Monday, May 4, 2020

Reviving the Blog with a Pot of Nettle Soup

I've been missing my blog, so I've decided to revive it.  With a pot of nettle soup.

basket of nettles
Every Spring I watch for the nettles to appear in the garden.  I'm always pretty sure they'll come back, even though I dig some out as they creep farther out into the part of the garden people are likely to wander into. I don't want anyone to get stung...
Nettles beside the back fence
Carefully harvesting by hand

Stinging nettle, or Urtica dioica, is originally native to Europe, but now grow wild here and in most places around the world.  Many years ago I was taught by herbalist Rosemary Gladstar that nettles are the most perfectly balanced food for humans!  The balance and range of nutrients is just what our bodies need. We have to eat them in the Spring, before the leaves get too tough, and before the plant begins to flower.  Once they flower, their internal chemistry shifts and they'll be irritating to our urinary tracts.

So far this year I've made 3 pints of nettle and chickweed pesto, and had sauteed nettles and scrambled eggs for breakfast several times.  Today I'll make a big pot of soup from an old recipe an English friend sent to me.  I never actually follow recipes, I just use them for basic guidance. You can feel free to do the same.

Today, I sauteed a chopped onion in olive oil until its translucent and soft, added a quart and a half of chicken broth to the pot. While the broth was heating, I chopped three nice potatoes, a rutabaga and three carrots, and then added them to the pot. Rutabagas are the result of a marriage between a cabbage and a turnip.  They resemble the turnip more, but have a milder taste and creamier texture.

These gorgeous vegetables all came from Fifth Month Farm, and were delivered to my porch last Friday.  Because we are in the midst of a global pandemic, COVID-19, we are making every effort to stay home as much as possible. Lots of small businesses, including mine, are offering local delivery or curbside pickup of their produce and wares.  Humans are so creative.

In addition to the vegetables in the photo and the nettles, I added 15 or 20 dandelion leaves and a handful of wild spring onion tops.  Once it was all cooked, I pureed it with my stick blender, added some heavy cream, salt, pepper & nutmeg.  And then, taking the advice of folklorist Terri Windling, I drizzled a tiny bit of truffle oil on top.  Divine.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Let's Make... an Herbal Corn Dollie!

With magical crafter, Phyllis Soliday
and herbalist, Sarah Preston
Saturday afternoon, August 20, 2016 from 1 until 4pm
at Radiance, in the heart of downtown Lancaster, PA

A corn dollie is a small figure made of corn husks or straw. Corn dollies are part of the folk customs surrounding the grain harvest in Great Britain and much of Europe. In that part of the world, "corn" originally referred to any grain, especially wheat, and it is grain straw, that goes into making corn dollies. When European colonists came to North America, they brought the tradition with them and began using corn husks, the sacred grain of this land.  In this context, the word "dolly" is probably a variation of the word "idol."

In Europe, it was believed that the spirit of the corn lived in the growing crop, and the dolly gave the corn spirit shelter after the crop was harvested. The dolly was usually burned or ripped apart in the fields before planting time the next spring. Destroying the dolly released the spirit and allowed it to aid another successful harvest.
Phyllis has been making corn dollies for several years (the photograph above is one of her dolls), and includes an intention in the making of each doll.  She suggests possibilities like a house-warming doll, a healing doll, a marriage-blessing doll, a doll for a specific season or celebration.  Herbs and materials would be dependent on the purpose of the doll.
Join us on Saturday, August 20 at 1pm, at Radiance, and make your own corn dollie!  To register, call Radiance at 717-290-1517, or stop in whenever the shop is open, 9 W Grant St, in downtown Lancaster, across the cobblestones from historic Central Market.

Cost of the class is $35.  Materials will be provided, but feel free to bring any bits of ribbon or other decorations you would like to use.  To register, call Radiance at 717-290-1517, or stop in whenever the shop is open, 9 W Grant St, in downtown Lancaster, across the cobblestones from historic Central Market.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Sarah's Super Smoothie

This is a recipe from my web site - I posted the original about 10 years ago.  I change the recipe a little bit according to what I have on hand, but this is still the basic format.
This super-nutritious smoothie is part of breakfast at my house almost every day.  It’s important to me to have enough protein to get the day off to a good start, and this recipe certainly fills that need.  The yogurt provides probiotics and digestive enzyme support we need, and the super foods help to maintain our energy levels all day!  As with all foods, locally-grown or organic is a better choice, if you can afford it.  That said, we all just do the best we can...

You can find the bee pollen, Sarah’s Super Green powder, and many tinctures for sale on my website.  Just go to the Products page with your shopping list!

In your blender put:
1 ripe banana
1 cup frozen blueberries
2 heaping teaspoons bee pollen
1 or 2 tablespoons Sarah’s’ Super Green powder
1 or 2 teaspoons of Ashwagandha powder
2 teaspoons Flax Seed Oil or Cod Liver Oil (or one of each!)
1-1/2 cups cranberry juice, black cherry juice or blueberry juice
1-1/2 cups whole milk yogurt with no thickeners

Blend on the Puree setting for 2 minutes, to fully dissolve the Green powder and the bee pollen.  You can also add tinctures to this smoothie, as long as everyone drinking the smoothie is taking the same tinctures.  From Autumn Equinox until Spring Equinox, I take Astragalus tincture to strengthen lungs and immune system, so I am better able to fight off the colds & flu that make the rounds.  I add a teaspoon or two of Elderberry syrup, too, as a preventative.

Serves 2 to 4, depending on the size of the glass.

It's not always easy to find plain yogurt with no thickeners.  I am fortunate enough to have a nearby dairy farmer who make yogurt from raw milk!  Check with your local farmers, or consider making your own from local organic milk.  White Mountain and Seven Stars both make very nice yogurts that you should be able to get your local health food store to order.  Stonyfield and Dannon are widely available, but both contain thickeners & will re-set if you don't drink the smoothie immediately.

copyright Sarah Preston, 2005 & 2015

Donna Bryant Winston Sharing the Secrets of Soapmaking

Sharing the Secrets
of Soapmaking

Saturday, October 17, 2015, 12-4pm
at Radiance, in downtown Lancaster, PA

This class is offered to those who want to experience the fine art of making herbal and natural vegetable-based soaps.

Join us in the delightfully fun, hands-on, workshop as we discuss the history of soap and go through every step of the soap-making process, sharing tips and techniques along the way.  Our goal is that participants will leave feeling confident about making soap on their own at home.  You will learn how to incorporate the healing power of herbs, essential oils, and natural ingredients into your luxurious handmade soaps.  This class will make a goat’s milk soap.

Discussion will include troubleshooting and diagnosing signs of trouble in the soap pot.  Handouts, recipes, and samples included!

Cost for this class is $40 in advance, $45 on the day of the class.

We will meet in the classroom at Radiance.  To register call 717-290-1517, or stop by the shop at 9 W Grant St, in downtown Lancaster, right across the cobblestones from Central Market.

 Donna Bryant Winston is an Herbalist, Educator, and the Director of School-based & Neighborhood Health Initiatives for St. Luke’s Hospital in Bethlehem, PA.  She is currently responsible for directing and organizing the Mobile Medical Vans, a School based health clinic and neighborhood initiatives where access to care and education is the primary focus to improve community health outcomes. Here she combines her nursing knowledge with her herbal background to educate the community on natural health.  Also a member of the American Holistic Nurses Assoc., Donna works closely in partnership with Moravian College, Temple Medical School, and DeSales and Lehigh University, to provide unique student nursing rotations and service learning projects. She is a wonderfully inspiring educator and has been the co-director for the Annual New England Women’s Herbal Conference in NH, with Rosemary Gladstar, for the past 18 years.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Sarah's Newest Tea Formula - AnxieTea!

Something is shifting. For years, people have phoned, or come to the shop looking for a tea to help with stress. We have several, as well as other things we recommend. Lately, though, the language has changed. People are looking for help with Anxiety. Bigger than Stress. More persistent than Stress. So, I've formulated a new tea. AnxieTea.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Kick Pain in the Kitchen, a Workshop with Author Barbara Searles

at Radiance, in downtown Lancaster, PA
Saturday, October 10, 2015
Do you wish for realistic, holistic tools, which will minimize your pain and make you confident in your body?  Have you struggled to meet life’s demands because managing chronic pain takes so much time and effort, leaving you exhausted?

The Kick Pain in the Kitchen Workshop offers you a holistic approach to pain relief that can be integrated with many treatment plans. It’s full of straightforward, every day steps that you can start using right away.

Your path to health and pain relief starts in your kitchen and supermarket cart! Learn why healthy, whole foods and other pain relieving changes can help. Plus, get a practical game plan structured through the meals of the day.

You’ll leave the workshop with an autographed copy of the book, and a new focus on healthy habits to relieve your pain naturally. 
This class will be held in the classroom at Radiance, 9 W Grant St, in the heart of downtown Lancaster.  Call (717)290-1517 or stop in to register.
The cost for this workshop is $35 in advance, $40 on the day of the class, and includes a light lunch, as well as an autographed copy of the book.

 Barbara Searles, LMT, BCTMB, HHC, AADP is a nationally certified massage therapist and health coach. As the founder of she’s deeply passionate about coaching people living with chronic pain. Her strategies have been featured in Health Monitor, Natural Awakenings, and Blog Talk Radio. When she’s not coaching, writing, or speaking, you’ll find her relaxing with her fami

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Creamy Nettle Soup

I'm re-publishing a favorite recipe of mine.  A friend of mine sent me a version of this recipe from the West Country of England, & I've tweaked it several times over the years.  I think it's fabulous!

This should be made with young, tender nettles, early in Spring.  To avoid being "stung" by the nettles, you might want to wear clean gardening gloves for harvesting, washing & chopping.  If there is any sting, it will be gone by the time the nettles are wilted.  It is quite possible to handle nettles without being stung, but it takes a brave heart and unwavering attention! 

Olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
3 Cups young nettles (use only the top few inches), washed & chopped
2 pounds potatoes
2 Tablespoons  butter
2 quarts chicken or vegetable stock
1/2 cup Dulse flakes or sea salt to taste
Black pepper to taste
1 cup plain yogurt

Wash the nettles and chop coarsely. 

In soup pot, saute chopped onion in olive oil until clear.  Add nettles and simmer for about 10 minutes, until limp. 

Meanwhile, cut potatoes into thick slices.  Add stock to the nettles, heat & add potatoes, Dulse flakes & pepper.  Simmer on low until potatoes are soft.

Cool slightly & puree with a stick-blender.  Stir in yogurt & serve.

Copyright 2005, 2006, 2015 Sarah Preston