Thursday, April 30, 2015

I love Spring - Shenk's Ferry Wildflower Preserve

I love spring.  I REALLY love spring.  When people ask what is my favorite season, I usually say "what ever season it is now," but in reality, I have to finally admit, spring is my favorite season.

Watching the happenings around our home is exciting - the miracle that seems to happen almost overnight as we go from dull browns and tans to bright greens, and then the blossoms everywhere we look.

Yesterday, my son was home with his lady and my sister's daughter was off work, so we all piled in my car and went to visit one of our favorite spring places - Shenk's Ferry Wildflower Preserve in the southern part of the county.

The access is not paved and this winter has done its job, eroding and flooding the one-lane road.  It was an adventure just getting in because it was a somewhat popular spot yesterday and we met a few cars coming in the opposite direction.  Water filled, hub-cap deep ruts showed us where not to drive. Have I mentioned how much I love my Rav?

Once inside and on the path, it is like a fairyland, full of wildflower vistas wherever we looked.  One of my favorite spring flowers is Virginia Bluebells and they cover hillsides as we start down the path.

 Looking a little closer, the bluebells are interspersed with white trillium and mayapple leaves.

Trillium up close...

Other wonderful ephemerals also inhabit the place including every color of violet, star of Bethlehem, toothwort, putty root and on and on...  I was so enchanted I didn't manage to even take a picture of many of them - except for this squirrel corn - one of my favorite pictures from the day.

Except for this one of our "kids" who scrambled down a deer path into the ravine on the other side of the path.  The kids are now 29 and 24(!) but they managed to remind us of days past as we watched them leaping from rock to rock and climbing all over the giant trees that had fallen cross the creek.

I'm so glad we had this chance to share one of our favorite places with our kids.  Tina and I have visited a couple of times before, but this was really special.

I *think* this place is safe now from the pipeline that had been proposed to cut right through it.  Supposedly the route has been changed.  Can you imagine that all this amazingness had been under the gun?  Oh, yeah - "profit"!

But back to my original thought.  Spring!  Timing is everything when visiting Shenk's Ferry.  The Dutchman's Breeches were already gone, but my favorites were in full splendor.  It will all make way for the next wave very soon, but for now it is perfect.  I love spring!

Monday, July 07, 2014

Black Raspberry Cobbler

No, this is not a cooking blog, although the past few days I have been doing a lot of cooking.

I wanted to pin this recipe, but there was no picture to go with the recipe on, so I needed to post it here along with my own picture!


1/2 c. melted butter
3/4 c. milk
1 1/2 c. sugar
1 c. flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
2 c. black raspberries
Pour the melted butter into the bottom of a 7"x11" baking dish. Mix together the milk, 1 cup sugar, flour and baking powder. Pour this mixture over the butter. DO NOT STIR.Pour the berries over the batter and butter. DO NOT STIR.
Pour the remaining sugar over the berries. DO NOT STIR.

Bake the cobbler at 350°F for 30 to 45 minutes, or until the crust is browned and set.

This is a very flexible recipe.  I had some raspberries we had picked over the past few days - not quite enough for a pie, but more than called for in this recipe. I added them all.  I read it incorrectly and added all the sugar to the batter, still added some on top. 

It was quite sweet, but we remedied that by serving it with ice cream!

Thursday, July 03, 2014

Beautiful Beetle and Orzo Salad!

There are so many things going on in the summer.  Perhaps I should start sharing again! No promises but here we go...

First, since this could be the inspiration for a bead at some point, I will share this picture of a beetle that was crawling around on the gas pump this afternoon when I stopped to fill the tank.  Isn't it beautiful?

But, the real thing I wanted to share today was a recipe.  Years ago, at the Landis Valley Herb Faire, Friday night was a special reception - not really open to the public, just for press and specially invited guests. I forget what food was served, but I do remember the May wine!

The event as a whole was much, much smaller than it is now and there was also a special herbal luncheon served on the day of the event. I believe it was all free to the vendors too.

I was mulling over various salads and other sides to make for our little 4th of July celebration and remembered that I had the recipe for this wonderful zucchini/orzo salad which was one of the most popular things I think they ever served at Landis Valley (except for the wine.)

My basil was ready, so I picked up the ingredients I needed and put it together.  You may want to try it too.

Zucchini & Orzo Salad with Basil

4 Med. Zucchini, coarsely grated
1# Orzo pasta
2 T Salt
8 C Chicken broth
2 C (packed) fresh basil
1/2 C Olive Oil
3 medium garlic cloves
1/4 C fresh Lemon juice
ground black pepper
1 C imported Kalamata olives
Basil sprigs

Drain grated zucchini in colander. Sprinkle with 1 T salt.  Let drain 30 min.  Stir or shake twice. Squeeze dry. Transfer to large bowl. Fluff with hands or fork to separate.
Basil and olive oil in processor 1 minute, drop garlic in and blend.
Add basil mix to zucchini.
Bring chicken broth to oil in medium saucepan.  Stir in 1 T salt and orzo.  Return to oil. Simmer 10-12 minutes until orzo is tender. Drain.
Stir orzo and zucchini mixture together and cool to room temp.
Just before serving, stir in lemon juice and zest (if desired.) Season with pepper. Garnish with olives.
I will cut the olives into halves before adding.

I only made half this recipe and I have shown it in my middle sized casserole dish so you can see how much it makes.  If it turns out as good as I remember, I should have made the full recipe!  The lemon and olives are waiting to be added.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Phenomenal Woman - Maya Angelou

Reading Facebook yesterday afternoon and this morning, it seems everyone has a connection with Maya Angelou.  She touched so many people she never met.  She inspired me and serendipitously led me down a path I had sort of forgotten.

About 12 years ago, I signed up for a soap swap on a Yahoo list I belonged to.  It was a kind of low point in my life and I had decided to get involved with, at least, some people on the internet. The woman in charge of the swap called it the Phenomenal Woman Swap and we were to design soaps and packaging for a soap inspired by that poem by Maya Angelou.

Here is the poem and pictures of the soap (packaging) it inspired:

Soaps all wrapped in gold tissue with label and placed in beaded bags
Phenomenal Woman
by Maya Angelou

Pretty women wonder where my secret lies
I'm not cute or built to suit a model's fashion size But when I start to tell them
They think I'm telling lies.
I say
It's in the reach of my arms
The span of my hips
The stride of my steps
The curl of my lips.
I'm a woman
Phenomenal woman
That's me.

I walk into a room
Just as cool as you please
And to a man
The fellows stand or
Fall down on their knees
Then they swarm around me
A hive of honey bees.
I say
It's the fire in my eyes
And the flash of my teeth
The swing of my waist
And the joy in my feet.
I'm a woman
Phenomenal woman
That's me.

Men themselves have wondered
What they see in me
They try so much
But they can't touch
Individual label
My inner mystery.
When I try to show them
They say they still can't see.
I say
It's in the arch of my back
The sun of my smile
The ride of my breasts
The grace of my style.
I'm a woman
Phenomenal woman
That's me.

Now you understand
Just why my head's not bowed
I don't shout or jump about
Or have to talk real loud
When you see me passing
It ought to make you proud.
I say
It's in the click of my heels
The bend of my hair
The palm of my hand
The need for my care.
'Cause I'm a woman
Phenomenal woman
That's me.

I loved the poem.  I repeated parts of the poem in my head as I worked on the project. It not only made me feel good about myself for the first time in a while, but it inspired me to make a phenomenal soap. 

The soap was a dark mauve with veins of gold running through it. It was scented with an exotic combination of oils that I still love.

I decided to bead the bags - they weren't available like this at the time and so I set about to make them special.

The swap was a hit and I received a number of nifty soaps and compliments in return, but the biggest thing that happened was that I got some of my confidence back and was inspired and started beading again...  I bought a number of books about bead weaving and eventually attended Beadfest, just outside Philadelphia. 

At Beadfest, I saw a demonstration of enameled beads made with a hot head torch on copper tubing.  It was inexpensive compared to lampworking and so I bought the kit.

A week later, I realized how limiting the enameled beads were and signed up at a local glass shop to learn lampworking.  A month later, I had bought and set up my minor torch and kiln and was in the bead business!  Well, at least I was learning.

So, you might say that Maya Angelou led me to bead making and jewelry making.  Thank you, Maya - and farewell.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Elderberries and Garnets

In September, I wrote about here about a special project that I took part in.  A group of herbal friends wrote a booklet together about the herb of the year 2013, Elder.

Ever since we finished the book, I've been thinking about making some kind of jewelry with an Elderberry theme.  I had a vague idea of how I would do it, but with the PA Herb and Garden Festival in York, PA coming up this weekend, this seemed like the time to sit down and do it!

This is the result.  The "berries" are 4-5 mm round garnet beads and I love the leaves I found - they sort of have the sword-like shape and droopy habit of the actual leaves.  
I'll have these at the Herb Festival and, if there are any left - on my website next week.

I'm making a special trip to get more garnet beads on Sunday, so I will have more soon!

Monday, April 01, 2013

Something "borrowed"...

There are quite a few recipes attributed to me in an ebook I had nothing to do with (see previous blog entries) - the first one was really mine. I don't think I used this name even if it was oddly appropriate, but the recipe was mine!  The more I look at the recipes, I really don't think that even the ones I actually did share with her were correctly copied.

Back when we had our shop, we were purchasing a liquid soap base that we scented and sold there. I read that the addition of glycerin was all that was necessary to make it into a bubble bath.  My husband happens to love bubble baths - and he also suffered from dry skin, although our soap seems to have solved that problem pretty well. I thought it would be fun to try something special for him and I scented it with his favorite at the time, patchouli. That's probably why it only calls for a few drops of essential or fragrance oil - with patchouli, more than that would have been totally over powering!
The bubbles didn't last at all because of the addition of the oil, but they looked pretty as the bath filled!  Maybe that was why it was called "Disappearing" Bubbling Bath Oil.
If, by chance, you decide to try this recipe, be careful getting in and out of the tub because the oil can make it quite slippery.

Disappearing Bubbling Bath Oil- From Lancaster County Soapworks
1 C. Apricot kernel oil
½ C. glycerin
½ C. liquid soap
Add a few drops of Essential Oil or Fragrance Oil
Shake gently and use ¼ C. into bath under running water

The next recipe is completely unfamiliar to me. If this is your recipe, you can be sure I did not give it to her.  I have never seen this before! The reference to liquid surfactant is interesting - I think that liquid soap IS a liquid surfactant. Also, the recipe calls for 20 drops of fragrance oil, but the instructions only tell you what to do with 5 drops! (I'd add all of it.)
Since I have never worked with this recipe or anything like it, I have no suggestions to add.  Apparently there is a gel type product out there, but it isn't mine and, personally, I find this kind of yucky!  Maybe kids would like it.

Lime Bath Gummy Recipe - From Lancaster County Soapworks, Etc. (Not really!)
2 Packets of unflavored gelatin
1/2 cup of liquid soap
1/2 Cup of water
Green food coloring
5 T liquid surfactant
20 drops Lime Essential Oil
Plastic storage jar with lid
Empty the packet of gelatin into a bowl and set aside.. Boil 1/2 cup of water in a saucepan. Pour the hot water into mixing bowl and mix it with the gelatin powder.Dissolve completely. Next pour the liquid soap into the gelatin mix in the bowl. Add 2 drops of food coloring into the mix and also add your fragrance oil now (about 5 drops) and stir it very gently so the bubbles do not become agitated . Pour the mixture into molds, and refrigerate until set. To use, add one "gummy" to the bath.

There are still more to come...  meanwhile, be sure to visit Tina & Becky who are also sharing their purloined recipes on their own blogs.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

More Purloined Recipes

: to appropriate wrongfully and often by a breach of trust
 pur·loin·er noun 

So, apparently that's what happened.  Our recipes were purloined.  And they were taken under the guise of friendship...  see previous post.

Well, here are two more that I will mostly claim.  I can tell you stories about both of them. That's the difference between someone who just simply lists recipes and someone who has actually worked with them.

(This is a very generic type of salve or ointment.  We made something like this in a class many years ago when we had our herb shop.  One of the attendees called us after the class and raved about the salve.  She told us it had cleared up what she thought was ringworm when nothing else she had tried helped at all.
I actually have a hard time believing that I ever added lanolin to anything because our mom had an allergy to lanolin and I always gave it a wide berth because of her warnings.  I suppose the addition of the fractionated coconut oil could have been a little twist I put in there just to make it different, but it looks more like a way of promoting some more exotic ingredients.
If I were making this now, I would use an 8:1 ratio, liquid oil:beeswax for a nice loose ointment (both measured by weight,) which is more comfortable to apply on damaged skin. The base, or vegetable oil would be really nice if it had been infused with calendula or comfrey - or both! I would not add the lanolin at all, and the coconut is entirely optional.  I would probably use about the same total amount of essential oils, but more like half and half - so 15 drops lavender and 15 drops tea tree.
So mostly, this recipe would be completely different!)  
Healing Ointment - From Lancaster County Soapworks 
This is a good basic recipe. Lavender & Tea Tree are a great healing combination.
1 T Vegetable oil*
.3 oz. Beeswax beads
2 T Coconut Oil, Fractionated
.3 oz. Lanolin, anhydrous
20 drops Lavender EO
5 drops Tea Tree EO
Melt all ingredients together. Allow to cool partially, then add essential oils. Stir well and pour into sterilized container. *Can use Avocado, Apricot Kernel, or your favorite carrier oil. Can add 1 oz. Of Emu oil as a part of the base oils.

(Bay Rum is a pretty common item. You can probably find various recipes for it all over the place and they are all pretty similar.
We did this recipe in a class one year, just before Christmas. As we did sometimes in our classes, we did it for the first time in the class, but this is a pretty straight forward item to make.  The hard part is to gather all the ingredients.
At any rate, during the class we made a couple of bottles of Bay Rum for our own use and put them aside.  I was not terribly impressed when we made this, but a couple of months later, out of curiosity I opened it and was quite taken with the mellow, spicy, citrusy aroma that had developed.
I have no idea where the orange extract came from in this recipe, I would add some fresh orange peel and possibly some lemon peel too.)
Bay Rum - From Lancaster County Soapworks
3 oz. Witch Hazel
3 oz. Rum
3 to 4 Bay Leaves
1/4 tsp. Allspice
1 stick Cinnamon
1/4 tsp. Orange Extract
Steep for 1-2 months, strain and bottle. Put a cinnamon stick, a few allspice berries and a bay leaf in the bottle before sealing.

So, I suspect the original recipes were not only purloined, but also changed in some ways.  They are certainly not the recipes in my book nor would I use them in these forms if I were doing this now.

I wonder why she even bothered giving anyone credit for any of the recipes.  Was this to give her publication some kind of credibility since she had none as a formulator, manufacturer or even a crafter in this type of product?  And why change them if she was already planning to credit them?

Be sure to visit Tina & Becky are also sharing their purloined recipes on their own blogs.