-Elderflower cordial. My Mum's Marnos recipe:
place 20 large flower heads of Elder (Sambucus nigra) and 2 sliced lemons into 5litre / large saucepan with 1 tea spoon tartaric acid (get from pharmacists or use ascorbic acid (vit C)).
Bring to boil adding 1 1/2 bags of sugar (1.5kg). After a few minutes boiling, cool and leave for at least two days stirring occasionally. Strain and bottle. It will look light appealing brown and the odd flowerhead only adds to the presentation. You can also make iced cordial cubes to add to water for summer.
MASALA CHAI (from http://www.mooji.org/masalachai.html)
(Serving five to seven)
• 3 or 4 assam tea bags, ( or 3 teaspoon of loose assam tea)
• 3 inches piece of ginger, peeled and crushed or grated,
• 1 or 1 and a half stick of cinnamon, loosely crushed,
• 1 flat tablespoon of black peppercorns (crushed),
• 1 inch of natural vanilla stick or 1 teaspoon of vanilla essence, (optional)
• 6 or 7 sticks of cloves,
• 5 pods of green Cardamom (crushed),
• 2 whole star anise,
• 1 full teaspoon fennel seeds,
• 1 full teaspoon aniseed,
• a half teaspoon of ground nutmeg brings in a warm, caribbean flavour,
• 3 or 4 cups of soy milk or cow's milk (Mooji uses soy),
• brown sugar or honey to taste,
• 3 cups of water.
• Place all dry ingredients, except the assam tea, in a sealed container and shake well to blend. Leave for a few hours or overnight to 'mature'.
• Bring water to boil. Add the assam tea and boil for 5 minutes. Add masala chai blend from container and boil for 15 minutes then turn down flame and simmer for another 15 minutes. Now add milk of choice and bring again to the boil, watching carefully to ensure chai does not boil over by reducing heat quickly just before it does. Repeat 2 or 3 times. This process 'thickens' the chai and gives a rich and creamy taste. (This is not necessary if you’re using full cream milk or buffalo milk!). Sweeten with brown sugar or honey to taste. Strain tea and serve hot. Sprinkle a pinch of cinnamon powder on top (optional). Enjoy!
• Ps: For those who like their chai extra spicy, Mooji suggests adding more black pepper. He also recommends using organic african ginger which is much hotter and dryer than the usual kind you find in most markets. Try looking in afro-caribbean food shops.
- GRØD. this is stewed fruit, but being half Danish this is what i call it. With any fruit you can heat up your fruit/ berries etc in a pan with a small amount of water. The fruit breaks down and after it bubbles a bit turn it to summer and add honey, sugar as needed. You can strain the skins and pips out leaving a compot of fruit. Great with Apples, plums and elderberries.
- Nothing beats a salad of freshly picked sorrel , rocket and leaves from the veggie patch or from the wild. Juicing is a good way to enjoy herbs. Like with mushrooms, you have the responsibility to know what you are doing, try getting the book by Richard Mabey called "Food for Free".
- Nettle tea, soup and curry is great. Pick the very top leaves only and cut a patch in rotation to keep a fresh crop growing throughout the year. Remember that Spring time is best and later in the season they are habitat for butterfly larvae. I find it best to use a billy wizz hand held blender to make a nettle leaf puree which makes the nettles easier to disguise. Interestingly the roots are beginning to be used medically for Prostate enlargement.
Syrups. I am not good at following recipes though I'm seeing that if you want stiff jam it might be best to. A rough guideline is equal amount of fruit to sugar for a syrup. 500g elderberries to 500g sugar. All these things make me baulk at the amount of sugar. A friend make a hawthorn syrup with honey and apple concentrate and with honey which is worth a try, but be aware of any mix going off, once opened, store in fridge. You can also freeze smaller portions and bring them out when needed.
ROSE HIP SYRUP:http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/womanshour/food/recipe93.shtml
The directions given by the Ministry of Food during the war for 2 pounds (900gm) of hips.
MethodBoil 3 pints (1.7 litres) of boiling water.
Mince hips in a course mincer (food processor) and put immediately into the boiling water.
Bring to boil and then place aside for 15 minutes.
Pour into a flannel or linen crash jelly bag and allow to drip until the bulk of the liquid has come through.
Return the residue to the saucepan, add 11/2 pints (852ml) of boiling water, stir and allow to stand for 10 minutes.
Pour back into the jelly bag and allow to drip.
To make sure all the sharp hairs are removed put back the first half cupful of liquid and allow to drip through again.
Put the mixed juice into a clean saucepan and boil down until the juice measures about 11/2 pints (852ml), then add 11/4 (560gm) of sugar and boil for a further 5 minutes.
Pour into hot sterile bottles and seal at once.
If corks are used these should have been boiled for hour just previously and after insertion coated with melted paraffin wax.
It is advisable to use small bottles as the syrup will not keep for more than a week or two once the bottle is opened.
Store in a dark cupboard.
Source: The Hedgerow Harvest, MoF, 1943
The resulting syrup can be used as a flavouring for milk puddings, ice-cream or almost any sweet, or diluted as a drink.
- Smoking mixes: picking your own smoke is very cool. I dont smoke and find that herbal smokes can make my head feel weird in a non stoned way. It does however make dope work better without tobacco. Rasberry leaves, Red clover flowers, Mullein leaves, Marshmallow leaves, oppium poppy petals, sage leaves and well most things can be smoked. The list is endless but also personal. It can allow those wanting to give up smoking tobacco and chance to socially puff without the nicotine. Herbalizing Yourself is relaxing and is a great anti spasmodic.
- tinctures. Use herbs to make medicines and drinks that can be shared with friends. Using seasonal berries makes more a fruity tincture drink. Be creative with the ingriedients
Very Berry Sherry: put hawthorn berries into sherry bottles and leave it to stew for 2-4 weeks. I tried this but couldn't help adding Elderberries too. (from David Pirie)
Raspberry Devine: fill a jar with Raspberries without swashing them. Pour over sugar till granules hit the bottom. Fill the jar with Brandy. Seal and leave. From Mike Feingold, who then serves with a spoon at festivals.
- I will add to this section but for now consult a medical herbalist (ME) or from the link to N.I.M.H on links page.
- It is fun to be outside but more fun when you know how to play with plants. From watching evening primrose flowers opening and betting which one will open first, to making guns from ribwort and seeing if your friend notices the clump of cleavers on his/her back.
- There are also drawing, pressing and growing herbs and flowers as well.- Daisy chains, counting how many petals they have. Many have 34 and if not they usually have 55 or 89. this is according to fibonacci sequences. Of course petals fall off and don't grow properly but this is a good way to introduce the universal laws of nature and maths.