dandy lions and friends

ah dandelion.  sunshine flower, lion’s teeth.  how we’ve been enjoying you.  your green leaves chopped up in salads, with violets, cleavers, chickweed, bee balm, and chicory are tangy, and sauteed with garlic send a shiver deep down into the belly.  your flowers are steeping in oilve oil, to rub on aching muscles and hands after a good day of digging and planting the garden.  now you’re beginning to open up into seed sending globes, and we help you spread far and wide as we twirl and blow you hither and thither.  we thank you and your friends :0)  yummiest of all are your blossoms as a syrup.  the recipe:

2 quarts dandelion blossoms, 1 quart cold water,  1 quart sugar, 1 whole lemon sliced, 1 whole orange sliced

bring the blossoms and water to a boil, cover, turn off stove, and steep overnight.  strain, pour water over another quart blossoms, add a bit more water, boil.  turn off stove, cover, and steep till cool.  strain.  pour blossom water back into pot, add sugar and citrus slices, cook uncovered till thick like honey.  remove citrus and eat them up!  bottle syrup and enjoy on crepes, pancakes, or any number of other ways.  yummmmmeeee in the tummeee!

we’ve been busy with our green friends by the creek over the past two weeks.  we go to play by the waterfall on the driveway, basket in hand, and come back laden with nettles to cook and tincture, or horsetail to drink and tincture; never empty handed.  the bounty is full and tasty, leaving us satisfied and springy :0)  best of all: garlicky nettles and morels over crepes.  the lilacs are in bloom and so sweet smelling.  the butterflies cover the petals, along with bees, and we all gather under the bush to laze away in the shady fragrance.  we’re collecting petals every morning, to pack in a jar of vodka and see if we can capture the scent for later.  the liquid gets strained when the petals turn white, new petals are placed in the jar, and covered with the same liquid.  we’ll do this till the blossoms blow away and see what turns out :0)  ah it’s so dandy when our green friends are near at hand!



Whooping cough

sniffle bugg brought his friend whoopie along, so now i have a house full of people with the whooping cough.  everyone has it, except (thankfully) yours truly . . . i had it as a child, so perhaps am immune due to the experience or else all the herbs i take to keep my friendly little lymey spirochete friends in check have made me incredibly resilient.  either way, the whoopies have struck and they’re a bizzarre phenomenon. 

first everyone seemed to be going through a cold.  sneezing. runny nose. sore throat.  i began feeding them a paste of equal parts slippery elm bark, licorice root, and echinacea root powders with a big pinch of goldenseal root powder and enough honey to make it sticky.  along with this i gave them  the elderberry syrup we had made over the summer.  easy to do.  we went on a walk down our driveway with a basket, a stick, and some snippers.  there are three elders along the way.  at the time they were heavily laden with dark bluey/purple berries.  so we used the stick to bend the branches toward us, the snippers to cut the clusters with, and the basket to carry them back home in. 

once in the kitchen, the berries were removed from the stems and placed into a pot.  the pot was filled with just enough water to cover the berries.  the lid was put on and set to bubble and boil for an hour.  then the berries were mashed and stirred and simmered for another hour.  now they were strained. there was approximately 1 gallon, to which i added between a quart and half-gallon of honey, and then simmered and stirred it for a few minutes.  when it cooled, half of it was funnelled into 32 oz. brown bottles and put in the fridge and the remainder is still in the freezer.  if you have no access to fresh berries, dry ones will suffice.  i’ve used 4 cups dry berries submerged in 10 cups water and brought to a boil, then simmered for 1-2 hours.  strain and add 2 cups honey, resimmer for 10 minutes.  cool, bottle, and store in the same way.  (oh and the cooked berries can be used too . . . .  1/2 of them smashed with honey and cinnamon to taste, tossed with 3 tbsp. flour, then laid to rest in an unbaked pie shell and topped with a latticed pie dough, then baked makes a delicious pie.  save the other half of the cooked berries for a second pie or add to pancakes and muffins).  anyway, the syrup is great stuff in every way and has always sent a cold on its way in about 3 days.  not this time. this time the cold lasted a week. 

after a week, everyone seemed absolutely fine for a few days. then began these odd bouts of coughing.  it began at night.  lots of coughing and coughing and coughing and gasping and vomitting.  each person went through this on successive nights until they’d all gone through the cough- till- you- gag- and- throw- up phase.  then they moved into coughing upon waking up with lots of nose blowing, coughing at bedtime, and waking up at night to whoop away. 

i was flummoxed.  made up a wild cherry bark cough syrup, which has always helped. to make it i put 2 parts fennel, 2 parts licorice root, 1 part wild cherry bark, 1/4 part ginger root, and 1/8 part orange peel into a pot.  sometimes i add cinammon.  when i do it’s about 1/4 part.  i cover everything with cold water, then add another 1 cup of water.  the lid goes on, it all comes to a boil, then i lower the heat and simmer for about an hour.  then i strain it and add a cup of honey for each quart of liquid, and simmer for another 5 minutes before funnelling into jars to put in the fridge when cool. 

at any rate, this time the syrup did not work.  looked in their throats.  nothing to see.  yet there they were, all coughing at different times, really hard.  till red in the face.  and i was soooo glad that i didn’t have this probably contagious cough, which got me wondering, “how come??”  from this i concluded it must be something one can be immune to.  but what?  well with enough ponderings and matching of symptoms i came to whooping cough, and given the fact that there is an outbreak of it in california right now and the fact that my cousin, who seemed to have a cold, visited us from california five days before they all got colds, it can’t be a coincidence can it??

once i had this realization, i quit the cough syrup.  we ran out of elderberry syrup and i left the rest in the freezer for another time when it may be more effective. though i’m sure it has done something, because all my searchings have led me to believe that they have a very mild case of the whoopies, which must be due to their own sweet resliences :0)  as for now, they finished up the slipery elm paste and are on a round of minced garlic on a tablespoon of  a mixture of equal parts honey and raw apple cider vinegar with 1/8 part turmeric.  and did i mention they’ve not eaten any dairy, bread, or cookie type goodies for a month now?  we’ve been eating miso broth, chicken broth, rice, daal, carrots, broccoli, chard, clementines, and brown rice with amino acids all this time.  fox’s cough has finally gone.  the wee ones coughing sprees are decreasing in frequency and have been less intense for a week now.  for all intents and purposes, they’ve seemed totally fine when they’ve not been in a coughing fit.  it’s apparently bacterial and must run its course to containment.  they each chew on a piece of big cardamom, “bari illaichi” obtainable at indian groceries, at bedtime.  this seems to alleviate the intensity and duration of each fit.  can’t wait to see how long till we all tell it adieu.