Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Sharing Herbs - Also: A Little On Mullein Oil

With three nieces ages 5, 13, and 15 living just blocks away, I have the perfect opportunity to share the joys of herbs with my extended family. I decided to start with "fun, nourishing, and sweet" -- creating some delicious concoctions that would draw everyone into the enchanted realm of plants with no challenges.

First up, we created our own herbal chai. Filling a saucepan with water, I brought out bundles of dried herbs and spices, and invited them to smell each, and scatter some in. With comments, appreciation (ginger, elder berries, cinnamon sticks, cloves, cardamom pods), debate (burdock root, dandelion root, licorice root), critiques (I let them smell elecampane and boneset, just for fun), we concocted our chai, then set it on the stove to decoct -- letting it simmer for 20 minutes after just reaching a boil. To ensure that everyone gave the chai a good try, I added some hot chocolate. My friend and fellow sound healer, Celestine Raye, who is a mistress of incredible herbal tea concoctions, sometimes adds hot chocolate to her brews, adding a smooth creamy taste to it. (She also adds coconut oil -- yum!).

A big lump of hot chocolate mix tumbled in, probably not adding too much to the flavor (or taking away, as the case might be), but adding excitement and enticement to the whole thing. I offered milk to be added as willed. The teenagers drink their chai "as is", and the little girls drank it with plenty of milk, but all of the chai delightedly vanished. So: success! Amri suggested in the future we might try adding Dagoba's Xocolatl mix--hot chocolate with chilies and cinnamon--to our chai. Lovely idea! Perhaps not for the little girls, however ....

In addition to making our chai, we plucked a bunch of lavender sprigs from the blooming plant in once-upon-a-time Victory garden. We then made sugared lavender, and from the quantities of sugar used in that process, made lavender sugar. Not a whole lot of nutrition in this project, but we certainly connected with Lavender's open-hearted and friendly spirit!

Above: boiling the lavender in sugar water
Left: Lavender sprinkled with (lots!) more sugar before being baked.
Below: Sugared Lavender after baking. The excess sugar from both processes above was saved for other cooking use.

Other projects:

Today I opened the jar of Mullein Oil I started back in Joseph, OR. A month ago exactly! It's hard for me to believe that it's been less than a month since we left. I smell the oil, and it actually smells similar to my Black Cottonwood oil, though less honey-like. Yes, they are both infused in olive oil, but there is a hint of honey here too. I screw the lid back on and set it back into the dark. In two more weeks I'll probably strain out the Mullein and have my Mullein Oil ready for use during the next cold season.Mullein next to Dandelion, back in Joseph, Oregon a month ago. Mullein, like Dandelion, seems to thrive in open, disturbed places. Dandelion is a great liver detox herb and blood purifier. Mullein infusion is useful for healing bronchial conditions. I'll be using the Mullein Oil for soothing and healing ear infections. So, with these properties in mind, how might Mullein and Dandelion be working to heal the bit of land (area around a house) pictured above?

1 comment:

Lauren said...

Great blog! I'm attempting to make sugared lavender and your method sounds really good. I was wondering if you could tell me how long you boiled and baked it for, and at what heat settings?