Garlic (part six: using culinary herbs)

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Much has been written lately about garlic and it’s health benefits, everything from lowering cholesterol to fighting the common cold. We  love garlic, we eat almost every meal with it in there somewhere. I learned some years ago, that nursed babies will nurse better if the mother consumes garlic. Babies are attracted to the flavor the milk takes on from the garlic.

 

Garlic can be use cosmetically for a number of conditions including, acne, ring worm, and other fungi. Puree of fresh garlic cloves can be applied to abscesses as an antiseptic and healing agent, also to ringworm on the head; for athlete’s foot, apply liberally to infected area and wrap well with a clean, dry cloth for 1-2 hours, then remove and wipe away excess garlic with dry cloth.

 

Research shows that garlic sprays kill cabbage white and ermine moth, onion fly larvae, mole crickets, pea weevils and field slugs and deter aphids and Japanese beetles.

 

Bug Formula

 

  • 3 oz garlic, chopped,
  • 2 tsp mineral oil, 1 pint water,
  • 1 oz oil-based hand
  • soap, water to dilute

 

Soak garlic in oil for 1 week. Then dissolve soap into water and mix in the garlic oil. Strain out garlic. When ready to use, dilute 1 part in 20 parts water and spray on plants. The soap can be replaced with ½ oz of liquid all-purpose, bio-degradable soap.

 

A therapeutic dose fresh cloves is 3-5 per day; taken raw in food, or in capsules. Be prepared for garlic burps. If you can have 

 

We have found the bolted garlic scapes are really yummy. We like to use the scapes on eggs and salad just like chives or green onion but with so much more flavor. 

 

One of my favorite recipes is to take a whole head of garlic and to remove the skin as much as possible from the outside. Then I cut the top of the cluster off so that each of the cloves have their tips removed. Then I cover liberally with oil. Then we roast it in the oven at 350 until it is soft and only a little brown. If it’s getting too brown cover it. We love to eat the roasted garlic as a spread for bread or crackers. 

 

 

 

Basil (part five: using culinary herbs)

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Basil…yummy…one of my favorite herbs for cooking. I love the way my garden, hands, and kitchen smell in the summer when I have been picking my basil. I love a sandwich with turkey bacon, fresh juicy tomato and basil leaves; it makes my mouth water just thinking of it.  Basil is also good for a number of medicinal purposes it’s healing properties include: antidepressant, antiseptic, stimulates the adrenal cortex, prevents vomiting, tonic, carminative, febrifuge, expectorant and soothes itching.

Studies have found basil can reduce inflammation up to 73%. Basil works to block the same enzymes that NSAID class of drugs do.  This amount of inflammation reduction is on par with commonly used arthritis medication.

Rubbing leaves into fresh insect bites to reduce itching and inflammation. Combine the juice of the leaves with an equal quantity of honey and use for ringworm and itching skin.

Basil smells of summer and green, fresh days, it’s no wonder basil makes such an uplifting tonic for the spirit. Some think basil helps to ground a restless spirit, and to increase monogamous intimacy.

Digestive blend

  • 5 drops basil essential oil
  • 3 drops peppermint essential oil
  • 3 drops Roman Chamomile essential oil

Sweet Basil Balm (for hard-to-heal blisters and minor burns):

  • 8 fresh sweet basil leaves
  • 1/8 tsp apricot kernel oil
  • sterile cotton gauze
  • surgical tape

Rinse the sweet basil leaves under cold water. Pat dry. Mince the leaves. In a small glass bowl, combine the basil and the apricot kernel oil. Mash to form a smooth paste. Cut 2 rectangular strips of gauze large enough to cover the injury, plus an extra inch all around. Spread an even layer of the basil paste on the surface of one of the gauze strips, leaving an inch around the edges free to accommodate the surgical tape. Place the clean strip of gauze on
top. Fasten the poultice to the injured area with surgical tape. Keep the balm on the injury for at least 2 hours. Remove and discard. Re-bandage with plain gauze for the next 24 hours to keep clean.

Soak

  •  Add 5-10 drops to a bath for nervous exhaustion, mental fatigue, melancholy, or uneasiness.

Psoriasis Relief Treatment

  • 1 anise, cut into pieces
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 Tbsp basil
  • 1 Tbsp parsley
  • 1 cup steeped black tea

In a blender, mix anise on medium speed until smooth. In a small saucepan, heat water, basil, and parsley until boiling; then reduce heat and simmer for 45 minutes. Remove from heat and cool. Mix liquid with anise and tea in small mixing bowl. If you don’t want herbs in the final mixture, filter them out before using liquid. Apply mixture with a clean cloth to psoriasis-affected areas every 30 minutes for 2 hours every night. Makes 2 cups. Cover and refrigerate. Discard after 5 days.

Sage (Part four: using culinary herbs)

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Garden sage has; heating, drying, pungent,bitter and astringent qualities to it. I have often thought that the plants qualities reflect its ideal environment. Think of where sage loves to grow and you start to also understand about the plant and what it can do for you. It’s very drying for example and has been used for drying up a lactating woman’s breast milk. It has astringent qualities and is wonderful for gum health because of its effect on the tissue to reduce information as well as to kill germs.  Sage is wonderful as an addition to herbal steams to help reduce inflammation.

Traditionally sage has been used as a smudge and is burned to help purify the air. I do not like to burn herbs because of the added particles to the indoor air.

Sage has been shown to reduce perspiration by up to 50% and is used in many herbal deodorants on the market. Like rosemary, sage contains powerful antioxidants, which slow spoilage supporting its traditional use as a preservative.

Here are some great ways to use sage:

Sage Throat Spray:

  • 5 fresh sage leaves
  • 8 oz distilled water
  • 5 inch square cheese cloth
  • 8 oz amber glass bottle with spray-top

Place sage in a small glass bowl. In a small, nonmetal pot with a tightly fitting lid, bring the distilled water to a boil. Pour the boiling water over the sage. Cover and steep for 10 minutes. Place the cheese cloth in a fine gauge sieve. Strain the infusion into the spray bottle and discard the spent herb. For swollen, inflamed throat apply the spray every 2 hours. Can be stored in refrigerator for 3 days. (The Healing Kitchen)

Sage Lip Cream:

  • 4 tsp sweet almond oil
  • 1 tsp shredded beeswax
  • 2 tsp dried sage
  • 4 tsp warm rosewater
  • 5 drops sage oil

Put the almond oil and the beeswax together in a double boiler and simmer slowly until they have melted and mixed. Add the dried sage, stir, cover and allow to simmer for five minutes. Remove from the heat and leave to steep for two hours. Return the mixture to a low heat, strain and whip in the rosewater. Continue blending for several minutes. Remove from the heat, add the sage oil and keep stirring until the salve thickens and cools. Pot and label

Sage Liqueur

  • 12-14 fresh sage leaves or 4 tsp dried or 2 tsp ground 
  • 2 whole cloves
  • sliced and scraped peel of one lemon
  • 1½ cups dry white wine
  • 1 ¼ cups vodka
  • 1 cup sugar syrup

Lightly crush the sage leaves, add the clove and lemon peel to the white wine and vodka for 2 weeks. Strain and filter; add the sugar syrup. Mature 4-9 weeks. Sugar Syrup 1 cup white granulated sugar and ½ cup water Bring to a boil, and stir until all the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is clear. Always cool before adding to alcohol mixture. (Homemade Liqueurs)

Salviata (Sage Pudding)

  • 6 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 Tbs all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh sage leaves
  • 1 small clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 3 Tbs freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 Tbs heavy cream
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1 Tbs extra-virgin olive oil

Combine the eggs and flour in a mixing bowl and beat to incorporate. Stir in the remaining ingredients except the olive oil. Grease a 6-inch round baking dish with the olive oil and pour in the egg mixture. Bake in a preheated 325F oven for about 30 minutes, until risen and set but still soft. Serves 4 to 6.

Rosemary (Part three: using culinary herbs)

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I’m humming an old Simon and Garfunkel song the last couple of days while working on this series of posts. Any way Scarborough fair aside  rosemary is a great plant. It works in most climates and is one of those herbs where for seasoning food a little goes a really long way. It’s great for meats, cheese dishes and even in some “summery”, fruit based deserts. 

There is so much good stuff about rosemary I haven’t time enough to tell you all about it. I suggest that you do some research and spend some time really getting to know this amazing plant. In my own research I have found it is useful for digestion, it stimulates the liver, digestive tract and gallbladder; I can’t help but think that is why it is so good one fatty meats like lamb and in cheese dishes, since it helps to stimulate the proper release of bile. I also saw some research that showed rosemary constituent chemicals, rosemarinic acids almost completely prevent the formation of the enzyme urease, which is one of the main contributors to kidney stones. 

Now how can we use this herb in a practical home application? Since many of rosemary’s chemicals cross the blood brain barrier even with external use finding an organic, high quality source is really important. If you are using the essential oil it is critical to make sure you are getting steam distilled and 100% organic. Once you have your awesome plant in hand it can be used as a tea for digestion. The oil can be used on the forehead to increase awareness and concentration as well as to reduce migraine and headache. It does increase blood to the brain so if that is not your goal this isn’t the one to pick. I use rosemary in my apple cider vinegar hair rinse, it’s great for stimulating the scalp, even people with hair loss have seen rosemary aid in hair regrowth. (I like bald-headed men)

Here are a couple of recipes and applications I think you may enjoy trying at home:

For lice treatment:

  • 2 oz vegetable oil
  • 20 drops tea tree oil
  • 10 drops each of rosemary, lavender and lemon oil.

Combine ingredients.
Apply to dry hair and cover with a plastic bag or shower cap. Wrap the head in a towel. Leave on for 1 hour. Then put shampoo on dry hair to help cut the oil. Work the shampoo into hair, rinse, shampoo again and rinse.

For the men in our lives that we love, I hope they never need this but if so, best wishes.

Anti-inflammatory Prostate Oil:

Combine ingredients. Rub on the skin under the scrotum once or twice a day to increase circulation, reduce
inflammation and relax muscles.

Rosemary Pesto 

  • 1/3 cup fresh rosemary leaves 
  • 1½ cup fresh parsley leaves 
  • 2 large garlic cloves 
  • ½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese 
  • ½ cup walnuts 
  • ½ cup olive oil 
  • salt and freshly ground pepper 

Combine the rosemary, parsley, garlic, cheese, and walnuts in a food processor or blender. Process to mix. With the machine running, slowly add the olive oil. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground pepper and process to the desired consistency. Let stand 5 minutes before serving. Use this pesto as a sauce or marinade base for vegetables, seafood and lamb.

Rosemary Punch 

  • 1 large can pineapple juice 5 tsp fresh rosemary 
  • 1 ½ cups lemon juice 
  • 2 cups water 
  • fresh lemon slices and rosemary sprigs 
  • 1 large bottle ginger ale 

Boil 1 cup of pineapple juice with the rosemary. Remove from heat and let stand 5 minutes, then strain and cool. Add all other ingredients except the ginger ale. Pour into a punch bowl over ice and add ginger ale just before serving. Float lemon slices and rosemary sprigs in a bunch bowl.

**Use sparingly if pregnant and not at all during first trimester because it could trigger a miscarriage (in therapeutic doses). (Mixed info on the possibility of rosemary as an abortifacient…..Review of Natural Products says no valid role)

 

Thyme (Part two: using culinary herbs)

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Thyme we can all use a little more. Beside being a yummy seasoning for just about any meat it’s an amazing healing herb. It has a well deserved role as a medicinal herb. Thyme tea is wonderful for coughs and is a great antispasmodic.It also loosens congestion to help get it out of the lungs. It has been used for centuries to kill fungal skin infections and to clean wounds. It’s antimicrobial properties make it one of my first choices for cleaning around the house as well. Here are two recipes to get you started on your journey towards getting to know thyme a little better.


Thyme Cough Drops


4 fresh thyme sprigs
16 oz distilled water
1 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
¼ cup light corn syrup
1 tsp oil of orange
1 tsp cream of tartar
candy thermometer 


In a small, heavy-bottomed pot with a tightly fitting lid, bring the thyme and the distilled water to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Set aside to steep overnight. Coat an 8-inch-square cake pan with two teaspoons of butter. Set aside. Coat a medium, heavy-bottomed pot with the remaining butter. Strain the thyme infusion into the pot. Discard the spent herb. Add the sugar, corn syrup, oil of orange and cream of tartar. Stir to dissolve the sugar. Cook over medium-high heat, moving the pot in a circular motion to swirl the liquid until it boils. Take the temperature. Swirl-cook at a boil, until the thermometer reads 300F. Pour the syrup into the cake pan. Set aside about 5 minutes. Score the semi-hard syrup into half-inch squares with a knife. Set aside to harden, about 30 minutes. Turn out on a sheet of waxed paper. Break into cough drops along the scored lines. Stored in an airtight container, they’ll stay fresh for months. (The Healing Kitchen)


Thyme Cleaner

1 cup of white vinegar

1 cup thyme

1 cup lavender blossoms

1 quart jar

Use a glass mason jar with a plastic lid like the tattler ones or line the lid with waxed paper. Simply put thyme in the jar and pour the vinegar over it. Every day for a couple of days (2-4) give it a shake. After a week strain it and pour vinegar into a spray bottle. Use the cleaner for windows, counters, stove tops and cutting boards. I like to use it on food safe surfaces like the cutting board because it will kill germs but wont leave nasty chemical soaps on your surface. 

10 best herbs for kitchen and health (Part one: using culinary herbs)

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I talking with a friend this week, and we were thinking of a list of 10 or so herbs that we just could not live with out. I realized that I would be best served by choosing culinary herbs. I think that culinary herbs get unfairly slighted because we think of them as common or less “medicinal” since they are “safe”. I think this is unfair because while they are safe and it would be hard to get enough in you to be toxic they are very powerful for keeping you healthy as well as for getting you back to health when some imbalance occurs.

All of the herbs I have chosen for this list are easily grown in most every climate with a little love and caring.

  1. Thyme
  2. Rosemary
  3. Sage
  4. Basil
  5. Garlic
  6. Onion
  7. Lemon balm
  8. Peppermint
  9. Chamomile
  10. Lavender

There are hundred or even thousands of great plants out there that could have been on this list but since I was really trying to pare it down I had to of course leave out many very useful and tasty herbs. Each of these herbs are ones that can be (in most cases) safely eaten everyday if you like. In the following posts I will share a few recipes with that you can make from these herbs but I encourage you to explore on your own and to find some new ways to use them in your everyday life. Along with this list I would also like to add that I try to at all times keep on hand a large amount of both white and apple cider vinegar and honey. Vinegar and honey just about make sure that no matter what you will be able to make most remedies.

 

Spring Cleansing

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I wrote about cleaning our homes for spring. Now we are going to talk about cleansing our bodies for spring and why that is important. We know that the Bible says that before the Passover we are to clear out all the yeast from our homes and for 7 days we eat no yeast. Why would we think that the creator of our bodies wouldn’t know this is something everyone needs to do at times. Once a year in the spring when allergens are at their highest God asks us to fast from yeast. If you have ever had a systemic yeast (candida) infection and have gone on “the yeast diet” then you know just where I’m heading. Not only is this principle laid out to have us act out a spiritual truth but this is a practical and healthy thing for us to do.

During the Spring season the Earth is warming and plants are growing up, it’s a time of renewal. Both out minds and our bodies are stuffed full of toxins from the winter months that we have spent indoors and eating the heavier foods of winter and our bodies and brains have been starved of much-needed sunlight. For many of us we have not moved enough over the winter to flush out the lymph system and we have become stagnant and even toxic. Many of us (myself included) have been eating too many sweets and have created an environment for yeast to flourish within us, many of us have also had to take antibiotics due to winter illness and have killed off many or most of our good bacteria.

What do you do? Consider observing the Creator’s fast of yeast. If you are healthy then one week is plenty to help take the load off of your system and allow you to balance out. If your body is not healthy then more time will be needed to fully purge the nastiest out.  Most people who do observe the Passover and feast of unleavened bread eat lots and lots of sugar during that time. I will not be doing that and I suggest to find any physical benefit that you also fast sugar at this time.

There are also foods you can eat and things you can do to help this process along and get your body back to health and ready for all that spring garden work. Eat lots of laco-fermented foods.  If you aren’t familiar with laco-fermentation it is one of the oldest ways of preserving foods, and actually helps keep you healthy by providing a great sours of vitamins as well as probiotics that your body needs both to fight yeast over growth and for good digestion. Foods that you make at home will be best but you can also purchase kefir at your local health-food store. I suggest looking into purchasing water kefir grains  they do not use milk and they have no grain in them they are just granular in nature.

You may also consider doing a cleans. There are many products out there but be careful and make sure you get one that is organic, and from a trustworthy company. I like Garden of life’s Perfect Cleans and Eclectic Institute’s Master Cleans, both of these are great products and will really help aid in your renewal.

Here is my recipe for a spring cleansing tonic that will support your body as well as help to gently get the lymph system to drain and may even help take the edge off of allergies.

1 Oz (by weight) of dried nettle leave

1 tsp of dried dandelion root

1 quart of boiling water

Place herbs in a glass mason jar and pour boiling water over them, stir to make sure all the herbs get submerged in the water. Cover and let sit for 4-8 hours. drink 1-2 cups per day. refrigerate leftovers but use up quickly, small batches are best since this will not keep more than about 3 days.