Among herbal wildflowers, goldenrod (Solidago spp.) has grown itself a special place in our hearts. Lighting up the late summer landscape with a warm glow, this native North American herb has an endearing repertoire of gifts: it’s a natural dye plant, an edible and medicinal herb, and a nectary flower for pollinators.
Aromatic plant smoke holds an ancient and familiar allure. The alchemy of transforming dried plants into fragrant smoke has a profound effect on the feeling—or energy—of a space or person.
Foraging seasonal wild foods is an exciting and nourishing way to celebrate the turnings of the year—one that connects us to our ancestral stories of sustenance. Each season offers something unique, perfectly timed to nourish the cycles of life.
Herb-infused finishing salts are a delightful alchemy between earth and sea, plant and mineral. Surprisingly easy to conjure up, and beautiful to behold, herbal salts provide an easy way to preserve excess fresh culinary herbs. They are called finishing salts because they are added to a dish after it is prepared.
Bent over the moist earth, we gathered up the crimson and golden fruit into our hungry bags, chatting about life as old friends will, with meandering topics and understood nuances. Picking through the fallen leaves and occasional thorn, our bags grew plump with the fallen medicinal jewels.
I try not to foster any regrets in life, but I must confess that I waited too many years to plant hibiscus, thinking the temperate climate unsuitable for its success—and for that, I am sorry. There are so many wonderful medicinal benefits of hibiscus and it is, in fact, easy to grow and harvest if you have the right variety and get a head start on the season. The hibiscus we use medicinally—also called roselle—is made from the calyces (aka sepals) of Hibiscus sabdariffa in the Mallow family (Malvaceae). These deep red calyces are often mistaken for flowers, and may be sold as such. Other notable members of the mallow family include cotton (Gossypium spp.), okra (Abelmoschus esculentus), rose of Sharon (Hibiscus syriacus), and marshmallow (Althaea officinalis).
Roll out the red carpet for pineapple sage, flaunting her cherry-red bilabiate flowers atop slender racemes. Numerous pollinators flock to her elegant flowering branches, seeking nutritious pollen, sipping nectar, and dutifully transferring pollen from anther to stigma.
I use herbal ice cubes to flavor plain water when I have a full day to make a quick cool herbal beverage, or use them to flavor and cool herbal teas.
Hopefully this tasty herbal tea and key-lime ice cubes will whet your appetite, and help keep you cool this summer.