It’s one thing to grow and harvest all these crops. It’s another thing to turn them into desired consumables. Usually I enjoy these projects and all the steps required to create and preserve something I want to eat or drink or give away.
Occasionally, though, I groan while engaged in the hours of tedious effort involved. Lacking an on-site daughter, sister or mother to work alongside and converse with, I sometimes turn to our modern isolated-living equivalent – listening to the radio, a podcast or book-on-tape to occupy the verbal/social part of the mind while my hands work on. Yesterday while defrosting the freezer and making tea mixes, I listened to NPR’s humorous quiz show Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me. That made the time fly.
As mentioned in an earlier post, this is harvest time for stinging nettles, a valuable ingredient in my morning herb tea. After cutting the top 4-6” of the young plants (wearing gloves!), I dry them in the dehydrator (shown at left). After they are dry, I remove the leaves from the stems (shown at right) and store them in airtight cans so they will be safe from the deterioration caused by light and humidity.
When the tea mix runs out, it’s time to mix up a new batch. Here is the recipe for my morning tea mix which I brew with a few small pieces of gingerroot:
1 part lemon balm
1 part nettle
2 parts fuzzy mint (Apple mint? Spreads vigorously out back! Want some?)
½ part peppermint (Another spreader. Also available upon request.)
1 part each: oatstraw, linden (tillia) flowers, lemon balm, mint and, if I have it, chamomile flowers. I also put a squirt of lemon balm tincture in the mug, which sits on my bedside table to be sipped in the night when I wake up. The hope is that it will help me get back to sleep. Worked last night – what a blessing is a good night’s sleep!
Nick says that these good life practices of doing things for ourselves are only worth it if they’re fun. I would also add criteria like avoiding waste, reducing expenses, and living sustainably. By my calculations, the benefits far outweigh the difficulties, which can be seen as challenges to overcome. If you hear me groaning now and then, tell me to “woman up” and see what’s on the radio.