Sunday, November 8, 2009

Nervine Herbs - Life123

Herbs have the benefit of strengthening the nervous system without the extreme side effects of prescription medications used for nervous conditions. Some herbs do carry side effects, but they are generally milder than those of prescription drugs. Explore three nervine herbs, St. Johns Wort, Skullcap, and Valerian for overall well-being of the nervous system.
Nervine Herbs - Life123

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Meaning of Organic Labels and Standards

There are a number of reasons to eat organic today. Organic foods are:
  1. required to be pesticide free
  2. free of genetically modified organisms
  3. taste better
  4. are more nutritious
How do you know if the food you are getting is truly organic or if you are just a victim of labeling hype? Check out How to Read Organic Labels for the facts on labeling guidelines.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Preparing for Winter - Nov 2, 2009

It is November 2nd and with Halloween over, I took down the Halloween decorations. I use the bailed hay to cover the garden ground for the winter. It prevents seeds from spreading and controls weeds in the spring.

Before the first frost, I picked all the green tomatoes and let them ripen in the window. My tomato plants are still producing. They formed more small green tomatoes after the first frost. It has been unseasonably cold here this years, so I was surprised they continue to grow.

Today, I will cut back most of my herbs (lemon balm, echinacea, peppermint, lavender, and sage) for the last time before winter and dry them for cooking.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Herb Infused Oils

When I write about infusing oils with herbs, I frequently advise that you do not need to use jojoba, apricot kernel or other more expensive oils for infusing herbs. I have had many people comment that they haven't heard of using organic extra virgin olive oil in preparing herb infused oils. I was looking at the label on the back of a bottle of rosemary infused oil that I purchased at Mountain Rose herbs. They used olive oil to infuse the rosemary. So, I guess others have used olive oil. Mountain rose herbs is one of the largest online retailers of herbs and herbal products.

How to Make Herbal Oil Infusions

Friday, October 9, 2009

Elderberry in Kansas: October 7th, 2009

Well, I sent out a post to our local freecycle list requesting that anyone who had wild elderberry that weren't planning to use, kindly allow me to forage for it on their property. I received a response from a fellow list member explaining that he had been foraging recently and that the elderberry he saw was withered and dried at this point. So, in a nutshell it is too late this year. He said elderberry is usually ready in early September. I shall try again next year to get some elderberry. The elderberry fruit, is used for preserves. The fruit and leaves can be made into tea or tinctured.

Monday, August 17, 2009

South Carolina Peaches - August 15th, 2009

We just got back from a trip to South Carolina. We went to Brendt's graduation from BASIC and then to Myrtle Beach to swim in the ocean. On the way back to Kansas, we stopped at a road side stand and bought a box of well advertised "farm fresh peaches." There were stands similar to this all over Georgia and South Carolina. For $18.00 we came home with a box of 50. They are very, very good. They were just picked and unripe when I bought them. They were fine in the car riding home unrefrigerated for 2 days. They are ripe now on day 3 and taste wonderful.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

August 9th, 2009 The Cost of Food

Consider for a moment a sale on soda at the store. Half off - soda normally selling for 50 cents is now 25 cents! It may seem like a bargain. At first glance you assume that saving 25 cents and being frugal. But, wait... the soda is still costing you 25 cents, and 25 cents spent on something that yields you no nutritional value what-so-ever, zero, nada, zilch, is 25 cents wasted. In fact, in return for your 25 cents you may reap the benefit of cavities, obesity and diabetes, the secret benefits of junk food. Next time you think of being frugal, consider what you are getting in return nutritionally for your dollar!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

August 4, 2009, Salsa, Garden Vegetables & Blackberries

Today, I made 6 pints of salsa from tomatoes, jalapenos, peppers and onions from the garden. I also used garlic powder I had made myself by dehydrating and grinding it in a coffee grinder. The only thing in the salsa that came from the store was the salt and a lemon for lemon juice. I froze the salsa instead of canning it because I didn't want to cook it. I just love fresh, raw salsa. Here is the recipe: How to Make Freezer Salsa from Garden Fresh Tomatoes. The boys and I ate half a pint of it right away. If I can put up 12 more pints of salsa this summer, I will not need to buy salsa all year. We eat a lot of salsa!

For dinner I made a Fish and Garden Vegetable Fry that I love. I use fish that Steve or my dad have caught at the lake (walleye or crappie). I had a zucchini from a neighbors garden, tomatoes from our garden, and sage from my herb garden. The only thing in the dish that wasn't homegrown was the potatoes. It was marvelous.

Tomorrow evening, I am picking more blackberries. Here is my recipe for Blackberry jam. I made a batch early this summer and it turned out a little runny. I am going to cook it for 40 minutes this time and see if it sets up a little better. The boys liked the runny jam it soaked into their toast. :)

Monday, August 3, 2009

August 3, Lavender

When I decided to live a "more natural lifestyle" several years ago, one of the things I gave up was lotions. My reason for doing this is that they often contain a lot of chemicals and ingredients you can not read.

Now, when you give up your commercial cosmetics and body care, there are two was you can do it: The cheap way, or the expensive way. I have tried both. There are lots of very pricey organic skin care products. To be honest, I still use some of them. Alba, kiss my face, and some other organic cosmetic companies makes some safe alternatives to things like mascara, facial powder and shampoo. But, if I can make something quickly and easily that works just as well as the pricey organics sold in health food stores I do!

Olive oil infused with herbs or essential oils makes skin care oil that keeps my skin healthier than lotions. Granted it takes some time to get used to, but I honestly love my oils. In addition to being good for skin care, they also work for first aid like burns and bites.

I wrote about how to make herbally infused oil on eHow. Basically, you put chopped up herbs or already prepared essential oils in a base of olive oil. If you use fresh herbs, put the herbs and oil in a sunny window for two weeks and shake them up regularly. I made lavender infused oil last week from lavender in my herb garden. It smells like lavender, but a bit cinnamony also. That was a suprise.

August 3, 2009 Salsa

Last week, we harvested the first tomatoes from the garden. We also dug up some onions and picked some peppers to make the years first batch of salsa. We planted the garden right around the 15th of May, since that is the last spring frost date in our area. Steve said the corn dried up, so we are going to make it into chicken feed. He said it was good corn, I am not sure why he didn't pick it before it got dry. If we get enough tomatoes this year, I will be making spaghetti sauce and ketchup also. We are going to plant a fall garden where the corn and onions were.

The chickens and the garden have kept us from picking blackberries. I'm guessing we've already gotten over 5 gallons this year...and there are so many more.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Blackberry Pie

Here's a photo of my finished blackberry pie and a link to the recipe. I published the recipe along with a "How I did it" on eHow. Yum!

Blackberry Pie Recipe

Sunday, July 19, 2009

July 19th, Blackberries, and then more Blackberries!

Wow, we have a lot of blackberries! This week I made pie, cobbler, smoothies and put quite a few away in the freezer.

I also harvested and dried some sage.

My peppermint is just beginning to flower and seed which marks the end of the peppermint harvest this year.

I also learned a lot of skin uses for lavender this week, so I'll be making up some lavender salve and oil soon.

Monday, July 13, 2009

July 12th, 2009 - Cattails, Blackberries, Nettle, Red Clover, Dandelion and Sage

Allergy Tea
Today, I experimented with my recipe for allergy tea. It contains nettle, echinacea, red clover, and peppermint. I added dried blackberry to the tea to see what kind of flavor it would give it. I have to admit, I couldn't taste the blackberry flavor much, but it did give it a distinct color similar to black tea rather than green tea. I have yet to find a good use for dried blackberries, so I do not think I will dry them anymore.

Ben went and gathered some nettle from the river bank. When he got them home I gathered them up by the stems. Tied them in bunches. Rinsed them over the bathtub and hung them to dry in the pantry. Our house stays about 80 degrees which is perfect for drying herbs by hanging. They need a place with no light at all, so I put them in the pantry.

Ben got me some cattails when he was at the river. I've got a place by the gutter drain that I've dug out to collect water. I thought it would be a perfect place for trasplanting cattails. One of my forage goals is to collect some of my favorite foraged plants and grow them in my own backyard.

Red Clover, Dandelion and Sage
After all this, I gathered up some more red clover and dandelions from my yard, which are about done for the year. I also harvested some sage from my herb garden. Everything got washed and set out to dry right away. Herbs do much better if you tend to them immediately after harvesting. I use a dehydrator for the clover, dandelion and sage.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

July 5th 2009, Blackberries, Mulberries, Dandelions, Red Clover

Each time we go out there are more blackberries. We get several quarts each trip and it looks as if we will have the same luck throughout the month of July. Our blackberry picking may continue into August as well. The mulberries are more or less finished for the year. They are still dropping a little, but I have given up on collecting them. Dandelions are poking up there heads now and again and I can collect quite a few on a weekly forage through my yard prior to mowing. The red clover are still blooming like crazy and they seem bloom better when picked.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

June 30th, 2009 - Wild Blackberries

The blackberries are just beginning to ripen, so we made our way out to the field to harvest them. We got several quarts on both the 29th and 30th. June 29th was the first day we found any ripe here in Kansas.

The blackberry brambles are very hard to move around in and we were thinking about mowing rows through them in the fall to make them easier to get through. The berries are delicious and you just can not beat the nutrition and value of wild berries. Free and nutritious!

I learned that you can't pick wild blackberries in shorts. Steve did most of the picking because he had jeans on. I think next time I will wear sleeves and gloves too. Ouch! Today I am making blackberry cobbler and pie. :) YUM!

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