Posts tagged: health

Cooking with Borage Leaves — Borage Burritos and Green Smoothies

By , July 14, 2020

Borage Burrito Bowl

This year in my garden, borage is coming up everywhere!

It’s a prolific self-seeder and I could always use it as green manure in my compost pile — but the bees love its flowers, which is reason enough to leave it alone.

I’ve had some bad luck with cabbage and cauliflower this year, and other crops have been inexplicably stunted while others have been growing normally. There’s always an element of mystery to the garden from year to year…I’ve noticed for years that there’s always a crop that fails and it’s just a question of which one it’ll be.

Borage is certainly not one of my failing crops this year. So in the spirit of eating what’s being effortlessly provided to me, I’ve gotten brave, picked those prickly leaves, and done some experimentation.

Now borage flowers are also edible, and they’re nice to nibble on while out in the garden, but I have mountains of borage leaves and I wanted to see if they could be a real, true, edible crop for me. And my conclusion is Yes.

I’ve been using the leaves in two ways — raw, in green smoothies, and steamed, added to other dishes.

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Raw leaves:

I start each day with a green smoothie, heavy on the greens. I have always used cilantro, parsley, or a combo of the two, but I’ve been loving the borage as my green. Cilantro and parsley are strong flavors, but the borage is wonderfully mild, and I love its fresh cucumber taste. And even better than cucumbers, there’s no hint of bitterness whatsoever. The prickles on the leaves get pulverized, and there is no hint of mouth or throat irritation, which I had wondered about.

The raw borage leaves also freeze well and can be added to the smoothie directly from the freezer.

I use a good handful of borage each morning, and sometimes also some cilantro:

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Steamed leaves:

Borage leaves of any size can be steamed, but I like the small and medium size rather than the giant ones with larger prickles. The prickles do cook down into pretty much nothing (and they don’t irritate your mouth or throat when eaten), but even still I like the smaller leaves a little better.

I chop my borage leaves, and since I have Gastroparesis, I steam them for over an hour so they’re very, very tender.

If you don’t have a compromised stomach, feel free to steam them for a more normal length of time.

The color and taste of the steamed borage reminds me of steamed nettles. Dark color… mild taste… nothing exciting, but perfect for stirring into another dish that already has its own bold flavors, like minestrone soup, a vegetable stew, chili, maybe a lentil salad, or…Borage Burritos!

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Borage Burritos (or Burrito Bowl)

Borage leaves, chopped and steamed

Brown rice or Millet, cooked

Your favorite jarred green chile sauce

Your favorite jarred salsa

Mexican-style seasoning, like Penzey’s Southwest, Fajita Seasoning, Arizona Dreaming, etc

Shredded cheese (or avocado bits)

Fresh cilantro

Corn or flour tortilla (optional)

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Combine the steamed borage leaves with an equal amount of cooked brown rice or millet.

(I like brown rice cooked very soft, so I use 1 cup rice to 3 cups water, cooked for 2 hours. I cook millet with that same 1:3 ratio, cooked for 1 hour.)

Stir in the green chile sauce, salsa, and Mexican seasoning to taste.

Heat up until nice and hot.

Stir in shredded cheese, sprinkle on cilantro.

Serve in a bowl, or wrapped in a warm corn or flour tortilla (which you can smother with more green chile sauce and cheese if you like).

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How to Make Lavender Glycerite

By , June 7, 2020

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In the evening time before bed, after I take all my nasty-tasting pills and potions, I squeeze a dropperfull or two of my homemade lavender glycerite onto my tongue and savor the delightful sweet floral lavender taste.

It’s a wonderful way to wash a bad taste out of your mouth and reward yourself for getting all that stuff down the hatch. It will often physically bring a smile to my face, it tastes so wonderful!

It’s very simple to make, and lavender season is upon us.

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(This really is an easy project, but if you don’t have access to fresh lavender, may I suggest the absolutely heavenly Rose Petal Elixir made by Avena Botanicals with roses from their own biodynamic gardens. They also sell a Lavender Glycerite which I haven’t tried.)

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Lavender Glycerite

Ingredients:

Fresh lavender flowers and flower buds

Pure food-grade vegetable glycerin (widely available online or at health food stores — vitacost.com is where I usually get stuff like this)

Supplies:

Glass jar with lid

Mesh sieve or funnel

Coffee filter

Clean dropper bottle (1, 2, or 4 oz size)

 

What to do:

1. Remove most of the stems from your lavender, and chop up the flowers and flower buds with a knife.

2. Place the chopped lavender into your glass jar. (In the pictures above, I’m using an 8-oz wide mouth Mason jar.)

3. Pour vegetable glycerin into the jar until it completely covers the lavender. Stir a few times to release any big air bubbles and top it up with glycerin if needed. Be sure all the lavender is submerged.

4. Screw the lid onto your jar, then label and date it with masking tape and a sharpie.

5. Place the jar into a dark cupboard where you will see it often…

6. Shake the jar once a day, or every couple days.

7. Let it sit in the cupboard at least 2 weeks (I leave mine 4-8 weeks).

8. When you’re ready to strain, place a coffee filter inside a mesh sieve (or funnel). Place the sieve over a bowl, a measuring cup, or another glass jar. Pour the lavender glycerite into the coffee filter and when it has all been filtered, wash your hands and gather the filter around the remaining lavender and gently squeeze to extract the rest of the glycerin. The finished lavender glycerite will look like honey — a light amber color.

9. Pour an ounce or two of your strained glycerite into a dropper bottle to keep in your bathroom. If needed, transfer the rest into another glass jar (or the same one that’s been rinsed and dried), cap it, label it, and date it.

10. Transfer the jar into the refrigerator to store it. It will keep at least a year, and probably significantly longer.

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Late-August Vegetable Garden Tour

By , August 26, 2019

Hello!

It’s a busy time of year in my garden; in late August the produce is really starting to flood in, meaning a LOT of kitchen time between now and October!

All the time and effort spent thus far in my garden is really starting to pay off though. We have our own private organic farmer’s market just outside the back gate! Here, I’ll show you…

Let’s start in the fruit “orchard” where we have one apple tree, two peach trees, and three or four grape vines. Believe it or not, these are two of the peach trees I started from seed, documented in this post from 9 years ago! I make the grape jam that I love from the grapes, and have been starting to use our cut-up Winesap apples as the fruit in my morning green shake. Later on, I’ll make big batches of applesauce with them.

Standing at the North end of the garden:

Standing at the South end of the garden:

Celery:

Honeydew melons:

Watermelons:

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Photo Tour of The Good Life Center: Helen and Scott Nearing’s Forest Farm in Harborside, Maine

By , July 19, 2019

Care and artistry are worth the trouble. They can be a satisfaction to the practitioner and a joy to all beholders.

-Helen Nearing

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In early August of last year I visited Forest Farm with my family on a special trip to Maine, and it was one of the top highlights of the entire trip. What a special place; I didn’t want to leave. Forest Farm was the entirely hand-built homestead of Helen and Scott Nearing, authors of many books including the classics Living the Good Life: How to Live Sanely and Simply in a Troubled World and its sequel Continuing the Good Life: Half a Century of Homesteading. (Still relevant! The value of old books… see previous post.) My copy of Living the Good Life came down to me via my dad, from his mother many years ago. Growing up, his family would take beloved summer vacations to isolated Harborside, Maine and they would hear about the “commie” Nearings who lived nearby. Helen and Scott’s door was always open to those interested in observing, helping, and learning, and Forest Farm still welcomes visitors as The Good Life Center, carrying on the Nearings’ tradition of sharing and showing.

I took many photos! Are you ready for a visit?

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Driving to The Good Life Center through tiny Harborside:

Arriving at the Nearings’ driveway. It was a peaceful, hot, still, muggy afternoon here.

It was very quiet; bees buzzing, small waves lapping the shore in the cove across the street. A few other visitors sifted through while we were there. You just park and amble in. Very laid back, you’re welcome to wander and stay as long as you like, soaking it all in.

This is the caretakers’ cottage over the summer:

Helen and Scott’s beautiful hand-built stone house:

 

Here is a photo of Helen doing the stonework:

Let’s go in. Here’s their kitchen — an airy, light-filled, feel-good space:

Those were the beautiful bowls and spoons they used.

Here are their mugs:

Here’s their kitchen as it was:

Helen and Scott on the right:

Now we walk into the living room, with a cozy wood-burning stove, book shelves lining the walls, and a wonderful view of the surrounding forest and out to their cove:

Here’s more of the house; this area is used as the little bookshop now. Visitors aren’t allowed upstairs to the bedroom but you can peek up the stairwell:

Here’s their original sign:

Let’s go out to the garden and greenhouse now. There’s a little apple orchard in the protected area between the house and the walled garden:

Here’s that lovely walled vegetable garden:

Behind the greenhouse:

Overlooking the walled garden toward the house and greenhouse:

Compost piles on the left, outside the garden:

The rest of the land is forested. There are some walking trails you can take through tall trees, ferns, tall grasses, and dappled shade.

Here’s their cove across the street:

And here’s the mission statement of The Good Life Center:

That concludes our visit to Forest Farm. I hope you enjoyed it!

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Just up the road is Four Season Farm, owned by Eliot Coleman and Barbara Damrosch — names you might recognize if you’re a gardener. The land was once part of the Nearings’.

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Dawn Chorus Herbal Tea Recipe for Spring

By , April 7, 2019

It is Spring. Brown and barren, with the greenery of hyacinth bulbs barely beginning to nose up through the dry soil. Now and then, a wet snowstorm, slush, and mud. This is Early Spring in Colorado, giving way to a period of ephemeral, rarefied beauty that makes it difficult to keep eyes on the road as one drives around a city. Millions of fragrant light pink, dark pink, and white crabapple blossoms filling tree after tree, petals fluttering in every direction on the breeze. Fuchsia redbud trees in protected corners with an iridescent glow on gray days. Cheerful tulips and hyacinth and green grass in front yards. Bushes bowing heavily with lilacs. Fresh spring rain showers. Robins, finches, sparrows, blue jays, flickers — nearly constant birdsong from dawn until dusk. What a feast for our senses.

It is around this time that this winter-lover’s eyes begin to really crave green. It is so nice to see the green!!

I have also rediscovered an old favorite herbal tea blend called Dawn Chorus — it’s a nice one for Spring. Mountain Rose Herbs gets the credit for this one, but it’s such a simple blend that I reverse-engineered a recipe for it quite a while ago. Mountain Rose is so often out of stock on stuff and their shipping is so expensive, that I stopped using them — but I still love this tea blend. My own recipe might have more rose petals in it, which is even nicer than the original.

Dawn Chorus tea blend:

1 part green rooibos (or red rooibos, for a taste that’s different but every bit as good in this blend)

1 part stinging nettles leaf, dried

1 part rose petals, dried

Mix together.

Put a heaping teaspoon into an infuser* in your mug. Add boiling water, steep for 5-10 minutes, squeeze out, add milk!

Then sit down and enjoy it. I am a big tea drinker. A chain tea drinker. I used to have a rule where I had to sit down while I drank my cup of tea. Over time, the rule faded and I’d be up chopping vegetables between sips of tea, starting a load of laundry with a cup of tea in my hand, going out to get the mail with my cup of tea, cleaning up and taking things from room to room with my cup of tea, writing emails with my cup of tea. I’ve recently decided to follow this rule again, most of the time. Taking that quiet moment feels good.

*Infusers! There are so many crappy ones. My favorite is the People’s Brew Basket in stainless steel (made by Republic of Tea — I get this locally at the health food store for about $3.50) and this one which is good for wide mugs. Fill-able tea bags are also sold, but you can make your own with coffee filters like this:

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In Loving Memory of Our Precious Liz

By , November 2, 2018

 ♥ Liz ♥

July 18, 2000 – May 14, 2018

This is a hard post to write.

It is with such deep sadness that I tell you that we lost our precious little Liz to an aggressive oral squamous cell cancer (a mass under her tongue) on May 14th. She would have turned 18 on July 18th, 2018.

My precious girl, my precious Liz…my guardian angel physically watching over me for almost 18 years…she was that once-in-a-lifetime cat. Not just a cat, but her own person. A highly evolved heavenly being, she loved me with unflagging loyalty and dedication until literally the very last moment of her life. The amount of unconditional love this precious being could give was staggering. I will be forever indebted to her.

She was of pure intent, with none of the aloofness or air of ulterior motive that cats can have. She was absolutely nothing but sweetness. So, so dear and sweet.

♥♥♥

I hate that this cancer took her away. And the rest of her body was still in good shape… I feel that she still had good, solid years left in her.

The upside to this was that her body supported her right up to the end. She maintained her weight, she maintained her spunky spirit, and she was able to be herself and do the things she loved to do. She was a happy cat and she kept having great quality of life right up until the last week or two when things really got real.

In late February she lost the ability to eat by mouth due to the tumor. But she was still so robust and otherwise completely her normal everyday self that we elected to have the veterinary oncologist place a feeding tube — like a little port in her neck, protected by an adorable white padded collar — which was a great solution and Liz adapted to it, no problemo. I continued to bake chickens for her and cook 12-hour chicken bone broth, which I would puree for her in my Nutribullet blender along with her Balance-It vitamin supplement, various other supplements, Chinese medicine, homeopathic remedies, my own flower remedies, as well as some wet food (either Newman’s Own or the Science Diet a/d Urgent Care that the vet gave us.) I was so grateful for that feeding tube!! Being able to continue to nourish Liz gave us three more priceless months with her, and I hold the memory of that sweet time dearly to my heart. We got to simply be together for as long as we possibly could.

The chemotherapies we gave her (oral Palladia at first, then IV Carboplatin) both worked for a little while but then stopped working. Liz and I elected not to do palliative radiation sessions because of the low success rate combined with the fact that she’d need to be sedated each time.

Lizzie didn’t want to be euthanized, so we were together right till the very end, surrounded by all the comforting familiarity of our childhood home where we grew up together. She fought literally to her last breath, but the cancer finally just got her, and took her.

Even on her last day on Earth, we were outside together enjoying the fragrant spring air, sunshine, and lilac blossoms in the peaceful, familiar backyard. Her beloved yard! Her last few days were tough and rough, no doubt. What I found interesting was that even through this, and right up till the very end, her tail continued to do its usual light tapping “all is well” sign. She also tried to reassure me as best she could, with her special noises, purring, and nuzzling me. Her last day was really hard. It was a struggle, and she could no longer purr, but her tail continued to lightly tap, and she made deep eye contact with me for reassurance. That was a hard, scary day. My wish for her was that she could cross the rainbow bridge peacefully in her sleep, but alas it was not to be. I’m just glad we were together in familiar surroundings, not in the hospital, no strangers around… just us two together, staring death in the face, being brave for each other, and cherishing every last possible second together. ♥

Liz was an extraordinary cat; a very special being — she really was a guardian angel to me — and she brought me such joy and unwavering love and truly constant support over the almost 18 years she was with me. I am lost without her. I don’t know how to express how much I desperately miss her. We were so close that we were practically one in the same. And you can surely bet that I am grateful for each and every one of the probably thousands and thousands of photos I’ve taken of her over the years. And even more for the videos. I wish I had more videos.

Precious Lizzie we miss you.

♥♥♥

There are so many pictures of her that I love. But here are just a few.

Baby Liz. She showed up one Friday morning at our back doorstep, and we took her on our camping trip to the mountains the next day!:

♥♥♥

The rest are from just this year — in her last 4 months on the Earth:

For some reason she loved celery and celery seeds almost as much as she loved catnip. One morning I found my bucket of homegrown celery seeds like this! I wonder who did it!?!

Making chicken for her!:

Taken the afternoon of May 14th… I was so worried about her, and at the same time cherishing every second with her. This was one of her favorite mouse-watching spots:

♥♥♥

Good Days and… Crash Days

By , January 18, 2018

Hi again!

I was so excited that my blog post worked that I wanted to start updating you on stuff. Unsure where to begin with that, I decided to “start where I am,” so took my camera around and took pictures of various things on what had been a good day recently. I was going to post the pictures that night, but was feeling kind of off color, so didn’t. The next day was a big crash day, so here over a week later I am bubbling up to the surface, thinking about that post again! I’ll put the original pictures up, plus those from the next day too. What better way to update you than to show you the Reality.

These green shakes I’ve been making are delicious and nutritious: pineapple, green apple, fresh ginger piece, spinach, parsley, rice milk, milk thistle seed, pumpkin/sesame/sunflower seeds, turmeric powder, protein powder, brewer’s yeast, spirulina, kelp powder.

Unloading coffee grounds, to be spread in the gardens.

I love flower gardens even in Winter — the browns and the branches.

This soup was so good. Black eyed peas for New Years — soaked near the woodstove as pork neck bone broth simmered on top of the woodstove. Then the black eyed peas cooked on top of the woodstove in the broth, as I thawed some frozen cooked-together zucchini and onions from this year’s garden, and opened a home-canned jar of homegrown organic heirloom tomatoes! Mixed all of this together, ate with chunks of avocado, and oh my gosh!!!

 

That kombucha did eventually get bottled much later in the week…

…but there were more important things to do.

Next day.

Maximizing that sun patch, with freezing chills.

Fever of 103.5°

Anymore, I let fevers burn. After a bad experience several years ago while bringing down a 104° fever with tylenol (like that weird movie Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas), I thought Never Again. “Why do we do this?” I started to wonder, why disable this potentially helpful immune response? Later on, I came across Anthroposophical medical literature (Steiner-based — like Waldorf schools and biodynamic agriculture) where their view is that fevers are healers not to be tampered with. Burn off the dross! Top, top priority is keeping up with oral hydration though, that is for sure!

My standard hydration thing for when I’m sick is diluted juice. About 1/3 juice, 2/3 water. I always have several jugs of apple juice on the back shelf for times like this, just in case.

If you’re guzzling diluted juice, don’t forget your other electrolytes. Potassium and sodium are easily washed out with lots of liquid consumption. If you have a huge nonstop headache unrelieved by hydration, try getting more salt in. I like Ume Plum Vinegar in some warm water, like a salty broth drink. It’s your one-stop salt shop, with an astounding 1050mg (44% daily value) sodium in 1 tsp (5mL). It’s also really good mixed into plain yogurt as a salad dressing, for when you’re not sick. 😉

Potassium powder is cheap at the health food store (or buy it at grocery stores in the salt section as the “NoSalt” brand potassium chloride salt substitute). The NOW brand in the picture has 365mg (10% daily value) in 1/8 tsp (0.7 g). By comparison, a medium banana has ~420mg of potassium. The way I take the potassium is put some water into my mouth, measure the powder and dump it into my mouth, swish to dissolve, and swallow. Down the hatch.

And if you’re blowing your nose a lot like I am this time, these two are my favorite things to rub on, in, and around my chafed nose and upper lip: Weleda Calendula Diaper Rash Cream (goes on white but rubs in) and Alaffia brand Africa’s Secret.

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I’m doing better. I’d been noticing something simmering since Christmas, a lung exacerbation (a flaring-up of the ever-present infection where there is lung scarring), and then I think this was just some wandering virus on top of that which really came on like a Mac truck. Not the flu, but some other thing. F came down with it too, several days later. We’re both better but not best. I’m still “running warm” with some lung unhappiness. Hanging really low, taking it slow.

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May you be keeping healthy and warm!

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Need a Christmas gift? My Mandala Coloring Book is out!

By , December 10, 2014

I just released my new hand-illustrated coloring book, Mandala Dreaming.

Take a look; the mandalas are so much fun to color!

And, it makes a great Christmas gift!

(Order by 10:30am MST, on Saturday Dec 20th to receive by the 24th with standard shipping. But they’ll remain for sale beyond that, of course, if you don’t happen to need one for Christmas…)

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Coloring is a low-tech, creative activity that has been enjoyed for generations. It’s not just for children, although of course it is wonderful for them too!

Coloring has grown up, as you’ll discover in this beautifully hand-illustrated coloring book.

The 20 intricate mandalas contained within are just waiting for you to allow yourself the luxury — nay, the necessity — of a bit of quiet time for yourself… to play creatively with color… to allow your deep-down spirit to come alive.

These high-quality coloring books are handmade, one by one, in my Colorado studio. The pages are thick 110-lb (199 g/m²), acid-free, 8.5″ x 11″ cardstock, perforated for easy removal, and the mandalas are printed on the front side only of each page. The book is spiral-bound so you can fold it back completely for ease of coloring.

Enjoyed most by Adults, Teens, or Older kids because the designs are a little more complex.

Use markers, crayons, colored pencils, watercolor pencils, and even actual watercolors! (For watercolors, tear out page and tape corners to a board.)

One of my favorite ways is to color with art markers first (Prismacolor brand is very nice, but there are others), and then add highlights and depth with colored pencils on top of the marker.

These really are fun to color!

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$14.95

BUY NOW

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Color and display!

Color and display!

MandalaBackCover

The back cover

Mandala (c) The Herbangardener

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Mandala (c) The Herbangardener

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MandalaDreamingCover

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Catching up with photos!

By , November 28, 2014

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Happy late-Autumn to you all! We only recently stepped into real Autumn actually, after the longest and most luxurious Indian Summer here, which topped off a perfect Summer season and glorious Springtime. The garden looked beautiful this year, it was a satisfying harvest for most items, everything was lush, we received rain at regularly spaced intervals, and it never got uncomfortably hot. On the health front, I’ve certainly made progress after referral to a more responsive, take-the-reins style doctor and some quality time on a couple of antibiotics. Another pneumonia came on in the Spring, as well as various other ups and downs, several viruses, and the identification of an immune deficiency. That pretty well glazes over it. It’s been a hard, embittering year. I’ve fought tooth and nail to even be this far. Obamacare itself has been my saving grace, and yet our alleged “world-class” healthcare system is a giant obstacle course, broken in many places. When you’re feeling awful, you don’t have the strength or stamina to run through a marathon obstacle course, yet that’s what a patient often must do if they’re unfortunate enough to be a patient. As I said though, I’ve been feeling far better overall than I have in quite a while, and by hook or by crook, that trend must continue.

Let’s move on though; there’s a lot of good stuff that balances out the infuriating crud, so let’s go on and have a tour through that, okay?

Oh right — and the downtime and move to a new web hosting provider did happen a couple months ago. I was shamelessly puffed-up for weeks afterward, because I blindly googled my way through the manual migration of this wordpress blog and database, augmented by my minimal technical “expertise,” and without benefit of handy-dandy migration plugins or other sanity-saving tools (learned about those too late, after the old hosting was already turned off). I certainly “learned a lot” — which is the euphemism that you use, instead of telling people that you nearly murdered your laptop trying to rebuild your wordpress file structure.

Anyway, get ready — we’ve got a lot of catching up to do with the photos! Starting with the succulent, late Spring garden bounty, through Summertime, and into the late Autumn now…

(c) The Herbangardener

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(c) The Herbangardener

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