Thanks Chef Carrie Summer (Chef Shack) for the idea
to put bath bombs in muslin bags
so the herbs don't clog the drain!
As I putter around the kitchen mixing and concocting, I am filled with memories. This farmland and the activities that all lead to "Farm Store" concepts conjure moments, snippets and recollections from my past. People have asked me, "Where did you learn to do all these things?" That question embarrasses me as in my self-degenerated estimation, "I can't do much of anything!" I see lots of room for improvement.
I guess I take for granted some of what I know, but when I really think about it, all of my knowledge comes from the little bits and pieces from the perfect storm that is life!
Lately, I have been into fermenting and infusing. Adding flavor layers and health benefits to these concoctions with herbs, bark, roots and flowers from last summer's gardens has inspired quite a few delicious drinks and mixes. The Shrub, infused sipping vinegar, is a relatively new concept to me, but the idea of using herbs and flowers for tea, health and wellness is nothing new. But, why is that nothing new?
It's not new, because I grew up in an early wave of what Kathi Langelier has dubbed the "Herbal Revolution." My interest in growing a tea garden, tinkering with herbal remedies and plucking and foraging along the forest edges in the summer is due to a few formative factors.
First, was fact that my grandfather Hopkins grew up on a farm in Kansas then became a Professor of Botany. He never spoke in English when talking about plants, but preferred to puzzle us all with the Latin terms. If visiting with Grandpa, I learned to call it "echinacea" instead of coneflower and watched him make Taraxacum (dandelion) wine. By the time grade school science covered plants and biomes, those topics were already old hat for me.
His son, my father, loved the farm, loved the gardens, loved the bees, loved to forage, and so taught me. As Tang hit the market, they both went in the opposite direction - eat plants, eat REAL food. A few years after my mother and father married, my mom was diagnosed with juvenile onset diabetes, so keeping sugar out of the house and eating real food was the absolute standard. The gardens got bigger, the beehives expanded and I was old enough to learn a little about cooking. This was also the time in my dad's life where foraging watercress, cattails, nettles, fiddlehead ferns, morels, etc. was of peak interest. We ate from the gardens and from what we found - an idea that amazes me to this day!
Not only is credit due to family and friends who have introduced me to ideas, taught me to build, make, and do, but I owe a ton of gratitude to the internet and the mountains of information that is out there!
There are lots of people who don't even know they guide me. Here are a few of my recent favorites:
Alan Bergo, Forager Chef, blows me away with his knowledge of the forest and extraordinarily creative culinary skills.
Sylvia Fountaine, Feasting at Home, cooks the kind of food I like to eat, and has helped me find my way through bungled bread baking adventures.
And yesterday, I discovered that one of my childhood friend's brother is married to Kathi Langelier the queen of the Herbal Revolution who, for the last couple of years, has surreptitiously been guiding me down a learning path of Fire Ciders, shrubs, tonics and elixirs. (Hi Jennifer and Gus!!! - friend and her brother).
How do we know how to do the things we do? Most of us would say, "Well, that's a long story!" I'll save the rest for another day.
REMEMBER: We'll be hosting a Valentine's POP-UP February 12-13 from 9-5. Valentine's Day is my absolute favorite holiday, and I am SUPER excited about some of the new products you will find for your sweeties - rose petals will be a key player! Join us around the bonfire for a visit and a sip.
Sending LOVE from the farm,