Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Sage - Herb of the Week and Deal of the Day!

Sage is a wonderful herb.  I have posted an herb of the week on sage (2010) and a mini one in 2015, where I spoke about its growing habit and care.  This time I thought I would discuss some great ways to use sage in cooking and in health remedies.

Sage’s botanical name “Salvia” means “to feel well and healthy, health, heal.” It comes from the Latin “salus” meaning “health, well-being, prosperity or salvation”.  “Officinalis” means that this particular herb has had a recognized herbal or medicinal use for centuries.

Common names: Common sage, garden sage, golden sage, kitchen sage, and true sage. Cultivated varieties include purple, variegated, tri-color and red sage.
tri color sage
Cooking with Sage

Sage can be used to make sauces and pesto , as well as an ingredient in stuffing and meat rubs. I love to make a combination herb vinegar using sage that we then use in cooking.  I combine sage with lemon or regular thyme, lemon balm, peppercorns and a bit of mint to add sweetness. It is a savory combo that is great for salads and marinades. 

Add about 1 cup of these herbs fresh to 2 cups of vinegar, apple cider or plain white and let steep for at least two weeks.  Hubby loves it in his sauces. 

Image result for sage pesto photosSage Pesto
1/2 cup packed sage leaf
1/2 cup packed flat leaf parsley
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2/3 cup walnut pieces
3 cloves crushed garlic (or to taste)
1/2 cup olive oil (or to desired consistency)

Wash and thoroughly dry sage leaves and parsley in your salad spinner. Put in food processor with parmesan, walnuts, garlic, and salt. Process until a gritty but even consistency. Gradually add olive oil until pesto has reached desired consistency. Divide into 3 equal portions. Each portion will coat enough pasta for 4.

Medicinal Uses of Sage

Sage is a good choice for a natural remedy for colds and flu.  It is soothing to the mucus membranes, relieving sore throat, and coughs while easing feverish conditions.  It is also antimicrobial.  While oregano is often used as a strong antimicrobial for colds and viruses, sage can be used instead with the same actions. Sage being a natural anti fungal and anti-bacterial, so as such taking a bit of tea with sage in it is great when you are feeling a cold coming on.  I use sage in my Nerve Soothing and my Rose Blush teas.

One can also infuse sage into honey.  It is especially good to take a spoonful of sage honey when you have a sore throat or use it as sweetener in a cup of warm tea when you have a cold.

To make sage infused honey add 1 Tablespoon crumbled sage leaves to warmed honey and let steep for a day or two.  Warm the honey and strain out the sage and you will be left with a light earthy fragrance of sage and all its medicinal benefits.

Sage Oxymel
An oxymel is an ancient herbal preparation that combines vinegar, herbs, and honey.  “Oxy” means “acidic, sharp, keen, pointed” and “mel” means “honey.” Oxymels make bitter herbs easier to take, like the “spoon full of sugar that helps the medicine go down.”  It is considered a specific remedy for lung issues, for colds, and for sore throat. 
1 to 2 cups of fresh garden sage, chopped finely
1 to 1 ½ cups raw honey
2 to 2 ½ cups white balsamic vinegar or cider vinegar

Pick the sage herb from the garden.  Remove any damaged leaves and discard.  Allow the sage to wilt for a few hours to overnight.  When it is quite limp, chop the sage finely with a sharp knife, including all but the coarsest stems.  Set aside. 

Clean and sanitize a wide mouth quart jar.  Place the sage in the jar.  Pour 1 cup of honey over the sage.  Stir with a spoon to fully mix the sage leaves with the honey.  The jar should be about 1/3rd full with the herbs and honey.

Heat vinegar in a saucepan until it is just about 110F.  Don’t over heat.  Warming the vinegar allows it to mix more readily with the honey and herbs already in the jar.

Pour the vinegar over the herbs and honey. Stir to fully blend the ingredients.  The jar should be full.  Place a tight-fitting lid on the jar and set aside.  Remember to label and date the jar. 

Your sage oxymel is ready in two weeks.  But you can leave it for a month or two, allowing the flavors to meld further.  When you are ready, heat the jar slightly in warm water to make it free flowing.  Strain the herbs out of the oxymel, reserve the liquid.  This will keep at room temperature 6 months or refrigerated for up to a year.  If you notice any mold, discard it.  Both vinegar and honey are preservative.

TO USE: Serve it by the spoonful for sore throat, coughs, colds, fevers, indigestion, or upset.  Take as often as needed.  I like to mix a spoonful in a cup of hot water and sip it slowly for relief of sore throat and that under-the-weather feeling.

Deal of the Day -- Today is Single Herbs (especially sage) 
but you can get any of our single herbs, in other words not an herb blend but just one herb in a package for 10% off the regular price, with this coupon code: SINGLEHERB

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

How To-sday - Lighted Potpourri Jar & Deal of the Day

This is such a great item to make quickly and place in the bathroom.  It is festive, holiday themed and leaves a great scent when you have guests in the delicate room!

How to -

Step one - Gather your supplies.  You will need:

  • 1 wide mouth 1 quart canning jar
  • 1 string of 20 to 30 christmas lights (I got mine from the dollar store)
  • potpourri
  • two rubber bands
  • a paper or cloth doily
Step two - Potpourri
       I suggest making your potpourri rather than buying it, but in the essence of time, you can get some store-made at your local hobby center.  Here is recipe for seasonal potpourri if you want to try your hand at homemade.

Potpourri for the Holiday

  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 2-3 cinnamon sticks, crushed
  • 1 to 3 star anise, broken is fine
  • 1 tablespoon cardamom pods, crushed
  • 2 teaspoons whole cloves
  • 1/4 cup candied ginger or 1/8 cup dried ginger root pieces
  • Needles from a pine branch, or from one sprig of rosemary (about 1 tsp. dried rosemary)
  • 5 to 7 slices of dried orange
  • 1 to 2 tsp dried mint leaves
  • 1 Tbls. dried bay leaves
Combine ingredients in a jar and shake to blend.  Store in the jar for a few days to meld the scents.
Use as the potpourri in this project or add 1 cup mixture to a medium saucepan and fill 3/4 full with water and use as a potpourri simmer on the stove.

Step three - Fill the jar with lights and potpourri

Place a layer (about 1 inch deep) of potpourri in the bottom of the quart jar.  Thread in the lights and arrange on top of the potpourri.  Plug them in while you are working so you can see your progress. 

Add more potpourri as you thread in the lights and arrange the lights and potpourri artfully so you can enjoy the lights and the colors of the potpourri together.

Top off the jar with potpourri, leaving the tail end of the light cord outside the jar.

Step four - top the jar

Place a rubberband around the top of the jar to hold the string of lights in place over the rim.  Add the doily to the top and, using the second rubber band, secure the doily in place.   Now you have a scent opening.  Tie a bit of ribbon around the rubber band to cover it.

Step five - plug in to final resting place and enjoy!

We also had the one with the multi-color lights on the book shelf in the livingroom.

Deal of the Day!

Here is a special Deal just for today, Scented and decorative is the order of the day so we made the Bath Salt Sundae just 8.95.  Previously 10.95, you save $2.00 but just for today!  Check out the selection of scents here:  Bath Salt Sundae.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Deal-of-the-Day - Hot Cocoa and Chocolate Shortbread

Happy Monday -

It snowed Yesterday!  I have been waiting for it to snow this year!  It started around 10 am and was still coming down heavily at 2 in the afternoon!  I was out taking pictures and enjoying the muffled quiet that comes with snow falling and just getting myself in the spirit of the season.

I have many orders to make and a show on December 10 and my open house on December 11, both of which should have many visitors browsing so I have lots things to do, but I had to take a break and enjoy the snow!

That much snow got me thinking about winter activities, which led to Hot Cocoa, so I decided the

Deal-of-the-Day for today is Hot Cocoa Mix

We make 4 different mixes generally, but this year I have an abundance of mint so I put together a Mint Hot Chocolate too!  The special today is all five of these blends for only $14.95.  That is a 15% savings over the regular price in person of $3.50 each.

And just to get you thinking about the outdoors and cocoa here is a chocolate shortbread recipe:

Chocolate Shortbread
This goes well with hot cocoa!

1 cup flour
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 1/2 Tbls. cocoa powder
1/2 cup softened butter

Cream the butter.  Then add the entire package of Shortbread Mix and work in. Knead the resulting dough on an unfloured surface until nice and smooth.  Firmly press the dough, working from the center out into an oiled pan.  Prick the surface with a fork all over . Bake at 325 degrees for 30 to 35 minutes.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Oatmeal Cookies & Milk Bath - Bath Blend of the Month & Deal of the Day

Thought I might do a bath item for the Deal of the Day, then decided to do our Samplers instead, now you can choose from a cooking blend, bath blend or tea blend sample and any one you choose will ship free.

DEAL-OF-THE-DAY - Choose a Sampler!

You have 15 different samplers to choose from, each is $4.95 and slips into a holiday themed envelop which is included with your purchase.  Shop any of these until Midnight tonight.

Bath Blend of the Month - Oatmeal Cookies & Milk Bath

1 cup cornstarch
2 cups powdered milk
1/2 cup oatmeal (not instant)
1 teaspoon cinnamon (or use Backyard Patch Cinnful Dessert blend for other useful and healthy spices)

Mix all ingredients in blender or food processor until it is a fine powder. Store in a tightly lidded jar.

TO USE: Just add 2 tablespoons of the mixture to your bathwater for a soothing bath.

If giving as a gift, place in a decorative jar and attach a spoon for measuring!

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Rosemary Walnuts and Deal-of-the-Day

I am in Winnetka today, at the Winnetka - Northfield Library on Oak Street in Winnetka, doing a program called Holiday Decorating with Marcy.  It discusses making decorations and gifts with herbs.  We are going to make wrapping paper, gift tags as well as some herbal gifts.

One of the items I am recommending making is a a soup wreath.  I given step-by-step instructions for making this wreath of fresh herbs for soup here, with a recipe.

Here is an extra I am including here for those who take the class and for those who cannot take it.

Rosemary Walnuts
I had to start with something edible, because tastes are always linked to the holidays.  This recipe is a twist on sugared nuts, giving you a savory recipe instead.
1 pound shelled walnuts
2 Tbls. of olive oil
2 Tbls. butter, melted
3 Tbls. minced fresh rosemary leaves
2 tsp. paprika
½ to 1 tsp.  salt or a salt substitute

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Place all ingredients in a bowl and toss to mix.  Spread on a baking sheet large enough to hold the nuts in a single layer.  Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, stirring once or twice or until the nuts are golden but not browned and the scent of rosemary fills the room.  Remove and cool.  May be eaten when warm or stored in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.  Makes 2 cups.

Deal-of-the-Day - Dill Herb Vinegar

Friday, December 2, 2016

Deal-of-the-Day and Cinnful Pumpkin Pull Apart bread

Deal-of-the-Day - Cinnful Dessert Blend - two for one. 

Order one Cinnful Dessert Blend and get two!  Along with a set of recipes that like the one below are perfect with this Cinnamon-rich Spice Blend.  The perfect substitute for Pumpkin Pie Spice or Apple Pie Spice or even Cinnamon in your favorite Holiday recipes, Cinnful Dessert Blend is a wonderful treat.

The 12 Days of Herbal Gifting continues with another special item on sale just for today.  At midnight CDT this sale will end and another will take it place to help you get your shopping done before the USPS shipping deadlines!

Cinnful Pumpkin Pull Apart Bread with Buttered Rum Glaze

2 Tbls unsalted butter
1/2 cup milk
2 1/4 teaspoons (1 envelope) active dry yeast
3/4 cup pumpkin puree
1/4 cup white sugar
1 tsp salt
2 1/2 cups bread flour
1 cup granulated sugar
2 ½ tsp Backyard Patch Cinnful Dessert Blend
2 Tbls unsalted butter
Buttered Rum Glaze
2 Tbls unsalted butter
1/8 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 Tbls milk
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1 Tbls rum (if you are not into rum you can sub a teaspoon of vanilla extract)
In a saucepan over medium-high heat, brown 2 tablespoons of butter, letting it bubble up and turn a dark golden brown but being careful not to allow it burn (turn black). Once browned, remove the pan from the heat and carefully add the milk, return to stove and heat through. Pour the milk and butter into the bowl of standing mixer (fitted with a dough hook) and allow to cool so it is no longer hot but also not cool (about 100-110 degrees F). Once it has reached a warm but not hot temperature add the yeast and 1/4 cup of sugar and allow to proof (this can take up to 8 minutes, the top will look foamy and the liquid cloudy). Then add the pumpkin, salt, and 1 cup of flour. Stir until combined then add the rest of the flour 1/2 cup at a time and knead for 6 minutes, until the dough is smooth and elastic and just slightly sticky. If the dough is too moist, add extra flour 1 tablespoon at a time.
Move dough to a lightly oiled bowl and cover with a clean towel. Allow to rise in a warm place for 60-90 minutes or until doubled in size.
While dough is rising, brown another 2 tablespoons of butter. Add the sugar, Cinnful Dessert Blend and mix well.  Making sure sugar evenly absorbs the butter. Set aside. Next, grease and flour a 9×5 loaf pan and set aside.
When the dough has doubled in size, punch it down and flip out onto a clean floured surface and knead with hands for 1-2 minutes. Roll dough into a 20×12 inch rectangle.  Evenly sprinkle the dough with the cinnamon sugar mixture and press into dough with palms of the hand. Cut the rectangle into 6 strips. Lay strips on top of each other and cut each strip into 6 even squares (cut in half then each half into thirds). Stack strips vertically into the loaf pan. Cover the pan with a clean towel and let rise for 30-45 minutes.
Preheat an oven to 350 degrees. After rising in the pan, bake for 30-40 minutes or until top is a very deep golden brown.
To prepare the glaze, heat the butter, room temperature milk, and brown sugar in a small saucepan. Bring to boil then immediately remove the pan from the heat and stir in the rum and powdered sugar.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Shipping Deadlines and Deal of the Day

The last first class retail shipping day is December 15.
The last first class shipping day is December 20 and
The last Priority mail shipping day is December 21. 
To help you not procrastinate I have pulled together 12 days of Herbal Gifting.  Each day I will place an item on sale in my shops and post it as the deal-of-the-day at the top of the blog.  The blog may then be other ideas and information but the top will give you your herbal gift.  The sale item will expire at midnight CDT.  These herb-inspired items make great holiday gifts for yourself and others.
Shop that item and we will make sure it arrives to you or your recipient in plenty of time for Christmas.

Today’s Deal-of-the-Day is Barley Vegetable Soup

Instead of the usually $4.25 each today they are only $3.50 each (no limit) and we lowered the shipping costs too!  Today find this mix on Etsy right here!

This quick and easy soup mix is salt-free and tasty in cold weather! And the packaging is so cute for gift giving you might want to give it to all your friends and office mates!

Come back tomorrow for another Deal-of-the-Day always on an herby theme!  We will also be posting the Deal-of-the-Day on our Website too:
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