Flower Vanilla Butter

Flower Vanilla Butter

My daughter, Violet, and I love to make herbal treats together for our family.  Violet really enjoys the cooking in the kitchen, so it is a great enjoy the beauty of herbs together.  We have a lovely Rosa rugosa in our yard which blooms the sweetest of rose flowers.  They are deep pink with a berry like fragrance.


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Our Daily Water

Our Daily Water

Long ago I learned the magic of simply placing a sprig of mint or lemon balm in my water bottle.  After a half hour or so the water takes on a lovely light taste of the herb.  My kids love herbal waters and I often put a sprig of mint into their water bottles if they are headed out and about for the day.  Yet when we spend the day at home, I have found that filling a pitcher with water and herbs doesn't seem to attract their attention.

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How To Make A Hydrosol

How To Make A Hydrosol

To me the scent of wild things, of plants and flowers is truly enchanting and brings great joy to my life.  Essential oils and hydrosols capture a bit of that magic for us humans to enjoy any time.   Hydrosols are the aromatic water that is created during steam distillation of essential oils.

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Ginger Day ~ Herbs for Kids ~

Ginger Day ~ Herbs for Kids ~

Not long before holiday break we had a lovely day playing with ginger and doing one of the kids' favorite activities, foot soaks!  This is a great way to spend a cold winter day especially if little ones are passing any sort of cold around as it stimulates the immune system and helps kids relax.

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Fresh Thyme And Lemon Balm Honey

The first snow is magical.  We were blessed with that special magic just over a week ago.  Just a light dusting,  it was beautiful.  The snow brought huge smiles to my girls' faces in anticipation of winter fun.  Preparation for the storm included a trip the garden for one last harvest.  My little one followed along side me and helped me bring in our veggies and herbs.  As we rambled through the yard we found our  way to the fairy garden we planted a couple of months ago during the heat of summer.  We found a large amount of thyme and lemon balm all ready to come inside and join us for the winter.  We decided to make a little treat for getting us through the long winter ahead ~ herbal infused honey, yummy!

Infusing honey with herbs could not be easier...

Pack the herb into the bottom of a jar.

Pour honey over the top.  Use a chop stick or a knife to stir the herbs into the honey because the honey will sit on top of the herbs and need a bit of help making its way to the bottom of the jar.

Some fun gooey bubbles will come up and insight potential giggles from little onlookers.

After stirring you will see the honey level go down and will need to add some more to top it off.  Perhaps the fairies took a little sip?

Then comes the hardest part, waiting.  Waiting for the honey to be done.  If you can, try to wait at least a week before you start eating your honey.  Truth be told we have already "tasted" the honeys many times and even had some on pancakes.  Ah well...

Make sure to label your honey and stir it every day.    Or you can simply turn the jar over a couple of times a day.  This great tip and a wonderful video tutorial from Mountain Rose Herbs on making herbal honeys can be found HERE.  After a week or so has passed either strain the herbs out of your honey or just eat them along with the honey.

Please Note:  When infusing fresh herbs in honey you want to be sure to keep the herbs covered in honey so they don't rot.  The water content in the herbs is what makes this happen.  By keeping the herbs covered the honey preserves them and prevents spoilage.  It is really hard to keep the herbs covered which is why turning the jar over a couple of times a day is just brilliant   Because the flipping of the jar doesn't keep the herbs submersed in honey, but it does keep the herbs coated and that does the trick!

How to use infused honey...

Well this is the easy part!  

A tasty spoonful here and there... Spread on biscuits and toast... A big dollop in a cup of tea...

It gets even better though because the HONEY is infused with the medicinal properties of the plants, it becomes delicious little immune system boost during the winter.  Along with the amazing healing benefits of honey, LEMON BALM is a wonderful antiviral which eases tension in the nervous system and lifts the spirits.  Thyme, rich in essential oils, is an antiseptic that is amazing for spasmodic coughs and fighting off infection.  The thyme combined with soothing honey should be wonderfully soothing for respiratory issues.

Does it get any better than this?

Shared on: Natural Living MondayThe Woodwife's Journal, Kid's Co-op

Herbal Guacamole

herbalguac2 People either love them or hate them, yet as far as I know there is nothing else in the world like the lovely avocado.  Tasty creaminess that adds just the right touch to so many dishes.  In our house it is often the avocado that pulls everything together.  It wasn't always so for me.  As a child I would find them lurking in the taco salad my mother so often served.  Like a little bits of pale green nastiness they would taunt me as I zealously hunted them down and banished every piece from my meal.  As I got older my tastes changed and I found myself wanting to like avocado.  Finally the answer came for me... salt.  Salt!  So simple, it brings out a special flavor in the avocado that makes it absolutely delectable.  And all you need is a little, just a sprinkle to make the avocado's tastiness shine.  Whew!  I am grateful I figured that one out because now I love avocados and I am not sure I could live with out them.

I found avocados to be the perfect baby food for my children.  Just cut one open and smash it up right in the peel.  Tasty nourishing baby food.  Luckily my kids never had my avocado aversion and they like them even without salt, go figure.

My favorite thing to make with avocados is guacamole, of course.  I love to add as much flavor to my guacamole as possible with herbs.  Forging out in my yard (as well as at the farm stand and grocery store) I search for any savory addition for my guacamole.

Favorites are ~

  • Herbs like chives, parsley, thyme, cilantro, and even basil
  • Flowers like spicy nasturtiums, borage, and chive flowers
  • Veggies like arugula, tomatoes, and peppers

This year my garden isn't in the best shape.  We had a lot of construction right around our back yard and I found it wasn't much fun gardening with loud construction equipment rumbling right over my shoulder.  Yet, I still managed to get a few lovely herbs planted and flourishing.  And, with the help of my local farm stand, I found enough to make a nice version of my family's favorite dip.

Ingredients ~

  • Ripe Avocados
  • Herbs ~ I used cilantro, chives, thyme and parsley
  • Fresh Limes
  • Garlic
  • Salt, of course!

Method ~

Prep your ingredients.  Chop the herbs up nice a small.  I use a lot of herbs when I make this (probably about a 1/2 to 3/4 cup of chopped herbs to each avocado)  and my kids still love every bite, even my 6-year-old who doesn't like "leaves."  How great is that?  Not only are my children eating avocados often with veggies for dipping but they also are getting lots of amazing green leafy herbs all chock full of goodness.  It is enough to make my heart sing!

Mince the garlic.  How much you use depends on how much you like garlic.  My husband and I like it a lot so we use 1 to 2 cloves each.  I mince the garlic with salt to help get the garlic's juice's flowing.  Then I leave it on the side so my hubby and I can add it to our guacamole because raw garlic is too spicy for my kids.

Next, smash the avocados up on a plate, I use a potato masher for this.  My kids love helping with this part.  It is really fun to see the avocado turn into little green tubular shapes.

Then just mix in your herbs with a squeeze of lime juice and so salt to taste.  Easy,  healthy and delicious served with raw veggies, crackers or chips for dipping.  Yum!

Avocado Nutrition ~

Despite their bad past reputation avocados are in fact good for you.  Each bumpy skinned fruit  is packed with heart healthy fats, fiber, vitamins and minerals including B vitamins, vitamin E, and potassium as well as antioxidants.  So eat up and enjoy!

Honeyed Peach Lemon Balm Sorbet

Each summer finds me eagerly awaiting the arrival of the peaches.  To me peaches are the best of summer captured in fuzzy orbs of juicy deliciousness.  Blessed are we to have a local farmer's market just minutes from our door where the most amazing organic peaches are sold freshly picked off the trees.  And each week the stout farmers from Morton's Orchardsdrive their beautiful fruit through the Rocky Mountains to bring those of us on the Front Range of Colorado peaches, apricots and cherries.  And, it gets even better because they sell seconds.  Seconds!  I really shouldn't be telling you this because the seconds are coveted and they go fast.  You have to get to the market before it even opens and stand in line to get your box of seconds.  The "second" peaches are super tasty even if they are a little funny looking at times.  I consider it an honor when I am lucky enough to get my own box of seconds.

This past weekend I was one of the happy few to get a box of seconds.  And throughout the week we have enjoyed munching on bright juicy peaches savoring each tasty bite.  But now the week has grown old and I still have a lot of peaches.  After a bit of thought I decided to whip out the ice cream maker to create some peach sorbet.  For a bit of pizzazz cheery lemon balm seems like the perfect accompaniment.  If you have never had lemon balm, I highly suggest you seek it out.  Bright and happy, lemon balm has a beautiful lemony scent that lends it's self well to many foods.  Plus it is a beneficial plant for the nervous system and it great during the heat of summer for crankiness that comes when we get tired and overheated.  Click here to read more about this special plant.

Making Sorbet

Here is what you will need:

  • 6 to 8 super ripe peaches, pit removed and chopped
  • 1/4 cup of farm stand honey (plus more to adjust for taste, just in case)
  • 1/4 cup hot water
  • 5 sprigs of fresh lemon balm, chopped
  • 1 Tbs. lemon juice

Easy Instructions:

Mix the hot water and honey to dissolve the honey.  Place everything in the blender and whirl it up until well blended.  Then just pour it in your ice cream maker and wait, patiently...

For a more in-depth discussion about making sorbet visit Simply Cooking.  She recommends using just a bit of alcohol to keep the sorbet from getting rock hard.  I think this is ingenious yet I didn't do it with this sorbet because I wanted my kiddos to partake.  I am looking forward to someday giving it a try.

Shared on the Living Green Link-upand the Natural Living Link-Up 

Fairy Crowns And Mint Magic Cookies

Fairy Crowns And Mint Magic Cookies

A cool rainy afternoon is a cookie baking afternoon at our house.  A time for ruminating in the kitchen over a delicious, comforting delicacy.  Because the heat of summer  has been so intense this year, I know we must seize this particular cool afternoon... it could be the last one like it for a while.

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