Thursday, April 30, 2009

Basic Tincture Tutorial

Tinctures are an excellent way to liberate, concentrate and preserve the healing properties of herbs. Until about 50 years ago they were listed in the United States Pharmacopoepia but are not readily available to the general public any longer. Fortunately, they are fairly easy to make yourself. Consult a good book on herbs to determine which herbs you would like to make a tincture from. One of my favorites is The Natural Pharmacy by Skye Lininger
from Prima Publishing. It has great info on herbs including dosages, prope
rties, side effects and how they might interact with prescription and over the counter drugs. I especially like the drug interaction information because while I use herbal remedies whenever possible, I still recognize the worth of Western medicine for certain ailments. The following is my recipe for Elderberry Tincture. It is one that I have on hand at all times because I find it so useful. A study in humans has determined that elderberries have an antiviral effect and I use it for anything viral, colds,flu, etc. This recipe can be adapted for any herb, just do your research on the intended herb first!

  • elderberries- dried are usually the easiest to find so that's what I use
  • an inch or two of fresh ginger-quartered (the ginger in the picture is frozen. I store mine in the freezer to keep it fresh)
  • 2 tablespoons of dried peppermint (4-5 if using fresh)
  • good vodka
Put the berries, ginger and peppermint in a glass container that can be tightly covered. Pour enough vodka in to cover the herbs. (You may have to add a bit more vodka in the first day or two if using dried berries as they will absorb it) Put the jar in a warm place and give it a good shake or stir a couple of times a day. Let it do its thing for about two weeks, then strain. Store in a glass jar in the refrigerator.

The ginger and peppermint are optional. I like to include them because peppermint helps settle your stomach and ginger is warming.

My general guideline for myself and my family is this- use an herbal remedy for three days. If it doesn't work in that amount of time, go to the doctor. If the ailment gets significantly worse, go see a doctor.

You can purchase dried elderberries from Jeans Greens at
Disclaimer: My recipes are not intended to diagnose, treat or cure any disease or ailment, nor are they intended to replace the advice or treatment of a medical doctor. Herbs are a complementary therapy. Please see a medical professional for proper diagnosis and treatment of any health concern.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Simple Things Anyone Can Do To Lessen World Hunger

There are many things we all can do to lessen world hunger. You don't have to have much money- every little bit makes a difference! You can make a huge difference just by planting an extra row in your garden for your local food bank or soup kitchen. When you show up with an armful of zucchini they won't close the curtains and pretend they aren't home like your next door neighbor will!
The Cooperstown Farmers Market collects extra produce from the farmers at the end of each market to take to our local food bank.
It's amazing how quickly the wagon fills up! The fresh veggies are much appreciated by those who can't afford them.
Below are some links to learn more about what you can do.

To find out about the Plant a Row for the Hungry program-
For free seeds to plant to feed hungry people in your neighborhood-
To help feed a hungry child-
To find a food bank near you-
For more info on hunger around the world and here in the US and to read more blogs on this issue-

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Flax Seed- Linum Usitatissimum

Flax is a beautiful annual plant with a sky blue flower. It is easy to grow and looks good in most any mixed border. You can start it from seed in pots or sow directly where you want it to grow. The plant doesn't require a very fertile soil and does best in full sun. It's delicate appearance doesn't hint at what a powerhouse it is nutritionally.
Ground flax seed is an excellent source of omega 3 fatty acids which are important for heart health, to reduce inflammation and can help lower cholesterol. If using flax seed as a food, it is important to grind it otherwise it will just pass through your system virtually unchanged. Grind your flax seed with a coffee grinder and store the seeds in the refrigerator.
To use, add a tablespoon to your morning cereal or yogurt. Add a tablespoon to what ever spread you like for sandwiches. You can also substitute one tablespoon of ground flax seed plus 3 tablespoons of water for each egg called for in cookie, muffin and pancake recipes. It will alter the texture some what when used in this way. You can also just add a few tablespoons to your favorite baked goods recipes.
One of my favorite uses for flax seed has nothing to do with nutrition and everything to do with relaxation! I like to combine flax seed and lavender in my eye pillows. The fragrance of the lavender is very relaxing. The flax seed is naturally cooler than the air around it and is soothing to over worked eyes. I like to keep my eye pillow in the fridge so it's extra cold! I just added the dragonfly eye pillow to my Etsy shop.
(If you would like to buy flax seed for your own recipes or projects visit
Everything in their shop is fresh and of the highest quality.)

Monday, April 27, 2009

Corn with Sage

This is a quick and easy recipe that shows sage isn't just for poultry in the autumn! Fresh sage leaves are emerging now in upstate New York and this is one of my favorite ways to use them. The earthiness of the sage really brings out the sweetness of the corn and sauteing it gives it a totally different texture! Hope you enjoy it! ~Gail!

Corn with Sage
  • 2 cups of frozen corn kernels
  • 2 teaspoons butter
  • 6-8 fresh sage leaves
  • fresh ground black pepper
Stack your sage leaves and roll into a cigar shape, then slice to make ribbons. Melt the butter in a saute pan and add the corn. Saute over medium high heat for 4-5 minutes or until the golden color of the corn deepens. Add the sage and black pepper and saute another 2-3 minutes to release and combine the flavors.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Peace, Simplified

"World peace begins in the heart of each individual" Jamie Sams

Maryann Stow

One of the most inspired painters I know is Maryann Stow. I met her several years ago through the Artisan's Guild in Oneonta, New York. Her work is that of dreams. Visit her website at
for more info. You just have to check out her painting "Her-Own-Woman" It's my all time favorite piece of Maryann's!
If ever you're in Oneonta, stop in to the Artisan's Guild to see Maryann's work in person. She has a large variety for sale there in all price ranges. The Artisan's Guild is an artists co-op with 45-50 members depending on the time of year. The work ranges from painting, to wood working, blown and fused glass, pottery, jewelry,fiber arts and of course- herbal goodies from myself. The store is a treat for all your senses!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Sage- Salvia Officinalis

"How can a man grow old who has sage in his garden?" is a much quoted ancient proverb. The name "salvia" is from the Latin salvere, to be in good health, to save or to cure. It was so valued by the Chinese, that the Dutch would trade one chest of sage for 3 chests of tea!
Sage is a long lived perennial shrub that requires little more than light, dry, well drained soil to thrive. It is a good addition to your perennial border as it is well behaved and adds a nice silver-gray leaf and pretty purple flower.
To harvest, pick the leaves when they are young and just before the plant flowers. You can use the dried leaves in sachets to put in your linens to discourage insects and make them smell wonderful.
I like to make an infusion in vinegar along with rosemary to use as a hair rinse. It really makes dark hair shine! Simply put the herbs in a glass jar (a good handful for each cup of vinegar), cover with a good vinegar and let steep in a warm place for a couple of weeks then strain off the now dark vinegar. To use, add a couple of tablespoons to a glass of warm water and pour over freshly washed hair. Rinse thoroughly . This fragrant rinse removes excess shampoo film and really makes your hair shine!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Crock Pot Cassoulet

My crockpot is my best friend on busy days. It cooks all day and I don't have to do a thing past the initial prep and in the end it's faster than fast food. The following recipe uses the Herbs de Provence recipe from my March 25th post. Don't worry if you forgot to take chicken out of the freezer to thaw. You can put it in frozen!

Chicken Cassoulet with Herbs de Provence
  • 4 large carrots,scrubbed and cut into 2 inch pieces
  • 4 potatoes, scrubbed and quartered
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 celery stalks with tops, sliced into 1 inch pieces
  • 8 slices of crispy bacon, chopped
  • 1/2 cup of dry white wine or chicken stock
  • 1/3 cup basalmic vinegar
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons Herbs de Provence
  • salt and pepper to taste
Put all your veggies in the crock pot first then add the chicken. Pour the vinegar and wine over all and sprinkle with the herbs and salt and pepper. Cover and cook on low for 7-8 hours or on high for 4-5 hours or until chicken is cooked through and veggies are tender. Serve as is or on a bed of rice. Serves 4.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Something to Ponder on this Beautiful Friday

Flora Whittemore

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Brown Sugar Soap Muffin

Do you enjoy a good brown sugar scrub but hate the mess? Then this soap is for you!
I layered creamy soy milk soap with exfoliating brown sugar.The amino acids, proteins and lipids found in soy beans are extremely moisturizing and provide rapid cell regeneration.
The scent is a delicious blend of sweet orange essential oil and the softest vanilla. Yummy!
The tapered muffin shape of this bar fits comfortably in your hand and is easy to hold onto when it's wet.

The first 3 people to order this soap on Etsy between now and April 21 will get free shipping on their bar of soap! (I'll refund the shipping cost through Paypal.) Just write "blog deal" in the notes to seller to take advantage of this offer!
Here is your link-

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Chives, Chives and More Chives!

I finally slowed down enough from the hectic pace of the past month to take the time to peak at my garden. Everything is waking up and calling to me to tend to its surroundings. I don't clean up until spring which is not what the gardening experts tell you to do, but it fits my schedule better.
There, next to the front steps, was a bright green patch of chives! Chives are a happy plant. It is one of the first herbs to appear in the spring and thrives on benign neglect. They are member of the allium family and grow well in full sun to partial shade. While they prefer a rich soil, chives do well in poorer soil so long as it's well drained.
When harvesting, cut the leaves leaving two inches for regrowth. They are best used fresh but you can freeze them for later use. I haven't had any success in drying them. However, in the fall it's easy enough to put some in a pot to bring inside for the winter so you have fresh all year long. Just put your chives in a sunny window and keep evenly moist.
Chives can be added to salads, soups and sandwiches. They are also good mixed with butter for veggies and potatoes.Well, I could not resist using some of those tender green shoots last night and made some simple, but tasty, cheddar and chive biscuits for dinner.


  • 1 1/2 cups of Bisquick
  • 1/2 cup of milk
  • 1/2 cup of shredded cheddar cheese
  • small handful of chopped chives
  • a couple of grinds of black pepper
Put everything except the milk in a bowl and stir until combined. Add the milk and mix just long enough to moisten the dry ingredients. Drop by spoonfuls on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake in a preheated 425 degree oven about 8-9 minutes or until golden brown. Serve hot with chive butter . Makes 6 biscuits.

Enjoy! Gail

Monday, April 13, 2009

Got Baked Goods?

Larry and Marion of The Italian Cookie Home have the best baked goods around- banana bread, cookies, foccacia and apple tarts to name a few. They also offer homemade soups and hot coffee to keep us all warm and toasty at the market during the winter months! If you are ever at the Cooperstown or Delhi's farmers market, stop in and say hi to them!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

After the Show

The craft show this past weekend was amazing! It was like a Christmas show. While it was quiet on Sunday, Saturday was booming. About 80 vendors participated and their product lines were varied and top notch for the most part.
It was so nice to see my regular customers and meet new ones! It seems most people have regained their hopefulness, which is half the battle, in my humble opinion!
While this photo is of my furry daughter, Princess Heidi Bear Whiny Butt (on her personal couch), it is exactly how I felt after the show was over. :) ~Gail~