Monday, August 15, 2016

Plants to Honor Mary

In the Spring I presented a garden theme idea of a Garden of Mary.  Now on the Feast of the Assumption of Mary, which was first celebrated in 529 AD, I thought we could learn a few more plants whose names were changed to Honor Mary.

Our Lady's Herbs


          Spearmint was known as Our Lady's Mint. 

Marjoram was Mother of God's Flower. 



          Bee balm and lemon balm were both called Sweet Mary. 
 
Lemon Balm
Catnip was Mary's Nettle.  

Sage was Mary's shawl. 

Dandelion was known as Mary's Bitter Sorrow.








A group of herbs became known as Manger Herbs because they made a bed for the Infant Jesus when he was born. 
Sweet Woodruff

·        Sweet woodruff and yellow bedstraw were called Our Lady's Bedstraw 
·        creeping thyme was Mary's Bedstraw. 
·        Mints and pennyroyal were also said to have been used in the manger. 








This information came from a hard to locate book entitled Mary’s Flowers: Gardens, Legends & Meditations, by Vincenzina Krymow.

I have never been able to locate this book, but I have read excepts and paraphrases of it from other blogs and articles.  If anyone knows where I can get a copy, please let me know.  My library, normally the best at locating the obscure and rare, has been unable to obtain a copy real or digital.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Kohlrabi Slaw - Weekend Recipe

We are out at an event Saturday in Batavia - Green Fair on the Fox. Part of the "Green Theme" is to get involved in changing our habits to be more green.  The ideas is to "Change ONE" thing you do to be more green.  Once you do one, you can add another and another and....

Here are a list of suggestions:

  • Line dry laundry 
  • Print double sided 
  • Use cloth napkins 
  • Install a programmable thermostat 
  • Compost food and yard waste 
  • Turn off lights when you leave the room 
  • Replace your light bulbs with CFL bulbs 
  • Turn your water heater down a couple degrees 
  • Use low flow toilets and shower heads 
  • Replace plastic with cloth grocery bags 
  • Use upcycled rags instead of paper towels 
  • Plant a garden 
  • Switch to natural cleaning products 
  • Reduce meat consumption

We have grown a garden and are composting our food and yard waste.  We even save our grease for recycling through the Village. 

In our garden is a little known vegetable called Kohlrabi.  A friend of mine in Seneca, IL gets me kohlrabi plants of the variety Kossack, which get large but do not get woody like some larger kohlrabi do.  We love growing them as they can go in early and later in the summer.  They also are a no maintenance plant.  You plant them and later you harvest them.  Occasionally you water them, but sometimes you do not even need to do that.


Kohlrabi is an underused vegetable.  People do not grow it and if they do they are not sure what to do with it.  I developed this slaw recipe to show how tasty it was to the uninitiated.  It seems to be our favorite way to eat the vegetable, although this year I will also be fermenting it, as this is my new kick.

Kohlrabi Slaw with Four Spice Meat Rub on Pork Chops


Kohlrabi Slaw

2 small kohlrabi
1 cup radish
2 tablespoons herbal or plain vinegar
2 teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 Tablespoon mayonnaise or salad dressing

Directions:
Peel two small kohlrabi, if young just cut off the eyes. Shred the kohlrabi and radishes. You may use a food processor for this. I use a mandolin or a cheese grater.  Mix vinegar, sugar, Soup & Salad Seasoning and fresh chopped parsley in a glass bowl. Whisk in olive oil.  Add mayo. Pour over shredded veggies and toss. Chill for 30 minutes or more and serve.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Mushroom Muffalatta Salsa - Weekend Recipe

We have several high end and ethnic grocery stores in our area.  One of them sells olives in an olive bar.  I got a container with a mixture of all the olives available in the bar that were already pitted to use in the recipe.  If this is not possible where you live, get a can of black ripe olives and a jar of pitted large green olives or Kalamata olives. The recipe will still be quite tasty.


We made this several times in July, serving it to party guests and at the Garden Club meeting.  In the process I found my favorite version was when we grilled the peppers and mushrooms before chopping them into the blend.  The sweetness of the grilled peppers and the smokiness of the mushrooms really added great flavor components to the dish. 

One batch was made with sautéed peppers, mushrooms and olives that hubby had left over from making breakfast omelets. This was sweet and savory at the same time. 

The best part about the recipe was that no version was bad.  They were all tasty, all popular with others, and all disappeared in a day.



Mushroom Muffalatta Dip / Salsa

¾ to 1 cup Olives, pitted (can be brined or olive oil cured), chopped fine
1 red sweet pepper, chopped fine
3 to 4 button or bebe mushrooms, chopped fine
1 Shallot, chopped fine
1 clove garlic, minced
1 to 2 Tbls. fresh flat parsley, minced
2 teaspoons oregano, minced (or 1 tsp dry)
¼ cup olive oil
2 Tbls. Wine or herbal vinegar

Directions:
You can hand chop the vegetables or use a food processor.  You do not want to make this into a paste, you want to see the chunks.  I hand chopped the olives, peppers and mushrooms and herbs. 
Place chopped olives, peppers, and mushrooms in a bowl.  In a smaller bowl combine minced herbs, olive oil and vinegar.  Whisk together.  Pour over other ingredients and combine well.  Allow to meld in refrigerator for an hour or more before serving.

Serve with sliced bread or crackers like a crostini.




Optional preparation method: to make this into a sandwich spread, run the olives, vegetables and mushrooms in a food processor, then add herbs, oil and vinegar and blend until you create a paste.  Spread on sandwiches.  Will keep up to a month in the refrigerator.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Sun Healing Milk Bath - Bath Blend of the Month

Did you know Cleopatra’s beauty was attributed to her love of milk baths?  Milk contains lactic acid, which is packed with skin softening properties that leave skin feeling smoother and more resilient. The lactic acid in milk acts similarly to the alpha hydroxyl acids found in expensive skin creams, which dissolve proteins that bind dead skin cells together.  Milk baths are also great for soothing burns and skin after spending too much time in the sun!

Milk baths are best with powdered milk.  Add two cups of powdered milk to your bath while it’s filling.  Herbs and honey can be added to give additional benefits.  The recipe below has herbs to soothe, soften and protect skin form the ravages of summer sun.


Sun Healing Milk Bath
2 cups powdered milk
1 Tbls Thyme, lemon or common
1 Tbls. Sage
1 Tbls Marjoram
1 Tbls Rose petals
1 Tbls Basil leaves
Place the milk in the water while filling the tub.  Place the herbs in a bag and swirl through the water while filling tub, then allow to soak in the water while you bathe.  The herbs will kill germs, soften skin and reduce inflammation. Soak and relax!

Monday, August 1, 2016

Where are the Monarch's?

Article originally published on the University of Minnesota Monarch Lab blog.

On March 9th 2016, just days after we’d heard the good news that monarch numbers had rebounded to cover just over 4 hectares of forest in the mountains of central Mexico; a huge winter storm hit their wintering sites and the surrounding area. The storm began with rain and was followed by hail, snow, and sub-freezing temperatures. The freezing temperatures killed many monarchs and the strong winds caused trees to topple over, losing monarch habitat. Because the spring migration from Mexico just started, the full population was in the storm's path.
courtesy of agardenbydesign.blogspot.com
The storm caused immense destruction, but it was hard to tell how this would impact the monarchs and their habitat. However, the storm clarified the importance of a large, robust monarch population. If it had hit two years ago, when the monarch population was at its lowest level ever (under one hectare), it is not clear that the population could have recovered. 


See the recent Monarch Conservation Science Broadcast of the MJV/NCTC webinar series for a discussion of the importance of a robust population. If we can say that anything is “lucky” about such a destructive event, we are lucky that the population did so well in summer 2015.

courtesy of Kim Smith

Right after the storm, monarchs were spotted traveling north. Journey North received their first reports on March 14th, and while the numbers spotted by citizen scientists during the spring migration were low, monarchs did move into their northern breeding grounds, and by June 16th, the migration was approaching its northern extent. For maps of the migration this year visit Journey North’s website.

Monarch Larva Monitoring Project data confirm the low numbers reported by Journey North volunteers. We are seeing numbers that rival those of 2013, which resulted in the lowest number of monarchs ever seen in Mexico. However, we know that the population did rebound from the low numbers a few years ago, and that, with our help, they can do it again. And the population is still building this summer. Monarchs are around, just not in the numbers that we’ve seen in the past; we’re starting to hear more positive reports from people throughout the breeding range who have seen their first monarch adults, eggs, or larvae of the year.  

So let’s continue to do what we can:
  • Create habitat for monarchs so the females don’t need to fly long distances between milkweed patches.
  • Join a citizen science project to help us document the state of the population. 
  • Consider supporting the Monarch Joint Venture, or other organizations working to preserve space for the creatures with which we share this earth.  Support the Xerces Society which creates programs on pollinators.


Sunday, July 31, 2016

Insect Repellent Treatments

This time of year the mosquitoes and other biting insects drive me crazy.  I am like a magnet for biting things.  So through the years I have developed several concoctions to use on my skin to keep the little pests away.

Here are several you can try at home also:

Herbal Vinegar Spray
You can pour the prepared vinegar into spray bottles for easy application.


2 cups fresh insect-repellent herbs 
East Indian lemongrass (Cymbopogon flexuosus)
Eucalyptus (Eucalyptus globulus)
Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia and L. x intermedia)
Lemon thyme (Thymus x citriodorus)
Mountain Mint (Pycnanthemum albescens)
Patchouli (Pogostemon cablin)

2 cups apple cider vinegar

Place fresh herbs in a glass quart jar and cover with vinegar, bruise the herbs with the handle of a wood or plastic spoon to release the oils in the leaves. Use a plastic lid to seal the jar (vinegar corrodes metal).   Shake every day for 3 to 7 days. Filter vinegar within a week and use within the year.  Fresh herbs are best, but dry will work if you have nothing fresh.

Antiseptic Insect Repellent Skin Oil Recipe
Oregano, thyme and tea tree oils are very strong and pungent oils, so we suggest a skin test first; if it burns when you apply it, dilute it further or don’t use it. 
 
calendula
1/2 cup almond, walnut or grapeseed oil
6 drops oregano, thyme or tea tree oil
4 drops each of up to four insect repellent oils
• Calendula
• Eucalyptus
• Garlic
• Goldenseal
• Lavender
• Lemongrass
• Oregano
• Patchouli
• Rose geranium
• Rosemary
• Tea tree
• Thyme
• Vetiver
• Yarrow

Add oil to a small clean bottle, preferably dark glass. Drop in the essential oils of your choice and shake well. Label and keep in a dark, cool place.



NOTES: No insect repellent is effective against all bugs all of the time. Essential oils are volatile, which means they evaporate quickly and must be reapplied regularly. If you get mosquito or chigger bites, rub a plantain leaf on them for quick relief.

Plantain is a weed we see everywhere, so you probably have some handy.

Always test for allergic reactions before applying homemade remedies to your entire body. Put a little of the remedy on the inside crease of your elbow, and wait 15 minutes to an hour. If no reddening or blistering occurs, you should be safe to use the remedy.


Saturday, July 30, 2016

Grilled Salmon with Lavender - Weekend Recipe

A friend asked me today if you can cook with lavender.  I said absolutely, as lavender is an ingredient in the seasoning Herbs de Provence. She wanted something to try it out with and I suggested this salmon recipe you can make on the grill.  The best way to make it is to smoke the salmon with lavender as you grill it.  To do that you just cut a bunch of flowering lavender and put the stalks in a glass of water for 45 minutes to 2
hours. The soaked herbs can be strewn on the coals of the grill as the salmon cooks and the resulting
smoke lends a faint camphor and pine flavor to the cooking salmon.


Grilled Lavender and Salmon
Serves 4

• 2 to 4 large cloves garlic, minced
• 2 teaspoons fresh lavender buds
• 1/4 cup lite soy sauce
• 3 tablespoons honey
• 3 tablespoons lemon juice
• 1/3 cup olive oil
• 2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
• 4 fresh salmon fillets

In a large bowl, mash the garlic and lavender buds together. Stir in the soy sauce, honey, lemon juice, and oils, whisking to blend together. Add the salmon fillets to the bowl, cover, and marinate for 30 minutes or longer.  At serving time, fire a barbecue grill and place salmon fillets-skin side down-on the grill. Cook for 8 to 12 minutes, basting frequently with the marinade, then turn fillets once and cook another minute or more until the flesh is opaque and flakes easily with a fork.  Serve with a fresh vegetable salad or coleslaw.

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