Chickweed in a pestle & mortar

Hawthorn Basket

Blackberry Flummery

Blackberry Flummery

Flummery is an old fashioned sort of pudding, and this recipe belonged to Julie's grandmother. It is very easy to make, and tastes delicious.

Wash a quart of blackberries

Combine in a saucepan with 1/2 cup hot water and 1 1/4 cups sugar

Add a dash of salt and cinnamon

Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer gently until slightly syrupy - usually 5 to 8 minutes.

Mix 3 tablespoons water with 2 tablespoons cornflour, making a smooth paste. Add this to the hot blackberry mixture and stir over a gentle heat for 3 to 5 minutes until the mixture has thickened and become slightly translucent.

Pour into a serving bowl and leave to cool. Serve cold.

Posted 29 Sep 2020. Permanent Link.

Three Spice Powder

Three Spice Powder

Many people are experiencing hay fever at this time of year. Luckily there is a brilliant kitchen remedy. This recipe was adapted from the traditional Ayurvedic Trikatu formula by our friend Vicky Pitman, replacing the long pepper of the original with aniseed which is much easier to obtain in the west and which also tastes much better.

Three spice powder can be taken to relieve the symptoms of hay fever and colds, but can also be taken at a low daily dose for prevention. It is also very beneficial for a sluggish digestion and for the circulation.

Mix equal parts of powders of ginger, black pepper and aniseed. This can be kept in a jar. To use it, take 1/2 teaspoonful mixed into a paste with a little local honey. Once a day is sufficient for prevention, but if you have itchy eyes and a runny nose or sore throat, take as often as needed to manage the symptoms.

Posted 15 Apr 2020. Permanent Link.

Onion poultice

Onion poultice

Onion is very versatile - you can use fresh or dried, cooked or raw, warm or cool. For a tight chest, use a warm onion poultice if you feel chilled or raw onion if you feel hot. Raw onion is more likely to irritate the skin, so if you are doing this for a child you could cook the onion or else simply remove the poultice if the skin becomes sore.

Simply peel and finely chop half an onion. It can be used raw, but we usually cook it a bit. You can make more of a paste of it by adding a little water, then some cornmeal or flour to thicken. Then wrap it in a square of cloth and apply to the chest to ease breathing. It can be kept warm with a hot water bottle if necessary. Repeat if needed.

Raw onion can be used to draw out heat and inflammation from bites, stings, boils and splinters. Simply place a piece of cut onion on the affected area, and hold in place with a bandage or bandaid.

Here is a video from one of our readers who found an onion poultice helpful for chest pain due to pneumonia from probable Covid-19. She shows you just how simple it is to prepare.

Posted 02 Apr 2020. Permanent Link.

Chickweed pesto

Chickweed pesto

This abundant garden weed is commonly fed to chickens and songbirds, but is a good food for humans too. I don't like the taste of chickweed on its own. But this recipe is so delicious that it has become a regular part of Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners in our house, and we make it often. It can be served on pasta like a basil pesto, but we usually just serve it as a side dish with whatever we are eating.

Chickweed, surprisingly, is higher in iron than nettles or any vegetables. Pop-eye should have been eating chickweed, not spinach!

We grow pots of chickweed, which keep us going right through the winter in an unheated greenhouse. It is available outdoors almost year round, though it will disappear in a hard winter or a hot dry summer. Spring and autumn are the best times to harvest.

Put everything in a food processor:

a colander full of chickweed (around 80 to 100g)

2 or 3 cloves of garlic, peeled

1/2 cup sunflower seeds

1/2 cup cold pressed oil (we like hemp seed or olive)

2 tablespoons yeast flakes (nutritional yeast/Engevita)

1 or 2 teaspoons vegetable stock powder, or salt to taste

Best eaten fresh, though it will keep in the fridge for a few days if you don't eat it all right away.

Variations: you can add wild garlic leaves, sorrel or other edible greens in place of some of the chickweed.

Posted 30 Mar 2020. Permanent Link.

Barley Soup

Barley Soup

Barley is one of the most ancient grains grown by humans. It is a good source of selenium, an important mineral. It also supplies vitamins B and E, and calcium and potassium.

This barley soup is helpful for low immunity, weakened energy and convalescence. It can also soothe IBS and colitis, and help with blood sugar imbalances and high cholesterol.

Put in a saucepan: 3 cups water and ½ cup of barley. Simmer for half an hour or until the barley is plump and tender.
Sauté 1 onion (finely diced), 1 teaspoon minced garlic, and ½ cup of sliced mushrooms until cooked, then add to the barley soup. Add miso, tamari or sea salt to taste. Add ½ cup chopped parsley and a handful of chopped chives or spring onions, cook for about a minute longer and then serve.
If someone is very weak and ill, strain the soup and just give them the broth.

Posted 27 Mar 2020. Permanent Link.

Cleavers water

Cleavers water

The is the perfect time to give your lymphatic system a spring cleanse. Your lymph is a vital part of your immune system. Lymph is a clear fluid with white blood cells in it. After your blood plasma delivers oxygen and food to your cells, it collects the metabolic rubbish from the cells and is transported by the lymphatic system back towards the heart. Lymph nodes clean the fluid before it rejoins the blood stream near the heart.

Cleavers (Galium apparine) is at its best this time of year in the northern hemisphere. It is the sticky, velcro-like plant that children like to throw at your back, and which cleaves to your clothes with little hooked hairs.

The easiest way to use cleavers is to make a cold infusion. Simply pick young stems, put them in a jug and fill it up with cool water. Leave overnight, and drink over the course of the next day. The water can be topped up, but it's best to make a fresh batch every day.

Posted 26 Mar 2020. Permanent Link.

Four Thieves' Vinegar

Four Thieves' Vinegar

This is an excellent recipe for keeping winter colds and other infections at bay. The original story goes back to 18th century France, where four grave robbers were caught robbing the houses of plague victims. In return for their freedom, they gave the recipe of how they stayed free of infection. The recipe made it into the official pharmacopoeia, and is still sold today as Le vinaigre des quatre voleurs.

The essential ingredients are vinegar and garlic, and then you can add other aromatic herbs and spices as available: rosemary, sage, oregano, mint, thyme, lavender, cinnamon, ginger, star anise, black pepper, mustard seed, cloves etc. We usually add an onion, and horseradish or hot chillies.

It is worth making quite a big batch. Fill a jar with layers of garlic and whatever other herbs and spices you have on hand. Top up with cider vinegar, or whatever vinegar you want to use, to cover the herbs and spices.

The normal method is to seal the jar and put in a warm place for two or three weeks or longer, then strain and bottle for use. But for current usage, use the quick method: put your jar of vinegar and herbs in a pot of hot water, with the lid loose to let air out, and keep gently heated (don't boil the water bath, but a gentle simmer is OK) for an hour or so. Leave the jar in the pan of water until it cools. Leave the herbs in the jar, and just pour off a little of the vinegar as you need it. The bottle can be topped up with more vinegar. You can add honey or vegetable glycerine to taste.

Your thieves’ vinegar can be used several ways:

• take a teaspoonful several times a day, neat or in a little hot water

• add to salad dressings

• use a tablespoon in the bath

• use topically as an antiseptic on the skin

• use as a topical spray for disinfecting kitchen surfaces.

Posted 05 Mar 2020. Permanent Link.

Dandelion flower oil

Dandelion flower oil

This is an excellent oil for tense muscles. Fill a jar with dandelion flowers picked on a sunny day. Pour in olive oil to cover the flowers, and cover the jar with a piece of muslin held on with an elastic band. Leave in the sun for several days, until the oil is golden and the flowers have wilted. Strain off the oil, bottle and label it.

Posted 05 Jan 2019. Permanent Link.