Google+ What I Made Today: May 2015

Saturday, May 30, 2015

My Basic Bitters

I love bitters. I love especially enjoy the bitter, spring greens that I consider winter-recovery foods. And I enjoy this basic bitter brew that I make for use in any season. Most often ~ like every day ~ I add a drop 'r three to a glass of water for the fragrance and flavor, as well as the other benefits that the herbs impart.  I know what's in it and that it was made with love.

Organic orange peel, molasses, cardamom, gentian root, quassia, fennel seed, cinnamon bark, clove bud and love go into this fragrant, bitter brew. I use it in cooking, baking and in cocktails in lieu of Angostura bitters as well as in water. I rarely ice my cakes and such, but when I do make icing I almost always add a bit of this to harmonize the cloying sweetness that is inherent to sugary icings. I sometimes add a drop or two to my homemade kombucha, especially if the batch came out a bit sweeter than I like.

I recently shared some "bittered water" with a kind visitor who, upon tasting, asked to buy a bottle. So, while preparing hers, I bottled up a few extras. I'll be offering these at our Whiting Mills Open Studios & Block Party over the first weekend in June. So, if you're in the region of northwest Connecticut ~ living or visiting ~ I hope you'll join us!

That's what I made today.


Thursday, May 28, 2015

Tincture of Yarrow - My Bug Spray

Recently I was asked if I had a bug spray for sale, especially one that deters ticks. I do, and it's a simple tincture of Achillea millefolium, commonly called wild yarrow. I learned about this use of yarrow from herbalist and wise woman, Susun Weed in one of her articles or radio shows ~ I can't remember ~ but I've been using it and it does seem to help with May flies, ticks and mosquitos. And it enabled me to replace an old formula and reduce my essential oil use, which is a strategy to which I'm dedicated. Of course, the "best" practice for protecting oneself from tick bites (and the potential for tick borne dis-eases) is A) Conscious Body Awareness and B) Careful Body Checking. I've had one bite so far this year, and have picked two crawlies off my person. Not bad, given the time and space I spend in their territory.

But back to the yarrow tincture: All I could find was my own bottle from last season, because of course, I've been using it. I could have sworn I had made a fresh batch last summer. You see, I keep my dried herb shelves organized in alphabetic order by common name, and my prepared herbals are organized in the dispensary in alphabetic order by botanical name. It seems that my brain played a trick on me when putting away the bottle of tincture, for I discovered it (quite by "accident") in the Y section of my dispensary.

I knew I had made a batch!

I prefer teaching folks to make their own medicinals and will be offering such a workshop when the yarrow starts blooming. But there's always those folks who either don't want to make it themselves, or want it now, so I bottled some up in spray bottles to have on hand for the kind requester, as well as for the Whiting Mills Open Studios & Block Party coming up the first weekend in June in sunny Winsted, Connecticut.

There's a list of dispensary herbals I'm preparing. More on those in upcoming posts. Once I get them made!


Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Rhubarb Cake

The garden rhubarb is ripe for harvest so it's time to create some kitchen magic with it! In the morning, while the world is still cool, is my seasonal time for baking. Today I made a Rhubarb cake, adapted from a recipe at Food52.

You can see that I tasted it and it's so good I'll most definitely be making more for the freezer. I rarely bake or roast or broil in the heat of the summer months, so having treats like this tucked away is joyful strategy!

Here's my adapted recipe and I encourage you to make it ~ as is, or your own adaptation ~ because it's really, really good!

Rhubarb Cake

3 T  rolled oats
3 T  sunflower seeds, roasted
3 T  whole wheat flour
¼ c  brown sugar
½ t  sea salt
3 T  unsalted butter

2       eggs (from my Ladies)
1 c    sugar
½ t    sea salt
2 t     almond extract (homemade, of course)
6 T    unsalted butter
1½ c whole wheat flour
2 c    rhubarb, chopped (in any way)

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Blend together the Crumb ingredients with a fork and set aside.

In a bowl, beat the eggs and add the sugar, salt, almond extract and butter and beat well (and with love). Fold in the flour. Fold in the rhubarb. Pour into a buttered 8" pan (I line the bottom of mine with parchment paper, though it's not necessary, just a habit of mine). Top with the Crumb mixture.

Bake for 60 minutes (or when a cake tester comes out clean). Let cool. Cut and enJOY!

So yeah, that's what I made today. I'll like make another tomorrow morning, with some possible variations. And the morning after. And, well, you see where I'm going with this.


Sunday, May 24, 2015

Fermenting Sustenance in Pickled Eggs

Today I started a batch of pickled eggs ~ naturally fermented picked eggs. I haven't made these since the end of last summer. But now The Ladies are laying at their summer rate and I'm able to easily hold aside a couple dozen for (at least) two weeks for hard boiling. In case you're wondering why, fresh eggs, hard boiled, are impossible to peel.

If you've been following me for a while, you know I love fermenting food. A little salt brine, some flavorful botanicals, sometimes a bit of whey ... and magic happens.

So today I hard boiled some eggs, for on-hand fast-food over the coming days, as well as for fermenting into delicious, nutritious pickled eggs. I snagged some oregano, chives flowers, egyptian onion, horseradish leaf and a sprig of mugwort from the gardens, and layered them into a quart jar with 9 eggs and a cup of brine (1/2 teaspoon kosher salt to 1 cup of water). The brine is this only thing I measure and each time I make these (and everything else) the flavorful herbs I use depend on what's available and what my eyes fall on first.

In a couple of days they'll show signs of bubbling fermentation. I'll burp the jar and keep it on my kitchen counter for a few more days, or maybe a couple, or maybe less before I taste the first one. Oh, the anticipation!

But after that first taste I'll place them in cool storage for a couple/few months. Fermented eggs are a bit like wine in that they improve with age.

I'll be putting up several jars of these throughout the summer, to enjoy straight away, as well as to have some in cool storage to supplement the drop in egg production once the days start to shorten... right through to winter.

So yeah, fermenting sustenance. That's what I made today.


Friday, May 22, 2015

Laughter, Despite the Odds

I was inspired by a recent art journal spread created by Effy Wild. I hadn't worked with the hand-trace in a while and I do love all the potential meaning in the the image of the hand and hands. This journal spread was perfect for my busy May of planting, seeding and spring harvests: Fast and Furious.

The outcome was humorous and meaningful, dark and ripe ... with light. I laughed right out loud when I looked at the spread after toying with the "background" color a third time and thought, "Yep. Melts in your mouth..."

Folks who know me know that I relish my Shadow, know that the darkness in me and in my life is a deep pool of potential. Potential light. Light that enables me to smile in the grimness, laugh in the meanness, and stay the course of optimism in a (sometimes) gloomy sea of pessimism. And so it was with this simple journal spread.

I look at this spread... and I laugh! And that's Good Medicine.

That's what I made today. Laughter, despite the odds. And I'm sharing this laugher with my creative friends at Paint Part Friday ~ because it's Friday, at Art Journal Journey ~ because there is a sea reference, and with Mix It Monthly ~ because my hands are a happily coupled symbol of the Power of choice and manifestation.


Sunday, May 17, 2015

Horseradish Leaf and Flower Infused Vinegar

I picked a beautiful bouquet of horseradish blossoms, and while they are beauty to behold, they are also delicious. So I chopped some up, filled a quart jar and covered it with apple cider vinegar ~ the living stuff. I'll let this sit and macerate for several weeks before straining, bottling and enjoying.

I'll make more and I imagine that much of it will end up in a blend.

If this intrigues you, you might want to follow along on the recently resurrected blog, When Weeds Whisper!


Friday, May 15, 2015

May Art Journal Spread

May is bursting with sprouts and blossoms and seeds and growth of every kind. I'm sometimes hard on myself for not being able to keep up with the flurry of activities ~ activities that nourish and sustain me holistically. So I forgive myself and follow the lead of the plants in this vibrant season of spring, this lusty, vibrant month of May.

With that, gotta run. I have a scheduled list to ToDos that already falling behind the marks in my planner. And that's ... OK.

Besides, I have a journal spread I can share with my creative friends at Paint Party Friday and I can feel Good about that ~ go take a peek!


Friday, May 8, 2015

Howling Heart in Progress

The Art of Instinct has evolved into the Howling Heart. It's still a work in progress. I'd like for the values between foreground and to be more distinct, so I may push back the background by darkening it, but my sense is that this visual expression wants to keep the values closer than I feel they "should" be. And, well, that speaks to me too. And likely inspired the shift in title.

I'll have some studio time this weekend and will see if I can't get to the place of signing off on this piece. In the meantime, I share this with my creative friends at this week's Paint Party Friday and invite you to click over to visit some other painterly expressions from around this globe we share!


Sunday, May 3, 2015

Sunday Sketch - Waiting for Harvest

Merry May and International Permaculture Day! I'm celebrating with a Plant Swap happening at the studio and thought I'd pause to share a quick drawing of a cabinet that's waiting to be filled. With harvests. ::nods::

And I'm sharing this with Sunday Sketches, so click over to feast your eyes on other sketchy inspirations!