Saturday, June 30, 2012

Healing Salve - Revisited

I see that my original post about the Healing Salve has been corrupted somehow, so I'll go through that again.  I recently made another batch, so now is a good time - the "ingredients" are available right now.

Healing salve

In 1994, a friend and I took a series of classes on healing herbs and making remedies at home. Ever since then, I've made various versions of healing salves. A dear friend spent the day here yesterday, and being like-minded, we made a batch of salve.

Now, I have to tell you.... this stuff is amazing. It is not a panacea, but for certain skin problems it is amazingly effective. And as you will see at the bottom of the article, there is a new one to add to the list.

1. My neighbor used it when she had "sun poisoning" and had the itchy rash caused by too much sun exposure. It cured it for her very quickly.

2. My daughter has used it for diaper rash that would not respond to any other treatment, and it cured it.

3. I use it often for skin irritations and it is soothing and healing.

4. I use it on my animals when they have skin problems. Depending on the problem, often, it helps.

It is made using Comfrey leaves and Plantain leaves. You can see a photo and article about the Comfrey HERE and about the Plantain HERE.

These are medicinal herbs. The salve has antibiotic and anti-fungal properties and helps promote cell growth and rapid healing.

Here is my recipe:

Healing Salve

Comfrey leaves
Plantain Leaves
Olive oil
Tincture of Benzoin (opt.)

Go outside with a gathering basket and a small knife or pair of scissors.  Gather a quantity of Plantain and Comfrey leaves, approximately the same amount of each.  

Bring them into the kitchen and wash them in a sink full of cold water.  Then, either pat them dry in towels or put them through a salad spinner.

Next, chop them up in your food processor, OR chop them very finely with a sharp knife.

Put all of the chopped leaves in a non-reactive (stainless or enameled) pot.  Pour in enough olive oil to cover the leaves.  Place the pot in your oven and set the timer for 4 hours and the temperature at 250 degrees F.

After the 4 hours, take it out of the oven.  Let the brew cool for a little while, and then line a colander with a cotton cloth.  Strain the brew through the cloth. Press out as much oil as you can.

Measure the resulting oil.  This will determine how much Beeswax you will need to add.  (More about that in a moment.) 

Gather up some little jars.  I often use baby food jars, when I can get them, but 1 cup canning jars are wonderful too.  You need jars with lids and of course you can use any size you wish, but I recommend smallish jars as then most of the salve may be stored in the freezer until you need it.

Now comes the math.  This year's batch made 5.3 cups of oil.  I added 4.5 ounces of melted Beeswax.  So, that divides out to using 0.89 ounces of Beeswax for each cup of oil.  This is not an exact science.  If you add more, your salve will be more firm.  If you add less, it will be softer.  I like this consistency.  You will, of course, need to have a little digital scale.  They are not too expensive, and if you are serious about making salve, it's a good investment and has many other uses also (soap making being one of them.)

Rig up a little double boiler for your Beeswax.  I put mine in an empty food can and place it in a small pot with water in it.  NEVER melt wax directly on the stove.  If it gets too hot, it can explode and burn you.

When the wax is melted, stir it into the oil.  If you would like a preservative, add 5 drops of Tincture of Benzoin for each cup of oil, but this is not necessary if you will be storing your salve in the refrigerator or freezer.  I do add it to mine, as I share this salve with a number of other folks, and don't want it going rancid on their kitchen shelf.

Pour the mixture into the prepared jars, put on the lids and let it cool.  That's it!

It sounds complicated all written out like this, but it's not.  Just go out, get the plants, chop them up, cook them in oil, strain, melt the wax, stir that in and voila!  Wonderful, versatile healing salve!

You can purchase beeswax from bee keeping supply companies online.  Do shop around, as prices vary considerably.

I recently heard from a young friend of mine that she had cracked her tibia in a fall, and used my salve on the area and it helped it heal nicely.  Another name for Comfrey is "Bone set." This

Friday, June 29, 2012

Tip ~ Storing Canning Jars

If you home can your food, here is a tiny tip that will save you some time and trouble.  When you open a jar to use the food, save the "cap" and wash it when you wash the jar.  Then, when both are dry, turn the cap upside-down and gently screw on a ring.  Place in your storage area. 

When it is time to can, your jar will be perfectly clean, no dust inside, no dead spiders...  Voila!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Our first "real" harvest of 2012

I brought in a "real" harvest this evening.  A few turnips, a big onion, a few little zuchinni (that I will saute with the onion), a little broccoli and LOTS of sugar snap peas!  I am SO happy!  :D

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Just a reminder ~ About Fruit Flies

I posted this originally, two years ago, but wanted to mention it again for those who might not have read it. Where we live, the Fruit Flies are beginning to come into full force in my kitchen.

Do any of you have that problem? Between the compost bucket and the produce sitting around waiting to be processed, the pesky critters multiply with glee. Here is a simple, and effective, solution:

Take a shallow dish and add just a little apple cider vinegar and 1 drop of dish washing detergent. Set it on the counter near where they seem to like to hang out. Voila! They like the smell of the vinegar, and the detergent breaks the surface tension so they drown.

Sad, but necessary.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Spaghetti ~ All in One Pot!

Not long ago, I ran across the idea of cooking spaghetti and sauce, all in one pot.  This method eliminates the need to cook the pasta separately, and even better, I don't have to add tomato paste to make the sauce nice and thick.  You could easily adapt this recipe to what you have on hand, whether you use home canned tomato products or fresh ingredients or canned tomato products from the grocery store.  Here is my latest version.  It really is delicious and used some wonderful fresh things from our early summer garden.

All in One Pot Spaghetti with Meat Sauce

2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 Tablespoon coconut oil
1 medium onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 Jalapeño peppers, stem, veins and seeds removed, then diced
1 green pepper, stem, veins and seeds removed, then diced
1 small zucchini squash, diced
2 Tablespoons fresh, finely chopped sweet basil leaves
2 Tablespoons fresh, finely chopped parsley
1 Tablespoon fresh, finely chopped oregano
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, chopped
1 pound ground beef (grass-fed is best)
1 quart home-canned whole tomatoes, drained in a colander
1 quart home-canned tomato juice
½ teaponn sea salt
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
Parmesan cheese
12 ounces spaghetti noodles, broken in thirds.

In a large pot that has a heavy bottom, or a cast iron Dutch oven, melt the olive and coconut oils together on medium-low heat.

Add the onion, garlic, Jalapeño, green pepper, and zucchini.  Stirring often, saute until the onions are getting soft.

Add the basil, parsley, oregano, and thyme and cook for about 30 seconds more.  Add the ground beef. Turn the heat up a little.

Continue to cook, chopping up the meat and stirring until the meat is all browned.

Add the drained whole tomatoes and chop them up.  Add the tomato juice, sea salt, and pepper.  

Bring it all to a boil, stirring often, and then add the spaghetti noodles, stir well, bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer, stirring often for about 15 to 17 minutes.  Once in a while, test a piece of the pasta to see if it is as done as you like.

Then, it's finished, thick and lovely!  Serve warm with grated Parmesan cheese. 

This reheats well.  Serve with a fresh crisp salad for a complete meal.  :)

This recipe is linked up with Fantabulous Friday #18

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Barn Swallows 2012

Every year, a barn swallow family raises two clutches atop one of our windows.  I took this picture today.  It looks like they are about to fledge!  SO sweet!  I love hearing them when Mom and Dad come to feed them.  It really is a family affair with both parents helping.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Awww.... look!

My daughter and I took a walk at a nearby Wildlife Refuge yesterday.  This cute little fellow was sitting in the path.  :)  From what I can see, he must be about 15 years old.  Box turtles are amazing.  They are territorial.  He must have a good life there are the refuge.

Monday, June 11, 2012

A new experience...

Our daughter and her family are moving out of state for military obligations for a year.  She left her "mushroom log" with me.  Lo and behold, yesterday I found this beautiful Shitake mushroom on it!  I've never grown mushrooms on my own, but this was a college assignment for her.  I feel honored!  (Also I'm looking forward to cooking it.  I think I hear some shrimp calling me from the freezer. :)

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Early June Garden Photographs - 2012

  I promised to post some pictures of our garden.  Here is how it looks early this morning.
 A view of the broccoli and cabbages.  There are some perennial weeds there I'm trying to discourage by using cardboard with only middling success.
 The "Egyptian" onions.
 "Perpetual" Swiss chard in the hoop house.  Planted last September, we ate from it all winter and will continue to do so until this fall's harvest begins.  All I do is cut off the stalks as they try to bolt to seed, and it continues to be tasty and tender.
 On the left are the onions, white and yellow (I wish I had planted some red too) and then you can see the long ridge with sweet potato plants I put in there yesterday.  They all look very happy this morning!
 The strawberry patch ~ it is finished for the year, so my husband tilled under the old growth and these two rows will expand and hopefully make lots of nice berries for next year.
 Sugar snap peas.
 Close-up of a sweet potato plant.  Early May, I planted a few of the sweet potatoes from last year and they send up the "slips" that I pull off and transplant for this year's crop.  Easy Shmeasy!
 Zinnia about to bloom.

 Potato patch ~ Yukon gold and Kennebec
 Jalapeno and California Wonder peppers in foreground, tomatoes and basil in the distance.
 Roma tomato plant.
 One basil plant.
 Bush green beans patch.
 Pole beans.
 Pot of gardenias (can't remember what they are!)  that my grandchildren gave to me for Mother's Day.
 My very tiny herb bed.  Chives, flat-leaved parsley, stevia, sage, thyme, cilantro,oregano, dill, rosemary.
 Pumpkin and winter squash patch.
 Cinderella pumpkins.
 3 varieties of corn, in blocks... early sunglow, bi-color sweet corn, and flour corn.
 Butternut squash.  The next picture is of zuchinnis. 
 Heirloom Finnish garlic that I planted from cloves last October.
 And here are some I missed from the year before.  They are getting huge!
 Little cucumber seedlings.
 Did you know that hens and chickens can bloom?
My one and only hydrangea.

Come by, anytime, and I'll give you a tour! This post is linked up with Simple Lives Thursday #99 , Fantabulous Fridays #16, AND Friday Food Flicks ...:)
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