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I made a fabulous iced tea drink this week and added a little flavor with tart cherry and mint ice cubes. There is nothing better than sitting on my porch in the fall with a yummy drink and one of my herbal books.

You have have a lot of fun with different variations of this drink!

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What you will need:

 

10 cups of water

3  Black Tea Bags

5 Green Tea Bags

2 Oolong Tea Bags

Honey

Tart Cherry Juice

Fresh Mint

 

Directions:

Fill ice cube molds with tart cherry juice and place a peppermint leaf in each cube. Place 5 cups of water in a saucepan, bring to a boil and turn down. Add 5 green tea bags and let steep for 5 min. At the same time (or after) boil 5 cups of water, turn down and add the black tea and the oolong. You are steeping the two tea concoctions separately. Once the teas are done steeping, pour the tea in a jug and add 2 cups of water. Chill for 3-5 hrs and serve with your cherry-mint ice cubes.

After picking a large amount of tomatoes, I realized I had no idea what to do with them. I started going through my vintage herb books and stumbled on a recipe titled “Sweet Catsup”. I have never attempted a recipe that does not have photos before and this recipe had minimal instructions, which is not good for me as I am not the best cook in the world. I decided to go for it and was so excited when the recipe actually turned out great! The recipe is from “Rodale’s Basic Natural Food Cookbook” and I added a few extra ingredients of my own.

 

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Sweet Catsup

2 cups tomato puree

2 cups tomato juice

1 cup cider vinegar

1/2 cup of honey

1 tsp dry mustard

1 stick of cinnamon

1/2 tsp whole allspice or tsp ground allspice

2 stalks celery with leaves

2 medium-size onions

I added:

pinch of fennel

pinch of coriander

In a heavy saucepan, combine tomato puree, tomato juice, vinegar, honey and mustard. Place over medium hear and bring to a boil.

Place cinnamon and allspice in a clean, thing, white cloth. Tie top tightly. Add to catsup mixture. Then add celery and onions. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and cook, uncovered, until catsup is thick, about 3 hours. Stir occasionally during cooking.

Remove spices with a slotted spoon, remove celery and onions. Pour catsup into a heated glass container with tight -fitting lid, cool at room temp, and then store in refrigerator.

Yields around 1 pint.

 

 

I prepared the tomatoes by cutting of the tops and putting a slice in the bottom so the tomatoes would cook evenly.

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I blanched the tomatoes which made it easier to pull the skin off. If you want to skip this step you can buy tomato puree at the grocery store. I also made my own tomato juice but this step could also be skipped and purchased at the store.IMG_0015

I I added the rest of the ingredients to the pot.IMG_0017IMG_0019AF

 

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After the mixture cooked down and the sauce was at the desired thickness, I strained the sauce and used a funnel to pour it into bottles.

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If you have never had a grilled peach, you are surely in for a treat! Our friends recently introduced us to the idea and it is one of the most delicious ways I have ever had a peach. I like to put a little bit of goat cheese in the center of the peach and drizzle it with honey.  Simple to make and absolutely delicious!

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Lambs Ear (Stachys Byzantina) is one of my favorite plants! It is so soft and I love to touch it whenever is come across it outside. I gathered a bunch of it not knowing what I was going to to do with it, I just knew I needed to do something fun with it. I Googled “lambs ear” and not a whole lot came up, so I decided to use it to decorate. I made a large wreath with it, tying the leaves into an old vine wreath I had laying around. It turned out so beautiful! I am interested to see how the leaves will dry.

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This past weekend I harvested a few different kinds of sage to make sage smudges in my kitchen.

The practice of smudging is common among North American Native spiritual ceremonies. However, sage smudging is used by numerous people and religions all over the world. For the Natives, smudging was used to bless people and places but this same ritual could mean something totally different in another part of the world. In traditional use, the sage herb is often not bound together but we know it commercial to be wrapped. Modern-day smudging is used to correct the energy of a home or person. Cleansing a home of negative energy is said to be accomplished by burning sage in a focused, intentional way. I personally really just enjoy the smell and love throwing it into campfire as it gives off a great smell and helps keep the pests away. Burning a sage smudge close to you as you are working outside also help keep those annoying bugs away.

 

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The only things you will need for this project are:

-Sage

-String

-Scissors

Keep in mind the string will burn as well, so pick something that will burn easily.

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Grab a bunch of sage and line the bottoms up so you can tie string securely around the stems. Some people trim the sage so they are all the same length, but I like to keep it a little more wild and let some of the leaves stick out.

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After you have your string secured around the bottom, start wrapping the sage tightly until you reach the top. Once at the top, start using a zig-zag pattern and securing all of the loose leaves still sticking out. There is not a right and wrong way to do this, have fun and make your own string patterns.

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Hang the sage to dry in a cool dark place. The drying process usually takes about 2 weeks but could take longer depending on the density of your sage smudge. When the smudge sticks are ready you can light the sage and it will burn like incense. I would not leave large smudges unattended unless they are in a safe fire resistant container or tray. Have fun discovering more ways to use your smudge!

 

 

Yesterday I spent the entire day with Cindy, Danielle and little Kaden harvesting herbs and vegetables at Cindy’s house out in the country.  We pulled out one of the herb books on the shelf for a little extra help with our harvesting.  Our biggest project of the day was pulling the comfrey so we could cut and dry the plant’s root.  Here are a few photos from the day.  Lots of future projects to come with all of these herbs!IMG_6410

 

 

 

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The rosemary we harvested is now drying in my kitchen.  I strategically placed it right next to the sink where I can smell it every time I am doing the dishes.  Fresh rosemary is probably one of my favorite scents from the garden.

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The comfrey grew huge in the garden which made it a little more difficult to dig up.  The roots that were cut and left in the soil will produce new plants for next year, which leaves this hunk of a plant for us.

 

 

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Lots of oregano for my cooking projects!

 

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The sage plants smelled fantastic and will be used to make smudge sticks!IMG_6460IMG_6467