Yesterday I got to meet the lovely blogger Annette, from Sustainable Eats. Do you know her? At least in the blogly way? If not, you most certainly should! She is so inspirational! She grows & makes her food (on a standard city lot) and raises chickens. She is committed and passionate about finding alternatives to the industrialized food/agriculture complex. She makes her own bread, crackers, cereals… and get this, pepperoni! Do you know anyone that just decides to make pepperoni at home? Well I don’t (save my dear chef friend Chuck). That is hardcore. Her garden is not only productive but is gorgeous & organized. She is a mom. Oh yeah, and she has her own business. I’m not to weak to admit… I am jealous! Yes friends, this gal is capital M-Motivated! And she seems to do all this with some style and grace (and not my less-nuanced-rage-against-the-machine kind of way).
She came over so we could meet and she could see our garden. She’d had an open house of her über-impressive garden set up last weekend but we didn’t get a chance to meet because she had so many people eager to soak up her knowledge. It was fun to finally meet her and watch the Babylady show her son around the yard in the way that a 2 yr old would.
And… she came bearing gifts! Borage! Echinacea! Hops! Seriously! Oddly,since I am not religious at all, I have an urge to shout “Gold! Frankincense! Myrrh!” when I say that. Anyhow, Grow&Resist was in Sustainable Eats heaven!
Shall I tell you about Gold! Frankincense! Myrrh! Borage! Echinacea! Hops! ? Of course I should!
Borage is a herb I’ve not grown before used for both medicinal and culinary purposes.
- Borage flowers and leaves are the traditional decoration for gin-based summer cocktails, and may be set in ice cubes to garnish other drinks. How is it possible that I, as a gin drinker and summer cocktail lover, not know this!? Consider me schooled! I will now move to the front of the class!
- The flowers and young leaves may be used to garnish salads. dips, and cucumber soups. Oooh, dips! I love dips! Maybe to garnish Chevre with pistachios & honey? Pretty!
- Candied borage flowers make attractive cake decorations.
- Chopped leaves can be added to soups and stews during the last few minutes of cooking.
- The leaves can be cooked with cabbage leaves (two parts cabbage, one part borage.)
- Borage does not dry well for culinary use.
- Because it is a tonic plant for the adrenal glands, borage provides an invaluable support for a stressful lifestyle. Ok Dissertation-Writing-Ladyfriend… I’m talking to you! There will be some borage coming your way!
- Borage is rich in minerals, especially potassium.
- A tea made with borage helps to reduce fevers and ease chest colds. The Babylady is in part-time daycare, which is a germ cesspool in and of itself. We commute by bus… and she apparently enjoys licking the bus from time to time. Clearly something for colds could help!
- An infusion of borage acts as a galactogogue, promoting the production of milk in breastfeeding mothers. I so could have used that little tidbit to add to my concoction of fenugreek and thistle!
- Borage makes an excellent facial steam for improving very dry, sensitive skin.
- The flowers may be dried to add color to potpourri.
Echinacea (or cone flower) is likely more well-known as it has gotten a lot of attention as an immune booster. But it does so much more:
For centuries it has been used to treat various ailments such as poisonous insect and snake bites, toothaches, mumps, small pox, blood purifier, measles and as a general immune system enhancer. Apparently Echinacea is one of the top-selling herbs in the US for its immune enhancing properties. Research has shown that taking Echinacea at the first sign of a cold or flu can decrease the duration and intensity of the symptoms.
Many people are familiar with its use in alternative medicine to support the immune system, and to purify the blood, especially during season changes and during the cold and flu season. Scientific studies have confirmed the presence of natural chemicals, which increase white blood cell activity.
The root now confirmed by modern science as an alterative, anti-inflammatory, antibiotic, antiseptic, aphrodisiac, depurative, diaphoretic, digestive, treatment. The roots and the whole plant are considered particularly beneficial in the external treatment of psoriasis, eczema and inflammatory skin conditions, sores, wounds, burns, and sore throat, possessing cortisone-like and antibacterial activity as well as showing skin regenerating properties.
It also contains chemicals that are highly repellent particularly to mosquitoes and houseflies. Um, is there anything it echinacea doesn’t do?! When in doubt, it seems echinacea will cure it.
Hops. These gorgeous vines not only look pretty and smell great, but they are key for beer. And who doesn’t love beer? Ok, I’m sure some of you don’t… but I love them all. Stout, IPA, Lager, Pilsner, Stout, Ale, Hefeweizen… you name I like it. Well, except an amber. Go away Amber, be gone with you. Pointless is the Amber.
Now, I don’t make my own beer yet but you can be sure I’ll give it a go at some point. I’ve got my grapes for wine. My hops for beer. Hooch in the basement distillery. No, I kid. I don’t have a mini-distillery. yet. =)
Not only did she bring me awesome plants, but she solved my “where to plant my berries” dilemma, reassured me that my rhubarb was not dead like I feared and was just an all around nice person!
The blogly world is a cool place!