the farmwives kitchen

IMG_4283The Elderberries are ripe. Earlier this week, I spent a little time wading up the creek to harvest some of this native fruit that grows so well creekside. My intention with this first round of harvesting was to make a cold and flu tonic for the seasons ahead when we find ourselves spending more time indoors and when the snot and crud lurk about more. I’ve been looking for good recipes for a time (remember way back when in this discussion), and a friend just forwarded a link to an elderberry tonic that jived with my desires. Finally. A kid-friendly flu tonic (no moonshine necessary) that is incredibly simple to make and uses ingredients I always keep on hand. And with ripe elderberries for the picking, tonic-making time is now…IMG_4336

This recipe comes from The Herb Geek. (There are all sorts of worthy recipes to be found there!) The only tweaking I did was to exclude the thyme, simply because I don’t have it right now, and instead stuck in a couple of sprigs of rosemary to give a little herbal essence. And I was using fresh elderberries instead of dried, and I had plenty, so I doubled the amount.  I also noticed the volume of apple cider vinegar was a little vague:  the recipe called for a “jar” of apple cider vinegar. I buy mine by the gallon, not the jar. (Can’t wait to make my own someday, by the barrel!) So my assumption is that a “jar” of cider vinegar is roughly a quart. Anyhow, that’s what I went with. Here’s the deal:

Raw apple cider vinegar, one quart

Raw (local is best) honey, one cup

Elderberries, dried (one cup) or fresh (two cups)

1/4 cup dried thyme leaves (what I say is: use what you have!)

Add all ingredients to a jar (with a non-corrosive lid). Infuse for 2-4 weeks. Strain, and re-bottle the liquid. Take daily by the teaspoonful.IMG_4338

There you have it. Enjoy!

tea time

A conversation between the farmwives…IMG_2443Cher says… Well, the itchy scratchy season is upon us once more. Ticks, mosquitoes, and my bane, poison ivy. I’ve already had one round this spring which I got after clearing some brush and brambles from behind our greenhouse. This was before the leaves had even emerged, so I’m pretty sensitive to the stuff! Over the years I’ve tried countless remedies, some with more success than others. (Avoidance being the best!) I’m wondering what tricks you ladies have up your sleeves for dealing with outbreaks of poison ivy in your households?

robin replies

well, i am blessed with non allergic babes, can you imagine a better gift than that?? the main victim around here is dad, he is highly allergic and constantly exposed. so, let’s focus a bit on him. he is basically a long pant long shirt man limiting exposure as best he can. next is always washing with soap and water immediately after getting near the wretched vine. other than that, there is a lot of suffering and eye rolling at all of the  remedies: have you met folks that eat the leaves? that just scares me! but they claim it works. we haven’t ever used the many remedies offered out there, although grandma uses those with mixed results, sometimes  it seems you should just act and that makes you feel like progress is being made towards healing.

Coree says…

What’s that old song?  “Mares eat oats and goats eat oats and little lambs eat ivy.”  Maybe we can graze our ivy cares away.

Prevention is the best cure, for sure.  Lots of long sleeves and pants around here.  We’ve found that just changing clothes and washing with soap and water does a lot to head off the impact of an exposure.

But, when it’s itching, that’s a different story.  We’ve got a bottle of some of that chemically stuff, but I am loathe to use it.  One pretty good remedy we’ve used is jewelweed soap.  A local friend used to make it.  She has moved away now, so it may be a skill one of us should cultivate.  We make a thick lather of the soap, rub it on the itchy spot, then leave it there, not rinsing it off until it bothers us to be soapy.  That seems to help. Fresh jewelweed juice is good – IF you can find it right at the time of contact.  Aloe is nice too.

In the bigger picture, it’s been our experience that having a well-functioning liver helps with skin irritations in general.  Dandelion and Yellow Dock are two common herbal liver tonics that are easy to come by here.  A seasonal tincture may help your body fend off the itchies from the inside.