(Published in Wellness Times, June 21, 2012) http://soundofheart.org/galacticfreepress/content/wellness-news-top-3-healing-flowers
Sweet Violets – Viola odorada
Little sweet violets are the perfect harbinger of spring, with their quiet, humble purple faces cheerfully appearing amidst their heart shaped leaves. Native to Europe, violets are now found throughout the world and are known as sweet violets, English violets, wood violets, or common violet. Traditionally, violets are considered to “gladden the heart”, and their sweet aroma and flavor are unique and so very recognizable. Often used in cosmetics and perfume, the violet is also used in both culinary and medicinal ways. Violets are often candied and used in gourmet pastries, and both the leaves and the flowers can be added to salads. Violets have been used traditionally to promote relaxed sleep and bring mental balance and good cheer. Medicinally, it’s long been used as a cough remedy, especially useful in the treatment of bronchitis. An old recipe for Violet Syrup calls for taking 1 pound of fresh violet flowers and add 2 ½ pints of boiling water. Infuse this for 24 hours in a glass vessel, and then strain the liquid. Add double the liquid weight in fine sugar, and heat it into syrup, being careful not to let it boil. This syrup can be used for both medicinal and culinary purposes.
California Poppy – Eschscholzia california
This popular perennial flower is the official state flower of California (and it is illegal to pick it wild in California). It can be found growing both wild, and in the garden. Wild, it is found throughout California, Nevada, Colorado, Utah and New Mexico and Texas. The leaves are a feathery blue-green, and the flower color ranges from a vibrant orange to a pale yellow. This member of the poppy family is considered to be safe and non-addictive, while still possessing some of the sedative properties of it’s far more powerful cousins. California poppy has been used widely and safely with children of all ages to help combat over-excitedness, and promote health sleep patterns. It’s also an anti-spasmodic herb, and can be used effectively to treat stomach or bowel upset or cramping. Carefully dry the aerial parts, including the stem, leaves, and flower, and make a gentle tea of a cup of boiling water poured over 1 teaspoon of the dried herb. Allow this to steep for about ten minutes, add a bit of honey, and drink this at bedtime for a night of restful sleep. Dosage is one or two cups a day, as an excess can create feelings of lethargy the next day.
Yarrow – Achillea millefolium
Also known both in wild places and in the garden, yarrow is a delicate plant with feathery leaves and a beautiful head of bunches of tiny flowers. Cultivated varieties can be light or dark pink, but the best yarrow for medicinal purposes is the wild white. Yarrow has been known for centuries as a plant to assist in the healing of wounds, and was considered “the soldiers’ woundwort” for its ability to stanch the bleeding of wounds of battle. This ability led to its being named after the legendary warrior, Achilles. The Highlanders of Scotland make an wound ointment from the plant. The feathery leaves can be placed directly on a superficial cut or scrape as a “natural” band aid. Yarrow was also called “Nosebleed”; the leaves rolled up and placed in the nose are reputed to immediately stop the bleeding. Yarrow has also been traditionally used to aid the body in dealing with fevers by being a diaphoretic (creating perspiration), and is useful as a tea in early stages of colds and flu. A famous old recipes calls for equal parts yarrow, boneset, peppermint, and elder flower as the most effective anti-fever tea. It dilates the blood vessels and is effective in stimulating the digestion. The above ground parts of the plant are used, and should be harvested when the flowers are at their peak in summer. These can then be dried and used as a tea. Along with it’s many medicinal uses, yarrow has been used in many cultures as a tool of divination. The long stalks are dried and used in the I Ching, and the leaves, when placed under the pillow, are said to bring visions of one’s future spouse.
February 2 is known as Imbolc, or Candlemas. It’s the date that’s the midpoint between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox, and agricultural communities and cultures have long recognized it as a time to honor and celebrate. In modern culture, we have named it ‘Groundhog Day’, and look to the modern, technologically sound and scientific practice of divining the future based on whether the groundhog sees his own shadow.
This morning, Phil the Famous Groundhog failed to see his shadow, so we are apparently in for an Early Spring. But, that’s hard to believe when we’re snuggled at home due to one of our rare Snow Days here in Colorado. (It has to snow A LOT for the schools to be closed in a state where we pride ourselves on being able to easily handle the wide and ever-changing range of weather.)
However we might recognize the date, it’s a point in the Wheel of the Year that we are subconsciously aware of – we understand on some deep, primal level that the days are finally beginning to lengthen, that seeds are begin to stir in the earth, and that the wheel is turning back toward spring. The name of the holiday, Imbolc, derives from the old Irish words for “in the belly”. Historically, it refers to the point when livestock would be full with pregnancy and would be the time of the year where the sheep and cows would start to produce milk in preparation for the birth of their young.
The holiday is sacred to the Irish Goddess Brigid, Goddess of Healing, Livestock, and Craftsmanship. She is associated with a sacred flame, from which can be drawn parallels to the strengthening of the sun and the return of the light at this time of the year. Brigid’s light inspires within each of us the forces of creativity and healing energy.
This is a time for Spring Cleaning, and for preparation.. On the farm, we deep clean all the animal areas, organize the greenhouse, clean the farming tools and implements, and prepare for the hard work of spring. We order our seed catalogs, make planting schedules, spread compost, and map out planting fields. When the weather permits, we clear the fields, gardens, and trails.
In the home, it’s the perfect time to purge the old and make way for the new. Spend some time deep cleaning and organizing your home, as well as some time cleansing and purifying your spirit. One of my favorite methods to clear old energy from my home is with a rosemary infusion floor wash. Simply steep some rosemary in a pan of hot water for about 1/2 hour. Strain out the herbs, and add the remaining strong infusion to a bucket of fresh water, and mop your floors. It’s a great cleanser for wood floors, and removes build up of both the material and the energetic type.
Whatever you do, take some time to both purify and prepare, and of course, enjoy the snow!
2 deep dish pie crusts, either frozen or freshly made
8 farm fresh eggs
2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 cup whole milk
4 cups broccoli florets
½ onion, diced fine
1 tsp salt
½ tsp garlic powder
½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 350°
Spread about ½ cup of the shredded cheese into the bottom of each of the pie crusts, so that it covers the bottom fully. Prebake the crusts until the cheese melts, and the crusts just begin to brown on the edges, about 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, steam the broccoli florets for about 5 minutes until just tender. (you can also sauté them if you choose)
In a large bowl, add the eggs and milk. Whisk until fully blended and just beginning to get frothy. Add the onion, salt, pepper and garlic. Stir Well.
Add 2/3 of the remaining cheese to the egg mix. Stir well.
Remove the pie crusts from the oven and spread the cooked broccoli evenly between the two crusts.
Pour the egg mixture evenly between the pie crusts.
Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top of the quiche.
Bake at 350° for 30-40 minutes, or until the egg sets and the top just begins to brown.
Here’s another great recipe using our favorite squash, the Butternut. This flavorful recipe offers a delicious, rich dip with all the healthy benefits of the butternut squash, and none of the fat of traditional creamy dips. It’s a great choice for a fall gathering.
Southwest Butternut Dip
1 Tbsp olive oil
3 medium tomatoes, diced
1 small onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
½ cup chopped cilantro
1 butternut squash
2 tsp Salt
1 tsp Sugar
1 tsp crushed red peppers
1 – 2 chopped jalapeno pepper (depending on how spicy you want it)
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
To roast the squash:
Preheat oven to 400F.
Remove the stem and split the squash in half from top to bottom. Scoop out the seeds.
Brush the squash with the olive oil, and dust with salt, pepper.
Lay the halves, flesh side down, on a parchment paper-lined half sheet pan. Roast for about 30 – 45 minutes, or until the flesh is soft and can be easily removed.
Remove the squash from the oven, and allow it to cool for about 15 – 30 minutes or until it’s cool enough to handle.
Using a large spoon, scrape the roasted flesh of the squash from the skin and put it in a large mixing bowl.
In a sauté pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat.
Add the tomato, garlic, and onions and sauté for about 3 minutes, or just until the onions start to turn translucent.
Stir in the squash, salt, sugar, spices, and jalapenos.
Cook for 5-7 minutes. Set aside to cool. Store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.
Serve either hot or cold. Can be served with bread, crackers, or veggies.
With over 3000 lbs of butternut squash this season, we have been working to perfect our recipe for butternut squash soup. This is the result!
2 Butternut squash
1 Tbsp vegetable or olive oil
1 tsp ginger powder, 1 tsp salt, pinch of cinnamon mixed together.
1 medium yellow onion – diced finely
4 cups water
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup real maple syrup
3 Tbsp ginger powder
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1 Tbsp salt, or more to taste
Maple Cream – beat 1 cup heavy whipping cream with 1/8 cup maple syrup until it forms a loose whipped cream.
Preheat oven to 400.
Slice the squash lengthwise and remove the seeds with a spoon. Place the squash, face up, on a cookie sheet or baking dish. Brush the inside of the squash with vegetable oil, and sprinkle salt, cinnamon and ginger on the squash.
Bake for 45min – 1 hr, or until the squash is very soft.
Remove from oven and allow to cool for about 15 minutes or until you can handle the squash.
Meanwhile, in a large stockpot, saute the onion in vegetable oil, about 3 minutes.
Take the cooked squash, and with a spoon, scoop out the meat directly into the pot.
Add the water.
Using an immersion blender, (if you do not have one, you can transfer the squash mixture to regular blender), blend until completely smooth.
Add the cream, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, and maple syrup and warm the soup over medium heat. Do not let it boil, but let it warm for about an hour to allow the flavors to blend.
Serve with a swirl of maple cream and hot crusty bread!