Sunday, February 12, 2017

Valentine's Day: It's Not Just Chocolate and Roses

I have to admit that my two favorite Valentine herbs are chocolate (oh, yes, it's really an herb) and roses.  In fact I make a great black tea blend using both crushed chocolate and rose petals that I call “Valentine Lover's Tea.”   But there are actually many herbs that can help you celebrate the season of love.

Herb Lore 
Periwinkle (also called Vinca minor). It was believed that people who ate periwinkle leaves together would fall in love.

Honeysuckle. The scent of honeysuckle was thought to induce erotic dreams; hence, many parents forbade their daughters to bring it into the house.

Bay laurel. If you want to dream of your future lover, pin five bay leaves to the four corners and the center of your pillow, before you go to bed tonight. Be sure to repeat the traditional charm (it won't work if you don't) St. Valentine, be kind to me, in dreams let me my true love see.

Yarrow. A lady hoping to attract a reluctant lover was advised to walk through a patch of yarrow, barefoot at midnight under a full moon.  
In the Language of Herbs, Yarrow means EVERLASTING LOVE, so giving it in a blend for bath may make the perfect Valentine gift.

Modern Love Herbs
Herbs have romantic meanings, and can bring a romantic touch to your Valentine's Day. Combine any of these special Love Herbs to tell the story of your love and devotion and enjoy an Herbal Valentine!

1. Basil 
Basil, with it's spicy scent, has meaning in the language of love. It's very meaning is LOVE.  Try this spicy sweet cocktail made with Lemon Basil:
Lemon Basil
Lemon Basil Tequila Cocktail
1 serving
2 parts Tequila
1 part premium Triple Sec
1/2 lemon
6 lemon basil leaves
1/2 part simple syrup
Club soda

Muddle lemon, basil and simple syrup in a chilled glass. Add ice, triple sec and tequila. Top with club soda. Garnish with a lemon wheel.
Basic Simple Syrup Recipe
makes approximately 1 1/2 cups
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup water
Combine sugar and water in a small saucepan and simmer over medium heat, stirring until sugar is completely dissolved. Allow mixture to cool, then decant into a clean container with a tight-fitting lid. Keeps in the refrigerator for several weeks.

2. Calendula
According to the language of herbs, Calendula means JOY. What a lovely thing to say to your beloved. Add calendula to your teas of course, but how about a soothing treatment to make your skin shiny and soft for you special someone?
Special Calendula Facial
Petals of 2 calendula flowers (about 2 Tbls.)
2 Tbls. instant non-fat dry milk
1/3 c. boiling water

Combine the milk and flowers in the water and allow to steep for 5 to 7 minutes.  Remove herbs and use the mixture to wipe face or soak a cloth in the liquid and lay over face and relax for 5 minutes to let the calendula soften the skin and bring back a rosey complexion.

3. Thyme 

According to the language of herbs, Thyme brings with it the meaning of AFFECTION. Perfect for young love or deep friendship. What better way to express your devotion to someone, than to include a sprig of thyme in their Valentine?
Or you can try this thyme seasoned Red Soup –
Roasted Tomato and Red Pepper Soup
2 ¼ pounds tomatoes, halved lengthwise
2 large red bell peppers, seeded and quartered
1 onion, cut into thick slices
4 large garlic cloves, peeled
2 Tbls. olive oil
1 tsp. fresh, ½ tsp. dried thyme

Preheat over to 450 degrees.  Arrange tomatoes (cut side up) bell peppers, onion, and garlic cloves on a large baking sheet.  Drizzle oil over, sprinkle generously with salt and pepper.  Roast vegetables until brown and tender, turning peppers and onion occasionally about 40 minutes.  Remove from oven.  Cool.

Transfer vegetables and accumulated juices to food processor and all thyme.  Puree soup, gradually adding about 2 cups of water to thin soup to desired consistency.  Chill until cold, about 3 hours.  Can be prepared 1 day ahead.  Cover and keep refrigerated.  If soup becomes too thick, thin with water to desired consistency.  Serves 4.

4. Patchouli
The heady scent of Patchouli is not surprisingly included in a list of romance herbs. According to the Language of Herbs, Patchouli means PASSION. Associated with love, wealth, and sexual power, patchouli can be used in incense blends, potpourri, and ritual workings. To use patchouli to it's fullest extent, tuck some dried into small sleep pillows, or sachets. The rich, lusty scent, will entice your love to feel romantic.
Blessing Oil
Use 1/8 Cup base oil (like almond oil, walnut oil or even canola oil),
    then add the following:

5 drops Sandalwood
2 drops Camphor
1 drop Orange
1 drop Patchouli

5. Lavender (lavender sachet photo)

In the Language of Love, Lavender means DEVOTION and UNDYING LOVE. It is no surprise that lavender has always been considered the herb of love. It's delicious and romantic scent is loved by most of us.  Make a sachet and place it in the dryer with your bed sheets to infuse them in wonderful scent.
Or try one of these wonderful lavender creations:
Lavender Aioli
1 cup olive oil
6 cloves garlic, unpeeled and crushed
2 fresh sprigs lavender (leaves and flowers), bruised
3 eggs
1 Tbls. lemon juice

In a small saucepan, gently heat the oil with the garlic and lavender over low heat for about 15 minutes. Remove from heat just before it starts to bubble.  Allow to cool to room temperature.  With a sieve over a small bowl, strain the lavender oil, pressing with a spoon to extract soft solids from the garlic and lavender.  Discard herbs. 

In a food processor or blender, process the eggs and lemon juice until well blended.  With the motor running, add the lavender oil a few drops at a time, then in a thin, steady stream until all the oil is absorbed and the mixture is thickened.  Season to taste with salt and black pepper.  Refrigerate for up to 2 days or use immediately.  Aioli thickens on chilling.

Great on sandwiches, as a spread on toast and stirred into steamed vegetables.

Soothing Oat Bath
2 cups rolled oats, ground to a fine powder in the blender
1 cup baking soda
1 Tbls. dried Lavender buds
10 drops lavender essential oil

Grind 2 cups rolled oats to a fine powder in a blender then add baking soda, lavender flowers and lavender oil.  Add 1 to 2 Tbls. to a muslin bag and place in the bathtub while it is filling.  Squeeze the bag and relax into the water with your sweetie!

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