Freeze watch for this county is no longer in effect. Freeze warning is now in effect until 9 AM tomorrow morning. “But it is only September!” I protest rather loudly.
There is just nothing humanly possible that can be done about it, so I run myself ragged today harvesting all that I can from the garden and herb beds. The squash and pumpkins are just starting to ripen with many more coming on. Pepper plants loaded with blossoms and bees dancing from one flower to the next choreographed like a fine ballet.
“What a shame. A garden full of beautiful plants so close to being fully mature, simply wasted.” Again I protest, a little softer this time.
“I so enjoyed stepping out the back door and doing my grocery shopping for the evening meal among the well manicured rows of colorful produce. “In the early morning hours of twilight, without forte or celebration, all the hard work and joy of this years garden comes to an end. It is truly a sad moment.” I think to myself.
You know, I should be used to it by now. We only have about a 112 day window to grow our vegetables in the center of Michigans’ Upper Peninsula. The maples are already about 70% color right now, with brilliant orange, yellow and reds. Falling leaves cover my car. An occasional bird, not from this area, stops by the feeder for a quick bite on his way south. I just heard a group of coyotes yipping from off in the distance. I feel helpless as I know old man Frost has his hands around the throat of my living garden. I’m already missing the intoxicating pine fragrance delivered to our senses by summers soft warm evening breeze. Nothing says relaxing like leaning back in your favorite chair out on the deck and taking in a spectacular sunset, all while sipping your favorite iced tea. It’s simply hard to give up.
Which finally brings me to the point of this post, home made herbal tea and other drinks. As I scurry around gathering everything that I can, herbal combinations for our winter beverages play repeatedly in my brain. God, in all his infinite wisdom, gave us such wonderful natural flavors and prominently placed taste buds to distinguish them. And you can’t beat the cost, free!
Long before we moved to the U.P. we lived in farm country in Northern Indiana where many sects of Amish live and farm. Amish women shared their herb tea recipes freely, so I learned much from my Amish sisters. There are herbal switchels, teas, special drinks and medical teas, just to name a few. One is only limited by ones imagination.
How to Make an Herbal Tea
Herbal tea is an acquired taste. We are conditioned from birth to food additives and sweeteners that when given a naturally sweetened beverage, it is often distasteful at first. However, there is a personal reward when a natural tea product eventually becomes preferred. You know you are doing the body good.
Start with filtered water. I prefer distilled water. Some times you can find a quality bottled water that will suit you. Using city tap water that is often chlorinated, or/and fluoridated will corrupt the flavor of your natural drink. Select your tea (bag or bulk) and load it into your favorite cup. Heat the water until almost a boil and pour over your tea. Cover the cup for a few minutes and let steep from 3 to 10 minutes depending on what your tea requires.
The picture below is a mesh tea ball for use with bulk tea.
Let’s start you out with one of my favorites
Evening relaxer (for kicking back on the deck and watching the sunset)
1 part peppermint leaves
1/2 part chamomile leaves and flowers
1/2 part licorice root
1/4 part hops
1/4 valerian root
Mix all the herbs in a larger mason jar. Take one teaspoon full and put into a cup with hot water. Steep for about 3 minutes and enjoy.
Summer time herbade
1/2 cup lemon balm
1/2 cup peppermint, minced
1/2 lemon juice or rhubarb juice (they taste the same when used in beverages and cooking)
1/2 cup orange juice
1/4 cup honey or sugar
Combine all the ingredients with another 1/2 of water and let stand for an hour. The lemon balm and mint can be whirled briefly in a blender, with water.
This can be strained, and diluted with ice water. For something different, add gingerale instead of water.
Hay-time Switchel (Switchel originated in Nova Scotia, it is a tangy, flavorful beverage rich in minerals and is good for the digestion)
1/2 cup Braggs apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup honey or brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 oatmeal, optional
Add all the ingredients and fill to 2 quarts with water. Mix well and refrigerate overnight. Serve cold or with ice.
Kids better-than-koolaid beverage
I really, really hated all the sugar and food colorings in those tiny packages of Kool-Aid from the late 70’s when my own kids were little. So I made my own.
Start with about 2 quarts of raspberries. Heat up about 2 quarts of water to near boiling. Pour the water over the raspberries and set aside for a few hours. Next mash the berries and strain. Add a little sugar, honey or Stevia to taste and chill. There are no artificial ingredients in this drink. Whats more is that this mixture will make excellent popsicles.
If fresh raspberries are unavailable, the next best thing is to purchase raspberry zinger tea at the grocery store. Make two quarts of it following package directions. Add a little sweetener and chill.
Well, I’m sad to say the Ice Man cometh. We had our killing frost over night.
So I’m out to dig roots next. My list gets longer every year. This year I’m collecting;
Burdock root (to use in my tinctures. Works wonder on staph infections, impetigo, and obstinate ulcerations of the skin.)
Valerian root (Usually made into a tincture but works well when used as a tea or decoction. Valerian is used as a sedative and helps to induce sleep. The herb also can reduce stress, nervousness, and irritability.)
Comfrey root (Made into a tincture, also, helps to speed healing of cuts, ulcerations, bruises, broken bones, pulled muscles and ligaments and sprains.)
Horseradish root (A horseradish tincture acts to open sinus passages. Combined with other tinctures, Horseradish is useful in treating upper respiratory complaints, sinus infections and the common cold. It also works wonders fro treating urinary tract infections, rheumatism and gout.)
Echinacea root (This one I dry, it can be used in a tincture form, but I like it in a tea. Echinacea is wonderful for giving a boost to the immune system. It helps increase the overall resistance to disease. Works great as an anti-inflammatory treatment for infected wounds. Beware, it is rare but allergic reactions have been recorded with the use of this herb.)
Well, that ‘s it for now, I need to go get started. Got lots to do today! Talk to ya again soon.