Herbalism Feed

Milady's Pantry & Stillroom ~ Lilac Sugar

I'm a Midwestern witch through and through and there is nothing that captures those memories of an Ohio spring like the extraordinary scent of a glorious French lilac in bloom! Alas, it's also one of the hardest of scents to capture because unless you are working with a natural perfumer, most of the lilac perfume that you will encounter is synthetic.

I've discovered though that one of the best carriers for this elusive scent is good old fashioned cane sugar, so when the lilacs are blooming I beg , borrow and steal enough of the fragrant blooms from all of my friends and neighbors to create a sweetly perfumed lilac treat. The end result is a beautifully tinted and infused lilac sugar that I can use to make jellies, syrups, love spells and tea sugars. 

Kitchen Apothecary~ Lilac Sugar

The process is simple. Take as many lilacs as you can find and pick the blossoms off of the stems. Put them into a bowl and add a bag of white sugar. Toss and cover and allow the blooms to infuse the sugar. The next morning take the cover off of the bowl . The sugar will smell amazing, but it will be damp. Place all of the sugar and lilacs evenly on dehydrator trays (or cookie sheets if you are using a low oven) and allow it to dry for about 2 hours and then put all of it back again into a covered bowl. Pick another large bunch of lilac blossoms and put them into the dehydrator for about 3 hours (no sugar this time). When they have begun to really dry but not yet lost their scent, take them out and stir them into the already infused sugar. 

Kitchen Apothecary~ Lilac Sugar

Let it  air dry (or you can use a very low oven~ careful, you don't want caramel!) for about 6 more hours and put it all up in an air tight jar. The scent is astonishing and the sugar is delightful when you use it in tea or sprinkled on cookies or other confections. It makes a gorgeous gift packaged in a pretty cut or porcelain glass sugar bowl. I wouldn't use metal because you don't want any sort of bitter chemical reaction , a common chemistry problem between metal and flowers. 

One warning...really make sure that you dry it properly..keep checking the flowers. It takes lilacs a while to dry properly. You want the color and scent to still be there but not too much of the moisture otherwise your sugar will end up with a brownish tint!

I use this sugar to make several bottles of a luscious love philtre every year. I only make three bottles and they go very quickly!  It is quite an effective heart opener & aphrodisiac when used appropriately.  I won't be making them until early May , but please email me at beth.gehring@stirringthesenses.com if you are interested in purchasing one of them. 


Milady's Pantry- Claire's Herbs: Linden

 
 
 
 
 
Linden
 

" I should have warned you before that we'd likely end up sleeping in haystacks, wi' naught but healther ale and drammch for food. " "I don't mind" , I said. He nodded toward an opening in the trees, not taking his eyes off of me. "I havena got a haystack about me, but there's a fair patch of fresh bracken yonder. If ye'd care to practice just to get the way of it...?"

Diana Gabaldon - Outlander

 

I want you to meet one of my favorite allies;  the lovely  Linden tree or  you may know it by it's other names, Lime tree or American Basswood. It's an easily identifiable tree with lovely boxy leaves, long pod shaped leaves and pretty seed pods. It's also the easiest tree in the world to identify when it's in bloom. All that you need are your ears and your nose! A Linden tree is also called a "bee tree" and for awfully good reason. Walk underneath one and look up. If it's covered with flowers it will undoubtably be covered with honeybees. I have been obsessed with it's fragrance for many years. It's gorgeous, clean yet floral, a Linden in full crown is the scent of warmed raw floral honey and freshly mown hay. If you'd like to smell that heady smell but don't have a Linden tree nearby , let me introduce you to one of my favorite perfumes, the lovely Jo Malone French Lime Blossom which quite frankly is heaven in a bottle combining French Linden blossoms with a touch a tarragon and bergomot...

French-lime-blossom

The leaves and flowers of the lovely Linden make a truly relaxing tea that can be enjoyed at anytime and is one of the best natural nervines that I know of. A few handfuls of the fresh or dried leaves and flowers steeped or infused into a quart of water and then sweetened with raw honey is truly ambrosia.  Enjoyed with a nougat cookie or a fine piece of shortbread elevates it to a truly remarkable experience. Apologies to Marcel Proust, but  most of the time I'm not crazy about Madeleines:)

For me the real strength of the Linden was found when I began struggling with the moody sweaty symptoms of perimenopause. If you're anything like me, at age 54 it can be a little bit tricky to get a good nights sleep. My husband puts his head on the pillow and sleeps like a baby but oh no...not me. Menopause by itself can have me sweating , tossing and turning and if you add a bit of stress to the mix, I'm bound to be up for most of the night. Removing caffeine and alcohol before bed is very helpful, but I also have found that 2 dropperfuls of my favorite Linden tonic in a cup of warm water with some honey about an hour before bed works wonders! Then just slide under the covers, enjoy  a book for a bit and doze off. You should wake up refreshed and ready to start your day!

This tonic is an infusion of some of my favorite green allies. I'm  a bad candidate for any sort of sleeping pill and I'm naturally very intense, so I made friends with all of these plants quite some time ago out of absolute necessity.  Everyone of them is cooling, soothing and promote a lovely restfulness without drowsiness. Hops and valerian are well known relaxants but you won't wake up feeling as if you've taken a sleeping pill. Linden is one of the loveliest nervines that I know and is used all over the world to promote rest and relaxation. Oatstraw helps to keep all of your lady parts content, cool and juicy while the chamomile and lavender are natural sleep enhancers, slowing the activity of the nervous system while promoting lovely dreams. Anise Hyssop is a delightfully licorice tasting anti-anxiety herb and the catnip speaks for itself. All you need to see is your favorite kitty rolling around on a catnip pillow to know why I included it in the mix and then there's the Rose Absolute. Rose Absolute is just such a beautifully evocative scent and is in my opinion the ultimate aphrodisiac, nervine and antidepressant.  Its magical presence in this elixir provides the alchemy that ties it all together and makes it work so well.

 

 Herbal Sleeping Elixir/ Beth Schreibman Gehring

I make this tonic in large mason jars so my measurements are for one of those!

In each mason jar layer:

2 tablespoons of raw honey

1 and a half cups of tart cherry juice

1 and a half cups of frozen (more antioxidents!) blueberries, raspberries and blackberries

3 tablespoons each of:

Linden flowers

Anise Hyssop

Oatstraw

Chamomile

Lavender

Catnip

Hops

Valerian

10 drops of organic, culinary rose absolute  ( My favorite culinary essential oils are the Chef's Essences by Mandy Aftel)

Vodka (or blackberry brandy)

 

Layer all of the ingredients into the mason jar and top with vodka. Close the top of the jar and shake until blended. In about three weeks, strain and funnel into dropper bottles. To use, add two dropperfuls of this tincture to a cup of warm water or  herbal tea. Add honey if you'd like and sip, preferably in a warm bath or wrapped in a soft robe.

 

 

Lavender-flower-harvest
Courtesy of Everything lavender.com

NOW JUST FOR FUN!

A lavender and hops filled sleeping pillow is the perfect sidekick to this tonic and so easy to make.  Just get two pieces of rectangular shaped soft flannel ( How about Tartan!) and sew them together , leaving one side open. Fill the pillow with arborio rice or buckwheat hulls, lavender and hops flowers and then add about 20 drops of lavender essential oil. Sew up the open side and roll the pillow back and forth to distribute the lavender oil. Either take it to bed as it is or heat it in a preheated 350 degree oven for about 3 minutes. You'll be dreaming sweet dreams in no time flat!

 

 


Milady's Tinctures, Tonic and Teas: Claire's Herbs - Elderberry

 

“Well, it’s no usually the first thing in my mind when I take ye to bed, Sassenach. Far from it. But then…” His hands cupped my breasts softly, and his lips closed on one nipple. “I’d no just say she was completely wrong either. Sometimes…aye, sometimes it would be good, to be inside again, safe and…one. Knowing we cannot, I suppose, is what makes us want to beget. If we cannot go back ourselves, the best we can do is to give that precious gift to our sons, at least for a little while…” He shook himself suddenly, like a dog flinging water from its coat.

“Pay me no mind, Sassenach,” he murmured. “I get verra maudlin, drinking elderberry wine.”

Excerpt From: Diana Gabaldon. “Outlander.”  

 

Elderberries-reduced 

When I was a little girl my mother made me become a Brownie in the hopes that I would follow in my sisters footsteps and become a Girl Scout.  My mother was a beloved troop leader and was just thrilled that she had one more chance to do it again! She spent my Brownie year choosing amazing things for us to do and wonderful places to go.  I don’t remember most of it because it was all overshadowed by the one place she chose that was perfect.

One of her best friends when she moved into the Orange School District was a woman named Dolly Temple.  My mom was the youngest PTA  member and Dolly was the oldest, but the two looked at each other and became instant friends. It was because of the huge  Navajo Squash Blossom necklaces that each was wearing around their necks in a community that was a hotbed of diamonds and Mikkimoto pearls.  As my mother told it, she walked into this thoroughly stuffy group of very fine 50’s housewives and then there was Dolly.  She and mom gravitated to each other immediately because of those necklaces  which at that time absolutely no one understood or valued.  My mother looked amazing when she wore her Indian Jewelry and so did Dolly. Both were incredibly strong women, with  striking features and even stronger personalities. The Indian jewelry that neither of then were ever without simply mirrored the strident boldness that each of them carried within.  Both wore black during the day way before it was acceptable to do so!

They were just fabulous , the last of a generation of  the “they just don’t make broads like that any more”. (Sort of like Claire!)

Dolly was a transplanted southern girl who owned 36 of the most incredibly beautiful  acres in Moreland Hills Ohio, complete with a gorgeous Georgian mansion,  horse barns, orchards and pastures. She raised the most beautiful Arabian horses and had several lovely little Welsh ponies that she drove as teams.  

Dolly Temple was my first mentor, the very first women who ever put me on a horse.  My mother in an attempt to keep her youngest daughter interested in the “Silly Brownie Stuff” as I called it took us out to Dolly’s farm.  She should have known ...I took one look and was smitten.  The day came to cross the Brownie Bridge and approximately 5 minutes before it was to be my turn I looked at my mom and said, “I don’t EVER want to be a Girl Scout…I want to go back to that place with the horses and learn to ride. “ My mother  simply smiled and called Dolly.  If she was disappointed she never let it show. Her generosity that day completely changed my life. I don't live well without horses. My mother knew that and let it be. 

From that day on I practically lived at the Temples and at least 4 times I week I would go there after school, catch and brush the horses, saddle up the ponies, have my lesson and then go riding around her woods. I’d come into her house afterwards for homemade hot chocolate and huge slabs of crusty warm homemade bread with her home churned butter.  Sometimes I’d walk in and she’d be plucking a duck or a chicken that she’d just killed herself and the end result that day would be the most incredible homemade chicken and dumplings which she served on lavish Royal Worcester plates with her mothers gorgeous sterling.

Royal_worcester_lavinia_cream_bone_oval_serving_platter_P0000087993S0036T2 

Once or twice I accidentally walked in on her in the middle of the butchering process, but I actually didn’t mind because she walked her talk. Nothing was wasted.  Dolly was very wealthy, but she did everything herself. She used everything that she raised from fruits and vegetables to the animals that she kept.  She taught me to forage on her property for food and was the first woman to teach me about the value of eating wild plants.  I adored her.  She had blueberries everywhere and raspberries and plum tree surrounding the riding ring. There were French chestnuts that lined one of the lanes and the pastures were filled with apples tree. Everything had a purpose and was in just the right place.  She let me explore all of it as if I were her own child.

One day in the spring when I was riding   I noticed one of the most beautiful bushes that I’d ever seen. It was growing down along   the driveway and it was the filled with the heaviest clusters of creamy flowers that I’d ever seen ,  draping on beautiful purple stems with thick green leaves. It was also emitting a very strange musky sweet aroma that reminded me a bit of my grandmother not in a bad way, but more like a bottle of vintage violet perfume that’s turned a little bit dark and dirty. I later learned that the beautiful blossoms were Elderberry flowers and that the plant although most parts are filled with more than a little bit of cyanide was one of the most beneficial of the wild tonics.  Dolly made wines , cordials and syrups out her Elderberries and she also took some of those flowers and made wonderful  fritters, covered in a very light batter and dusted with a bit of confectioners sugar. They were amazing, the heavy flowers were delicious prepared that way although definitely not for anyone who suffers from a battle with seasonal allergies!

If you’ve access to some elderberries of your own you should try to make the fritters and at the very least the syrup! You can buy elderberry syrup in any health food store and it’s absolutely indispensible during cold season for helping to beef up your immunity. One of the best tonics that I know of is a simple tea made from the syrup and a bit of chopped up crystallized ginger. I use this when anyone in my house is recovering from a nasty upper respiratory infection and it was my staple drink when I was stricken with a bout of pneumonia 15 years ago.  Elderflower has been documented by herbalists for centuries as possessing the ability to be able to inhibit a virus and truly shorten the duration of a very nasty flu by several days. I always keep some form of it in my stillroom.

St Germain

The very same syrup makes a wonderful iced tea in the summer laced with cinnamon and a bit of fresh mint. You can also use it to make a marvelous martini and a bit of elderberry syrup drizzled over berries and homemade vanilla bean ice cream is a wonderful treat. One of my favorite finds of the last several years is a golden liqueur from France made of Elderflowers named St. Germain. Although not nearly as heady and wild tasting as the homemade syrup it’s a delightfully fragrant addition to a glass of champagne.

If you’d like to try to make your own syrup you should definitely do so but remember that all parts except for the flowers and berries (including the seeds) are potentially toxic.  Start with a lot of the ripe berries (about 2 lbs of them) and cook them gently in about 4 cups of water until they are soft.  Some people put them through a food mill but I prefer to  GENTLY mash the berries and let the weight of them strain the juice through a chinoise or a fine mesh strainer. Put the juice back into a saucepan , add a cinnamon stick, some crystallized ginger and a cup or two of maple syrup. You can also use honey if you’d like or plain old sugar.  Gently reduce the syrup until it’s as thin or thick as you like, taste and bottle. That’s it. Make this once and you’ll never reach for another bottle of Robitussin again!

  

 

Elderberry Photograph courtesy of ThriftyLiving.net 

St. Germain Poster courtesy of St. Germain

 Lavinia Platter Courtesy of Replacements


Milady's Tinctures, Tonics & Teas

“What are you doing?” he asked. His hands rested gently on my shoulders.

“Looking for that plant,” I answered, sticking a finger between the pages to mind my place. “The one I saw in the stone circle. See…” I flipped the book open. “It could be in the Campanulaceae, or the Gentianaceae, the Polemoniaceae, the Boraginaceae—that’s most likely, I think, forget-me-nots—but it could even be a variant of this one, the Anemone patens.” I pointed out a full color illustration of a pasqueflower. “I don’t think it was a gentian of any kind; the petals weren’t really rounded, but—”

Excerpt From: Gabaldon, Diana. “Outlander.” Bantam Dell, 1991. iBooks.
This material may be protected by copyright.

Everyone who knows me , knows of my passion for all thing Outlander and especially the character of Claire Beauchamp Randall Fraser...wife, lover , mother, herbalist, Nurse and Doctor. So I've decided to create a page in her honor and once a week address a different medicinal, fragrant or nutritional herb from the vantage point of my favorite question - " What would Claire do with it ?" Stay tuned!

Milady's Tinctures, Tonics & Teas

Wise Woman Traditions: The Training of a Reluctant Healer

 

John_William_Waterhouse_-_Magic_Circle

All of my life I've been drawn to helping others create lives of full self expression. I spent most of my time in high school "counseling" my friends who would seek me out because somehow they thought that I had the answers. During a time of highly charged personal challenges that I was facing as a very young woman in a very young marriage, I spent much of my time with a marvelous social worker who encouraged me to look more deeply within myself and to express the passion and gift that I had for healing work , a concept which at that time seemed a bit New Agey to me, but was absolutely spot on.

Starting in 1984,  I spent the next 2 decades learning everything that I could from LaWanna Rine about traditional herbalism and essential oils. I became obsessed with the teachings of the Sacred Feminine and the Wise Woman Traditions. At the same time I was spending some weekends at the Phoenicia Pathwork Center in New York State with my mentor Robert Tobey and a group of amazing healers learning to work with the energy that flowed almost uncontrollably from my hands. It was a wonderful time for me. In Phoenicia I learned that the energy that I was experiencing wasn't "mine", but instead I was the conduit for something that to this day I don't quite understand, but acknowledge as a gift from a universal source. It was the very lesson that I needed to be able to use the  abilities I'd been given. I spent my time there working with others while at the same time healing my own wounds. Facing my own demons allowed me the wisdom and compassion to truly begin to work with others in a way that was safe, expressive and powerful.  

When I wasn't in Phoenicia, I was working with a group of extraordinary healers that my husband and I started, offering bodywork to anyone who needed it through the laying on of hands in the safe, loving space of our home. I'm convinced that anyone has the capacity to be a healer, mostly you just need to get out of your own way. Healing can happen anywhere at anytime.  

That whole time I was living a dual life. I was the President of one of the most prominent gift stores in the city of Cleveland, yet at I'd find myself sitting on the loveseat in my store with my hands on a customer who was sobbing because they'd just confided in me about some of the things happening in their lives. Finally my husband said to  me, " Do you think that you're missing something?" but I still wasn't sure that I was comfortable with the concept of "Beth , the Healer".

Around that same time I took a course called the Landmark Forum, a curriculum that really taught me so much about what it mean't to live a life of integrity. What I realized from that moment on was that I didn't have the answers, but what I was able to do for people was listen to them carefully and provide the supportive space for them needed to be fully present to themselves, their pain and their desires. I also realized very quickly the inauthenticity of living my life expressing only part of myself. I stopped ignoring the obvious, faced my fears and threw myself onto the playing field as a lifecoach!

 A few years later I found myself facing the death of both my parents and wondering after being their caregiver for so many years  just what was next. I watched my mother die from severe complications stemming from her type 2 diabetes, a disease which is largely environmental and in many cases easily controllable through diet and exercise. The epiphany came while siblings and I were working almost non-stop using herbs and other alternative modalities to keep my fathers immune system functioning well in the nursing home where he lived. There was illness everywhere, ranging from chronic urinary tract infections to staph, mrsa , klebsiella and cedif. It was easily traceable to the food that the residents were served, food that was cheap,  poor quality , unappealingly prepared and of the lowest nutritional value. I realized that many of the problems that we were facing with my father were systemic throughout our American culture. It is a simple truth....food matters and so does quality of lifestyle. We truly are what we eat. At that moment I began to look for a school that could give me the tools that I needed to help others learn to eat and live well no matter their means. 

I received my training as a Health Coach from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition's cutting-edge Health Coach Training Program.

During my training, I studied over 100 dietary theories, practical lifestyle management techniques, and innovative coaching methods with some of the world’s top health and wellness experts. My teachers included Dr. Andrew Weil, Director of the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine; Dr. Deepak Chopra, leader in the field of mind-body medicine; Dr. David Katz, Director of Yale University’s Prevention Research Center; Dr. Walter Willett, Chair of Nutrition at Harvard University; Geneen Roth, bestselling author and expert on emotional eating; and many other leading researchers and nutrition authorities.

My education has equipped me with extensive knowledge in holistic nutrition, health coaching, and preventive health. Drawing on these skills and my knowledge of different dietary theories, I work with clients to help them make lifestyle changes that produce real and lasting results.

If you'd like to speak with me, please sign up for a free, absolutely no strings attached 50 minute gift session with me at http://beth-gehring.healthcoach.integrativenutrition.com/lets-connect-1

Also , please feel free to connect with me on my facebook page  

 


Reading Tea Leaves ~ A Christmas Tea with Good Friends!

I have many blessings to count this year, but one of the biggest was becoming an active member of The Western Reserve Herb Society. I've wanted to become a member since I was a child because from the first time that I laid eyes on them, I knew that we were kindred spirits. We're a very old group, but ever evolving. They have a web page and almost everything is done online. It's completely refreshing after the last group that I was heavily involved with that fought me tooth and nail about having a facebook page!

Map_650

WRHS is filled with amazing women and I am blessed to have been accepted into their fold. Most of them are much older than me and all of them are brilliant, the most intellectually stimulating and diverse group of women that I've ever met. We are the stewards of the wonderful herb garden at The Cleveland Botanical Gardens and we do a ton of herbal outreach education to young children and adults. We are a chapter of the American Herb Society, based here in Kirtland ,Ohio. Our biggest fund raising event is a magnificent Herb Fair, which we spend the entire year canning, preserving, drying and pickling for. I finally really learned how to preserve this year, a long held goal of mine and have just put yp a batch of Christmas chutney that is superb if I do say so myself.  

I work specifically in the ancient dye garden with an 80 year wonder woman who goes on frequent Celtic pilgrimages, is a Reiki master like I am and knows every plant in her care intimately. We discuss Reiki, energy and religion while we're working. Like I said....it's an amazing group of women. 

Every meeting is a meeting first, breakbread together afterwards sort of affair. Every member is a wonderful cook, and because we are the herb society almost every dish brought from appetizers to dessert is filled with fresh herbs and edible flowers. Yesterday was no exception. It was the annual Christmas Tea and it was held at one ofvthe loveliest churches in Cleveland. The University Circle United Methodist Church, otherwise known as "The Holy Oilcan Church! From the picture below I'm sure that you can see why!

Oilcan-church-1

 We were  given a wonderful tour of the church and all of it's glorious Christmas decorations, a bit of the pipe organ (an original Skinner organ with an echo chamber!) and then were led back to the small chapel where we were treated to Christmas music and a sing~along by the churches pianist. After that was the tea!

We all filed back into the church parlor where we had lain our trays of tea treats sweet and savory. The was a wonderful Wassail bowl as well! The first picture below is my offering; Apple slices with curried cheese, bacon, lemon thyme and a sliver of Cajun chicken.  

Reading Tea Leaves~ A Christmas Tea with Friends

Reading Tea Leaves~ A Christmas Tea with Friends

Reading Tea Leaves~ A Christmas Tea with Friends

Reading Tea Leaves~ A Christmas Tea with Friends

Reading Tea Leaves~ A Christmas Tea with Friends

 All of the food was fresh and exquisite; like I said this is an amazing group of cooks. I was reminded once again though of how wonderfully relaxing and fantastic an afternoon tea can be, especially one held for a specific occasion and with a fabulous group of friends! 

This holiday season why don't you sit down with a girlfriend or two and enjoy a wonderful pot of tea and a few savories. Deviled eggs are so easy to make and so are tea sandwiches. One of my favorites from yesterday? Thinly sliced fruit cake with butter, smoked turkey , arugula and a bit of mustard and mayo. Absolutely easy and just perfect for this holiday season!

 

The Herb Society of America


Wise Woman Traditions: Numan: The Nature of Plants

This is  an absolutely beautiful documentary about herbs and other healing plants and the amazing gifts that they give to us. You can watch it in it's entirety for free until the 30th!

                            

 

"NUMEN TRAILER 2013 - Free online screening of complete film Oct 20-30!

from  PLUS 3 weeks ago ALL AUDIENCES

We are thrilled to announce the free online screening of the new edition of the documentary, Numen: The Nature of Plants, for ten days, from October 20–30th. To watch the film go to:

numenfilm.leadpages.net/8min/

10% discount, free domestic shipping, and bonuses on all screening licenses purchased before Oct. 30th. $0.99 shipping on all personal use DVDs as well!

Numen is the first feature-length documentary to celebrate the healing power of plants. The film features stunning footage of medicinal plants and thought-provoking interviews with Drs. Tieraona Low Dog and Larry Dossey, the late Bill Mitchell, ND, author Kenny Ausubel, herbalists Rosemary Gladstar, Phyllis Light and many others and calls for a re-awakening of traditional knowledge about plants and their uses.

Our hope is that Numen will spark new conversations and debates about health and wellness and inspire real, tangible actions to build a grassroots, ecologically sustainable healthcare movement. To help sow the seeds of this movement, we are making the film available for free online for a limited time.

We owe it to our children and grandchildren to do everything we can to make the world more sustainable, including making better choices about the medicines we consume. Numen encourages viewers to think deeply about the sources of their medicine and how those choices affect themselves and the larger web of life. It inspires us to deepen our relationship with the natural world and reminds us of the healing made possible by re-embracing our place in the wider web of life. And it shows that all of these changes can begin with the simple act of growing thyme in a pot in your window or harvesting nettles from a field behind your home.

To watch the film go to: numenfilm.leadpages.net/8min/"

 


Kitchen Apothecary~ Herbal Soup Wreaths

Every year in October , the Western Reserve Herb Society holds its annual Herb Fair, a wonderful day awash in homemade jams and jellies, herb and spice mixes , breads, pressed flowers and so many other beautifully handmade herbal Products, all made by the ladies of WRHS!

Kitchen Apothecary~ Herbal Soup Wreaths

Yesterday was spent with my delightful friends from WRHS making herbal soup wreaths. A soup wreath is a delicate little wreath of soup and stew herbs that can be thrown into the pot and then fished out when they are no longer needed. It was a wonderful morning... There was something about sitting at the table that was covered with fresh herbs just cut from the WRHS garden that sent me spiraling back in time.

Kitchen Apothecary~ Herbal Soup Wreaths

Kitchen Apothecary~ Herbal Soup Wreaths

 

I looked around at my friends as we were quietly winding the herbs together and realized that I was taking part in a ritual that has been shared by women for centuries. It was such a magical experience . To make your own wreaths all you will need is some very strong undyed thread or twine and branches and stems of the herbs that you want to use. Rosemary makes the best base and chives are garlic chives are a wonderful wrap. Just wind everything together and wrap tightly with the thread. It will dry and be ready to use in a week or two. Remember that herbal flavors do concentrate so be mindful of the sages and oreganos... They can get very strong! To use, just throw one into  simmering pot of soup or stew. When your meal is cooked, just strain out the wreath and toss!

 

Kitchen Apothecary~ Herbal Soup Wreaths


Gaia's Gardens: Heaven on Earth

 

One of the joys of being an active member of The Western Reserve Herb Society is the abundant talent and intellect of the group. Far from being just a "ladies who lunch" club, this is a working group that spends its time caring for the established herb gardens down at The Cleveland Botanical Garden as well as having  teaching meetings at it's members homes and down at the gardens. Yesterday's meeting was no less extraordinary. I was told to bring a picnic type dish to share and come prepared to be amazed. I can't give you the exact location of these beautiful gardens , but I will say that they are nestled along the banks of the beautiful Chagrin River.  As you can see, I arrived and found myself completely lost in paradise.

It was a wonderful day spent with friends partaking in a glorious Japanese Tea Ceremony , breaking bread together and wandering this extensive and utterly gorgeous monastery garden. I'd be hard pressed to choose my favorite of the beautiful structures but I'd have to say that if I could have taken one of them home it would have been this one. I left feeling refreshed , heart-filled and truly inspired.  

 

 

Gaia's Gardens: Heaven on Earth

Gaia's Gardens: Heaven on Earth

Gaia's Gardens: Heaven on Earth

Gaia's Gardens: Heaven on Earth

Gaia's Gardens: Heaven on Earth