Welcome to Hill Country Herbalist

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Happy Mother's Day

Mother's Day...a beautiful day to celebrate and remember the one who gave you life.  A special day not only to pay homage to her, but to also pay special homage to our mother earth - who gives us the air we breath, the food we eat, the sights we see, the aromas we smell, the textures we feel, and the beautiful sounds we hear such as soft chirping birds and the smooth sound of trickling water.  A magical day, indeed.

My mother is beautiful, strong, playful, driven, and free spirited.  Just yesterday, she told me her weekend would be filled planting herbs and plants in her garden.  She's also been very excited about rock dust these days...she is amending her sliver of mother earth with beneficial trace elements by incorporating rock dust in her garden beds.  I suppose the apple does not fall far from the tree.

In honor of mother's day, here's a wonderful recipe for a delicious mother's day treat - bringing mother earth and mother's everywhere closer together....

Fig and Blueberry Salad with Orange Vinaigrette

 - a dozen ripe figs (washed and quartered)
 - a cup of rinsed organic blueberries
 - 4 healthy handfuls of baby romaine lettuce leaves
 - 2 tablespoons pine nuts
 - feta cheese (optional)
(Dressing: A Hill Country Herbalist Original ;)
 - 4 peeled and minced garlic cloves
 - 3/4 cup olive oil
 - 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
 - 1/4 cup fresh juiced orange juice or lemon juice if you like a tarter dressing
 - salt and pepper to taste

For the dressing, I like to begin by scraping freshly minced garlic into a glass jar that also has a good tight fitting lid.  Next, add olive oil, red wine vinegar, citrus juice, salt and pepper.  Place lid tightly on the jar and shake for several seconds.  The citrus juice makes this dressing creamy looking and delicious! Taste a bit and add more salt, pepper, or any of the above ingredients to get the right balance you prefer.  More olive oil if too tart or strong...more juice if too boring. 

You can also add fresh thyme leaves into this dressing for a wonderful hint of thyme. 

To make the salad, arrange the lettuce in a large bowl.  Add figs, blueberries, and pine nuts.  Begin drizzling the salad dressing over the salad and gently toss.  Add feta cheese on top to add a creamy treat!
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I hope you enjoy your beautiful day celebrating the fruits of life.  I'll leave you with this cute picture of herbhusband and his mom back in the good ol' days ~ HCH

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Lemon Mint (Monarda citriodora) Growing in the Texas Hill Country: Benefits & Uses

Lemon Mint, or Monarda citriodora, is a wonderful addition to your garden.  It invites and welcomes beautiful butterflies and honey bees as well as herbaceous plant lovers, like you and me.   It's also known as lemon bee balm, purple horsemint, lemon bergamot and lemon horsemint.  Like other Monardas, it is very beneficial to skin care and also helps promote our bodies to fight off colds and flu's. It is a member of the Lamiaceae or mint family.  This is my favorite family, I'm just naturally drawn to anything Lamiaceae!

In skin care, Lemon Mint leaves can be rubbed directly on the skin to ward off pesky mosquitoes and other biting flies.  The essential oils of Lemon Mint contain citronellol, which is the reason it is effective at deterring these pesky insects. Citronellol is also used in making perfumes.

The dried herb can be infused in oil (cold oil infusion) and later made into salves and lotions to sooth skin. It is also beneficial when added to facial steams. I would combine it with chamomille and lavender in a facial steam to assist with acne or oily skin.   

Internally, it is beneficial in soothing sore throats and boosting the body's ability to fight off colds and flu's since it also contains thymol-  like other Monardas such as Bee Balm.  Gargling with plants that contain thymol (such as Bee Balm and Thyme) helps fight sore throat and throat infections.  It has antiseptic and antibacterial properties. As an herbal tea, Lemon Mint can be sipped and enjoyed to help calm an upset stomach. 

Today, I'm heading to the garden to harvest some Lemon Mint.  I'm going to cut and dry the flowers by hanging them upside down in my kitchen window.  The dried flowers can also be used in floral arrangements but I will be drying the leaves and flowers for herbal infusions. Until nextime :) HCH.