Friday, January 29, 2010

Old fashioned herbal candies - part 2.

Our good friend Sally K. forwarded us this recipe - she hasn't tried it yet, but forwarded it because it uses sugar instead of liquid sweeteners - an easier and better option for some. She got this recipe from the book Herbal Sweets by Ruth Bass.

Sally Kilkenny January 28 at 5:01pm
4 cups boiling water
2 cups herb leaves with stems and blossoms (peppermint, spearmint - or any of the mints, horehound, wintergreen, lemon verbena)
3 cups granulated sugar
3 cups brown sugar
1/2 tablespoon butter plus more for the pan

- pour boiling water over herbs and steep for 10 minutes (longer for a stronger tea) - while steeping, butter a shallow pan
- strain tea, discarding the solids - return to a large saucepan and and sugars and butter - bring to a boil over medium heat - continue boiling until syrup hards when a small amount is dropped into cold water (hard ball stage, or 250-266 degrees F)
- pour into buttered pan and score into squares before setting completely, or break into pieces after candy hardens - wrap in waxed paper and store in an airtight container

variation: add 1 tablespoon mint leaves or 1 teaspoon crushed anise seeds to horehound herbs.

ALSO! I set up a Twitter account just for Prairieland Herbs. Follow Prairieland Herbs on Twitter

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Homemade herbal candies? How COOL!

I haven't tried this yet, but it is now on my "someday" list! Here's a great "instructables" tutorial on making your own herbal homeade candies, customized to your needs and tastes.

I love their idea of taking a pre-blended tea and brewing it to make your homemade candy, that would be a great and easy way to start. However, I am also thinking it would be really fun to blend your own. How about....horehound, peppermint and sage for coughs? Ginger, lemon, elderberry and honey for flu. Years ago, my friend Abi sent me homemade garlic candies (I kid you not) they were strangely addictive and strongly anti viral! What blends would you try?

I wouldn't use corn syrup, personally (ugh) but would substitute some honey, as one of our facebook fans suggested, golden syrup (a cane sugar syrup). Or perhaps molasses, or agave? There are lots of more natural sweeteners, I'd give those a shot.....

Taking something artificially flavored, sweetened, and colored is not a great idea at any time, but ESPECIALLY when you're sick. It seems like having homemade herbal cough drops and candies on hand is a fantastic addition to any home herbal medicine chest.

All that sounds like a great idea, but way too much work for you? My awesome friend Tina has done the work for you. Check out her delicious homemade herbal candies.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Za'atar is SO. YUMMY!

My awesome friend Jill gave me some homemade za'atar seasoning for Christmas, and a wonderful recipe for making a za'atar flatbread using the Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day (also known affectionately among us convers as ABin5 or even AB5). If you don't know what I'm talking about, let's start here. AB5 is a REVOLUTIONARY, super easy and wonderful way to have fresh, homemade, preservative-free bread anytime you want, with less than 5 mintues work. Really. So, go, buy their first book, or their second one (including gluten free and loads of whole grain recipes), then come back here and finish reading this post. We'll wait.

Now, the spice mix, za'atar, is a middle eastern blend of sesame seeds, salt, thyme, and sumac. It is DELCIOUS! Lemony-tart, and just fantastic. You can make your own, or buy it. For extra herby bonus points, you can grow your own thyme AND wildcraft the sumac! (Sumac is easily found in the eastern and midwest parts of the US and Canada).

The specific recipe I used was the AB5 boule (whole wheat), baked as a flatbread, but, if you wantedn to try this at home, you could use any foccacia type recipe and basically substitute the za'atar seasoning for the rosemary. Otherwise it is made the same - put your dough on an oiled sheet, use your fingers to make indentations in the dough, sprinkle on your seasoning and some coarse salt, drizzle with olive oil, and bake at 450 until it's done. I meant to get a picture of it right out of the oven but, as you can see, that did not happen. It was just. too. good.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Friday we made it to work, only to discover the power had gone out, AGAIN. So I snapped some pictures, we hung out with my mom and granpda for an hour, then headed home. Not much we can do without power. :(
All the treese were coated with ice, like this. It's hard to see, but it was really beautiful. The ice is super dangerous, yet beautiful. We had ice combined with fog, so everything seemed really surreal, sort of soft, and very quiet. out in the country the only noise you heard was ice falling. Lots and lots of ice falling off of EVERYTHING. It was strangely beautiful, I'm so glad I got to experience it.

This is what happens when you have ice plus wind. Crazy sidways icicles. :)

In this picture you can actually see the ice chunks dangling from the branches, ready to fall at the slightest movement. The ground below was littered with ice chunks (next picture).

Saturday we were FINALLY able to work, we processed as many orders as we could. During the afternoon, the fog rolled in again, for about an hour and a half we watched the world slowly disappear out the window. Then we headed home, slowly and veeeeery carefully.

Today: a blizzard! no, I'm not kidding. We are officially under a blizzard warning, Donna is reporting big drifts already. She had difficulty making it into town this morning and said the road is probably impassable now, until the wind stops and the plows can get through. School is cancelled, AGAIN. At this rate, the schoolkids are going to be in school until mid-June, I swear.

What a winter!

oh, John got some REALLY great ice pictures on Friday, check them out: Jag's Photo Blog