Thursday, June 21, 2012

Stillroom Book – guest post by Anke Bialas (and a giveaway drawing)

Last year I wrote a post on making a still room book to preserve family herbal traditions for future generations. It generated a lot of interest and Leslie liked the idea so much she asked me to write about the book that I ended up making for my family.
Firstly, what is a still room?
“During medieval times, the lady of the house was responsible for tending the sick and seeing that the kitchens were stocked sufficiently. Using the model of Roman and Greek times, special rooms were set aside in castles and manors to prepare medicines and distillations. The lady of the house oversaw the functions of the room, which grew to include brewing beer, alcohol and wine, creating cosmetics, preserving food, and mixing household cleaning agents. A still room might also serve as a pantry, larder, storeroom, or infirmary where the sick or injured could be treated.
It was the responsibility of mothers to teach their daughters practical household skills to prepare them to assume the responsibility of their own home. Over time, the still room became the responsibility of other relatives or household servants.” Source:

Not everyone had huge estates or servants, but even humble homes had an area where these things were prepared. The still room book therefore, is where information like recipes, formulas, harvests and purchases were recorded. Also, major family or historical events may make it into a still room book.
As I already mentioned, last year I made my own book which I called “The Catesby Household Journal – 2011”. Catchy, right?
You can make books yourself which would make for a wonderful heirloom piece, but in my case I took advantage of a freebie deal on and had a hardcover book printed to my design instead.
I started off with the family crest of my husband’s family (so that one doesn’t get lost down the track), then I added a very small family tree of just this branch of the family, in Australia.


Then follows about 4 pages of ruled paper to add family births, deaths and marriages.
Since this is meant to be a practical book, but also a hand-me-down I wanted to make sure it had information that I needed to keep have on hand in the kitchen but also a bit of a time capsule that might be of interest to future generations. Which is why the next few pages had basic herb info, ancient measurements converted to modern measurements, pictures of old world kitchen gardens and still rooms that I like and …speaking of conversions, two pages of metric conversions of pretty much everything that’s convertible
After all that there are about 150 blank, ruled paper to record
· Recipes
· how they worked
· what needed changing
· how did it taste?
· Experiments with dosage
· treatment successes
· garden successes
· gardening flops
· craft ideas
· patterns
Anything that takes place in your still room (kitchen) has a place in your still room book. My personal motivation was, what would I give to find a book like this, kept by my grandmother, or even her grandmother….wow. What would I find in there? Stains… would definitely have stains to show that it was actually used. And hand writing! Maybe even different hand writing from different generations, how cool would that be?
Now, I realize this isn’t the herbiest post I have ever written, but I think it is the perfect way to preserve your herbal ways.
Raised with herbal traditions passed down by her grandmother in her native country Germany, Anke Bialas has expanded her knowledge and application of herbs in unconventional ways, saying "Even a little bit of nature goes a long way."
With a firm believe that herbal health can fit into even the most conventional home, she makes all things herbal appeal to everyone.
Anke is known for her practical, everyday approach to herbal health which led to her writing the Herbology At Home series of guides. These guides provide a convenient reference for both the seasoned novice and those new to herbs and natural health.
Visit Anke Bialas at:

I want to thank Anke so very much for allowing me to be a part of her virtual book tour for her newest book in her Herbology at Home book series, Homemade Health. And also thank her so much for sharing her stillroom book with us! It looks fabulous Anke! What a family treasure this will be for future generations! And how handy to have all your lovely recipes and information in such a beautiful book for your own use:)
I would like to offer my readers a chance to win a signed copy of Anke’s new book, Homemade Health. All you have to do is comment on this post! The drawing will be open until June 27th. which is the last day of the virtual book tour:)
Herbal and Honey Hugs to all who visit Comfrey Cottages xx


Lisa said...

What a very cool idea and book! I keep thinking as my kids are getting older, and my oldest just turned 20 today!, that when they move away I ought to give them a book with my favorite recipes that they have enjoyed over time, along with my little tricks and wisdom, etc that I have learned. Sounds like Anke has made this a reality, plus!!! :)

Chantelle said...

Wow, this is something I have been meaning to do. In our family we have a copy of our great grandmother Granny Lou's recipe book, that travelled with her from India to Europe to Australia, and I can't wait until it is passed down to us, (hopefully). What I really want to capture is the current knowledge that exists in the family, before that is lost to time. And I must say it looks like a gorgeous book that Anke has created,wonderful inspiration.

Stop Dogs From Escaping said...

Thanks for taking the time to discuss this. I feel strongly about it and love learning more on this topic. If possible, as you gain expertise, would you mind updating your blog with more information? It is extremely helpful for me. Thanks!

Cyndi Green said...

I have a beautiful crystal glass still, there are so many parts to it, which could easily confuse another. I had not thought of placing information for the still or the recipes I have developed in a book till now, so my deepest thank you to Anke for this information. These instructions for a still room book are amazing and the book is so beautiful. Unfortunately, I can't trace my family, which is in Germany, I have no where to begin, but I can start with my husband's family here in the USA. THANK YOU!!

Rowan said...

This is such an interesting post, Anke's stillroom book looks wonderful. The word 'stillroom' is one I find really evocative. In a way I suppose I've sort of made a stillroom book mysemostly full of ordinary recipes rather than herbal ones. It does have a moth mixture, cough medicine and one or two others so maybe it qualifies:)

Comfrey Cottages said...

Go for it Lisa! It is never too late to create a stillroom book! :) thanks for commenting:)
Oh Chantelle, what a treasure your family has in that book!
SDFE, will do!
Cyndi, that is so cool you are inspired! Yea!
Rowan, it qualifies! lol! How nice you have one:) It is evocative indeed!
thanks for visiting and commenting ladies. you are all in the drawing:)xx

Mo said...

I love this idea - my own stillroom book is scattered in notebooks and on scraps of paper haphazardly filed away. Maybe I'll take time over the winter to collect them all together. Mo

Bridget said...

Oh how I would love to win that book. It sounds wonderful! Well done on compiling your book. We need to be aware of the knowledge we hold and make it available for future generations. You've certainly done your part! Congrats!

Bridget said...

Sorry Leslie, I read that post all wrong...hence my previous comment. In reading I'd forgotten it was a guest post. I thought the book was yours. Boing!! Maybe you should do one too...maybe we all should.

Rita M said...

A still room book to preserve family herbal traditions for future generations, look to me as an amazing idea.

Comfrey Cottages said...

Mine are all in recipe books and various notebooks too Mo. I am for sure getting organized like this too! :)
No worries Bridget! I should have had an opening paragraph to clarify:)
I agree Rita, a very good idea xx
You all are entered in the drawing for the book:) xx thanks for visiting!

Ruth M. said...

I would love to win Anke's book and love to review of the stillroom book!


Anke B said...

Such wonderful comments. I am delighted to have sparked some inspiration.

Good luck to all those who have entered the competition :)

Kat Trubey said...

I have just found this site, and am excited about a stillroom book. As my daughter and granddaughter are both interested in herbs, a stillroom book makes perfect sense. Putting it all in one book and being organized about it? Wow, yes, it needs to be done. And Anke did it beautifully! I will be working on mine now ~ along with developing many of my own 'recipes' for herbal health and skin care. Lovely site, I will definitely be visiting often! Thank you and Blessings! ~Kat

Lemon Verbena Lady said...

Whew! I'm in under the wire. Beautiful stillroom book. Never grew up with a family that was herbal. We probably could have used the knowledge! What a great job you and Anke have done! xxoo Nancy

Axelle said...

This book looks amazing. I believe that Mother Nature can offer us all we need, and to be able to learn from your knowledge, handed down to you from your older generation is quite invaluable. Thankyou Anke

Pat said...

Leslie thank you for posting this and Anke this is such an awesome project. I never had anyone in my family that was herbal in any way but it has to start somewhere right? I have your other book and love it, and I hope to get this one too. I love the idea of a stillroom book! Now to just make the magic happen. xxxx Pat

maya said...

wow. i realize that i have several of these from previous generations of my family and yet, i have never done it. what an incredible opportunity to do so. thanks so much for the suggestion and i truly will begin writing a still room book. (i'll have to work on my handwriting, first.)

Marci said...

I have your first book and am so looking forward to dabbling in this newest one. Thanks for sharing your gift of creativity with the rest of us! :-)

*Ulrike* said...

Thank you Leslie for such a wonderful post. It is so true about recipes being stained along with little handwritten notes as I have found that in my late mother-in-laws cookbook. I wish my great grandmother had kept something such a book as I found out she knew a great, great deal about herbs. Would love to start a stillroom book of my own!
Take Care,

*Ulrike* said...

Guess I got in too big of a hurry. I meant to say kept such a book...strike out the something! I need another cup of tea!

Anke B said...

LOl, Ulrike.....breathe, sip.

What comments to wake up to!! Thank you to those who said they already owned, and more importantly used my first book. I hope the second will prove just as useful to you and your family.

Apart from wanting to thank Leslie for giving me the opportunity to post my article here, I'd also like to welcome all the new people who have found her blog. You will find so much passion on these pages. Leslie is rather infectious in her love of Nature and family, you'll love it here :)

I'll be staying tuned to see who the lucky winner will be.

Comfrey Cottages said...

Thanks for entering Ruth and visiting!
Blessings to you Kat!
Nancy, Axelle and Pat, thank you so much for visiting. Glad you like the idea:)
Maya,how cool you have some family stillroom books already!
Marci and Ulrike, thanks for stopping by. Glad you like Anke's post :) xxx