herbalism

Mrs Localvore Herbals

Cedar SmudgeWhen the plants call, you have to answer the phone. I am fully immersed in the study of herbalism and have the entire dining room covered in drying plants and brown coloured liquids in jars to prove it.

I come from a long line of herbalists and the root digger in me is refining my craft.

Herbalist David Hoffman called the early root diggers ” Rhizotomi” which is the Greek word for root digger. They were ancient gardeners who grew the plant medicine and instructed the physicians at the time on how to use them. These Doctors then instructed their patients with this knowledge.

This is knowledge that is given from the plants to the herbalists and with patience and study, were able to process and share. There is no doubt in my mind, that it is the plant that is the healer and  I  believe that ego-based dogma for one’s self is a road to isolation and the ability to stop learning.

I am also pretty skeptical and practical. Science is one of my largest foundations in which I take it’s principles and theory and combine with the credentials I have earned in regards to plant medicine.

My focus is on the healing plants that surround one’s community that grow wild. Herbalism is indeed the people’s medicine and access and knowledge should be free and available to everyone no matter what their age, ethnicity or income level is.  Taking control of you own health and wellness is a right which can be taken away by systems that can be overbearing and overwhelming.

My role in the community is to serve others to learn and explore what is rightfully their own and empower them with knowledge to live a healthy life.

I am currently in deep studying mode and mainly do quick tips and updates on my Instagram page when I can . (See the widget on the side bar to bring you right there) Thank you for dropping by and feel free to contact me if you have questions.

Mrs. Localvore  (Diana)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Recipes

How to make Vegan Honey (Corn Cob Jelly)

I’m a firm believer in waste not, want not. I’m also a believer in letting people decide how they want to eat. No judgement period. I have some vegan friends and thought I would make them some for gifts as I had heard that corn cob jelly does taste like honey. Vegans do not consume honey along with other animal products.  I was skeptical about the claims I had heard about it tasting like honey but was curious so I decided to try it out for myself.

Don’t have 12 cobs? Throw cobs in the freezer until you have enough to make this recipe. I have done this and it does not affect the taste at all.

Yield is 4 cups

What you need:

12 fresh corn on the cob

Water to cover

4 cups of sugar

1 package of Pectin (or 6Tbs bulk pectin)

2 Tbs lemon juice (fresh or bottled)

Canning jars

Water bath canner

Method:

Shuck corn and remove the kernels. Use the kernels for other recipes (corn chowder?) Or cook a whole batch at once and then used the shaved corn in a salsa recipe for dinner like I usually do. You can either use raw or cooked corn on the cob. I figure it’s a side dish I don’t have to make for dinner so win-win. Also, keep the corn silk. See the end of this post to find out what to do with it and what it’s used for.

Corn cobs

Take shaved cobs and either boil them for 30 min (hard boil) or you can take the easy route and put them in a large slow cooker and let them cook for about 8 hours or so. I usually snap mine in half at time of their first cooking so that I can fit more into the pot I am going to be using .Add just enough water to cover the cobs and put on the lid.

slow cooker

After 30 minutes if you are using the stovetop method (see above paragraph) or about 8 hours later if your’re busy,  strain your cobs using a fine mesh sieve. I ususally run it thourgh twice to ensure that there are no corn bits left in the corn cob stock. Keep the cobs. See the end of this post to see what to do with them.

Strained

See all the little bits of kernels that have been strained off?

Strained cob water.jpg

I have approximately 9 cups of corn broth after straining. I reduced this down to 8 cups. I then separated the batch into 2 separate batches. Do not make more than 4 cups at a time as doubling jam or jelly recipes does not work. I found this out the hard way.

I then took 4 cups of the corn cob broth and 1 package of pectin along with 2 Tbs. of lemon juice ( I used fresh, but bottled is fine too) and brought it to a boil on the stove. At this point I was also getting my jars sterilized along with the rings and lids ready to go. take a small plate and put it in the freezer. This is for testing your jelly for it “jelli-ness” I also get my waterbath canner ready to go as well.

 

Add pectin

When it comes to the boil, add the sugar all in at once. Stir frequently over medium to high heat until you have a hard boil  (about 5 min. ) that you can’t stir down. (See picture below) Take your plate from the freezer and take a small amount from the boiling mixture. Your mixture is ready when, after a minute, you can swipe your finger( or a spoon)  through it and it does not run back together. Do not take your attention off  your jelly as it will boil over and make the worst mess of your stove.

Stir down and check

From this point you need to take your mixture and place it into your sterilized jars. I usually use 1 cup jars or smaller as they are perfect for gifts. Water bath your jelly for 10 minutes  – this is at sea level. Check with your local extension as to how long to adjust your water bathing to your local area. I also leave them in the canner for an extra 5 minutes. This is not necessary, but something my Mother used to do, so I am just of in the habit of doing so.

If you need help learning how to water bath can, I would highly recommend either  the Bernardin or the Ball canning books. These companies have been in the canning business for many years and I trust their recipes completely. They have lots of instructions and recipes online as well. See this link for more info on Bernardin.

canned jelly

But wait, there’s more. After straining the cobs, I then take some of them and put them in the dehydrator.After they are dried out completely,  I give them to my Guinea Pigs to chew on. Any small hamster or gerbil will love it as well. I store these with a moisture packet to ensure that there is no mold growth that develops. This is true with most dehydrated foods. This ensures that your hard work that went into your cooking and dehydrating doesn’t go to waste.

dried cobs

I also dehydrate the corn silk. This has been long used for bladder heath for ages. This applies to both people and dogs. 2 tablespoons per litre of hot boiling water to make a tea which should be taken 1 cup, 2 times a day. This is not medical advice but folks from many cultures have mentioned this me this and this is something I have used as a supplement to conventional medicine when bladder health has become an issue for either myself or elderly canines.

Corn silk

There you have it. Who knew that corn could be so versatile? If you have questions, please do not hesitate to comment and let me know. I hope you try out this recipe. Happy canning!

 

Eat Local Challenge, Grocery Stores, Uncategorized

Where to buy Local

During the #LangleyEatsLocal challenge, I decided to go and see exactly what it took for someone to truly shop local. Farmer’s markets are the #1 choice of course and I support them as much as I can. This directly benefits the producers so that they can in turn, put your dollars back into their company and grow.

Langley farm market

I wanted to see just how much the local supermarkets in my area did the best job in supporting local and it’s area farmers and producers. To keep all things fair, I went to 4 of the big supermarket store centrally located in downtown Langley. The difference was quite remarkable between them.

One store was the clear winner, and there was some disappointment considering it is owned by a Canadian family. I noticed that the majority of supermarkets would state that the product was from Canada but not specifically from where. I was pleased to see that when they could have it in season, most of them made an effort to highlight local fruits and vegetables. What disappointed me was the high price of the local products that were similar to the so called high prices at the farmer’s market. At least at the farmer’s market, it was super fresh and the farmer was at least, making a better profit.

Another thing that could be improved on was better signage stating that it was from the local area. Some stores you really had to look very closely on the signage or it didn’t even state it at all, I had to check the packaging. That is a missed sales opportunity in my books. I wont go into points and reward or club promotions (which I am not a fan of, but that’s another post) but most of the stores had comparable pricing so that was one even playing field.

Dairy seems like a big missed opportunity and from a store buyers point of view, this could be risky as most people wont lay out a lot of cash for an item that can go bad so quickly but all the stores fell down in this area. There is a market for this cheese at the average grocery store contrary to what the producers keep telling me. Make the packages a little bit smaller in order to get your product out there for a little bit less and once people try the product, people will buy it again. This is why at every farm market Ive gone to, the cheese stand is usually wiped out if you come too late. Just a thought for any cheese maker peeps out there. Easy for me to say they could mutter while reading this. Yes it is, but people are becoming more discerning with their palate and where their money goes. Hence the growth and popularity of farm markets.

I have to end this post with telling you the winner of who I, I’m my humble opinion, is doing the best job of highlighting local foods is: (drum roll please)

SAVE ON FOODS!

sof store pic

This was the winner 2 hands down. Local items was clearly marked for the most part, the prices were fair, and they have really made an effort to ask us to put our money where our mouth is. They have a lot of local or British Columibia items in all departments. The meat department had an extensive array of vegetable fed and even organic meats at very, very reasonable prices.

sof chicken

They even had locally made specialty items, like this French Canadian classic, Toutiere (French Immersion Teachers/Parents, take note, this is as good as you are going to find outside Quebec. Source: Mme Barkley – reknowned French Immersion Teacher here in Langley, trust me…she knows)

SOF Toutiere

They carry some very specialized dairy items at a very reasonable cost. You couldn’t make this goat cheese yogurt yourself at this price. (Unless you have a goat.)

sof dairy

They have a small selection of local beauty products, not a lot but more than any big supermarket in the area. These items below were made in Coquitlam.

sof beauty

To make it even easier for you, they even have order online, store pick up but delivery vans that will come to you I haven’t had the opportunity yet to give them a try but a number of my friends have and were very impressed with the efficiency and careful attention to detail that went into processing their orders. I believe then also give you a discount on your first order.

sof van

Whoever designed the graphics on their delivery vans deserves a raise.

So there you have it, while your local farmer’s market is your best choice, your local Save on Foods is you best choice, in my opinion, to getting local foods and items in one convenient place. Does you local supermarket carry locally grown and produced foods and items? Ask them to start carrying them if they don’t. The old adage, vote with your dollars, carries all the weight here and they will listen.

proudly BC

Disclaimer:

I hope you enjoyed this post and I would like to note here that I was not paid in any way to endorse any of the stores or companies mentioned in this article. My opinions are my own as well as any photos contained therein.

 

Eat Local Challenge, Uncategorized

Langley Eats Local Challenge

I’m participating in a challenge that asked people to eat local in my community. I always wanted to blog about this topic so when this project popped up in my social media feed, I couldn’t contain my excitement. The challenge runs for 1 week, August 4 to 10, 2016.

The challenge is to eat, dine and source from local producers. I have taken this challenge to include shops and services as well.  The challenge will end in a grand finale at the Langley Farm Market on Wed August 10 at 3 pm when Acclaimed Langley Chef  Adrian Beatty will  be preparing delicious appetizers sourced from local producers and growers. See link below for ticket info.

Langley Environmental Partners Society (LEPS) is spearheading the project. You can  find out more information here:

I have so many ideas and resources that I want to share and I will sum up my findings here when the challenge is over. I want to touch on whether or not it is too time consuming, too costly or even whether making your buying habits change is feasible or not.

I also plan on how to get the   family involved and I even did some research into the large  grocery chains in the area in regards to  what local  items  they   carry  ( This was quite eye opening, even for me) Should you bother with the farm market? (Hint, the answer is heading towards a yes). I will explain why and how you can do. I am doing daily updates on my Instagram and Twitter feeds (Search for MrsLocalvore)  I hope you can follow my footsteps as I do my very best to live up to my Namesake.

Recipes

How to Make Your Own (Delicious) Bread

Michael Pollan introduced me to the New York Times No-Knead recipe ( Yes, I will post a tutorial on how to do this) For those who haven’t had the opportunity to make a no knead bread, it is very easy, but requires planning and time. The No -Knead technique results in an artisan style loaf that has a crust that makes it fantastic for a bowl of soup or charcuterie board however, it is not easy to cut to make a sandwich for the kid’s lunches. Our oldest Son that he loves it but finds it quite tough on the roof of his mouth. So I then poured over through my recipes I had collected over the years and of course, the internet to find a new easy recipe that could hopefully satisfy everyone in the house. The internet is filled with so-called winning recipes of no fail loaves and I’m adding to the glut by posting this myself. I used to work at a bakery that specialized in breads and French Toutiere  when I was going to college so I have a pretty good idea of how to fiddle with a bread recipe and how a dough should react and feel when trying to create a new bread recipe. After a few failed loaves that became croutons, I came up with  a recipe that will please the soft crust crowd and is perfect for all the jam everyone is making or eating right now.

bread ingrediants

What you need:

2 1/4 tsp. Dry yeast  or 1 packet ( I buy a bag of dry yeast from Costco, give away half  to a friend and keep the rest in the freezer)

2 -1/4 Cup to 2 1/3 cup of warm water. I just run the tap on hot to fill my sink with water for the inevitable dishes. No kettle needed.

3 Tbs. Sugar

1 Tbs. Salt

2 Tbs. Olive Oil

Approx. 6 1/2 Cup Flour  – You made need a little less or a little more depending on the weather or how much moisture is in your flour.

Method:

Add all of the above ingredients together in a mixer but starting off with only 3 cups of your flour. Stir on low speed till fully mixed using your dough hook. If you are mixing by hand, I would start off with the same amount of flour otherwise the dough is way too sticky and it’s so hard to work with.

Continue to add the flour at about 1/2 cup at a time till fully incorporated being cautious when you are nearing the 6 cup mark. At this point, I would start adding the flour 1  tablespoon at a time while still mixing to make sure you don’t add in too much. Too much flour will result is a dry and heavy loaf. The yeast wont be able to support the flour trying to rise.

Bread in mixer

Your ideal dough should be smooth and elastic so continue to mix  for about 5 minutes or knead by hand till it’s not crumbly or falling apart each time you are until you turning it over to work it. It should be elastic but not sticking to your fingers sticky. I usually poke it and the dough should come back to normal and then I know it’s ready.

Bread making takes practice so  be patient and take your time with it. Don’t be upset if it fails, make croutons or dry it out to make breadcrumbs. I’ve been making bread for over 30 years and sometimes it fails. That’s when you put on the kettle and  get the butter and jam out and nobody cares when it’s covered with them.

When your dough is ready, take it off the hook or get a bowl ready and grease the bottom of the bowl with some butter or olive oil ( that’s what I used) and turn it over once. This is done so the top of the dough doesn’t dry out.

bowl and oil

Next you want to proof your bread. Proofing means to make the dough ferment therefore, the dough will rise. I usually cover it with a kitchen towel and then put in my oven  for about 1 to 1/2 hours to 2 hours. The oven has NOT been preheated by the way. I do that  because I have a very, very small kitchen with limited counter space and I need it out of the way. If it’s the winter time, I preheat my oven to 175C for 5 minutes and use that to encourage rising as I live in a very cold home. My Mom used to use a heating pad to encourage rising when she used to come over and make bread.

After it has pretty much doubled in size, I punch the dough down and divide it into two halves. I then put it onto a very lightly floured countertop and shape each half into a loaf.

shaped loaves

As you can see, my loaves are a little uneven  ( I was in a rush) but I shaped them as best I can. You shape them by gently folding the dough in half and then again and then making sure that the pinched ends are on the bottom of the loaf. There are several different methods of shaping dough but this is how I prefer to do it.

I then place each loaf into a greased bread pan ( 9 x 5 inch) and then cover them again with a kitchen towel in a do a second rise till doubled in size. This will take about 45 minutes depending on how warm your house is.

While the bread is rising, this is when I preheat my oven to 375 C.

When the shaped loaves has doubled, prepare the bread by brushing the top  with some room temperature milk.

milkedit2

Then into the preheated oven they go.

put loaves in oven

Bake at 375 C for about 25 minutes. I always set my oven timer for 20 minutes to monitor how it’s coming along and just to give me a reminder to keep myself nearby 375 C is a pretty high temperature for a bread recipe so I have to keep an eye on it. At around the 25 to 30 minute mark, it should be golden brown and ready.

bread baking

Remove from the oven and take the bread out of their pans and place them on a wire rack to cool. To take them out of the pan, just lightly tap the side of the pan on the counter and the bread will slide out pretty easily. The trick is not to tap it or bang it too hard, plus the bread is hot and hasn’t set yet so that means you can damage it. The wire rack ensures that the bread cools down evenly and releases any extra moisture so you don’t end up with soggy bread.

finished loaves

The result is a moist soft crust bread ( if not mis-matched in size) which makes it perfect for young children or seniors (or anyone really). I hope you get a chance to try out this recipe. Let me know if you do or if you have any questions.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Recipes, Uncategorized

Sweet Potato Dog Treats

I had teamed up with Glow Acupuncture & Wellness Centre last week to raise funds for the folks who had lost their homes in the fires in Fort McMurray.  I made a lot of dog treats and I’m happy to report that there’s a lot of happy dogs and some money being raised for a great cause. I always make my own dog treats for our beloved pups but I started to think about dogs that couldn’t have flour which I have told is quite common. After a bit of research and some testing, I have come up with a winner. Sweet potato treats are nothing new but they don’t always appeal to all dogs who may be a little discerning (spoiled) like one of our dogs. I figured out a step to make them irresistible. First things first, I highly recommend using a mandolin to ensure that they dry evenly. This ensures that when they are stored, you don’t have issues with mold and also saves you from having to fuss with them too much when they are drying. Mandolins are not very expensive, around $20, and if you ask one of your friends, chances are they have one you can borrow.

start to slice

The trick is to make sure you focus on what you are doing because just once being cut by a mandolin, you don’t forget to keep your mind on the task at hand. (Pun definitely intended.) Keep slicing to your desired amount.

sliced finished

Here is where I found the truck to making these irresistible to dogs: I soak the sweet potatoes in chicken broth. A couple of weeks back, I had posted a tutorial on how to make chicken broth. This again, is another use for using your purchases count.

topofjars

After soaking the slices overnight in the fridge overnight, I then placed them on the dehydrator tray.

place on rack

Depending on your dehydrator, how long they take to dry will depend on the size of the slices and what model you have. I have a Ronco TV special which I have used for years and have yet to upgrade to a fancy Excalibur number. You could also place these slices on an unlined large baking sheet in the oven at 170C. Your time and results will vary greatly depending on your oven. Don’t be afraid to try it out though, you will be surprised at how much you can dry in the oven with out having to purchase a dehydrator.  The treats I made took about 24 hours.

finishdrying

See how much they have reduced in size? I store the sweet potato chips in mason jars. I usually give mine away as soon as I can make them but if you need to store them for any length of time, I would recommend using a desiccant packet to keep the moisture out. These can be ordered online on Amazon or Ebay and they are very reasonable. For someone who does a lot of dehydrating for storage or prepping, this would be a wise purchase to add to your kitchen supplies. You don’t want to go to all this work and have it go moldy. This happened to me one year and it was very disheartening to have happen.

I do hope you try this easy recipe out and please do not hesitate to let me know if you have any questions. I will leave you with a picture of my friend’s adorable pup who is a frequent tester and model for my posts on my social media feeds. Enjoy.

pixie close up

 

 

Recipes, Sprouting

How to Grow Sprouts

When I wanted to learn how to sprout seeds, there was so much information out there it started to become so confusing that I almost dropped the idea. What I was looking for was clear and super easy instructions and I did manage to find a few videos on YouTube that were helpful, but I was really wanted something I could refer to quickly to and not have to load up a video (goodness, aren’t I spoilt now?)

This past winter, I started sprouting seeds to grow my own micro-greens again for both health and budget reasons. Micro-greens are nutritional powerhouses and there are few things that can match their food quality in relation to their size. I also cannot bear the cost of close to 5 dollars a pint at the health food store. I used to be able to buy the seeds in bulk but that seems to be a thing of the past, or at least where I live. I have started using a brand of seeds called bio-Snacky by A. Vogel which is a very well resected Swiss company. I can usually find 40g packets for about 3 dollars at the local health food store. You can get different seeds mixes like Detox mix, Fitness blend and even a Broccoli/Rapini mix which is might tasty. Please note that if you are pregnant, nursing or have a compromised immune system, I do not recommend consuming raw sprouts.

You do not need any special equipment to start sprouting, just a mason jar and some cheesecloth and a rubber band is all you need if you want to get super simple about it.  Through trial and error, I decided to lay out a bit of cash for the sprouting lid ( around $5) for the mason jar as I found that the smaller seeds stuck to the cheesecloth when I was rinsing the seeds. Also, I feel that I can’t sanitize the cheesecloth like a sprouting lid.  Some people use plastic fine mesh screening used for doors and windows bought at the hardware store but I’ve never found this at mine. I was told that you never use metal sprouting lids by my Mom, she’s gone now so I don’t know why but I have a feeling that it has to not knowing what the content of the  metal is and avoiding rust.  I have found 2 sprouting lids seems to work for our house. You can get stacking sprouting kits which is for larger scale production and they have great draining systems to make it quite easy. My Mother used these off and on did so with great success but you have to be consuming them as quickly as you grow them. Sprouts should be consumed with 2 days of them being ready so be prepared  to menu plan for what you are getting ready to grow.

Toolsedit2

What you need:

Seeds for sprouting

glass jar

sprouting lid

Take about 1 Tablespoon of your sprouting seeds and place it in your jar. Add about 1 cup of filtered (preferably, but not essential) water to cover and place your lid on top and let it soak for about 6 hours. You will notice in the picture below that the water has a brown/yellowish tinge to it. This is the coating of the seed which contains phytic acid which is now removed enough to allow it to sprout. I try to soak all the seeds, grains and nuts I cook with to ease digestion issues which I will go into in a future post. If you want to take a look to as why I do this, this link with provide some info for you.

Soak

After 6 hours or so, drain the water off and rinse the seeds 2 or 3 times. This is where the struggle would be in using cheese cloth for sprouting on top of your jar in stead of the sprouting lid, but if this is all you have, don’t let that stop you, this is definitely worth doing.

After rinsing, set the jar in a bowl on an angle so the that any leftover water slowly drains out and your seeds are moist but not sitting in water. I used a strainer inside the bowl just in case,  but it has proved to be not necessary. Place the bowl in a place out of direct light. Some people cover them with a towel as it’s been told to me that they sprout better in dark which does make sense as seeds do grow underground. I keep forgetting to try this out and I’ll update the post when I have tried this method.

Below is a picture of the sprouts after just 1 day. It was quite warm a couple of weeks ago when I took this picture so the sprouting took off right away. In the winter, the sprouts usually take a about 2 days to get a little tail. My house faces North and is an absolute ice box to live in, so how depending on how warm you keep your house will impact how fast your little sprouts will appear. You need to rinse the seeds twice a day at the very least in fresh, cold water. I do it 3 times to ensure that the water that I’m rinsing out comes out fully clear.  I rinse mine before I go to work in the morning at again at night. If I am sprouting something like lentils or chickpeas, I try to rinse them 4 times a day.

Soakinedit

So when you notice that your tails are starting to get long and is less seed and more plant is when you want the seeds to start getting some light to turn your sprouts green. I place my sprouts in the only window I have in my kitchen located above my sink (conveniently) that is perfect for indirect light. You will not want them to be in direct light as it will burn them.

lightedit

When they are getting light and turning green, you still have to rinse them. Be careful  when you do as you will damage the little sprouts and you don’t want to them to stop growing due to damage

When you see the sprouts turning green and most of them have grown, it is time to eat them. Store them in the fridge and use within 2 days. I have stretched it out to 3 but after that they start turning brown. You can add them to a smoothie, in a sandwich or salad or as I do, as a snack. I toss the sprouts with walnuts and sea salt and eat that as a on the go snack. I also use it as a topping for soup as shown below. When you are finished your sprouts, sanitize your jar and lid and start again. I hope you find this helpful and let me know if you have any questions. Happy Sprouting.

soupedit