Saturday, March 29, 2008

Yogurt Update

I forgot to mention in my previous post that the dried starters are from Yogourmet.

Apparently King Arthur Flour also offers 2 types or yogurt starters: a Regular Yogurt Starter and a Bifidus Yogurt Starter.

And last but not least, I found another supplier of fresh yogurt cultures: Nick's Natural Nook. They offer the followings: FilMjolk, Viili, Piima, Matsoni and Buttermilk cultures.

  • FilMjolk yogurt starter powder makes a mild and creamy, soft-custard Swedish yogurt that has a very pleasant buttermilk taste (I tried it during a trip in Sweden and loved it).
  • Viili is a fermented milk product (yogurt) that comes from Finland for which we supply the yogurt starter culture; it has a thick and viscous consistency, almost jelly-like. It is mildly sweet and pleasant tasting.
  • Piima (pronounced pee'ma) is light and creamy Scandinavian yogurt with a slight buttermilk tang and a mild cheese flavor perfectly blended.
  • Matsoni (pronounced madzoon) is a fermented milk product (yogurt) from the Republic of Georgia, a country in the Caucasus on the Black Sea for which we supply the yogurt starter culture; It is a smooth and creamy pourable yogurt with a mild slightly sweet savor.
  • Cultured buttermilk is fermented sour milk that is commonly used in cooking.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Driven by Jealousy?

I'm not materialistic nor jealous in nature...It's just not me!
And I would never envy another woman for her looks, her wealth or whatever else she can have that I don't...But I would envy another Wild & Wise Woman, somebody who holds greater knowledge and wisdom than I do (especially if she lives close to Nature).

At age 17, I wanted to become a living encyclopedia...I believe that the Spirits heard me loud & clear thus I "cursed" myself to the point that I am convinced to be condemned to keep on learning for the rest of my life.

Gathering knowledge is great, but what is the point if you don't share it? Here's the side effect of my self inflicted curse: I have to teach what I know, somehow...

I've made a few attempts to teach about herbs before, but most people don't want to get involved with herbalism (even under its most simple form: folk medicine/grandmother remedies) because it requires time, reading, research, experimentation, patience, passion, and more... They expect a quick learning experience and fast results like popping a magic pill! We all know it doesn't work like that...

I don't know if it's the renewed & emerging Spring energy, a good timing or a token from the Spirits but I am now really driven and focused on teaching new classes that will blend herbs with nutrition, spirituality, energy healing and women's mysteries/the feminine divine.

I have a 3 part course already scheduled for May-June about The Path of the Wise Woman (I shall post the details of the classes next month). And I think I will have a first class on Shamanic Herbalism in the Fall, working with the introspective energy of the season (which happens to be my favorite).

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Not your Grandma's Yogurt...

With the increasing awareness towards the health hazard of the (processed) food industry, people are starting to cook again and enjoying the pleasure of making (and eating) delicious & nutritious homemade goodies which can be proudly shared (as well as the recipes) with family and friends.

One of these trendy homemade goodies is yogurt...but I'm not talking about your grandma's yogurt anymore. Many of us are still enjoy the traditional whole milk yogurt plain or with fresh fruits (stewed or not)...But now you can choose to prepare sweet, savory or even gourmet yogurts!

What about a yogurt with smoked salmon and french sorrel as an appetizer? Or an orange blossom yogurt as a sweet and soothing snack in the afternoon? If you are fortunate enough to speak french, I recommend the 2 following books: Yaourts : Cent recettes de saison by Murielle Khamouguinoff & Juliette Ranck (which translates to Yogurts: one hundred seasonal recipes) as well as Yaourts exquis by Brigitte Namour, Garlone Bardel & Claire Curt (which translates to Exquisite Yogurts).

If you're interested in making your own yogurts, I recommend Yogurt for Life. They carry everything you need to make yogurts: from yogurt makers to thermometers and even starters. I have used (and still use) their freeze-dried kefir starter (no appliance needed for this one) as well as their freeze-dried yogurt starter. They also have a freeze-dried probiotic yogurt starter and a freeze-dried cheese starter.

If you are looking for live cultures instead, check the Happy Herbalist. You can choose from Caspian Sea Yogurt (which I have always known as Bulgarian Yogurt), Finnish Viili or Kefir Grains Cultures.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Fuzzy Heirloom Tomato

I'm always interesting in collecting seeds of heirloom, hard to find, unusual and nearly forgotten edible & medicinal plants.

Amishland Heirloom Seeds always carry interesting tomatoes, some of them you can't find anywhere else. I just ordered some seeds of an interesting variety named ANGORA SUPER SWEET TOMATO also known as VELVET RED.

"This might be the most beautiful ornamental vegetable you will ever grow! Guaranteed to turn heads! The unbelievable foliage of this rare tomato is a fuzzy silvery gray color. They truly look just like the plant dusty miller. No matter how many photos I took, I wasn't able to really show you how very silvery and fuzzy they actually looked. The one inch ( 1" ) red cherry fruit are also covered in a slightly fuzzy silver "fur" as well. While these tiny fruit are not nearly as fuzzy as the peach type tomatos like PECHE JAUNE, they do have a noticeably grey coloration over the red due to this fuzziness."

Can't wait to grow them ;)...

The Anti-Fatigue Cure

This is a recipe from renowned french herbalist Germaine Cousin-Zermatten.

What you need:
  • Dried apricots: go for organic and even sundried (so you get a little bit of sun energy as well) but no oil or preservatives
  • Spring water

This is a 3 week cure.

Every night, before sleep, fill up a glass with spring water and 2 or 3 apricots cut in half. Let them soak overnight. In the morning, before breakfast, eat the soaked apricots and drink the apricot water.

I haven't tried it myself but my husband is willing to give it a try ;)...

Monday, March 17, 2008

Spring Time Goodies...

I've been busy whipping up new nourishing & beneficial herbal creations for the Spring (Ostara is coming up this week ;)):

I have slighlty modified my trusty Wise Woman Cream recipe by adding some organic aloe vera gel, which happens to make the cream lighter and smoother. Plus I wanted the cream to be more beneficial by following the natural rhythm of the Seasons, so I listed my brand new Wise Woman Spring Cream ;).

  1. I have created a must have lip balm: the Wise Woman Lip Balm. Moisturizing and nourishing with the perfect texture. It's made with calendula infused oil and orange blossom honey...Lightly floral and sweet.

  2. Journey to Middle-Earth is a sweet-earthy tea with a touch of spice that will help you relax and stay grounded...One of my personal favorites.

  3. Two seasonal blends to help you celebrate the return of the Spring and tune in to the renewed energy of this season: Spring Tonic and Spring Awakening.

Thank you for browsing ;).

Orange Blossom & Honey Soap(s)

Handmade with saponified oils, coconut milk, orange blossom water, homemade fresh calendula infused oil, orange blossom honey and organic calendula petals.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Who's Behind Your Favorite Organic Brands?

Honey-Almond Cookies

I adapted the original recipe from The New Laurel's Kitchen (you can find it under my a-store). My husband and I really enjoyed these cookies, especially with a cup of my Journey to Middle-Earth tea ;).

  1. 1/2 cup of natural almond butter (raw, roasted, smooth or crunchy depending on your preferences)
  2. 1/2 cup honey, preferably raw (I used a dark and flavorful mountain honey)
  3. 1 egg, beaten
  4. 3/4 tsp vanilla or almond extract
  5. 1/4 tsp salt (I use Himalayan sea salt)
  6. 1/4 tsp baking soda
  7. 1 cup whole wheat flour, preferably pastry flour (1 used 1/2 cup organic whole wheat flour and 1/2 cup organic pastry flour)

>Preheat oven to 350F. Cream the almond butter and the honey together. Stir in the egg and the vanilla/almond extract. Sift together the salt, the soda and the flour, and stir into the butter mixture.

>Drop by teaspoonfuls into oiled cookie sheets (if you wish, you can also press a blanched almond down in the center of each cookie). Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until they just begin to turn golden brown on the rims. You'll need to keep a close eye on them because cookies made from honey can turn from golden brown to black quickly.

>This recipe makes 1 or 2 dozen cookies. It's said that they're good keepers ;).

You should preferably use organic, pesticide-free and/or raw ingredients for optimum taste and nutrition. Feel free to experiment with different nut and seed butters...

Celebrate the Goddess through Growth

"The Earth's awakening in springtime stirs an awakening of spirit as well. Like the Mother Goddess, we give birth to new ideas, new insights, and new undertakings.
It can be unsettling to feel the stirrings of change - call it spring fever, perhaps. But we are not meant to be settled or stagnant.
Like the waking Earth, we are meant to grow, blossom, ripen, and give back again in the natural cycle of life. Trust in the Mother to hold you safely in her arms through every change."

SageWoman 2008 Calendar

Monday, March 10, 2008

Whole Wheat n' Nettle Bread

A Wild Harvest...

Spring is here! And with the generous amount of rain water we got this year, the local trails, hills and other open spaces are getting covered with carpets of wildflowers: wood sorrel, lupine, california poppies, wild mustards and more...

I decided the time was right to go for a "hike n' harvest" on my favorite trail (which I find truely magical: it has a natural artesian stream and 150 millions year old stones covered with mosses and ferns...And it smells wonderfully fresh and earthy).

I ethically harvested some herbs that grow in abundance around here: black sage (salvia mellifera), purple sage (salvia leucophylla), california mugwort (artemisa californica) and what I believe to be silver sagebrush (artemisia cana).

All these herbs besides being very fragrant, have some spiritual and also medicinal uses. After all: sages and artemisias are wise woman herbs ;). I hung them to dry for later use...I believe they'll make wonderful incense blends. I made a small smudging bundle with some of the mugwort leaves and prepared a fresh mugwort infused oil that I will strain in 6 weeks or so...The uses of california mugwort are the similiar to those of regular mugwort (artemisia vulgaris). This plant has been considered sacred and magic by many native tribes.

I'm plan on coming back there in 2 or 3 weeks in the hope that miner's lettuce and chickweed will still be there. Maybe I'll be able to harvest some wild blackberry leaves (the himalayan blackberry really thrives around here and its berries are such a delight in the Summer/Fall) though one herbalist recommends to harvest the leaves in the Fall when they turn reddish (I will give it a try next Fall to see if there is a noticeable difference in the taste and its effect on the physical, emotional and spiritual levels...And to connect with Mother Earth's introspective energy), I also noticed that the elders have been growing new branches so maybe they'll start blooming soon ;).

Monday, March 03, 2008

My Latest Creations...

I have 3 new products that I'm really proud of:
1/La Campagne Face Mask, inspired by the farms and fields of the French Countryside. It's a gentle, soothing and nourishing mask suitable for sensitive skins...It's also a personal favorite ;).
La Campagne is a blend of whole milk powder, chestnut flour, oat flour, almond meal and organic ground calendula flowers.
2/Mama Earth Nourishing Night Cream is a wonderful, non-greasy face cream handmade with baobab oil, melon seed oil, unrefined cocoa butter or mango butter, unrefined beeswax and vitamin E. It has a similar texture than my other wise woman creams, except that this one is not herbally infused. Kalahari melon seed oil imparts a sweet fruity scent to the cream which I think would make a nice day time cream as well, depending on your skin type (I recommend this cream for normal to dry complexions).
3/Yoni tea is another nourishing and tonic tea that can be enjoyed by women of all ages, but is especially beneficial to young women when they start having their moon time.
It's a 100% organic blend of blackberry leaves, lemon balm, sweet marjoram, lavender, alfalfa and nettle. Blackberry leaves, alfalfa and nettle are nourishing and naturally loaded with vitamins and minerals. Marjoram, lemon balm and lavender are calming and soothing.
Thank you for browsing ;).


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