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Spring means many wonderful things, but it also means (sigh) spring cleaning. One of those jobs that I want to put off and put off, dreading the mess that will ensue before order is restored—even more so now that I have a toddler and must measure out my chores in naptimes (he’s not quite old enough that he can help yet, unless by “help” you mean throwing things at random, stuffing anything-not-nailed-down into his mouth, etc.).
This spring, high on my to-do list is taking inventory, organizing, and relocating my medicinals. I keep a lot of my herbs in tincture form because it has a much longer shelf-life and takes up less space than bulk herbs. Having tinctured here and there since 2008, my medicinals have been kind of crammed in odd spaces as I finished them. Thank goodness I at least had the presence of mind to label them (herb, menstruum, date) so I could figure out what I was finding. I’ve also just begun Aviva Romm’s Herbal Medicine for Women course, so knowing what I have on hand in advance and getting it all in one place will be really helpful as I move through the course material.
After dredging bottles, bags, and boxes out of the bottom of the kitchen pantry, the back of a couple cabinets, and the upstairs closet (I hope I didn’t miss any hiding places!), I gathered all the herbies together, made a list of what they were, how much I had (by volume or weight, as appropriate), and date. I then stowed them all in roughly alphabetical order in one place in the kitchen where they will be kept dry and in the dark—and much more easy to access than their previous hiding places. The inventory list (with room for notes, additions, etc.) will be posted inside the door to the herb cabinet for quick reference.
As you can see from the picture, my tinctures are stored in various and sundry glass jars. Some are the wonderful flip-top bottles, others in different sizes of canning jars, others in re-used glass juice bottles—a decidedly un-fancy hodge-podge, but whatever works. I fit my few bags of bulk herbs, oils, etc., in where I could. Doubtless I’ll need to find a bigger space for them down the road, but for now, this will suffice. As a special reward for my archeological dig herbal inventory, I unearthed a half-dozen bottles of homemade t’ej in assorted flavors—watermelon, lemon balm, mulberry, apricot, etc. YUM.
What are your spring herbal chores?
If you read this blog, you likely know that my favorite way of taking herbs is to eat them, and za’atar seasoning (or zaatar or zatar) is no exception. I first encountered za’atar several years ago at dinner at my friends Joe and Nan’s home. Joe is of Lebanese descent; as part of the meal, he had taken pita, drizzled it with good quality olive oil, sprinkled it liberally with za’atar, and then toasted it in the oven. It was divine.
That was before I even started studying herbalism—I didn’t even know what sumac was, nor that it had medicinal properties. Now I know, and if it’s possible, I enjoy this spice blend even more now with the understanding. Similar to a gomasio, this spice blend includes sea salt and sesame seeds but hails from the Middle East. We eat it sprinkled on gluten-free toast, on popcorn, and if you eat meat, it’s wonderful to roll a chicken breast in it before cooking. If you try it out (or if you already use it), I’d love to hear how you use this tasty seasoning!
- 4 parts dried thyme leaves (if the pieces are large, you might want to grind it a little for optimal mixing)
- 4 parts sumac powder
- 4 parts toasted sesame seeds
- 1 part sea salt
Mix all ingredients together. Store in a glass jar.
What are some of your favorite medicinal-and-tasty herbal seasoning blends?
This is a bit of a round-up post, with information about online resources, herbal education, a documentary, and a gardening tip.
First, I need your input. I am in the process of re-vamping the Links page—instead of the short list that you see now, I want to create here a more comprehensive list of online herbal education resources, organized into categories such as blogs, Web sites, courses, webinars, e-newsletters, forums, etc., along with descriptions. If you have favorite resources that you’d like to share, please let me know in the comments section of this post—provide a link as well as a short description.
Second, I finally signed up for Aviva Romm’s Herbal Medicine for Women course! I’m starting this weekend, and I’m absolutely thrilled. I’ve been hankering after this class pretty much since it was first made available (you know I’m a fan), and with all the ever-growing time constraints and competing priorities, I finally decided to stop making excuses and make it happen. I’ve already checked out the student web site and the student forum, and I’m on cloud nine. Doubtless, you will be hearing much more about this along the way.
Third, PBS made a documentary called What Plants Talk About, and it’s available for free viewing on their Web site (I love PBS). It’s about how plants communicate and interact with each other and with the world around them, their natural intelligence—pretty amazing stuff. If you watch it, I’d love to hear what you think.
Lastly, for the gardeners—I learned about this awesome low-tech setup for garden irrigation this week. This is definitely on my future project list. Any favorite gardening shortcuts/tips?
Have a beautiful and blessed weekend! I’ll let you know when I have the Links page up and running…