Sunday, March 13, 2011

Thank You Nancy Reppert and Rosemary’s Sampler xx


Thank you to Nancy Reppert,owner and culinary artist of Sweet Remembrances Tearoom.  Nancy and her sister Susanna Reppert- Brill of the Rosemary House, host a blog called Rosemary’s Sampler. Not long ago, on one of their blog posts, this wonderful recipe booklet was offered just for the asking. I thank you for sharing with us the wonderful booklet, Cook Better with Flavoring Oils Recipes. What a treasure this is! In case you readers can’t read it well in the picture, the little drops say: Add to spaghetti, juice, soups, cookies, candies, cakes, coffee, eggnog, teas…. there is even more in this little booklet, such as how to make Pineapple Zucchini:)

These ladies come from a family who can trace 6 generations of family herbalism. Their mother, Bertha Reppert’s, books are some of my most treasured and referred to herbal learning resources, besides just being fun and full of tidbits:) This next book is where I learned how to make shrubs a couple of years ago.  I am enjoying a hawthorn shrub as I write this :)


In case you don’t know, shrub drinks are basically fruit, ( I have thrown in some leaves and flowers at times) infused in a vinegar for about 4 days, then sugar or honey is added , if using sugar you boil it, strain (if desired) and bottle it. I don’t boil the mixture using honey, although I might gently warm it a bit to get it a little runny.  About 2 ounces of this fruit syrup is added to water for a refreshing, healthy drink:) Children seem to like the tart and sweet taste of shrubs also. There are lots of recipes online, so explore and experiment and enjoy this lovely drink often. :)

Friday, March 11, 2011

Signs of Spring at Comfrey Cottages







It is still not quite officially spring, but it is coming!

Hugs to all who visit Comfrey Cottages xx


I see Sunshine! Time for the Field Guides!

I love field guides. I am still learning about identifying plants and trees (besides mushrooms, birds lol), that I customarily have my favorite field guides in my vehicle. Living in town I usually have to go out to the parks or a friends country property, to really get out in nature,so works for me just to store them there. The added bonus is more book space on the shelves inside the house:) I am sorry that I am unsure just how useful these specific books will be for all my friends, all over the world. But, for other friends, I hope these might be useful recommendations, especially if you are rather new to having a fascination with plant names, and want to find and use plants and trees from the wild places, like me:)

Botany in a Day, The Patterns Method of Plant Identification by Thomas J. Elpel, Herbal Field Guide to Plant Families of North America


His webpage is excellent also. I knew I was getting a bit more serious about learning when I got that book!

My newest finds made me do a happy dance! Winter Tree Finder for Identifying deciduous trees in Winter, by May Theilgaard Watts and Tom Watts.  And Tree Finder A Manual for the Identification of  Trees by Their Leaves, by May Theilgaard Watts. While these two books are aimed specifically for the Eastern two thirds of the U.S., I found that there was one specifically for the Pacific Coast of the U.S. also.  There are other areas covered in other editions also, so look around Amazon if you are interested:)


These little books are just amazing! The keys for using the pages are simple and methodical. You select a typical leaf  or twig from the tree you wish to identify and proceed in an orderly fashion to being able to key in on the tree you are wishing to identify.

These books are just must haves for portability, reasonable price and wealth of wonderful information. May Theilgaard Watts’ book Flower Finder was one of the first field guides I ever started using regularly, and still do.


Botany is not to be feared, and I think these books would be very beneficial with children also. I mean, the parts of a twig; terminal bud, lateral bud, leaf scar, lenticels, vein scar, bud scale scar and pith are really no harder to learn than something like the old ditty “Head, Shoulder, Knees and Toes”:) The keys in these books are very helpful, with little drawings to represent the usual habitat, the place of a tree in association with people, native or introduced symbols, shapes, etc etc which I find very helpful.


The Sibley Guide to Trees, another excellent book for identifying trees. I am sure most of you are probably familiar with Sibley’s Guide books! The other book in the picture Illinois, Iowa and Missouri Wild Berries and Fruits Field Guide by Teresa Marrone is just too much fun to take into the field and is color coded so a snap to thumb through if I encounter a berry or fruit tree I am unfamiliar with. Check out Amazon, again, if you are interested, as she has written similar type guides for various parts of the country.

Two other books I usually have in my vehicle, are Medicinal Plants of North America, by Jim Meuninck and Medicinal Plants and Herbs by Steven Foster and James A. Duke


Well, I have a few others I will talk about later. The sun is finally shining, the bees are flying, and nature is beckoning me out for a walk, so talk to you later!

By the way, always be mindful of your harvest practices. Sometimes we just have to be satisfied with looking :)

Hugs to all who visit Comfrey Cottages xx


Talking about Bees with the Daisy Scouts

I had fun going to my granddaughter Lily’s Daisy Scout meeting yesterday. Wild little bunch of fleas, but I believe I was able to build on my daughters previous presentation, with coloring pages of the different types of bees, the jobs they did, their life cycle, etc. The big hits of the hour was the snack of bread and honey and everyone getting to try on my grandchildren’s bee keeping suit:) Some beautiful smiling young faces

And my little beekeeping buddy, Lily Lynn, age 6. She has been helping run her pink hive since she was 3!!


Hugs to all who visit Comfrey Cottages xx

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Ever Eat a Pine Tree? Research and Book Gems

I always loved nature… all the different plants, the trees, the different butterflies, fish in our pond, horses and other animals, the stars, rocks, and even some plants I was taught to gather as a young girl, like our springtime morel mushrooms:) I was intrigued while still young with a gentleman named Euell Gibbons. He was famous from the television for doing commercial for a cereal company, where he asked us, “have you ever at a pine tree?” Well, he peaked my interest for sure. As a wild child running around our woods and pond with my brothers, anything we could eat sure interested me! We did our best to stay out of sight and away from the house when the weather was pretty;-) So… fast forward to the last decade. I am starting to find books that I want to explore more and some of the first ones are Euell Gibbon’s books

Seems Euell was born during a time when times were tough for many families living in America’s Dustbowl. Euell started going out in the woods and hills and foraging for food for his families table at a young age. He carried this interest in how to obtain free food from the wild throughout his life, and his books are true treasures. He was an outstanding woodsman and naturalist with a keen curiosity to thoroughly delve into learning and his writings reflect his passion. The books are just chock full of different herbal tidbits too, so those of you who might not be able to or just don’t care to wild craft, would still find these books not only entertaining and well written, but useful also:)

In his book Stalking the Healthful Herb, he has a chapter entitled “Ever eat a Pine Tree? (Pinus strobus)”.


A wonderful aspect of Euell’s books is the fact he really researched how peoples before him had utilized the plants and trees, etc for not only medicinal reasons, but as foods also. There really isn’t much of a line between the two in my mind anyway, so his writings are amongst some of my favorites, and the first I turn to when learning.

On this site, Vermont Weathervane, I found where a writer obtained permission from the publisher of the above book, to reprint the above mention article. I invite you to explore all the healthy and useful ways to utilize pine as food and medicine, from Euell’s findings. I get a chuckle that even though he was not fond of the taste of pine, he still was thorough in his historical uses of other peoples uses of it, and then explored different ways to make it more palatable. I will just have to try the Candied White Pine recipe, although, I suspect I might like it better as a cough drop sort of thing also:)

This post is especially for my Herbal Ally Challenge participation, The Tree year project, and as a terribly late response to the Herbarium February blog party, Herbal Gems.  Last month was a difficult month and I am sorely behind!

I have to recommend Euell Gibbon’s other books also. Stalking the Wild Asparagus and Stalking the Faraway Places are two I also own and refer to often. I could just sit down and read his books for the fun of it as his writing style and observations with a naturalists eye, never ceases to draw me right into the adventure with him:)

Hugs to all who visit Comfrey Cottages xx


Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Got a Lot of Eggs?

Sometimes I run across things that are just too good not to share:) When our friend Jill shared this information, I just had to share it with all of you! Some of you might raise chickens, and if you do, you might be wishing you had a way to preserve your excess eggs for later use. Granny Miller shares in this post how to preserve eggs with the water glass method. This was new to me, and I am sure a lot of you already know it, but for those of you who don’t, hope you find the information helpful:) And this is especially for my partner in crime, brother Eric, who hopes to have chickens some day:)


Hugs to all who visit Comfrey Cottages xx


Friday, March 4, 2011

A History of Scottish Herbs

I don’t know why, but I am not one to utilize video as much as I could, so I am really happy when  friends  share ones that they have found. Stephany, of Naturally Simple Living blog, also has a webpage at face book and there she shared the following videos. Since I am studying Traditional Scottish Herbalism, I am pretty excited! Thanks Stephany “waves” xx There are several videos in this series.  By the way, Stephany has just a web shop also:)


Hugs to all who visit Comfrey Cottages xx


Thursday, March 3, 2011

Earth Ways Project 2011

So I have met a real nice herbalist recently, Dana Tate, Southern Herbalist, and have enjoyed chit chatting with her sometimes. Real easy to be around and just like a breath of fresh wind in her honest expression. Well, when Kristine Brown issued her Herbal Ally 2011 challenge,  I wanted to participate. How absolutely beautiful and generous to freely give of herself and her learning's, thank you Kristine. xx I thought one of the best ways I can ever possibly learn, is to fully support and dedicate my precious little computer time, to daily, visiting one or two (or how many I could) of the other participants blogs. Thus, how I got to know Dana better. I then discovered Dana is hosting this beautiful project,(which is related to workshops that she offers), called Finding Your Place.  This is so lovely for Dana to offer us this project, and she totally hooked me with this from her page…

“There is a candle in your heart, ready to be kindled.   There is a void in your soul, ready to be filled.   You feel it, don’t you?”

…Thank you Dana xx

I invite anyone who cares to join or follow Dana, her students and myself on a year long journey of our experiences connecting to our sense of space.




Hugs to all who visit Comfrey Cottages xx