Plant Based Artisinal Ink

Blackberry Calligraphic Ink
Blackberry Calligraphic Ink

Blackberry Calligraphic Ink

This is a departure from my customary post, yet an alchemical expression, uniting our being with nature.  From beginning to end, it is most satisfying being a part of the process.

Blackberries ripening in the morning sun.

Blackberries ripening in the morning sun.

Harvest about one cup fresh, handpicked berries.

Gathered Sun-kissed Berries

Gathered Sun-kissed Berries

Wash well and allow to dry thoroughly, so as not to dilute the concentration.

Dry berries

Clean, dry berries

With mortar and pestle, gently crush berries into a jammy consistency.

Crushed blackberries

Crushed blackberries

Cook in a double boiler over medium heat.  Simmer covered for 20 – 30 min.

Cooked berries

Cooked berries

Strain cooked berries through a 100% cotton cloth.  Double a draw-string tea bag over on itself pouring berries directly into a sterile glass ink well.

Draining berries

Draining berries

Macerate berries with grain alcohol, or at least 80 proof vodka; to further extract essential plant oils while draining.

Ingredients for extraction

Ingredients for extraction

Add 2-3 tablespoons gum arabic to thicken.  I added 1 Tbsp. liquid Gum Arabic with a mineral spirit-like preservative quality.

Final Product

Final Product

Squeeze bag gently until all liquid juice has been fully extracted.

Allow to cool and paint, or write away!

Berry Artistic Ink

Berry Artistic Ink

I could not wait to apply brush to parchment and experience the glide of this yummy medium.  The color is lighter than anticipated, but will undoubtedly darken over time as exposed to UV rays, and the aroma is so “jammy” wafting off the page, that I expect my artwork to be perfectly edible.  This is a quick and simple craft to potentiate your art, and I successfully did it ALL while wearing white!

Nostalgia Aromatherapy

Lilac in bloom
Lilac in bloom

Lilac in bloom

Our senses conjure memories of time’s past. Distinctive shapes accompany colors and casual conversation, pressing the “play” button on recordings archived in our minds and hearts.

Mom's Lilac Tea Cup

Mom’s Lilac Tea Cup

A welcomed, familiar fragrance is often associated with one who has passed. Lilac floods the canvas that is my Mother’s. The heirloom lilac tree grows just outside our old homestead backdoor where the pale, purple perfume wandered in. My Mom chose this lilac backdrop to capture many family celebrations. She spoke of lilac memories a lifetime apart in such an enchanting way; I was convinced were my own.

Lilac Extraction

Lilac Extraction

Blessed with the lilac bouquet from this tree, its essence is preserved in this carefully created extraction:

Mom’s Lilac Spirit
*Infuse in a 6 oz. colored glass spray bottle
1 dropper full of Lilac Extract
4 oz. Distilled H20
3 drops Lavender Essential Oil
3 drops Sage
6 drops Lemongrass
4 drops Geranium (Bourbon Reunion)
½ dropper full Forget-Me-Not Distillate
6 drops Orange
2 drops Neroli

Cherishing Moms’ memory on Mother’s Day, and every day we are touched by their never ending spirit, wisdom and love.  I share this tribute with you, with every spritz, or two.

Mom's Lilac

Mom’s Lilac

Individual Cheeseless Margherita-Style Pizza

Personalized cheeseless vegetable pizza

Personalized cheeseless vegetable pizza

This colorful vegetable pizza is quick to prepare and filled with flavor. Preheat conventional or toaster oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit while assembling. Begin with Naan or unleavened flat bread. This recipe would be vegan if not for the possible ingredients used in Naan. Our naan is local but contains “DATEM”, which is an acronym for bread conditioners often containing animal ingredients.
Coat the bread of choice with just enough tomato sauce so as not to become soggy. Pesto is an excellent alternative!

Sauce covered bread.

Sauce covered bread.

Heap a generous portion of sautéed vegetables on top. I often choose the same selection of easy to come by garden veggies because I like them. These veggies were previously prepared and seasoned with intention for future entrees, like this one.

Add thick tomato slices or small wedges. Heirloom varieties, like this Black Krim, are known for their meaty texture, therefore; withstand heat well. Heirloom varieties contain higher levels of effective lycopene antioxidants, demonstrating a reduction of blood platelet aggregation. Our tomatoes were not ripening in the cool summer nights so I brought them indoors to save them from both animals and the elements, but only after a hint of color first appeared. This is the formation of lycopene, which continues to develop from the inside out.

Fresh Black Krim Heirloom Tomato

Fresh Black Krim Heirloom Tomato

Garnish with fresh basil to bring forth the flavor of these mouthwatering tomatoes.

Fresh plucked basil complements the sweet tomato.

Fresh plucked basil complements the sweet tomato.

Finally, grind black pepper overall to taste. We use a Turkish coffee grinder as our pepper mill, for a fine dusting of a tri-color blend.

Grind pepper blend to taste

Grind pepper blend to taste

Bake briefly at 400 degrees F directly on top oven rack for just a few minutes. The finished product will be hot all the way through and the bread becomes slightly crisp while remaining flexible. Try different sauces and toppings to suit your individual palate and needs, because it’s all YOURS.

Now that I have fed myself, I will go feed the tomatoes. They are still growing!

Safe and healthy spring cleansing

Image

Forest floor foraging

Spring is the best time of the year to clean our bodies from the inside; so many plants that grow during this time of year are ideal for this purpose. Whether plants are used, there are many ways to accomplish this effectively through different types of cleanses. Methods include juicing, fasting, flushing and lifestyle changes in concert with possible products using herbs and or supplements. These methods are marketed to apply to a specific system to achieve a specific result. Our body’s systems work together so addressing one system may generate other (additional) outcomes.

Image

Fleshy fruits are satisfying when cleansing

Foods alone are powerful sources used for detoxification. Fresh produce contains both macro and micronutrients that interact with our own biochemistry, creating a chemical reaction. These biochemical reactions can momentarily disrupt the body’s ability to balance while naturally striving for homeostasis. This one reason is why people often report experiencing flu-like symptoms and other discomforts, albeit temporarily. Combinations of these phytonutrients can equally upset the balance negatively when a physical condition exists; diagnosed or not. For example, a sugar spike could prove detrimental if blood glucose levels are compromised.

Image

Tender asparagus spears contains highest percentages of selenium and vitamin K.

Image

Squeezed organic grapefruit juice

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The amount of time committed depends on the method. Generally a flush is quicker than a cleanse. Regardless, the length of time spent on the process should be determined to meet your individual need. Repeating a course of treatment may be necessary. Adjusting the recommended protocol by altering specifics or incorporating additional methods may also be warranted. Supplementing foods with plants helps increase nutritional benefits from an already depleted diet. Edible flowers, weeds and herbs add flavor, color, nutritive and medicinal value.

Image

Sweet violet flowers, roots and stems have multiple use.

Foraging has become a popular practice. Taking care to not deplete an area by leaving regenerating plant parts and knowing which plants are protected are important when wild crafting. Open areas may be tainted by environmental contaminants. Learn the potential hazards beforehand to spare potential legal and health consequences. Educational resources such as botanical gardens, local garden clubs or park systems are helpful when identifying indigenous plants in your region.

Image

Fern fiddle heads are rife with minerals

Image

Garlic scapes are best clipped in spring

Before considering any type of health regimen, understand the goal you hope to achieve, familiarize yourself with the language and consult a qualified health care Professional with formal/practical knowledge, taking your personal health history into consideration. Pop culture wants us to believe that a quick-fix or single approach made available for the public is designed for you. It is not. Your cleansing or flushing program should be specific to your needs.

3 healthy green ways to celebrate springtime this March

Image

Shamrock

Good, green things come in threes.  Following an unusually cold and frosty winter, we look forward to springtime and all it brings.  The spring solstice occurs on the third week of the third month of our calendar year.  In addition to spring, this year we recognize celebrations including St. Patrick’s Day and Mardi Gras.  Plants symbolic of these holy days appear in nature and are represented in groupings of threes such as the three-leafed clover, and what is known as the “holy trinity” in Cajun cooking.

Image

“Holy Trinity” of Cooking

Celery, onion, and green pepper are traditional spring vegetables available in the Southern climate where Mardi Gras is observed.  White salt, black pepper and cayenne are the three customary spices enhancing traditional dishes. These indigenous foods provide continuous fortification of our bodies during the last vestiges of winter while simultaneously cleansing our systems in preparation for summer.

Image

Trefoil of Healing Greens

The green goodness offered by the clover trefoil is a nutritionally rich and abundant resource for cows and pasture animals.  The high water content cellulose construct of onion celery and bell peppers are necessary for flushing and rehydration.  This action contributes to reduced atherosclerotic inflammation, beneficial for continued cardiovascular health.  Chlorophyll from fresh greens chelate heavy metals and toxins from vessels, helping restore flexibility and healthy blood flow.  Channel your spring with three green things and nourish your mind, body and spirit.

 

 

Celebrating 150 historic years of healing with heart

Apothecary - Materia Medica

Reflections of the “Prince of Wales” Hotel in the equally historic “Niagara Apothecary”.

The Prince of Wales Hotel Restaurant and Spa celebrates 150 consecutive years of health and romance.  A short drive to Niagara-on-the-Lake (N-O-T-L) from Cleveland & nearby surrounding Great Lakes areas make it easily accessible. The Prince of Wales Hotel is sharing its year-long birthday observance with lovely Valentine’s packages making it the heartbeat of this historic town.  General Manager of this landmark Inn, Kelly Exelby, has arranged to celebrate with class, offering promotional packages blending luxury accommodations with four star rated dining for a sensual experience.

Image

Escabeche Restaurant at the Prince of Wales Hotel

The Hotel’s restaurant, Escabeche, boasts a sophisticated ‘Tasting Menu’ optimized by award-winning wines from the excellent local vineyards – “A culinary adventure to tempt your palate and satiate your desire.” The dining room is thoughtfully arranged with intimate seating providing privacy for a peaceful and leisurely dining experience proven to be digestively beneficial. Upon scheduling reservations and being seated, professional servers inquire if there are any dietary considerations or special requests. Escabeche designs a menu to meet your individual health needs.

Image

“Fall Vegetable & Upper Canada Ricotta Cheese Cannelloni”

Original dishes are kindly created with the freshest available ingredients from local resources. Every meal is therapeutic, positively stimulating all senses and further enhancing their notable “Secret Garden Spa” services. Menu modifications are not only willingly made, but suggested or recommended to meet specified health requirements. Chef welcomes challenges and understands food’s nourishing properties. Pictured dishes feature mushrooms like the chanterelle, chosen for their use in medical mycology. The Restaurant team will tap into additional menus from the adjoining “Churchill Lounge” to share ingredients for a personalized experience. Veteran ‘Garcon de Table’, Brad Kempsder, invitingly exclaims, “Let’s build something together.”

Image

Signature “Churchill Coffee”

The Churchill Lounge invites you to relax around the hearth and warm your heart with a cup of traditionally brewed high tea or their signature beverage, “Churchill Coffee”.  I have frequented the Churchill lounge over the years and enjoyed satisfying meals, indoors and out.  There is no limit to this condensed menu carefully crafted from the same fresh, locally grown ingredients characteristic of the Prince of Wales.

Image

Live musical entertainment at the Churchill Lounge

The palpable ambience vibrates with harmonic resonance while being treated to live, classic acoustic entertainment.

Image

Private cottage up the mews from the Hotel

Every peaceful, private room greets you like a big hug.  Each room is uniquely decorated inspiring the rich Victorian style in keeping with its 1864 establishment.

Image

Luxury accommodations

The Prince of Wales staff’s unparalleled services demonstrate their attention to detail. Fresh fruit and water upon arrival to your room, a fragrant rose bud placed on your pillow with care at evening ‘turn-down’ and handcrafted bath salts positioned on the private Jacuzzi tubs procure a personal touch. Accommodations are appointed with heated towel holders in the elegant and spacious bathrooms, adding to your memorable experience.

Image

Signature healing salts

Overlooking Lake Ontario, Niagara-on-the-Lake is in the Niagara peninsula just down river from Niagara Falls.  The area is surrounded by water generating energy, lending to this therapeutic theme.  The Prince of Wales amenities include a chemical-free indoor salt water swimming pool and hot tub, a vantage point from which to watch the weather overhead through the wall of windows.

Therapeutic effects

Salt water pool

BAPoWLobby

“Secret Garden” themed Hotel Lobby at the Prince of Wales

The pool room is above the “Secret Garden Spa”, whose tranquil facilities include a plethora of professional spa services, relaxation lounge with the promise of serenity.  Massage and regular exercise promote healthy parasympathetic activity by reducing blood pressure and heart rate, ameliorating cardiovascular disease. Homeostatic imbalances precipitate illness by compromising immune function. Adaptogenic herbs and foods also inhibit excessive catecholamine release substantiating the importance of complementary relaxation therapies.

Evening at the Prince of Wales

Evening at the Prince of Wales Hotel, Restaurant and Spa

The Prince of Wales Hotel Restaurant and Spa is located on the Main Street in downtown N-O-T-L, accessible by foot en route to shops, parks, The Shaw Theater, golf course, marina and several historic sites, expanding a refreshing exercise work-out.  An optional service provides transportation to wineries for care-free tastings!  For a more romantic adventure, a horse-drawn carriage is available just outside the door.

Evening at the Prince of Wales

Giving thanks for Mom’s applesauce

Variety of locally grown apples

Variety of locally grown apples

There’s nothing better than a recipe handed-down through generations that stands the “test of time”.  We grew and harvested apples at my nearby childhood home.  My parents accepted donations for the hand-picked, polished and proudly prepared produce they carefully cultivated nearly half the year.  They were acknowledged for their earnings as pioneer supporters of ‘Heifer Project International’, helping others to feed themselves via sustainable farming.

Old-fashioned apple corer and peeler.

Old-fashioned apple corer and peeler.

In the tradition that was uniquely my Mother’s, I share this classic process with you, slightly expedited but with all the goodness of simple down-home cooking.

Cored and peeled apples

Cored and peeled apples

Pour 1 C. filtered water into a Crock Pot on low setting for all day or slow, overnight cooking, or on high for a couple of hours.  Peel and core 12-15 quercetin rich apples of different varieties.  I chose a combination of local McIntosh, Jonathan, Cortland and Granny Smith, the same we grew on the homestead.  This blend of firm textures, crisp flavors and a balance of sweet and tart complement the slow-cooked concoction, satisfying diabetic requirements.

BAApplePeel

Additional anti-inflammatory ingredients include about ½ tsp. each:  Penzey’s “Cake Spice”

with star anise, high-grade cinnamon for depth, dried orange peel for brightness and a generous grating of fresh nutmeg.  Top it off with about a Tbsp. of raw organic sugar cane or agave syrup to sweeten.  I ceremoniously add ½ C. of cinnamon red hot candies to the first batch of the season, in memory of my Mother.

Anti-inflammatory spices and basic ingredients

Anti-inflammatory spices and basic ingredients

Place all ingredients in order listed into slow-cooker.

Place all ingredients in order listed into slow-cooker.

Use your best judgment should you opt to use sweeteners and organic and/or locally grown produce.  In the 1980’s, I was reprimanded by the self-proclaimed “food police” for providing preschoolers unhealthy snacks containing sugar and poisonous apple skins.  The very suburb criticized in today’s newspaper as a top city to avoid by French tourism (the capital of haute and nouvelle cuisine). Currently, they are well known for their innovative restaurants but it is often the misinformation that can be most dangerous. Today we have more information about what constitutes “healthy” food v. foods to avoid, and why.  HFCS (high fructose corn syrup) was not as prevalent an ingredient over a quarter a century ago.  GMOs were virtually unheard of while little differentiation was made between “organic”, “natural” and “locally grown” produce, and not as widely available.

Soft and warm applesauce cooked to your liking.

Soft and warm applesauce cooked to your liking.