Thursday, December 1, 2011

Perfect for this Holiday Season

I made the salsa recipe until fresh cranberries were no longer available. You can buy fresh cranberries and freeze them to use later. I plan to do that this year because I love this salsa so much.

I probably posted this before, but it is so delicious, I thought I'd post it again. Made some for Thanksgiving and have to say...this one is so popular, you have to double or even triple the recipe if you have more than 6. People literally park themselves near this salsa and don't move! Delicious.

I have used lemon and even orange juice when lime was not available. I prefer the lower amount of sugar. I'm making some right now! It's really good with corn chips, especially blue corn chips. Unsalted best.


1/2 -- 3/4 CUP SUGAR



I haven't tried to make this but as soon as I get my new oven, I will.




1.Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350. Lightly brush a 9 inch glass or ceramic pie pan with melted butter.

2.Scatter the cranberries in an even layer in the bottom of the pan. Sprinkle ½ cup of the sugar and the pecans over them.

3.Place the butter, flour, eggs, almond extract, and the remaining 1 cup of sugar in a large mixing bowl and stir with a wooden spoon to combine well. Pour or spread the butter mixture over the cranberry mixture.

4.Bake the tart until it has risen, is lightly browned, and the center has nearly set-40-45 minutes. Transfer the tart to a wire rack to cool for 20 minutes, then slice and serve warm with the whipped cream. Or, let the tart cool completely, about 1 hour, before serving. Dust with confectioners’(powdered) sugar if desired.

This tart can also be made with 1 cup chopped apple and 1 cup of cranberries.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Gather, Prepare and Eat Acorns

The other day on my walk, I noticed there were a lot of acorns on the ground. I know they were the staple food source for California Indian people for centuries, so I knew they were edible. In fact, at different times in my life when I was spending time with Native People, I cooked and prepared them myself. I decided to try it again.

I gathered acorns over a couple of days, let them sit for a few days, then cracked them open taking out the nuts inside. I soaked them overnight to loosen the brown skin on the nut, then removed the skins. I ground them in my Vitamix to the size of coffee grounds. I put them in cold water and poured off the water about a dozen times.
Today I am cooking the mush. It is creamy and smooth, with a mild flavor.

Acorn has a high level of protein. It was the staple food for California native people for generations until Europeans came with their animals, which escaped and fed off the acorns making it unavailable to the people. It has been said that is this the main reason the native people were forced to go to the missions...for food after their own food source was taken by the animals.

Acorn is a nut and after the tannins are removed by processing, has a light nut flavor. Tannins create a bitter taste and are not good for our liver, so must be removed, but it is not poisonous. All types of acorn can be eaten. Some have more tannin than others and so take more processing before eating.

Check out this website: Acorn Recipes and Acorn Preparation

A great website, which although it is low tech...has everything you need to know about acorn.

I think it is very useful for us to know about 'wild foods' and how to prepare them. Find out what grows naturally near you or within a short distance, that you can use for food or medicine. Learn how to prepare these items, including seeds, nuts, berries, sea vegetables, leaves, roots, mushrooms, and fruit. This will be beneficial to you in many ways:

1) it will get you out in nature, walking and being observant,
2) you will be learning something new, including the cycles of nature,
3) you will see that you are not at the mercy of the supermarket down the street - which will empower you and help you feel more secure.

Knowing that everything you REALLY need is available and within your reach is a good feeling. It is empowering to collect and prepare wild foods.

Hopefully, we won't need to rely on these things to survive, but will just add them to our diet for variation and fun. Have a wild foods dinner with your friends.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Fall - Time for Spiced Chai

This is the season for chai. Hot and spicy, it warms you up and is good for you. It's a good way to strengthen your immune system before the onslaught of winter.

I start my chai by putting fresh ginger, cardamom seeds (taken out of the pods), and cinnamon stick in the crock pot overnight. The next day, after I turn off the crock pot, I add black tea and let that steep for a few minutes. I make a large batch. I make it strong, then put it in the refrigerator for easy use at a later time. When I want some, I use about half a cup or so, add multi-grain milk and honey then heat.

There are hundreds of recipes...find one or make up one. Here is an article from the Herb Companion newsletter with 3 recipes following:

"Sensuous, soothing and simply irresistible, chai is the ideal accompaniment for savory scones … a perfect break on a busy afternoon … a satisfying finish to a holiday dinner with family and friends.

Derived from the Chinese chá, “chai” means tea in much of the world, including Asia, Eastern Europe, parts of Africa and Brazil. Masala chai is an aromatic blend of black or green tea with warming spices. Sugar and milk often are included, as well.

Travel to India, Nepal and Tibet, where masala chai originated, and you’ll likely see vendors peddling the tasty brew on street corners or at train stations. According to Ayurvedic tradition, masala chai boosts the immune system, enhances metabolism, relieves stress, aids digestion and sharpens the mind.

You can find hundreds of chai recipes associated with different locales, restaurants and even families. Preparation methods vary, too—some aficionados insist on boiling the tea, spices and milk together, while others take a gentler approach, briefly steeping the tea leaves and spices in hot water, then adding hot milk and sweetener last.

The following recipes are three twists on this long-loved delight. Experiment by adding fennel seeds, coriander seeds, nutmeg, star anise, and lemon or orange peel to create your own favorite blend."

Basic Black Chai

• 1½ cups cold water
• One 2-inch piece cinnamon stick, broken
• 2 heaping teaspoons black tea
• Seed of 3 cardamom pods
• One ¼-inch-thick slice fresh ginger
• 3 whole cloves
• 2 black peppercorns
• ¼ to ½ cup milk
• 1 to 2 tablespoons sugar

1. Bring water to a boil in small saucepan. Add cinnamon, cover, remove from heat; steep 2 minutes. Return pan to heat; bring to a boil. Add tea, spices, milk and sugar; cover, and remove from heat. Steep 3 minutes.

2. Pour mixture through fine wire-mesh strainer into warm teapot, discarding solids. Garnish with cinnamon sticks.

Gentle Green Chai

This is a yummy variation of kahwah, a Kashmiri green tea.

• 1½ cups cold water
• 2 heaping teaspoons green tea
• Seed of 1 cardamom pod
• 2 whole cloves
• 2 strands saffron (optional)
• 6 blanched almonds, chopped
• ½ cup milk
• 1 tablespoon honey

1. Combine water, tea, spices and almonds in small saucepan. Cook over low heat until hot (do not boil). Partially cover; steep over low heat 10 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in milk and honey.

2. Pour through fine wire-mesh strainer into warm teapot, discarding solids. Serve.

Tulsi Chai

In India, Tulsi Chai, made from holy basil (Ocimum sanctum), is used to treat colds and reduce stress.

• ½ cup holy basil leaves
• 2 cups cold water
• 2 heaping teaspoons green tea
• Seed of 1 cardamom pod
• One 1/4-inch-thick slice fresh ginger
• One 2-inch cinnamon stick, broken
• 2 whole cloves
• Pinch of nutmeg
• 1 tablespoon honey
• Milk, to taste

1. In small saucepan, boil basil and water. Reduce heat, cover and simmer 3 minutes. Stir in tea, spices and honey: bring almost to a boil. Remove from heat, cover and steep 3 minutes.

2. Pour mixture through fine wire-mesh strainer into warm teapot, discarding solids. Serve with milk. Garnish with skewered crystallized ginger cubes, fresh basil leaves and grated nutmeg.

Read more

Monday, October 17, 2011

Edible Mushrooms Growing in my Living Room!

A couple of weeks ago I had a booth at the annual harvest event at Laguna Farms in Sebastopol. I was selling my herbal products and giving flower essence readings.

They offered many classes including one on growing edible mushrooms. I made two 'bags' full of rice hay and mycelium.

Two days ago they sprouted. I was so excited! Mushroom babies! I spent some time trying to find out what kind they were then finally identified them - Pleurotus ostreatus var.columbinus blue oyster mushrooms! I wasn't sure how long to let them grow before harvesting, but after I did a little research, I figured it out.

This picture shows them on the second day after they pop out of the plastic bag. They get as big as cookies and lighten in color when they are ready to eat. Once they start, they grow fast.

I have been eating them for two nights now. Although they are not supposed to do this, I notice my dreams are more vivid and active than they had been before. I am very sensitive to new energies, so it might just be me. But I do feel different. I cut the fresh mushrooms, cook and eat them in minutes. They are so alive, the first time I cut them I apologized.

I am hooked! Growing my own edible mushrooms is so easy! I always heard that, but now that I've done it and eaten the results I am a believer.

Today, the universe said YES, and sent me the latest catalog from Fungi Perfecti. I knew I had one, but couldn't find it. I have been listening for guidance about the direction I am to take next and now I know I will be growing mushrooms.

Since I live in the woods, my place is cool and dark most of the time. I have the right kind of place for growing mushrooms, both indoor and outdoor. You can eat them and it's legal!

The first time I ate them, I wanted to taste their natural flavor, so I did not use any seasoning. They were so delicious,with a mild and delicate flavor. I sauteed them briefly in a little olive oil and butter. Yummm!

Last night I mixed them with roasted eggplant and garlic over linguini sprinkled lightly with fresh grated parmesan. It was a gourmet meal.

Tonight I'm going to cook up a batch and freeze it. They are producing so many mushrooms I can't eat them all. I will cook them up, freeze them, then used them in a sauce over polenta that I will bring to a Halloween party potluck.

Not sure if they grow a second time, but I'll see. My next experiment will be to grow some medicinal mushroom like Reishi and Lion's Mane.

Here are some useful websites I found in my research:

To start "growing your own" I suggest going to the website by Fungi Perfecti, because they are totally reliable and they have been doing this for a long time.
Try growing your own. It is so amazing. A great project for kids. You can grow them on your kitchen counter. They don't take up much room and you don't have to do anything. No watering or weeding! ha ha

Monday, March 21, 2011

Astrology and Wellness

Had a fantastic time at Astrology Day 2011 in SF on this past Saturday. Foe more on that, go to my astrology blog.

One of the speakers, Stephanie Gailing, in addition to being an astrologer, is a wellness consultant. Her presentation, titled: "Uranus in Aries: Taking Charge of Our Well-Being", included suggestions for diet and exercise as well as the herbs and essences. Her book Planetary Apothecary is for sale on my sidebar.

In general, Uranus, the god of rapid change is going into the sign of Aries, ruled by Mars. Impulsive, with child-like energy, naivete and energy, Aries rules the head and is prone to accidents and injuries due to its tendency to act first and think later. Uranus which rules the nervous system, likes to shake things up. Hmmm sounds familiar doesn't it?

So with all that is going on in the world, stress and upset are highly available. We need to focus on calming down, slowing down and acting deliberately. Now after an extremely difficult and long winter, we are all yearning to burst out the door whenever the sun shines. We need to MOVE! True, we do. But let us do so in a manner that will serve our well-being. Stephanie suggests yoga, tai chi, qi gong, ecstatic dance, Sufi dancing - among other ways of moving, so that our energy is channeled in a positive way.

We need to remember to get enough rest and sleep too.

She suggests nutritive herbs, nervines (Skullcap and Valerian) and adaptogens (Ashwaganda and Eleuthro); to help relax, Lavendar and Chamomile essential oils in rubs or bath products; and last but not least, flower essences like Yarrow, Impatiens, and Rescue Remedy. Interestingly, just prior to her mentioning Rescue Remedy, I had just taken a couple of drops of Desert Crisis Formula by Desert Alchemy, which has a similar purpose and is my 'crisis formula of choice.' The energy in the room was challenging to someone who has been sick in bed for nearly two weeks. It helped immediately. I enjoyed the conference immensely, but it was a huge energetic change for me.

Which, by the way, is how we might experience Uranus in Aries. After being in the doldrums for months, even years due to Pluto's ingress into Capricorn and the collapse of the economy, we are going to get a blast of energy that may throw us off kilter for awhile. Our challenge is to not lose our footing while setting our sails so that these winds of change move us forward, not aground.

In addition to the herbs Stephanie mentioned, I suggest Passionflower as a mildly relaxing herb. I make a blend of tinctures called Take It Easy, which is a combination of Nettle, Ashwaganda, Fennel Seed, Motherwort, Vervain, Skullcap, Passionflower, Damiana, Chamomile, Melissa, St.John's Wort, Schizandra, Cleavers, Linden Flower and Red Clover. Honey and Pomegranate Syrup make it taste good. A two ounce bottle is $28.00. For shipping in the U.S.add another 4.95 for a total of $32.95. Pay through the Paypal Keep the Essences Flowing Donation button in the sidebar with the message 'tonic' and send me your shipping address.

Meditation, contemplation and prayer can help settle your mind and give you focus for the energy that will be inside and outside you. I suggested at the conference that sometimes we take flower and gem essences because 'other people' are driving us nuts. We cannot control others, but we CAN take care of ourselves, our emotional states and our responses/reactions. During this time flower essences and especially gem elixirs are useful. Those which address the need to stay grounded, give clarity and help you relax are most helpful.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

What Can We Do to Protect Ourselves from Radiation

There's a lot of talk about what's going on in Japan right now. They are truly going through Hell. I am praying for them. As we are finding out all the time, we are all connected. We all live on the planet Earth and the radiation that is coming from the failing nuclear reactors will move towards the west coast of the U.S. eventually.

Is there anything we can do to protect ourselves from its effects? I listened to a show on KPFA today that spoke about the value of Iodine to help protect the thyroid and other glands. I suggest you investigate the proper sources and amounts so that you don't harm yourself.

I found this blog post very good in regards to food and supplements.

Gary Young of Young Living Essential Oils has created a special kit called

QuadShield (#4559). QuadShield combines four potent Young Living products: Super C, Melrose, Longevity, and Thyromin.

He suggests that you use the following Young Living products to protect your home and environment

Longevity: 1–2 capsules twice daily
Melrose: 6–20 drops per capsule or in yogurt 1–3 times a day
Super C: 1–2 tablets daily
Thyromin: 1 capsule three times a day
ICP: 1 to 2 teaspoons in the morning
JuvaPower: 1–2 teaspoons at night
Endoflex and Digize: 1–2 capsules daily
NingXia Red: 4–6 oz. daily
Detoxyme: 3–5 capsules at night
Allerzyme: 1–2 capsules three times a day
Essentialzyme: 1 capsule three times a day
Drink three liters of water daily

Gary Young suggests that essential oils have the ability to both purify the air (and should be diffused in your home) and can protect DNA from damage caused by radiation. He suggests alternating between Purification, Melrose and Frankincense oils. Also, burning frankincense resin will help purify the air.

You can purchase all the Young Living products via my Young Living website.

The flower essence blend by FES, Yarrow Environmental Solution has been recommended for use in these circumstances.  Go to the FES site to purchase or get at your local herb shop or health food store.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

More on Horseradish - Herb of the Year

Most of us know horseradish as a culinary plant used as a seasoning, but it does have medicinal properties.

Horseradish is a source of vitamin C, iron, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium and zinc. It is a circulatory and digestive stimulant and has antidepressant, antibacterial, anti-cancer, antioxidant, detoxifying and expectorant qualities.

Avoid horseradish if you have an underactive thyroid.

The stimulating and antibiotic properties are due to the fact that horseradish contains mustard oil, which also makes it effective for lung and urinary tract infections. You may have heard of the old-time remedy for lung infections known as a 'mustard plaster'. Horseradish is also a strong diuretic.

One of the first remedies I learned to make in herb school, introduced by Rosemary Gladstar, was Fire Cider.

Here's a recipe for Fire Cider. It can be used in many ways, including as a salad dressing.

Fire Cider


1 quart Organic Apple Cider Vinegar
1/2 cup Horseradish root grated
1/8 cup of Garlic chopped
1/2 cup of Onion chopped
1/2 cup of Ginger grated
1 tsp Cayenne pepper


Place all ingredients in a quart jar and cover with Apple Cider Vinegar.

Cover tightly.
Steep for 8 weeks.
Strain into clean jar.

How to Use Your Fire Cider

~ Rub into sore muscles and aching joints.
~ Soak a clean cloth in Fire Cider to place on a congested chest.
~ Drink it straight or diluted in a bit of water or tomato juice.Start out with a tsp or so to test your tolerance level.
~ Mix with a bit of honey to ease a cough.

Culinary Recipe

Mashed Potatoes and Horseradish

Add grated or prepared horseradish to your regular mashed potato recipe. You can also add to garlic mashed potatoes.

Use 3-4 Tablespoons to 3 pounds potatoes. A little goes a long way.

July has been designated as National Horseradish Month and there will be many festivals and events during the year. To learn more about it go to The Horseradish Festival website.
Read more about horseradish and other herbs at The Herb Companion website.