Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Jan/Feb 2017 issue - The Essential Herbal

 You'll enjoy this issue.  It's pure Essential Herbal, cover to cover.  We have some fascinating articles AND a retrospective that includes a big, bold bite of every single one of the previous 15 Jan/Feb issues.  You'll be amazed how much can be packed into these pages!
We have a couple announcements to make for the new year.
1 - Unfortunately the cost of shipping to Canada is now $18/year.  We'll only be accepting PDF orders to Canada after 1/1/17.
2 - Because our printer has struggled all year to keep up with our schedule, we've moved everything up 2 weeks.  Our deadlines used to be the 15th of every other month, but are now the 1st of every other month.  This should get us back on track.

Herb of the Year 2017
Without further ado, here is the table of contents:
Field Notes, Tina Sams
15 years and still loving herbs and herbies! Find out what we’re up to next.
Arnica, Carol Ann Harlos
Just enough about this weed to make you want to know more!
Croutons with Zip, Rita Richardson
Make them as good as those delicious bits you pay dearly for.
Bringing Rye Whiskey Back to Lancaster, Molly Sams
Come along while Molly checks out some really big stills.
Cordials - Just for Fun! Jackie Johnson
There are a lot of reasons to make cordials, and the enjoyment and flavor should be two of the first considerations.
Kudos to Kelp, Kristine Brown
Learn about this delicious, nutritious weed of the ocean.
Retrospective, Various
Over the past 15 winters, we’ve had some wonderful articles, so we took a sampling from each Jan/Feb issue!
PMS Salt Soap, Marci Tsohonis
Only Marci could blend PMS and Valentine’s Day and make it work!
2017 Herb of the Year - Coriandrum sativum, Susanna Reppert-Brill
A primer on the HOTY with a couple great recipes, too!
Cilantro Salsa, Catherine Love
Something a little different…
February Second - Not Just for Groundhogs, Marcy Lautanen-Raleigh
Candlemas lore for the curious.
Growing with Kathy, Kathy Musser
Have you seen me write about our friendly neighborhood herb farmer? Well, meet Kathy! She’s agreed to do some articles on growing for the magazine.

Friday, December 16, 2016

A gift and a drink.

Simmering Potpourri and Lavender Latte - by Molly Sams

We suggest using the peel instead of the whole orange slice to avoid any sludge or slime.

Simmering Potpourri
You will need:
Orange peel
Star Anise
Juniper Berry
A nice simmering pot
At least a quart of water

You can use a just a few herbs or all that we suggest and more. We figure the more the merrier!

Begin boiling water and when it is at a steady boil reduce to a simmer. Then add herbs and peel. Allow to simmer and add water as needed. Enjoy!

Be sure to pack the extra simmering potpourri as gifts for your family and house guests! 

Lavender Latte

This is a wonderfully decadent but simple drink you can make for special occasions or for your morning cup of joe!

You will need:

Fresh coffee grounds (enough to make a strong pot)
A coffee maker (I use a French Press)
1 T Lavender buds (fresh or dried)
Milk of your choice (my favorite to use is cashew!)
A big mug to hold all the goodness in!


You can either infuse the lavender with coffee or milk. Whichever works best for you. If you infuse it with the coffee, simply put it in with the grounds and let steep or percolate as normal.
To infuse in the milk, warm the milk in a stove top pan and whisk lavender flowers in the milk until milk is hot and frothy. then strain into a Mason jar and close the lid tightly. Shake until you reached desired frothiness.
Combine milk and coffee and enjoy.  You can always add a lavender sprig or lavender buds as garnish!

Tuesday, December 06, 2016

More ideas for gift-giving...

I was putting together some groupings for promotion, and thought I'd add them here.  If you're at a loss for someone special, please take a look around our website.

We have a nice selection of incense items.  Stick incense (and burners), resins, rope incense, smudge, liquid smudge, hand blended incense, incense matches, rope incense, palo santo, and more.

For the new herbie on your list we have great stuff.  A subscription OF COURSE, a few books, maybe a mortar and pestle, some muslin bags, a funnel... A great start.

Pamper someone with these luscious hand-made goodies.  Soaps, aromatherapy roll-ons, tub teas, spritzes, lotion bars, dry shampoo, tonics and relaxing potions - all for that overworked person on your list (or you).

Really pretty things.  In addition to the metal star, hand-blown glass ball, and fairy earrings, we have the cinnamon canisters, teapot ornaments, and lots of other interesting things.

Put together a selection of teas!
Please visit Essential Herbal to see if we have exactly what you need.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

My Time Learning From Sage Mountain

The humble beginnings of Molly's apothecary.
The Science and Art of Herbalism has been a fascinating and challenging adventure that I am happy to experience. The past few years have been a whirlwind of classes and through that I have changed from a quiet observer (or guinea pig, if you ask me) to someone that feels confident and knowledgeable about the herbal world around her. While I still consider my mother an all-knowing herbal source she has encouraged me to seek out other mentors in my quest for herbal knowledge. That has luckily taken me to a plethora of instructors including Rosemary Gladstar and her course Science and Art of Herbalism, which I am still taking today, Susan Hess' Homestead Herbalism at Farm at Coventry, and my internship with Susanna Reppert at The Rosemary House.  There will be others, in time.

The lesson breakdown in this course is simple, thought provoking, and leaves the student plenty of avenues to explore. There are ten chapters in all and I believe you have three years to finish the chapters and corresponding assignments. While I’m taking my sweet time (I think I started at the beginning of this year) you can conceivably finish it in a few months. It all depends on your own discipline, drive, and other responsibilities. Possibly my favorite part about the work is the feedback on my assignments. The instructors always have wonderful advice, recipes, and ideas for you when they return your assignment. They are also quick to answer any possible questions you may have.

This link is to the Print + Online Course of Rosemary’s. http://bit.ly/2g2GGyv I'd encourage people to do both since you get her beautiful binder to have as you are learning and making herbal preparations in the kitchen as well as the online portion for personal support, videos, forums and so much more.

This course has also opened my eyes to all the things I can do with herbs. Though every class teaches me more about the beauty of herbs I find that each course has something different to offer. Gladstar’s course gives you a wonderfully freeing and interesting insight into herbs. You are able to work on your own time and Rosemary Gladstar always encourages experimentation, alteration, and exploration. Like The Essential Herbal, which is always about encouraging people to find the ART and FUN of herbalism, The Science and Art of Herbalism course supports and encourages people to try, learn, and play with herbs. Instead of seeing it as a terrifying chemistry class, you are able to balance the formulas with the fun. Something I think is important no matter what you study.

What I’ve learned is to have confidence in myself and in the plant-life around me. This course has helped me become a happier and well-rounded herbal enthusiast. While I may not want to begin my own practice or offer herbal routines to the public I am thrilled to be helping my loved ones and friends with herbal remedies and treats.

Now I just have to learn how to encourage less herbally inclined people take the remedies…

Thursday, November 17, 2016

She worked in paste-up...

I'm (slacking off from) working on the first issue of our 16th continuous year of print publication.  Woo... that's a serious accomplishment no matter how you look at it, and yes, I am patting myself on the back.  It's come so far, and in order to do that, I had to learn a lot of new stuff.  It wasn't always my choice, and my family often dragged me, kicking and screaming, into the light.  Let me show you...
Some of the covers from the first couple of years.  I didn't have a camera, OR the knowledge of how to do anything with a digital image.  You can click on these for more detail, if you'd like.
This cover is (as most were then) mixed media.  A combination of pen, stickers, illustrations from catalogs, and a lot of glue mixed with sweat and tears.  For the first few years, covers usually took me most of a weekend to assemble, once I got the idea of the picture.  I had 48 hours to get the whole thing - at the time it was a 16 page newsletter - finished.  Since it mailed out first class and I did almost all of the printing, binding, stamping, and addressing, the deadline was just a week before it needed to go in the mail. 

Even though I didn't have enough money for color covers most of the time, I still worked in color.  More mixed media here.  I did the door and bricks in water color, along with the tree stumps, then added details like leaves and cornucopia with stickers.

You'd think this one would have gone quickly, but it was at least half a day.  I cut almost everything from paper of the proper shade, and glued it together.  In the front there is a pile of ground coffee mixed with glue representing a powdered herb.

I'm not sure why I saved a print of this cover on gold paper, because it mailed out in red.  Both looked pretty good, as I recall.  The finished magazine was smaller than usual, maybe 7 x 10, and I remember trimming it down on the guillotine cutter, shaving until it went down to under 2 ounces for mailing costs.  Money is always tight.  Even now we have a very close profit margin.  But back in those days each issue was planned around exactly how many subscriptions had come in - which was exactly how much money I had to spend to produce it.

This may have been the first time a photo was used for the cover.  It was submitted with an article.  Had it been printed in color, it would have been perfect.  Since it was not, I spent a few hours adding background and textures that would make it more interesting in black and white.

In the first year, I took a walk over my lunch hour and picked weeds and herbs that were growing nearby.  They were laid directly on the glass of a color copier, and then on that copy, the names of the plants were written.  Couldn't quite figure out how to add the name of the magazine and the titles of a few articles very well, though...

If you look closely on the white sheet, you can see that the masthead was printed on a sheet of paper, and every single other thing was glued on top of that.  It was a real art, learning how to be sure that no lines showed on the printed pages...

Every so often, there would be a lot of new subscribers, and I would be able to print a color cover.  I wasn't wasting that money!  If I was paying for color, we were getting LOTS of color.  This actually took forever to make.  I had a collection of glorious flowered wallpaper borders, and carefully cut and placed flowers and leaves together to make this riot of flowers.  I still love it to this day.
That was just the covers.
Putting together the actual magazine was another nightmare back in those days.
It wasn't like I'd learned any word processing in my previous work with computers - which consisted of entering stolen vehicles, selling lottery tickets, and entering manifests of 10 digit 4000 pound rolls of paper all day long.
By the time we went to a magazine (32 pages instead of the 16 page newsletter), I had finally learned to copy and paste.  I'd taught myself how to use an Excel file to keep track of subscribers.  It wasn't always like things were on the brink of crashing...
And then my sister offered to help with layout.  EUREKA!!!

Okay.  Now I'll get back to work on the Jan/Feb issue.  I found what I was looking for - lol.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Rose Geranium Treasure Trove

Talk about luck...
The other day we went over to Cloverleaf Herb Farm to drop off some soaps for her shop and she was working on getting the gardens ready for winter.  She'd pulled 3 beautiful "Attar of Roses" Pelargonium capitatum Rose Geraniums.

She wasn't planning on drying the leaves so I was welcome to them.  They filled a plastic trash bag.
I got them cleaned up and prepared for distillation.
Some people use rose geranium leaves in tea for several medicinal situations.  Stress, inflammation, headaches, kidney problems, and pain are all thought to respond to rose geranium.  It is also thought to help boost the immune system.
This photo is sort of deceptive.  The bottom (boiling) flask is 2 liters and the upper flask can easily hold a couple gallons of compacted plant material.  I don't do it that way - but you could.  I fill it about 3/4s of the way and do not pack it.
The essential oil is uplifting, cooling, calming, and tonic. The main components of the essential oil are citronellol,  nerol and geraniol It is thought to help normalize women's cycles and the moods that accompany them.  The hydrosol seems to have many similar properties, particularly with the uplifting yet grounding aspect.
We have also found that it is great for discouraging ticks.  They run from it.  Ants that get inside during the spring also run the other way but - strictly from observing their behavior in a morbid way when they've been in the house too long - it appears to act as a neurotoxin that kills them.
From what I've experienced with rose geranium oils purchased over the years, the oil is pale yellow.  Looking into it online, apparently it is sometimes tinged with green.  Mine is a beautiful sea green.
From that bushel or so of leaves, we ran the still 4 times.  I can dismantle the still to refill it (once cooled) without disturbing the part that collects the essential oil.
All of that botanical material yielded 3 and a half quarts of gorgeous hydrosol and less than 5 drops of essential oil.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Shop With Us - You'll be Happy You Did!

It can sometimes be very difficult to find something unusual, interesting, fun, AND not terribly expensive for gifts.  
We spend all year looking for things to make that easier for you.  And we've just dropped some of our prices - like on the compilation books, the fire cider t-shirts, and the blown glass tea ornaments, for instance.
We'd like to give you a little tour of our shop if you're in the mood.
We blend a lot of our teas here on the farm, and in fact grow or forage several of the ingredients - like mint, yarrow, nettles, and elderberry, for starters.  Then we look around for cool little enhancements, like diffusers, sealable tea bags, delicious syrups, and licorice root sticks add a extra special touch.

We just added these small smudge sticks to our incense selections.

We couldn't get these for a few years, and every so often I would check with the supplier - because they are just that cool!  Carved from pure cinnamon bark, these are Fair Trade, made by families in Viet Nam who have sustainably practiced this art for hundreds of years.  I'm thrilled to be able to offer them again.

We have some shoulder bags and backpacks, and keep them stacked over by the t-shirts.

 in the WEARABLES section

Tulsi beads.  Right?  Beads made from the woody stems of tulsi. 

New Himalayan Rope Incense - 3 kinds.  They come with a little disk burner, too.

I'm proud to say that our books all teach the reader how to do things for themselves.  They are meant to inspire and empower you to know that you can without question, make plants a part of your life via medicine, foods, crafts, and a million other ways.  This knowledge belongs to all of us, and the plants are part of all of us.

Subscriptions ... Excellent gifts that people love to receive all year long.  Get one for yourself, too.  The magazine is a cornucopia of herbal enjoyment and knowledge.  If ordering a gift, just let us know if you want a message in the card by using the "comments" section on our website.  Use your name/address in the billing section and the recipients name/address in the shipping section.  There.  That's it.  We'll take it from there.

Soap.  Oh do we have soap.  For 25 years now, we've been making beautiful, gentle cold-process soaps, using vegetable oils.  We now use no palm oil.  Over 20 different varieties to choose from, each one as delightful as the last.

You know this is THE perfect ornament for the herbie on your list.

That's just scratching the surface, of course.  Many POTIONS, a ton of incense, single topic books, earrings... on and on.

Another extremely thoughtful gift for someone you know starting an herb business would be some ad space.  I can guarantee you that they would love and appreciate that - and that it showed your belief in them. Email me at Tina@EssentialHerbal.com to talk about it if you are interested.

From now until the end of the year, (US orders) our maximum shipping is $8.50 with no shipping charged on orders over $150.00.  Orders outside the US will be charged the exact cost of shipping - no more, no less - and we will contact you for that as soon as we've determined that charge.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Autumn Woodland

Some days are just made for walking in the woods kicking leaves and black walnuts in the path. 

Yesterday was one of those days. 

The pond through the Japanese Maple and various shrubbery.
I got down to the workshop before my sister was ready so I wandered down to the pond.
Burning Bush
 And then beyond.
One of three pawpaws is going strong.  Need to replace the others.
It's hunting season and I was alone in clogs, so I didn't go deep and I didn't cross the creek, where all the cool shrooms and weird plants are.

The yellowish green is some vaguely confused Solomon's Seal
 This time of year you have to watch out for men with guns, deer charging, OR walnuts falling on your head from a height of 40 feet or more. 

What a canopy!
It's a jungle out there.

The sky, the tree bones, the brilliant leaves...
But the leaves are ready for the cold weather.
Glossy wild ginger nestles in for the winter.
 Everything is preparing for winter.

It's crisp and crunchy and the melancholy solitude felt good in the way it feels good to have sore muscles after a hard day in the garden.

American Redbud
It's been a rough week.  In two days, we start the next issue, and begin that cycle.  I'm looking forward to that.
Older, less confused Solomon's Seal

Then we wound up with the spectacular moon.

 Isn't she a beauty?

Friday, November 11, 2016

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

So the other day I decided to try to cook squash. As you all know I do not have the culinary prowess as my mother but I luckily adopted her willingness to experiment. Somehow it worked out well! Here is the recipe and the finished product.



Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

You'll need:

1 butternut squash
1 onion
2 C of almond milk
Handful of kale
A few red, yellow, and orange peppers
Olive oil
2 cloves garlic

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Cut the butternut squash in half and take out seeds.
3. Place cut-side up on a baking sheet with parchment paper.
4. Drizzle squash with olive oil and then sprinkle salt, pepper, and rosemary onto the squash.
5. Mince two cloves garlic and then sprinkle onto the squash.
6.  Put the squash in oven for 45 minutes or until soft.
7. Scoop out the squash and let cool.
8. While letting it cool chop kale, onion, peppers, and any other veggies you want to add.
9. Once squash is cool add veggies, squash and almond milk into a blender or food processor.
10. Blend until it is at your desired consistency.
11. Cook on stove top until at least 150 degrees Fahrenheit.
12. Serve with bread and enjoy!