February 16, 2010

When I had just met Leslie Goldman, The Enchanted Gardener, he pressed a handful of leaves into my hand and said, “Here, Joanie, keep these “sniffers” in your pocket, take them out for a scentual reminder of my garden”. I loved that gesture and since then often send people home from my house with sprigs of lavender, thyme, sage from my garden, too.

Micah, who else, found these “sniffers”- where you can take more than the memory of your garden with you. Love this! Scenters from SCENTER is a depository of scents. Concentrated personal fragrances can be stored inside compact cartridges, their scent being released through a nozzle upon pressing the bellows thus evoking the memories embedded in them.

Via: Micah


Tea Time

January 8, 2009


I’d like to highlight one my favorite herbs: Nettle.  Nettle is a nourishing herb that is high in iron calcium, magnesium and boron. It is know in herbal lore as a general tonic for improving overall vitality. When it is steeped, covered for 15-20 minutes it brews into a rich, green liquid. Delicious all day, warm or at room temp.

You probably know nettle; you’ve seen it growing in most green places in the US – river banks, along fences, damp places. If you’ve brushed against it hiking in the summer you’ll be looking for the bees who have stung you but it’s the tiny hairs covering the plant that sting and burn. Sounds terrible, it’s not all that bad and goes away in a short time. And if you know dock or jewel weed, that is the antidote and amazingly enough, those plants usually grow nearby, in companionship with nettles. I like to harvest the young leaves, clean, wash (with gloves on…) and parboil or steam the leaves. Very yummy greens!  Once they are cooked, the sting is deactivated.


This is jewelweed, just crush it and rub on stings:

There is a great deal of information about how nettles was used in days of yore. Steve Brill, the wildman has alot to add about nettles and the healthy properties. He’s fun to read. He says: “As food, this tonic is good for rebuilding the system of chronically ill people. “Nineteenth century literature is full of so-called constitutionally weak people, who usually die on the last page. In Russia, they were given freshly squeezed nettle juice—a tonic loaded with iron and other nutrients—for iron-deficiency anemia. This often worked.” He goes on to add that the benefits can be attributed to the great amounts of minerals, including calcium, magnesium, iron, potassium, phosphorus, manganese, silica, iodine, silicon, sodium, sulfur, as well as chlorophyll and tannin, vitamin C, beta-carotene and B vitamins, not to leave out high levels of easily absorbable amino acids and are 10% protein (that’s high for a veggie). 

I found some recipes for nettle wine!?!

I’ve got to tell my brother, Will about this.

Gather the young, growing tops and wash and drain them as soon as possible. Measure them without packing. Nettle wine is said to lack character and may be infused with another base ingredient to make it better. The first recipe below is for “pure” nettle wine. The others contain second ingredients.



3 qts nettle tops

3-1/2 lbs granulated sugar

7-1/2 pts water

1 lemon

1 orange

1 tsp yeast nutrient

wine yeast

Thinly peel the lemon and orange while bringing water to boil. Juice the lemon and orange. Place nettles, juice and lemon and orange peelings in in primary with sugar and yeast nutrient. Pour boiling water into primary and stir well to dissolve sugar. Cover with sanitized cloth and set aside to cool. When room temperature, add wine yeast. After five days of vigorous fermentation, strain liquid into secondary and attach airlock. When wine begins to clear, rack into clean secondary and refit airlock. After 3 months, rack into bottles. [Adapted from Steven A. Krause’s Wine from the Wilds]

But I digress. I was talking about tea.

Isabel from    reminded me of the varied goodness of nettle leaves. “They are a source of histamine, which helps to reduce the symptoms in any allergic response, including hay fever, asthma and sinus. Also, serotonin, which acts as a neuro-transmitter to the central nervous system and is helpful for relieving stress, fear, nervousness, depression, insomnia, and eating disorders; and melatonin, an antioxidant sometimes referred to as an anti-ageing hormone , that may give relief from chronic fatigue syndrome, seasonal effect disorder, depression and sleeplessness…. Nettle is valuable for strengthening the adrenals. Eating nettles or drinking the tea has been a folk custom to make hair brighter, thicker and shinier and the skin clearer and healthier. A healing ointment is prepared by steeping cut nettle leaves in oil. Sip nettle tea for its benefits as a mild diuretic to relieve fluid retention, and to stimulate the lymphatic system. It is also known to eliminate bad breath. Nettles increase excretion of uric acid through the kidneys, making them an excellent remedy for gout and all other arthritic conditions. The herb is used to reduce blood sugar, and a tincture of the seed is found to raise thyroid function and reduce goiter.” 

I ask you, can you think of any excuse for nettles tea NOT to be part of your diet? I can’t. So Here is where you can get organic, dried nettles for tea, in case you’ve run out. Avena Botanicals has a nice selection of loose, organic herbs and tea utensils. And this Spring, put on some gloves and go harvest that pesky stinging plant. Clearly I’m weary of winter although it has just begun with a vengeance. A nice green cuppa nettles is just the thing for cabin fever. With a bit of  honey from my neighbor, Carol.