Friday, September 30, 2011

Lemon Balm Lip Balm

This month the children and I learned about Lemon Balm! A huge part of our herbal learning comes from an amazing e-zine by Kristine Brown, called Herbal Roots Zine. I really love this. It is wonderfully written and illustrated, has fun crafts and things to make and stories to read and interesting facts to learn, and is very very affordable!

One of the crafts from the lemon balm issue is a lemon balm lip balm. We didn't have the right type of oil for this recipe, but it came out quite good anyways.

Lemon Balm Lip Balm
(recipe from the Lemon Balm edition of Herbal Roots Zine Oct. 2009)

1/2 cup lemon balm leaves
1 oz almond or jojoba or mix
1 oz shea butter
1 oz beeswax
1/4 t. honey
1/8 t. vitamin E
Lemon, rosemary or lavender Essential Oil
12-24 Lip balm containers (We didn't have these so we used small baby food type jars, but you can buy them at places like Mountain Rose Herbs.)
Double boiler

In a double boiler, combine lemon balm, almond/jojoba and shea butter. Gently heat for about 2 hours to infuse lemon balm in oil. Do not the let oil boil! Strain out the lemon balm leaves and return the oil mixture to the double boiler. Add beeswax and let melt. Add honey, vitamin E oil and 10 drops of essential oil of choice and stir well. Pour into containers and allow to cool.
Create labels and label.

Again this is just an awesome publication and I suggest it for anyone (with or without kids) who wants to have fun with herbs and learn a lot while doing it! (I guess this post just ended up being a shamless plug for HRZ but oh well it deserves it!)

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Short Ode to Fermentation

As the summer days move on and July goes into full swing, I find myself in the kitchen more often making bubbly brews that are not only delicious but wonderfully nutritious as well, and they keep a very long time. I love this process, a time honored tradition that I think our culture could do with a lot more of.
This process is done by cultures all around the world. When people immigrated here to America they brought their sourdoughs, or various other ferments with them. I, personally, try to ferment everything. From the ketchup that my kids eat, to our mustard, pickles, chutneys, I am even trying, for the first time, a fermented chili sauce. (That will also make a fermented chili paste. Waste not want not.) Today I will share with you the recipe for the mustard (as seen in Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon.)

1 1/2 cup ground mustard
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons whey
2 teaspoons sea salt
the juice of one lemon
2 cloves of garlic (pressed, optional)
1 tablespoon honey (optional) (I added more than that.)
2 tablespoons whole mustard seeds

Mix all ingredients together adding more water as needed/desired. Top of jar should be a least one inch above mustard, cover tightly and set out on counter for 3 days. Transfer to cold storage.

Other Great resources for fermenting things:
Wild Fermentation (great website as well as an awesome book!)
Nourishing Traditions (another fabulous book)

Monday, July 4, 2011

Chocolate Black Bean Cupcakes

So as a bit of a treat, and because I have these goofy Uncle Sam guys, we made some black bean sauerkraut cupcakes for the 4th. These cupcakes are really great and we have changed them up a bit recently to refect our recent Gluten-Free-ness. We did orginally find this recipe online, I cannot remember where and we have modified it to our own purposes.

1/3 cup butter
1 1/4 cups sugar (rapuda, cane sugar, etc.)
2 large pastured eggs
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 Tbsp. brewed coffee
1 cup black beans, soaked, rinsed, cooked, and drained
14 oz. sauerkraut, squeezed
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup flour (we used 1/2 cup coconut and 1/2 brown rice)
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
3/4 cup water

First Preheat your oven to 375F and line your cupcake tins. In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar together and then beat in the eggs. Making sure they are all mixed up well. Next add the vanilla and coffee. At this point, you put the black beans and the sauerkraut in a food processor and puree it, then add the puree to the liquid ingredients. In a separate bowl mix the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cocoa) then slowly add them to the liquid mix alternately with the 3/4 cup of water. Beat well after each addition. Fill cupcake tins two-thirds full and bake for 20 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool, then ice.
For icing we take cream cheese and honey and whip it together until it is the right consistency.
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Saturday, July 2, 2011

Popsicle Success!

So I tried the popsicles again this time using yorgurt as a base. Blueberries for the blue, (again it came out more purpley) strawberries for the red, and plain yogurt for the white. I have a kind of crappy plastic popsicle mold (they are BPA free though), the kind where the stick is attached to the drip guard, so it was difficult to make the layers. I made the first layer and allowed it to freeze fully without the tops on, (I had a plate over them.) The second layer we let sit until it was mostly frozen, then we added the top layer and then forced the sticks through the partially frozen layer.
Jenny from Nourished Kitchen, put up a blog post, about this (while I was still in phase one,)only her recipe used kefir. She also has really cool stainless steel molds that use sticks that aren't attached to the drip guards so it would be easier to make the layers. (You'd be able to remove the top without removing the stick.) I think I am putting those molds on my "to get" list. Well, I was able to make the layers.... now I just need to find something that would give me a darkish blue rather than a dark purple.
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Friday, July 1, 2011

Crafting: Present Bags

Since I am still in the midst of PLAN B, but I wanted to write about something. And since my daughter's birthday was last week, and my son's will be 2 weeks from now, I figured now would be a good time to show off the present bags I made.
Let me start off by saying I hate wrapping presents. Before we even get to all the issues I have with paper waste and landfills, there's just the fact that I dislike the whole process of wrapping presents. So I decided I would make them bags that we could use year after year, and that would solve all my problems. My Mother (in her infinite wisdom told me I should make it reversible so that I had Christmas on one side, and Birthdays on the other. Brilliant I thought and set to work.
They took me maybe about 2 weeks to complete, and they were rather simple to construct once I figured out my dimensions.
I made these in February but I finally got to use one last week for Rowan's Birthday. It worked out awesomely!

Picture above shows Ash's Birthday side and Rowan's Christmas side. (Ash's Christmas side looks exactly the same and Rowan's Birthday side is yellow and has ladybugs on it.)

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Attempt No. 1: FAILURE (of sorts)

So a conversation on Facebook got me thinking about holiday (in this case the 4th of July) ice pops for the kids. I thought first I would try colored infusions frozen seperately (at seperate times.) Unfortunately as you can see in the picture, it didn't exactly work out as planned.
I started with blueberries mashed up with honey and a bit of water for the blue (which came out a bit more on the purple side) and let that freeze up.
Meanwhile I made and chilled some lemon balm and hibiscus infusions.
The lemon balm pops that I usually make aren't EXACTLY white, but they are close.
Unfortunately, I had to move the sticks to pour the hibiscus infusion in, and the lemon balm infusion turned into a redish swirl..... Ah well.
Ultimately they were deemed tasty by the trusty taste testers, but they weren't red, white, and blue. I do have another idea brewing in the back of my mind which I will attempt tomorrow. We shall see how it goes.
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Monday, June 27, 2011

Herbal Lotion

Today we are going to tackle herbal lotions. There are varying ways you can accomplish this. There are endless variations of herbs and oils that you can use and it can all depend upon what it is you are trying to accomplish with said lotion. Today we will discuss something basic, a calendula and st. john's wort lotion.
First you need:
1 cup of an infused oil. (in our case since I am making calendula/st. john's wort we will use 1/2 cup of each.) Note: I am talking about an infused oil NOT essential oil. (Mine are usually infused in olive oil, but there are better oils you can use such as grapeseed or almond.)
1 ounce of beeswax

Calendula flowers infusing in Olive Oil

Put both in a double boiler and heat until melted. Then pour your mixture into your blender. (At this point I should state you need a good blender and if your blender is not so good you can ruin your motor doing this to many times. ) Let mixture cool but do not let it solidify. (about 5 minutes or so.) At this point I add:

The gel of 1-2 aloe leaves (You could add more if you wanted)
1 tablespoon Shea Butter
Now you will want to turn your blender on low setting, you can push it up to medium if you want or just leave it on low.) While your blender is on you will add:

6 tablespoons of water (You may want to add distilled water, or maybe a hydrosol of some sort, or you can make an infusion of lavender or really whatever you want and use that. After you add the water and blend the oil and water mixture together you then pour the mixture into tins/jars. At this point you may want to add a few drops of essential oil, depending on your fragrance preferences. Once your creams are cooled you can check them for consistency.
You may have to play around with the oil types, amounts, and what have you until you get something you like.

I got the main recipe for this lotion at Herb Mentor . They have an in depth video about this and it's many variables on youtube. (There are 4 parts.)