Thursday, November 25, 2010

Turkey Day Medicine Bag

On Turkey Day I'm grateful that I'm not the one cooking the meal. I will be contributing my spiced-apple salad (previous post) and some gourmet cheeses. But really what I'm packing up this morning are a slew of remedies for Holiday's inevitable maladies. 

Here's what I'll be toting in my medicine bag......

Black Cherry Elixir ~ For those with the nagging cough, and those with hot burny digestions. I use black cherry quite often to steady my heart rate and settle my nerves.

Kava ~ For my son mostly, who's indigestion is also nervous and painful, accompanied by a frustration of having to socialize. I combine it with the black cherry elixir, and sometimes peach.

Peach Elixir ~ Also for hot, irritating digestive complaints and temperamental personalities. For those who just feel pissed off most of the time, and if they don't express it outwardly, they end up with UT problems or ulcers.
(for an exquisite profile on peach, please visit Kiva : )

Black Birch ~ For the people who feel uprooted, not "at home" and are finicky about getting around to putting some kind of food on their plate and then maybe even into their mouths. Great for teens and Elders. (Birch plays a key role in forest succession. Think of it as a transition remedy) Also for tension headaches.

Crystallized Ginger ~ For the unmoving, tired, slump on the couch after eating. Along with a hot cup of:

Dandy-Blend ~ An easy way to get dandelion root into people who would not otherwise take the tincture. It's a super yummy beverage that's easy to make and does the trick. Sweeten it with just a little honey instead of sugar, but don't drown out the bitter flavor - that is the medicine!

Echinacea elixir ~ There is always someone who is ill with something they don't understand. It's a little insurance for this statement "I don't know! It's weird. Its like... (---insert strange metaphor) .... and I just can't get rid of it."

St. Johnswort ~ For the blues, for the bruises, for the teary-eyed. For the nerve pains in the hip and back. For my own sanity.

Mugwort ~ Artemisia vulgaris ~ This one for cold, crampy digestion, especially liver stagnation, or anyone who can't get warm but shouldn't take ginger for it's too hot and dry. Mugwort is a woman's best friend :) Mugwort is also supreme as a pre-digestive bitter before a meal.

Alder ~ A new plant ally for me this year, I've been using it for lymph congestion with great results. So this will go for anyone who shouldn't eat that gluten filled biscuit, but does anyway. It will also go onto my poor daughters face which is swollen to the hilt with a wicked case of poison ivy.

Peppermint elixir ~ for teas or stuffy noses and little ones.

White Fir Elixir ~ purely for pleasure. I like it in my coffee.

For external use, I'm packing Witch Hazel tincture, Chaparral oil, Pain killer salve, and lip balm.
I already have a basic first aid kit in the car, so I usually have Osha and Yarrow already.

Need to grab a few survival items for your 

Blessings on this day to all of you, and may you have very happy tummies.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Plant Healer ~ A Journal of Traditional Western Herbalism ~ Open for Subscriptions!

I'm immensely honored and inspired to be a contributing writer for the premier issue of Plant Healer Journal. This promises to be an articulate, rooted, and outspoken voice for us Plant People, as well as a calling to the world at large who suffers at the hand of profound disconnection. My hope for this journal is many-fold. I hope people with flora curiosity will dive in head first. I hope that us herbalists will finally have informative, dynamic, applicable, and delicious reading we can count on. And daringly I hope that some people in a little corner of the political box, will close their greedy wallet and go eat some weeds, and realize that we are more sane than anyone for doing so. And maybe pull some strings on our behalf.

But back to the simple hopes ~ I feel really lucky to be a part of a resurgence of home and community herbalists who are so passionate about plants and healing, and who are getting back to the ground in their practices. I hope that this magazine, in it's unprecedented content, sells wildly.

Below is a clip and link for the original article.



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Monday, November 15, 2010

Spiced Apple Salad and the Healing of Food

Obviously it's been a long time since I wrote about herbal medicine or plants in general. It isn't because I have not been working with them, in fact I've learned monumental amounts. It's just, as my mom would say, 'anacana' - translation: on account of nothing. In other words, it's just because that's how the cards have fallen.

Often in life I feel like the ideas I have are brilliant, but then I'm not fast enough at pursuing them and they get used up by someone more savvy or opportunistic than I. Such is life.

In addition, I'm time compromised. And we all know how that goes, I don't have to explain.

So my post today is a little different but every bit relevant. It's about food.

As long as I can remember I've dubbed myself as "hating to cook". Which has made it exceedingly difficult to feed two growing children, a husband on occasion, and daily, myself. Growing up I learned simple basics to my benefit: how to cook soup, eggs, and make a great sandwich or salad. But that's it. Jump forward to having two small children and absolutely no idea how to not burn meat, shop frugally at a grocery store, or make a meal while managing children, you've got a recipe for a dis-empowered kitchen wishes-she-were-a-goddess woman.

I've burnt countless chicken breasts. I've ruined plenty of rice. I've eaten dinner for breakfast and breakfast for dinner. It wasn't until I made a commitment to cooking that anything changed.

But it wasn't easy. I'm a very busy woman! I work part time, take my children to learning co-op, I teach plants, I teach dance, and I try to write now and again, and I've got an apothecary and a household to manage. So you can see it's additional pressure to feed good meals to my loved ones.

But... I love food. I've never had any "food issue", so I don't have any eating stuff to deal with. I love food of all kinds and have always had the taste for healthy, well rounded foods. I love to eat and have always been active and never had any weight issues. So again, my problem was solely the fact that I HATED COOKING.

It was arduous. Laborious. Boring. Painful. Hopeless. Confusing. A waste of time.

And while I cannot say it's all better now, I can say I've come a very, very long way.

I'll mention here my Medicine Woman Mentorship. I'll mention it because one of the main thrusts is being in touch with one's senses and the birthright to take good care of ones self. Within my lesson work (and I'm still near the beginning) I am asked about my commitment to myself. It was clear to me that by not feeding myself, not engaging my senses and nourishment through the very basic human actions and needs, I was avoiding nourishment, pleasure, and pro-active healing.

The other note I'll make here is that my husband, as well as my children - miraculously - have a gift in the kitchen! Yes, my kids have been lucky to receive amazing cooking lessons from close friends/chefs in my community, and to learn plenty from Dad, but they just have it - the patience, the instinct, the love, and the uncanny ability to read and understand a written recipe from a cookbook. This has been (while slightly frustrating) an unsuspected inspiration.

And so within both my MWM as well as my monthly women's circle, I declared that I needed to both embrace and cultivate my inner Kitchen Goddess. I needed to find the woman in me that could infuse my food with both magic and skill. This was couple of years ago.

It's been a long journey and I'm still at it. I have a lot to learn. I've held to a Soup-Monday tradition for a while now, which helps keep me learning new recipes and by making it a routine I can count it as a required activity rather than something unimportant. I have tried my best to invite my hunter friends to feed me locally hunted venison, teach me about the animal and the different cuts, and had some healthfully harvested roadkill such as groundhog which was hit cleanly by an employee while I was at work. I've tried with the help of a talking thermometer to learn how long to cook meats, and I've enjoyed the benefit of finally cooking chicken well even if I'm not spoken to. I've cooked roasts, fish, acorn oatmeal, roasted potatoes, and many other dishes to a "T".

I'm proud of myself. While I cannot say I want to spend every day in the kitchen, I can say I'm no longer scared of it, and sometimes even really love it. Like today when I invented this spiced apple salad to take along for lunch tomorrow.

Sometimes eating disorders are not about getting fat or skinny, they are about not knowing how to cook, and not having the time in this fast forward life to do it. Sometimes they are about fearing the GMO's and learning to get outside to forage and to find local CSA's, farmers, or hunting. They really are about healing our relationship to eating, nourishing, taking, feeling, life, death, growth, creativity, and the intimacy therein. They are about consuming - the kind of consuming that was known before it was evil.

The moments I take in the kitchen, when given the time and spark, are sensual moments not too unlike my herbal potions or dance movements. They are moments that use to deplete me, and now feed me. And my family. They are organic, sensory, delicious moments.

Apple~ Spice Salad

5 ripe cubed apples
1/3 cup slices almonds
1/3 cup chopped dried cherries
1 Tbsp chopped crystallized ginger
1 whole fresh squeezed lemon, or more if desired
3 Tbs herbal infused honey (I used sage and monarda, you can use what you like)
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

Stir well and enjoy