Dandelion Dip Recipe

Susun Weed, author of Healing Wise - the book with more dandelion flower, leaf, and root recipes than I've ever seen - tells us that dandelion is one of the most generous plants, for any part of her is harvestable at any time of the year. Therefore, anytime is a great time for a bowl of this easy-to-whip-up dandelion dip, served with some crackers, fresh veg, or chips. And it's a dish wild enough to impress your friends, kids, or nosy neighbors with its foraged flavor of a hint of bitter balanced with garlic and salt.

Dandelion dip recipe

We start by collecting bunches of dandelion greens fresh from the lawn, garden, farmer's market, or any other place you trust for your wild foods. If you have a little one to help you at this task, so much the better!

Baby picking dandelions

In the springtime, dandelion leaves tend to be a little less bitter and they continue to rev up that bitterness as summer gives way to fall. This dish helps us remember that bitter tastebuds are ones we have for a reason: bitters stimulate our digestive juices, kicking our GI system into high gear and encouraging salivary and metabolic actions. Although coffee is really one of the only 'bitters' we find in our food culture, bitter tasting plant foods are important and even essential for a healthy gut and digestive fire.

Chopping dandelion leaf

After dicing up the dandy leaves, and tasting a few for good measure (and giving a few to the baby to make him pucker with surprise!), we simply combine this green loveliness with cottage cheese, plain yogurt (preferably organic and full-fat, for the optimal nutrition), garlic powder, and salt (see exact measurements in the recipe above). Easy! The dip is now ready to be feasted on, with fingers, crackers, or whatever bread you have on hand.

Dandelion dip

Herbs for a Healthy Pregnancy and Birth Part 1: Nourishment

Herbs for a Healthy Pregnancy and Birth Part 1: Nourishment

Real, whole food, whole herb nourishment during pregnancy is not hard to come by once you familiarize yourself with herbs like nettle and oatstraw herbal infusions, which represent some of the highest sources on earth of trace minerals and nutrients and are even rich in protein. The benefits of herbal vinegars include their ability to balance out the pH of the body, their helpfulness with digestive difficulties, and their friendliness to the health of the gut. 
Vibrant Violet Soup

Vibrant Violet Soup

Looking for something to do with all those violet greens you just weeded out of your garden bed? Try this creamy summer soup, equally good hot as it is cold. The mucilage of the violet greens compliments the creaminess of the soup base so delightfully.

Violets

Creamy Violet Green Soup
(adapted from Healing Wise by Susun S. Weed)

Serves 6

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 cup sliced leeks or wild leeks
4 cups violet leaves
4 cups water
Salt to taste
4 cups fresh milk
Violet blossoms
Dusting of nutmeg

Sauté leeks and onion in oil for three minutes. Add chopped violet leaves, stir for a minute. Add water and salt and bring to a simmer. Cook about 15 minutes, then puree in blender or through a sieve. Reheat, adding milk. Garnish with a few violet blossoms and a dust of nutmeg before serving. Also nice served cold.

Violet Soup

 

July 30, 2015 — Heather Wood Buzzard
Cordially Yours: Elderflower Cordial

Cordially Yours: Elderflower Cordial

In early summer, when the roadsides are covered in masses of this plumy whiteness…oh, what’s an herbalist to do? Make elderflower cordial, of course! This sweet, citrusy, and very floral syrup serves as an insanely delightful cocktail blend, pancake drizzle, ice cream topping, yogurt add-on, or cake glaze. This recipe is truly incredibly easy, and a perfect lazy summer activity. The bulk of the work, really, is waiting (which you may find difficult once you smell it for the first time!). You will need:

~45 elderflower heads

9 cups water

3 1/3 lbs sugar

3 organic lemons

3 organic oranges

3 oz citric acid

a large pot, a cloth, a spoon, and two days time

Clip about 45 fully open heads of elderflower (Sambucus nigra or Sambucus canadensis…not Sambucus racemosa!) and use them immediately or refrigerate them until you can get around to making the cordial. They will last for a day or two in the fridge, but not much longer.

Bring the water and sugar to a boil in a large pot, and cool down. Grate the lemon peel and add to the water, and then cut the lemons into slices and stir those in. Do the same thing with the oranges. Stir in your citric acid, and then finally stir in the elderflower heads (stem and all is just fine).

Cover the pot with a cloth and let sit for 24-48 hours. Strain, use, and refrigerate. Delish!

 

 

Experimenting With Syrups

Experimenting With Syrups

What could be more evocative of the summer than a light and sweet, floral and fragrant drizzle of a fresh blossom syrup on your morning oatmeal or in your evening cocktail (or just by the plain old spoonful)? Herbal syrups are a delight – both to create and to consume. An abundance of those herbs that make for syrupy goodness pop out in mid-late spring and early summer. Those herbs which best tend to lend their powers to syrups are often those herbs that are themselves the most, well, syrupy! Think of our favorite demulcent, nourishing, gentle, slightly sweet, moist, mucilaginous plants: violet, linden, marshmallow, slippery elm. These blooms, barks, and roots already have those slippery sweet qualities that we associate with syrups, so when they are infused or decocted and cooked down with some good-quality honey, a nourishing herbal medicinal treat is the natural product.

Violets

We’ve been trying out a couple of different herbal syrups this week which highlight two of the most showy purple flowers here in the Appalachians. The first, violet blossom syrup, is a timeless tradition. Creme de Violette, the classic purple-hued Italian liqueur, is a staple in drinks like the Aviation, a popular craft cocktail during the warm months. Your everyday weedy lawn violets will work just perfectly for this syrup, and you may munch on the leaves while you’re harvesting the blooms. Fill a quart mason jar with your harvested violet blooms, pour boiling water over the flowers so that they’re covered, and let that steep 4-8 hours or overnight. Strain the flowers out, and gently heat the remaining liquid on very low heat with honey/sugar (an equal amount by weight). Until your desired sweetness is achieved. This is a wonderful activity for getting the whole family involved in the harvest, unless you don’t mind spending a sunny afternoon picking violet blossoms (if you offer to pay a penny per flower harvested, we’ve found this generally works pretty well on the younger ones).

Violet Syrup

Violet syrup is a well-known traditional soother and softener of tissues and may be a gentle stimulant to the lymphatic system. Violet leaf and blossom nourish the waters of the body and are used in tandem to ease coughs and chest congestion. The royal turquoise-amethyst colored syrup is a delicate medicine, a friend of sore throats and sometimes of tummy troubles, and traditionally a specific for nourishing the breast tissue. Children love violets, adults love violets…what’s not to love? And now we head to the experimentation station, where we’ll meet with a not-so-classic herbal syrup. In fact, this one may never have been made before! For this recipe, we used the lavender colored flowers of the Princess Tree, or royal Paulownia (Paulownia tomentosa). This invasive tree is not well-loved due to its non-native status, but in our corner of the world it grows so prolifically that we have accepted it and decided to make the best of it. In contrast to the violets, the princess tree flower harvest takes only a few minutes. The edible blooms are so hefty and decadent that they fall from the tree, making harvesting a cinch. Like the violets, we collected about a quart’s worth of paulownia blooms and poured boiling water over them, lidded it, and let it steep overnight. The resulting liquid had turned a deep amber hue, and smelled vaguely of vanilla.

Princess Tree

We preserved our Princess Tree syrup by stirring equal parts (by weight) sweetener into it (you may gently reheat to get the honey/sugar to dissolve). Or you can add equal parts simple syrup (one part water to one part honey/sugar). We added a few teaspoons of vanilla to pull out more of that sweet flavor. You may refrigerate the syrup for a few weeks before it will begin to ferment. Those of you who believe that rules were made to be broken will already know what we’re about to say – don’t hold steadfast to this recipe! Recipes are made for experimentation! Why not try making a syrup from your favorite bloom? Dandelion, calendula, or birch bark? Why not? Want more syrups? Check out the basic proportions here. Or check out our new Wild Cherry Bark Syrup here.

Allergy Alert: Support in Season

We all know it’s coming – some of us may already be in the thick of it. The congestion, the bleary eyes, the runny nose, the headaches, the pains, the stuff. Allergy season is in prime time at the moment, and it happens to fall right at the time of year when the dogwoods are exploding into blossom, the birdsong is melodious, and all we want to do is be outside. “What a cruel joke nature plays!” we may think to ourselves while sniffling and gazing longingly out the window. We’ve heard of all the natural remedies: local honey, bee pollen, and locking yourself indoors until summer…but have you met the nettles?

Know Your Nettle

NettlesStinging nettles, Urtica dioica (and also wood nettles or Laportea canadensis, which can be used fairly interchangeably), are an incredible green ally for those with persistent allergies and seasonal symptoms. On top of using locally produced bee by-products like honey, royal jelly and pollen to combat allergies, incorporating nettles as a superfood and super-infusion can give springtime allergies a kick in the pollinated pants. Mineral rich, incredibly high in iron and chlorophyll, and densely nutritious, nettles are a food-herb and can be consumed in abundance with absolute safety. Mid-late spring is the optimal time to harvest nettles, when their formic acid content is lower and they are more tender and less fibrous than their summer or autumn selves.

In her book Healing Wise: The Wise Woman Herbal, Susun Weed advises that “Nettle is an ally which – combined with the Wise Woman ways – can help the gradual healing of a person with a condition such as hay fever, allergies etc… Try a cup/250 ml of nettle infusion, or a half cup/125 ml cooked fresh greens and pot liquor, or a teaspoonful of the juice every nice spring day for at least a month.”

Nettles are best used as a tonic herb for chronic allergy sufferers. Expect to use nettles regularly for one week to one month before realizing significant improvement and relief. See Susun Weed’s website for more on this juicy food and medicine. Need nettles?

Rusty on the exact process of making a full-strength medicinal herbal infusion? Lucky for you, it takes less than the time it takes to brush your teeth, and we’ll remind you how simple it is in our informative how-to here. Check out this recipe for a rich Russian Nettle Tonic to get even more nettles into your life.

Osha: An Ocean of Possibilities

Osha Root

While nettles is one of our best green allies for allergies over the long-term, a wise woman surrounds herself with not one but many friends. Sweet, spicy osha (Ligusticum spp.) is another one of these allies that are useful in soothing the redness and inflammation of the allergy season. But unlike nettles, osha is fast-acting to support at the scene of the issue.

In the form of a potent low-dose botanical, the aromatic osha root assists in allergic reactions and anaphylactic situations until one can seek medical treatment should an acute situation arise. On an allergy that manifests itself through redness, irritation and inflammation on the skin such as hives and rashes, osha tincture can be used both topically and internally in tandem to support the body’s extreme histamine response. Got an itchy throat from allergies? Osha is helpful for soothing the esophageal passages.

If you or someone you know has an allergy – whether bee sting or nut butters – it’s a wise investment to have a bottle of osha tincture on hand for those unexpected reactions. As a bonus, osha is also excellent for use on any painful, swollen insect or animal bites or stings that you might experience. Don’t be caught without this powerful root medicine, and may the osha and the nettles help you to enjoy an allergy-less spring singing with the birds!

April 29, 2015 — Heather Wood Buzzard

Unexpected Gifts

While walking in the forest recently with the kids, we found several of Earth’s bountiful treasures: whimsical witch hazel flower and a few lucky buckeye (Aesculus spp.) pictured here. We see the remains of summer’s leftover reishi (Ganoderma spp.) and lingering dried oyster mushrooms, fresh turkey tail (Trimetes versicolor), usnea (Usnea spp.) on branches fallen, a few clinging hawthorn berries and plenty of wild rose hips for syrups and teas (see both fruits pictured below).

These gifts of the forest offer their abundant fruit to us with no expectations in return, so we choose to give a token to express appreciation.

We may leave dried tobacco or herb from an offering pouch, a few strands of hair or a prayer of thanks. A neat winter gift for our bird and forest friends can easily be made using a pine cone or two as a bird feeder. These are gestures in the season of giving. Replanting the yule or holiday tree of cedar, spruce or pine can be a safe place for wildlife while providing cone seeds or evergreen berries as winter food.

Birds also forage on berries such as hawthorn (Crataegus spp.) beautyberry (Callicarpa spp.), Oregon grape (Mahonia aquifolium), barberry (Berberis vulgaris) and black haw (Viburnum prunifolium). All of these shrubs will soon be ready to plant in your garden or forest in early spring. Some of these shrubs have medicinal properties, such as hawthorn for heart health, barberry or Oregon grape as a digestive bitter and wound healer and black haw with its numerous uses, including support during threatened miscarriages or postpartum hemorrhaging.

I am humbled and ever so grateful to Mother Earth’s generosity even in the coldest season, such unconditional giving shared during the lean times is the ultimate example for us all.

Abundant harvests and gift giving year-round,
Jeannie Dunn, Director

February 01, 2015 — Jeannie Dunn

New Wild Cherry Bark Syrup!

Our new Wild Cherry Bark Syrup supports healthy respiratory function and is just the thing for soothing raspy coughs and sore throats from winter colds or allergies. We tested several formulas and found that this blend of elecampane root, wild violet leaf, slippery elm bark, and wild cherry bark extracts mixed with local raw honey offers the most relief for a variety of coughs.

Fresh local elecampane root is an expectorant to make coughs more productive while violet’s demulcent qualities help coat agitated areas. Wild cherry bark is traditionally used by Natives for aches and calming cough and slippery elm bark soothes internal inflammations and sore throats. And the raw mountain honey makes the syrup yummy and smooth.

The adult dosage is only 1 teaspoon per serving so a little goes a long ways. Add some to your medicine cabinet today to be ready for the next cold or sore throat.

December 07, 2014 — Jeannie Dunn

Spring Chickweed Pesto

by Jackie Dobrinska

The spring greens are sprouting up all over the place and chickweed is one of our favorites.  It is densely packed with minerals and nutrients, including Vitamins B-1, B-2 and C. With all of this wild abundance, it’s easy to try something new and nourishing – like Chickweed Pesto!

Chickweed Pesto:

*3 cups fresh chickweed
*3 cloves garlic
*1/2 cup olive oil
*1 tsp sea salt
*fresh ground pepper
*zest from 1/2 lemon
*1/2 cup toasted sunflower seeds, or toasted pine nuts, or pecans, or walnuts. . .whatever you have.

Rinse chickweed well. Spin in a salad spinner to dry. Blend chickweed, garlic, salt, pepper, lemon zest and seeds/nuts in a food processor briefly. With blade still in motion slowly pour in olive oil to create a paste. Serve on meat or fish, toss with roasted fingerling potatoes or pasta or spread on sourdough. Enjoy the taste of Spring!

(Recipe from “Girl with an Apron“)

Herbs: Short vs. Long Term Use

by Jackie Dobrinska

Herbs are used in two distinct ways. One is in acute situations, providing relief for things like an upset tummy or menstrual cramps. The other is to nourish and regulate organs and systems, revitalizing the body’s own ability to maintain overall good health.

The first way is fast. The second often takes time. A robust herbal medicine chest contains both types of herbal remedies.

Herbs like yarrow, skullcap, plantain, wild lettuce, motherwort, and lemon balm are usually used for acute situations.  It is best to take them immediately at the on-set of the issue and at regular intervals to have the most desired effect.

Tonics such as elder, hawthorne, vitex, astragalus, and reishi are helpful for more long term support for the immune system, the heart, the hormonal system and others. A tonic works best when taken consistently on a daily basis, over three to six months.

Some herbs are both tonics and fast acting. For example, St. Johnswort (also known as St. Joanswort) is both a tonic that supports the nervous system and an herb that is used acutely for viral infections and burns.

Knowing the manner in which to use an herb will help determine how much to have on hand. Taking two full droppers of an extract a day, a 1 ounce bottle will last approximately 20 to 25 days.  This is probably enough for most acute situations.  Since tonics need to be taken for at least three to six months to see results, a 4 or 8 ounce bottle helps keep the herb at hand, and also cuts down on cost and waste.

To learn more about choosing the appropriate sizes for your needs, please visit our FAQ page.

Know that herbal tonics require a commitment to reap the rewards, and immediacy helps with acute situations.  Both are important for herbal remedies to work their magic best.

October 01, 2012 — Red Moon Herbs