Woodland Shortbread: Two Recipes for Foraged Fir Biscuits

This gallery contains 10 photos.

Originally posted on gather:
“For the first time since he had entered Narnia he saw the dark green of a fir tree.” Since childhood, I’ve had a powerful affection for conifers. Growing up in Saskatchewan, these motherly trees provided deep dark refuge from the summer heat. We would travel five hours to spend two weeks…

Nostalgia Aromatherapy

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

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.

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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.

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“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.”

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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.

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Live musical entertainment at the Churchill Lounge

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

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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.

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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.

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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

Therapeutic gleanings from the garden

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My patio garden

“It’s hypnotic watching you…” my neighbor observed.  “The way you care for your plants is an art form.”  I was taken a bit by surprise at having been “watched” while in the solitude of my little patio garden during off hours of the day. 

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Sun-drenched daisies
BME photo

Pleased to know others share my appreciation for the craft, I had the honor to help restore her lovely wooded herb garden earlier in the season where we exchanged plants from lamb’s ear and bountiful sweet woodruff, to my sun-loving daisies transplanted across her treed fence line.  Like raising the bedroom blind, the hearty American daisies beam with the bright morning sunshine from the east.

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Variegated grasses make a natural fence

Japanese irises and decorative grasses formulate a dense border discouraging deer from crossing her path.

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Hanging double and purple petunias attract wildlife
BME photo

I’m happy to have a place I can go to “take me away”, as the commercial used to proclaim.  For years I have kept hanging baskets of petunias which require dead-heading to encourage growth and stimulate new blossoms.  They can become “stringy” and won’t last the winter.  Personally, I refuse to kill any plants and rather let nature take its course, but have been accused of artificially respirating the botanicals with whom I have shared a bond and come to know fondly in my outdoor home.   In his recent blog post “A Garden for the House”, Kevin Lee Jacobs outlines tips for re-rooting petunias over the winter so as to have beautiful baskets for the following year.

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A rosy view on life
BME photo

This is just a sampler of the goings-on in my garden.  I stop and “take time to smell the roses”, snap a pic or twelve, watch the clouds blow by and commune with nature. 

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One of our many winged visitors
BME photo

My mind wanders with the wind and my thoughts are carried on the wings of the birds, bees and other insects alike that frequent here.  This is my space where I may be one with life’s growing cycle and those just visiting…if only for a brief time.

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Several varieties of bees eat freely
BME photo

It stimulates my mind, my body, my senses and my soul; and is my therapy.

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“Guiding Star Clematis”- colorful cascading fence covering
BME photo

Gingersnap Pancakes

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These pancakes are a cheerful way to brighten your day.  Made with wholesome gluten free and dairy free ingredients, this recent formulation is a combination of a craving and recipe by Actress Dee Maaske, prepared for the “Hersey House” Shakespearean Festival, 451 N. Main St., Ashland Oregon, 97520, from The Bed and Breakfast Cookbook by Pamela Lanier.  “Had I but a penny in the world, thou shouldst have it for gingerbread.” William Shakespeare (1564-1616)

A potent medicinal herb for over two thousand years, ginger has more evidenced-based uses and treatments that are being discovered.  Ginger tends to have an additive affect with commonly prescribed pharmaceuticals coincidentally, for the same conditions ginger is effective.

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Traditional, healthy molasses ginger cakes

The minerals in organic, unsulphured organic blackstrap molasses potentiate natural nutrient absorption.   This whole food source is abundant with iron, making it the best form for treating anemia.  This type of molasses ranks surprisingly low on the glycemic index with a versatile delivery.

As an added treat and healthy benefit, I ground my own steel-cut oats with the high powered Vita-Mix®.  The critical B vitamins in the groat are retained in this minimal process.  The product is somewhat crumbly from the absence of gluten with a notable texture, and yet, light.

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Tools of the pancake trade

Sift together:

  • 1.5 C. Oat bran Flour
  • 1C. Brown Rice Flour
  • 5tsp. Baking Soda
  • 1tsp. Baking powder
  • 1.5 tsp. Sea Salt
  • 1 tsp. Cinnamon
  • ½ tsp. Penzey’s Cake Spice
  • ½ tsp. Ground Ginger
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Blended ginger-molasses pancake batter

Combine wet ingredients:

  • 2 Lightly beaten Eggs
  • 1.5 C. Almond Milk (Vanilla)
  • ¼ C. Unsulphured Black Strap Molasses

Stir adding wet to dry ingredients. Blend until moistened. 

 

Cook on a hot griddle.

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Griddle-hot, ready-to-flip “Gingersnap Pancakes”!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Gluten-free, anti-inflammatory ‘Gingersnap Pancakes topped with sliced bananas

 

 

 

 

*Add raisins, chopped nuts, sliced bananas preserves or chips.

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Carob chip dotted maple syrup glazed ‘Gingersnap Pancakes’

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I dotted mine with dairy free carob chips, which aren’t so bad when coated with maple syrup.  For a real “wake-up call”, try topping with Rosemary Gladstar’s “Zoom Balls”.  I’m sure they can be made into any desired shape so as not to roll off onto the floor!

The result exemplifies my mission to create likable, therapeutic foods.  Eating high quality, whole foods is a proactive way to participate in our own care to maintain optimal health.

There is a lot of conflicting, mixed information regarding gluten-free foods.  In the case of a true allergic reaction or positive Celiac disease diagnosis through testing, be aware cross-contamination can occur during the processing of oats, rice bran and other originally gluten-free grains.  Take necessary precautions and know of your ingredients’ origins.

Planting Heirloom Tomatoes for Father’s Day

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Heirloom tomato plant
Credit: Bethane M. Evans

Tomatoes love calcium found in bone meal.  Ours thrive on organic mushroom compost!  Space far enough apart to accommodate the dense leaved branches that will need to be clipped as they reach a couple of feet tall.  This will allow direct sunlight ripen the fruit.  Dig holes deep enough to accommodate tomato plant atop additional compost.  Sprinkle in bone meal and gently break apart roots. 

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Preparing for planting
Bethane M. Evans

Fill in the hole and build-up with mushroom compost, watering well. 

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Tomatoes strategically planted in sunlight against a fence
Planting, growing, photography credit: Bethane M. Evans

If you reside in an area with voracious bunnies, you may want to give serious consideration to deer netting.  A little goes a long way and it is tricky to work with, but does a good job discouraging foraging wildlife from devouring your precious plants

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Deer netting protected young tomato plants
Photo credit: Bethane M. Evans

We lost our 29 transplanted seedlings, mowed down to the quick by ravenous rabbits!  Fortunately, tomato plants are strong and hunger for the nutrients provided in this rich, organic compost blend. 

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Wild rabbits
Photo by Bethane M. Evans

Just a few plants will yield many tomatoes to be enjoyed by all throughout the summer and into the next season.  I was still harvesting tomatoes and delivering baskets to our neighbors well into November a couple of years back. 

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“Black Krim” heirloom tomato harvest 2011
By Bethane M. Evans

All ages can participate in this growing activity that is so satisfying for the mind, body and soul.  Have a Happy Father’s Day!

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Therapeutic gardening
Credit: Bethane M. Evans

 

Botanical witch hazel extraction – traditional complexion renewal

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Botanical Witch Hazel Extraction
‘Biochemical Alchemy’ label

The witch hazel plant has quite a pedigree, offering healing properties as one of a number of its multiple uses.  I have been a fan of witch hazel for decades, housed in my medicine cabinet as a staple, and as a foundation for other preparations such as this “Botanical Complexion Topical”. 

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Dried florals and botanicals from my garden

Maintaining a growing garden leaves me susceptible to insect bites and nettle stings.  I also prefer glove-free gardening and often stick myself on rose thorns, subjecting my skin to oxalates emitted from tomato’s protective glandular trichomes in addition to other prickers and brambles.  Goddess only knows what microscopic goodies get under my finger nails and may be transmitted transdermally.  The bright afternoon sun aids in the synthesis of Vitamin D3 and feels so good on my face, but irritates the Rosacea condition I have also been treating for 20 years. Providentially, witch hazel aids all these conditions. 

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“Botanical Complexion Topical”

This latest incarnation of my botanical toner is suggestive of The Mountain Rose Blog‘s recent recipe.  I extracted a select combination of plant parts I have grown, dried, collected and prefer for fragrance and pH rebalancing.  Most of my food and preparations are intuitive blends I have practiced repeatedly over the years.  This forgiving process welcomes you to invent your own.

  1. Gather your chosen ingredients.  The current batch contains varietals of the following:
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    Measured herbal ingredients

Handful of rose petals

2 Tbsp. Rosemary

1 Tbsp. Comfrey Leaf

1 Tsp. Peppermint leaf

20 or so Lavender Wands

Small Sage bundle

1-2 Dried Persimmon slices

1-2 tsp. Lemon Thyme

1 tsp. Basil

6 gtt. (drops) Orange Extract if no fresh orange oil is available and…

86% double distilled Witch Hazel

*Overall amounts depend upon container size.

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Dried contents

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Liquid infusion in process

Put all ingredients into a glass jar.  Fill with witch hazel ensuring herbs are immersed, allowing room for expansion.  Add liquid extracts.  Seal with a tight lid and put in a temperate location out of direct light for a minimum of a fortnight.  Gently tilt jar daily mixing contents, returning to its undisturbed location.

  1. Strain extraction initially through a sieve.
  2. Allow contents to settle then re-strain through an unbleached coffee filter or fine cotton cloth.
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    Initial straining

  3. Transfer to a glass spritzer bottle or keep stored in sealed jar, applying to skin with a glass eyedropper, so as not to contaminate contents.  Keeps well and yields enough to be shared.  This fruity, refreshing toner regenerates dermal elasticity and stimulates the senses while promoting healing on a cellular level. 

    * The human body is in a constant state of flux so bear in mind that as individuals, we each have unique responses to products at different times.  Use with care.

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    Infused claret product