Sunday, December 21, 2008

Mullein Tea

I did a post a while back about how much I like the mullein plant in my garden. Now I want to tell you another thing that makes this plant great: mullein is herbal medicine as well. It's main use over its history is for lung ailments, such as bronchitis and even tuberculosis, but has also been used to make treatment oils for earaches and infections.

I have collected the leaves of some of the mullein in my garden for the last two years, because every year, guaranteed, I will get bronchitis. And nothing will touch it and it will go on for over a month, unless I start treating it aggressively. Once I began using mullein, I noticed a drastic reduction in the length of time it took for my bronchitis to go away.

Well, the inevitable has happened and I am currently facing a brewing case of bronchitis. So, mullein to the rescue! I have a jar of leaves that I dried this spring (very easy to dry - just pick them, lay them on a cookie sheet for a few weeks until they are crispy instead of leathery, then pack them into a sealed jar for storage). For lung ailments, you drink a tea made of these leaves, and the flowers if you have them. The flowers are actually more potent, but hard to store. Also beware, the seeds of the mullein are toxic. I'm not sure what they do, but it is best to avoid them.
For the tea, I crush the dried leaves into a coffee filter. You have to be very careful not get any of the leaves outside the filter as mullein leaves have tiny hairs that can irritate the mucus membranes.
I tie off the filter with a plastic twist tie that I re-use for this purpose and steep the bag in boiling water for at least 5 minutes to ensure a good potency. Other sites suggest at least 10 minutes, but, eh.
The tea ends up looking like chicken broth, and you know what? It is delicious! It tastes like wildflowers and honey. If you get a chance to use the flowers, it is even better. But, you are only supposed to drink a cup every few hours. I make my tea more potent than what some sites have suggested, using a couple tablespoons per cup vs teaspoons per cup.

I also sweeten it with local honey if I have it, because honey has its own herbal properties that enhance the work of the mullein. If I don't have honey, I use dark brown sugar, because I like it and it melds well with the mullein flavors.

I drink a cup or so immediately and save the rest for later in the day. To this batch I have even added a little dried Creeping Charlie. Yep, Creeping Charlie, the bane of my garden, just happens to be quite an amazing little herbal remedy itself! Among its laundry list of remedy potential is decongestant. Just what I need! I started collecting it this spring after reading what it can do. It also is fairly tasty and blends well with the mullein flavors.

And you know the best part of all this? These medicines are FREE! Most of us throw these medicines away every year as we weed our gardens and don't even realize it. I am spending part of my winter researching other potential remedies that I can collect next year with my son and a friend that is also into herbal remedies. Let me know of any that you know of, especially ones that you have used yourself!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Iceland Gardens

Nature's garden at Skaftsfell National Park

Cement fence with Icelandic poppies

Icelandic poppy in Iceland!

Backyard garden in Hofn

So jealous of this backyard!

Roadside memorial garden

Backyard garden in Reykjavik

Awesome garden statues in Keflavik

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Turkey Meatballs with Wine Sauce

I had a work party to go to and needed a dish to bring. I wanted something that could be a meal dish or h'orderves. Meatballs would sure fit that bill. I have my very own recipe for meatballs that I just LOVE!

Turkey Meatballs

2lbs ground turkey
1 sleeve of saltines
3 TBS rosemary
1 TBS Italian seasoning
1 TBS thyme
2-3 eggs
1-3 small cloves garlic minced
1/2 sweet onion minced
a couple of dashes olive oil
Salt and pepper

I do not eat mammals, but poultry is fair game! I thawed out 2lbs of ground turkey. Nothing like meat in a tube!
Pre-heat the oven to 350°. Mix all the ingredients together and roll into balls. I chose to roll them into small balls that could be picked up with toothpicks, but you could make them as big as you like. place them on a cookie sheet. They can be very close to each other. Bake until they are completely cooked.

These are DELICIOUS!
And they go really well with spaghetti and sauce.

Speaking of sauce, my husband thought a sauce might be nice with these, so I made one up for them.

Wine Sauce

1/2 bottle Madeira wine
4oz rice vinegar
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1-2 tsp soy sauce
2 TBS stone ground Dijon
1 TBS cornstarch dissolved in water

Put the first 4 ingredients in a saucepan on medium heat. Simmer until the liquids start to concentrate. Add the Dijon and the dissolved cornstarch. Stir over heat until thickened.

Serve with the meatballs, or any other meat that might go well with a wine sauce. It is fantastic!

These were a big hit at the party. People were asking about the meatballs and the sauce. I rock!