Monday, December 4, 2017

Winter Spice Bath or Massage Oil - Bath Blend of the Month

This amazing oil feels so good on the skin! It absorbs well without feeling greasy and the combination of scents is holiday festive and invigorating.

Winter Spice Bath or Massage Oil
8 fluid ounces Jojoba oil
1 teaspoon Vitamin E oil
10 drops Peppermint essential oil

10 drops Douglas Fir essential oil
4 drops Vanilla Extract

Pour jojoba and vitamin E into a generous 8 ounce bottle. Add essential oils and carefully add 2 drops of Vanilla Extract. Shake well to combine. Keep tightly lidded when not using.
To Use: Drizzle a little of this oil in a warm bath or use as a massage oil.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Another Edible Gift - Herbal Holiday Cookies

Check out the first post with Tarragon Mustard that also shows all the links for the Gift Card Giveaway.  You can enter the giveaway until Midnight on Wednesday November 22, 2017

This rosy cider simmers for just 10 minutes, making a great choice for drop-in visitors or last-minute parties. Great served with Christmas Cookies.

Rosie Christmas Cider
small orange, halved
teaspoon whole cloves
cups apple cider or apple juice
cups cranberry juice
tablespoon honey
inches stick cinnamon

Push tips of cloves into orange rinds. 
 In a 4- to 6-quart Dutch oven, combine cider, cranberry juice and honey. Add clove-studded orange halves and stick cinnamon. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, covered, for 10 minutes. Discard orange halves and cinnamon sticks before serving.

Holiday Spice Cookies
Cookies always take some planning and a bit of effort, but the recipients of these cookie gifts will be grinning all through the holiday.  And the spicy flavor makes them a perfect complement to the Cider recipe above.

Chewy Spice Cookies
2 cups all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled 
3 1/4 teaspoons Cinnfull Dessert Blend*
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda 
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper 
3/4 cup vegetable shortening (preferably trans-fat-free) 
2/3 cup packed light brown sugar 
1 large egg 
1/2 cup molasses 
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 
1/4 cup granulated sugar 

Heat oven to 350° F. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, Cinnful Dessert Blend, baking soda, salt, and pepper. Using an electric mixer, beat the shortening and sugar on medium-high speed until fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Reduce speed to low and beat in the egg, molasses, and vanilla. Add the flour mixture, mixing just until combined (do not over mix).  Place the granulated sugar on a plate. Roll heaping tablespoonfuls of the dough into balls; roll in the sugar to coat. Place on parchment-lined baking sheets, spacing them 2 inches apart. Using a glass, press the balls to a ⅜-inch thickness and sprinkle with more granulated sugar.  Bake, rotating the sheets halfway through, until the edges are firm, 10 to 12 minutes. Cool slightly on the baking sheets, then transfer to racks to cool completely. Store the cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days.

*Email me at if you want a substitute spice blend for the Cinnful Desert Blend mentioned in the recipe.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Herbal Gifting and Giveaways

I decided to give my guests some holiday cash!  In addition to helping you make some herbal and edible gifts this Christmas, we are kicking off the holiday posts with a gift card giveaway.  Scroll past the recipe to find all the details.  And stop back for more recipes and entry reminders in the coming days.

Make a hand-made mustard and pair it with Herbal Honey for a perfect homemade gift.  They this sophisticated mustard that is very simple to make.

Tarragon Mustard
1/4 cup black mustard seeds
1/4 cup yellow mustard seeds
1/4 cup dry powdered mustard
3/4 cup cold water
1/4 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon dried tarragon
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice

Mix mustard seeds, powdered mustard, and water in the upper pan of a lined, glass or stainless steel  double boiler. Let stand at least three hours. In another stainless steel or enamel saucepan, mix the wine, vinegar, tarragon, and allspice and bring to a boil. Strain the liquid into the mustard mixture and blend well.  In the lower pan of the double boiler, heat water to boiling, then reduce heat to a simmer. Place the upper pan, containing the mustard mixture, on top. Cook, stirring, until the mustard is as thick as you like. It will thicken a bit more as it cools. Cover and refrigerate.

Mustard keeps for an extended time, so make ahead and give as a gift, just tell the recipient to keep it refrigerated and bring freshness into their winter cooking.

Now if you do not want to make all your gifts, then check out these great gift cards we are giving away and visit some great blogs in the process!

Enter for your chance to win $300 in gift cards from Amazon, Target, Walmart, and Kohls. There will be 5 winners in all!
We are so excited to be giving away $300 in cash prizes for you to use starting this Thanksgiving weekend. Here are the prizes: 1 - $100 Amazon Gift Card 1 - $75 Target Gift Card 2 - $50 Walmart Gift Card 1 - $25 Kohls Gift Card And a $20 Starbucks gift card as an extra bonus winner!! There will be 6 winners in this giveaway. Each winner will receive a gift card code to use on the online store or in the actual store. Now its time to meet our wonderful co-hosts who have made this giveaway possible.
  Cash for Christmas hostsStarting at the top row we have: Sinea Pies - Ducks 'n a Row, Susan Renker - Culinary Envy, Linda Cassidy - A Labour of Life, Sarah Louderback - Devastate Boredom, Melissa Russo - The Farm Girl Gabs, Monica Geglio - Mommy & Love, Tammy Doiel - Creative K Kids, Kim Purvis - Made in a Day, Meredith Spidel - The Mom of the Year, Audrey Humaciu - That Recipe, Michelle James - Our Crafty Mom, Christine Luken - Your Strong Tower, Kari Carter (Jonard) - Keep it Simple, DIY, Trish Sutton - By Trish Sutton, Marie Dabbs - The Inspiration Vault, Marcy Lautanen-Raleigh - Backyard Patch Herbal Blog, Carrie Albrecht - Curly Crafty Mom, Whitney Johnson - Beauty, Baby, and a Budget, Lauren Becker - Shooting Stars Mag, Lauren Kim - Mom Home Guide, Leslie Clingan - Once Upon a Time & Happily Ever After, Carol Bray - The Red Painted Cottage, Emily Fish - Domestic Deadline, Kenyatta Harris - My Design Rules, Dana Lardner - Goods Giving Back & How In The World, Habiba Elkaihel - Craftify My Love, Tammy Adams - My Life Abundant, Pam Lamore - P.S. I Love You Crafts  Erlene Amat - My Pinterventures

 Please stop by and say hi to these wonderful ladies and their blogs. The giveaway will end midnight on Wednesday, November 22nd, the night before Thanksgiving. You will have 48 hours to respond to the email claiming the prize. If you respond right away, we will get you the gift card code promptly so that you can shop with it on Black Friday! If we don't hear in 48 hours, we will choose another winner. a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Brown Sugar Body Scrub - Bath Blend of the Month

Body scrubs are a great way to protect your skin form moisture loss and give it a smooth and wonderful feel.  This sweet smelling body scrub will leave you with silky smooth skin!

Brown Sugar and Vanilla Body Scrub 

1 cup brown sugar
½ cup granulated sugar
½ + 3 Tbls sunflower oil
¼ tsp vanilla extract

Blend sugars together in a bowl, add oil and vanilla.  Mix well.  Place in an old fashioned canning or jelly jar and wrap up as a gift!

To Use: scoop out two fingers worth and massage into skin.  Be careful as the oil can make the tub slippery.

Friday, November 3, 2017

Whipped Herbal Honey Butter - Weekend Recipe

One of my favorite meal items when I eat out is the mini loaf of wheat bread and butter you get at the Outback Restaurant.  I do not go out there very often however, so I found a way to make a honeyed butter with herbs that is an improvement on that sweet restaurant treat so I do not have to wait until my next birthday to have some.

Herbal Honey Whipped Butter

¼ cup honey
1 Tbls. finely minced fresh herbs (like lavender, rosemary, marjoram or lemon thyme)
½ cup unsalted butter, softened

Heat the honey in the microwave until just warm (about 30 to 454 seconds.)  Stir in the herbs, cover with plastic wrap and place in refrigerator for 24 hours.  Skim the herbs from the top and discard.  Bring honey to room temperature and whip for 1 minute with a hand held mixer set at medium speed.  Add butter and mix 30 seconds more until mixture is light and creamy.

Because honey has a great shelf life and anti-bacterial qualities, you can store this covered in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks.  It should always be served at room temperature for best flavor.

What can you use whipped butter on?

  • ·         Savory whipped butter can be piped onto dishes to make your food look extra fancy. Garnish foods with savory whipped butter directly before serving to preserve your pretty presentation,
    ·         While savory whipped butter is best the same day made, it can be made ahead and kept in the refrigerator until it's time to serve.
    ·         You can pair savory whipped butter with dessert! A chili-infused whipped butter, for instance, would pair nicely with brownies, and a basil-lemon flavored whipped butter would be a delight with a lemon tart.
    ·         Chives, thyme, sage, and rosemary make a fantastic pairing as a steak or meat topping.
    ·         Use a bit of mustard in the butter instead of honey and you make a fantastic butter for sandwiches and burgers (as a bonus, it's tasty for dipping fries, chips, or pretzels, too),
    ·         Add a savory whipped butter to spicy soup such as gazpacho

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Halloween, Herbs and Hobgoblins

Halloween is populated with many characters the most popular are witches.  But Fairies are often associated with Halloween too, now most fairies are considered shy and withdrawn hiding in gardens and enjoying blooms, but a more mischievous version of a fairy is called a hobgoblin, often considered to be fearsome creatures, that historically just brought bad luck. But there are three deadly herbs that are often found in literature about Halloween Witches. Incense is often burned by witches and those conducting magic.  An incense made with frankincense, myrrh and dill was used to ward off hobgoblins.
Hobgoblin beer logo

A selection of other herbs are often associated with being used to create mischief as well, some are even poisons, yet still used in some magick and healing.

These three herbs are often called the witching herbs, perhaps because each can cause hallucinations:

Henbane Hyoscyamus niger

Hyoscyamus niger, commonly known as henbane, black henbane or stinking nightshade, is a poisonous plant in the family Solanaceae. The name henbane dates at least to AD 1265. The origins of the word are unclear, but "hen" probably originally meant death rather than referring to chickens. Other etymologies of the word associate it with the Indo-European stem *bhelena whose hypothetical meaning is 'crazy plant.' Henbane was historically used in combination with other plants, such as mandrake, deadly nightshade, and jimsom weed as an anesthetic potion, as well as for its psychoactive properties in "magick brews". These psychoactive properties include visual hallucinations and a sensation of flight.

Henbane was one of the ingredients in gruit, traditionally used in beers as a flavoring. Several cities, most notably Pilsen, were named after its German name "Bilsenkraut" in the context of its production for beer flavoring. The recipe for henbane beer includes dried chopped henbane herbage, bayberry,  water, brewing malt, honey, dried yeast, and brown sugar. Henbane fell out of usage for beer when it was replaced by hops in the 11th to 16th centuries, as the Bavarian Purity Law of 1516 outlawed ingredients other than barley, hops, yeast, and water.

In 2008, celebrity chef Antony Worrall Thompson recommended henbane as a "tasty addition to salads" in the August 2008 issue of Healthy and Organic Living magazine. He subsequently said he had made an error, confusing the herb with fat hen, a member of the spinach family. He apologized, and the magazine sent subscribers an urgent message stating, "[henbane] is a very toxic plant and should never be eaten".
Plants like Henbane should only be collected and used by people who are very experienced.  The plant H. niger is susceptible to considerable diversity of character, causing varieties which have by some been considered as distinct species. Thus the plant is sometimes annual, the stem almost unbranched, smaller and less downy than in the biennial form, the leaves shorter and less hairy and the flowers often yellow, without any purple markings. The annual plant also flowers in July or August, the biennial in May and June.

The annual and biennial form spring indifferently from the same crop of seed, the former growing during summer to a height of from 1 to 2 feet, and flowering and perfecting seed, the latter producing the first season only a tuft of radical leaves, which disappear in winter, leaving underground a thick, fleshy root, from the crown of which arises in spring a branched, flowering stem, usually much taller and more vigorous than the flowering stems of the annual plants. The annual form is apparently produced by the weaker and later developed seeds formed in the fruit at the ends of the shoots; it is considered to be less active than the typical species and differs in being of dwarfed growth and having rather paler flowers. 

Henbane will grow on most soils, in sandy spots near the sea, on chalky slopes, and in cultivation flourishing in a good loam. It is, however, invasive in its growth, the seeds being prone to lie dormant for a season or more, refusing to germinate at all in some places, and the crop varying without any apparent reason, sometimes dying in patches. In some maritime locations it can be grown without any trouble. It requires a light, moderately rich and well-drained soil for successful growth and an open, sunny situation, but does not want much attention beyond keeping the ground free from weeds.

Belladonna Atropa belladonna

Atropa belladonna, commonly known as belladonna or deadly nightshade, is a perennial herbaceous plant in the nightshade family Solanaceae, which includes tomatoes, potatoes, and eggplant. It is native to Europe, North Africa, and Western Asia. Its distribution extends from Great Britain in the west to western Ukraine and the Iranian province of Gilan in the east. It is also naturalized and/or introduced in some parts of Canada and the United States. The foliage and berries are extremely toxic, containing tropane alkaloids. These toxins include atropine, scopolamine and hyoscyamine, which cause a bizarre delirium and hallucinations. Atropa belladonna has unpredictable effects. The antidote for belladonna poisoning is the same as for atropine.

It has a long history of use as a medicine, cosmetic, and poison. Before the Middle Ages, it was used as an anesthetic for surgery; the ancient Romans used it as a poison (the wife of Emperor Augustus and the wife of Claudius both were rumored to have used it for murder); and, predating this, it was used to make poison-tipped arrows. The genus name Atropa comes from Atropos ("unable to be turned aside"), one of the three Fates in Greek mythology, who cut the thread of life after her sisters had spun and measured it; and the name "bella donna" is derived from Italian and means "beautiful woman" because the herb was used in eye-drops by women to dilate the pupils of the eyes to make them appear seductive.

Belladonna was first found in the Southern and Central Europe. It is now cultivated in other parts of the world such as Sweden, Britain, North America, Asia, etc. In many countries, it is considered as a poisonous weed. In India too, belladonna is grown widely.

Mandrake Mandragora officinarum

Mandragora officinarum is the type species of the plant genus Mandragora. It is often known as mandrake, although this name is also used for other plants. A mandrake is the root of a plant, historically derived either from plants of the genus Mandragora found in the Mediterranean region, or from other species, such as Bryonia alba, the English mandrake, which have similar properties. The plants from which the root is obtained are also called "mandrakes".

The name derives from the fact the branching root was often similar to the shape of a man. Mediterranean mandrakes are perennial herbaceous plants with ovate leaves arranged in a rosette, a thick upright root, often branched, and bell-shaped flowers followed by yellow or orange berries. They have been placed in different species by different authors. They are a variable perennial herbaceous plants with long thick roots (often branched) and almost no stem. The leaves are borne in a basal rosette, and are very variable in size and shape, with a maximum length of 18 inches. They are usually either elliptical in shape or wider towards the end, with varying degrees of hairiness.

Mandrake from Harry Potter Series
Because mandrakes contain deliriant, hallucinogenic, tropane alkaloids and the shape of their roots often resembles human figures, they have been associated with a variety of superstitious practices throughout history. Accidental poisoning is not uncommon. Ingesting mandrake root is likely to have other adverse effects such as vomiting and diarrhea. In the past, mandrake was often made into amulets which were believed to bring good fortune, cure sterility, etc. In one superstition, people who pull up this root will be condemned to hell, and the mandrake root would scream as it was pulled from the ground, killing anyone who heard it.  Therefore, in the past, people have tied the roots to the bodies of animals and then used these animals to pull the roots from the soil. They have long been used in magick rituals, today also in contemporary pagan traditions such as Wicca and Odinism. 

So burn your incense and keep away the hobgoblins and try not to get into too much mischief this Halloween.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Elderberry Cordial Halloween Weekend Recipe

A plant with strong ties to Halloween is the elderberry, Sambucus nigra. A small, bushy tree with white flowers and almost black berries, the elderberry was associated with the Germanic goddess Holle (or sometimes Hulda) and was named Hollerbeier for her. 
Guardian of the dead, the goddess survives today in caricature as a Halloween witch. But as Frau Holle, she was a caring grandmother and wise crone. She helped souls cross over and took messages to them—perhaps written in elderberry juice ink. She is often seen as being half white and half black or being in both the world of the living and the dead.
Frau Holle, as she is known in Germany, was called The Queen of the Witches. The brothers Grimm tell a story of step-sisters who both go to visit Frau Holle in the 'nether realms'. They begin their journey to her by falling in a well........... Sandra Kleinshimdt, Encyclopedia Mythica
With the influx of German immigrants to the United States before the turn of the last century, these traditions were brought here.  In North America, European immigrants found their elderberry’s close relative, S. canadensis, and continued their traditions. People carried pieces of its wood for protection, tied prayers to its branches and left apples beneath it as offerings. Among the Pennsylvania Dutch it is a the number one magical plant.

The elderberry is revered for its health benefits.  Since the time of Hippocrates, the benefits of taking elderberry in all its forms have been touted and shared. A tea from its flowers treats cold and flu symptoms, substantiated by the German Commission E (that country’s equivalent of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration), and its berries are rich in antioxidants and vitamin C. 
Flowering Elderberry courtesy of Tina Sams
So I felt it only perfect to share an Elderberry Cordial recipe for the weekend.  The dark purple color also makes it perfect for a Halloween gathering!

Elderberry Cordial
recipe adapted from Hollerbeier Haven newletter
1 quart fresh ripe elderberries, stems removed (frozen will do also, but not dried)
1 cup water
1/2-inch piece of ginger root
1 teaspoon whole cloves
1/2 teaspoon whole allspice 
honey and brandy (proportions below)
Combine berries with water.  Simmer over low heat for 40 minutes, or until berries begin to release their juices.  Mash with a potato masher to get all the possible juice.
Strain the pulp from hot berry juice and return liquid to a clean pot. Add the ginger, cloves and allspice and simmer for 15 minutes.  Strain again.
Measure the amount you have of this spiced berry infusion and add an equal amount of honey and 1/2 of the amount of good brandy.  Bottle it and store until you can enjoy it on Halloween.

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