Just Another Day On The Farm

Today was a productive day! I got a ton done, thanks to the help of my interns and good friends, Andrea and Leila. Three sets of hands definitely make light work!!!

The new Butterfly Garden - passionflower in the back

The new Butterfly Garden – passionflower in the back

 

We rotated a few mushroom logs, planted passionflower vines, planted a couple cantaloupe and squash plants, weeded , harvested a boatload of comfrey and planted the comfrey roots – well s-o-m-e of them – there are tons!

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OH and we planted a row of sunflowers – yay!!! Hopefully the squirrels and the birds don’t get them.

Next we took all of the comfrey leaves and laid them out on the trays to dry. The flowering tops along with some of the leaves and the stems will not go to waste because I will put them in olive oil to infuse for salves.

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And a tray of some of the passionflower leaves that we cut off the tops of the vines –

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None of the scraps went to waste either – the chickens got them!!!

The gardens are really shaping up – I will post more pictures later. :)

Enjoy your day!

Anne-Marie

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Beeswax – the block or the pastilles?

One day I will have my own bees – so I can have honey and BEESWAX! Until then I have to buy beeswax in either a giant block or in a more processed pastilles(fancy word for pellets).

Dealing with the pastilles is easy, peasy – you just open the bag and scoop em out. Yeah real convenient….but it does go through extra processing and it costs a bit more. If you want some just go here. So I get the block or should I say the brick because that is exactly what it feels like especially when cutting it up. Yep you gotta cut it up using every muscle in your body and no way can you grate this giant thing. Beeswax is not cooperative. Soooo I could melt the giant brick in a pot that may or may not take a few hours and then pour it into little molds or ice cube trays. Did I do that this time? Nope.

The beeswax brick

The beeswax brick

Here goes – if you want a bit of a workout, you can do it this way or enlist your hubby or your kids, the neighbors kids, well maybe not the kids – not with a big knife like I have.

I took out all of my kitchen tools: the cutting board, the crinkle cutter, the chefs knife, a sledge hammer(no just kidding :D ) –

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First I tried using the crinkle cutter, rocking it back and forth and all I got was like an 1/8th of the way through it – using muscle. Whoa baby this – is – hard! So I went to the big chefs knife as I have done before, and tried cutting right where the crinkle cut left off. It took an extreme effort, breaking a sweat and my hands hurt but I did it.

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Next I had the cut the hunk it itty bitty pieces – way easier than the chunk.

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I swear though, this chore took at least 30 minutes and I only cut 1 pound of the 2 pound block – hahahaha!

Wrapped the rest up!

Wrapped the rest up!

Do you think Pampered Chef realized someone would be using their tools for chopping beeswax instead of veggies? Maybe I should send a picture to them. :D

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So to clean these tools, uhhh throw away….no really they can be cleaned! Use a scraper, wet the tools and scrape off all excess before using soap and water.

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Next time – I really will melt it down to make it easier. Silly me!!!

Hope you had some laughs on this one. Have a beautiful day!

Anne-Marie

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Stinging Nettle, Amazing Benefits and Spanakopita!

What do you think of Stinging Nettle? I am always amazed at how much this plant can do for you. Stinging Nettle (Urtica dioica) is chock full of medicinal and nutritional benefits. It is called “stinging” for a reason – fine, stinging hairs filled with formic acid, just like fire ant bites, cover the entire plant. So you thinking, why in the heck do I want this plant if it is going to hurt me? Trust me, you will love this plant once you hear about all the good stuff!

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Let’s start with the medicinal benefits:

Herbal Actions – Blood Tonic, astringent, diuretic, hypotensive, anti-inflammatory, mild styptic, UT tonic.

Those stinging hairs also contain histamine and when the leaves and stems are freeze dried, the histamines are contained  and capsulized. The nettle then acts like an anti-histamine in your body. These capsules may help your allergy symptoms when taken daily.

A tincture or tea of nettle helps chronic skin and hair dryness, blood deficiency, hair loss and the immune system. I frequently add nettle to just about every client’s formula because it works well with many symptoms and boosts the immune system, which all of us could use a little boosting!

The root is used for Benign Prostate Hyperplasia(BPH), poor urinary output and urinary incontinence.

Contraindications: Avoid using with hemochromotosis(excess iron levels) or hyperkalemia(elevated potassium in the blood).

Nutritional Benefits: Iron, High Protein, Chlorophyll, Vitamins A, B, C, Calcium, Magnesium, Serotonin, Amino Acids.

Just plain good stuff!!

Here is a tonic recipe that is used by many and I believe the original recipe goes to Susun Weed.

1 ounce by weight of dried nettle leaf

32 ounces by volume of water(I use cold)

Pour water over herb in a quart canning jar. Cover and let steep 4 hours or overnight. Strain and drink within 2 days.

OH and while I was cleaning the thick stems away from the leaves and thin stems, I didn’t want to just compost them so I made an infusion of he stems! While it did not become as rich as using the leaves too, it still was quite good and I am sure, beneficial.

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I LOVE Spanakopita but have never made it before. I found a recipe using the nettles instead of the traditional spinach. Well I gave it a try and holy, moly, totally, freaking amazing!!! Here is my recipe and don’t be afraid of the phyllo dough – you will just curse the first few sheets. :D

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Stinging Nettle Spanakopita

1 onion, chopped

3 garlic cloves, chopped

12 cups of fresh nettles(I think I only had 10)

3 eggs

1 cup ricotta cheese

2 cups feta cheese

1/2 teaspoon dried dill or 1 tsp. fresh dill

1/2 cup fresh parsley

1/4- 1/2 tsp. nutmeg

12 sheets phyllo dough. (TAKE 1 roll out of freezer 1 hour before using to thaw or as per instructions on the box.)

1/3 cup melted butter.

First – rinse your nettles in a colander. Don’t dry. I used the leaves and the thin stems. Be careful working with them until they are cooked! Heat a large pan on medium and add the rinsed nettles. Cook until wilted like spinach, you may have to add a couple spoons of water just to keep the nettles from sticking. Once wilted and cooked the nettle will no longer sting you.

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Remove from pan, drain if needed. Cook onion and garlic in a tablespoon of butter until tender.

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In a large bowl: add cheeses, eggs and spices. Add the nettles, garlic and onion mixture.

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Mix well. Have butter melted. Lay everything you need out next to each other including a wet paper towel to cover the phyllo dough.

Preheat oven to 350o.

Butter the bottom of a 9×13 pan, I only had a larger sheet pan. Carefully, butter one sheet of phyllo and place it on the pan. The first few are trick so you can practice on a couple until you get the hang of it without tearing them. Continue doing this to a total of 6 sheets, laying them on top of the previous one.

By the way – I do not have pics of this step because I was so afraid I would let the dough dry out!!!

Then spread your nettle mixture across the dough. Butter 6 more sheets of phyllo laying each one over the top. LIGHTLY score the top of the pastry with a knife into portions. Doing this makes it easier to cut when they come out of the oven without having a crumbly mess. :D

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Bake for about 30-35 minutes until lightly brown. Eat as many as you want!!!

I found a whole bunch of other nettle recipes here.

Also visit Herbal Living at Mother Earth Living – I contributed part of this post there.

Enjoy your day today!

Anne-Marie

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Recap of Mother Earth News Fair

I don’t know what happened to April, it just came and went in the blink of an eye!! So I must apologize to my readers for not blogging much the last two weeks.

Many cool things happened this month. We had the launch of our Herbal CSA with 10 shareholders and the distribution of the Spring Herbal Basket –

Spring CSA

A couple weeks ago, at a last minute decision, I drove to Asheville, NC to the Mother Earth News Fair just to meet Rosemary Gladstar – the most famous, amazing, inspiring herbalist of all!!! Of course I did some of fun stuff too, I was there anyway. :)

If you ever get the chance to go to one of these fairs, I think the next one is in Pennsylvania, you MUST! Holy Moly homesteading/farming/herbal classes galore and the shopping – ahhhhhhh!

I met a few folks from Mountain Rose Herbs – here is Josh in the booth. They gave out samples of herbs and lots of stickers!!! I even got a stack of stickers for the Herbal Notebook Class – of course with their permission. :) You can buy some of these sticker on their web site for about a buck – awesome.

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The first class was on Herbal Beauty Products – loved it! It was with Sue Goetz, author of Herb Lover’s Spa book. She gave a bunch of fabulous recipes out. Here is one –

Bathing Blend Recipe

Whole organic oats – my guess would be 1/2 cup

Lavender – 1 T

Lemon Verbena – 1 T

Rose Petals – 1-2 T

Add to a muslin bag or a cotton sock. Tie to the faucet and let very hot water run over it. Then add cool water to the temperature you prefer. Sit and enjoy a relaxing soak!

Next I went to a Wild Foods class – yep right on target! The guy’s name was Alan and I can’t for the life of me remember his company…..oh wait No Taste Like Home. Here is his website. I want to go on one of his amazing adventures!

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He gave us a list of the top 100 wild foods – ramps, acorns, ants(hell no!), puffballs, purslane, apples, beautyberry, hawthorn berry, sassafrass leaf….the rest in the link.

here ya go! FOODS

I learned about mushrooms from Mushroom Mountain and purchased some Reishi(Ganoderma) spawn to innoculate some logs. Yippee!

I saw Dr. Christopher’s son from the School of Natural Healing.

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David Christopher did an entire talk on comfrey. It was eye opening to learn all the different ways comfrey(Symphytum officinale) can be used and to not be so afraid of the the PA’s(Pyrrolizadine Alkaloids). It is used for bruising, broken bones, slipped discs, sprains, muscle pains, severed fingers etc…He explained that the Symphytum officinale is lowest in PA’s, especially the larger older leaves and how it can be taken internally on a short term basis without negative effects unless someone was also taking many pharmaceuticals in which case could affect the liver. Soooo I think I will use Comfrey internally but probably just for my family until further investigation. :D

Oh and if you wanted books – mega amounts of homesteading books.

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fair books too

And one I need to save for –

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My HIGHLIGHT of the day? Meeting Rosemary Gladstar of course, and getting one of my books signed!!! Oh my was I ever excited – you can see it in my face! rosemary was as sweet as she looks, so friendly and chatted with me as if she already knew me. Sigh…oh to go study with her one day. I can dream can’t I?

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Snapped a pic of her talking to someone else

chatting

chatting

signing my book

signing my book

Happy Faces!

Happy Faces!

She even asked if we have met before – ahhhhhhh. Well maybe she saw my face as one of the new contributor on Herbal Living for Mother Earth Living?

Well off to do errands and gardening!

Enjoy the rest of your day, folks,

Anne-Marie

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Marvelous Morel Hunt

My share

My share

This week was my first real morel hunt. A couple days ago I found one morel, just one but yesterday we found about 50!

Whoa!!!

Whoa!!!

My friend Stephanie, fellow plant and wild foods geek like me, and I went on an afternoon hunt for morels. She had been looking before so she knew where to look better than I did. Here I was thinking they had to be near the big trees, the elms, the poplars and guess where the majority were found? Amongst the privet patches! Privet…the tree that grows out of nowhere and eventually cover a few acres in no time at all.

Well privet is not very tall and quite bushy so you just can’t walk underneath, you gotta crawl. Ummm….yeah we must be die hard wildcrafters when I wear the snake proof boots so I won’t get attacked by snakes and then wind up crawling on hands and knees to get those almost out of reach morels and risk being face to face with a snake. :D

Can you find it?

Can you find it?

Broken mushroom cap but see the hollow stem?

Broken mushroom cap but see the hollow stem?

No snakes were seen – thank God! Stephanie and I were covered in sweat, dirt, sand, stuff from the bushes but we were happy, we scored two baskets of marvelous morels!

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So back to the environment for morels. Evidently, they don’t have one particular place to grow. These were found, like I said in a privet covered patch but in a sandy, loamy soil close to a river. Also – remember to go with someone experienced first so you don’t pick a false morel which is poisonous. A real morel is hollow all the way through whereas the false morels are not. Plus the real morels have a honeycomb appearance to the cap and look like tall hats or little trees, the false ones are round.

I cooked some of those babies up in butter, garlic and pepper and they were delicious!!! Guess we’ll eat some more tonight. :)

Here are a few recipes for using morels.

Alaska Morels…in Pasta

Here in south central Alaska, I get tons of morels. I find them from the end of May thru the first part of July in most any area that has a large percentage of birch trees. Never anywhere near pockets of spruce trees. I have gotten as many as 200 in just a few hours of picking but usually stop after 70 or so. That’s about all my dehydrator will hold. Most are of the honey colored and dark brown varieties and range in size from 1-1/2″ to 4″ tall. I like to take the larger ones and slice them in half, dredge them in egg batter with a few dashes of salt and habenero powder. Coat them with flour and fry them in butter.

The smaller ones go into a sauce for pasta as follows:

2 leeks – sliced thinly
2 scallions – sliced thinly
2 dozen or so smaller (1-1/2″) morels- cut in half
3/4 cup good champagne
2 lg tbsp of sour cream
1/2 cup whipping cream
4 – 5 tbsp butter
salt – pepper to taste
1 tsp chopped fresh lemon basil

Saute leeks and scallions till just transparent. Add morels, salt and pepper and saute till liquids stop coming out. Turn heat to high and add champagne being sure to scrape bottom of skillet. Reduce heat to med., add sour cream and whipping cream and cook till reduced slightly. Add fresh lemon basil remaining to heat for 2 – 3 more minutes. Pour directly over cooked Angelhair Pasta!

Courtesy of Gary Koski – Anchorage, Alaska

Wood Family Favorite in a butter entrée

This recipe has been the Wood family favorite for many years. You can substitute the crackers with flour if so desired.

1 big haul of fresh morel mushrooms
2 lbs real butter (or margrine)
1 doz eggs
1 box saltine crackers

Mushroom Preparation – Wash and cut fresh mushrooms into quarters, slicing long way. Soak in large bowl of salt water to remove and kill all those little pesty critters. Leave soak in refrigerator for a couple hours.

Read the rest here at THE GREAT MOREL

Asparagus and Morels ***Especially since the asparagus are coming up!

Experienced hunters know that asparagus is a tasty combination with morels. If you’re not familiar with this pairing I suggest you give it a try. You’ll be surprised how delicious, yet simple, this recipe is.

Asparagus recipe for morel mushroomsMorel recipes are often served with some sort of meat or animal product. Yet this is an easy creation that lets non-meat eaters enjoy the fresh fungi as well. Replace the butter with olive oil for a truly vegetarian recipe.

  • 1/2 lb fresh morels, sliced lengthwise
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 bunches asparagus, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 1 shallot, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

Melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add the shallot pieces, garlic, morels, and asparagus. Cook until the morels are browned and the asparagus is tender, usually 8 to 10 minutes.

Too easy! *****From Mushroom Appreciation***

 

Do you have a favorite way to cook them? Please share in the comments below.

Thanks and enjoy the beautiful day ahead –

Anne-Marie

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Wild Violet Ardor: Whipped Honey Butter

bellavistafarm:

I am so doing this with all the abundance of violets right now. Enjoy this delicious post from Danielle Prohom Olson and visit her blog :)

Originally posted on gather:

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“Don’t let love interfere with your appetite. It never does with mine.” Anthony Trollope

Valentine Day is gone, but for those still in the mood for amour, there is a lovely little woodland aphrodisiac blooming right now – the Violet. Today we associate this demure little beauty with primness and old lady perfumes – but it has not always been so – in ancient Greece its aroma was said to “torment young men beyond endurance” and it was used by courtesans to scent their breath and erogenous zones. Affiliated with Venus and love from time immemorial, the violet (according to the American Violet Society) was the original official flower of Valentines Day – not the rose.

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Growing wild in the Northwest, Viola sororia only grow a few inches high and are found in shady forests or wet areas each spring.  They can also migrate into urban areas and are…

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Happy Easter: The Story Of Passionflower

Happy Easter to all of you! In preparation for my wishes to you this morning, I was reminded of the story of passionflower.

Since medicinal plants are pretty much my life now, I thought this story was perfect for today – please share it will those near and dear to you as we remember and celebrate the reason for Easter.

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Passionflower – The Passion of Christ

passionflower symbolism

Passion Flowers have been associated with the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ as well as the Passion of Christ. The latter association led the missionaries to name the flowers “Passion Flowers.”

The ten petals and sepals, to the Spanish, represented ten disciples present at the crucifixion. (excluding Judas and Peter)

The three stigma represented three nails that held Christ to the cross.

The five anthers the five wounds of Christ.

The tendrils are said to represent the whips used in the flagellation.

The many fringes represented the crown of thorns in the passion story. Bosio counted 72 fringes or filaments, which according to tradition, writes Vanderplank, is the number of thorns in the crown of thorns.

This powerful symbolism has led to the inclusion of the Passion Flower among the ornamentation of various churches, such as in stained glass window designs, altar frontals and lectern falls.

But the Passion Flower is sacred even outside the Christian world. In India, for example, the flower’s structure is interpreted according to the story of the five Pandava brothers, with the Divine Krishna at the center, opposed by the army of one hundred at the outside edges. The pigment of the blue Passion Flower is said to be associated with the color of Krishna’s aura.

Interpretations vary in literature. A poet of the time explains that this flower was used to persuade Indians of the power of the cross. The passion flower, he writes, was a witness at the crucifixion.

References – http://www.passionflowerpower.com , http://www.bellavistafarm.wordpress.com, http://www.altnature.com

Have a Blessed Easter!

Anne-Marie

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