Cauli Verdi: medieval pottage recipe fit for a lord

February 17, 2011
Medieval Pottage

Medieval Pottage

I was looking through an favorite herbal periodical today from a few years back, and I found this great little snippet about pot herbs, or herbs/vegetables for “pottage”. Some herbs that come to mind include parsley, sage, rosemary, thyme, chervil, nettles, violets, dandelion, chickweed, purslane, lamb’s quarters, sheep sorrel, and chicory. When freshly sprouting, many of these herbs are also ideal early spring greens in salads, sautes, or soups. When we talk about “pottage”, the reference is usually to cooking herbs and veggies in a pot!  Just as you would imagine. The simplest version is to saute vegetables in a little butter or oil, add herbs and/or salt and finish with a splash of acid (lemon juice, herb infused vinegar, lime juice, etc) to brighten the taste. Pottage recipes often include sugar, though I’ve never cooked it this way, and the pottage is sometimes strained and turned into a soup. I like the Medieval reference below to topping with poached eggs. That would be fantastic!

herbs: photo from organicfoodexperience.com

Herbs and Spices (OrganicFoodExperience.com)

It’s mid-February, and no chickweed has yet made its sweet appearance in my garden pots. This time of year we rely on vegetables and fruits that store well through the winter (even if our storage needs are not so pressing as they were in the 15th century). Leeks, onions, shallots, carrots, cabbages, fennel, apples, potatoes all come to mind. The following is a medieval recipe for pottage translated from Libro Della Cocina, Santich, 117:

“Take the tips of fresh cabbage, and boil them: then remove them, and fry in oil with sliced onion, and the white part of the fennel, and sliced apple: and add a little stock: and then serve it in bowls, and sprinkle with spices. And you can also cook it with salted pork fat, with cheese and with poached eggs, and add spices; and offer it to your lord.”

Peasant Wedding by Pieter Breugel the Elder

"Peasant Wedding" (1567) by Pieter Breugel the Elder

I am not sure we’d be offering it to one’s lord (as in lord of the province or feudal fiefdom), but it’s a great little lunch or warming evening meal for anyone.

Cauli Verdi

Ingredients:
2 Tbsp olive oil
12 Brussels sprouts, halved lengthwise, cored and thinly sliced
1/2 fennel bulb, sliced
1/4 head green cabbage, cored and thinly sliced
4 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
3 Tbsp pure maple syrup, optional
Sea Salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup toasted pecans or walnuts

Directions: 1) in a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat; 2) Add Brussels sprouts, fennel, and cabbage. Pour 2 Tbsp lemon juice over the greens. Cook, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes; 3) Remove from heat and add apple, maple syrup (if using) and remaining lemon juice; 4) Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve garnished with pecans or walnuts.

If you try this out, let me know what you think!

Here’s another variation: Medieval Pottage and a series of pottage recipes from Medieval-Recipes.com. Cookit also has a recipe and video! At the end of the day this is simple peasant food. Add a little meat if you want to feel like a lord or lady of the manor!

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Keep yourself warmed with Herb & Tea infused Milk

March 11, 2010

Warm milk While the cool weather lingers, here in the early months of Spring, out comes the milk pot. I adore my Swiss-made red-enameled milk pot. To me, it means steaming hot frothy milky beverages that when poured, will not result in a milky mess all over the stove top or counter. To my daughter Maeve, Mr. Milk Pot means “vanilla milk”, “cinnamon milk”, “honey milk”, or “hot chockie”. To me, it means any number of milky beverages. Let me give you an example. Back in January, I made a fresh batch of organic lavender infused organic honey for ecoknits, a wonderful etsian who makes the most adorable little hats. Anyway, at the end of the process, I was left with a mass of organic lavender buds soaked in the most lovely clover honey you’ve ever tasted. My thought? Mmmm..this would be good in warm milk. I thought, why not throw in some organic fair trade earl grey tea while I’m at it? So I did. I let the milk come up to a near-boil (but not), called “scalded milk”. You can tell when it’s right because you see this hint of frothiness around the edges of the pot and the milk has not yet come to a simmer/boil.

Masala Chai Tea Some tea shops, such as Infusion, an independent coffee shop in Mt. Airy (Philadelphia) has been making tea-infused milk drinks, called cambrics, for years. Other places have more recently introduced the tea latte, an infusion of tea in water, made extra strong and topped with lots of steamed milk (i.e. frothiness at its best). I love steamed milk. (I’m a steamed milk nazi because I worked at a coffee shop in Dublin for three months and was forced to master the skill, but that’s another story. I digress.)  The ones who own the origin of the true tea latte are the ancient Indians, I guess, as milk is considered to be a perfect food in India. “Masala Chai tea“, or what I think of as “yogi tea” is a blend of black tea and energetically warming, aromatic spices such as cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, ginger root, and pepper traditionally infused (via heating to a near simmer or simmer) in milk and water for a warming, soothing drink. Other possible additions include saffron, nutmeg, and even rose petals, depending on the region of India. That said, you can experiment with this concept. Lavender and black tea or earl grey (bergamot-flavored) tea are sublime with milk, as is black currant flavored tea. One of my favorite tea blends is my “Sunrise Sunset“, which includes red rooibos ‘tea’ (an herb, really), rose petals, hibsicus, cloves, cinnamon, and a touch of orange peel, an herbal tisane which is superb when prepared with warm milk and honey. I also love herbal root blends prepared with a mixture of water and milk, such as my Ishtar tea (shatavari root, ashwaghanda root, dandelion root, burdock root, and cinnamon bark), or even just a mixture of Shatavari root and cinnamon bark. It is a nourishing, vata-clearing tonic that is so very nourishing to the spirit as well.

I am sure my readers will come up with all kinds of beautifully creative ways to infuse milk and create lovely winter treats for both themselves and their children. I want to hear about them! In the meantime, you can start with my lavender and black tea milk (and keep in mind that you can infuse the milk you use to make chocolate pudding, cream of wheat, oatmeal…you name it!). If you use tea leaves or herbs in your milk, you will need to use a fine mesh strainer to strain out the organic material from the milk as you pour into your mug. In the photos for this post, I just used cinnamon sticks and honey in the milk, so a strainer wasn’t really necessary.

cinnamon added to milk over the stove

honey added to warm milk

warm milk being poured into a mug

RECIPE: Lavender & Black Tea Infused Milk
1 tsp lavender blossoms
1 Tbsp. black tea (darjeeling, english breakfast, earl grey)
1.5 cups whole milk

Put all of the above in a milk pot or small saucepan and starting at medium heat, bring slowly to warmth, removing from heat before boiling/simmering. You will see a softening, frothiness around the edge of the milk, and a gentle steam will be rising from the milk. Add honey if desired!
Want to know more about my thoughts on milk nutritionally? Read on. If not, stick to the recipe above and enjoy!

Myth: Saturated fat clogs arteries (i.e., “whole milk is bad”)
Truth: the fatty acids found in artery clogs are mostly unsaturated (74%) of which 41% are polyunsaturated (Lancet 1994 344:1195)

Sally Fallon is an important figure in the Weston Price Foundation, a non-profit organization that advocates the nutritional (dare I say, evidenced-based) philosophy of Weston A. Price, who wrote a fabulous book called Nutrition and Physical Degeneration, which chronicalled his research among various cultural groups in the 1930’s whose diets were still ‘untainted’ by modern foods such as jams, jellies, white (refined) flours and sugars. He discovered that the facial (skeletal) structures, dentition, physical health remained superior generation and generation only when individuals consume nutrient-dense whole foods and fat-soluble activators found exclusively in animal fats. Physical degeneration would appear in only one generation once modern foods were introduced to a cultural group. Sally Fallon,  the president of the foundation, wrote a wonderful cookbook called Nourishing Traditions, which outlines much of the nutritional basis of what the Weston Price Foundation advocates for through research, education, and activism. Much of the nutrional ‘message’ is quite opposite to what most dieticians preach, though much of this (peer-reviewed, scientific) research is beginning to gain ground in the public eye. Namely, that saturated fats and cholesterol rich foods are not at all the enemies they are made out to be, and are, in fact, vital to a healthy diet. All of this is to say…sigh…that whole milk is good. (P.S. And FYI …soy milk…not so good.)

tea strainerRaw Milk Warmer Sally Fallon, Nourishing Traditions
(2 cups)
1 1/2 cups raw milk
2 Tbsp carob powder
2-4 Tbsp maple syrup OR 1/4 tsp stevia powder
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp chocolate extract
1-2 Tbsp nutritional yeast flakes

Place all ingredients in a glass container and mix well with a wire whisk. Place in a pan of simmering water and stir occasionally until the mixture becomes warm. Do not overheat!

Raw milk is another story, as is the story of cultured milk products and their benefits to one’s health. What are your thoughts about milk?


Fabulous Chai recipes you can make yourself

February 16, 2010

Chai Tea Spices

Chai Tea Spices (courtesy of Herb Companion)

I love chai tea, as many of you already know. I am also a bit partial to Herb Companion, a fun herby magazine that is always a welcome arrival in my post box. It’s trustworthy in terms of information and sources, and I’m honored to be an occasional guest blogger, something I wish I had time to do more often! In any case, I’m often tempted to share bits and pieces from Herb Companion with you, and their January edition was no edition. In these cold winter months, there is nothing more pleasurable than lovely Chai Tea blends. Check out Herb Companion’s recipes for various chai blends below, including one that uses Holy Basil, my personal herb choice for 2010. There may be some surprises in the recipes below, depending on the regional variations of Chai. Kashmiri chai, for instance, includes blanched almonds and saffron, something you certainly won’t get at Starbucks. Traditional Chai Teas almost always involve simmering the tea & spices in both water and milk, producing a nourishing wintertime beverage that is as warming to the soul as it is to the tummy.

My Chai (Yogi) Tea

My Chai (Yogi) Tea

RECIPES:

Black Chai Tea

Green Chai Tea

Tulsi (Holy Basil) Chai Tea


Winter Wonderland Etsy Shop S A L E

January 13, 2010
"devotional" by Skoonberg on Etsy

"devotional" by Skoonberg on Etsy

This is a SECRET SALE for my loyal blog readers and Facebook fans (or anyone who happens to drop by) for my Etsy store, Lilith’s Apothecary!! I am getting ready for a new year, including new products and an ever more refined facial care line. In the meantime, you can get some oldies but goodies on sale — and perhaps for the last time, as some of these products will not be returning. They are wonderful items using the best quality ingredients available, but anyone in the Bath & Body Care business will tell you, quite simply, I offer Too Many Products! Oh well, I view my business more as a service to you than as a corporate-headed profit making endeavor. Be aware that each sale price below is only good  while supplies last, so order soon to get your special deal!

The savings below are between $1-5 off the regular price, which really adds up!
So my SECRET WINTER SALE includes the following:

cleansing porta bidet My fabulous Cleansing Porta Bidet (a product I don’t think I could personally do without) for cleansing refreshment in the boudoir. This is one of those golden products that has so many uses. Be creative! Also ideal as a Post Partum Sitz Spritz.
2 oz @ only $4
4 oz @ only $7

cleansing elixir Balancing Cleansing Elixir for Normal to Oily Skin ~ the perfect all-purpose cleanser for those who want to balance oil production, combat acne, and use a product that both gently cleans and tonifies skin. I’ve been using these elixirs for years with fantastic results. You’ll never get such high levels of quality ingredients (read: no “fillers”) anywhere commercially. This size is perfect for trial use or travel.
2 oz @ $4

Dead Sea Clay Facial Mask An amazing product if you really want results :: the ever popular Dead Sea Clay Facial mask does quick work of problem skin — or even just oilier types — by deep cleansing, detoxifying, and actually working to achieve balance. This product is wonderful when used at least once a month up to once a week.
4 oz $11 (that’s $5 off!!!)

Calendula and Milk Facial Mask Calendula and Milk Facial Mask ~ Perfect for those sensitive skin types who are afraid to try anything on their faces. Don’t fear! You too can get the deep cleansing, skin revitalizing effects of a clay facial mask but in a way that is non-drying, non-irritating, and even provides gentle moisturization and healing. A lovely, smooth and glowy mask that I’ve always thought of as “the nectar of the gods”.
4 oz @ $11 (that’s $5 off!!!)

Cocoa Butter Body Balm My luscious Cocoa Butter Body & Belly Balm :: this is a popular product that many would never choose to do without. Wonderful as a belly balm for new mothers or as a fabulous skin protectant and deep moisturizer for all, including babies and children. It’s unscented for the most sensitive skin types, but contains a high level of natural cocoa butter that imparts a delicious scent all its own!
2 oz @ only $6
4 oz @ only $11

Salt Scrub / Body Polish Bright, refreshing, and winter-moisturizing Lemon Mandarin Body Polish for glowy skin. Awesome for revitalizing dull, winter dry skin and adding an extra layer of scented moisture!8 oz @ only $8 (some stores charge even $24 for such a product!)

Salt Scrub / Body Polish Smoldering, sexy and luxurious Osiris body polish ~ one of my most popular unisex scents with hints of cedarwood, vanilla, and subtle spice.
8 oz @ only $8

Salt Scrub / Body Polish Spicy, revitalizing, and zesty Spiral Dance Body Polish ~ a fabulous scent for all of you who adore spicy scents, including cassia, clove, and even hints of juicy tangerine.
8 oz for $8

Lemon Mandarin Shaving Soap Need something bright, refreshing and wonderfully sudsy? Try my Lemon Mandarin shaving soap. It’s made of pure, high quality glycerin for a bath soap that is very large, scented only with 100% natural citrus essential oils, and certainly not drying whatsoever. You’ll love it!
1 generous bar $4

Liquid Castille Soap Pure natural goodness for a hand soap, shower soap, or any other purpose needed. This organic liquid castille soap has a lovely texture and lather yet remains non-drying and safe for all skin types. This 8 oz, cobalt blue glass bottle of soap is unscented (great for sensitive skin, including babies) and fully re-usable.

 8 oz @ $6.50

 

TO GET YOUR SALE PRICE:
When you check-out on ETSY, type in “WINTERSALE” in the message to seller box and I’ll refund your savings via paypal refund right away! Please also note whether you heard about the sale via FB or my blog. If you want to pay by other means, just ask me to send you a new invoice. Thanks for joining me in this Winter fun, and of course, I love hearing from you any time with product suggestions, requests, ideas, or anything else that strikes your fancy. Happy 2010!


Winter Spirit…The Gift Guide

November 13, 2009
GrassHopper from Grazim's Shop on etsy

"Grasshopper" by Grazim

 

The autumn already seems to be ebbing away, though there are still a few wee tomatoes on my urban-dwelling vines. Still, many of autumn’s bright and colored leaves have fallen. Though I don’t usually create a treasury of beloved handcrafteds for this most herby of blogs, I was perusing through etsy favorites and felt inspired to share these lovelies with my dear readers. You may not want to spend that much on a chandelier, but you must admit….it is amazing! And if that is out of your price range, you might invest in a wee felted grasshopper, such as this one created by Grazim, and etsy shop located somewhere in Europe, and also the home of the sweetest felted slippers you’ve ever seen. 

Peaceful afternoon dress by SarahSeven on etsy

"Peaceful Afternoon" by SarahSeven

 

The Peaceful Afternoon dress, and other poetic creations, can be found in sarahseven‘s etsy shop. One must pay for luminous handmade creations, but would we artisans have it any other way? 

"Safe Keeping" by The Haunted Hollow Tree on etsy

"Safe Keeping" by The Haunted Hollow Tree

 

There are many beguiling images by The Haunted Hollow Tree etsy endeavor, but this one demands a frame and prized wall space at my humble abode. 

"mutant bunny" mask by Alma Pottery

"Mutant Bunny" by Alma Pottery

 

Alma Pottery claims to have art + attitude in the shop’s clever creations. I think this absolutely bizarre-fairytale-meets-the-surreal Mutant Bunny mask certainly fulfills the claim. I love it! 

"Cherry Root Chandelier" by Fiko Arts

"Cherry Root Chandelier" by Fiko Arts

 

Well, this is that (albeit *slightly pricy*) chandelier by Fiko Art I was talking about. I wish I lived in a house that could handle it! Maybe a converted one-room schoolhouse? Well, you’d need some lofty ceilings for this magical centerpiece. Take note of the absolutely amazing details, including the carving. This is an absolute work of art, and probably museum quality as well. 

Raven Terrarium by Doodlebirdie on etsy

"Raven Terrarium" by Doodlebirdie

 

I find terrariums absolutely enchanting, I have to say. I recently made a few without reading any directions as to the actual process (duh) and needless to say they didn’t work out that well. The keys are 1) not letting the moss touch the glass (fog), and 2) using charcoal to absorb moisture and also making sure there is some rocks at the bottom for a bit better ‘drainage’. Next time I’ll get it right! But in the meantime, check out Doodle Birdie for some lovely creations. 

Branch necklace by After Winter on etsy

"Branch" by After Winter

 

Ok, so let me send a subtle message into the ether. *I want this necklace for Christmas* Too bad my husband doesn’t read my blog! Alas. But still, this has been a favorite since it first appeared on the scene, at least a year ago. After Winter’s proprietress makes these absolutely amazing molded pieces using nature + pure sterling silver to create the most gorgeous pieces of adornment. These are heirlooms. 

"Tire Swings" baby booties by Wooly Baby on etsy

"Tire Swings" by Wooly Baby

 

I absolutely adore the vintage look to these handmade wool baby boots, complete with leather sole for those new walkers. I mean, I either have to buy these for some random baby I come across, or I need to have a new baby so I can shod its feet in these grey woolies. Either way – these booties must be worn by a baby that I know. Thank you Wooly Baby. Thank you for subtley pressuring me to have another baby so I can pay another $12,000 a year in child care costs. 

"Tree Sisters" by Sarah Ogren on etsy

"Tree Sisters" by Sarah Ogren

 

Is this a save the best for last moment? I’m not sure, but I can say, from one Sarah to another, Sarah Ogren is one of my absolute favorite etsy sellers. I do often wear a necklace creation, not unlike this amazing image, but I adore all of her animal headed Victorian creations equally, and someday soon, I want one for my walls (or at least my three year old daughter’s bedroom, where it would be most precious). Hint, Hint. 

You know, most etsy officianados like the lovely Scoutie Girl blog (thank you, Tara Gentile) create things called ‘Gift Guides’. Even etsy has its own Gift Guides to help overwhelmed and confused shoppers. I create Give-me-this Guides, apparently. I’m laughing out loud here because I’m not serious (but kinda am). I will say this. Nobody needs to buy me the Chandelier or the $500 frock, but…my three year old, Maeve, could try her hand at making a terrarium perhaps? Daddy? What’dya say?