Archive for Herb Recipes

How to Make Your Own Natural, Non Toxic Shampoos

Although most people are happy with the huge array of choices we have in our department stores and find that most commercial products work well for them, there are many of us who find hair care challenging and difficult. For me, it’s an allergy to fragrances and a sensitivity to chemical additives. If I use the wrong shampoo, my head itches, flakes, gets a rash and sometimes burns for long periods of time, even as long it might take me to wash the residue out with another shampoo. So my search for shampoo has become a real challenge. I just can’t use whatever my sister leaves in the shower. Mine has to be fragrance free, without dyes or chemicals and usually has to have organic ingredients. Same for my hair color. I have found a few products that work for both purposes, dyeing and washing, but they are expensive and I have to order them online. In the meantime, I have come up with a lot of homemade alternatives and most of them are really good.

In my next post, I will give recipes for making homemade rinses and conditioners. I am also working on an ebook about homemade hair dyes and the methods for using them. Here, in this post, I want to share some of my recipes for homemade shampoos. These are safe, non toxic, hypoallergenic, easy to make and to make adjustments to. You will see when you get started on the recipes and after you use this stuff, you may be inclined to give up the commercial chemical based products you’ve been using most of your life.

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Something More than Pumpkin Pie

This is the time of year for Winter Squash and that old seasonal favorite, Pumpkins. We all have leftover Pumpkin, mostly from the Halloween carvings but also from tabletop decorations of fresh Squash and Gourds that are not eaten. My next post will be on crafts you can make with fresh Gourds. Today we are going to tackle the leftover Pumpkin. Although everyone is familiar with the use of leftover Pumpkin in pies and for the roasted seeds, there just aren’t a lot of tasty recipes for that leftover Pumpkin that everyone in the family will eat. So I thought I’d tackle some great ideas for recipes using that leftover Pumpkin and make sure to toss in something for everyone. I promise you these recipes will give you something more than the same old Pumpkin Pie..

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The Magic of Mullein

From soothing your cough to flavoring your liqueurs, Mullein has a lot of uses, some of them you’ve never heard of. The seeds are cheap and they are easy to grow; simply put in a pot full of soil and water. And if you don’t want to grow Mullein, there are many sources for it online, most of them inexpensive. There are about 250 genuses of Mullein, which is a member of the Figwort family. Mullein is also called by about 30 common names including Velvet Dock, Candlewick Plant, Cow Lungwort, Hags Taper and Aaron’s Rod. These cultivars grow all over Europe, Asia and the Meditteranean. They are also widely cultivated in North America and can sometimes be found growing wild. Very common varieties include Moth Mullein, Dark Mullein, Wooly Mullein and Common Mullein. The cultivar I have used the most and whole heartedly recommend is Verbascum Thapsus or Common Mullein. This particular cultivar has been naturalized all over the US, mostly in Hawaii and also in Australia. So it can be grown almost anywhere. I highly recommend planting Mullein in your garden and using it year round. I have recipes and guidelines for you to use when making use of the plant so bookmark this page for after your plants are growing and blooming. You can use Mullein for many things during every stage of it’s growth so it is well worth the few cents it costs to buy a packet of seeds.

Mullien was considered a magical herb in antiquity and it was given to Ulysses to protect him from the magic of Circe, who had changed his crew into pigs. The soft fine hairs on the leaves and stems of this plant makes a superb tinder and it was used this way throughout history. Hence, the popular name, Velvet Plant. These same soft hairs protect the herb from moisture loss, creeping insects and grazing animals because the down irritates mucus membranes. So this plant has few enemies in the garden, making it even easier to grow. So here are my hints on how to cultivate Mullein and how to use every part of the plant in every stage of it’s growth.

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Natural Homemade Summer Skin Care

Not too long ago I wrote a post on sunscreens. I investigated their ingredients, the effectiveness of those ingredients and any known hazards presented by their use. You can read that post HERE . And, from that, you can decide whether sunscreens are for you and whether the benefits outweigh the risks in your situation. But there is a wide range of needs in the area of sun care for your skin, from the professional tanner who spends endless hours in the sun to the weekend tourist who is exposing tender white skin for the first time. I have been on both ends of this spectrum, living in Florida and growing up in the 1960s when every girl on TV was blond and tan. Even the English ladies had tans! So I wanted to be dark, blond and thin, of course.

Young girls have every reason to want a tan. It is considered a form of beauty in white culture and girls who are “too white” are laughed at. And although suntanning can be dangerous to the skin, especially if you have a history of cancer or a family history of skin cancer, most people do it anyways. So I want to offer some projects to make your own homemade skin products for suntanning that will be natural, sustainable, safe, non toxic and good for your skin. If you read my post on sunscreens, you will realize that most sun products are made of chemicals. Why expose yourself to that, as well as whatever danger and / or damage the sun might do to your skin. Here are my recipes:

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Making Cool Summer Drinks

Everyone always drinks a lot more in the summer. The heat, the humidity, the activity, all conspire to make us thirsty. Even swimming in the ocean, with all that salt, brings people out to grab a soda pop. So when everyone is around the pool, enjoying the sun and the beautiful blue sky, why not make some cool drinks they will enjoy? How about making some of them from herbs and natural ingredients? How about making some of them alcoholic so people can relax and get into a groove? And how about making some blender drinks or a punch that even the kids can slurp down? I have recipes for all of these so there is no excuse for sitting around the pool or on the beach with a cooler full of boring canned drinks. You can make these up and serve them out of the blender, pitchersor a thermos . If you put your drinks in Stainless steel reusable cooler cans then you are also helping the environment, protecting your children from dangerous plastics and keeping your drinks cool for the long haul! But if you do not have these stainless steel containers then there is nothing wrong with sterilizing some old drink bottles in boiling water and filling them up with one of these potions for the trip to the beach or the park.

For making the blender drinks you will need a blender. Any blender will do; although bartenders use special ones, you can use just about any blender you can find. The thift stores have used ones for really cheap. But if you do not have a blender and do not want to keep one, then you can use a cake mixer

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Herbal Remedies for Cold and Flu

Here we are in the middle of a deep freeze and cold and flus are rampant. With the addition of H1N1 to our concerns, the need for vaccines and other preventatives have never been higher. But if you are among those who are not high risk for swine flu or who refuse the vaccines for whatever reason you may prefer to use herbal remedies for the everyday coughs and sneezes as they come along. Personally I am always in favor of the most natural solution to any illness or everyday need.

Here are some of my favorite fixes for coughs, colds and flu. Depending on how bad your brand is, it will be up to you to decide which remedy might help and when it is time to run up the white flag and head to the doctor. But for most of us, a sore throat or cough usually just means Vitamin C tablets and Echinacea tea and this can often be good enough. But in case you are looking for more ammunition in your arsenal, here are some good ideas.

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Add Some Herbs to Thanksgiving

How about a more spicy, more herby Thanksgiving? Oh, I know, it’s about tradition and everyone is cooking Turkey with Cranberries and Stuffing. And I am not about to change that. I just want to throw in some recipes that include various herbs. Not only for the great taste and diversity herbs add to the meal but also for the healthy aspects of doing this, too. Herbs have healing powers and if you haven’t been able to start taking supplements or to get the ones you love to do that, either, than adding herbs to the biggest, most popular meal of the year may get them interested in doing more of it.

I promise you that these will not turn your meal into an Arab or Asian repast. I promise you it will not taste like Italian Turkey. I am not going to tell you to add Garlic to the Cranberries. I promise you. What I want to do is spruce up the traditions a little with some of the herbs they probably added to the original meal, back in the day when they didn’t have grocery stores but spent a lot of time in their own gardens. So there’s your selling point. I added some herbs to the meal because that’s the way the pilgrims did it. Maybe the kids will learn something! So here they are… a few simple recipes to include everyday herbs in a delicious rendition of the Thanksgiving pigout.

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Money Saving Thanksgiving Ideas

I thought that it might be fun, with the economy the way it is, to make some cheap, homemade stuff for Thanksgiving. Usually we are all running out and spending a lot of money on table and house decorations along with the traditional food selections and accessories like napkins and serving pieces. When we invite family over for a big repast in our homes, we want it to be festive and enjoyable. What is more original and interesting than something we can’t just buy in Walmart, but has a personalized element? Something like homemade table napkins, handwoven fruit baskets, herbal centerpieces or handmade wreaths. Something they won’t see or experience anywhere else in the world. Something that speaks exclusively of you and your Thanksgiving meal.

I have some great ideas, some real cheap, others a bit more pricey. It’s up to you to determine what you have time for and what you can afford as well as what will work with your overall plans for dinner. How many people are coming? Is it just you and the kids or is your entire extended family coming? Are you serving at one table or more? Is this already so deep in your pocket that you just can’t afford anything at all? If so, I have ideas where you can forage the ingredients for free. So all of this I have taken into consideration and want to give you choices that will work for as many of you as possible. So, with no more adieux, here are the step by step recipes:

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Recipes for Herbal Inks

Now that I have finished the two part series explaining how to make herbal papers, I thought I’d post a few recipes for homemade herbal inks. There is no special equipment needed, really, and the procedure isn’t difficult. The first recipe, for Oak Gall Ink is a homemade recipe from scratch, where you make the actual ink yourself. The second recipe is for a simple scented ink, which requires only store bought ink and a few other ingredients.

The third recipe is for a colored ink. In this case, a red ink. With practice, you can learn which flowers will produce what colors and you can create many different colored inks using the same recipe. In fact, you may learn to blend all of these recipes in a creative fashion and come with a colored, scented ink made from scratch. Once you start doing this, it gets to be a lot of fun to see what you can come up with. Use your imagination!

It’s up to you which recipe better suits your lifestyle as to how much time you have and how creative you wish to be. The first recipe requires a few more ingredients than the others but it is the basic recipe for homemade ink that can be altered to make variations. Which ink do you want to make? For me, the goal was always a colored, scented ink made from scratch. It takes practice and time but the end result is really neat and a lot of fun to share with the kids and your friends, too (if they are the crafty type). So dig in and get started! And let me know what the results come out like for you.

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Herbal Papermaking Part 2

I know it’s been a long time but I thought I’d finish up on my herbal papermaking series. For those of you who thought you might learn how to make your own paper out of herbs I apologize. Now you can finally go out and get the few items you need to finish the process. In this post, I will tackle the methods for preparing the plant pulp, decorating the paper and adding scents to the finished product as well as discussing how to use recycled paper pulps and finishing off with a recipe for making paper for the first time.

The next post I will publish on this art will be recipes for making your own herbal inks so you can not only make herbal papers, scent and decorate them yourself but you can make herbal inks to use on the paper. This makes a lovely end product and it’s a really fun, productive project for crafters. Pretty soon you will be saving a few trees in the process as you learn to make paper pulp, recycle paper pulp and make your own paper products out of foraged herbs. Nothing could be cheaper.. or more green!

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