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Thursday, September 29, 2011

Applemania 2011 Recipe Share

It's that time of year again!  The crisp smell of autumn means apple harvesting, baking and preparation for a winters supply of this healthy fall fruit. It also means that it's time for week #1 of Applemania! 

In the theme of Applemania! I'm sharing a little ditty that I've seen floating around Facebook...
"Girls are like apples.. The best ones are at the top of the trees. The boys don't want to reach for the good ones because they are afraid of falling and getting hurt. Instead, they just get the rotten apples that are on the ground that aren't as good, but easy. So the apples at the top think there is something wrong with them, when, in reality, they are amazing. They just have to wait for the right boy to come along, the one who's brave enough to climb all the way to the top of the tree.."

What is Applemania!?
It's an opportunity for all of us to share our favorite apple recipes!  See some of mine below.  More to come in the weeks ahead.
Here's what to do:
Click on the linky below.
Paste in the link to your blog post.  Make sure the link goes directly to your apple recipe and not to your home page.
Be kind and add a link back to Applemania! in your blog post.  I reserve the right to delete any links that don't play fair. :)
Please leave a comment below.

Last year I shared the recipes below for our favorite apple treats.
Baked Apple Dip
Apple Chili
Apple Crisp
Apple Harvest Cookies
Missy's Apple Dip

Of course there's also Apple sauce, Apple butter and ...Homemade Apple Pie!   It's an American tradition!  Everyone has their favorite recipe for apple pie, some handed down through family and friends, some creations of their own or new recipes from cookbooks, TV and internet.  Here's my recipe for a plain and simple Homemade Apple Pie.

I should mention that I'm using as many organic/unprocessed/unrefined ingredients as possible.

First, the crust...this recipe is one handed down from home but familiar to lots of folks in my neck of the woods.
Never-Fail Pie Crust
4 Cups Flour (I'm using organic, unenriched, unbleached flour with added wheat germ.)
2 tsp. real salt
2 cups butter, lard or coconut oil
1 free-range egg (from our coop)
1 tsp. cane juice
1 tsp. raw apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup cold water

Cut butter into flour and salt with a pastry blender or two butter knives until well blended and pea sized lumps form.  Beat the egg and add to water along with vinegar and sugar. Fork blend until moist.  Don't over do it. Chill 1 hour.
Bake @ 375° for 40 minutes for pie crust shell.  For fruit pies bake as directed.

Roll out your crust and line a pie pan.
Cut and peel apples until you have a pie pan full of slices.
Blend 1 cup cane juice and 1 TBSP flour.  Then add to apple slices.
Fill pie crust with apple mix.
Dot the top of the apples with butter.
Roll out a second crust.  Cut a few vent holes in the top ~ get creative!
Moisten the rim of the pie crust shell and place the second crust on top.
Press firmly to seal the edges, trim excess dough, crimp the edges with your fingers or a fork.
Cover the edges with foil or pie shields.

Bake @ 425° for 15 minutes.  Bake @ 375° until filling bubbles @ center.  You'll be able to see it through the vent holes.

Hope you enjoy this family favorite.
We'd love to hear from you. Do you have a favorite apple recipe you'd like to share? Just click the linky below.
If you'd like to share this link up on your blog just grab the code below and paste it into your post!  Let's see how many folks we reach.  Spread Applemania!

Below are some great blogs to go to for all sorts of traditional recipes, healthy tips and simple living ideas.
This post is linked to
Simple Lives Thursday @ GNOWFGLINS
Traditional Tuesdays @ Cooking Traditional Foods
I'm wheedling my way into Jenny Matlock's Alphabe-Thursday's Letter X.  Check out the other "X"ccelent posts there!
I'm also sharing with the folks @ Food Renegade and their Fight Back Friday Hop.
And the crowd over @ Jo's Health Corner for Living Well Blog Hop.
Also the folks @ Homestead Revival for the Barn Hop.
Sharing with Sarah and friends @ The Healthy Home Economist's Monday Mania!
Linking up to the Hearth and Soul Blog Hop @ 21st Century Housewife
Hearth & Soul Hop

Sharing with the girls @
and Real Food Wednesdays with Kelly the Kitchen Kop

Much herbal love,

Monday, September 19, 2011

What's going on in the Woodwife's kitchen?

It's that time of year again when the smell of autumn fills the air and temps like this morning's 37° F are chilly reminders that summer is coming to an end.  While harvest time means vegetables to put up for winter, it also means there are lots of herbal preparations that need to be made while the fruits and flowers are available.
Over the past few weeks, I've had the opportunity to make elderberry syrup and tinctures to help us improve our immunity against winter colds and flu.  A friend and her family noticed some elderberries growing near their cottage and picked about a bushel to make into syrup.  They were kind enough to share some with me. 

The syrup recipe and dosage comes to us from Mountain Rose Herbs. If you don't have access to elderberries near your home, you can purchase dried elderberries from Mountain Rose Herbs.  You can watch a video of John Gallagher from and Mountain Rose Herbs making this recipe.
I say this because it's a very informative video and John is a wonderful teacher with an entertaining style...but mostly because I forgot to take pictures myself!  You should be getting used to it by now!  I get so involved and excited about what I'm doing that photos to share are the last thing on my mind...until it's over.  Then I remember!  Blast! (You must pronounce this Blaaw-st, in true British style!)

Take a tablespoon daily to ward off illness and a teaspoon every 2-3 hours while sick. For children under 2, add the syrup to hot water to kill any microbes in the honey.
To one bottle of this syrup (about 1/3 the recipe), I've added 1/3 cup of Captain Morgan's Spiced Rum.

I'm also tincturing a jar of elderberries in vodka.

An old time remedy, known as elder rob is made by steeping dried elderberries and cinnamon in red wine.  This concoction was very relaxing and used to treat flu symptoms.
Our friends at Lady Bug Farm, a local blueberry farm that produces their own honey and wines from fruits grown sustainably on the farm, gave us a bottle of meade or honeywine a few years back.   It had a good flavor but was a little too strong for our taste.  So, I started thinking...there's honey in the elderberry has medicinal properties...why not tincture some elderberries in meade?  So I started looking on the internet to see if I could find anything about the healing value of meade and look what I found! 

I dried the remaining elderberries for use later in the season.

A little bit about elderberry or Sambucus nigra:
Ancient physicians referred to the elder as a "compleate medicinale" because of it's wide range of healing properties.
The elder contains essential oil, alkaloids, tannins, flavonoids (including quercetin), mucilage, vitamins A and C,  potassium, calcium, phosphorus, beta carotene, cyanogenic glycosides and viburnic acid.

Elderberry is used for its antioxidant activity, to lower cholesterol, to improve vision, to boost the immune system, to improve heart health and for coughs, colds, flu, bacterial and viral infections and tonsillitis.  The flavonoids include anthocynadins that inhibit viral pathogens from entering cells.

Flowers of the elder are said to be anti-inflammatory when used topically, promote sweating, useful as an expectorant, increase circulation, reduce phlegm and diuretic.  These properties are very helpful when treating feverish cold and flu.  Taken as a prophylactic early in the year can strengthen the upper respiratory tract which can be helpful in treating or preventing hay fever.
Elderberries have diuretic and sweat producing properties, too.  They are also said to be a laxative.  Recent research has revealed that syrup made from elderberries has antiviral effects. 
You can buy prepared syrups but it's easy and economical to make your own.

The basic Latin name, sambuca, inspired the name of an Italian flute, sampogna.  The stems of the elder tree contain a pithy center that can easily be hollowed out to make a tube.  Over time those tubes have been used for many things including flutes, elk calls, maple syrup spiles and pea shooters. But, BEWARE!  The bark contains a bitter alkaloid and glycoside that can turn into cyanide. Reports indicate that children have died from using these pea shooters and adults have been poisoned using elder taps on maple trees.  The up side to this poison is that it is effective as a natural insecticide when dried leaves are crumbled in the garden.

Carrying elder twigs in your pocket is said to be a charm against certain diseases.

Elder branches are said to possess the ability to drive away witches and snakes.  Perhaps this is the basis for Dumbledore's elder wand in the tales of Harry Potter.  

Legends tell of an "Elder Mother" inhabiting the tree.  In Denmark, she is known as Hydle-Moer and one must ask her permission before cutting down an elder tree.

Other folks tales say that if you stand under the elder tree on Midsummer's Eve, you may see the king of the fairies and his following. There may be some truth in this tale due to the fact that the fragrance of the elder flowers is mildly sedative, possibly producing a drugged sleep.  Many times drug induced sleep brings with it vivid dreams.

OK, lots about elderberries but there are a few other things steeping in my kitchen. 

St. John's Wort (Hypericum perforatum) and Lavender (Lavendula spp.) burn oil. 
We found a small stand of St. John's Wort earlier this summer so I harvested a few for seeds and burn ointment.  St John's Wort is very healing for burns and so is lavender.  I combined the two in a jar and filled it with a half and half blend of jojoba and almond oil.  I placed it in a warm, sunny spot to extract the medicinal properties from both.  The result is a deep red oil. I can use this oil as is or use it to create a salve that would be useful in treating mild burns, including sunburn. 
St. John'sWort has a rich history being used on the battlefields of the Crusaders to treat wounds and inflammation.  It's well known for it's mood lifting qualities, it is used as a tonic for anxiety and irritability, restoring the nerves from exhaustion, mild trauma and pains like sciatica.
Lore also suggests that St. John's Wort is useful in dispelling evil spirits...perhaps this is linked to the mood lifting transformation often associated with its use.

Lavender, one of the most favorite herbs of all time and a popular medicinal herb since ancient times, is also very versatile in its healing repertoir.  Headaches, indigestion, wounds, nervous exhaustion, asthma, worms, lice, bad breath, sore muscles, insect bites and stings, depression, sunburn, migraine, minor burns...yeah, its a must have in any Herbal Medicine Chest.

Another favorite of mine is Rosemarinus officinalis ~ Rosemary, a symbol of remembrance not only because of flower language lore but because of the memory promoting properties it contains.  Ancient herbalist John Gerard said of rosemary "it comforteth the harte and maketh it merie."  Rosemary is also great for exhaustion, depression, poor digestion, rheumatism, headaches (mainly those that respond to warmth rather than cold relief), hair restorative (encouraging growth and return of color), memory enhancer, tonic and all around uplifting aromatherapy. Obviously another "must have" for your Herbal Medicine Chest.

In the Woodwife's kitchen, I'm tincturing some rosemary in vodka and extracting healing properties in a blend of almond and jojoba oils.  As you can see from the list of beneficial properties listed above, both of these can be used in a variety of ways.  I plan to use the oil daily in an effort to improve my memory.

Mullein is a common "weed" that grows along roads and in disturbed areas.  I had planned to write an entire post on the virtues of mullein but Sarah @ Wellness the Natural Way did such a great job I think I'll just send you over to read her article.  
Here's a bit of a funny tale about my mullein "wildcrafting."  Early this spring I noticed a mullein plant growing in my flower bed along the porch.  I decided not to pull it and see what happened.  As the flower stalk began to grow, I realized that since that only happens in the second year of growth, it's been there since the year before!  The plant is a volunteer that's only a foot from the porch railing.  Mullein grows to heights of 6'-8' making the flowering tops out of my reach.  Mine was no exception but I was able to easily reach over the railing and pluck the pretty yellow flowers daily!!  I'm tincturing them in a enough vodka to cover.  I'll add this to hot tea when we have sore throats and coughs.

As the season progresses and the nights stay cold, I'll be gathering and preparing more herbal treasures from garden, field and woods to add to my herbal stores for the winter months ahead.

I'm sharing this post with the folks at
Real Food Forager and their Fat Tuesday linky.
Mind, Body and Soul on Wildcrafting Wednesday
Jenny Matlock and the gang @ Alphabe-Thursdays.
Wardeh and friends @ Simple Lives Thursdays
Jo and her friends @ Living Well Blog Hop

Much herbal love,

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Another "Just Making Ice Cream" ebook Giveaway!

That's right!  You're not seeing double.  A few weeks ago I told you about a great new ice cream recipe ebook giveaway on another blog.  Now you have another chance to win this incredible ebook, filled with healthy ice cream recipes, right here @ The Journal!
The author has generously allowed me to preview her book and offered one copy for a giveaway!  Let me tell you that the pictures alone will have your mouth watering!

She and her family are missionaries in Honduras. You can read more about Mare, her family, their ministry there and other healthy eating tips by going to Mare's blog, Just Making Noise ~ sound bites from a deaf mama.

If you love ice cream as much as I do but feel guilty everytime you eat it, stop worrying!  Mare's new ebook  talks about why we should make our own ice cream and how to do it with whole foods ingredients that are much better for our health!

This brand new eBook contains:

•The most spectacular ice cream photography you’ll ever see

•10 reasons why you should make your own ice cream

•Ice cream 101: ingredients, tips and equipment

•How to choose an ice cream maker

•5 ways to make ice cream without a maker

•Know your frozen desserts

•over 70 incredible recipes for ice cream, gelato, cultured milk, sherbet and sorbet made from nourishing ingredients!

•And MORE!

So, here's the deal.

To enter the giveaway, do each of the following and leave a comment below for each one.  Each comment is an entry and you have a total of 4 ways to enter.  To comment, click on the word "comments" below the post.  If you have trouble connecting, please email me directly.

1) "Like" Just Making Noise on Facebook.  Leave a comment below.

2) Visit Mare's blog and click on the Babble button in the upper right side bar to "like" or vote for her blog which has been nominated for the top 100!  Leave another comment below.

3) While you are visiting Just Making Noise ~ sound bites from a deaf mama, become a follower of the blog.  Leave a 3rd comment below.

4) And for the 4th way to enter the contest, become a follower of The Woodwife's Journal and join me on my journey.  Leave a 4th comment below. (Comment even if you are already following The Woodwife's Journal.)

If you can't wait until the contest is over or if you don't win, you can purchase a copy of Just Making Ice Cream.  All proceeds benefit their family's ministry with Rancho Oasis for Youth.

The contest ends @ 6AM on Sept.19th.

Much herbal love,

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Into the Woods

I've been known to talk about dwarves and elves and such and I'm often curious about sleeping under a flowering elder tree although I've never tried it.  But this past week, I was drawn into the woods in search of mushrooms!  After the periods of heavy rain we've had in the past few weeks, I figured I'd find some and I was right.  Sadly though, I know very little about mushroom identification so I'll just post some photos of what we found. 

 < I found this one in the grass at the edge of the wood.

And these tiny beauties are only about 1-1/2" tall. > 
< Looks like a bit of marshmallow fluff!

< I'm guessing maybe chicken of the woods but I'm not sure.

As the sun shone through the tree tops, it illuminated these beautiful orange ones and we saw them from quite a distance away!  The photes above are closeups.

This coral like clump was about 3" tall and growning on an old poplar that had fallen years ago.

Like a tiny army marching in line, these little orange shrooms lined a moss covered log for about 4 feet!
There were several of these white mushrooms scattered over the forest floor.  They are over 12" tall. Since these resemble pictures of what are considered very poisonous "Angel of Death" mushrooms, we gave them a wide berth.
They are all beautiful and intiguing.  And I could be mistaken but I thought I saw a tiny little figure disappear behind a stump as we made our way over the hill!
Much herbal 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.