Category Archives: Drinks

Pine Needle Tea

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Pine trees in New England are ubiquitous. Did you know that all parts of a pine tree are edible? Here we are using the needles to brew a tea that is rich in vitamin C.

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First, make sure you are harvesting from a true pine tree, gather in a place free from pollution and take just a little from each.

When you have your cache, cut the sheath off the ends and chop the needles. For one cup of tea you will need a bundle of needles about the diameter of a quarter or a bit bigger.

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Boil some water and let it sit for a bit before pouring into your container.

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I like to add a bag of mint tea to it for some added flavor.

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Let it steep for five minutes or so, strain and enjoy :)

pine needle tea

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Black Birch Tea

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Have you ever gone out into your backyard and picked raspberries to add to your morning pancakes or plucked fresh basil leaves from your garden for homemade pasta sauce?  What a wonderful feeling it is to be self-reliant. Nature is the ultimate grocery store.

Black Birch (or sweet birch) trees can be found in forests from Maine to Georgia. American Indians brewed tea from the branches for stomachaches, lung ailments and fever. The essential oil (methyl salicylate) was commercially distilled from the bark and used for rheumatism, gout and bladder infections. It is an anti-inflammatory and an analgesic. Have a toothache? Chew on a twig until the fibers start to break up and then spit out.

Smooth bark and distinctive horizontal pores make the Black Birch easy to identify.

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Scratching the twig of a Black Birch reveals a strong wintergreen scent.

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When you find a good specimen that you have positively identified and it is not in a compromised area (i.e. roadside or waste places), please prune lightly. In all foraging activities, take no more than you need and no more than a fifth of the plant to insure the health and survival of the species.

  • Cut or break the twigs up into small pieces and place into a jar.
  • Boil some water and let it cool slightly.
  • Pour the cooled water over twigs and steep.

The longer you steep it the stronger the flavor will be. It is great as an iced tea.

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Lemon Barley Water

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It’s a rainy March morning. We all have colds. We’re sneezing, coughing, and blowing our noses. Lemon Barley Water is just what the doctor ordered.

This beverage is strangely familiar. It’s reminiscent of Snapple. It’s rich and flavorful.

Barley has soluble and insoluble fiber, reducing the risk of coronary heart disease, type 2 diabetes and colon cancer. It can also lower cholesterol.

Regular consumption of barley water will cleanse your kidneys and keep them toxin free. Decades ago, it was used as a sort of sports drink given to farmers working in the fields.

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This recipe came from the same Irish cookbook as the Brown Soda Bread. It’s quick and easy and so very delicious.

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This recipe makes enough for 2 servings but you’ll definitely want to double it. I used a vegetable peeler to obtain the strips of zest.

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While the barley and zest is simmering with water, the juice is squeezed out of the lemons and reserved. Go ahead and put a dab of lemon juice on your wrists and the nape of your neck. It’s the perfect natural perfume.

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The barley and zest is strained out and discarded, leaving a fragrant full bodied liquid. The reserved lemon juice is added along with a bit of honey to taste. It’s then chilled.

Lemon Barley Water

(recipe adapted from Real Irish Food by David Bowers)

  • 2 lemons
  • 1/4 cup pearl barley
  • 3 cups water
  • 1/8 to 1/4 cup honey (to taste)

Trim the zest off the lemons in long strips, avoiding the bitter white pith. Put the strips of zest in a medium saucepan with the barley and the water. Squeeze the lemon juice into a cup and reserve.

Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer gently for a half hour, until barley is soft. Strain out and discard the barley and zest.

Stir in the reserved lemon juice and honey. Chill before drinking. Store in a glass bottle or jar in the refrigerator for up to three days.

Dr. Tom’s Ginger Lemonade

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As a family, we love to read. We will often cuddle up together on a winter night, each with our own books in hand or lay out on the blanketed grass underneath the bright summer sky and read aloud to each other.

Last week we were sitting at the kitchen table, Ethan was into one of the seven Harry Potter books while Thomas was reading this month’s Natural Nutmeg. He found an amazing recipe that he immediately wanted to make.

Dr. Tom’s Ginger Lemonade. With a name like that, we just had to try it.

Ginger and lemons are great for your immune system. Both are anti-viral, anti-bacterial and aid in digestion. All the ingredients in this lemonade help support liver health.

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Dr. Tom’s Ginger Lemonade

  • 1/2 lb. raw ginger, washed and chopped
  • 6 medium sized lemons, juiced
  • 1 cup raw honey

Start by washing and chopping the ginger root.

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Place into a large pot with I quart (4 cups) of water. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer for 20 minutes.

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While the ginger is simmering, cut and juice the lemons.

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Strain the ginger while the liquid is hot.

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Add the hot ginger water to a large pot, add honey to the hot liquid. Add 3 more quarts (12 cups) of water and the lemon juice.

The lemons and honey really mask the ginger, a flavor that can be quite overwhelming alone.

It is great as a warm drink. You could add it to your favorite tea.

I enjoy it iced. I hope you make some today.

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Strawberry Lemonade

The sun shone through the window in the early morning hours suggesting the possibilities of the day.  The lake was calling.

After gathering towels and a beach blanket we were out the door and on our way. After a few hours we found ourselves back home, preparing for a trip to the orchard.

Blueberries are now in season and picking them has become a 4th of July tradition for us. We sit in the shade of blueberry bushes while picking the plump and juicy berries.

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Five pounds of blueberries and a pint of strawberries later, we were home and in need of a fresh cold drink. That’s where lemons came into the picture.

Lemonade of any variety is a nice homemade treat and very easy to tackle.

Strawberry Lemonade

  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup sugar

These two ingredients are combined to create a simple syrup. Cook together on medium heat until all of sugar has dissolved. Let cool.

  • 1 1/2 cups strawberries, hulled and sliced
  • 1/2 cup water

Combine these two ingredients in a blender until completely pureed.

  • 1 cup of freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 4-6 lemons)
  • 3 cups water

Combine the cooled simple syrup, strawberry mixture, lemon juice and water in a pitcher with lots of ice.

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Enjoy :)