Saturday, July 14, 2018

2017 Magazine Index

We decided to put together yearly indexes until we get around to deciding whether to do another compilation, or what we want to do with the now 7 years of magazines that have not been compiled in books like Under the Sun, By the Hearth, or Through the Seasons. An index is helpful in looking for that recipe or article or writer or reference... you get my drift. If you've ever wanted to get some idea what we can fit into the pages of The Essential Herbal, this may be an eye-opener!

Friday, July 13, 2018

Iced Herbal Teas

Favorite iced herbal teas -
Last year we asked reader for favorite herbal teas that held up to being iced. Here is a excerpt from that article:

Ginger and Hibiscus Tea
2 parts ginger
1 part hibiscus
1/2 part cranberries (if you want some extra tart)
honey to taste (for some sweet)

Peppermint and Green Tea
2 parts peppermint
1 part green tea

Dirty Girl (from our local coffee shop Mean Cup)
1/2 c drip coffee
1 T chai concentrate
1/2 c chocolate milk

Chaider (also from Mean Cup)
1/2 c apple cider
1/2 c chai

Molly Sams

I have no real recipe, as I tend to just grab a mix of various mints when making a garden tea. But I was just remembering that if a replica of black tea is desired, both Wood Betony and Red Clover give that base or body to a mix.
Ruth Davis

Wisdom Tea
Mint for wisdom (1/4 cup Peppermint, 1/4 cup Spearmint)
Rosemary to improve the memory (1/4 cup)
Lemon Balm, sometimes called "The Scholars Herb" (1/4 cup)
For each serving of tea, use 1 tsp. mix to 1 cup boiling water. Add some honey, if desired. Store in fridge for a delicious iced tea.
Mary Ellen Wilcox

From Nancy Reppert at
This recipe is from dear old Mom (Bertha Reppert). It is slightly adapted from her booklet Herb Teas for Pleasure.

Lemon Balm Tea
2 T honey, or to taste
10 cloves
20 sprigs of fresh lemon balm
juice of half a lemon
Place above ingredients into a quart container. Pour 2 c. of boiling water over them. Steep 10 minutes or more. Strain. Add 2 c. of iced water. Light and refreshing! Enjoy!
Option: To make a Lemon Balm Spritzer, instead of adding 2 c. of iced water, let strained mixture cool and add a 20 oz. bottle of chilled ginger ale.

Marcy Lautanen Raleigh
I love lemon herbs in tea and these are my favorites.

Chamomile Lemon Iced Tea
Chamomile with its gentle apple flavor when combined with Lemon Herbs makes a great summer iced tea. I use a combo of lemon herbs, like lemongrass, lemon balm, lemon thyme, lemon verbena and lemon scented geranium leaves.
½ C chamomile flowers
2 T lemon herbs
1/3 C raw honey
6 C water
Bring water to boil then add chamomile and lemon herbs. Allow to steep 10 minutes. Strain out herbs and add honey and allow to cool before adding ice and serving.

Lemonade Hibiscus Iced Tea
6 C water
6 t hibiscus flowers, dried
2 lb. strawberries, hulled and halved
¼ C plus 2 T sugar
¼ C plus 2 T fresh lemon juice
¼ C simple syrup
Bring water to boil and steep hibiscus in water for 30 minutes. Remove hibiscus and allow to cool completely. Place strawberries and sugar in a saucepan and warm until they start to break down, about 25 minutes. Run through a sieve and allow juice to collect in the pitcher with hibiscus tea. Try not to press on strawberries or this will cloud the tea. Add lemon juice and simple syrup to pitcher and stir. Cover and refrigerate up to 3 days and serve over ice. This is amazing after a day in the garden! And you can add a dash or two of gin or vodka too if the garden work is done.

Something for everyone!

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Basil and summer are meant to be together.

Nearly 10 years ago, a publisher approached me about a book and asked for one (very small) chapter to take to the Book Fair in Germany to see if it would fly. It didn't. Today I was searching for something, and found the file from that writing sample, and thought I'd share some of it with you.
The mouth-watering aroma and taste in Italian dishes is usually what we associate with basil, but the popular round-leaved, emerald-hued "sweet" basil is just the beginning.  Green Lettuce Leaf or purple "Ruffles" can be mixed into salads with delicious results.

Purple, Opal, or Cinnamon basils make a tasty ruby-red vinegar easily by simply filling a jar loosely with their leaves, and covering for a week with rice wine vinegar.  Strain and bottle for use all during the year.  Lemon and Lime basils are divine with chicken or fish, and the spicy Globe basil is a pleasure for indoor gardeners, growing well on sunny windowsills.  Greek Columnar basil is carefree to grow, as it never bolts or flowers. Thai basil, African Blue basil, Licorice, Holy basil... there are so many to love!

The name of this herb may be derived from the mythical reptilian creature, the basilisk, that was capable of striking one dead with a mere glance.  In superstitious medieval times, it was spurned and dreaded because it was believed that basil plants drew scorpions with their scent and the act of smelling basil would draw the creatures right into the brain. It's not all bad, though! In Italy, basil symbolizes love, and a man may present a would-be lover with a sprig. In the Greek language, basilus means "royal", and is considered by many to be "the king of herbs".  In the language of flowers, basil means "best wishes".  Nowadays, it is one of the most popular herbs in the world.

PESTO is one of the simplest and most elegant of summer meals and the recipe is very forgiving, allowing one to use handfuls to measure.  While the pasta cooks, gather a good handful of fresh basil leaves.  Toss them together with a clove of crushed garlic, a handful of good Parmesan cheese, another handful of walnuts or pine nuts, and enough olive oil to moisten well.  Process to a slightly chunky, green paste.  Serve over piping hot pasta, alone or with shrimp or chicken.  Some crusty bread, a little white wine, and in 15 minutes, you have a luscious culinary masterpiece.  Be sure to make plenty of pesto during the summer and freeze it in meal-sized portions for a delicious green reminder of summer gardens in the dark months of winter.

A cup of basil tea after dinner can be relaxing and beneficial to digestion, relieving bloating and gas.  To each cup, add 2 or 3 basil leaves and cover with boiling water.  Allow to steep 3 to 5 minutes.

Friday, July 06, 2018

After the Berries

From mid to late June until the 4th of July, I pick berries twice a day. My freezer is full of raspberries, blueberries, black currants and gooseberries. I lost (???) my canner, so I'll be on the hunt at yard sales so there will be jelly eventually. There are still some blues, but the birds can have the rest of them. Today I went out there, and it seemed like I was seeing everything else for the first time. Except for the flower garden outside my bedroom window, everything else has been ignored. It was exciting to see, and if you'd like to come along, we can take a little tour.

The birds are possessive about these and set up quite a racket when I walk near.

Right outside the door, the borage is setting off fireworks of its own.

I swear, the echinacea was barely budding last time I saw it.

Baby elderberries are looking good so far.  On the other bush across the yard, beetles have done a number on the leaves, so I'm interested to see how that is going to turn out.  More circulation might mean fewer fruit flies.  Maybe?

Fleabane daisies and chicory cozy up to a little balsam fir in the field.  The fields are filled with masses of these along with drifts of Queen Anne's lace between the trees.  They are mowed periodically, but so pretty.  And they grow back.

Monarda is starting to bloom in the back, but not yet in the front. 

Mountian mint!  Lush and healthy, it's been a couple of years since it took a turn in the still.  We'll remedy that soon.

Oh yeah... the reason I went out was to harvest some nettle seeds.  This patch was a 4" pot 3 years ago.  The bare area in the picture is what I wound up pulling.  Those roots!  Those stings!  What an exciting hour!  Jewelweed grows right next to it and really came to the rescue.  Shorts and t-shirt are a poor choice for this work, by the way.

This is what I pulled, and it isn't quite done yet.  This is a full-sized shower curtain.  Nettle roots are really incredible.  Tenacious... sneaky... strong... I'll have to do this every year.

I was beginning to think the passionflower was not coming back, but low and behold, there it is!  Instead of 100 shoots, I only found 2.  This was a rough winter.  Almost all of the lavender died, and one of the figs.  Guess it was rough for the passionflower, too.

I planted poppies all over the place in all kinds of varieties.  I am completely in love with them.

Finally, I was walking past the raspberry patch and thinking about how this seemed to be one of the years when no St Johns wort would be coming up.  Sometimes there's lots, sometimes there's none. 
I looked up and there was a glimmer of gold off to the right! 
It looks like rest of the summer will be pretty exciting. In the last 12 or 13 years, so many different perennials and "planned weeds" have been added to this plot of land that I don't remember them all, and get pleasant surprises almost every time I walk through the yard!
Here's hoping that you're enjoying the plants in your surroundings too!

Friday, June 29, 2018

A short summer sampler

We've been putting out "mini mag" samplers for over 5 years now, to let you know what we do around here!  So follow the link under the cover shot, and enjoy the articles!  If you like what you see, subscribe HERE


Sunday, June 17, 2018

#100 July August 2018

Just out and in the mail!  Pdf subscribers will get them on the 20th.
Start your subscription today at

In comparison to the January/February 2002 issue cover...

Here is the current Table of Contents:

Field Notes from the Editor, Tina Sams                            
Cooling Cocktails,
Rebekah Bailey     
Cucumber Cooler
Pot it Up - Container Gardening, Kathy Musser                     
Candied Ginger Root, Marci Tsohonis                                     
Cabbage Salsa,
Marci Tsohonis                                               
Ground Ivy Grimoire,
Kristine Brown     
An Herbal Journey,
Debra Sturdevant                                     
Sweet, Beautiful, Invasive Honeysuckle,
Raven McGinnity
Roots (and Leaves) in Music, Miranda Hoodenpyl     
Herb and Tea Cocktails, Marcy Lautanen-Raleigh                      
Natives in My Garden,
Barbara Steele                                    
Dorry Norris and Queen Anne’s Lace,
Diane H. Campbell

Dandelion - A Poem, Connie Todd Lila                                        
Time for Rhubarb!
Sandy Michelsen        
Summer Crafts in the Still Room,
Catherine Ann Love     

Herbs of Colonial Times, Rita Richardson
Valerian, Jackie Johnson                                                           
We’ve Had Some Issues,
Tina Sams                                       
Maryanne Schwartz     

100th Issue Offers for You!
(Valid in US, July/Aug 2018)
     We would like to thank the following businesses for helping us celebrate our milestone:
Bumbling Acres 
Colorado Aromatics
From Nature With Love
SKS Bottle and Packaging
Herbal Roots Zine
The Rosemary House
Sweetbriar Farms
Garden Delights Herb Farm
Brigid's Way
Missouri Herbs
The Country Artist
Lillian Organics
Bohemian Prairie Alchemist
Elderberry Herb Farm
Nature's Gift
Blessed Maine Herb Farm
The Original Soap Dish
MoonMaid Botanicals
The Stillroom at Pitch Pines
The Backyard Patch
Learning Herbs
Soyphisticated Candles

If you aren't a (print) subscriber, visit the great herb businesses and suppliers in the above list!  If you are, open your magazine to the pages of offers, and click along to use the codes on the offers provided.

Pdf subscribers will be getting a different surprise gift.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Because it was there... pine pollen.

 It is tree pollen season here.  Cars turn yellow and we all sneeze and rub our eyes.  Molly is allergic to this as well as corn pollen, so she had a pretty rough time of it here for a few months every year.  Eventually she found that bee pollen really helped.  BUT since it is here now and I've read random bits about it here and there. I decided to try gathering some so that if I decide to try something later, I've got the the powder to work with.
That's how I found out I'm allergic to it too.  Not terribly, but it isn't something I want to work with on a daily basis.  Here's how I did it... 

Looking up at the White Pine tree, there were pollen covered male cones everywhere.I'd read that all one has to do is put it into a bag and shake.  No.  All over me! Hair, clothes, hands... everywhere.

So instead, I cut about a cupful of the bunches and gently dropped them into the bag.
To keep the pollen contained, the cones went into a mesh strainer over a bowl, and the whole thing went into a gallon bag with the top (side?) left open so it could dry and continue to mature.

This is about half of what came from the cones.  I emptied it the other day.

Dumped out onto a clear cutting board.

Using a 15X lens so you can see the individual grains of pollen.

Another close-up.  I used a slim knife blade to scrape up the pollen and slide it into a bottle.

All done and happy to get this eye glue out of the kitchen.  About 1/2 ounce of pollen from a cup of cones.  That's more than I expected.  Pretty amazing, really.

So now I have it ready when I've had time and inclination to fool around with it.  Right now there are so many herb medicines showing up and needing attention.  By the time fall rolls around, I'll have a dozen things like this to do.


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