Food preservation has been around for thousands of years. From drying acorns for extended storage to turning grapes into wine, the act of preservation has allowed people around the globe to enjoy various foods and botanicals well past their harvest season. As a chef and homesteader, I often find myself having way more fresh ingredients than I can use before they turn. This is where food preservation comes into play! I do my best to appropriately utilize as much as I can so that my family may enjoy the spring, summer, and autumn harvest well into the cold winters of Maine. Extra cabbage gets salt and turns to sauerkraut, excess peaches get pureed and dehydrated into fruit leather, and the list goes on. Over the years, I have become particularly fond of vinegar and its acidic properties to capture the essence, flavor, and minerals naturally found in fruits and herbs.Read More
If you’ve never used kokum butter, it’s similar in firmness to cocoa butter, but a little flakier. Many consider it a good substitute for cocoa butter because of its uniform triglyceride composition. It can be used to thicken many homemade cosmetics including body butters, creams, lotions, and lip balms.Read More
Herbal infusions have been used for thousands of years. Many of us create them regularly when we brew tea, which is simply an infusion of tea leaves. However, while there's a lot to love about this classic teatime preparation, it's just one of the countless options you can experiment with when crafting your own infusion.Read More
In days long ago, herbal potions were full of mystery and intrigue! In medieval France, many abbeys had their own unique recipes for distilled tonics. These blends were formulated with various herbs and spices and were a closely guarded secret within the abbey.
Recently, my husband and I were taking a training class with our puppy, Gracie Cakes. The dog trainer suggested that we class attendees head to the grocery store and buy jars of baby food as training treats for the dogs — apparently, dogs love the common pureed ingredients used in commercial baby foods. I say this to explain how I found myself standing in a baby food aisle for the very first time in my life. I realized, as I stood there not knowing where to even begin, that I had raised three babies to healthy adulthood and, until Gracie Cakes the terrier, had done so without ever twisting the lid from a commercial baby food jar.
When I moved from my home state of New Jersey to beautiful Oregon, I was exposed to so many new things. Among my favorite discoveries were the abundant, handwritten road signs that advertised fresh local produce, eggs, and honey. Intrigued and excited by these signs, I stopped in to meet my local neighborhood beekeeper, who was thrilled that I knocked on his door to say hello. He brought me over to his hives and taught me a lot about what it means to care for bees. I wanted to support my farm neighbor, so I bought a gallon of honey. What I was going to do with that much honey, I had yet to figure out.Read More
Overlooking the ancient and herb-rich landscape of the Appalachian Mountains.From the hills of eastern Kentucky to the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, there exists an ancient yet vibrant tradition of folk herbalism. The mountains of Appalachia are among the oldest in the world, and their immense botanical diversity hosts an astounding number of useful plants, hundreds of which are found nowhere else on earth. Read More
Cranberry seed oil is a newcomer to the world of carrier oils and it is gaining recognition as an exceptional oil for nutrition and natural cosmetics. Previously, cranberry seeds were treated as the leftovers of cranberry fruit production, but in 1992, Bernard Lager developed a method to cold-press the oil from the tiny seeds of the tart berries. It takes approximately 31 pounds of cranberries to produce one half ounce of cranberry seed oil; that is a lot of cranberries!Read More
It is believed that the honor of "oldest alcoholic beverage on the planet" goes to mead. Evidence of this enchanting gold elixir has been found in Chinese pottery vessels dating back to 7000 BCE. While the discovery of mead was almost certainly a happy accident, over the ages this “nectar of the gods” has found a home in many tales, myths, legends, customs, ceremonies, and traditional remedies. Today, mead is enjoyed around the world in a variety of styles and strengths, from session meads to full-strength sack meads.Read More