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Tinctures , Tonics and Teas ~ Elderflower Cordial



Elderflower cordial

Today I'm making the elderflower cordial that was taught to me by my dear friend Jane Toth, our dedicated Western Reserve Herb Society Garden Chair. Beautiful snowy Elderflowers have been traditionally used for centuries in German medicine. They are thought to have antioxidant properties as well as anti inflammatory and antiviral effects, which is why they're probably still  used in this century  as a popular remedy to help fight off colds and flu. Elderflowers can be brewed as an herbal tea as well, but Jane’s recipe is one of the best I’ve ever tried, and it produces a delicious sweet cordial that she freezes and uses all year long simply to enjoy or when she feels just a wee bit under the weather!

I've added ginger root and turmeric to mine for extra anti -inflammatory and immune support and simply because it gives it a lovely spicy taste!  Just boil 7 cups of spring water and melt in 2 pounds of sugar and a cup of honey. Add the sliced lemon( about 4 of them), 2 ounces of citric acid and a sliced ginger root and turmeric root. Then stir in about thirty elderflower heads that you’ve shaken the bugs off of and clipped all but the teensiest stems from  the stems from.

Don’t forget this important step. Many don’t realize that  the elderberry plant contains a cyanide-inducing glycoside. Eating a enough  of these  can cause a  buildup of cyanide in the body and make you quite ill, so only use the tiniest stems! I take a flower, pinch the stems up to the top and clip it there. This insures that I get only the smallest amount of stem. 

Once you’ve stirred the elderflowers in , let the mixture sit covered with a clean linen towel for the next 48 hours, stirring occasionally. Then bottle it and freeze or put it into mason jars and can it in a nice hot water bath. Serve this cordial stirred into sparkling water , over lemon sorbet or mixed into a classic vodka and soda! If you prefer, do as my friend Jane does and pour it into a cordial glass to simply sip! However you choose to enjoy it, having a few bottles of this cordial around will insure that you have the experience of summer all year round!

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

The Witches Kitchen-Snowed In!



The Witches Kitchen-Snowed In!

It has been so cold and snowy all week long and it just keeps coming down. That's a picture of my brave postman..the only person out on the road yesterday. I don't know about you but my inclination always is to hunker down and start cooking in this sort of weather!

I think that for weather like this that there is nothing quite as wonderful as roasted chicken. ( and possibly a delightful Cabernet !) Slowly roasted chicken is one of the loveliest meals that I can think of and it is so easy . It's also the recipe that I give out the most. If you're intimidated by it you shouldn't be . Just write me and I'll get you through it!

Shown here is approximately one weeks meals from one chicken. We started last Sunday by roasting the bird in a fragrant mirepoix of carrots, celery , onions , squash and garlic . I slathered an herb seasoned butter underneath the skin and stuffed it with fresh lemons, onions ,fresh sage and garlic. I roasted it at 350 for about 2 hours and basted it with drippings and a bit of broth every 15 minutes. I made a huge pot of risotto with Parmesan and peas and that's what we ate that evening.

I made some chicken salad the next day and the day after that mixed the chicken and some steamed asparagus with the left over risotto. On Thursday the whole thing, chicken, mirepoix and risotto became a huge pot of soup that we've been enjoying all weekend.

All this bliss from one 7 pound chicken! It makes being snowed in a joy!

If you would like the recipes please feel free to email me at [email protected]. Please put "snowed in chicken recipes" in the subject line!

The Witches Kitchen-Snowed In!


Reaping the Harvest ~ Fried Green Tomatoes!


Reaping the Harvest~ Fried Green Tomatoes!

A bumper crop of tomatoes means a lot of things to me. Pasta Sauce,tomato and goat cheese tarts,tomato sandwiches, BLTs AND FRIED GREEN TOMATOES!

If you've never had a fried green tomato then you're missing out on one of lifes greatest treats. This is seasonal food at it finest... FGT's just don't taste right at any other time of the year. I was making a slow cooked garlic chicken for dinner tonight and the dish was just crying for a crunchy fried tomato dipped into a creamy Parmesan Sriracha sauce!

Out into the garden I went and brought in several fine specimens. I sliced them and dipped them into a trio of deliciousness ..first a buttermilk and Sriracha mixture, next a beaten egg and last but not least cornbread mix blended with chili seasoning .

To fry them I filled my cast iron skillet 1/4 of the way full of Canola oil and turned the heat on underneath it. I waited until it was hot enough ( the tomatoes should begin to fry as soon as they hit the oil!) and fried the tomatoes in several batches, flipping them several times until I got the right shad of golden brown. Take them out of the pan and lay them on paper towels to soak up the excess oil .

You could serve them with horseradish sauce but I mixed up a sauce of buttermilk, mayonnaise , garlic, shredded parmesan, cayenne and Sriracha .

Serve these while hot... I promise that there's nothing like the creamy taste of the tomato bursting through underneath the crunchy cornmeal coating. Be sure to make enough... They disappear quickly! A platter of these and a ice cold IPA is a summertime feast!



Reaping the Harvest ~ Fresh Peaches, Barbecued Salmon, Loreena McKennitt & Thou

Sep 4, 2013

I love late night summer porch dinners and last night was no exception. The air was cool (I'm always wondering how a chill just automatically comes to be in the air on those first days of September! ) and the street was beginning to smell of woodsmoke.  There was gorgeous wild salmon on sale at Whole Foods so I bought two pieces.  I then marinated them in a bourbon , maple barbecue sauce ( easy, easy to do.. get your favorite hickory sauce and add bourbon, cinnamon and maple to taste!)   sauteed them until done and set aside.

The white peaches are still lovely so I sliced them and mixed them with some fresh berries, pineapple mint, basil , fresh stevia and then drizzled them with a dressing of agave and honey orange balsamic !

Zucchini steamed and then sautéed in buttermilk then sprinkled with herbs and Parmesan and some end of summer sweet corn completed the meal. Truthfully, this meal took no more than 30 minutes to create from start until finish. Simple ingredients like these prepared without fuss are sometimes the best medicine for a long and drowsy sort of day! A glass of Syrah and some Loreena Mckennit on my jambox made the evening so very sweet, then off to bed , snuggled under the blankets with the windows open wide to let in the cool, sweet autumn air!


Reaping the Harvest ~ Fresh Tomatoes & Buttermilk Bleu Cheese Dressing

Sep 1, 2013


Goddess I love tomatoes! I plant way too many .. at least 5 different varieties and they all grow up into a gigantic tomato jungle! I adore the smell of the crushed fresh leaves and I don't think that anyone will disagree with me when I say that a handful of fresh cherry tomatoes , sun warmed and right off of the vine is a better meal than can be found at any fancy restaurant . I feed them, ( organic chicken manure pellets) water them , sing to them and generally forget about them until late August when I suddenly have a bumper crop and it's time to harvest!


The Witches Kitchen~ Buttermilk Blue Cheese Dressing

The Witches Kitchen~ Buttermilk Blue Cheese Dressing

Yesterday I was out in the garden and I noticed an enormous heirloom tomato, perfectly ripened and begging for some attention. I hadn't eaten breakfast yet, so I picked it. Normally I'd just eat it straight off of the vine but this one was literally the size of two fists. So I picked it , brought it into the kitchen , sliced it and put it on a bed of vibrant baby kale . I was out if purple onion or there would have been some of that too!

It was luscious all by itself, but it was begging me for a light dressing. Suddenly, I was seized by the desire for some bleu cheese dressing!

Lately I've been obsessed with buttermilk as an ingredient and I just happened to have some...and I also had some exquisite Rogue Creamery Smokey Bleu cheese! From there it was easy. For one and a half cups of dressing I blended with a fork 1 cup of fresh buttermilk and a half a cup of bleu cheese . ( this would have been just as good with Roquefort !) then I added a couple of teaspoons of chopped pecans, a clove of mashed garlic, literally half a teaspoon of organic ketchup, a dash of cayenne pepper, 3 dashes of Worcestershire sauce and then seasoned it with salt and pepper.

The result was light, zesty, healthy ,delicious and so much better than you could ever get from a bottle! Just so you know, if you don't have access to the Smokey Bleu cheese you can use regular bleu cheese and add a couple of drops of organic liquid smoke which will provide the same flavor!


The Witches Kitchen ~ Creamy Leek Tart

What a wonderful evening we had last night! Just as Jim and I were about go out to Whole Foods to enjoy Foodie Friday ( our absolute favorite 8.00 date night ~ 5 wines and five foods!!) my darling neighbor Michelle leaned over the row of blackberries and said" do you and Jim have any plans tonight?"" Let me convince you to come over for dinner!" Then she began to regale me with descriptions of sliced fresh peaches, grass fed filet, fresh sweet corn and the piece de resistance.. A fresh leek and gruyere tart!

So began a delightfully spontaneous evening spent with dear friends and their adorable children, a couple of bottles of perfect wine and that utterly unforgettable tart!

It has only 5 ingredients; gruyere cheese, butter, cream , leeks and a crust.
Just take a store bought pie crust and mold it into a fluted tart pan. Set aside.
Then sauté 3 chopped leeks in 2 tablespoons of butter. Add 1 cup of cream and simmer for a minute and then stir in 1 and 1/4 cups of shredded gruyere cheese. Pour the leek mixture into the tart shell and bake for about 30 minutes in a preheated 375 degree oven. Allow to sit for ten minutes, cut into wedges and serve!

You owe it to yourself to make this at least once! A simple side salad and a luscious glass of wine is all that's needed to turn this into a perfect meal!

The Witches Kitchen ~ Creamy Leek Tart

Kitchen Apothecary ~ Fresh Herb and Buttermilk Soup


Kitchen Apothecary ~ Fresh Herb and Buttermilk Soup
Fresh Herb and Buttermilk Soup

This last weekend was my husband's annual guy-trek to the Indy car races. He goes with the same friends every year and every year his normally good eating habits get tossed to the wayside. Too much red meat, simple carbohydrates, lots and lots of beer and cigars are what he ingests for 4 days straight. Needless to say when he gets home it's time for a bit of a cleanse!

My gardens are wonderful this year because we've had so much rain here in Ohio and my herbs are really lush. It seemed like an herbal soup would be a good tonic to help him process all of that red meat, so into the garden I went. The following is a recipe that you can use all year round with whatever you're growing inside or out. It's really easy to prepare and it can be made in the blender, vitamix or on top of the stove. 

To start with slice a large cleaned leek (greens and all!) and put it into a pot with about 6 cups of organic chicken or faux chicken broth and let it simmer until the leek is soft. Take an immersion blender and blend the leek into the broth. Add three cups of fresh herbs (I used basil, dill, rosemary, parsley, sage, oregano, marjoram, summer savory, lemon thyme, tarragon , bronze fennel and chives!) simmer for a minute or two and blend once more until the herbs are incorporated. Add some salt and pepper to taste and a pint of buttermilk (more if you want it!) . Let the whole thing simmer for a few minutes and then serve it in bowls with fresh buttered croutons and a sprinkling of feta or parmesan cheese. It would also be wonderful without the buttermilk and served with soba noodles. The aroma is amazing...

To wet his appetite I served a salad of fresh golden beets with onions, fin herbes, creamy burrata cheese and peppery arugula. 

Green herbal energy in a bowl! Your body and your taste buds will thank you! 

Kitchen Apothecary ~ Fresh Herb and Buttermilk Soup
Golden beet and Burrata Salad