Are you interested in learning about herbalism, but don’t really know where to start? Herb curious, as it were, but herbal wisdom adrift? Well, then here’s something just for you! This FREE mini-course, Handcrafted Herbalism, offered by my friends at nearby Chestnut School of Herbal Medicine, is a solid introduction to the most important subjects herbalists need to learn: plant identification, foraging and medicine making. You’ll connect with thousands of herb lovers from around the globe and be introduced to leading herbal experts. It’s simple to enroll: click on this link by March 22nd.
The course runs March 23rd through March 31st, and is self-paced, so you can access the videos, audio, and written lessons when it’s convenient for you. Over your morning cup of tea, at night with p.j.’s on-whatever works best for you. The audio and printable lessons are yours to keep so you can revisit the material year after year.
It’s free, it’s rife with plant-based knowledge amassed over years of study, and it’s taught by highly skilled instructors, set in a beautiful setting. Go for it, friends!
It was over 5 years ago that I first heard about Daniel Tammet. An autistic man living in the UK, I came across Daniel’s story in the documentary film about him, The Boy With the Incredible Brain. Though challenged by life in numerous ways, Daniel’s autism has also given him profound intellect, including the ability to recite, for hours, a good deal of the numbers in the mathematical sequence referred to as “Pi,” as shown here. He can also master languages in hours, like Icelandic, widely considered the most difficult language to learn.
Daniel’s skills are astounding. They really invite us to consider the myriad ways in which life is balanced by struggle and reward, tragedy and triumph, and ultimately, by resilience. For me, the takeaway of learning about him was that, what might upon first viewing seem to be a disability is simply, really, at its essence, a matter of being differently abled, of orienting oneself to life in a different direction, with a different vantage point, and perhaps a different compass.
Today is Pi day. In celebration of Daniel, and difference, and deliciousness, I’d like to share with you my recipe for Carrot Pie, one of the Spring pies from my book on seasonal sweet and savory pies, A Year of Pies. Carrot pie might not be the most commonly recognized pie. It doesn’t possibly have the homey, cozy nostalgia of chocolate or banana cream pie, or the impressiveness of a mountain of meringue generously spread atop lemon meringue pie. It’s not associated with holiday baking (pumpkin), or former presidents with axes and fibs (cherry). What it is, though, is unique, and complex, and most definitely what you should be baking on this fine spring Pi day. Viva la difference!
Carrot Pie (from A Year of Pies, Lark, 2012)
One of my favorite aspects of going out for Indian food is the array of desserts available. My pie tribute to carrot halwa-a mixture of carrots, dried fruits and spices- this recipe pairs the sweet vegetable with classic Indian flavors of cardamom, ginger, cinnamon and black pepper. Think “pumpkin pie goes to Mumbai” to get a sense of its flavor profile.
Makes: One 9-inch pie.
You Will Need:
Basic Pie Dough
-2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
-1 1/4 teaspoons salt
-1 cup butter (2 sticks), chilled and cubed
-3/4 cup ice water
-1 pound carrots, scrubbed and ends removed
– ½ cup (packed) light brown sugar
-1 cup whole milk
-1 teaspoon ground cardamom
– ½ teaspoon ground ginger
– ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
– ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
– ½ teaspoon sea salt
-3 eggs, separated
Prepare the crust:
Mix the flour and salt together in a medium mixing bowl. Using a pastry cutter or two forks, incorporate the butter until the mixture resembles a coarse meal, but with several pea and lima bean-sized butter bits in the mix.
Slowly drizzle in the ice water. Stir with a mixing spoon until the dough starts to clump. Transfer the dough onto a floured work surface and fold it together into itself using your hands. The dough should come together easily but shouldn’t feel overly sticky.
Divide the dough in half and shape into two flattened disks. Wrap each dough ball in cellophane (or, my preference, reusable eco-friendly Beeswrap!) and refrigerate for at least an hour.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Lightly butter a 9-inch pie pan. Remove one disk of the dough from the refrigerator. Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface and fit it into the prepared pan. Trim the crust overhang to 1 inch and crimp the edges decoratively. Prick the bottom of the crust about 6 or 7 times with a fork, then place the crust in the refrigerator for 15 minutes.
Line the crust with parchment paper and fill it with dried beans or pie weights. Bake 10 to 12 minutes, then remove the crust from the oven, leaving the oven on and reducing the temperature to 375 degrees F. Remove the dried beans or pie weights and parchment. Cool the crust completely before filling. Use the other pie dough within 2-3 days, or store in a airtight container in the freezer and use within 6 months.
Prepare the filling:
Cut the prepped carrots into ¼-inch rounds. Steam them in a saucepan with 1 inch of water for 5 minutes, until slightly softened. Drain off the water in a colander, then puree the carrots in a blender or food processor until completely smooth (you may need to add a bit of water to ensure uniform smoothness).
Add the sugar, milk, spices and salt to the carrots in the processor and puree until well combined. Pour the mixture into a medium-size bowl.
Whisk the egg yolks in a small mixing bowl until blended. Using either a whisk or an electric mixer, beat the egg whites in a separate bowl until foamy.
Whisk the beaten egg yolks into the carrot puree until well blended, then whisk in the beaten whites. This isn’t a soufflé, so don’t worry about being gentle with the whites when you incorporate them into the puree.
Assemble the pie:
Pour the carrot purée into the prepared piecrust. Set the pie pan on a rimmed baking sheet and bake in the 375 degrees F oven for 40-45 minutes, until the filling is set. Cool for at least 30 minutes before serving.
*Variation: For a more traditionally-spiced pie, omit the cardamom and black pepper, increase the cinnamon to 1 teaspoon, and add ½ teaspoon each ground nutmeg and ground cloves.
One of the area’s most comprehensive conferences on all things natural, green and growing happens this weekend, and I’m beyond honored to be included in it. I’ll be a first-time speaker (though many time attendee) at the Organic Grower’s School happening on the UNC-Asheville campus (my alma mater!) this Saturday and Sunday, March 12th and 13th.
There are 15 different “Tracks” offered at the conference, truly offering something for everyone (a “soup to nuts” approach to organic agriculture, as it were). They include: Gardening, Mushrooms, Soils, Livestock, Sustainable Living, Farmers-Beginner, Farmers-Int./Advanced, Community Food, Permaculture, Herbs, Sustainable Forestry, Homesteading, Cooking, Poultry, and Voices From the Field. My workshop, entitled “Hosting On the Homestead,” is offered as part of the “Homesteading” track, and will take place on both Saturday and Sunday from 11:00-12:30. If you’re curious about multiple uses for your homestead, this is the class for you.
If you’ve never been to the OGS before, you’re in for such a treat. The wealth of information, presented by seasoned, experienced teachers, is staggering. It’s the mother lode of organic practices. If you’ve attended in years prior, you know what I’m talking about. I do so hope to meet some of you there, whether you take my class or not (but you should, it’s going to be fun, I think, I hope-I’m pretty goofy, so, I’m fairly certain there will be some degree of silliness, but lots of information, too, because I value your time!).
To purchase tickets, view the full schedule, and have any other questions you might have answered, jump on over to the Organic Grower’s School website. Spring is in the air, and this conference is just the thing to get you jazzed for the growing season to come.
*All images above courtesy of OGS.
Happy Friday, friends! I hope, from the deepest well of my heart, that wherever you are, there are warm blankets, and cozy slippers, and a good book, begging to be read, all within arm’s reach. I wish for you a furry animal to nuzzle you, and a warm hand to rub your back, and a bright, huge smile, from someone, anyone, to dazzle your day.
High time for a round-up, I say! Here’s a little smattering of this and that’s which have caught my attention recently:
*The Tyranny of the Chicken Finger. We never gave Huxley baby food. He always, from the get go, ate whatever we were eating, in pureed form. That fact, coupled with the wide variety of foods that we eat, whether in recipe development or when dining out, has resulted in a profoundly culinarily adventurous 5 year-old. Crayfish? He loves them. Frog’s legs? Eaten and enjoyed them. Pickled herring? One of his favorite toddler foods.
*Wondering what the best ways of storing cheeses are? Karen has you covered.
*Zodiac constellation pendants!!!! I’m thinking of getting a gemini (Glenn), cancer (me), and libra (Huxley) and wearing them on my neck at all times.
*I just adore citrus fruits. If we could build a little solarium and have a potted blood orange, kumquat, meyer lemon, cara cara, honey bell, and grapefruit orchard, I’d be in a permanent state of bliss (and it can be done here-I’ve seen it first hand, years ago, at Sandy Mush Nursery). Until then, this book should cover my citrus cravings.
*Podcasts! Sometimes I’m a bit late to the game, and podcasts are one of those things I’m only recently tuning into (we shall not speak of how looooooooong it took me to get a smart phone, and then, once I did, the things I uttered, like this here pearl of wisdom: “Did you know that you can CHECK YOUR EMAIL on your phone????”). Ones I’m digging at present include: Call Your Girlfriend, On Being, Spilled Milk, Nerdette, Local Mouthful, and Gravy. What about you? Got any podcasts I should be listening to? I know about The Moth, and Serial, and Radiolab, and have episodes all downloaded and ready to go. I don’t know about you, but I’m way preferring podcast to t.v. these days. So much so, in fact, that I have podcast visions of my own. We shall see…..
*The importance of incorporating wild foods into our diets cannot be stressed enough. Here’s why.
*Santa (read: myself) got me a sewing machine for Christmas, specifically, a Singer Heavy Duty. I like that it’s totally lacking in the bells and whistles department. I’ve got these two books by Lotta Jansdotter to serve as guides along my sewing journey. Any other beginning, basic sewing books you recommend are highly solicited!
*Trees have social networks, too. Of course they do.
I’ve got so many exciting projects I’m working on right now that I look forward to sharing with you. A new book, a paperback edition of another, and a collected edition of all four books in the Homemade Living series. Lots of pots simmering at the same time, just the way I like it.
We’re off to a birthday party for one of Huxley’s little buddies later today, then new computer shopping for my mom tomorrow, followed by a monthly women’s full moon gathering at my friend Sabrina’s in the evening (we do a little herb-based craft at each gathering, and this month we’re making incense!). It promises to be in the 60’s, and I intend to be out in that warmth as much as I can be.
Wherever you go this weekend, whatever you do, and whomever you do it with, may it be grand!
View of the snow-covered Mt. Pisgah, seen from the top of our road earlier this week.
You know the saying “Pay attention to what you pay attention to”? I’ve been taking those eight simple words more and more to heart over the past few years. To attempt, with concerted attention and focus, to note precisely what it is I become the most engaged by, the most tuned in to, the most aware of. In that deliberation, I pretty much keep coming back to the same thing-herbs.
Whether growing them, foraging for them, reading about them, harvesting them, chopping them up, boiling them, sugaring them, stirring them, or otherwise interacting with them, herbs, both culinary and medicinal, give me profound and abiding joy. Just ask Glenn. When we’re working on recipe development, I’ll frequently say, “Well, it’s good, but what it really needs is an herb or spice.” We could be talking about steak and I’ll say that. Or an apple. The point being, herbs make everything better, in my world.
From bath salts to cordials, cough syrup to spice rubs, working with herbs and learning about the myriad benefits they offer excites me-truly, deeply, excites me-in a way few other things do. Which is why I’m so very excited to share with you the forthcoming Online Herbal Medicine Making Class being offered at Chestnut School of Herbs.
Juliet Blankespoor, founder of this sublime herbal studies school nestled here in the mountains of western North Carolina, knows that of which she speaks. She’s studied herbal medicine for over 25 years, and has a strong international reputation as a wise teacher and healer. She’s also uncommonly kind, and gracious, and generous. Add to that the fact that she’s silly and goofy, and you have a winning combination. If you’re a wealth of info but you’re unapproachable, what good does it do your students? Not the case with Juliet, or with Asia Suler, a former student of Juliet’s who collaborated with her on the course.
I’ve had the pleasure of studying under both women, and, without a smidgeon of hyperbole, I solemnly swear that they are, for me, the perfect teachers and healers, owing to the traits and qualities outlined above. Together, they have created an Online Herbal Medicine Making Course that will give you the know-how and confidence to create an abundant apothecary. Their hands-on instructional videos and photographic tutorials are chock-full of their personal experience and insider tips, along with a hearty dose of silliness. To get a glimpse of these lovelies in action, click here.
In their own words:
Are you herb-curious? Do you feel like you know a little about herbs and making medicine, but are ready to dive deeper? Or perhaps the herb world is unchartered territory you’ve wanted to explore for far too long? Or maybe you’re herb-passionate? Do you have a long-standing love affair with herbs, but are looking to rekindle that old flame? Your friends at the Chestnut School of Herbal Medicine will help you bring herbal medicine into your daily life on a fun and practical level.
They spent a year formulating the ultimate educational brew: 46 ways to fall in love with herbs and 49 ways to put the spring back in your step! With over 95 herbal recipes, the course is brimming with herbal inspiration. Imagine a medicine chest stocked with homemade herbal remedies, an apothecary lined with handcrafted tinctures, salves and tea blends. Picture a pantry brimming with botanical vinegars, oils and honeys. Sumptuous sauces, butters and salts, infused with the flavor and medicine of fresh herbs. All made with your own hands!
Here’s a small sample of what you’ll learn in the course:
• Herbal Honeys & Syrups
• Infused Oils and Salves
• Infusions and Decoctions
• Infused Medicinal Vinegars
• Medicinal Mushroom Concoctions
• Herbal Bone Broth
• Herbal Cocktails
• Herbal Meads
• Body Butters
• Herbal Salts
• Salt Scrubs
…and much, much more!
I’ve partnered up with Juliet as an affiliate. What that means is that, while I don’t receive any profit for simply promoting the course, if you, dear small measure readers, sign up for it on account of my profuse praise, I’ll earn a commission. I like relationships like that, reciprocal ones, where all parties involved are nurtured and nourished equally well.
So, is this the year you stoke the fire of herbal passion you’ve been letting simply smolder? I, for one, am ready to continue my green education. It fills my metaphorical well like no other. If you’re ready to learn more, too, click here. If you sign up in the next week, between now and January 20th, you’ll also receive a discount off the total cost of the course. What a way to start the new year, right?!
May the (Green) Force be with you.
***GREAT NEWS! From January 29-February 12, 2016, all small measure readers who sign up for either the Herbal Immersion Program or Medicine Making Course will receive 10% off the total cost of enrollment. Simply enter the code “smallmeasure” at check out!