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. 
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.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Backyard Garden Update July

July was a whole lot of let it grow.

These are some of the plants in bloom

 Mabel Grey Scented Geranium

 Calendula just before it began to bloom.
 Swamp Milkweed

 Anise Hyssop



The back yard enjoying growth and decoration.  We added a third trellis back by the fence for Hyacinth Bean.  I got some seed from the Garden Club and planted them along the bottom.  The trellis is to keep Chas from trimming them down before they get big enough to grow on the trellis.  Hyacinth bean can grow inches in a day, so although an annual it can cover the trellis by the end of the season with no problem.

 The peas have taken over the string.  I am not sure what to do now that they are higher than the posts.

 Scented geraniums by the back door.

 The vegetable garden is getting tall and full with much potential by the end of the month.

The herbs seemed to be growing more slowly than I expected so I started a program of adding compost tea and new rich soil and compost to the garden in 2 week intervals to see if there is improvement.  By month end they are beginning to get better.

 The rain garden in mid summer

 By month end the calendula and Nasturtiums joined the rest of the flowers in bloom!

Friday, July 8, 2016

Fresh Herb Mayonnaise - Weekend Recipe

There is nothing more wonderful than turning fresh herbs into a condiment you can use of fresh vegetables or homemade sandwiches.  This herb enhanced mayo is great on tomatoes, wrap sandwiches or as a condiment on a burger.

1 cup real mayonnaise
¼ tsp minced garlic
Juice from ¼ lime
¼ tsp finely chopped fresh rosemary
¼ tsp. finely chopped fresh thyme
¼ tsp. finely chopped fresh sage
1 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh basil
2 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh dill
2 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh tarragon

Whisk all ingredients together in a bowl. Allow to meld in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes before serving.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Lavender Oat Sachets - Bath Blend of the Month

Lavender Oatmeal Sachet
2 cups plain old fashioned oats
1 tablespoon dried lavender buds
2 tsp. chamomile flowers
1/2 cup baking soda
small muslin bags

Combine all of the ingredients in a blender or a food processor and pulse until the mixture looks like flour.

Fill each muslin bag with the mixture and tie shut. If you don’t have muslin bags, you can simply add about 1/3 cup to a hot bath, under running water.  I prefer using a muslin bag to hold homemade bath soaks because it cuts down on clean up time.

This blend can be stored in a glass jar and just fill the muslin bag as needed.  When done, just dump out the contents and rinse the bag out to dry for next time. 

We currently make these as a product of Backyard Patch Herbs, so you can get 5 draw-string tea bags of this mixture in a colored canning jar.

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