Sunday, April 27, 2014

Burdock Oil

Science in our home this year has consisted of studying herbs; their medicinal properties, identification, harvesting and preparation for use through a monthly study called Herb Fairies.  This curriculum is put out by Learning Herbs.
I am just beginning on my journey of immersing my children in the benefits of herbs. Plants have been the basis for medical treatments through much of human history, and such traditional medicine is still widely practiced today.
Our study this month was on Burdock:  Arctium is a genus of biennial plants commonly known as burdock.  The plants have dark green leaves that can grow up to 28" long. They are generally large, coarse and ovate, with the lower ones being heart-shaped. They are woolly underneath. The leafstalks are generally hollow. The plant generally flowers from July through to October.  The prickly heads of these plants (burrs) are noted for easily catching on to fur and clothing, thus being the inspiration for Velcro.
Burdock has many medicinal uses, one of which uses the roots to make an infusion in oil.  Burdock oil is used mainly on hair to lessen thinning hair, improve growth, strength and luster and to also give relief from dandruff and itchy, irritated scalp.
This is the recipe that we used from our Herb Fairy book on Burdock.
First, we needed to make an infusion in oil.  We took our herb which I purchased in root form from Mountain Rose Herbs.  We put about 1/4 cup of the ground up root into the top of our double broiler pan and covered it with olive oil.  We let that simmer for about 2 hours on the stove.
Next, we strained all the herbs out and placed the remaining oil into a pint size mason jar.  It needed to sit for two days in the sun to separate any water from the oil.  Here is what our finished oil looked like when it turned out.  Since we used dried root instead of fresh, there was no water separation.  The oil is now good to use.
Here is our final guinnea pig, I mean herbalist trying out the new oil.  To use, place a small amount, massage into hair and then rinse out.  Dry hair as usual and enjoy that soft, silky feeling.
I also found this very informative video from Herb Mentor.
Disclosure:I am not a medical professional and do not have any "professional" education in regards to medicine. Please use common sense when using any recipe found on the internet. Any advise given on this blog is simply a sharing of our family's experiences. Not everything works for everyone. If you have more questions, please contact your medical provider. (Or preferably an herbalist or alternative medicine provider.)

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Birthday Made Easy

Getting older is not easy.  My children know that momma is not having anymore birthdays, nor do I like to be reminded that I am getting older.  I can experience that every morning when I get up and look in the mirror.
But, with my friends, getting older is EASY, especially when they know me well enough to feed my addiction of quilting and sewing.  This year for my birthday, my dear friend gave me this wonderful mini quilt kit called Thimble Blossoms by Camille Roskelley.  Could these little spools of thread not be more adorable or fit my likes any better?  And to top it off, I have the perfect quilt hanger for this quilt.
Included in my birthday bundle was a Potluck by Moda charm pack, as well as additional yardage for the borders, backing and binding.  The finished quilt measures 14 by 16 inches and it only uses 14 out of the 42 squares.  The tops of the spools were made from leftover grey that I found in my stash from my barn quilt that I finished late last year.  It really was by far one of the quickest quilt tops I have ever put together, but I will admit cutting and sewing the tiny pieces was a challenge.

While the design was fabulous with just the white borders, I thought it needed just a little something more.  Plus, I had all those remaining charm squares just waiting to be used.  Today, I added a 2 inch square border with some of my favorite fabrics.  Aren't the little white chicks so sweet?

It is now all pinned and ready to be hand quilted.  Yes, I know I am not a huge fan of hand quilting, but this little quilt squeals to be hand quilted.  Plus, can you keep a secret.. . . . .  sssshhhhh . . .  I plan on entering this quilt into our local county fair in August and I was let in on a little secret that there are not many hand quilted entries.    It will be fun to see my little quilt hanging in amongst all of the more skilled quilter's quilts.
Thanks for making my birthday special Heather!

Friday, April 11, 2014

Cottage Pie

What does one do when she has not ONE but TWO beef cows purchased, wrapped and frozen in not ONE but TWO commercial size freezers? (That is a whole other story as to how we ended up with two beef cows in such a short period of time)

I began scanning pinterest and many of my favorite blogs searching for new and creative ways to use ground beef.  Some of our family favorites are Shepherd's Pie, Sloppy Joe's, Enchiladas and of course Cheeseburgers.  But, when the kids began saying, "hamburger again," I realized it was time for intervention.

I actually stumbled across this blog, Farmstead Cookery, late one night, which spoke to my more mindful desire to cook from scratch, and eat wholesome, healthy organic meals all from what we've grown or obtained from local sources.

The General Manager is a meat and potato man and must have meat with every meal.   I gave up years ago trying to fix meatless meals to stretch our food budget, so now I just try to find casseroles or one dish meals that include either chicken or beef that feed a family of seven.

The first recipe that caught my eye that night was Cottage Pie. It had all the essential elements, meat, potatoes and lots of CHEESE!  It won rave reviews by everyone in the family and was unanimously declared, "A Keeper."

I even had a helper when it came time to making the mashed potatoes.  Coupled with a jar of home grown green beans made for a wonderful meal.
Cottage Pie
  • 3 T. olive oil or tallow
  • 2 garlic cloves, mashed
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 1 t. fresh thyme leaves
  • ½ c. red wine
  • 1 c. beef stock, divided
  • 1 t. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 T. tomato paste
  • 2 T. butter, melted
  • 4 T. flour
  • salt & pepper
  • 3 lb. potatoes, chopped
  • 1 c. milk, boiling
  • salt & pepper
  • 2 T. butter
  • 1 T. chives, chopped
  • ¼ c. Parmigiano Reggiano
  • ¼ c. cheddar cheese, grated
  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Warm up the fat in skillet.
  3. Add the onion and sauté over medium heat until it softens & begins to slightly brown.
  4. Add in the garlic for and cook for another minute until it’s fragrant.
  5. Increase the heat and add the beef and thyme, browning..
  6. Add the wine, ¾ stock, Worcestershire, & tomato paste.
  7. Simmer for 10 minutes.
  8. Meanwhile, boil the chopped potatoes until fork tender (time varies depending on how small you chopped them.)
  9. Drain and mash the potatoes.
  10. Bring the milk to a boil in a small saucepan and add to the mash while they are still hot.
  11. Season, adding the butter & chives.
  12. Make a thick roux by whisking 4 T. flour into 2 T. butter, cooking over low for 2 minutes.
  13. Bring rest of the stock (¼ c.) to a boil and whisk in enough roux to thicken (should still be a little juicy).
  14. Stir into beef and adjust your seasonings to taste.
  15. Spoon the saucy beef into a large dish. (I used a 10″ cast iron skillet.)
  16. Spread mashed potatoes on top.
  17. Sprinkle with cheeses.
  18. Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes until the top is golden & slightly crispy.
Enjoy your weekend!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Spring time

If I had to pick a season to call my favorite, I just couldn't do it.  I love so many of the different aspects of each season that I couldn't choose just one.  Spring is new growth, fresh air and the start of longer days.  Summer is gardening, end of the school year joy, swimming and our big birthday bash.  Fall is full on harvesting, canning, preserving and Winter is snuggly fires, hot chocolate or warm apple cider and lots and lots of quilting projects.  Here we are in spring and these are just a few of the things going on at our homestead.


* New flowers blooming, buds on some and little plants emerging from the ground (which I seriously thought I killed last fall)

* Really green grass from much of the rain we've seen here on the coast.

* Overwintered cauliflower (who would have thought that could happen to me?)

* Some quilting projects from the winter season.

This one is from Barbara Brackman's Civil War Quilts.  These are the first two blocks in 12 total blocks-of-the-month for 2014.  The fabric I chose is called Homestead Gatherings from Moda.  I absolutely love the primitiveness (is that actually a word?) of the fabric and think it will work well in any of the rooms in my house.

Another quilt for a special little granddaughter of a friend.

This quilt is for Lindsay.  It still needs two borders.  The fabric is in the mail (Somehow, my children thinnk I receive too much fabric in the mail, so I have been currently banned from ordering anymore fabric) and since the sun was shining and the wind wasn't blowing I just knew I needed to snap a picture.  The fabric I used for this quilt is called Floral Gatherings by Moda.
* Plant starts growing in the green house, chive blossoms (perfect for chive infused vinegar for my homemade salad dressing - YUM! and some direct seeded spinach in the hot house.

* A new swing set for the farm kids built by their grandfather, stained by their grandmother and installed by their father - if this swing set looks massive to you, it's because it is!

*  Pregnant momma goat due June 10th - we are very anxious and thrilled to begin this new adventure in homestead living.  Raising animals has not been an easy road for us.  But, with each experience we've learned something valuable.  Our kids will thank us one day for teaching them responsibility, accountability and compassion for animals.  We have many conversations about how these animals depend on us for their survival.  It is good training for when they all have children of their own one day.

So how is your spring time going?