, they deserve this cake. Spending the day of love alone? Trust me, there is love in solitude but even more love in SILENCE.

This cake is decadent in its rich chocolate interior and deep nutty flavor. Each bite makes me feel like I am happily contented with my cake sitting on the forest floor amidst soft moss & rustling leaves feeling small and quiet amidst towering trees lost in a great woods…alone.

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This dark chocolate almond buckwheat cake pairs well with a dark coffee or a nice cup of black tea with milk. It needs a drink that draws out its deep tobacco & wood undertones that come from the buckwheat & dark chocolate yet temper its rich sweetness.

I hope you find love this holiday, whether it comes in giving to others, sharing it with your love or in silence. Love comes in many forms. Most often it comes with food. ;)

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Dark Chocolate Almond Buckwheat Cake

Adapted from Deb over at Smitten Kitchen who adapted it from La Tartine Gourmand: Recipes for an Inspired Life

7 tablespoons (3.5 ounces) unsalted butter
4.5 ounces bittersweet dark chocolate (I enjoy Valhrona for special occasions)
4 large eggs, separated, room temperature
1/2 cup (3.5 ounces) granulated or blond cane sugar
1/4 tsp sea salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup (1.5 ounces) buckwheat flour, sifted
1/4 cup (1 ounce) fine almond meal, sifted

Confectioner’s sugar to dust

Raspberry jam to serve

Instructions:

Preheat your oven to 350°. Line a 9 inch round cake pan with parchment paper. Butter the inside sides of the pan.

Over a double boiler or very gently, melt the chocolate and the butter until silky. At end stir in salt and vanilla. Set aside.

Beat egg yolks with sugar until creamed and fluffy. Stir in buckwheat and almond flour with a spatula until incorporated. Fold in chocolate mixture until well mixed.

Beat egg whites until light, fluffy and forming soft peaks. Gently fold in egg whites being careful not to deflate the mixture. This will give the cake a nice bit of loft and lightness.

Pour into lined pan and bake around 25 minutes or until a chopstick comes out clean and dry. Dust with confectioner’s sugar and serve with raspberry jam.

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Love,

S

 

Paid endorsement disclosure: In order for me to support the creation of Love & Wild Honey, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products/services from this blog. If this is done, it is only with products that fit my personal ethos.

On Love & Cherries + Soaked Cherries in Yogurt

February 9th, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink

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This is part of a three post series on love & sweets for the day of Valentine. Visit post one and three.

right from the start/you were a thief you stole my heart/and I/your willing victim -pink/nate ruess

It is fruitless for a Catholic to speak of love and the heart without ultimately needing to refer to the Sacred Heart. I mean, if you want to find a soul with perfect purity, it isn’t going to be your fellow human. No, I am not a pessimist, quite the contrary.

Catholics love our devotions to saints but even moreso to certain attributes of Jesus. The Holy Face, Sacred Blood, Jesus the Child are but a few of the many attributes one can relate to and take on as a specific devotion. For some reason, a blood red heart pierced to the core, burning with an inconsumable love and dripping with blood is one resonates within my soul more than any. Pessimist, no, but I might be weird.

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No surprises here I am sure.

It wasn’t until I started photographing these cherries I picked up on a whim in Pittsburgh’s Strip District, that I realized they look strikingly like a heart when sliced in half.

I had never seen this simple yet profound beauty in a cherry until I was faced with pitting a pound of these totally out of season blood red bing cherries just because I need some red in my life. The orange and vanilla complement the cherry and give it a bit of depth that elevates simple yogurt to a sweet and creamy dessert.

This dessert, brimming with symbolism is perfect for the upcoming holiday of love. :) Share it with the one who stole your heart.

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Soaked Cherries in Creamy Yogurt

serves 3-4

Ingredients

  • 1 pound organic Bing cherries, reserving 4-6 for decoration
  • 5 Tbsp Gran Marnier or other cognac
  • 4 Tbsp vanilla extract
  • 4 Tbsp organic cane sugar
  • whole milk yogurt
  • one vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped out and reserved

Instructions

Mix yogurt and vanilla bean seeds. Set in refrigerator. Wash and rinse the cherries. Remove stems. Using a small paring knife, make a slice going all around each cherry. Twist and pull off one side, placing in bowl with cognac, vanilla and sugar. With a finger nail or small knife, pop out pit, twisting as you go. Toss gently. Place in refrigerator for 2-3 hours until sugar has dissolved and cherries have given off a light syrup. Layer cherries, yogurt, cherries, yogurt and pop a cherry on top just for kicks. If you wish to make this a breakfast treat, omit the cognac and add more vanilla and some freshly squeezed OJ.

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Love,

S

P.S. For the over 21, kiddos.

Paid endorsement disclosure: In order for me to support the creation of Love & Wild Honey, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products/services from this blog. If this is done, it is only with products that fit my personal ethos.

On Love & Chocolate + Dark Chocolate Beet Bon Bons

February 8th, 2014 § 7 comments § permalink

Part of a three post series on love & sweets for the day of Valentine. View post two and three soon.

For a blog which espouses love, you would think I would be all over Valentine’s Day.

While I certainly do not shun the holiday, it has degenerated into a reason for singles and couples alike to forget the blessings they have been given and yearn for something they do not have.

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Whereas the day can be a beautiful chance to TELL someone of your affection, it is often warped into a day where people come to EXPECT affection perfection.  As a society, we have the habit of turning the day into an expectation of what kind of love we will RECEIVE, rather than a chance to GIVE voluminously.

May we so love as never to have occasion to repent of our love!

-Henry David Thoreau

H.D. Thoreau is onto something when he hints at loving SO BIG that we should never have to worry about having held back love.  Now knowing we are humans, and imperfect at that, this may be only theoretically possible.  However, why not try……..my challenge to you to recapture the meaning in this season of love!

How can we do this? Well, to practice this self-giving love:  do something covert and anonymous.  This is the best way to practice self-giving (this is sooooo Abnegation faction if you have read Divergent)!  Send a family who you know is struggling some groceries.  Shovel the sidewalk and driveway of a neighbor, or better yet, a random house you drive by.  Pay for the persons’ coffee behind you…and run!  Leave a coffee shop giftcard/note in one of the library cubbies at the local library.  You get the vibe.

If you are not familiar with this kind of thing, you have to check out the site of Pittsburgh’s own Secret Agent L.  She lives her life inspiring other to live this way.  She rocks.

Ok now, are you looking for a sweet treat?  Try this “covertly healthy” pink coconut/chocolate treat.  Give someone (as well as yourself) the gift of luxurious sweetness wrapped around a healthy core.  I PROMISE noone will ever know your secret. Unless you tell. ;-)

Start with some beautiful organic beets.

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Shred them into a bowl.

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Add some shredded coconut and some gorgeous local honey.

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Roll into beautiful magenta balls.  Pause and admire them.

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Cover them in dark, decadent chocolate.
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Marvel at their uncanny ability to look like chocolate rocks. 

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hidden heart of mine/enrobed in a crackling shell/yielding to soft

-s

Dark Chocolate Beet Bon Bons

Adapted from the brillance over at Fig and Fauna.

Ingredients

  • 1-2 raw beets, grated into about 1/2 a cup
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut, shredded
  • 2 Tbsp raw, local honey
  • 1 Tbsp unrefined coconut oil + 1 Tbsp to melt w/chocolate
  • 8 oz semi-sweet chocolate (I used Ghirardelli squares)

Instructions

Grate the beets until you have 1/2 cup. Depending on size, this may take 1 or 2 medium beets or 1 large. In a bowl, mix together the beets, coconut, honey and melted coconut oil. Form balls and place on some parchment paper. Place in refrigerator until ready to cover in chocolate.

In a double boiler or small pan over boiling water, slowly melt chocolate and coconut oil. Slowly pour chocolate over the balls, swirling them around until covered. Let them sit until hardened, placing in fridge to quicken (15-20 min)

Share with someone you love.  Eat some as well.

This healthy and delicious treats (which do not taste like beets!) will keep a few days in the refrigerator.

Love,

Sheila

Paid endorsement disclosure: In order for me to support the creation of Love & Wild Honey, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products/services from this blog. If this is done, it is only with products that fit my personal ethos.

Would Jesus Mow His Lawn? (Re)Imagining the American Lawn

January 24th, 2014 § 3 comments § permalink

The not-so-humble beginnings of an American tradition.

Would Jesus mow his lawn? I would think (based on pure speculation) that if Jesus knew the historical and social background of how the American lawn came to be and the needless consumer cost of this commodity, He would stand with me in this counter-cultural movement. Heck no! Let your law go! This is one elitest American tradition with a lower case “t” that could really use a modern (re)imagining.

We have been discussing a fantastic set of articles that have given me some fodder for thought. According to Paul Robbins of Lawn People: How Grasses, Weeds, and Chemicals Make Us Who We Are, the lawn as we know it had its origins in aristocratic England and soon after caught on in France.  The lawn had a place, and its place was not one of function, but a way of “controlling nature.”  In India and many other countries around the world, the front yard is a living and working space, or in the case of Latin America, lawns are practically non-existant. In these areas, the courtyard is the norm.  The priority was functional, private space used by the family.

The dawn of the lawn really took hold in nineteen-fifties suburbia where an “ethos of conformity” (Steinberg, 24) was the norm. But what is even more interesting is the continuing ways the lawn was wielded as a form of social control. Housing associations, advertisements and a building business that catered to “pimping your lawn” (my words) reinforced the notion that a beautiful lawn was the commodity to collect.  In short, it became a symbol of status, wealth and power.  Furthermore, there became an “assumed connection between the type of landscape and type of person” a sort of “moral” code that whispered that those who cared about their lawns were better people, more civilized.

I wonder if times have changed all that much?

My mind begins to wander into imagining the type of lawn that would serve the American people in a more functional, yet still beautiful manner. You may ask, what could/would my counter-cultural lawn look like?

Consider the following:

1. Permaculture. Consider slowly converting your lawn into an edible landscape. The loss of a lawn does not have to mean a loss of the artistic beauty of one’s home. There are many beautiful flowering fruit trees, edible flowers and plants that carry an aesthetic all their own.

Beautiful and tasty nasturtiums and violets can serve as a border or filler around clusters of plants. The purple bean plant coupled with bunches of beautiful lettuce heads would make a nice pairing instead of bedded flowers.  These are also much more delicious. Imagine these layers of plants of varying color or height (all edible!) encircling the front and sides of your house.

Not only is layering certain crops a smart water conservation and protection technique but this would rock bordering a house.

With some research and skill, varietals can be found that are harvested at differing points in the summer, providing some consistent foliage. AND IT IS ALL EDIBLE!!!!  Talk about some monetary savings. Rumor has it that food prices will be increasing over the coming years and if any element of this is true, I’d like to have a jump start.  Additionally, the loss of the “typical” American grass lawn does not need to mean the loss of cushy space to lie in or play in. Check out the two counter-cultural lawns below. Beautiful. Functional. Potentially sustainable.

Envisioning the sustainable permaculture lawn. Image from: http://yogizendude.com/2009/09/13/permaculture-creating-a-sustainable-now

Whimsical permaculture cottage. Image from: http://permaculturecottage.wordpress.com/category/permaculture/

2. Medicinal and Edible Weeds-as-Lawn. As I have advocated for in my previous blog post, there are more than a handful of “so-called weeds” that are immensely medicinally beneficial and incredibly nutrient-dense.  With rising health care costs, I do firmly believe that herbal remedies can be an excellent complement to modern medicine and I do create many herbal teas, tinctures and compounds for personal use.  This is a key component of the permaculture as well.

Purslane, an often seen weed in Pennsylvania is high in Vitamin C and plant based Omega 3 fatty acids. Dandelion is not only a rich source of A, B, C and D but iron as well.  Traditional folkloric medicine will tell you it is an exceptional diuretic (think PMS, ladies). I have previous mentioned the red clover and the plantain, which I cannot speak highly enough about from personal experience.  I have particular love for the plantain “weed” and use the salve infused (for 2 months) in olive oil on bites, eczema and other rashes with GREAT success. This baby can even be chewed up and applied directly to poison ivy and bee stings. Oh yeah.

I have presented a few ideas for how to counter the socially constructed ideal of the American lawn while possibly adding value to your life.

If you still have to ask, “Would Jesus mow his lawn?”, the following fictional “dialogue” between God and St. Francis says it better than I ever could. This is a hilarious and hard-hitting MUST READ. http://www.losethelawn.blogspot.com/

Love,

S

*Medical disclaimer: I am not a licensed medical professional. What I do is purely for research and/or personal/family use. I cannot be held responsible for improper use. Always seek advice from a medical professional if you have doubts.  These claims have not been approved by the FDA (No kidding?!).

Local Resources:  http://pittsburghpermaculture.org/residential

Resources:

Lawn People: How Grasses, Weeds, and Chemicals Make Us Who We Are

American Green: The Obsessive Quest for the Perfect Lawn

Paid endorsement disclosure: In order for me to support the creation of Love & Wild Honey, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products/services from this blog. If this is done, it is only with products that fit my personal ethos.

Lemon Blueberry Chevre Hand Pies

January 18th, 2014 § 4 comments § permalink

Blueberry Goat Cheese Mini-Pies

the fierce jaws of life/so seldom satisfied/find some comfort here

-s

This year I have been kind of obsessed with hand pies. There is just something fantastic about a mini-pie. It reminds me of pop-tarts, summer picnics, pricking my finger of cacti…yeah I don’t know why that last one.

This particular lemon blueberry chevre pie was referred to as a “grown up pie” as it has the addition of creamy goat cheese and is just slightly sweet without being coying. It is my favorite of all I have tried so far.

If you have not heard of chevre, it is a lovely creamy yet slightly tart young cheese that is made of the milk of goats. My favorite to snack on is bucheron but for this a small young log of chevre works just fine. It may be tolerated by those who have casein issues.

Being that blueberries have such a short summer season and deserve to be eaten fresh to enjoy that delicious pop of sweetness in your mouth, this is actually perfect for the frozen wild blueberry of winter. In summer, the Raspberry Balsamic Hand Pie is clutch with fresh fruit.

Keep organic on this one as blueberries are one of the fruits with the most pesticide residue according to the Environmental Working Group this year. At number 13, it would be worth it to go for it.

Don’t feel guilty if you don’t have a favorite pie crust for this one. All butter puff pastry or a really good frozen pie crust (Trader Joe’s is my go-to) will work well here. Hand pies are meant to be simple treats that come together with ease.

Assembling BB Pies Crimping BB Pies Close-Up BB Pies

Lemon Blueberry Chevre Hand Pies

Makes about 18 hand pies

Ingredients

  • 6 cups of frozen organic wild blueberries
  • 1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp organic cane sugar plus more for sprinkling tops
  • Zest of two lemons
  • Juice of one lemon
  • 1 package of chevre (goat cheese)
  • 1 Tbsp  corn starch (use non-gmo corn starch  or tapioca flour if you cannot obtain it
  • whole milk or cream (for brushing)
  • 2 of your favorite pie crusts, rolled out (hack it with an all butter pre-prepared crust.  Trader Joe’s is awesome!)

Instructions

Pre-heat oven to 400°. Place blueberries in a thick-bottomed non-reactive pan such as a dutch oven. Begin stirring over medium heat with a wooden spoon for a minute or two. Add zest of one lemon, juice, balsamic and sugar. Stir until the blueberries begin to reduce into a jam-like filling. Add your cornstarch or thickener to help out this process and thicken it up a bit. Stir, stir until the powder is absorbed and the jammy filling clings to and drops slowly off spoon when lifted.

Place goat cheese in a bowl. Mix with the zest of one lemon until well combined. Set aside.

Roll out pie crust to about 1/8 inch. Cut circles out using a cookie cutter or the rim of a glass. About 36 circles can be made using about a 2 1/2 inch cutter. Brush bottom crusts with whole milk. Place a half a tsp of goat cheese in center of circle. Place a nice dollop of filling inside circle. Eye it up. I try to push the limits on this one but if you notice it starts to ooze out edges (see above), you have gone to far. Pull back next time. Place crust circle on top of filling. Lightly press edges around filling so they indent a bit, keeping filling inside. Lightly crimp edges all around with a fork to seal. Brush tops with milk. Sprinkle with sugar.

Bake in a 400 oven for about 15-18 minutes or until edges are lightly brown.

Love,

S

Handpies

Paid endorsement disclosure: In order for me to support the creation of Love & Wild Honey, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products/services from this blog. If this is done, it is only with products that fit my personal ethos.

Sustainability in the City: A Perspective on Food

January 13th, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink

What does it mean to be sustainable in an urban environment?

Let’s start by defining what we mean by sustainable for this purpose, so we are all on the same page. From an etymological stand point, the word sustainability is derived from the Latin sustinere; to hold. Using the root of this word as a baseline, I think it is important to define sustainability as the ability to “uphold” something. In this case, we are looking at sustainability in food systems in the city. The World Bank does a beautiful job at putting this idea into more eloquent wording. They state:

“sustainability is defined as a requirement of our generation to manage the resource base such that the average quality of life that we ensure ourselves can potentially be shared by all future generations….Development is sustainable if it involves a non-decreasing average quality of life.”

So, “sustainability” is the ability of our generation to at least uphold (if not better) the lives of our urban companions in varying dimensions. What does a sustainable city look like?

My favorite way to imagine a sustainable city is one that has made blurry the boundaries between what is wild and what is urban. In addition to what I feel is a sublime aesthetic, the hope is that when city and nature are not seen as dichotomous entities, it may be easier for others to visualize the need to care for and sustain food sources within the urban environment. Why would this be? William Cronon says it best. The writer and environmental advocate William Cronon is adamant that:

“Calling a place home inevitably means that we will use the nature we find in it, for there can be no escape from manipulating and working and even killing some parts of nature to make our own.”

A beginning point then, may be to settle into wherever you call “home” and begin to craft it into a place you care to care about, wherever that may be. Make nature a part of the urban landscape.  Use what you have. Don’t just consume and destroy but grow and produce to contribute to your sustainable city. Some tips to get started?

1. Become a Producer, not just a Consumer. How you may ask? Build an urban garden. Even if you do not have land to make raised beds, anyone can grow a few herbs, beans or tomato plants in pots. I especially love my thyme, mint, thai basil & basil genovese. Garlic has been a real winner for me as I use much and it is getting pricier. Plant in fall, reap in summer. Bingo.

Gardening not only sustains the aesthetic beauty of place but allows you to become a working part of your local ecosystem. Any vegetable you produce and eat can help urban sustainability in a myriad of other not-obvious ways:

-saved fuel used for transportation to your store

-saved fossil energy used to refrigerate the food

-less waste with no packaging -petroleum saved from producing the packaging or bag you carried it home in…and many more. Bet you never thought of that when you ate those blueberries from Chile in January. (oops)

2. Potatoes. If you are particularly adventuresome, try growing potatoes in a sack!! This is something I have tried, having acquired old coffee sacks from a local coffee roaster. It wasn’t entirely successful for me last time, but I left them in soggy ground. Next summer there will be success.

4. Make friends with your weedsPlantain (no, not the cousin of the banana..) makes a fantastic infused oil for minor cuts and stings (here is my recipe for this). Purslane makes a nutrient packed and tasty salad. Red Clover has been noted in traditional medicine as (though NOT for use with pregnant or nursing women) making a good tea for spasmatic coughs. Yes. I have tried it. Add honey.

5. If you don’t want to venture into gardening just yet, plant flowers!  Juliette Jones, the gardening goddess here at Chatham, shared that planting flowers or letting herbs go to seed will attract beneficial bees. Bees are critical in the pollination process and important to cultivate more plants in our cities.  Help the keepers of our food system. If you have not seen the movie Queen of the Sun you can see it here for a few bucks. It will change how you view the bee.

6. If you want to get crazy, Burgh Bees can help you start your own hive. I may be coveting this idea. Just a little. Just saying.  I even took a class.

Do this in addition to your garden and you will not only attract bees but other beneficial insects and predatory wasps which in turn will eat the nasties that attack our urban food system! With any luck and you may attract some frogs and ladybugs. The ladies like the aphids. Chomp.

Lovely honeybee obtaining nectar from a flower at Chatham.

7. Help out your neighbor. If you have a bumper crop of zucchini or make too much casserole….share. Not only does this bring sustainability in measurable form but qualitatively can cause MAJOR happiness in someone’s life!  Trust me. I felt so weird knocking on neighbors doors with my extra CSA veggies but its cool when they get free food.

8. Donate to your local food bank. Donate money or organize your students to volunteer for a food drive. According to Dora Walmsley, volunteer coordinator at the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank, donations of money or time are some of the best donations one can make. Organizations like the GPCFB can wield their purchasing power for their communities. Dora believes that “Monetary donation are better than physical food donation in that for every dollar that is donated we can purchase five dollars of food because we can purchase wholesale. Furthermore, with donated money, there is more control over the quality of food bought and healthier food can be bought.”

In terms of building a sustainable community, the qualitative value in teaching children to give back to others in need is immeasurable however you choose to do this. Sustaining community ties through giving, whether sharing vegetables door to door or through charitable contributions is a key force in sustaining human relations in what can be a lonely city life.

Consider. Love, S

Sources:

1. Asheim, Ger B. “Sustainability,” The World Bank, 1994.

2. http://www.bobsgardening.biz/resources/heirloom-potatoes.jpg

3. Uncommon Ground: Rethinking the Human Place in Nature

4. www.dictionary.reference.com

5. Dora Walmsley & Juliet Jones at Food, Farm and Field.  Chatham University, Eden Hall. 9 July, 2012.

Paid endorsement disclosure: In order for me to support the creation of Love & Wild Honey, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products/services from this blog. If this is done, it is only with products that fit my personal ethos.

Carrot Ginger Dressing + A Musical Message

January 11th, 2014 § 4 comments § permalink

Don’t know what it is, but this year I think my elderberry tincture along with some healthier habits have kept the flu at bay. Knock on wood but no flu-shot necessary.

To keep our bodies healthy this year we need food that nourishes. Enter the “perfect” carrot-ginger dressing that finally (after much tinkering) reached that addictive taste sensation of my local sushi joint. It is tangy, salty, sweet and fresh. It embodies that which we call “umami.” Mmmmmm, umami.

CG Dressing 1

CG Dressing 1

 

Speaking of TLC, this song popped into my head as the devil on my shoulder told me I am “dang unpretty” with those few holiday pounds and frigid polar vortex weather keeping me out of the outdoors. So frustrating!

Care to pound the beast with me? Here is what I have to say to that with a philosophical message to all of you who may not be loving themselves in this moment. Don’t blame the holidays, remember:

#1 – Enjoy the feasting.  Holidays are for fun and family and food, IMHO.

#2 – Mix it up with this salad to give your body the nutritious boost it needs to make you feel like a rockstar. Amp up the veggies post-holiday. You need it to fight the dreary grey skies as it is if you live in this neck of the woods.

#3- TLC (the 90′s band-yep) has a tongue-in-cheek response to this!  Though there are some elements in this song that send mixed messages (eg. the girls in revealing genie wear), the message is this: Don’t let ANYONE tell you are unpretty. You are beautiful. As you are.

Now finish the last of those holiday cookies and begin to build the nourishment so you don’t catch this crazy flu. This is my “sage” advice for what it is worth.

L1020046

The long-awaited dressing of my dreams.  Much more simple than pie. :-)

Carrot-Ginger Dressing

makes enough to fill an old glass kombucha bottle and 1 salad for me (4-6 servings)

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups roughly chopped carrots
  • 1/4 of a white onion
  • 6 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 4 Tbsp sweet miso (It is white in color-this is key.  I would go organic to avoid soy GMO’s here.)
  • 4 Tbsp sesame oil
  • 4 Tbsp tamari soy sauce
  • 2 Tbsp mirin (Japanese cooking wine-sake could do)
  • 2-4 Tbsp water
  • 4 Tbsp roughly chopped fresh peeled ginger (about 2 large thumbs full)

Instructions

Throw ingredients in your blender on chop.  Chop for a bit.  Then puree until dressing is pureed.  See above for a visual texture guideline.

Place a few Tbsp over some arugula or other fresh salad greens.  I like to throw a handful of garbanzo beans on it.

It couldn’t be easier once you have the ingredients, really.  Check your local Asian market or large grocery store or head online for the more esoteric ingredients.

Love,

S

Paid endorsement disclosure: In order for me to support the creation of Love & Wild Honey, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products/services from this blog. If this is done, it is only with products that fit my personal ethos.