Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Homemade Herbal Burn Salve

Last week a friend of mine burned herself, nothing requiring a visit to the emergency room, but a painful red burn nonetheless. I made her a jar of this herbal burn salve and the next day, she said her skin felt better and was healing much faster. Because it is so soothing and nourishing, it can be used to heal cracked and dry hands as well. This recipes calls for a few more specific dried ingredients than most of my others, but do try to include everything if you can; each ingredient serves a purpose.

Calendula officinalis (Calendula or Pot Marigold)

Calendula officinalis, or pot marigold, is commonly used in cosmetics and topical ointments to help heal and sooth the skin. It is antibacterial, antifungal, anti-inflammatory and antiseptic making it great at fighting acne or healing burned and damaged skin.

According to Rodale's Illustrated Encyclopedia of Herbs, calendula was historically very popular in the kitchen. It was cooked with vegetables and added to soups and oatmeal. There were calendula dumplings, pudding, and wine. An Elizabethan cookbook called for calendula to season stewed sparrow. Calendula petals can be used as a food coloring agent (you can make yellow rice without the need for expensive saffron!).

Calendula was also believed to posses magic. A 16th century potion that allows one to see fairies required it. So did a recipe for a prophetic dream potion; a woman struggling to choose between two suitors was to "...take dried calendula flowers, marjoram, thyme, and wormwood; grind them to a fine powder; and simmer them in honey and white wine. Then she should rub the mixture over her body, lie down, and repeat three times: "St. Luke, St. Luke, be kind to me; In dreams let me my true love see!" ( Rodale's Illustrated Encyclopedia of Herbs page 59-60) 

6 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon dried calendula flowers
1 tablespoon dried St John's Wort
1 tablespoon dried chamomile flowers
1 teaspoon beeswax
1 teaspoon cocoa butter (I estimated two wafers)
10 drops vitamin E oil
4 drops lavender essential oil

In a double boiler, mix together the olive oil, calendula, St John's Wort, and chamomile. Simmer over low heat for at least 2 hours, refilling the double boiler as the water evaporates. Remove from heat and allow the herbal oil mixture to cool before handling (but at least if you burn yourself you'll have this salve to put on it!).

Using a few layers of cheesecloth, strain out the herbs. Twist the cloth and squeeze really hard to get out as much of the herbal infused oil as you can.

Return the strained oil to the double boiler and add the beeswax and cocoa butter. Warm until just melted then remove from heat. Allow the oil/beeswax/cocoa butter mixture to cool for a few minutes, but don't let it solidify.

Add the vitamin E oil and lavender essential oil, stir thoroughly and pour into a clean glass jar. Cover and let the salve cool and set before using.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Almost to the Finish Line

Writing a new post right now feels a bit like playing hooky; when I sat down to my computer I was intending to work on my thesis paper. But I checked my email, then read some blog buddys' posts, then decided that what I really want to do is just say hello and maybe post a recipe for old times.

So, hello! I've been a bit quiet and very busy with school. My thesis show opened and family visited and Grandma's green lace dress came out of the closet, and there were lots of pictures and excited talking and wine and general celebration. It was a fabulous whirlwind and my head's been spinning for days.

little brother and me on the train before the opening

So I've passed this one big landmark, but I'm not done yet. I have 53 more books to bind to complete my edition, a collaborative handmade paper sculpture to finish, the aforementioned Thesis Paper, and seemingly hundreds of odds and ends to attend to. Graduation is in 14 days!

And now that I've double checked that date, I should really get to work on my paper, and save the verbosity for next time. Since a good breakfast is important, here's my recipe for a very flavorful Tofu Scramble.

What you'll need:
1 block extra firm organic tofu, pressed
1 tablespoon tamari
1 tablespoon vegan Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast flakes
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon tumeric
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon mustard
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon  garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon sea salt 
scant 1/4 teaspoon white pepper and cayenne (if you like some heat)
freshly ground black pepper to taste

A few tablespoons sunflower oil for frying
Sautéed veggies of your choice (I used red onion, mushrooms and zucchini)
Fresh veggies for garnish (I used scallions, avocado and cherry tomatoes)

After pressing the tofu, crumble it into a medium size bowl so that it is roughly the texture of scrambled eggs. Add all the seasonings (tamari through black pepper) and mix it all together. 

Heat up the oil in a pan (I'm sure non-stick would work well but I only have a cast iron and it's fine) then add the tofu mixture. Cook on medium-high heat for about 10 minutes or until the tofu is cooked to your liking. Add your sautéed veggies and cook to warm everything up. Taste for seasonings, top with garnishes and chow.