Posts Tagged ‘herbs’


Have you ever wondered if there is an alternitive to dry active yeast, besides sour dough?  Are you curiouse as to how a home maker obtained yeast before it was readily avalible on the market?  I was, and I found some answers…

At first I was skeptical.  Aren’t hops for beer?  Yes, and no.  They also make a wonderful fresh yeast that keeps well and makes lovely bread. 

For my recipe, see here…


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There are many reasons I am thankful for herbs.  Some are good food, while others are good medicine.  Some smell wonderful and some are simply beautiful.  Herbs are any seed producing plant that does not develop persistent woody tissue, but dies down at the end of a growing season.  The word also refers to any plant material that is used for its medicinal, savory or aromatic qualities.  The judicious use of herbs can greatly improve the quality of life.

Here is a list of some of my favorites, and how I use them:

Alfalfa:  I collect alfalfa leaves in the spring, from mature plants, before they bloom. (In this part of the country, alfalfa grows like a weed, and is very difficult to kill.)  To keep them, I dry them for use as tea, or I tincture them.  I use alfalfa for a number of reasons.  It has a high vitamin content, being an excellent source of A, C, K, niacin and B-1.  It helps nursing mothers keep a good supply of milk, is a blood purifier, and helps prevent tooth decay.

Arnica:  I make a massage oil from arnica flowers, to use on all bumps, bruises and sore muscles.  It helps to heal muscles and improve circulation.  It is for external use only.

Cinnamon:  Besides smelling wonderful and tasting good, cinnamon kills a variety of illness causing bacteria.  I use it in food, for potpourris, and to keep the mouth healthy.  When sickness is threatening my family, I let each member have a cinnamon stick to chew on.

Cayenne:  Cayenne is one of my favorite spices, for flavor, but it also has many many health properties.  It stimulates every system in the body, and improves circulation.  I add a touch of it to most tinctures I make, and, on cold days, sprinkle some in our boots, to help keep our feet warm.

Flax seed oil:  Flax seed has been promoted for its omega-3 fatty acids, but that is not why I use it.  I use it, because it helps to rid the body of excess mucus.  It also seems to drive out disease and viruses.  To use it, I boil 1 Tablespoon of seed in two cups of water for 8 minutes.  This makes a thick egg-white like substance, which is the flax oil.  This can be drank straight, mixed with other foods, like mashed potatoes, or added to drinks, like egg-nogs, orange juliuses, and shakes.

Garlic:  Another food that is good for almost everything!  It is a natural antibiotic, a disease fighter, protects against  infection, and helps the body detoxify.  It is also a rich source of nutrients.  I cook with garlic, serve it raw to anyone feeling ill, add it to tincture, and use it as a salve, to draw out infections in the skin.  I have used it for yeast infection, and to heal diaper rashes.

Hops:  Best known for its relaxing properties, it is also useful for stimulating digestive function, and stimulating the liver.  I use hops to make my own soft yeast, for baking.  Bread made from this yeast is soothing, relaxing and healthful.

Lavender:  One of my favorite scents, it has a relaxing effect on the mind and body.  It also has anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, and anti-viral properties.  Lavender oil, mixed with orange peel and white vinegar, is the perfect, non-toxic cleaner;  I use it on all surfaces.  I use lavender in potpourris, cooking, and bath salts.

Peony:  Peonies are my favorite flower, not only for the way they look, but the way they smell.  Over the years, I have discovered that their sent has a calming effect on young and old alike.   I use them for cut flowers, and dry the petals for potpourris.

Rose Hips:  Rose hips are the dried fruit of roses.  They are full of vitamin C.  I collect them from wild roadside bushes, after the first hard freeze in the fall , and tincture them.  We use this as a immune booster, and to heal burns.  When someone burns them self, I have them take a Tablespoon of rose hip tincture. 

Yarrow:  Yarrow is used as a fever reducer, especially in children.  I cut and tincture or dry the flowers in the summer, when they first bloom.  Some say the leaves are the better part of the plant to use, and that they should be collected before the plant blooms, in the spring.

What is your favorite herb, and why?

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