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Friday, March 25, 2011

Roasting Coffee at Home...again

When I first published this article, written by a young friend of mine, I was a new blogger and thought that just sharing an article was a good thing.  Since I've learned more about blogging, I've realized that exposure is good, so I thought I would give Zach a little shout out here.  These additions have been made to my original article but I realized that it would still be buried in my archives unless I posted it again so here it is.

Zach is a homeschooled, high school student.  He's also really interested in sustainable agriculture and has created a great garden to raise food for his family of 11!  (He's the 3rd oldest)  Zach is always looking for ways to make his garden better.  He has many hobbies and interestes that keep him hopping.   So I thought I'd make a quick list of some of Zach's interests so you can understand a little more about this busy young man.
An organic sustainable gardener.
Inventions for the garden (like magnetic water pumps and greenhouses to name a few)
A musican
A singer
An aspiring chef who is already a great cook and baker
A winemaker (English Vintner)
A bit of a business man
A bread delivery man (works with his dad)
A beekeeper
A builder (working on his own cider press and built a small green house plus more)
A researcher who is always looking for ideas (Sea crop, Whizbang, etc.)
And I'm sure there are many things I've missed.

But you can read all about Zach's adventures because, when he has time, he blogs about what he's doing and learning at the English Press.   You don't see or hear of many teens being into this stuff the way Zach is so check out Zach's blog and follow along with all his adventures.  Be sure to comment so he knows you've visited!

Here's Zach's article on roasting coffee at home;

Roasting coffee at home is something that most people don’t think of as doing. Most coffee comes vacuum sealed, roasted, ground, and ready to brew. Some people take a step back and buy the whole roasted beans instead of the ground beans and notice quite a difference in flavor. The flavor of fresh roasted coffee is unlike any other coffee you’ve tasted. What most people don’t realize is how easy it is to roast your own coffee at home. I started out roasting coffee with a Hot Air Popcorn Popper. I made a some adjustments to it to make it work. After a year of using that method I took off the top of the popper and used a wooden dowel to stir the coffee beans as they roasted in the chamber. This Spring I got a coffee roaster from my Uncle. It has a few dents and cracks in it, but works well. Roasting coffee can be done using quite a few different methods. I’ve mentioned the method that I used. A coffee roaster like what I was given requires virtually no work. Like a bread machine, you put the ingredients in and it turns out the bread. You put in the green beans, turn it on, and in 6 minutes it is done. I roast coffee once or twice a week. Usually about 8 hours before I am going to drink the first cup. Which means the night before. How dark you like the beans is up to you. You just stop when it is as dark as you like and cool the beans down as fast as possible to keep them from roasting further. A colander comes in handy here. After you roast your coffee wait a few hours before storing it in an airtight container, and usually best out of direct sunlight. Don’t grind the coffee until you are ready to brew. Roasting coffee is an enjoyable hobby that is sure to amaze your guests. For more information on roasting coffee and buying it, visit the two links below.

Zachariah E.

Much herbal love,

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Herbal Medicine Chest #8 - Very Personal Herbal Remedies

Wildcrafting Wednesday People’s Choice Nominee
I've been nominated!  
As one of the hosts of Wildcrafting Wednesdays, I post a link-up each week where folks can share their favorite herbal, sustainable, real food recipes, and more with like minded readers.  Often, I don't have a post of my own to share but one of my favorites is this one, part of my Herbal Medicine Chest series, with it's very personal herbal remedies.  I shared this with Wildcrafting Wednesday readers this year and they liked it enough to place it in the top 10 posts for 2012.  On Wednesday, Dec. 26th, 2012, you'll have a chance to vote for one of these top 10 posts for the People's Choice Award!  I hope you'll visit all the sites and read the wonderful information shared by some great folks.

And then I hope you'll vote for this one!  
You'll be able to vote once on each host site so be sure to visit each one and cast your vote.

Kathy @ Mind, Body and Sole,
Chris @ Joybilee Farm,
Lisa @ The Self-Sufficient HomeAcre,
And Me ~ right here @ The Woodwife's Journal
That means you can vote 4 times!!!
Thanks for your support!

Welcome to week #8 of our Herbal Medicine Chest.  We're exploring herbal preparations to help you put together your own Herbal Medicine Chest.  Don't forget to check the comments section of each week's post to read the remedies shared by savvy folks who aren't blogging.

The Herbal Medicine Chest has it's own button!  
Grab it from the side bar to share on your site.

See the Herbal Medicine Chest page (directly linked from the new button) to connect with all the articles in this series...even info pages that are not included in the hop, or visit the archives for direct links.

Suppositories, Douches and Enemas - This area of herbal medicine is one that many folks don't like to think about, let alone talk about due to it's rather intimate nature.  But these methods of herbal application can be quite useful and very effective when dealing with specific local issues and for treating folks who are unable to take an oral remedy for various reasons.  They are especially helpful when treating little ones. 

Much of the research I've shared comes from a variety of internet and book sources too numerous to mention as well as empirical evidence but a valuable book that provided a lot of indepth information and is great to have on hand is James Green's ~ Herbal Medicine-Makers Handbook.  You can purchase it by clicking on the picture below. 

Suppositories - I'm sure you've heard of them but I'll just begin as though it's a new topic. What are they?  Basically, a suppository is a single dose bolus or herbal mass made of solid oils or gelatinous semi solids containing herbs and/or essential oils that will melt at body temperature when placed in a body orifice other than the mouth.  There are lots of places to find out about administering this type of preparation so I'll just focus on how to make them at home.
Why would we want to use this type of invasive herbal remedy when we can take herbs orally in so many different forms?

Rectal suppositories can be used to deliver herbal remedies for both local and systemic applications.  Substances can be absorbed quickly by the mucous membranes of the lower rectum and enter circulation much like a remedy taken orally that passes into the system through the digestive tract.  This may be helpful when treating infants, children and adults who can't take an oral remedy or can't keep one down due to nausea and vomiting.  This is a great way to give herbal remedies for high fever or to soothe tissues or even encourage elimination in some instances.  Hemorrhoids and prostate issues can also benefit from doses of herbs delivered in this fashion.

Vaginal suppositories are the same vehicle applied vaginally to soothe tissues, treat some infections and deliver remedies that may heal a nearby location.  Astringent herbs can be used to firm and strengthen as well as reduce discharge.  These are very helpful but should be used minimally to avoid irritation.

At this point, I'll mention another invasive method that can be used vaginally.  I've talked about castor oil's amazing healing properties before.  You can read about that
here.  To apply castor oil vaginally, you can saturate a non-irradiated tampon with castor oil and insert it over night to relieve many problems from cramping to fibroids and much more.
It would be my personal recommendation that both types of vaginal remedies only be used by adults for various reasons. to make a suppository.
First, let's talk about ways to form them.  An easy way to do this is to wrap a "fat" pencil, a marker, handle of a wooden spoon or dowel in several layers of foil.  Slide the tube from the form and flatten one end.  Roll tightly to seal.  Make several of these and stand them together in a can or jar that will support them in an upright position.  Use you imagination here keeping in mind that, at the most, the diameter should not be much greater than 1/2" for adults.  Once the warm process mixture is ready, fill each tube (a small funnel is very helpful) and allow it to cool until firm or freeze for 2-3 minutes.  Remove the foil and cut into appropriate lengths.  Store in the fridge.
I might as well say now that rectal suppositories are best shaped like bullets while vaginal ones are best shaped like eggs. 
Rectal suppositories should weigh about 1 g for children and 2-3g for adults.
Vaginal suppositories should weigh about 3-4 g. 

Bases for herbal suppositories are cocoa butter (most common), coconut oil or gylcerin & gelatin.

Cocoa Butter Based - best way to prepare a suppository if using powdered herbs.  Cocoa Butter is very stable and will not turn rancid allowing them to be stored for years.

Cold Process Method - using two knives or forks or what ever tools work for you, blend the powdered herb with a small amount of cocoa butter.  A few drops of an essential oil may be added.  Then add more cocoa butter to form a putty or cookie dough like mixture.  Form into small shaped masses.  Store in the fridge but warm to room temp before inserting.

Warm Method - using a double boiler, heat water to boiling and remove from heat.  Place the top pan of the boiler, with the ingredients, over the hot water.  Stirring until just melted, add essential oils if required and remove the pan with the mixture from the heat source.  Cocoa butter may become hard to work with if heated above 92 degrees making your suppositories crumble when trying to insert them.  Pour into molds, freeze for 2-3 minutes and remove from molds.  Store in a labeled container in the fridge.  Again, warm to room temp before inserting.

Glycerin and Gelatin Based - The advantage of glycerin and gelatin as a base for suppositories is that it allows for the addition of liquid herbal extracts of many kinds, like infusions, decoctions and tinctures, as well as essential oils.  Here's the basic prep from James Green. 
Pour 1 oz. of an herbal tincture or other liquid herbal extract of your choice into a small glass or stinless steel pan. 
Add herbal powder.
Add 1 oz. of pure vegetable glycerin
Add 2 oz. distilled water  (Or substitute 3/4 to 1 ounce of witch hazel extract - great for treating hemorrhoids- for 1 oz of the distilled water)
Blend well.
Add 1 envelope ( 7 gm ) of unflavored gelatin
Over low heat, stir until gelatin is completely dissolved.
Remove from heat and pour into molds.
Let it cool a while then place in fridge to solidify.
Store in fridge. 

This type of suppository will eventually begin to dry out and should be discarded after 3-4 months.  This means a batch will probably last throughout flu season!

NOTE - one of glycerin's characteristics that is valued in other areas of herbal medicine and cosmetics is it's ability to draw moisture to itself.  Repeated use of glycerin suppositories may cause irritation because of the reverse affect of this when used internally.

Douches and Enemas - both of these methods of application are extentions of the suppository and require special equipment.  Without creating or fostering undue fear, I'd like to make a few comments.  These are very invasive and may be uncomfortable if you are unfamiliar with their proper use.  Appropriately sized equipment must be used for children.  I recommend more independent research and study before administering either of these remedies.  Great care must be used to avoid injury.  But all that aside, with a little familiarity and research, these can be a valuable tool in your herbal medicine chest.  Here's a good place to start. 
Douches - this means of irrigating the internal walls of the vaginal area brings quick application of herbal remedies directly to the source.   You can use a reusable bag and applicator made especially for this purpose or a hot water bottle and applicator. 
Herbal liquids (excluding alcohol based tinctures) can be used to soothe and heal.  A simple mix of 1/2 water (could be herbal water based liquid) and 1/2 hydrogen peroxide can be very helpful.  A little castor oil is best applied via the tampon method mentioned above.  Again, it is my personal opinion that these methods be reserved for adults.

Enemas - soothing herbal liquids, again excluding alcohol based tinctures, can be applied to relieve constipation, fevers, irritation and deliver remedies that will be quickly absorbed through the walls of the rectum without losing any of their efficacy by passing through the digestive process.  While I mentioned that the process can be uncomfortable and care must be used, these applications of our herbal remedies can be quite helpful and quick acting when oral remedies cannot be used due to illness or age of the person we're helping.  Camomile tea is a common herbal liquid used for enemas.  It is calming and soothing.  A general rule is that if you can drink an herbal remedy as a tea, you can use it as an enema.

A few tips about enemas;
The liquid should be as close to body temperature as possible.  Cold liquids can be shocking and cause chills and shivering which requires energy that is better used to heal.  Warm liquids can be painful even if only slightly warmer than body temps.  Of course, common sense tells us not to use "hot" liquids that may burn.
Gather all your "stuff" together before you begin so you can create a relaxing experience.  This will make the actual application easier for both parties.
Be sure the room is warm without drafts that may cause chills.

This post in the Herbal Medicine Chest series is the last dealing with herbal preparations.  We'll continue the series with more information about herbs and their uses, herbal terminology, herbal lore, traditional and historical use of herbs and more.  After the series ends we'll be compiling all the remedies and links that folks have been sharing with us.  The linkie will be open until that time.  I'll let you know ahead of time.

Sharing this post with:

Strangers and Pilgrims on Earth
Monday Mania
Simple Lives Thursday

Wildcrafting Wednesday
Natural Living Mamma

Monday, March 21, 2011

Herbal Medicine Chest - A Wordless Day

Today's the day for my Herbal Medicine Chest linkie and I promise you, it's coming!  I've been lolly gagging and thoroughly enjoying the past week with my daughter who was home from college for Spring Break!!  As a result, I'm not ready to publish this week's linkie this morning but keep watching for it.  I hope to have it up by this evening or at the latest tomorrow morning.  Sorry for the delay but, hey, there are some things that are too important to miss!

Much herbal love,

Friday, March 18, 2011

Milk pudding - Muhallabiyeh

Here's the recipe for a Lebanese dish that we prepared for our Middle Eastern Feast.  This light, refreshing dessert makes a wonderful summer treat.  It's flavors mingle into a pleasantly surprising, delightfully creamy dish.

4 cups milk
4 heaped TBSP ground rice (cream of rice) or cornstarch
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp Orange Blossom Water
1 tsp Rose Water
1/3 cup blanched almonds or coarsely ground pistachios

Put milk and rice in a sauce pan over high heat.
Bring to a boil stirring constantly.
Reduce heat to low and add sugar.
Continue stirring for 7 minutes or until the liquid thickens.
Add Orange Blossom and Rose water, simmer, still stirring for two more minutes.
Remove from heat.
Pour into one shallow bowl or 4-6 custard cups.
Cool and garnish with ground nuts.
Add a sprig of mint. (if desired)
Serve cold.

Much herbal love,

This recipe has been shared with the following blogs:
Sweets for Saturday
Foodies Follow Fridays
Hearth and Soul
Simple Lives Thursday
Visit each one for more real food recipes and great ideas!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Herbal Soapmaking 101

Hey!  It's finally here!  The first in a series of herbal classes that can help you on your way toward caring for your family with homemade products and remedies that are free of harmful chemicals and full of herbal healing and goodness.
Soapmaking 101 will be held on Thursday, April 14, 2011 from 6 - 9PM

Would you like to make your own herbal soap? Create an herbal shampoo bar? Learn about "soapnuts" for cleaning nearly everything from your laundry to your hair? Make your own laundry soap powder for pennies/load? Join us for Herbal Soapmaking 101. Class size is limited so please reserve your spot early by sending payment ASAP. (preferrably by March 31st) This allows me to order supplies for everyone in time for class. Class cost is $30 and includes product to take home and light refreshments.
Extra product/ingredients available for purchase.

Contact me with questions, for more information or directions.
Child care available for a small fee. Contact me for details.

Stay tuned for more upcoming herbal classes as the season's schedule unfolds!
Herbal Baby Care Basics
Herbal Medicine Chest 101
Herbal Medicine Chest 201
Herbal Tea Party
Fermented Dairy and Vegetables
Herbal Beauty Basics
Herbal Spa Party
Green Cleaning Basics

Much Herbal Love,

Monday, March 14, 2011

Herbal Medicine Chest #7 - Capsules, Pastilles, Lozenges, Chewables, Gels and Electuaries

Welcome to week #7 of our Herbal Medicine Chest.  Join us on Mondays for the next few weeks to explore herbal preparations and put together your own Herbal Medicine Chest. Share your favorite remedies with the linking tool at the end of each Monday's post. (Now closed to new entries)  Don't forget to check the comments section of each week's post to read the remedies shared by savvy folks who aren't blogging.

 The Herbal Medicine Chest has it's own button! 
Grab it from the side bar to share on your site.

See the Herbal Medicine Chest page (directly linked from the new button) to connect with all the articles in this series...even info pages that are not included in the hop, or visit the archives for direct links.

Pastilles, Lozenges, Capsules, Chewables, Gels and Electuaries

This article in our Herbal Medicine Chest series is really more about presentation...How do we present herbal remedies to the more selective palate in a way that is most likely to be accepted?  In other words, how do we get our kids to take them?

Tuesday, March 8, 2011've got to check it out!

Good Morning!  I'm doing my little bloggy thing this morning and I read a very informative and entertaining (she always makes me laugh) post from Leslie over at Crunchy Betty about using soap nuts.  She's talking about them this week and sponsoring a giveaway (U.S. residents only) from Mountain Rose Herbs. 

Here's their link to Soap an affiliate, it throws a few cents my way if you order through this link.  If your check out Leslie's post and enter the giveaway, tell her I sent ya and she'll enter me in the drawing, too...a two for one deal!

I think this makes a good addition to Soapmaking 101...coming soon!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

A Bench and a Chest

We're not woodworkers but every once in a while it's nice to tackle a project.  Nothing too complicated but fun and useful.  When we were working on our house, we decided we needed a big farmhouse table.  My husband made one from some leftover floorboards and legs salvaged from an old table.  But then we realized that we were going to need lots of chairs to go with it.  We had a few chairs that would work until we could find enough antique wooden chairs to go with the table.  So we decided to make a Shaker style bench for one long side of the table. 
We eventually found 14 antique chairs at a super affordable price if we bought the lot. We had enough for our big table and have found homes for the extras around the house.  But our good old bench is still a favorite, great for extra seating indoors and out.
Some friends of ours are seriously into French and Indian reenacting.  After spending over a week at Colonial Williamsburg with a homeschool group where everyone dressed in colonial clothes everyday,  we decided to try our hand at reenacting in a camp, too.  But, we needed a wooden chest for storage because everything about our camp had to look the part.
Well, we're creative homeschoolers, right?  The girls and I decided to have a woodshop day! We gathered some lumber and set to work.  Our chest would need to work for seating, too.  And it should have cleats or something to keep it up off the ground, especially in rainy weather.  Once we figured out what it should look like, we had a blast building it and distressing the paint to make it look like it had been around for a while.  What we ended up with was a blanket style chest that could be used as a bench in our camp.  When it's not being used in a colonial camp, it makes it's home in my living room!

Good times and good memories!
Pondering my meanderings with love,
This post has been shared at:
Beyond The Picket Fence

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Lady Spring

Slumbering in a cozy hollow, Spring is resting peacefully somewhere in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia where she's been biding her time since the early spell of warm weather tempted her to move north from the coasts of the Caribbean.

Despite the groundhog's rare prognostication of her early arrival, it seems she's longing to stay hidden from the wintry weather that's lingering over the eager hyacinths and snowdrops that are budding in the hollows.  Each morning she peeks timidly over the ridge to look northward toward the Appalachians of Pennsylvania where I make my home.  Soon she'll advance from her slumbering nest to kiss the ground with warmth and spread her breath over the early flowers coaxing them, ever so gently, from their chilly winter beds. But, as temperatures oscillate between the teens and low thirties, she is dillydallying in the glens, dancing with anticipation, until her internal clock tells her the day has come to meander further north, gently but firmly driving winter's chill before her steady advance.  As the Earth's axis travels on its spinning path bringing our neck of the woods closer to the sun, Spring gains strength from the sun's warmth and determination from its promise to come ever closer for a spell.

Here in Pennsylvania, the stark beauty comes alive with the sun as the birds begin to flitter about greedily looking for a morsel or seed to gobble quickly before the squirrels find it. The winter snows and ice have melted, watering the frozen earth; leaving behind a muddy reminder of their sojourn in these parts.  Plants and bulbs begin to yawn and stretch.  The sap has begun to flow and the sugar maples to ooze their sweet spring elixir, beckoning us to share in the bounty of their natural sugar stores.  Tantalizing thoughts of syrup and sugar-on-snow draw us into the forest to collect this precious sap which will yield jars of sticky goodness as we huddle around the warmth of the steaming evaporator.  Pussywillows prepare for their early spring display of soft, pale beauty that lasts but a few weeks as it blesses our early trips to the chilly waters of native trout streams.

To live here, in this place, is to know all the seasons in their glory.  The advent of April showers that herald the reawakening of life as witnessed in the heady scents and uplifting displays of a plethora of May flowers.  The sun's heat that grows in intensity through the months of June and July encouraging the gardens to bring forth an abundance of harvest in the often sweltering dog days of August.  The cooler nights of September that begin to harden the soft fruits that grace the orchards which bless us with fall fruits by the bushel before the crisp nips of frost turn the leaves into a glorious painting of glowing yellows, reds and oranges in the midst of October.  As the leaves fall and colors slowly begin to fade, the chill deepens and November prepares for a chance of snow just in time for Thanksgiving and the highly anticipated and proclaimed holiday of the first day of deer season.  The month that follows is a whirlwind of activity as the holiday season is fast upon us with the hanging of the greens and wishes for a white Christmas heavy on our minds as December brings the year nearly to its end.  The last week of the calendar year, although bustling with holiday activities, is a time for contemplation and thoughtful plans for renewed interests and revisited resolutions either fulfilled or awaiting a new determination.  The depths of winter, in my little hollow, hit hardest shortly after the New Year begins and dawdle here throughout January and February when the famous groundhog peeks timidly from his den to determine if an end of the frigid, frosty weather is near or still some distance in the future.  Either way, March is a time of transition, the resting and rejuvenating is at it's end and lo, Spring is fast on her way!

It's a good day to get outdoors in anticipation of the warming just ahead. And the awakening of the earth that will accompany Spring as she floats over the mountains and finds me here...watching and waiting...still pondering my meanderings.

Much herbal love,

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Herbal Classes Survey

Hey, Everyone!

Thanks to those of you who have expressed an interest in attending some of my classes. Before I finalize a class schedule, I wanted to make sure I have everyone's opinon about the ones that interest you most.

Here are the choices:

Herbal Medicine Chest (based on the series I'm running on The Woodwife's Journal blog)
Personal Spa products
Green Cleaning
Herbal Beauty Basics
Fermented Dairy and Vegetables

Do any of these pique your interest?

I have some really special things planned so I hope you can join us for the fun. Your class fee includes several recipes to make your own, generous samples to get you started, and light refreshments. What works best for you...Evenings?...Saturdays? Drop a comment, or email me if you'd like more info or have questions. I"ll be sending out more details for each class once I have an event scheduled. So, which one should be first? I'm thinking of starting in late March. What do you think? Thanks for your help! :)

Pondering my meanderings with love,

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Preparing small batch natural, additive free products for beauty, health and home right here in our kitchen since 1991 from herbs grown organically in our garden, wild crafted in nearby meadows and woodlands or purchased from reputable, like-minded companies. Dried everlasting wreaths, arrangements and potpourri. Herbal salves, tinctures, soaps, teas and more.