To Amuse and Delight

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Medicine Plants

I have been using herbal medicines/supplements for most of my life. My late Stepmother was of the Wiccan persuasion and she used herbs all the time and had lots of books on the subject, which I devoured. I would accompany her to many interesting shops to find the herbs she needed. She used natural beauty and hygiene concoctions way before it was trendy. As an adult I became a Christian and left much of the Wiccan ways behind, but my interest in herbs and healing continues to grow. Healing plants convince me even more that we have a merciful Creator who has provided these things for our good. I also believe that there are many plants/minerals/bugs/sea creatures that have healing properties that we haven't discovered yet. I think it will be nice to share some of my findings on this blog for those  who are also interested in this subject.

You know how the bottles of some pain pills have that warning on the back: "May cause severe stomach bleeding in some people." I'm one of those people. So, for occasional headaches I use other things. The beginning stage of my ginko biloba tincture is pictured above.  I use that or some white willow bark for headaches. White willow bark is what aspirin is made of, so if you can't take aspirin don't try it.
Here is my Plantain/Lavender Healing Salve. Plantain (not the banana kind!) is great for all skin disorders from scrapes, burns, insect bites, plant irritants to simple dry skin. I put in lavender for it's antibacterial and antiviral properties. If I was only allowed two plants for healing I would pick garlic and plantain. It's that good. Once when my daughter was tiny she got badly stung from nettles all over her legs. She was crying, the welts were starting to rise. I said, hoping to distract her, "God always makes a way out for us. If there is a bad thing, he will give us something to fix it. Let's look for something." I was secretly praying there would be something and quick! As soon as my little speech was over, there it was! One single plantain in a field of nettles, just for us. I chewed it up and spread it on her legs. She felt immediate relief. After twenty minutes the welts were gone. 

See that big jar of what looks like black stuff? It's actually very, very dark green. It's  the extracted plantain in cold press olive oil. It is so good for my skin I have been slathering it on my whole body every day since I first started making it about 6 years ago. It's also the only moisturizer I use on my face since I tried it.
One day I went outside and found my daughter on the patio writing in her journal. Then I noticed her toe. I asked what it was all about. She had scraped her toe and grabbed some plantain to use like a band-aid. I laughed, but was really happy that these things are so normal to her. I want my children to learn as much as they can about taking care of themselves and others. I am in no means against drugs when they are needed. If fact when my daughter was small and in the hospital with a bad burn I was the nurse's worse nightmare if they were so much as 30 seconds late with her morphine! 
 Herbal medicine is wonderful, it helps your body do what it was made to do, regenerate and heal. But if you are not regularly eating life giving foods your body won't be strong and ready to fight when it needs to. As Hippocrates said, "Let food be your medicine and medicine be your food." Everything you do works together when it comes to your health. 
I did not give instructions since a simple online search will give you more than enough information on making tinctures and salves. If you do have a question regarding this post, just pop it into the comments.

The last bit of the Bible talks about the "new earth" that will be after this one is done. Even there you see the importance of nature and healing. I cannot separate these things from God, they exist because he exists. They are so much a part of who God is and his relationship to us.

Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be any curse.

Revelation 22:1-10 (New International Version)

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Going Green

My "going green" isn't about the environment. I am talking about COLOR here. This is my answer to Gypsy Cowgirl's question/comment on my post about beets. She asked if I had any ideas for a natural green food coloring. She mentioned most natural sources of green being weak or muddy. I have tried everything from seaweed to spinach. The best thing I have found is green tea powder called "matcha". 
You can see from this cake that the green tea color is quite strong. I added about two teaspoons of the matcha to my dry ingredients. Since it's a powder it will not add extra liquid to your recipe which makes it great for things like shortbread, macarons, frostings, and whipped cream. Of course the more color you add, the more green tea flavor you will end up with. With this cake I wanted the tea flavor to go with the sweet adzuki bean filling. In japanese sweets this is a pretty typical pairing.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Off the beaten path...

Last Saturday we decided to take a little day trip to Olana, the home of Hudson River painter Frederic Church. Half way there are car blew up. Well, not our entire car, but our car's radiator. Green liquid (antifreeze) shot out and streams of smoke. We pulled off at the next exit and found ourselves conveniently at an auto repair shop. They took us immediately. The mechanic had very friendly eyes. He asked me "are you guys hungry?".   "I've got lunch in the trunk" I replied. I grabbed our picnic and took the girls across the street where I had noticed a wooded area with a picnic table. My husband stayed with the car. 
We ate and the girls climbed and played among the trees. I foraged for something green to put in my sandwich. I got them some ice cream for dessert from a nearby convenience store. All in all it was a pretty good time. When the call came from my husband that the car was ready I was feeling a bit guilty. Here we were having a lovely time and he was at that stinky garage with nothing to do. "How'd it go for you?" I asked him. "Actually I enjoyed it." "What!?" I said.  He said "Yeah, I was listening to the birds and feeling thankful, you know?" . Wow. Yes, I sure do know. I was feeling the exact same thing.
Now with our brand new radiator we continued on our way and finally made it to Olana. We were a couple of hours late though. I was looking forward to a talk and showing of hats from the 1850's to the 1950's. In fact that's why we were going that day.  I thought even if we missed the lecture maybe the hats would be on display, but no. We arrived exactly when the costumed hat lady was driving off with her hat collection and her wealth of hat knowledge! 
OK, we can still get a house tour right? Nope. Too late. Last tour just left, no more today. What to do? Well, it was an amazing day, we were together at a beautiful place, safe and sound (no car wreck). There I am, enjoying the Hudson River view from the porch. Cool how my outfit matches the house.
We spied a lake down below and since we had nothing else to do we decided to go down. Well, the girls decided. We followed.
The girls were excited to discover dozens of snail shells and started collecting a pile. Next they started pulling out the operculum (my daughter told me that's what they're called. I call them the little doors.) They busily collected, I took mild interest until they started washing them and I saw how pretty they are. They are transparent and so delicate. Now I was on a mission! Thoughts of making jewelry and maybe buttons out of these things flew around my brain. So now I am crouched in the mud pulling snail shells of of the water looking for operculum! 
Time flew and soon it was dinner time so we moseyed into town had a nice dinner, then perused the bookshop and finished off at a french patisserie for tea and creme brulle. Not a bad day out, considering our plans were diverted at every turn. 
You know how my husband said he enjoyed his time at the auto shop?  I came to find out that he used that uninterrupted time alone to play with his new camera, messing with the settings. This photo (my favorite of the bunch) and the top one on this post came from his messing around. If we hadn't been knocked off our path he wouldn't have the photos and his time to play, I wouldn't be obsessing about how to use snail doors (which I am!) I am not saying that all diversions will turn out this well, but if you don't allow your expectations to be set in stone you can enjoy the road before you as it comes.