Herbal Bath for Pain Relief

Strained my shoulder yesterday and woke up to the highly unpleasant discovery that my right arm did not want to move or cooperate without lighting up all my nerves in agony. After applying an ice pack, then a heating pad, then painkillers, I got fed up. Here’s the very simple herbal bath that I use for muscle pain and bruises.


  • 2 parts Wintergreen Leaf
  • 1 part White Willow Bark
  • Wintergreen Oil

Combine the wintergreen and willow bark and stuff into muslin sachet bag. Add seven drops wintergreen oil. Hang the bag under faucet as you fill the bathtub, with the water turned as hot as you can stand it. The water should turn a light, transparent green. Add a few drops of wintergreen oil to the bath if desired.

Get in and soak for a good 15 minutes, making sure the sore body part is submerged. (For the shoulder, I submerged it for half the time, until the position made my neck cramp, then I sat up and put a soaked washcloth on it for the remainder.) Once you feel the muscles loosen, lightly stretch the affected area as best you can, but don’t strain.

Once you’re finished, I recommend following this up with more light stretching and an anti-inflammatory. Be careful with this recipe if you are allergic to aspirin.


Well, the rinse turned out pretty well, so here are the promised photos, and the recipe. This is what happens when my inner self peeks out, sees the herb box sitting idle, and yells, “MAKE SOMETHING!”

Herbal Hair Rinse


  • Sea Salt
  • Elder Flowers
  • Lavender
  • Black Walnut
  • Wild Cherry Bark
  • Calendula
  • Soapwort
  • Whole Cloves
  • Juniper Berries

Combine the ingredients in a muslin sachet bag. Suspend or place inside a pitcher. Fill the pitcher with hot water (NOT boiling, from the faucet will do) and leave the bag to steep for at least a good 30-45 minutes to let everything soak through and to let the salt dissolve.

Wash your hair as you normally would, then slowly pour the rinse over your head and work it through. Let your hair dry as you normally would.

This recipe removes excess oil from hair and scalp, soothes itchy dry skin, and has a lovely woodsy-spicy smell from the cherry bark, black walnut, juniper berries, and cloves. (I recommend using the cloves sparingly, they’re pretty potent.)

Note: If you’re blonde or a redhead, I’d recommend using more calendula and less black walnut, as walnut tends to bring out darker tones in your hair.

Irish Stew

Traditionally, this dish is made with lamb chops. However, if lamb is not available, a nice cut of beef will suffice.


  • 3 lbs lamb neck chops, trimmed of fat, bone, and gristle
  • 2 lbs potatoes
  • 1 pound onions
  • 2 large carrots
  • ½ tbsp chopped parsley
  • ½ tbsp fresh thyme
  • 2 cups water
  • Salt, pepper, & seasonings to taste

Cut the meat into bite-sized pieces. Peel and slice the potatoes, onions, and carrots.

Layer half of the potatoes in a saucepan, then half of the meat and herbs, and finally half of the onion. Season each layer to taste and repeat the process.

Pour water over top and cover with a sheet of foil as well as the lid, and simmer gently for about 2 hours, occasionally shaking the pan to prevent sticking. Add liquid if it seems too dry, but a good Irish stew should be thick and not like a soup.

[Recipe Source: Celtic Folklore Cooking, Joanne Asala, Llewellyn Publications, 1998.]

[Photo Source: Eating Richly - beef version]


It is a custom in Scotland and Northern England to offer shortbread to “first-footers” - those who are first to enter your house after midnight on New Year’s Day.


  • 1 ¾ cups flour
  • 4 tbsp sugar
  • Pinch of salt, or to taste
  • 1 stick of butter
  • 1 tsp farina (cream of wheat)
  • 1 egg yolk, beaten
  • 2 tsp milk
  • Sugar for topping.

Sift together the flour, sugar, and salt. Cut the butter into cubes and rub it in with your fingers until the mixture is crumbly. Make a well in the center of the bowl and pour in the egg yolk and milk. Work into a smooth dough.

Transfer the dough to an 8" cake pan and spread it evenly out to the sides. Crimp the edges with a fork and mark into slices. Prick with a fork. Chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Heat the oven to 400 F and bake the shortbread for 5 minutes. Turn down the heat to 300 F and bake for an additional 30 minutes. The shortbread should be a pale golden color.

Remove from the oven and cut into slices while it is still warm. Do not attempt to remove from pan until it has cooled. Sprinkle with sugar before serving.

Variation: Replace ¼ cup of flour with ground almonds for a wonderfully nutty flavor. Other old cookbooks recommend lemon peel and caraway seeds.

[Recipe Source: Celtic Folklore Cooking, Joanne Asala, Llewellyn Publications, 1998.]

[Photo Source: Wikipedia]

anonymous asked:

do you know any plants or anything that work as bug repellants? especially mosquitos? I AM NOT FOOD!!


I make a home version of bug repellent every year that I’ve found to be very effective. There are lots of plants with insect-repelling properties, but this is my blend:

Water and isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol, in equal parts, and several drops of any of the following essential oils:

  • Cedar
  • Citronella Java
  • Lavender
  • Rosemary
  • Peppermint
  • Pennyroyal (not to be used around pregnant folks)
  • Lemon
  • Anise
  • Clove
  • Pine
  • Eucalyptus

Combine the water and rubbing alcohol in a spritz bottle. Add several drops of the essential oil(s) of your choice. My favorite combination is Citronella Java, Lavender, Peppermint, and Rosemary. Shake well before use and mist exposed skin liberally. Since this is not a heavy spray, you may need to re-apply if you’re going to be out-of-doors for an extended period of time or sweating a lot. A pocket-sized spritz bottle does wonders!

Mulled Cider

A good all-occasions drink for any holiday from Midsummer to Yule…or whenever you happen to feel like it.


  • 8 cups apple cider
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • Pinch of ground nutmeg
  • 6 inches of stick cinnamon
  • 1 tsp whole allspice
  • 1 tsp whole cloves (plus more for studding)
  • 8 orange wedges, rind attached
  • Cheesecloth

In a large saucepan, combine cider, brown sugar, and nutmeg. Place cinnamon, allspice, and 1 tsp whole cloves in cheesecloth and tie with string. Add spice bag to cider mixture, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for another five to ten minutes. Remove spice bag and discard. Serve cider in mugs with a clove-studded orange wedge in each. You may also reserve the cinnamon sticks for a decorative touch.

[Source: Celtic Folklore Cooking, Joanne Asala, Llewellyn, 1998.]

Faerie Cakes

In Ireland, faerie cakes are served on Nollaig na mBan, or Women’s Christmas, which is celebrated on December 12th. Like hot cross buns, these faerie cakes are said to have magical properties. Besides enabling one to see faeries, they work as a fertility charm and will heal the sick….but only is baked on that day.


  • 1 stick butter, room temperature
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • Grated rind of one orange
  • ¾ tsp baking powder
  • 1 ¼ cups flour
  • 1 tbsp milk
  • 1/3 cup sultanas
  • Sugar icing: 2 cups powdered sugar, 2 tbsp boiling water

Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, vanilla, and orange rind. Sieve the baking powder and flour together and add to the butter mixture. Add a little milk to create batter of dropping consistency. Fold in the sultanas and spoon the mixture into well-greased muffin cups.

Bake at 375 F for 25 minutes. Drizzle on the sugar icing and serve.

For sugar icing: combine powdered sugar and boiling water.

[Recipe Source: Celtic Folklore Cooking, Joanne Asala, Llewellyn Press, 1998.]

Mashed Potato Soup

This is quite possibly the best potato soup recipe I’ve ever come across, and the first one I’ve found that doesn’t use chicken stock. It’s a bit labor-intensive, but the end result is so worth it! The original recipe (and photo source) can be found here. What follows is my own adaptation.


  • 5 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed (~2 lbs)
  • 4 tbsp butter
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 4 cups milk (room temperature)
  • 4 oz. shredded Monterey Jack cheese
  • Seasonings: salt, pepper, garlic powder (to taste)
  • 4 oz. sour cream
  • Garnish: crumbled bacon, cheddar cheese, chives

Boil the potatoes until tender. Reserve ¼ of the potatoes and set aside. Mash the rest until smooth. (Adding a little margarine helps.)

Melt the butter in a large saucepan over MEDIUM heat. (Believe me, use a large saucepan or pot, this soup increases in volume very quickly.) Add the flour a spoonful at a time and whisk until smooth and golden in color. Whisk in the milk slowly and let cook, whisking constantly, until the mixture thickens. This takes about 5-6 minutes.

Stir in the cheese and potatoes (not all at once, but big scoops are okay), and add seasonings to taste. Stir until the cheese melts and the soup thickens some more. Whisk in the sour cream and let sit on LOW heat for about 5 minutes. Add the reserved boiled potatoes for texture and stir to combine.

Serve hot and garnish with bacon, cheese, and chives…or however you like your potato soup.

Serves 4-6, or more in smaller portions as an appetizer. Keeps well and thickens when cooled.


Bree’s Summertime Salmon

A little something I like to cook up when there’s fresh fish in the house. It’s a nice balance of savoury and sweet, with a little citrus thrown in. Super easy to make!


  • 1 lb fresh salmon filets
  • ¼ cup honey (approximate)
  • ¼ cup white cooking wine with lemon
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • A sprinkling of salt & pepper
  • Few pinches of rosemary

Coat a ceramic baking dish with nonstick spray. Lay the salmon filets skin-side down so that they are flat. Sprinkle them with salt and pepper, then drizzle the honey evenly over top.

Add the cooking wine and lemon juice to the dish, and toss in a few sprigs of rosemary. Dried or fresh, either will do, but you don’t need much.

Cover the dish with a lid or aluminum foil. Bake at 350F (176C) for 35 minutes. Test the internal temperature and make sure it is at about 140F (60C), and that the pieces flake easily when cut with a fork.

Serving Suggestions: Pair with rice, summer vegetables, fresh salads, or pasta. The cooking liquid makes a nice sauce.

Serves 2-4 depending on how hungry your guests are.

Pumpkin Seeds

You know the drill. Pick out a pumpkin, grab some carving templates and tools, and away you go. But when you’re elbow-deep in pumpkins guts this fall, don’t forget to reserve the seeds for an easy, addictive snack that’s ready in minutes. Here are thirteen flavors with enough variety to please any palate.

Roasting Fundamentals:

Cut a fresh, well-ripened pumpkin in half (or repurpose the innards of the family of jack-o-lanterns you’re carving). Remove the membrane and seeds. Remove most of the pulp from the seeds. Leaving some pulp is okay because it adds to the flavor. For the same reason, do not rinse the seeds (unless you have a serious aversion to pumpkin goo).

Heat oven to 300 F. Spread 1 tablespoon vegetable oil on a baking sheet. Sprinkle seeds (usually about 2 cups) over oil in a single layer. Sprinkle 1 tsp kosher salt over the seeds. If you’re adding other seasonings, toss the seeds with them in a mixing bowl beforehand.

Bake 15-20 minutes or until golden. Cool and snack!

13 Flavors:

  • Cinnamon Sugar - 1 tbsp sugar, 1 tsp cinnamon
  • Salt & Vinegar - 1 tsp salt, 2-3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • Parmesan Garlic Herb - 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese, ½ tsp garlic powder, ½ tsp salt, 2 tbsp minced rosemary
  • Taco - Toss seeds with favorite blend of taco seasoning.
  • Truffle Chive - 1 tsp black truffle salt or oil, 2 tbsp minced fresh chives, 1/3 cup gated Parmesan cheese
  • Buffalo Wing - 1 tbsp melted butter, 2 tbsp hot sauce
  • Chili Lime - ½ tsp salt, 1 tsp chili powder, 2 tbsp fresh lime juice
  • Brown Butter - 2-3 tbsp browned butter (melt butter in saucepan over med-high heat until it bubbles and starts to brown), 1 tsp salt
  • Jerk - Toss seeds with your favorite blend of jerk seasoning.
  • Pumpkin Pie - 1 tsp ground cinnamon, ½ tsp salt, ½ tsp ground ginger, 1/8 tsp ground cloves, 1-2 tbsp sugar
  • Ranch - 1-2 tbsp minced fresh chives, 2 tsp minced fresh parsley, ½ tsp salt, ½ tsp garlic powder, 1/8 tsp black pepper
  • BBQ - Toss seeds with barbeque sauce. I recommend Jack Daniel’s brand.
  • Sesame Ginger - 1 tsp sesame oil, 2 tbsp soy sauce, 2 tsp sugar, 1 tsp ground ginger

Pro-Tip: To make a pumpkin seed sampler, toss a handful of seeds in each of the desired seasonings, then roast in a muffin pan to separate the flavors.

[Source: This was handed to me by a coworker. I suspect it’s from some place like, but I don’t know for sure.]

Irish Stout Apple Fritters


  • 4 lg apples, peeled and cored, and cut into ¼" slices
  • 2 tsp powdered sugar
  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup Guinness (or other stout)*
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • ½ tsp nutmeg
  • 2 tsp melted butter
  • Oil for frying
  • Sugar

Dust the apple slices with the powdered sugar and set aside. Place the flour in a bowl; make a well in the center and beat in the eggs. Gradually add the Guinness and continue to beat until the mixture has the consistency of heavy cream. Add the sugar and nutmeg and allow the batter to stand for at least 1 hour.

Add the melted butter to the batter and heat a little oil in a frying pan or skillet. Dip the apple slices in the batter and fry them on both sides until they are golden brown. Drain them on paper towels and serve sprinkled with sugar.

*Milk may be substituted. This recipe also works with pears.

[Recipe Source: Celtic Folklore Cooking, Joanne Asala, Llewellyn Publications, 1998.]

[Photo Credit: - great source for gluten-free recipes!]

Bree's Bug Spray

It has come to my attention that there are folks seeking natural insect repellants, and with summer in full swing, who could blame them! I personally don’t have anything against commercial bug sprays (except for the smell sometimes) and recommend “Off!” to anyone who’s going camping for more than a day. However, if you’re seeking an herbal alternative, here is the recipe I use to keep the mosquitos at bay.

Ingredients: water and isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol, in equal parts, and any of the following essential oils:

  • Cedar
  • Citronella Java
  • Lavender
  • Rosemary
  • Peppermint
  • Pennyroyal
  • Lemon
  • Anise
  • Pine
  • Eucalyptus

Combine the water and rubbing alcohol in a spritz bottle. Add several drops of the essential oil(s) of your choice. My favorite combination is Citronella Java, Lavender, Peppermint, and Rosemary. Shake well before use and mist exposed skin liberally. Since this is not a heavy spray, you may need to re-apply if you’re going to be out-of-doors for an extended period of time. A pocket-sized spritz bottle does wonders!

My other secret is a wonderful little product called Badger Balm. It’s an all-natural salve made from beeswax and olive oil, with essential oils of various plants added for different purposes. The product line covers everything from sore feet to diaper rash to chapped hands.

The Foot Balm, which has essential oils of pine, rosemary, and eucalyptus, actually makes an fabulous insect repellant when rubbed onto the skin. It’ll leave you a bit greasy, but it is VERY effective and won’t leave you coughing from accidentally-inhaled fumes.

Enjoy the summer, everyone!


Irish Whiskey Marmalade


  • 3 lb Seville oranges
  • Juice of 2 large lemons
  • 13 ½ cups sugar, warmed (no that is not a typo, it says 13.5 cups)
  • 1 ¼ cups Irish whiskey

Scrub the oranges with a nylon brush and pick off the disc at the stalk end. Cut the oranges in half and squeeze the juice, retaining the seeds. Quarter the peel, cut away and reserve away thick white pith (the stringy white stuff), and shred the peel (thickly or thin slivers, depending on how you like it).

Cut up the reserved pith roughly and tie it up with the pips in a square of muslin (cheesecloth) using a long piece of string. Tie the bag loosely so that water can circulate in the bag during cooking and will extract the pectin from the pith and pips. Hang the bag from the handle of the preserving pan. (If you’re using a large saucepan, put a skewer or wooden spoon across the top and hang the bag from that.)

Add the cut peel, strained juices, and 15 cups water to the pan. Bring to a boil and simmer for 1 ½ - 2 hours, or until the peel is very tender (it will not soften further after the sugar is added).

Lift the bag of pith and pips and squeeze it out well between two plates over the pan to extract as much pectin as possible. Add the sugar to the pan and stir over a low heat until it is completely dissolved.

Bring to a boil, then boil hard for 15-20 minutes or until setting point is reached. To test this, put a spoonful of marmalade onto a cool saucer. Allow it to cool slightly, then push the surface with your finger. If a skin has formed, the setting point has been reached. If not, it needs to boil a little longer. Keep testing until the marmalade sets.

Skim, if necessary, and leave to cool for about 15 minutes, then stir to redistribute the peel. Divide the whiskey among 8 - 10 warmed, sterilized jars and swill it around. Using a small heatproof jug or pitcher, pour in the marmalade.

Cover and seal while still hot. Label when cold and store in a cool, dark place until required. The marmalade will keep well for at least 6 months. Refrigerate upon opening.

Makes 8 - 10 lbs of marmalade.

[Source: The Food and Cooking of Ireland, Biddy White Lennon and Georgina Campbell, Hermes House, 2013]

Hot Buttered Rum

What butter and whiskey won’t cure, there’s no cure for! (Scottish proverb)


  • ½ cup butter, softened
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ¼ cup powdered sugar
  • ½ tsp nutmeg
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup vanilla ice cream, softened
  • 6 jiggers (shots) of rum, or to taste
  • Boiling water

In a small bowl, beat the butter together with brown sugar, powdered sugar, nutmeg, and cinnamon. Beat in the softened ice cream. When ready to serve, put about 1/3 cup of the ice cream mixture into individual mugs. Add 1 shot of rum and ½ cup boiling water to each. Stir well and serve. Some people like to add a dollop of whipped cream, so having that handy might be a good idea.

Variation: Place 2 shots of dark rum, a twist of lemon peel, and a cinnamon stick in an ale mug. Fill with boiling hard cider, add a pat of butter, and stir with a cinnamon stick.

[Source: Celtic Folklore Cooking, Joanne Asala, Llewellyn, 1998.]


A fine way of serving wassail is to put an apple in each mug and ladle the hot brew over it. Provide each of your guests with a spoon so they can eat the apple afterwards.


  • 12 small tart apples
  • 6 pints ale
  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 2 tsp ginger
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tsp nutmeg
  • 4 whole cloves
  • Zest of 2 lemons
  • 2 pints red wine

Peel and core the apples, and dry roast them (no sugar) in a slow oven until they almost burst. (Low and slow and keep an eye on them.) Combine 1/3 of the ale with sugar, spices, and lemon zest. Summer over low heat for 20 minutes. Add remaining ale and wine and heat, but do not boil. Serve hot over the apples.

Serves 12.

[Source: Celtic Folklore Cooking, Joanne Asala, Llewellyn, 1998.]



  • 3 eggs, separated
  • 6 tbsp sugar, divided
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • ½ cup rum or brandy
  • ½ tsp vanilla
  • 1/8 tsp salt, or to taste
  • ½ cup heavy whipping cream
  • 3 egg whites
  • Ground nutmeg or cinnamon

Separate the eggs (crack and carefully pour the yolk from one side to the other over a bowl until the white has been poured away, then put yolk in separate bowl). Set egg whites in a metal bowl and place in the refrigerator. In a small mixing bowl, beat egg yolks until blended. Gradually add 3 tbsp of sugar, beating at high speed until thick and lemon-colored. Stir in the milk, rum or brandy, vanilla, and salt. Place egg yolk mixture in the refrigerator to chill thoroughly, about 2 hours.

Whip the cream. Remove the egg whites from the refrigerator and beat until soft peaks form. (If using the same beaters, wash thoroughly beforehand.) Add remaining sugar, beating the mixture into stiff peaks.

Fold the yolk mixture and whipped cream into the egg whites. Serve immediately in a decorated bowl, with a dash of nutmeg or cinnamon to top each serving.

Variation: If you would like to make a non-alcoholic version, simply omit the rum or brandy and increase the milk to 1 ½ cups.

[Recipe Source: Celtic Folklore Cooking, Joanne Asala, Llewellyn Publications, 1998.]

[Photo Credit:]

Pan Haggerty


  • 3 tbsp bacon fat, butter, or lard
  • 4 potatoes, peeled and sliced thin
  • 2 onions, chopped fine
  • 1 cup grated cheese
  • Salt & pepper, to taste
  • 1 slice fried bacon, crumbled

Melt the bacon fat in a heavy oven-proof frying pan over low heat (cast iron works well here). Create layers of the potatoes, onions, and cheese, ending with a layer of potatoes on top. Season each layer with a little salt and pepper.

Fry gently for about 30 minutes. Sprinkle with crumbled bacon and a little more of the grated cheese, then transfer the pan to the broiler.

Cook for about 5 minutes, or until the top is well browned and the cheese is bubbly.

Serve straight from the pan.

Serves 4 - 6.

[Recipe Source: Celtic Folklore Cooking, Joanne Asala, Llewellyn Publications, 1998.]

[Photo Credit: The Guardian]

Mushroom Soup


  • 1 ½ tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 1 onion, roughly chopped
  • 4 potatoes, roughly chopped
  • 12 oz. mushrooms, roughly chopped (portabello, buttons, whatever you like)
  • 1 or 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2/3 cup white wine or hard cider
  • 5 cups good chicken stock
  • Fresh parsley, chopped
  • Salt and pepper
  • Sour cream, to garnish

Heat the butter and oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add the onion and potatoes. Cover and sweat over a low heat for 5-10 minutes until softened but not browned.

Add the mushrooms, garlic, white wine or cider, and stock. Season, bring to a boil, and cook for 15 minutes until all the ingredients are tender.

Put the mixture through a food processor using the coarse blade or liquify in a blender. Return the soup to the rinsed pan, and add ¾ of the parsley. Bring back to a boil, season to taste, and garnish with cream and remaining parsley.

Serves 4-6 as a light meal or 6-8 as a soup course.

[Source: The Food and Cooking of Ireland, Biddy White Lennon and Georgina Campbell, Hermes House, 2013]


Traditionally, a feast would start with soup and end with nuts (hence the saying “soup to nuts”), so this toasted almond pudding is a good dessert choice.


  • 2/3 cup uncooked oatmeal
  • 1/3 slivered almonds
  • 1 ¼ cups whipping cream
  • Honey
  • 5 tbsp Irish Whiskey
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Strawberries or raspberries to garnish

On a baking sheet, toast the oatmeal and almonds at 300 F for 5 - 10 minutes, stirring frequently.

Whip the cream, being careful not to overbeat it unless you want to end up with butter. Stir in honey and whiskey. Gently fold in the oatmeal and almonds. Stire in lemon juice.

Divide into individual cups. Serve at room temperature or chilled. Garnish with berries.

Serves 6.

[Recipe Source: Celtic Folklore Cooking, Joanne Asala, Llewellyn Publications, 1998.]

[Photo Source:]

Pumpkin Bread


  • 1 large can of pumpkin
  • 1 cup melted butter
  • ¾ cup water
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 3 ½ cups flour
  • 2 ¼ cups sugar
  • 1 ½ tsp salt
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp nutmeg
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts (if desired)
  • 1 cup raisins (if desired)

Mix together the pumpkin, melted butter, water, and eggs. Blend in baking soda, flour, sugar, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and the nuts and raisins if you’re using them. Place the batter in a greased and floured loaf pan. Bake at 350 F for 1 hour or until the top is golden brown.

Makes 1 loaf.

[Source: Celtic Folklore Cooking, Joanne Asala, Llewellyn, 1998]