Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Herbs For Winter Health Class

Now is the time to start stocking up on your herbal medicines for winter; elderberry syrup, echinacea tincture, thyme honey, sage tea. I will be teaching a class at the Gardens at Spring Creek in Ft. Collins Thursday night October 7 from 6:30-8:30 on winter health. Learn both how to keep your immune system strong and to treat minor conditions before they become major. Nobody can completely avoid cold and flu viruses, but we can do our best to prevent getting sick from them. During class we will make a winter tonic to take home. To sign up go to www.fcgov.com/horticulture or call 970-416-2280.

Saturday, September 20, 2008


I was surfing today looking for something for dinner and found something I had never heard of, Gremolata. I was surprised yet excited that there was an herb condiment that I was unfamiliar with. Because I was looking for a protein dish (as I often do being vegetarian) I used a version of gremolata with nuts in it. Here is the recipe:

3/4 c pecans
1/4 c grated parmesan cheese
1/4 c parsley
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 garlic clove
1 tablespoon oil (optional)

Pulse in a blender/grinder until ground and mixed. Add salt and pepper. I mixed this with chunks of roasted butternut squash but it can be served with any vegetables or as a spread for bread. It reminds me somewhat of pesto with the combination of herb, nuts and cheese. I think you could substitute any type of nut, especially roasted walnuts or any kind of herb. Have you ever made this and how have you used it?

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Whats in the Still?

I haven't distilled as much as I've wanted to this summer. My newly planted herbs just haven't grown big enough to have the amounts needed for distilling. This is disappointing because I have bought a new still. I have been able to combine some of my herbs with those of gracious friends and neighbors though to be able to have enough.

I have been able to distill comfrey, catnip, lemon balm, blue spruce, and chocolate mint. Catnip distillate I use as a base for making my bug repellent spray. Comfrey is a herb that heals epithelial cells so it is good for any skin care product. Comfrey distillate has worked well for me sprayed on a burn in the kitchen. I will also try using it for muscle aches and tendonitis that I seem to get alot of from l weed pulling. Blue spruce I spray on my face for a boost of energy. Lemon balm is great for many skin care applications including burns, rashes and irritations. Its aroma is light, lemony and uplifting. Cookbook author and culinary herbalist, Susan Belsinger, gave me this recipe for Goodnight milk:
To one cup of warm milk add 1 tsp of lemon balm distillate and 1 tsp of maple syrup. The soothing properties of this milk will surely bring about a good night's sleep.

Distillates contain the parts of the plant that vaporize at a temperature at or below that of water. This includes microscopic droplets of essential oils that dissolve as well as organic plant acids. Distillates or hydrosols as they are often called are good for use directly on the skin, especially the face as a toner. Mix with a little glycerol and they become a great toner/moisturizer. If you want to keep a distillate around for awhile though it needs a preservative. Otherwise, keep it in the refrigerator and spray it on your face for a cooling refreshment during the hot days of summer. You can still get several types of distillates from Sagescript including comfrey, lemon balm, blue spruce and catnip.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Pesto and Peach Rhubarb Crisp

Its hard for me to pick a favorite summer food, but pesto certainly ranks high on the list. Its easy to make and can be served as a sauce for pasta, a spread for baguette slices or on roasted potatoes. Try spreading it on bread for a grilled cheese sandwich! Here is a recipe I use:


2 cups of fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/4 cup pine nuts
2 medium garlic cloves
salt and pepper

First put basil and olive oil in a small food processor and pulse until basil is ground. Then add the rest of the ingredients and pulse until ground. Although I never seem to have enough to satisfy my summer cravings some people do make enough to freeze. There are many variations you can make on pesto also. Try substituting some of the basil for parsley or arugula or other herbs that you have growing.

I like to serve it with chopped fresh tomatoes and pan charred zucchini. To make the zucchini:

Slice a zucchini in 1/4 to 1/2 inch slices. Put slices in a hot fry pan with 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil on medium-high heat. Cook a few minutes on each side until zucchini is lightly charred or browned on each side. Of course this tastes best with one of Colorado's fine microbrewed beer such as Left Hand's Sawtooth or New Belgium's Fat Tire.

For desert try a peach rhubarb crisp.

Peach Rhubarb Crisp

5 large peaches, peeled and sliced
5 large stalks of rhubarb, sliced
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 cup sugar

Add the above to a greased 9 inch square pan.
Mix together and sprinkle over fruit:
3/4 cup oatmeal
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 c butter

Bake at 350 degrees F for 40 minutes.

Enjoy the harvest and eat well!

Raised Bed and Garden Pictures

I took a few pictures in the garden today to share here and also wanted to tell you about the project I just finished; making some raised beds. For the raised beds I bought some lumber at the Restore which is a store run by Habitat for Humanity. They sell alot of used items donated by contractors including wood. These boards I got are 8" by 2" and very heavy sturdy lumber. I made the boxes 8 feet long by 3 1/2 feet wide using 4X4 posts for corners. I made two of these boxes and put them in front of my workshop building in an area that is weedy and gravely. They will do alot to improve the aethetics of the area! The next part of the plan is to build a patio of sorts with pavers - but that will have to wait. I filled the first box with a combination of horse manure, goat manure, chicken manure, straw and dirt; all from the property (its not just cheap, its sustainable!). I'll probably be able to get a few perennials in their this fall yet. The second box however will have to wait as I will fill it gradually over the winter.

Clover didn't grow where I planted it near the fruit trees, but it did come up volunteering in my bed; which is ok by me. I find it attractive as well as useful.

Here are pictures of my pumpkin, zucchini, larkspur and holy basil.


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