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Posts Tagged ‘Okanagan’

DSCN2107It was a rainy morning yesterday so I decided to stay inside and make a batch of lacto fermented vegie kraut. I’ve been wanting to make pickled purslane for a while now so I ventured down to the backyard and picked a few handfuls of this juicy, crunchy, fleshy, wild vegetable from the undergrowth of my vegetable garden. Inspired by my sister’s kimchi lesson, I decided to deviate from a traditional cabbage kraut and create something with a variety of textures and complimentary flavours.

First we chopped up cabbage, green onion, garlic scapes and salad turnips.

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Not all turnips made it.

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Then we set up an apparatus to separate some whey from our fresh batch of milk kefir in order to inoculate the kraut.

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Once the whey was dripping into our jar we wandered outside to the garden to pick purslane and have a play break in the rain.

Purslane in the undergrowth of the vegetable garden ecosystem.

Purslane in the undergrowth of the vegetable garden ecosystem.

A broccoli attack occurred…

DSCN2101DSCN2102But we still managed to pick enough purslane for the kraut.

DSCN2105We washed the soil off of our harvest and prepared to layer our kraut ingredients into our fermenting crock.

I picked up this crock at the local flea market for about $40. Way cheaper than buying a new fancy crock online.

I picked up this crock at the local flea market for about $40. Way cheaper than buying a new fancy crock online.

We layered the vegetables, sprinkling pickling salt between the layers.

DSCN2108It filled the crock at first…

DSCN2109But then we poured the whey on and began the pounding to create a brine.

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We pounded this kraut gently so as not to destroy the purslane.

And after the pounding there was not so much in the crock.

DSCN2112Then I placed a small plate on top of the kraut to ensure the vegetables stay under the brine and placed the lid on top to keep out unwanted intrusions.

DSCN2117And my lovely assistant got a starfish strawberry kefir popsicle.

DSCN2113The kraut is happily fermenting in its crock on the kitchen bench and will remain there for about 5 days until it is suitably pickled. Then I will transfer it into a jar and store it in the fridge.

Purslane is popping up now in the Okanagan in gardens and farmers fields. It is very tasty, quite mild in flavour with a pleasing texture and is a great intro to wild vegetables. Purslane boasts nourishing amounts of essential fatty acid omega 3, vitamin E, beta carotene, vitamin C, and riboflavin as well as vital magnesium, phosphorus and potassium.

We look forward to enjoying our nutrient rich purslane in many meals from now until the end of it’s growing season and hope to make some jars of garlic dill pickled purslane to enjoy in the cooler months as well.

I hope you try your hand at traditional lacto fermentation, it really is easy, yummy, and so good for you.

And don’t forget to eat your weeds.

Danika.

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Playing with macro photography. My Calendula is blooming and will be made into a rich calendula salve this year.

Whenever I get a chance lately I have been focused and busy breathing energy and life into my sweet little herbal shop, The Herb & Petal Shoppe. I have been learning how to make the most of my camera’s abilities and while nothing like my analogue SLR (yes, I know I am far too young to be so behind the times…) it is capable of taking some fine photographs and touching them up in the camera itself. Cool. So I have been doing photo shoots the last couple of days with a clean and crisp concept and lighter, brighter images. Considering I have a 3 year old, a husband, study and a household to run, not mention seizing opportunity to wildcraft this rainy spring, it is taking a long time! I tend to have a lean on in some pic’s… like the way I slice bread. I need a plumb line to take photos or something. Maybe a tripod would be a good investment! Anyway, I am working my way toward a total re-shoot of all of my products.

Chamomile in my wild and weedy garden. Last year was made into a healing balm. This year, tisanes, tincture and more!

I’ve been creating new blends that have been floating around my head for over a year now, things that got put on the back burner when I accepted my job as Sous chef to Chef Mathew Morazain. I really don’t know why I don’t share more recipes with you all when I have some incredible and simple to prepare dishes made from herbs, weeds and wild foods in my repertoire. I am digressing here… but recipes are definitely something to look out for here on Girl Gone Wild and Weedy. So back to my new creations. I am currently having some of my tribal bellydance peeps and herb school class mates test my first raw honey mask and I can’t wait to reveal it to the world! It is a dreamy melange of raw honey, rose petals, rhassoul clay and organic essential oils of cacao and vanilla, and precious rose otto. In my opinion, it is nothing short of divine. But I would say that so lets wait to hear my test subjects feedback.

Still a little dark, will re-shoot for a brighter label.

Playing with light and shadow.

I’ve also decided to add some simple, raw products that I bought to blend into potions but are fabulous to use on their own, such as my awesome organic rose hip oil and evening primrose oil. I also have my hands on, in my opinion, the best supply of raw shea butter in Canada. I buy in bulk so I have decided to package and offer for sale to others this incredible shea butter from the Tapko Widows Group. It is the best!

Pure Evening Primrose Oil. Sooo lovely! I quite like my photograph, also.

With so much creative energy beginning to flow in me I am so excited for the future of my little shop and the love filled, herbal potions I have to offer the world. Here’s hoping Herb & Petal blooms into it’s full potential, for I would love nothing more than to have a real brick and mortar shop with a clinic for consultations in the back and a front room full of my herbal creations to offer my community. My dream come true.

Oenothera biennis or Evening primrose, growing in my wild garden. Ain’t she sweet?

Looking forward to sharing more of my creations with you!

With Love,

Danika.

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A Spring outing with my son to gather Arrowleaf Balsam Root leaves.

Well there goes May, and with it Spring leaves me as early Summer rolls on in. My month of May was impeded by a chest infection but I still managed to get out to my Herb School classes and spend time wildcrafting and medicine making. I have welcomed into my life the act of prayer. In the past I had always associated prayer with religion and so avoided it. But as I grow older and connect deeper with Nature through my studies and passion for herbal folk medicine, my perception of life expands and opens, and my heart asks me to be more still, more quiet, so I can listen to the voices of the forest, of wild water and animal chatter, and if I am lucky perhaps for a moment I will hear the song of their Spirit. Prayer gives me a way to offer my intentions to all of creation here on Earth, be it of healing given or needed, love shared and received, joy and sorrow. It opens the door to communion with loving, healing, spiraling consciousness. And maybe it does far more… For me it is also a way to give offerings of love and to announce my intentions when working with the plant world.

Belly to the Earth, intoxicated by the scent of Oregon grape inflorescence.

Arrowleaf Balsam Root (Balsamorhiza sagittata)

Leaving the magical Nettle forest…

May brought fresh Nettles once again, something that makes me very, very happy. I have a weird fear of not having enough Nettles! I can’t live without them. On Mothers Day, I drove out to a friends farm with my son and husband and we spent the day picking beautiful, vibrant green Nettles. I dried about 10lbs, steamed off some for the freezer, made nettle infused oil for an under eye cream I am working on for Herb & Petal, my herbal skin care line, and cooked with nettles to my hearts content. I made a very yummy rustic nettle and goat cheese pie with whole grain sage pastry. I wasn’t completely happy with the result, next time I will add more creamy goodness to it like cultured cream cheese and mix the filling well with it, rather than leaving the cheese in chunks, to make for a richer, moister pie. When I have perfected my recipe I will share it with you…

Drying Nettles on an old screen.

Chopping Nettles for oil infusion.

Making Nettle oil infusion for skin care.

Cooked Nettles.

Making Rustic Nettle and Goat Cheese Pie with Sage Pastry.

Nettle and Goat Cheese Pie.

May also brought a ‘Super Moon’, which was very beautiful, although by the time the Moon rose over the mountains behind my house I had  missed the effect of it’s largeness. It was still an energy charged night and I was determined to have a fire outside to enjoy it. I searched around for a second hand brazier to enable backyard campfires but there was no way I was going to pay much for one. So I got my spade out and dug a lovely fire pit for free. 10 minutes later I had an awesome, rock lined fire pit and we have been loving it! Besides, I can cook on my backyard fire pit. Braziers are for….

The full Moon as it drifted over my side of the mountain.

I also had the opportunity to go to Summerhill Organic Winery for the Fertility Festival and interviewed local folk punk band The Dirty Earth. Lots of fun, yummy food and wine, artists, artisans, music and beautiful, shining people everywhere. I’ll post the interview in a separate blog entry soon!

The Dirty Earth played in the Kekuli at Summerhill’s Fertility Festival this May.

Well, I had more to say but I am fading in my enthusiasm presently. It’s been a long week, motherhood has been trying for me lately with low energy levels and the lingering infection in my lungs. Finding time to do all I must and rest to recover is almost impossible. I haven’t even set up shop at my farmers market yet this season, something that bothers me to no end. I must persevere and hope that I am filled with boundless energy soon!

Thanks for stopping by, see you again real soon!

Danika.

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Photo credit: Barbara DuTot

Early Sunday morning, two days before Valentines day I found myself up early and driving north up the Okanagan valley to the “heart” of the Shuswap on my way to Wild Roots Herbal Learning Centre. Barbara DuTot, Wise Woman Herbalist and founder of the herbal learning centre, had invited me to assist her in running an all day Love Medicine workshop. How could I say no? The very intrigue of the thought of love medicine had me curious and excited about how the day would unfold.

But first lets back track…. How did I go from lonely herbal wanderer, seeking kinship and community through a blog to assisting a beloved local herbal teacher? Well, it has been some time since we last got together on Girl Gone Wild and Weedy and I have been keeping my adventures secret, shall we say?

Barbara DuTot. Community Herbalist. Seen here enjoying some dandelion love.

I met Barb in person last year at the end of summer by attending her Heartfelt Hawthorn plant study class. How I never came across her school when I was looking in earnest for a local, grass-roots herbal teacher is beyond me but it was actually through Kiva Rose of Anima Herbal School, New Mexico, that I found Barb. I became Kiva’s student because I could not find a local teacher!  Actually, one of my first assignments from Kiva was to find a traditional healer in my area so when I found Barb I was very excited.

Well for some reason Barb must have thought I was all right because she has kept inviting me back. Through Barb and her school, a community of home and folk herbalists is forming and uniting. Women (and men) from up and down the Okanagan/Shuswap Valleys are celebrating their love of plants and nature, nourishing their bodies with weedy wonders and strengthening their bond with the natural world through the gift of heartfelt knowledge, offered by Barb. How lucky am I to be a part of that?!

Photo by Barb DuTot.

Back to the road trip to Wild Roots… I arrived early at Barb’s adorable homestead in the beautiful Trinity Valley and was put to work minding the beets roasting in the oven and tending the rising bread, setting up the tables with pink and red cloth and laying out cups and glasses for herbal rose petal vinegar water and hot herbal love cacao.

Photo by Barb DuTot

As the guests arrived I hugged familiar folks and poured glasses of waterfall water with a splash of rose petal vinegar to sip while we pondered this: Five words to described what you feel love is and three things you love about yourself.

I should have kept the paper with my answers, well, I was under the influence of damiana and cacao by the end of the day… but it went something like this:

1. Passion. Love is passion.

2. Babies! Baby boy’s, baby girls, baby animals, baby plants…. Love is new life.

3. Patience. Any mother of a 2 1/2-year-old boy will tell you, love is patience.

Hmm, I am having trouble recalling the last two as there were so many good answers from all the people there that they are all merging into one memory. There was some great ones. Let’s go with how I feel right now about love…

4. Willingness. Love is willingness to love and be loved. Love is the willingness to see the ugly, the dark, the grotesque,  and the sick and not shy away, love is letting healing take place.

5. Love is universal. Not a living thing on this Earth is immune to the power of love.

Love is Babies in violet fields! Photo by Barb DuTot.

I like the way Barbara puts it: “Love is multifaceted”. There are so many things love is to each of us. What a great way to get your students thinking about the topic of love medicine. It is not a black and white topic of interest by any means. It is multifaceted.

As for the three things I love about myself… That’s private. 🙂

Heart loving Hawthorn. Photo by Barb DuTot.

After introductions our conversation turned to the heart, physical and energetic. Barb explained the function and intelligence of the heart. She introduced us to the magnetic field that pulses beyond the physical body around the heart area of your torso. She led us through an exercise, perceiving our own ‘heart field’ and then opening up to perceiving a partners. We pondered the reasons why we feel love and heartache in our hearts and not another part of our selves. And then we moved on to the herbal aspects of the day….

As Barb said “so there are a myriad of ways to experience Love, so are there are a myriad of herbs to facilitate Love. With such a plethora of plants from which to choose, Barb decided to focus on herbs that nourish and open the heart and to “spice it up” with some herbal aphrodisiacs!

We sipped and tasted tinctures, honeys, elixirs and teas, familiarizing ourselves with the taste, impression and effect of each plant: rose, hawthorn, self-heal, oatstraw, violet flowers, nettle (heart of the world – Rudolph Steiner), tulsi, motherwort, cacao, damiana, kava, macca and we discussed so many more . We sampled incredible elixirs made of wild rose petals and powdered cacao, brandy and honey. (I had to restrain myself from running away and hiding with the jar of cacao elixir so we could be alone…)

Photo by Barb DuTot.

“In the Tantra, the mystical and spiritual philosophy that exalts the union of opposites at all levels, from the cosmic to the infinitesimal, and in which man and woman are mirrors of divine energies, violet is the colour of female sexuality; which is why it has been adopted by some feminist movements.” -excerpt from “Aphrodite, A Memoir of the Senses” Isabel Allende.

We experienced food as love medicine, sharing a beautiful, simple meal. If you happen to be at Barb’s house, you know you are going to eat well! Her basic philosophy is “Food is Medicine” and she advocates choosing local and organically grown food whenever you can for the most nutrient dense foods for building health.

Lunch included butternut squash soup – high in beta carotene– important for the production of estrogen and keeping the mucous membranes lubricated and healthy, nibbled home-made focaccia, and snacked on super yummy roasted beet salad, so good for libido and health, dressed in “heart-healthy” hawthorn and honey vinaigrette. We shelled and ate cacao beans and sipped glasses of bubbly and sweet raspberry, hawthorn and elderflower spring water spritzers. And then we delighted in dark and chocolaty tofu brownies with rose petal whipped cream. Then, we all basked in the afterglow…

After our senses regained we moved on to arguably the best part of a Wild Roots Herbs class- the medicine making! We made pink St. Johns wort lip balm for puckering up, Aphrodites Atomic Love Bombs- handmade truffles with a sesame paste base, chocolate chunks, honey and plenty of macca. (Macca is said to increase a mans potency by 200%…!!!  That’s pretty potent!) Love Elixir- a blend of damiana and raspberry syrup that totally transports you to a dreamy lovey state, and sensual creamy massage oil that we each scented to our personal desire with my plentiful essential oil kit that I brought along. I chose to enhance the chocolate aroma (from the cocoa butter) with rose otto and cinnamon. It is so good it is literally edible. So warming and deeply sensual, a match made in heaven!

Photo by Barb DuTot.

I left feeling incredible, with an armful of delightful creations to bring out on Valentines day…

Valentines day: It fell on a Tuesday. Dance night! I learn American Tribal Style Bellydance at Blackthorn Bellydance and the Valentines day class was one of the best so far. So much awesome energy shared between women who love to dance with each other. I came home on a high to my child already fed and bathed and ready for bed. My man had a meal cooking in the oven for me –  the most perfectly cooked, organic, local rack of lamb I have ever had. (Well done, husband!) Served with roasted baby potatoes and asparagus roasted with romano cheese and a local cabernet sauvignon. We sipped wine and savoured our meal over beeswax candlelight, left the dishes and retired to our deep red and earthy bedroom to finish our wine and get into our love potions. I played the dreamy music of Solace as we sat on the bed chatting and eating love bombs in the flickering light. We switched our wine for love elixir, it tasted so good! Feeling dreamy and sensual myself and still in costume of tucked and layered gypsy skirts, nettle hip scarf, deep red choli and beautiful coin bra I got up and danced a serpentine dance for my love, for the very first time. He had never seen me dance before then. Maybe it was the love bombs, maybe the wine or the damiana kicking in but I have never seen my husband so mesmerized. The rest of the night was blissful….

Love medicine is potent. 😉

Want to try making your own creamy, dreamy massage oil? Here’s a recipe for my take on the creamy massage oil we made…

Rich Chocolate, Cinnamon & Rose Massage Oil for Lovers.

  • 1/8 cup pure prime pressed cocoa butter- wild or organic
  • 1/2 cup wild rose infused almond oil or grape seed oil (you can use plain almond or grape seed oil if you don’t have rose infused oil but do try making your own rose oil if you ever get the chance. It’s pure love in a bottle!)
  • 4-5 drops best quality cinnamon essential oil (be careful, cinnamon can be irritating in too strong doses, it is a stimulant to the skin… Ooo tingly!)
  • 15 drops pure rose otto

To make your creamy massage oil, gently melt your cocoa butter in a small pot on low heat.

Once the butter has melted pour in your rose infused oil and swirl or stir your mix with a chopstick. You may have to gently warm the blend if the cocoa butter hardens a bit after adding the oil.

Add the essential oils and stir again with your chopstick. Make sure your massage oil is well blended.

Pour into a swoon worthy bottle that will entice you from the bedside.

Give your creamy massage oil a gentle shake before using to make sure the cocoa butter stays incorporated in the oil. If it gets cold, you may find you need to warm your oil if it stiffens. Do so by placing the bottle in warm water for a few minutes.

This massage oil blend smells incredible and may make you want to devour the skin it comes in contact with. Resist! Or don’t… It’s totally edible, as long as your lover doesn’t mind.

Violet Honey. Photo by Barb DuTot.

Well, that’s it for now. I hope you have enjoyed your read and perhaps found a little inspiration for making your own love food and aphrodisiacs. Have fun! And remember…. “Love is the greatest aphrodisiac”

With wild and weedy love,

Danika.

I want to give a big, heartfelt thank you to the lovely Barbara DuTot for being, among other things, an editor extrodinaire, lending me quotes from Isabel Allende’s beautiful book and the use of her beautiful photos. Thank you Barb! <3<3<3

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Mullein. Sweet and caring, tall and strong, nomad of the wild garden. As all gypsies, you are misunderstood by many, and as all gypsies, you are always welcome in my home and garden!

Mullein Flower in my garden.

I think most folks have at least seen this weedy wonder in the wild, the roadsides, the field or as a youngling trying to get a foot hold in one’s garden. If you happen to live by my house then you would also have seen it in my front garden growing tall and proud, probably to my neighbours confusion.

Often misunderstood, I have heard one young man proclaim “Mullein. It’s SO ugly!”. No you’re not mullein, no you’re not. I find it amusing that the same young man accepted a herbal syrup made by me for his sick girlfriend made of rosehip, elderberries, honey, and MULLEIN! She recovered quickly and I hope they have made peace with the giving, loving, mullein.

If you are not familiar with Mullein lets start with the basics…

Mullein.

Botanical name: Verbascum spp.

Species living in BC: Verbascum thapsus.

Botanical family: Scrophulariaceae

Folk names: Mullein, Our Lady’s Flannel, Hag’s Taper, Hedge Taper, Torches, Wild Ice Leaf, Candelaria.

Ecology in BC: Widespread and common at low to mid elevations in disturbed, especially gravelly sites, fields and pastures. Mostly absent from wet Columbia Mountains.

Parts used:  Leaf, flower, roots, flower stalk resin.

Taste: Bland, salty, some say vanilla. I think the flowers smell/taste like a strange sweet spice….

First Nations use: According to my field guide the BC Interior native peoples smoked the leaves. Personally, I think they would have fully embraced this gently powerful medicinal herb and smoking it is just one way to utilize the healing powers of Mullein.

Mullein in my front yard growing tall.

Mullein is a Eurasian plant that followed the immigration of European Peoples to North America and indeed anywhere else they settled including my homeland, New Zealand. It is now widely established all over the world. I love my teachers thoughts on Mullein. She considers it a guiding light and calls it:

“An important guardian plant, emphasized in how it followed European immigrants to the Americas, and served as an herbal bridge between old world and new world healing traditions, to the point where very few herbalists or folk healers could imagine a practice without this beloved and widespread remedy.” – Kiva Rose Hardin.

Mullein is a biennial, the first year showing a lovely, soft basal rosette of leaves. The second year, growing skywards until it’s flower stalk reaches up to 2 metres high!

I have observed it to be habitat to many small insect creatures who live amongst the shelter of the soft leaves. In fact, during a visit with a wild Mullein plant my young son and I came across a pretty spider living in the leaves of a first year rosette. Now anytime Aries see’s a Mullein plant he squeals in delight saying “Hi! Bug!”. Oh, small children are so sweet.

The flower stalks. One main stalk and on this plant, a couple off shoots too.

Medicinally Mullein has a tradition of being used for respiratory ailments and is very effective used for dry hacking coughs when you need some help expelling the phlegm. Indeed it can be used in many lung remedies but Mullein doesn’t stop there.

It is famous for it’s use as an ear infection oil and perhaps your own mother treated you with Mullein oil in your childhood. Do use caution if you intend to use Mullein oil to treat an ear infection, it works wonderfully, however a ruptured ear drum needs immediate attention and should not be subjected to any oil or otherwise. So if there is any risk of rupture, do seek medical attention immediately.

Mullein leaves. Soft and prickly at the same time.

I am learning this wonderful plant is of great benefit to lymphatic stagnation and can be used internally as an infusion or externally as a poultice made from the fresh leaves dipped in hot water or pounded and then placed on the glands.

Much to my surprise and satisfaction I have learned of Mullein having great affinity to the musculoskeletal system and is a useful ally in cases of slipped discs, broken bones and pain in the neck and hips, reducing pain and inflammation in both humans and animals. I look forward to learning more of its musculoskeletal medicine.

Mullein also has powerful uses for the nervous system, the urinary system, and as a wound healing salve bringing relief and healing to the injured.

Most notably for me right now is the golden light Mullein shines for those feeling lost in the dark. I have recently felt a little uncertain, unsure of myself and found I had lost my own shining light amongst confusion and feelings of inadequacy and worries of  nonacceptance that stemmed only from within myself. No one likes feeling that way and one must go within to find the source. But sometimes you need a little help from loving friends to resurface with confidence. (Thank you, Gwendolyn <3)

Making Mullein tincture. It turns bright yellow when first made.

This is where Mullein offers her sweet yellow flowers to lend a helping hand in the form of a tincture. Even the act of harvesting the flowers and placing them in vodka to see it turn a sunshine yellow is uplifting and cheering. Mullein flower tincture, when taken, holds up that guiding light, showing a way out of the darkness and “providing an internal sense of safety and confidence” (Kiva Rose).

So while I am alone in the darkness of an internal night, perhaps a little scared I will wander deeper, I turn to Mullein. She offers me her golden torch to guide me through a darkness with no Moon. And at the darkest hour there she is, the Golden Dawn.

Mullein flowers in vodka.

Resources:

Plants of Southern Interior British Columbia and the Inland Northwest; Parish, Coupe, Lloyd; Lone Pine Publishing.

The New Holistic Herbal; David Hoffmann; Element Books Limited.

From the Ground Up course work in Traditional Western Herbalism; Kiva Rose Hardin; Anima Herbal and Lifeways School.

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