Sunday, October 4, 2015

Monthly Bath Recipe - Chamomile Arthritis Bath Salts

I have developed arthritis in one hand and my hip.  It is early yet and may be able to be controlled with physical therapy, but it does have occasion to interrupt my sleep, so since we now have a nice deep bathtub, I decided to work on bath salts for soothing  joint pain. 

This blend for the bath tub is a combination of Chamomile and Lavender with Epsom salts.  All of which are great for reducing inflammation.

I generally use heat seal tea bags for blends like this, but I know not everyone has access to those, so if you don't you might want to try sewing these up in a used dryer sheet. Just fold the sheet in half and stitch it closed on the two of the three open sides, if you have a sewing machine you can make quick work of this.  Then fill it and hand stitch closed the last side.

Chamomile has strong anti-inflammatory benefits, making it a great addition to the warm bath along with relaxing Lavender. Epsom salts also have an anti-inflammatory effect for soaking.  Combine the added benefit of hot water to increase circulation  and you have a great therapeutic bath that eases joint pain and reduces sore muscles. Some slow, deep breathing is useful as well for relaxation.

Chamomile Arthritis Bath Salts
1 cup Epsom salts
1 cup sea salt
1 cup baking soda
3 Tablespoons Chamomile flowers
2 Tablespoons Lavender buds
12 drops chamomile essential oil
10 drops lavender essential oil

Use about 1 cup of mixture per sachet.

Your bath salt sachet gets tossed into the running hot bath and the fabric keeps the herbs from clogging the drain and making for messy clean up.  

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Back in the groove - Herbs for Fall

We have finally finished moving.  I have the internet at home now for the first time in over a decade. And it is a good thing, because I am not working outside the home as much as before.  I am going to be spending my time growing the herb business!  Something I have wanted to do, but have not had the hours needed for such a long time.

Harvest was good this year, as water has been plentiful and flooding not an issue for a change. Here a a few shots of the inside and outside of the new shed.  Now I have two sheds.  One at the property and one at home so I can harvest twice as much on a work day.  This will be good int he long run because the more you harvest the more grows back!!

Since it is harvesting season, I thought I would share a few harvesting and preserving links from posts past as I gear back up to posting more regularly.

Happy harvesting!

Here is a post on Drying the Harvest

This one is an overview of of the technique of hang drying.

This one details how to make herb pastes - the best way to preserve the fresh basil flavor.

Of you can just Freeze the herbs too!

Friday, September 4, 2015

Herb Scented Bath Jelly - Monthly Bath Blend

It is canning time and my thoughts turn to making herbal jellies.  You can check out my how to on Purple Basil Jelly here if your thoughts are going there too!  But in keeping with these thoughts I found a great recipe for a Bath Jelly.

Jellies can be made as a luxurious adult home spa goody or they can be packaged for the kids (set with toys inside). They make great gifts. They may not bubble up as nicely as some commercial products, but definitely a nice treat.

Herb Scented Bath Jelly

1 envelope unflavored gelatin
1/2 cup liquid soap (unscented–shower gel, hand soap or bubble bath)
Essential oil (choose a favorite, use just a few drops)

Bring 3/4 cup water to a boil, remove from heat then slowly dissolve the gelatin. Slowly pour in liquid soap and stir. Add essential oil, combine well.  Pour liquid into a clean clear jar or container, seal and refrigerate overnight.  Once it gels, it’s ready. This is not a long term recipe, it will keep for a few weeks if refrigerated and sealed airtight to avoid mold, but not much longer.

Optional: A couple drops of food coloring can be added when first mixing jelly to give it some color, don’t use too much though since it can stain tubs.

To Use:
Just put a spoonful under running tap for a bubbling treat (a tablespoon or two will do).
If you wish, skip the essential oil and use liquid soaps that have a fragrance.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Monthly Bath Recipe - Green Tea Bath Salts

Adding green tea to your bath salts can add a “zen” theme to your bath.  The antioxidant rich qualities of green tea will enhance your skin with anti-aging benefits. Add some quiet moments of meditation or reflection in the bath for a deeply relaxing experience!

Green tea can be purchased in bulk, or by tearing open tea bags. The Epsom salts can be obtained in the pharmacy section and sea salt from the cooking section of the store.

I used food coloring to color half of the salts green, though this part is optional.  To avoid having tea leaves stuck to the tub, I suggest placing the mixture in a bag or square of cloth before using.

You can find muslin bags at a health food or craft store, along with the jasmine essential oil. 

Green Tea Bath Salts  
1 cup Epsom salts
1 cup Sea salts
1 cup baking soda
1/2 cup bulk green tea, or green tea powder
12-20 drops jasmine essential oil
5-8 drops green food coloring (optional)

Mix well and store in an airtight container. Keep in a cool, dark place, as sunlight can degrade essential oil.

Use 1 cup per bath. Add to running hot water to dissolve.  Sit back and become “one” with the bath!

An alternate way to prepare this bath is to brew 3 or 4 green tea bags in a pot. After 10-15 min, add directly to the bathwater, along with the salts and jasmine.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Breads for Lammas Day - Weekend Recipe

The Celts were great about celebrating seasonal and celestial time periods.  They marked many of these days with a celebration.  August first is the festival of Lughnasadh (Loo-na-sa) it was a celebration of the first loaves of bread from the new harvest.  To commemorate this festival I am sharing a couple of herb bread recipes.

Make them and enjoy your Loaf Mass!


Summer Herb Quick Bread
Adapted from "The Provence Cookbook" by Patricia Wells

1 cup flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp fine sea salt
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup plain yogurt
2 Tbls. imported French mustard
1/2 cup Swiss Gruyere cheese, grated
1/4 cup mint, minced
1/4 cup chives, minced
1/4 cup thyme, minced

Preheat the oven to 425F. In a food processor or blender, combine flour, baking powder, salt, eggs, yogurt and mustard; add cheese and herbs. Pour batter into bread pan and bake in the center of the oven for 45 minutes or until firm and golden. Remove pan from oven and invert onto a cooling rack.  Makes 1 loaf or about 12 slices.  It will keep if stored in a zipseal bag at room temp for about 3 days.

Oregano Herb Standard Bread

1 pkg. Active dry yeast
5 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
2 ½ cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 ¾ cup milk
3 T. salad oil
2 T sugar
2 T minced Oregano
1 t. salt

Stir together the yeast and 2 cups of flour. Heat together all the remaining ingredients except the flour, until lukewarm. Add to flour-yeast mixture and beat on low speed for 30 seconds, followed by 3 minutes on high speed slowly stirring in flour as much as can with a spoon.

Now knead in the remaining flour to make a stiff dough for about 8-9 minutes. Shape into a ball and put in lightly greased pan/bowl, turning once to grease all sides of surface. Cover and let rise for approximately 1 hour or so until the dough mixture is approximately double in size. Punch down dough and divide in half, cover and let sit for 10 more minutes. Shape into 2 loaves and place into buttered 8 x 4" loaf pans. Cover and let rise another 45 minutes Bake in 350 F for 40- 45 minutes and cover with foil last few minutes to prevent over-browning.

Herb Sourdough Bread

If you have a sourdough starter this is a great herb bread you can craft with it.  Try it if you can get some.

1 cup sourdough culture
1 Tbls. butter
1 cup milk
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
½ tsp dried thyme
½ tsp dried oregano
½ tsp crushed dried basil
3 ½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour

Dough Proof
Pour the culture into a mixing bowl. Melt the butter and add the milk to warm. Stir in the salt, sugar, thyme, oregano, and basil and stir. Add the butter mixture to the culture and mix well. Add the flour a cup at a time until the dough becomes too stiff to mix by hand. Turn out onto a floured board and knead in the remaining flour until the dough is smooth and satiny.
Or mix and knead all of the ingredients for a maximum of 25 minutes in a bread machine or other mixer.

Proof the dough overnight (8 to 12 hours) at room temperature, about 70°F, in a large bowl covered with plastic wrap (or leave in the machine pan, removed from the machine, securing the plastic wrap with a rubber band). During this time, the dough should double in size in the covered bowl, or rise to the top of the machine pan. After the proof, use a spatula to gently ease the dough out onto a floured board. Allow the dough to rest for 30 minutes. If marked flattening occurs during this time, knead in additional flour before shaping.

Loaf Proof
After the 30-minute rest, shape the dough. Flatten it slightly, then lift a portion from the periphery and pull it toward the center. Continue this around the dough mass to form a rough ball, then pat and pull into the loaf shape you desire. Place on a baking sheet or in a bread pan and proof for 2 to 4 hours, until it doubles in bulk or rises nearly to the top of the pan. Proof for the first hour at room temperature and then at 85° to 90°F in a proofing box.

Place the pan with its shaped, proofed loaf in a cool oven, then turn the temperature to 375 degrees Fahrenheit and bake for 70 minutes. Or transfer the loaf to a preheated baking stone in a 450°F oven and bake for 40 minutes. When the loaf is baked, remove it from the pan and let cool on a wire rack for at least 15 to 20 minutes before slicing.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Comfrey as a Fertilizer

Comfrey is an invaluable plant in the herb garden.  (Around here we call it Indian boneset.)  In addition to the medicinal and cosmetic uses. It is a plant containing all the nutrients necessary for healthy plant growth in a digestible form.   It has a high potash content and is also a source of nitrogen, phosphorus and other elements.

As such you can use it as a fertilizer in all of the following ways:

As a mulch, by spreading freshly cut Comfrey leaves round plants (Black currents and fruit bushes especially benefit from this treatment).  Laying a topping of grass clippings adds bulk and accelerates the decay and release of nutrients.

Add Comfrey leaves to the compost heap in thin layers between other compost.  It will work as an activator encouraging the breakdown of other plant material.  Avoid the roots in this mixture or they will regenerate and sprout new plants.

Fill a bucket halfway with comfrey leaves and cover with water to create a liquid fertilizer.  It needs to steep for 4 to 5 weeks covered.  Strain off the liquid (beware it will be smelly) and use it undiluted as an organic fertilizer for container plants, tomatoes and general garden use.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Foaming Bath - Monthly Bath Blend

This blend is good in the bath or shower.  Make the recipe and place in a pump bottle in the shower or use in a filled tub.  You will need about ½ cup per bath, but a pump or two in a bath puff will give you a luxurious shower.

Foaming Vanilla Bath
1 cup sweet almond oil (light olive or sesame oil may be substituted)
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup liquid soap
1 Tbls. vanilla extract

Measure the oil into a medium bowl, then carefully stir in remaining ingredients until fully blended. Pour into a clean plastic bottle with a tight-fitting lid. Shake gently before using. Enough for four large luxurious baths.

To Use:
Swirl about ½ cup into the tub under running water – then step in and descend into a warm, silky escape.

In the shower - Place a squirt or two into a damp bath puff and rub it into a lather then use to scrub the body.
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