Herbs in a Nosegay

This summer I have had more time in the garden. The flowers and herbs are flourishing. I picked a nosegay including these herbs with their flowers: calendula, echinacea, feverfew, lavender, mint, lemon balm and marjoram.

Some years ago, when I was working as maternity nurse and Lamaze instructor, I came across a book that fueled my interest in herbs. Susun Weed wrote, Herbal for the Childbearing Year. Her introduction alludes to the history of herbal knowledge collected by women and midwives.

Wise women have used herbs—gathered, eaten, tended, loved herbs—and taught their daughters the wisdom of herbs in the childbearing years.

I became familiar with the benefit of nettle as a nourishing herb and found nettle tea in the health found store. I now have a stinging nettle plant in my garden–grown from seed– and add the leaves to soup stock.

Stinging Nettle

The libraries have books about herbs. I discovered calendula flowers, also known as poor man’s saffron. When the flowers are dried the petals become yellow and orange threads. they can be added to rice or muffins. I make a calendula tea with the dried flowers. I am fascinated by the variations in color in this lovely flower.

Calendula flower
Orange calendula flower
Calendula lemon color

Sometimes I add mint leaves to fresh ground coffee to brew a mint flavored coffee. The leaves of lemon balm can be used for tea. 

When I worked as a home birth nurse, I carried lavender oil to use for a soothing massage. You can read about it here. The scent of lavender has a calming effect. 

lavender

Herbs are nourishing and flavorful. Some are medicinal. Rosemary and thyme are favorites in my kitchen. I am still learning ways to include more herbs in recipes. 

There are many stressful things in our world. It is good to pause in the garden, give thanks for the abundance of God’s creation and pick a little bouquet.

This post is linked with Tuesdays with a Twist and almost Wordless Wednesday at image-in-ing.

The Cherry Tree, Bewildered Birds and a Recipe

The cherry tree is in the center of my backyard. The blossoms in April bring hope and the joy of springtime.

The tree draws the robins who march around it possessively and perch on its branches. When it produces red cherries, I pause in wonder, reminded to give thanks for God’s creation, the work of this tree to produce fruit. 

Cherries

The tree has also been a source of frustration. It has had years of little fruit due to a late cold snap, a couple years of brown rot when all the cherries became moldy (and I had to learn how to clean and prune the tree). When the tree has produced good fruit, the birds got there first.

This year the tree looked to have abundant fruit. My husband and I netted some of the branches. It is tricky to net a large tree. We managed to cover several branches on one side of the tree. On the other side of the tree I tied a large, plastic owl to a branch, tied a number of CDs to branches throughout the tree (they spin and cast reflections), tied bells and chimes to other branches.

We were out of town when the cherries began to have an appeal for the birds. My neighbor said there was a great ruckus. She wondered if the birds had devoured the cherries. 

To my delight the birds were leaving the cherries to ripen. After that first day they didn’t come near the tree. I thought that birds might go for the upper branches that I left free of any devices. But they didn’t. They waited until I had finished picking the lower branches and took down all my devices. 

Nine quarts of cherries are pitted and frozen. We will have cherry pies and cherry crisp in the fall and winter. On Sunday I added cherries to pannukakku [Finnish oven pancake]. I have adapted a family recipe to make it gluten and dairy free. Here is my recipe:

4 Tbsp. butter ( ½ stick)

22 cherries pitted and cut in half

1 Tbsp. arrowroot powder

1 Tbsp brown sugar

4 eggs

½ cup sugar

2/3 cup brown rice flour

¼ tsp. salt

2 cups almond milk

Preheat the oven at 400 degrees. Place the butter in a 9”x13” baking dish and place in the oven to melt—and take out when completely melted. Combine the arrowroot powder and brown sugar in a small bowl. Add the cherries and mix. In another bowl, beat the eggs and add the sugar. Beat well. Add the flour and salt, and beat well. Stir in the cherries. Add the almond milk and mix well. Pour batter into the hot baking dish. Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes, until edges of pancake are beginning to brown. Serve hot.

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Linking this post to Anita’s Inspire Me Monday, Sue’s image-in-ing and Tuesdays with a Twist.

Herbs in the Garden: Nourishment and Remedies

Springtime brings warmer weather, more sunshine, blossoms on the trees and the beginning of a parade of flowers. One of my favorite activities is planting seeds and watching them germinate. Only God can package life in a tiny seed!

A couple years ago I planted nettle seeds—a herb that I was familiar with as a tea. To my delight, little nettle plants sprouted and the plants have come back each year. (I keep them in a pot in a secluded location. The leaves and stems have little hairs that sting when touched; I wear gloves harvesting.)

Stinging Nettle

Susun Weed writes in her book, Herbal for the Childbearing Year*:

The common stinging nettle is a uterine tonic and general nourisher with a special ability to strengthen the kidneys and adrenals. Its high mineral and chlorophyll content make it an excellent food and tonic for the hormonal system.

I have enjoyed nettle tea and have added nettle to soups. When the leaves are cooked the sting is gone. In an old Swedish cook book, I found a recipe for nettle soup.

I have planted seeds for calendula flowers outside and they have begun to sprout. Calendula is a favorite herb in my garden.

The book, Essential Herbs: Treat Yourself Naturally with Herbs and Homemade Remedies** has this note about calendula flowers:

Traditionally said to lift the spirits and encourage cheerful ness, calendula is one of the most popular and versatile medicinal herbs in current use. It is widely available in commercial calendula ointments and creams and is also used internally . . .  

Calendula flower

 I have made myself calendula tea. I have used the tea as a mouthwash for gum irritations and it has brought healing. I have also made calendula salve for skin irritations.

This post is shared with the Five Minute Friday Writing Community . Also sharing with the Hearth and Soul link-up and Sue’s image-in-ing and Tuesday with a Twist and Inspire Me Monday .

*Susun Weed, Herbal for the Childbearing Year, Woodstock, New York: Ash Tree Publishing, 1986, p.2

**J. Behrens, S. Curtis, L. Green, P. Ody, D. Vilinac, Essential Herbs, New York : DK Publishing, 2020 p. 60

Spring flowers and the Elderberry Bush

The warm weather and spring flowers are so welcome. I am enjoying daffodils, tulips, violets and cherry blossoms as I begin gardening.

Daffodils
Tulips

The elderberry bushes in my backyard have produced well, providing berries for elderberry juice. I can the juice, and throughout the past months I have enjoyed adding a couple tablespoons of elderberry juice to my tea in the evenings.

elderberries
Elderberries from a previous summer

Unfortunately I planted one elderberry bush in the corner of my garden. Last summer new shoots of elderberry plants were popping up all over the garden. The roots have extended throughout the garden space. We cut down that sprawling bush, and I planted new starts in defined areas of our yard.

My current task is digging up the shoots and roots that remain in the garden. If you plant an elderberry bush in your yard be careful where you plant it. Elderberry can be invasive.

Sharing this post with Sue’s Wordless Wednesday and Hearth and Soul link-up and Tuesday with a Twist.

Experiments in Planting and Cooking

The Lord has blessed the earth with an amazing array of fruits, vegetables and herbs. Each produces seed according to its kind. I am thankful!

I have begun to start a few tomato plants indoors, and I am looking forward to their fruit. I was happy to see that seed saved from currant tomatoes several years ago has sprouted.

In the past year I have been paying more attention to making flavorful meals. We have not gone out to eat since last year’s lockdown. A couple of times we have ordered a meal and picked it up curbside. At home I am experimenting with new recipes—and enjoying it.

On Saturdays I sometimes catch a couple of cooking shows. I picked up some tips from Lydia’s Kitchen. I watched how she made chicken parmesan (only she didn’t use parmesan cheese). After flattening boneless and skinless chicken thighs with a wooden tool, she dredged them in flour and then dipped them in beaten egg. Final dip was in breadcrumbs. She fried the chicken thighs in olive oil (both sides) and placed them in a baking dish. She added fresh tomato slices on the chicken, followed by pieces of fontina cheese. The chicken was place in a 350° oven and baked for about 40 minutes. I made this recipe as I remembered it. There might have been additional tomato sauce. I was content with the tomato slices, and we savored the chicken.

Another show I enjoy is New Scan Cooking. The chef takes the viewer on a tour of northern Norway, sometimes cooking on an outdoor grill. He shared his favorite coffee recipe and of course I took notice. What do you think of adding an egg yolk to coffee? I haven’t tried it yet, but will sometime. Here is the recipe. 

I am sharing this post with the Five Minute Friday writing community and the Hearth and Soul Link Party .

Celebrating Springtime

Green is the color of spring time.

The snow is melting and snowdrops are raising their white petals to the sun. I am looking forward to tulips and daffodils. I give thanks for the seasons and all that God has created in nature.

In the soil, below the surface, plants are awakening. Some things happen outside of our view. It is the same in the spiritual world. God is at work in the world even when we don’t see it. The disciples were confused when Jesus was crucified and then amazed, filled with joy when Jesus appeared to them, having risen from the dead.

On this side of the cross, we celebrate Easter. What if we had been there with the disciples? What are the unseen workings of God now? 

This morning I read the account of Peter’s arrest during the week of Passover. James had been killed and the persecution of Jesus’ followers was increasing.

So Peter was kept in prison, but earnest prayer for him was made to God by the church.

Now when Herod was about to bring him out [releasing him to those who would kill him], on that very night, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, and sentries before the door were guarding the prison. And behold an angel of the Lord stood next to him . . . Acts 12: 5-7

The angel leads Peter out of the prison, but Peter is thinking that he is seeing a vision. He doesn’t realize what has happened until the angel leaves him along a street. Peter did not expect this miraculous work of God.

Neither did Rhoda or the believers that were praying for Peter. Rhoda was so surprised that she forgot to open the door for Peter when he knocked. She recognized his voice and ran to tell the others. No one believed her. When finally someone opened the door, all were amazed.

God is at work in the world. We don’t know specifically how God will answer our prayers. We do know that he has a plan that is constantly moving forward. 

We can celebrate with joy: springtime, Easter and the continuation of God’s plans for his people.

This post is linked with the Five Minute Friday writing community and Heart Encouragement.

Herbs in My Bay Window

During the summer I have a bounty of fresh herbs. Sage, chives, oregano, mint, lavender and lemon balm are perennials in my yard. Sometimes thyme survives the winter and it comes back for a second or third season. Each summer I plant dill and basil.

I am fortunate to have a southern facing bay window. Some herbs continue to thrive in pots on the window ledge. The Italian basil has flowered and produced seeds.

Italian Basil

In another post I wrote about the different types of basil with links to recipes.

Lavender is also flowering indoors.

Rosemary is one of my favorite herbs.

In the featured picture at the top of this post, you can see that it has flowered in my window. When I make broth I add rosemary, thyme and parsley along with other ingredients. The broth is a healthy base for soups. In another post I provided directions for making broth–and for freezing or canning it. Find the post by clicking here .

This weekend I made a batch of broth. I canned some and used some to make a delicious pea soup.

Do you have a favorite herb? Or a favorite nutritious recipe for this winter?

I’m sharing this post with Sue’s Wordless Wednesday, The Hearth and Soul and Inspire Me Monday.

Twelve Owls of Christmas

Owls have always fascinated me. I received a handcrafted owl, made in Finland, as a gift. This owl will make a hooting sound when you blow on the hole at its tailfeathers.

At Christmas I enjoy taking out ornaments that have been packed away. I have a number of owls and I find a place for each on the tree. The grandchildren count them when they visit. (There are twelve.)

A wise old owl sat on an oak,

The more he saw the less he spoke;

The less he spoke the more he heard;

Why aren’t we like that wise old bird?

Edward Hersey Richards

Giving Thanks in 2020

Thanksgiving was different this year. We exchanged dishes with my daughter’s family but enjoyed the meal in our separate homes. My granddaughter made a delicious bundt cake and dinner rolls. Another granddaughter made the cranberry sauce. I made my traditional cornbread stuffing. We all had a wonderful meal. In the evening we zoomed with our children and grandchildren in New Mexico, Kansas and Illinois.

I’m thankful for family and the ability to connect over zoom. We celebrated six birthdays this month—daughter, spouses and grandchildren. God has blessed us.

In the United States we have so much that we can access. I am grateful that all the ingredients for the cornbread dressing are easily available—butter, herbs, chestnuts and more. And turkeys are abundant in the grocery stores.

Cornbread dressing

The apples, berries and currants were made into pies. We are blessed to have these available.

A hymn written by Martin Rinkart (1586 – 1649) expresses thanksgiving joy.

Now thank we all our God with heart and hands and voices,

Who wondrous things has done, in whom His world rejoices;

Who from our mother’s arms, hath blessed us on our way

With countless gifts of love, and still is ours today.

What if we began and ended each day pausing to give thanks for something? I know it would lift my spirits in this unusual year.

Linking this post with Inspire Me Monday and the Five Minute Friday writing community. The writing prompt given by Kate is: GRATEFUL

Saving Seeds with Hope

The leaves are falling. Red gold and bronze. I have been raking the leaves, thankful for the outdoor activity.

My miniature rose bush has surprised me, continuing to bloom even though we have had some nights of frost. The bright red blooms bring joy.

The garden has been put to bed, but I am looking forward to next year. I have saved seeds from some squash plants and calendula flowers.

My neighbor gave me an Italian basil plant. It grew slowly and I decided to bring it inside, placing it in a southern facing window. I am hoping to gather some seeds from it for next year—and perhaps the plant will survive through the winter.

A couple  of English lavender plants did well (planted from seed). I left one outside for the winter and brought one inside. It has charmed me with flowers.

I am so thankful for the order, beauty and diversity of God’s creation. Despite human chaos, the seasons continue. We can trust God’s word. He is faithful and knows the future. We continue day by day with faith. 

Blessed is the man
who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners,
nor sits in the seat of scoffers;

but his delight is in the law of the LORD,
and on his law he meditates day and night.

He is like a tree
planted by streams of water
that yields its fruit in its season,
and its leaf does not wither.
In all that he does, he prospers.

Psalm 1: 1-3

On Friday Kate gives a prompt and we write for five minutes (and sometimes more). Today’s prompt is: AHEAD

Visit the Five Minute Friday writers to read more insights on this prompt.

Sharing this post with Tuesday’s with a Twist, Sue’s Image-in-ing, Crystal’s Heart Encouragement and Inspire Me Monday.