Meet Blogger Maryann Readal

Meet Blogger Maryann Readal

Maryann Readal garden“My garden reflects who I am,” claims Maryann Readal, secretary for The Herb Society of America.

Maryann has been gardening all of her life, it seems. As a young girl she remembers gathering mint leaves from her grandmother’s garden, making medicinal and culinary concoctions out of them, and then trying them out on her unsuspecting younger brothers.

Relatively new to serious herb use and gardening, she thanks The Herb Society for that recent addiction.  A librarian by profession, her garden reflects her natural and learned tendencies to collect things. She loves collecting and planting different species of herbs.

“Just because it is not supposed to grow in my zone 8b garden,” she says, “I am not deterred from trying to grow it, thinking that my garden is different.” However, her garden falls short of reflecting her profession in its organization, she claims. Her garden is a jumble of colors and different plant types—herbs mixed in with annuals and perennials. And this year a few tomato plants found their way into that garden jumble.

Maryann Readal herb shoppingShe loves to read and learn more about herbs. There is always something interesting to learn about herbs, which makes gardening with them so much fun, Maryann says. This also contributes to one of the other idiosyncrasies of those not only in the library world but also in the herb world—reading and collecting books about gardening and herbs. Maryann is responsible for HSA’s social media outreach and writes blog posts from time to time.

Linden Sends Soft Sleep

By Beth Schreibman-Gehring, Chairman of Education for The Western Reserve Herb Society unit of The Herb Society of America

6a00d8349ca72c53ef017c36657a78970b-320wiMeet one of my favorite wellness remedies — the flowers and leaves of the lovely linden tree. You may know it by its other names, lime tree or American basswood. It’s an easily identifiable tree with lovely boxy leaves and pretty seed pods. It’s easy to identify when blooming. Just use your ears and nose.  A linden tree may be called a “bee tree” for good reason. Walk under it and look up. If it’s covered with flowers it will undoubtedly be covered with busy, buzzy honeybees. I have been obsessed with its clean yet sweet and floral fragrance. A stand of linden in full bloom is the scent of warmed raw floral honey and freshly mown hay.

In European countries it’s commonly referred to as the linden and in America as the basswood. I have found them to be fast growers and very easy to care for. I have come across stands of them when I have been out foraging, but mostly they are cultivated, perhaps planted into beautiful arbors that span grand driveways or tumble over country lanes or gardens.

If you plant a linden (and I think that you should plant two!), be sure to allow space for a large tree. Until a storm took it down, I had a glorious, 100-foot tall tree that provided me with gallons of flowers and leaves every year for teas and tinctures.

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I have replanted two beautiful lindens in my front yard and every year for about two weeks in June my front porch smells like a warmed pot of gooey, sweet honey. I know the exact moment that it’s ready for harvest because that’s the moment my seasonal allergies kick up. There’s an enormous amount of pollen found in linden flowers, in fact during blooming season everything nearby seems to be covered with a thin yellow dusting of it. This is why the bees love it. I promise you, this is one tree that is worth the aggravation of a sneeze or two.

It’s incredibly hard to find, but if you can track down a bottle of the essential oil, it’s well worth it. Mix four drops of linden oil into a teaspoon of almond oil and add to a warm (not hot) bath for a soothing experience.  (Please remember with any essential oil to use a carrier oil at all times tokeep your skin happy and burn free.)

For me the real strength of the linden was found when I began struggling with the moody, sticky and sweaty symptoms of perimenopause. If you’re anything like I was – sweating, tossing and turning — it was tricky to get a good night’s sleep. A cup of linden tea or a dropper of linden tincture in a cup of warm water with some honey about an hour before bed did wonders.

Linden is used around the world to promote rest and relaxation when the nervous system is taxed.  I also infuse the linden flowers with rose petals, tulsi leaves and lavender which are known for calming qualities. I usually make my own tinctures and linden is a very easy plant to infuse.

The Herban Farmgirls “Chill Out” Tea

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Making a lovely linden tea is so simple. You may want to add a tablespoon or two of local raw honey and a cream scone with fresh jam.  The tea loves to be drunk in the dead of winter, sitting in a soft chair with a warm cozy cat.  You will need:

  • 2 teaspoons tulsi (holy basil)
  • 2 teaspoons linden
  • ½ teaspoon lavender- Resist the impulse to use more. It will make the tea taste soapy.
  • 2 teaspoons unsprayed rose petals
  • honey, to taste

Spoon each dried herb into a large tea ball or tea pot and steep. Add honey to your liking. 

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Milady’s Linden Tincture

You will need:

  • A one-quart mason jar
  • 3 cups dried or fresh linden leaves and flowers
  • Vodka or brandy (60 proof for dried herbs, 80 proof for fresh herbs)
  • Dropper Bottles – You can find these at https://www.mountainroseherbs.com/

To make a simple folk tincture place herbs in the jar and cover with your chosen spirit. Seal the jar tightly, shake and store in a cool dark place for 4 to 6 weeks. Shake the jar every couple of days.  You’ll know its ready by the lovely strong herbaceous fragrance. Strain the mixture through cheesecloth into another jar. You may need to strain more than once. Then use a funnel to package into dropper bottles. Store these in a cool, dark place and enjoy.

Medical disclaimer I fill two droppers for one cup of hot water. Then I add honey or maple syrup to sweeten.

For those seeking linden, check out Mountain Rose Herbs.

 

 

Get to Know the Bloggers: Beth Schreibman-Gehring

Get to Know the Bloggers: Beth Schreibman-Gehring

“In my Last Will & Testament, it states that I want half of my ashes scattered on the 7th Floor of Bergdorfs in New York City and the other half scattered in the herb gardens at the Cloisters. That’s probably all you’ll ever need to know to understand me.”  — Beth Schreibman Gehring

Beth 2Beth Schreibman Gehring is a lover of all things green, delicious, growing, beautiful, elegant and fragrant. She’s also a lifestyle blogger, wedding and party planner who uses an ever-changing seasonal palette of love, life and food to help her readers and clients fall madly in love with their lives

For close to 20 years she was the president of Schreibman Jewelers, one of Northeast Ohio’s largest and most prestigious bridal registries, jewelry, gift and tableware businesses.

Beth has had the distinct honor and pleasure of designing the table settings for several TV series, including “Julia Child Cooks at Home with Friends,” “Julia Child cooks with Jacque Pepin” and the “Todd English and Olives restaurant” cooking show. She created the table setting designs for the books of the same name.

Somewhere along the journey, she discovered that many were drawn to her for her ability to teach them to live everyday with passion. So when she closed her business in 2003 she became a Life Coach, Board Certified by The Institute of Integrative Nutrition in NYC and by The American Association of Drugless Practitioners.

Her clients have referred to her as “a feast for the senses, a coach that speaks to all the senses as well as to the heart.” Another said, “I totally recommend her to anyone looking for more connection to themselves, their loved ones and their own lives.”

Beth 1Beth promotes a seasonal, sensual way of living, eating and being, teaching a holistic way of looking at your life. She loves nothing more than to spend long days in her gardens tending the healing herbs, fruits and vegetables, promoting healing through herbalism, flower and gem essences, aromatherapy and Reiki, cooking gorgeous, healthy and delicious meals for her family (both four-legged and two) and friends while brewing delightful herbal potions to help keep you healthy, gorgeous and sexy all over, inside and out.

Her favorite question? “So tell me? What is your secret dream? Lets nurture it!”

Beth is currently helping to establish new horticultural protocols in the Western Reserve Herb Gardens based upon organic best practices including bio-dynamic gardening, permaculture and phenology. She is the Education Chairman for the Western Reserve Herb Society and sits on the Public Relations Committee of WRHS.  Beth is also a member of Les Dames D’Escoffier International (Cleveland ) The Herb Society of America and The Herb Society of the United Kingdom.

Beth book.jpgIn 2014 she took a stab at writing a book and it’s called “Stirring the Senses, How to fall madly in love with your life and make everyday a day for candles and wine.” Her next book, “Herban Glow- Romantic Ways for Ordinary Days,” will be released in the fall of 2018.

Beth lives and works in Cleveland Heights with Jim, her husband of 35 plus years and is owned by 17 full sets of vintage dishes, a cat, dog, horse, swarm of wild honeybees, a garden full of herbs and old rambly roses, bottles of vintage perfume and very soon, a flock of heirloom chickens.

You can always find her at www.herbanfarmgirl.com, where she writes about entertaining, herbs, wellness, sustainable urban (Herban!) farming, health, wellness, beauty, travel and more. She’s also on instagram @herbanfarmgirl and twitter @bethschreibman

 

Bright Colorful Sumac, Not Poison

By Kathleen Hale, Western Reserve Herb Society and Herb Society of America

SumacI am not a witch.  But I have a strong sympathy for the ladies who historically lived on the fringes of settlements — bright, colorful, and bringing with them the whisper of sinister stories which are probably false.

Which brings us to sumac.  Sumac flourishes, lush and unbidden, along roadsides and at the edges of parking lots.  It is not discreet.  It is a towering plant that flames with bursts of scarlet drupes. And many of us grew up sure it was POISON. It’s not.

The word “sumac” is of Arabic origin and conveys the idea of redness or becoming reddened. The dried and powdered drupes of some varieties are a valued component of Middle Eastern and South Asian cooking. Za’atar, a spice blend that includes sumac with thyme, sesame seeds, oregano and marjoram, is a favorite.

The sumac family (Anacardiacae) includes several plants in the genus Rhus that are North American natives.   The drupes have an acrid taste, but have been soaked to extract a reddish drink, high in vitamin C. Powdered sumac lends a lemony taste when used in cooking, and was used in American Colonial times as additive to lemonade.  It made it pink. In fact, one of the common names for staghorn sumac (Rhus typhina) is “lemonade tree.”

The scraped bark of Rhus glabra and Rhus typhina was used in the Iroquois tradition in preparations intended to heal or prevent small pox and syphilis.

You can purchase sumac, both in Za’atar blends and on its own, from many online sources.

sumac, poison

Poison sumac

Now, about that poison aspect.  Poison sumac, Toxicodendron vernix, is not really a sumac.  It is part of that poison ivy and poison oak crowd.  They all contain rash-inducing urushiol, and they all thrive in wetland habitats in eastern North America.

So how do we tell these two apart?  Non-poisonous sumac has jagged, toothed edged leaves.  Poison sumac has smooth edged leaves. The drupes of poison sumac  are white, not red. Keep these differences in mind before using sumac.  But if you pick the right one (in the language of flowers) sumac means splendor and intellectual excellence. A perfect offering to any fiercely splendid person you may know.

Meet Writer Kathleen Hale

Meet Writer Kathleen Hale

Kathleen Hale hops

In school, Kathleen was that bossy little girl who asked too many questions, raised her hand too often, and usually had a book hidden on her lap under the desk.  So the teachers allowed her to spend much of each school day in the library, and forgot she was there.  At least, they said they forgot.

After attaining a dual major in English and History, with substantial Minors in Philosophy and Anthropology (known as an Unemployment Major), she earned a Juris Doctor degree and began to practice Law in a Corporate Law Department.  Which also had a library.

Kathleen Hale poison labAlong the way, Kathleen married a nice man, and they combined their personal libraries and had five children.  Having decided to stay home to raise and read to the children, Kathleen is proud to note that her house is a little crazy, but she can do very good character voices for all the Harry Potter books.  Now a sprightly and spirited widow and mother of the most marvelous mostly adult children imaginable, Kathleen has found herself writing highly peculiar blog posts about one of her passionate interests, gardening.  This allows her to contemplate all the brilliant gardens and gardeners that have been part of her life thus far.  It also allows her a good excuse to immerse herself in plant books, and put to good use all that expensive education in English, History, Philosophy and Anthropology.

Kathleen HKathleen is a member of the Western Reserve Unit of the Herb Society of America, and lives in Chagrin Falls, Ohio with her children and many dogs.

Make Herb-Infused Simple Syrups

By Briscoe White, The Grower’s Exchange

iced-tea-herb-simple-syrupMidsummer is the perfect time to begin using all of those herbs that are at their peak! Almost any culinary herb that is currently in your garden will work, and the combinations are absolutely endless.

Basically, you are creating a flavored sweetener and how you use it is up to you.  A few of our favorite uses for an herb-infused simple syrup include:

  • Sweetening iced tea, lemonade and coffee
  • Added to any cocktail or mocktail (e.g. The Ultimate Mojito)
  • Drizzled over yogurt or ice cream
  • A substitute in any recipe that calls for water

And our favorite herbs to add, especially for the uses above:

The how to is so simple!  We suggest making enough to use for a bit, so this will make almost 2 cups.

Herb-Infused Simple Syrup Recipe

INGREDIENTS

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Bring the water and sugar to a slow boil. Stir to make sure that the sugar is completely dissolved.
  2. Turn off heat and add the herbs. Gently stir the herbs in, and ‘bruise’ them by crushing against the side of the pan with the back of a spoon.
  3. Allow the mixture to cool well, leaving the herbs in the water for at least 30 minutes.
  4. Strain the liquid through a fine strainer, toss out the herbs and pour into a clean, lidded jar.
  5. Store in the refrigerator for up to 30 days. Use generously.membership ad 2

 

Get to Know Blogmaster Paris Wolfe

20160708_141651A native of Northeast Ohio (USDA gardening zone 5), Blogmaster Paris Wolfe has been writing since she could grip a thick, blue Laddie pencil.  Her best friend’s mother Pat Peters introduced her to herb gardening in 1990 and she has been obsessed eversince.

Writing about food, and herbs has been a passion throughout her career.  She has been a restaurant reviewer and blogs for The Herb Society of AmericaWilloughby Outdoor Market and Paris Wolfe on Food + Travel. She’s written for The (Lake County) News-Herald, The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer, Cleveland Magazine, Edible Cleveland, Chardon Magazine, Chagrin Magazine and so many more publications. As Blogmaster she works with writers and contributors to facilitate twice weekly posts.

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Her favorite herbs, currently, include mint and everything lemon – lemon balm, lemon basil, lemon thyme.  That could change tomorrow.

Away from the keyboard, Paris may be found herb gardening, traveling or finding motorcycle adventures with her boyfriend.  She’s often in the kitchen cooking, eating and reading about food. A supporter of mom-and-pop shops and farmers, she avoids big box retailers. Paris lives in Geneva, Ohio, and is the mother of two college-age sons.Paris with sons