Archive for the ‘things made from the garden’ Category

I know it’s summer when herbal things abound around my house.  I have catnip drying, comfrey oil steeping, and flower waters infusing all simultaneously.  This time of year is so abundantly wonderful!

The comfrey oil is a concoction of the healthiest leaves and flowers from my comfrey plants, first wilted a bit and then covered in extra virgin olive oil.  This mixture sits on a sunny porch step for two weeks, gets filtered of the old plant material and then gets another two-week round of fresh comfrey parts.  This yields a wonderfully potent medicinal oil that will be used to make salves and ointments for fast healing of cuts and scrapes.

The catnip gets dried in an out-of-the-sun location (my pantry seems to work perfectly for this) and then chopped up and jarred for winter use in teas.  Catnip tea cools a fever, soothes the nerves and, when frozen into pops, is the perfect remedy for a teething baby.

My floral waters are a mixture of 3 parts distilled water to 1 part witch hazel.  The flowers steep in this mixture on a shady shelf for two weeks (I add the freshly opened blooms as they appear daily) and then get strained and put into little spray bottles for me to use as a facial toners.

So much herby goodness abounding and it’s just the beginning of the season….

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Oh my do we have an abundance of chives!  We inherited all this chivey goodness from our home’s previous owners who filled, it seems, any available space with chives.  The benefits to us are many.  We’ve been able to add this zippy little allium to salads and slaws and marinades all spring and summer.  The wall of pungency that the chives make up along the edges of our vegetable garden no doubt are one of the primary reasons our vegetables remain relatively insect-free.  And, as I discovered last year, chive vinegar makes up just about the prettiest little kitchen gift you can muster (and mixed with a little olive oil, salt & pepper, it makes a very fine salad dressing).

This year, Jeff’s stepmom blessed me with bottles!  She saved up a whole bunch of  bottles from her fancy specialty vinegar and offered them up to me.  I was overjoyed.  The graceful long-necked bottles make up an even prettier batch of vinegar than last year.

I so love that this punchy, pretty vinegar is becoming a annual tradition!  It’s just one more glorious way to celebrate the season.

*A total anecdotal side note:  Just recently, after a pretty heavy-handed cold I wound up with a whopper of an earache.  Trying to avoid a course of antibiotics I looked into natural remedies for ear infections.  It turns out that I had the very best remedy right there in my kitchen all freshly made!  A 50/50 ratio of chive vinegar and water made up the perfect ear drop solution.  The mixture helped the hurt instantly and now after a few days of treatment, my ear is back to its shiny little self!

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It is such a joy to plant my window boxes each spring.  A new combination of colors and textures, petals and leaves every year.  This year yellow violas, muscari and lilac-colored osteomums hopped very willingly into my boxes.  Come summer when the violas are growing leggy from the heat and the muscari have gone their merry way, I’ll leave the mums (which should be happy as little clams all summer long) and add some fresh new faces.  For now, I’m appreciating the springy-ness of everything and loving the heck out of these beautiful and bursting little boxes.

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chive vinegar 4chive vinegar 1chive vinegar 5chive vinegar 7chive vinegar 2Pungent, but so pretty, these vinegars were  a delight to make.  I gathered up chive blossoms in abundance along with bits of purple and varigated sage for the first batch.  I cooked up the vinegar to near boiling and then poured it into  jars stuffed with the beautiful blossoms and herbs.  The next batch became nasturtium-thyme.  My nasturtiums this year are the heirloom variety ‘Alaska’.  The plants bubble over their pretty varigated foliage with red, orange and yellow blooms.  I love how the different colors of the blossoms infuse the vinegar with varying levels of peach, orange and red.  Together the bottles all look like the most gorgeous sunset.

I made up some tags, tied them on with ribbon, and now these dashing vinegars are ready to give as hostess gifts at this party or that bbq throughout the summer.

Oh, and they taste really good.  As far as vinegars go, you know.  They’ll make  worthy and punchy contributions to plenty of marinades and dressings.

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