Plants nourish our bodies and our minds. They feed us and heal us.
Once you start to identify the different species of plants, that “wall of green” disappears.
Jeruselem artichoke (Helianthus tuberosus)
Black cherry (Prunus serotina)
Black elderberry (Sambucus nigra)
Purple loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria)
Blue vervain (Verbena hastata)
During a short walk down the road from us, we harvested black elderberry, boneset, purple loosestrife, and blue vervain. We’ll dry these and use them for medicine.
This elderberry tincture will provide us with a preventative medicine for flu and colds in the winter months.
These herbs (parsley, chives, holy basil, basil and thyme) were collected from the little garden in our front yard.
We used the herbs to make omelets and served them with home baked bread, toasted, and slathered with lots of butter.
Getting out into nature and learning to identify and utilize the plants around you can positively effect your life in so many ways. The more we understand, connect to and appreciate the world around us, the more we are willing to protect it.
The three of us picked acorns last fall under the thinning leaves of a red oak. We made sure to leave behind the ones with holes, cracks or stains.
We placed them on a tray in a single layer by the woodstove to dry. And even though we were careful with our selection, a few wiggly acorn weevil larvae still found their way home with us. We looked through the acorns on the trays for holes and threw out the ones that the larvae had wiggled out of. After a couple days of drying we processed a few cups for pancakes and cookies. We stored the remainder in a bucket for later use.
Properly dried acorns can be stored for years.
About a week ago, we started on another batch.
We use a slab of wood and a stone to crack them open.
We check each one for quality, even though we did a great job when collecting, we still find a couple of the nut meats with sign of weevil infestation.
Using a hand crank mill, we ground down the nuts.
This is what one pass through will give you. We grind it at least 2x for a finer flour.
Then we wait. We soak the ground acorns in cold water to leach out the tannin, changing the water morning and night, until it no longer tastes bitter or astringent. The chaff will float to the top and can be poured out. The finer the grind, the faster the leach. This batch took nine days.
This morning, we placed the leached acorn flour in a towel over a strainer.
And working in small batches, we wrung out as much moisture as possible.
We will keep the acorn flour in the refrigerator since we will be using it over the next few days.
Acorn imparts a nutty flavor and a great texture to waffles. They are light and airy.
Acorns are nutrient dense, containing complete protein, carbohydrates and fat.
Preheat waffle maker.
Whisk flours with baking powder, salt and sugar. Add milk, egg and oil and whisk just until incorporated. Lumps are okay.
Pour about a half cup of batter onto waffle iron (amount is dependent on your waffle iron).
Cook until done. Enjoy with pure maple syrup or peanut butter and bananas.
For more information on acorn processing, check out Arthur Haines’ website: http://www.arthurhaines.com/
There’s something special about September in New England.
The days are cooler but the sun still brings warmth.
Flowers still bloom.
Wishes can still be made.
There’s a golden hue to the sun filtering in through the windows and splashing across the hardwood.
It’s still warm enough for strawberries.
But cool enough for fires in the stove.
There’s abundance in September.
Here, in the form of apple cake.
And center stage in September are the leaves turning from green to yellow and red.
Get outside and enjoy these last few days of September.
These days that bring crisp air, bright sunshine, crinkling leaves underfoot, the smell of pumpkin spice, the taste of apples and the sound of acorns falling to the ground.
Here it is, the last day of August.
We’ve enjoyed these summer days.
Backyard fires, complete with roasted marshmallows,
Mornings in bed,
Walks in milkweed meadows,
Treks on backyard trails,
And a deep appreciation for each one of these summer days.
The last day of August also brings us the first day of school.
When I was a kid I would wander the woods in back of my grandparent’s house for hours by myself. I’d pretend I lived out there among the hardwoods, the maples and oaks.
Now, I have two amazing souls to wander with me.
The sun was shining down on us today as we immersed ourselves in nature.
For most of the day we meandered through a pine forest.
We sat by the water.
We picked pine needles.
We stopped to notice lichen on bark…
And patterns left by wood boring insects.
We ate low bush cranberries.
And we chatted with chickadees.
Now that we’re home we are enjoying those pine needles we picked and the vitamin C they will provide in a batch of Pine Needle Tea. We also picked newly sprouting black birch branches for Black Birch Tea.
Go wander the woods, it’s good for the soul.
Heart-shaped, fluffy white clouds in the blue sky.
Purple and pink sky in the morning. A sure sign of an oncoming storm.
Snow can change the landscape dramatically.
And it sure is fun to play in. Peaking through the hemlock boughs as Ethan prepares to sled down the big hill.
Have you ever browned butter? If not, you should. Swap out one stick of softened butter with one stick of browned butter and your chocolate chip cookie recipe will be forever changed.
Do you see what Regan sees?
Afternoon sun shines on cattails in the frozen ground. My shadow on the bridge.
Daffodils are emerging from the leaf litter. Change is upon us.
Each year goes by faster than the one before. Just like everyone else, I’m finding my way.
We celebrated my birthday a few weeks ago. I’ve been on this planet for thirty-five years.
We finally had some snow. I spy Ethan. Do you?
This is our bedroom window on a cold winter’s morning.
I’m in awe of the beauty of this planet. And I’m always looking up.
It’s nearly February and the geese are still beating their wings and honking.
I’m rewarded with color.
And squirrel tracks.
Each year we reflect. I love what I see.
It’s November in New England, a very special month for my family. My son’s twelfth birthday is in a few days and the day after that marks sixteen years of marital bliss for Thomas and I. The love I have for these guys is inexplicable, more than I could ever put into words.
November is the month of Thanksgiving and we have so much to be thankful for.
Queen Anne’s Lace leaves are still poking through the dry and browning leaves.
Tiny rose hips lend color to the muted landscape.
A single poplar leaf is bright in contrast to the dirt of a meandering trail.
The shining sun gives a golden hue to the leaves that are still holding on.
Autumn is acorn harvest time.
Chilly nights and rainy mornings call for a fire in the wood-stove.
Fires in the wood-stove call for a steady supply of fire-wood.
Sweet treats in the shape of the ever falling oak leaves can be made with the processed harvest of acorns.
The blue sky and white clouds can now be easily seen through the bare branches of our mighty maple tree.
I am forever thankful for all this life has to offer.
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.
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.
Boil some water and let it sit for a bit before pouring into your container.
I like to add a bag of mint tea to it for some added flavor.
Let it steep for five minutes or so, strain and enjoy :)