Sunday, August 30, 2009

Collecting and Preserving Herb Leaves

It's quite easy to preserve herb leaves for later use by drying. If done properly, your herbs will retain most of their color, flavor and medicinal qualities.
Gather your herbs on a clear dry day in the morning after the dew has dried. Don't remove the leaves from the stem until after the plant has dried to avoid excessive bruising. For maximum quality, choose plants that are on the verge of blooming. Biennials should be collected in their second year of growth.
Spread the herbs out in a single layer on a screen in a warm, dark place. (I use the spare bedroom and keep the curtains and door closed.) Stir occasionally. When the leaves are thoroughly dry, remove them from the stems. The best leaves to keep are those with good fragrance and nice green color. Store in an airtight container with a tight fitting lid in a cool dark place to maintain maximum quality. A mason jar works good for this.
Now you will have flavorful, healthy leaves for cooking and teas throughout the cold winter months!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

How to Prepare Roots for Further Use

Today's post is in response to a comment/question made on my earlier post on echinacea. (Sorry, Dirty Fingernails : ) )
To prepare roots for further use first dig them up being careful not to damage or cut the sections. Remove what you will be using and replant the rest. Clean your roots with water to remove all visible dirt.
Decocting is a method used for the tougher parts of the plant like roots and bark. Add one ounce of clean root to a nonreactive saucepan and add 2 1/2 cups of distilled water. Bring to a boil then simmer for 30 minutes. If more than 1/2 of the liquid evaporates, add more distilled water to make 1 1/4 cup. Cool, strain and bottle. Store in the refrigerator for use within a few days.
Macerating is very similar to making a tincture and is used when you want longer shelf life for your product. First, thoroughly air dry your freshly washed roots. Pulverize the roots and pack into a glass jar with a tight fitting lid. Cover with cider vinegar or vodka and cover. Shake once a day for two weeks, strain and repeat with more roots. Store in a cool dark place. I prefer the vodka as it seems to be more stable for storage.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

ChocolateZucchini Cake Recipe

We had our annual Zucchini Festival at the Cooperstown Farmers Market yesterday. The main event was the table laden with delicacies all featuring the very prolific zucchini. My contribution was a family favorite- Chocolate Zucchini Cake. I was given the recipe many years ago when I made the mistake of planting a half dozen plants for our family of three! It was an especially good year for zucchini and I think we ate a lifetime's allotment of squash that summer. No one complained when the chocolate cake appeared though. The cake is shown in the center bottom of the photo below the recipe. Our own Molly created the beautiful centerpiece featuring zucchini flowers.

Chocolate Zucchini Cake
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 1/2 cup softened butter
  • 1 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 cup sour milk
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/4 cup cocoa
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 cups grated zucchini
  • 1 1/2 cups chocolate chips- your favorite flavor
Cream oil, butter and sugar. Add eggs, vanilla and milk and mix until smooth. Add dry ingredients and mix. Stir in zucchini and pour into a greased 13x9 baking pan. Sprinkle chips evenly over the top. Bake in an oven preheated to 325 degrees for 40-45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Fresh Raw Corn Salad

If you have never eaten fresh, raw corn on-or off-the cob you are missing a summer treat! Feel free to substitute whatever fresh salad-type of veggies you have on hand for what's listed. I got all the ingredients at the Delhi farmers market. This recipe is very flexible, easy and quick! Double the ingredients to serve four


  • 2 ears of fresh corn on the cob
  • 1/4 cup chopped red sweet onion
  • 1 tomato cut into bite sized pieces
  • 6 baby carrots cut into bite sized pieces
  • 1/4 cup each olive oil and cider vinegar
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon fresh chopped basil or 1 teaspoon of dried
Cut the kernels off your ears of corn and put into a bowl with the rest of your chopped veggies. Combine the last half of the ingredient list in a small bowl then pour over your veggies. Mix thoroughly and wait at least an hour before serving to allow flavors to combine. Serves two.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Delhi New York Farmers Market

On Wednesdays during the summer, I set up at The Delhi Farmers Market. It's nice having a market during the middle of the week so people can get their goodies fresh twice a week!This market is sponsored by the Delhi Chamber of Commerce who provides all the tents and the labor to put them up!


Sunday, August 9, 2009

All Natural Glass Cleaner

This is my favorite formula for washing windows. It leaves them sparkling clean and discourages flies from landing on the glass. I use the spray with cotton birds eye fabric towels to further lessen the impact on the environment. The only downside I have found to this cleaner is my dog Heidi Bear loves the taste and will lick any surface cleaned with it that is in her reach!

Lemon and Mint Window Cleaner

Mix the juice of one lemon with 1 1/2 cups of distilled water, 1/2 teaspoon of cornstarch and 1/2 teaspoon of peppermint essential oil and pour into a spray bottle. Shake thoroughly before using.

You can get the essential oil in my shop at

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Purple Coneflower- Echinacea purpurea

The echinacea is in full bloom here in the northeast. It is a beautiful plant that is very easy to grow. Purple coneflower, as it is commonly known, grows to 2-4 feet in height and prefers a well drained site in full sun. It doesn't mind poor soil. In fact, if the soil is too rich, you may have to stake your plants.

The Native Americans used echinacea for a wide range of ailments from colds to snake bites and external wounds. They also threw on the coals in the sweat lodge for purification.

It is now known that echinacea is an immuno stimulant that increases the production and activity of white blood cells, lymphocytes a
nd macrophages. It also increases interferon production which is used by the body to fight viral infections like the cold and flu.

Echinacea should not be used continuously because that will decrease its effectiveness. Also, those with auto immune or progressive conditions like lupus and multiple sclerosis, should consult their doctors before using. If you have an allergy to any member of the daisy family this is a plant you should avoid.

Commercial products containing echinacea are widely available in drug, health and grocery stores. If you want to harvest and prepare your own harvest the root when your plants are 3-4 years old for maximum potency. Wait to harvest until after several hard frosts when the plant is dormant and don't use roots from plants older than 4 years old.

I like to leave the plants up in my garden th
rough the winter as a food source for birds. Chickadees seem to especially love the seed heads!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Roasted Cauliflower and Tomatoes

This recipe was inspired by the beautiful veggies available at the Cooperstown Farmers Market and my husband's love of cauliflower dipped in cocktail sauce.

Roasted Cauliflower and Tomatoes with Horseradish
  • In a large bowl, mix 1/4 cup of prepared horseradish with 1/4 cup olive oil and salt and pepper to taste
  • Cut one small head of cauliflower and two good sized tomatoes into bite sized pieces, add to your bowl of seasoning and oil and mix well
  • Put everything in a glass 9x13 baking pan and roast in a preheated 400 degree oven.
  • Roast for about 30 minutes or until the cauliflower takes on a nice golden color. Stir once or twice during the roasting for a more even color.
This will serve 3-4 hungry people as a side dish or 2 as a main dish. We ate ours as a very satisfying main dish accompanied by some crusty, fresh baked bread.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

As Seen On a Shopping Bag at the Farmers Market

"Go into the world and do well, but more importantly, go into the world and do good."
~Minor Myers Jr.~