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February 2013

Kitchen Apothecary: Maple Syrup and White Cheddar Poutine'



For over 20 years I lived in Burton Ohio, a sleepy little Northeast Ohio town that's known for apple fritters , maple syrup and Sunday Pancake breakfast's all during the month of March. I used to love to wake up every morning and look out over the hill from my front yard to watch the smoke from the little log sugaring cabin on the square rise up through the sky. They went to work early during those midwinter months, and often times I'd stop at the square before taking Alex to school  and we'd  eat breakfast and watch the diversity of the farmers driving in with buckets and vats of sap....a wonderful collective undertaking that makes Burton's Maple Syrup such an amazing and delicious labor of love. I still go back whenever I can. There's a  always been a debate among my circle of friends and family between Canada,, New Hampshire,  Vermont and Burton, Ohio, but when it comes to Maple Syrup I still think that my old town hands down makes the very best....Last year even one of my neighbors got into the act, tapping the trees on our city block and boiling the sap that he got down on his stove. We all got a little bottle of syrup. It was quite extraordinary to walk out my door and see taps on the trees. 


A couple of the sugar maples tapped on my city block!

My neighbor Phil, boiling the sap!


Maple syrup is one of those superfoods that's just so delicious that you can hardly believe that it's good for you. It's very high in calories, but supposedly chock full of antioxidants and anti inflammatories. It's even  been reputed to be safe  to a certain extent for diabetics. I love it because it's one of the original slow foods.. the only alchemy that is needed to turn the sap from the sugar maple into such a luscious product are the magic of heat and time. Maple syrup is one of the 4 ingredients of the traditional Master Cleanse that I and so many others use every spring. Just take a quart of spring water, the juice of one large lemon, several tablespoons of fresh maple syrup, 1 teaspoon of olive oil (I like to use a rosemary or blood orange infused oil) and about 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper. Put it all into a large container, chill and shake, then sip all day long while eating regular light meals. I know many people who fast on this beverage alone for up to a week, but I've never done it. Those who do report a real boost in their energy but my particular constitution needs some food and I get very energized doing this. Be careful not to drink it for to long a period though as the lemon isn't good long term for the enamel of your teeth. 

Maple syrup is also one of the loveliest  flavorings that I know. Because it's so sweet it's fairly easy to overdue it, although there are those (My husband!) who would disagree with me. It's wonderful in a marinade for fish or chicken and I love to create salad dressings with maple syrup, walnut oil, a bit of onion and balsamic vinegar. It mixes beautifully with Jim Beams Red Stag Bourbon and barbecue sauce to make a wonderful grill sauce and for someone like me who grew up with a mother who would take every fresh snowfall as an opportunity to make "Sugar on Snow", it's simply the best of childhood memories.I've attached a page from one of Geauga's best Maple Cookbooks that has all four of the time honored childhood syrup recipes. I hope that they bring you as much joy as they did me when I saw them again!


Fast forward to yesterday when I was in the car with Angie, my sons adorable girlfriend. We were talking about food...actually we talk alot food becauses she's a masterful cook. She was describing a wonderful version of Poutine' that she'd had in Montreal last summer and my mouth started to water. For those of you unfamiliar with Poutine' ..it's a classic street food from Quebec that consists of fried potatoes, brown gravy and white cheddar cheese curds all hot and glopped into an oozy, melty mess. It's delicious and I hadn't had it for years. What she described to me wasn't traditionally Poutine' but it sounded wonderful. Potatoes and white cheddar curds covered with a maple syrup and a sort of veloute type gravy. Enough said. I took it one step further and added some chicken sausage, cinnamon, Fines herbes',  tons of caramelized onion, fresh parsley and made the gravy from buttermilk, at least 3/4s of a cup of maple syrup and a bit of cornstarch. the whole thing was a mess of white cheddar, potatoes and sausage gravy. It was delicious and needless to say , the men in my life are happy. 


In a cast iron pan caramelize the onions in butter and add the chicken sausage and a bit of water. Add the herbes' of your choice. Let simmer until melting and cooked through.

Add buttermilk and cornstarch to thicken. Always mix the cornstarch in cold water then add it so you don't get lumps!



Add parsley and cook until thickened.

Place piping hot potatoes (I used baked waffle fries) into a bowl and top with white cheddar cheese and then with the hot sausage gravy.Stir and let the whole thing melt together...Eat and Enjoy!


Tea Leaves & Tarot Cards: Earl Grey Chocolate Cake



Earl Grey Chocolate Cake


One of my wonderful readers, a delightful woman named Elizabeth Watson AKA: Queen Cupcake (Goddess I love that!) sent me this recipe from  a 1994 Bon Appetit today. I am told that this is the cake that was served at The Guggenheim Museum Restaurant in New Yorkl

I must have a slice ASAP so I'm going to bake it immediately! I think that it sounds warm , richly dense and chocolaty (everything a cake should be!) and would be a fabulous treat to have with a steaming, comforting cup of tea that's been dressed with a little foamy milk! To my friend....Thank you Thank You Thank You Elizabeth!!!! I know that we're in agreement that you can never have too much cake!

12 Servings

2 Earl Grey teabags
2/3 cup water
8 oz. bittersweet (not unsweetened) or semisweet chocolate, chopped
2/3 cup orange marmalade
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temp.
1 cup sugar
6 large eggs
1/3 cup chopped walnuts
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 cup whipping cream
6 oz. bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped

For the cake: Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 325 degrees F. Butter 10-inch diameter angel food cake pan (or tube pan). [QC: I bet a square baking pan would do just as well.] Place tea bags in glass measuring cup, pour 2/3 cup boiling water over. Let stand 5 minutes. Remove tea bags from water & discard tea bags. Let tea cool. Melt chocolate in top of double boiler over water, stirring until smooth (you can use the microwave if you watch closely and do not overheat). Cool chocolate to room temp. Puree marmalade in processor until almost smooth, set aside. 
Using electric mixer, beat butter and sugar in large bowl until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in melted chocolate, marmalade, walnuts and vanilla. Mix flour and baking powder and tea alternately into the chocolate mixture. Do not overbeat.
Pour batter into prepared pan and bake until tester inserted near center of cake comes out with some moist crumbs attached, about 1 hour, 10 minutes. Transfer to rack and cool 10 minutes. Using sharp knife, cut around edges of cake to loosen. Turn out cake onto rack and cool.

For Glaze: Bring whipping cream to boil in a small saucepan. Remove from heat. Add chocolate and let stand 2 minutes. Stir until smooth. Cool slightly.

Place the cake on a platter and spoon glaze over, allowing glaze to drip down sides. Can be made 1 day ahead; cover and store at room temperature.





Image from Tastespotting.com

Kitchen Apothecary: The Taste of Love in Food



Botticellis Birth of Venus

One of the biggest compliments that I ever received was from the leader of a self awareness class that I helped to produce over 15 years ago. I was helping with the logistics of pulling off the course and of course my part was to cook for the leader of the course; not an easy feat as there was no kitchen so I had to produce all of the food down to every minute detail on the pad that he gave me. These course leaders generally worked an average of 14 to 16 hour a day, so they really needed food that was energizing, healing AND delicious. At first glance, I thought that the gentleman in question was a huge pain in the butt, but as I began to shop for him what I noticed was a huge attention to minimalist detail and I was intrigued. So many things that he wouldn’t eat and I was used to being expansive and abundant in my kitchen, producing rich, glorious and not terribly healthy meals. It became a challenge for me and I thought "Ok…he’s going to love the food that I make for him”, even though I wasn’t quite sure how I was going to make dishes with approximately 5 ingredients taste any good!


So I took a deep breath and began to cook, a vegetable soup with asparagus with curry and no cream, a simple artichoke steamed with an olive oil aioli and a beautiful piece of sole that was poached in a fragrant base of tomatoes, onions, olives , saffron and fresh herbs.  For dessert there was a red wine poached pear with a drizzle of vanilla infused cream and raspberries.  Needless to say I was pretty proud of the meal but I wasn’t sure what to expect. It was a meal of whole foods and whole herbs and it was clean food so it was lighter than normal. It was pretty and I was happy when I wrapped it up to transport it back to the hotel where the course was being held.


I set the table, plated the food and left the room so that he and my husband    could talk. He was a fairly stern sort of man so I wasn’t expecting much. I never saw his face when he took the first bites but an hour later my husband walked out with a grin.  “Wow” he said and proceeded to give me thedetails. I guess that he took the first spoonful of soup and proceeded to tell my husband “I usually don’t expect much and that’s why I keep my requirements so simple. I used to live in a monastery in Colorado and for years I worked in the kitchen where they taught us every day to put love into the food we served. I have not tasted love in my food since I left there so many years ago.”


Image Origins Unknown

From that point on he smiled at me whenever he saw me and didn’t leave a scrap of the food. I was thrilled and I made it a life lesson from that moment on to discover what he meant. I think that love is an essential ingredient in cooking and once we’ve been made aware of it, we can taste when it’s missing. I think that we all know when it’s not present in our food, much in the same way that our bodies know the difference between whole herbals or extracted herbal isolates because there’s definitely an energy missing in the isolates that in my opinion is the healing heart and soul of the plant.  I’ve never been sure how I did it that day, but to truly have him experience the love that I’d put into preparing it for him was my intention and I was thrilled and intrigued by the result.


Courtesy of Haas Health online


I believe that the addition of love to our cooking IS the alchemical ingredient that blends the process of cooking with the process of healing . Without the energy of love our food becomes inert, simply something that we’re putting into our mouths to survive and we’re meant to thrive not survive! We can’t live without it so before I cook anything, I always try to create a simple and lovely intention for the meal. I notice that when I don’t  although the food may be good, that there’s just something that’s missing.


Sometimes it’s as easy as wanting to provide a nurturing meal for my family or to make a celebratory meal for a dear friend. Sometimes it’s as necessary as preparing something special for someone who’s ailing or grieving.  I try to tune in to what’s needed and cook the appropriate dishes.  I always want my guests to feel loved and special and preparing the meal is where that starts.


Courtesy of BBC Good Food

The foods and herbs that we eat have different energies and really can provoke different emotions  and an entire range of physical feelings. For example combinations of chicken or lamb with chocolate and chiles will always make you feel warm, sociable and happy but if you wanted to simply relax and spend the evening curled up with a good book you’d add lavender or lemon balm, honey and lemon instead.


Combinations of beef, pork and fruit laced with cinnamon, nutmeg and 5 spice and served with root vegetables is a meal that you’d eat when you needed to have a seriously focused conversation with a beginning and end. The traditions and soft creamy flavors of comfort foods are obvious to us all but there is a reason that lobsters and oysters are the lighter yet more primally fragrant foods that we serve when we are in the mood for an evening of love.


 Texture, aroma, visual and taste are only 4 of the senses that I use to create a balanced meal. There is a fifth emotional sense and I’ve learned that it can be provoked through the use of the energy that is to be found in all of our foods.


 Put your hands into your food when you mix it, taste it and enjoy the whole process of preparing it. Listen to some wonderful music while you’re cooking and just enjoy the process of chopping and preparing the ingredients; stir everything with love. Relax. Set the table with your best china even if it's just for you and your husband or if you’re just by yourself ...especially if I you’re by yourself. Sip a glass of wine while you’re cooking or a quiet cup of herbal tea. Slow down, breathe in and out and enjoy the process of preparing a meal filled  that’s filled with the most life enhancing  nutrient of all, the vitamin of love.



Wise Woman Traditions: Reiki and Other Healing Services

Healing_Herbs1.jpg 175kb

"Healing is very different than curing, just as the work of healers is very different from that of medical doctors. Healing is the act of ridding your body of the conditions that create and support disease. Most of the illnesses that people suffer from today arise primarily from lifestyle - related causes, such as stress, diet and lack of exercise. changes in these areas can eliminate many illnesses. "

Susan West Kurz


Reiki/ Energy/Body-Work

The statement above is beautiful and succinct, but I'd make it even simpler and say that creating harmony and balance in all areas of your life allows your beauty to begin to glow and grow from within. I have been a practicing herbalist and aromatherapist for almost 30 years as well as a Usui Shiki Ryoho Reiki Master and healer who works with energy through the laying on of hands.

Upon request I will perform distance Reiki if needed or if you wish you can come to my studio for a full Reiki/Energy treatment complete with relaxing aromatherapy, reflexology, ambient  aromatics and sound. Give yourself the gift of an hour of bone deep relaxation and healing with me as your guide. I use only the richest blends of organic botanical oils and hydrosols designed to allow you to enjoy the most relaxing of healing experiences. 

75.00 a session / 1 Hour "in person" or distance healing 


Kitchen Apothecary

 Most people discover the benefits of traditional herbalism and other botanical treatments when they discover that they have a serious illness or feel as if they've been given up on or fallen through the cracks of the traditional allopathic system. What's missing? More than likely a healthy dose of Vitamin L, or that which I call the "Art of putting love into your food!" Herbs and specific foods can be used to support the healing process and even help to prevent disease, while nurturing and nourishing the whole being. I will teach you how to promote healing through the preparation of exquisite yet healthy foods.  

I will take a detailed health history from you, which will contain any prescriptions that you are currently taking , your dietary habits and how you exercise. This will also include multi-generational family history, food choices past and present and your past and present health concerns. We will then discuss together a health and wellness plan that will address your diet and possibly include specific whole foods, herbs and spices, herbal supplements, teas, flower essences, or other holistic health support.  

 $75.00 First session / 1 Hour In person or  Skype/phone consultation

$40.00 For 30 minute follow up phone or Skype sessions  


Living Loving Food 

I learned to cook when my mother went back to work. Everyday when I got home from school (I was 11 at the time) my mother would call and she'd say, "take the leg of lamb out of the refrigerator" and then teach me to prepare it over the phone. She was able to be descriptive in a way that was actually better than if she'd shown me herself and because I was doing all of the work, I learned to cook very well.

She was patient, a very good teacher and she taught me not only the basics of cooking, but because she really understood food, she was able to teach me to use what I'd learned to create delicious food that was healing and full of love.  It is a joy to pass on what I learned from her to you. If you'd like personal cooking instruction from me and you're not in my area, I can easily work with you over the phone.  If you're in the Cleveland area, I will happily arrange a time to come to your home and play with you in your kitchen!

Just email me and we'll arrange a time that I will set aside especially for you! Include your name, phone number and email.  I'll then send you a number where you'll be able to reach me for 2.00 a minute and I'll teach you to create a wonderful meal of your choosing or whatever it is you'd like to learn to cook. No request is too daunting! Every request is loads of fun!

 Please email me at [email protected] to schedule an Living Loving Food, Kitchen Apothecary or Reiki Session. 



Please note: 

I am not a registered nutritionist , dietician or personal trainer. I am a Board Certified Holistic Health  practitioner. Any advice that is given is based upon my own personal observations, opinions or experiences I've had in life and the training that I've accrued.  

 Many don't realize this but the  craft of herbalism is not regulated nor licensed by any governing body in the US. There are no real legal title designations for American herbalism.To maintain personal standards and relay the degree of learning obtained, herbalists in America typically use the title their school or teacher gave them . Use your own instincts to determine the level of expertise possessed by any practitioner that you consider using to help you enhance your health and well being. I am of the opinion myself that this places the onus on us to be teachers who will help you in your quest for wellness and that if we do our job right you'll be able to understand and utilize these plants, foods and extracts yourself for your overall wellbeing.

As an Herbalist/Aromatherapist I will not ever diagnose your condition , treat you medically or interfere with any treatment that your Doctor may have prescribed. Keep in mind that every person and every body is different. Don't expect to have the same results as me (or anyone else). And while I don't think any of my behaviors are risky, they may be risky for you depending on your own personal health.  Herbs, Flower Essences and Essential Oils should always complement whatever treatments have been prescribed for you by your physician and never be used in place of such treatment without first obtaining your Doctors permission .  

 Herbs, Flower and Crystal Essences and Botanical Essential Oils can generally be used with and enhance almost any other form of therapy, however I do recommend that anyone becoming my client makes sure that they first see their primary care physician to properly diagnose and begin treatment for any physical or emotional dis/ease they may have.


Tinctures ,Tonics and Teas: The Legend of the Four Thieves and the Healing Herbs and Oils that inspired it!


Palgue mask

It's flu season and many of us are experiencing strains of Influenza that are stronger than anything that we've known on the past. I myself caught it right before Christmas and I've never been quite as sick as I was for that week. It's fairly dangerous stuff, turning into pneumonia in many and leaving you with a cough that can last as it did in my case for over a month. I'm generally really healthy, but I caught it working retail over the holidays when I dove for a ringing phone line right after a sick manager had been using it. Live and learn! I refused to go back to work until they promised to wipe down the phones after each use!

I took myself to the urgent care center to have the nasal swab test so I knew what I was dealing with and once it was determined that I had the dreaded Influenza A,  I spent several days in bed and took care of myself using all of the remedies that I knew would help. Dayquil/Nyquil just made me feel worse so I didn't even try anymore after the first two times.

What worked?  Piping hot baths with drops of essential oils of lavender (relaxing) and sweet birch (to promote sweating) , as hot as I could stand them really seemed to help with the aches and fevers , copious cups of elderberry tea, with drops of sage, chapparal tincture and lavender essential oils and honey and plenty of immunity boosting chicken soup!

I always put herbs in my chicken soup, but when anyone around me is ill, I make a special pot using the herbs and spices that I know will be helpful. I take my cues from the mysterious legend of the 4 thieves, a story in the aromatherapy and herbal world that has taken on almost mythic proportions, but has plenty of validity when you break it down into it's component parts. The story of the 4 thieves is an interesting one. In short, the bubonic plague swept through Europe on and off for approximately 600 years before it finally reached it's peak in the 1300's and continuing to claim thousands of lives well into the 1700's, almost half of the population. This is the time period that we begin to see those drawings of physicians running around in those silly looking bird beaked masks. It turns out those masks really did have a purpose as the Doctors of the age stuffed the beaks with herbs, essential oils and spices to keep temselves from breathing the infected air.  

Invigo herbal
Image not attributable to original source

Around the same time a story was beginning to surface that to this day no one really knows if it was true. Supposedly 4 thieves who were incredibly successful at robbing the corpses of the plague ridden dead were caught ,brought to trial and offered leniency if they would turn over the formula that successfully kept them from contracting the illness. One look at some of the recipes makes complete sense to me. Lavender, sage ,cinnamon,turmuric,  garlic,rosemary,onion,mustard seed, cloves, oregano and lemon are all known and potent anti- inflammatory/ anti- microbials as are ginger root, thyme and olive oil, which they used as the base for the oil that they massaged into their skin and gloves. We really do not know for sure if these thieves ever existed, but regardless, the recipes are interesting , potent and wonderful!

Vietnamese Pho~ Wikipedia


All of these read like a delightful and powerful chicken soup recipe to me so into the soup pot they go! The Asian cultures have done this for years and I love it. There are restaurants that you can go into all over Vietnam, Thailand, Korea, Japan and China (these are only the countries that I know of , I'm sure that there are others!) and be diagnosed and cooked for at the same time proving once again that old adage..."Let your food be your medicine". Although I love a bowl of traditional chicken soup, the one I make is more like a bowl of Pho, with a spicy stock and shreds of organic chicken breast, shrimp or beef into which all of these potent herbs and spices go as well as whole basil leaves, slices of jalapeno , a dash of black salt and a squeeze of fresh lime. 

The other thing that I do is make a spray out of raw vinegar and these essential oils: Lemon, lavender, cinnamon, clove, rosemary, sage, oregano, white thyme and eucalyptus. Basically I use 2 cups of vinegar and 20 drops (a little goes a long way!) of each of these oils. Shake well before each use and spray them on countertops, telephones and other surfaces. These oils can also be diffused in a traditional aromatherapy diffuser and they do smell wonderful as well as healing! Eucalyptus oil, lemon,sage and lavender oils mixed with some extra virgin olive oil makes a very healing and delightfully aromatherapeutic chest rub.

If you are going to try to ingest any of these oils internally, only use a drop or two because they are potent. All of the oils that I have suggested are ingestible in minute amounts with the exception of the eucalyptus which you should never take internally. One or two drops of a couple of these (Please not all at once!) in a cup of tea with some elderberry syrup and raw honey will help you feel better quickly! If you have any questions at all , please do not hesitate to ask them in the comment section below or go to www.bethschreibmangehring.com to fill out a health history form and I'll get to back to you with a time a date that you can schedule a free, absolutely no obligation 50 minute health consult with me .

We can also easily stay in touch at https://www.facebook.com/bethschreibmangehringholistichealthcoach



Please note:

I am not a registered nutritionist , dietician or personal trainer. I am a Board Certified Holistic Health  ractitioner. Any advice that is given is based upon my own personal observations, opinions or experiences I've had in life and the training that I've accrued. 

 Many don't realize this but the  craft of herbalism is not regulated nor licensed by any governing body in the US. There are no real legal title designations for American herbalism. This means anyone who desires to do so can deem themselves an herbalist with any title they choose and any level of training. To maintain personal standards and relay the degree of learning obtained, herbalists in America typically use the title their school or teacher gave them . Use your own instincts to determine the level of expertise posessed by any practitioner that you consider using to help you enhance your health and well being. I am of the opinion myself that this places the onus on us to be teachers who will help you in your quest to become healthy and that if we do our job right you'll be able to understand and utilize these plants, foods and extracts yourself for your overall wellbeing.

As an Herbalist/Aromatherapist I will not ever diagnose your condition , treat you medically or interfere with any treatment that your Doctor may have prescribed. Keep in mind that every person and every body is different. Don't expect to have the same results as me (or anyone else). And while I don't think any of my behaviors are risky, they may be risky for you depending on your own personal health.  Herbs, Flower Essences and Essential Oils should always complement whatever treatments have been prescribed for you by your physician and never be used in place of such treatment without first obtaining your Doctors permission .  

 Herbs, Flower and Crystal Essences and Botanical Essential Oils can generally be used with and enhance almost any other form of therapy, however I do recommend that anyone becoming my client makes sure that they first see their primary care physician to properly diagnose and begin treatment for any physical or emotional dis/ease they may have.



Simmering in Milady's Cauldron : Chicken with Honey, Lavender, Sweet Curry, Onion and Lemon


Honey, Lavender and Lemon Chicken


This is the easiest recipe ever...and one of the loveliest using lavender , one of my very favorite herbs.  I kid you not, you can whip this up in five minutes...bake it for an hour and everyone will think that you're amazing. I love it, because in the dead of winter this dish will make you feel as if you're lucky enough to be living in Provence and in the summer it's an absolutely warm, oozing honeyed bliss on the end of your fork. If a recipe could have a vibe this one would be love....we can definitely attribute that to the lavender and the honey which promotes such sweetness. The lemon, onion and curry makes this recipe as sunny tasting as can be. The whole recipe doesn't contain a even a dollop of added fat...a real plus!

Lavender is one of my favorite herbs and I love using it in recipes whenever I can. I grow quite alot of it in my gardens, both in containers and in the ground. I enjoy Lavendula Augustifolia for cooking, most notably the variety called Munstead, which I think is sweeter  than many of the others,reminding me almost of a alvender scented Meyer lemon. Remember that Lavender likes sunlight and well drained soil. Not to wet, not too dry...That's what should keep your lovely plants happy all summer long!

 I've noticed that when I put it into a recipe like this that my dreams are sweeter and I relax into sleep so much easier. On a purely feminine note, I've also noticed that it cools down my hot flashes... a real plus. I'm sure that this is because lavender can adapt to almost any physical situation and has the ability to promote relaxation during the most stressful situations and imbalances. One of my favorite teas when I've got the blues is a infusion made from Lavender (make sure that you buy culinary lavender), linden leaves and flowers (a blissful nervine that is so relaxing), about 1/2 a cup of fresh pear juice, raw honey and lemon  . Just take 1/2 cup of each of the herbs and put them into a warmed teapot (put in some really hot water ,let sit for a few minutes and dump it out) along with the pear juice, the juice of one lemon and at least 4 tablespoons of raw honey. Add water that has been brought to a boil and then cooled to about 180 degrees. Stir once and let it steep for at least 4 minutes. Find your prettiest teacup and pour yourself a cup through a tea strainer. Add  some shortbread and find a comfortable chair, your favorite magazine and a soft blanket. The magic will happen with the first few sips and very quickly you will find yourself so relaxed that you'll probably be napping as soon as you've finished the first cup! Don't worry about wasting it, leftover it's wonderful iced tea!


Honey, Lavender, Lemon and Orange Blossom Vinegar


To make this chicken is sinfully simple. Buy one cut up organic roasting chicken. Thinly sliced a large spanish onion and place 3/4's of it on the bottom of a roasting pan. Lay the chicken on top of the onion and then sprinkle the rest of the onion among the chicken pieces. Salt and pepper to taste and sprinkle with a sweet curry  (this is my favorite, but any will do as long as it's not too strong). In a bowl mix the juice of two lemons, 1 heaping tablespoon of culinary lavender ( no more or it will taste soapy!), 2 tablespoons of orange blossom infused (another potent love philter:) balsamic vinegar and 1 cup of raw honey. Whisk it all together and pour it all over the chicken pieces. Marinate for about thirty minutes and then bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 45 minutes to an hour. You'll know when it's done because the chicken will be golden and the onions will be caramelized and decadent. 


Fork Tender with the most Delectable Pan Juices


Serve this on your prettiest china with a salad or simple grain like an herbed quinoa and some haricot vert (thin green beans) and a lovely chilled pear hard cider.I don't really like to drink wine with this dish because any of the more tannic varieties will not play well against the lavender but the honeyed sweetness of a good fruit cider will be perfect.  

Then light the candles, sit back and take a bite. Let the honey and lemon explode on your tongue and let the dreams of Lavender fields on a French summer's eve whisk you away to the most relaxing state of mind.


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Tinctures ,Tonics & Teas : Harvesting Wild Ramps



Last night, a friend posted a gorgoues picture of spring radishes on facebook and it started me thinking about wild ramp season! In fact, I'm so obsessed with wild ramps that I  had dreams about them all night and I woke up starving!  It's still early in February, and more snow is heading our way, but my half full cup says that it's almost Spring and what I'm dreaming about is a lovely trail ride through the woods with my favorite horse, Henry and my gathering basket, being seduced by the enticing flavour of the wild ramps that can can be found in early  March through mid April! Wild ramps are a seasonal vegetable, that used to be found from late March to mid May depending upon where you live, but the last few years have found the effects of climate change beginning to change their growing season. If you've never tasted a wild ramp, trust me, you'll love them. The flavor is of a wild garlicky leek and like all edible members of the Allium family they have an immediate and pronounced tonic effect on our circulatory and immune systems.  I love to use them in soups and stews, and have even been know to eat one or two of them raw with fresh sweet butter and bit of French sea salt. I love to add one or two of them to my juicer along with carrots, tomatoes, peppers, garlic and cucumber for my morning juice and this very same juice has been known to double as a perfect base for a Bloody Mary!  I cook and puree them with asparagus, wild mushrooms and cream for a wonderful spring soup and  I love to stuff them under the skin of a roasting chicken or toss them in the stock pot when I'm making bone broth!



If you're out in the woods  you'll know that you've found a patch of them when your nose picks up a spicy garlicky aroma, amid the yummy fresh greens and sweet dirt smells of spring. They are beautiful plants with fleshy, vibrant green leaves and purple shoots that lead into a lovely familiar looking white bulb. When you're harvesting them just take a few of the shoots and leave the rest, trust me, a few is all you will need because the flavour is intense!  If you don't have time to go find your own, the good news is that wild ramps will have been harvested for you by many of the wonderful Eastern farmers who have booths at the outdoor markets that begin in the Spring.  That being said, it's a wonderful thing to happen upon a patch of wild ramps and a terrific excuse for a walk on the early spring forests but it's always important to remember to harvest any wild plant appropriately- here are a few tips!

A Few of my Rules About Harvesting Wild Foods!

Always make sure that you know what you are harvesting. Get a really good guide book, and if possible go with someone who knows how to distinguish between similar looking plants. Old farmers are usually a great source of information, but please leave wild mushroom harvesting to the pros!

Take a smaller amount than what you think you need and if possible gather from several different spots.

Always make sure that you have permission to gather on the land that you're foraging.

When you gather wild foods, make sure that you leave dirt on the roots, and keep a moist towel with you to wrap them in. I like to use cloth dishtowels, because I think that paper towels are too absorbent for the delicate roots.

Use a small hand cultivator to harvest your wild plants, and when you are choosing which plants to take, (as goofy as this may sound!) simply ask them! It's my experience that plants that are ready to be picked simply slide out of the earth more easily. If you get some real resistance, move on to the next one, and please don't pull on them so hard that they are damaged! There will always be one or two that will be happy to go home with you! A gentle tug is all that they need and then a light twist of your cultivator to help release them.

Like the Native Americans before us walk gently on the earth wherever you are and when you gather wild things  please consider leaving something in return. The tradition of giving back to the earth is a very old one used by the Native Americans who were the first to farm this land. I've always got something in my pocket (corn, hay, a little  bit of compost) to leave as a thank you when I take any plants from the wild. I know it sounds silly, but for me it completes the circle of harvest and life!

Food for Thought: Plant Healer Magazine

Plant Healer Banner

I love it when I find magazines  that stay true to the roots of Traditional Herbalism. Plant Healer Magazine is one of the loveliest that I've seen to date with articles by pioneering Herbalists like Rosemary Gladstar, Susan Weed, Kiva Rose and Matthew Wood to name a few. The artwork is a feast for the eyes as wells, but truly this is some of the purist, loveliest herbal information and education that you'll find anywhere and I think that you'll really enjoy it!

Wise Woman Traditions: We are all Healers!





“My belief is that it’s the caring of the healer that’s most important, but no one’s going to be able to test for that.”

—Stephen Buhner, Herbalist


“I would never choose a healer according to whether or not they had credentials. I’d find someone through word of mouth.”  Rosemary Gladstar, Herbalist



“Shamanic healers don't claim to have the answer or know the answer or be the answer; they remind us that the answer lies within ourselves.” Susan Weed, Herbalist


As I type this, I am sitting in Southern California in the warm sunshine looking out over my sister’s garden. This is a place that I love, a state where the healing herbs that I use everyday grow as wild as weeds. A simple walk around her garden this morning produced armfuls of rosemary, lavender and sage, pink peppercorns and thyme, nasturtiums and aloe. A glorious eucalyptus tree and brilliant pink hibiscus have produced many a tea for a winters chill and the loquat tree is top heavy with the sweet vitamin C filled fruit just waiting to ripen and be eaten fresh or turned into luscious jars of jam and chutney.  The abundance is extraordinary.


Fresh Jasmine and Green Tea ~ Source Unknown


Being out here makes me grateful for the teachers that I have been given. I have known and been fortunate to have been trained by many incredible healers; men and women who walked their talk and encouraged me to always use my instincts to learn everything that I could about the healing plants that can be found in the world around us.


The overwhelming lesson from them all?



Take responsibility and learn everything that you can to become your own healer. Use your instincts and take control of your healing journey because you are accountable and responsible for your health in a way that no one else can be. Don’t rely upon titles, rely upon your instincts to tell you what feels right.


I find this to be a really empowering message because I have watched over the years as friends and family members have given over all of their power to a dominant system of medicine and “big pharma” sometimes to their detriment. I’ve got plenty of Doctors in my family and I’m grateful for the expertise of that community when I need it, but always as a last resort, not the first. Prevention is key and I think that it’s important to   work to promote health in an organic and sustainable way.


My overwhelming thoughts are always this and they’re definitely not original at all; You are what you eat and your food is your best medicine; this includes the wonderful healing herbs that are growing plentifully all around us. Food DOES matter and so does movement, emotion, relationship, career, spirituality and environment. These are all of the primary food groups that create balance in your life. When one is out of balance, they all begun to topple like dominoes.


It’s a whole new world for alternative healing in 2013 than it was back when I was first learning so very long ago. Reiki and massage are mainstream practices that are universally accepted and the herbs that I used to have to harvest myself are readily available on the shelves of most grocery stores. I think this is a wonderful thing, because it places the responsibility directly on the shoulders of the consumer to learn to take care of themselves. Please make sure to educate yourselves. It used to be that there was an Community Herbalist in every village and  an Herbalist in every home. Every wife and grandmother knew how to make the tinctures and tonics that they needed and the recipes and formulas were passed down through the generations.


Medieval Text ~ Source Unknown


Always use your instincts when choosing someone to work with. Many don't realize this but the titles Herbalist, Certified herbalist or Master herbalist are not regulated by any governing body in the US. We are allowed to educate and give you the information or lifestyle changes that you can then use to make a decision for yourself, but we are not allowed to diagnose nor are we allowed to prescribe. I actually like these constraints a lot. It means that if you are my client that I am charged with empowering and inspiring you to create and become responsible for your health. If I do my job right, in 6 months when our work together is done you don’t need me!


Medieval Mortar & Pestle


I don’t ever want to see herbalism go the way of the big pharmaceuticals, synthesized and harnessed with regulations and restrictions so that this gentle and effective system for healing becomes a pawn simply to be exploited financially and eventually compromised so that it is no longer recognizable. It is my dream to see Folk Herbalism accepted and promoted once again in a way that teaches everyone to be responsible for their health and well being by using the best quality herbals that they can grow, wild-craft or buy.


To maintain personal standards and relay the degree of learning obtained, herbalists in America typically use the title their schools or teachers gave them however to be an Herbalist is to realize that you will always be learning, that you will never know everything because we are dealing with a science that is constantly shifting and evolving.


Climate change alone has begun to change the way that many of us can grow and harvest our herbs. It requires us to be in complete touch with ourselves and the health of this planet to insure our very survival. It places the onus on real life experience and actual results.


Most of the pioneering herbalists who are responsible for forwarding this movement in the United States do not carry a title and are busy ensuring that this form of the Peoples Medicine always stays free and accessible to the communities that need it. Always consult your pharmacist before using any herbs to make sure that there are no contraindications with any medicines you might be taking, even something as simple as aspirin or Tylenol. They are generally the most well versed in what will be problematic chemical relationships and I have found most of them to be very open-minded and eager to be helpful so don’t be afraid to ask for their advice. Herbs are not risk free and they are powerful natural medicines. Getting this simple information allows herbal medicine to maintain its credibility and integrity in a way that licensing and regulation never will.



Source Unknown~ But Beautiful!


The good news is that there are many wonderful online courses that are available where you can learn the art of healing and herbalism for yourself from some really great teachers.  I would really encourage you to take one of them and learn as much as you can.  Practice, open yourself up to the world around you and enjoy yourself. Write your own book of recipes, use them, pass them down, You will be embarking on a healing journey and sharing a tradition that is totally organic and ages old and a life long exploration into being responsible for your own health and wellness that you will truly enjoy.


Here are some of  my favorites: