Saturday, October 2, 2010

out and about

This morning, the manthing and I headed up to the John C Campbell Folk School  up in Brasstown, NC for the annual festival as I had won some tickets  from Tipper over at Blind Pig and the Acorn. It is a beautiful trip any day but this morning the fog was pretty thick  and it made for a very nice  early fall ride.

 The festival is quite a nice place to visit  and the food served was to die for. It was awesome to go to a festival and get  local, farm raised, organic, on farm butchered and made  sausage on  a dang good biscuit, a big cup of cocoa, and a piece of ooey-gooey butter cake (also known as chess cake)  for much less than what it would have cost to go to a nasty fast food joint and get a pile of fat laden yuck.Our meal  was 5 bucks. I could have stayed all day and  ate my way through the festival and spent less than  going to an amusement park for the day.I would have love to have stayed to have a piece of the porker they had cooking on a spit. It smelled and looked wonderful.

There were some  nice crafts, neat demonstrations and good music there.There were a few things I would have loved to buy if  I had a normal house that is not a dust magnet. But, I don't so I didnt buy anything.  They have some beautiful buildings and gardens at the school and I gave a lesson on making okra coffee substitute to the work study  girl who didn't know what they were going to do with their wayyyy overgrown okra.  There was a fall fairy who was very colorful and a way cool guy. For a little minute I felt like I  was at a rainbow family gathering.   I also got to meet Tipper from the blind pig and the acorn. Good thing she was able to pick us out of the crowd as I would have NEVER recognized her amongst all the people. Sometimes looking different than most is a GOOD thing.

The festival  was  a nice little get a way and  if  you are  in the area and have never been, it is supposed to be another beautiful day in the mountains tomorrow.

Friday, October 1, 2010

medicinal herbs- wild dagga

Leonotis leonurus, also known as Lion's Tail or Wild Dagga Is a member of the mint family of plants.  It is grown as an annual and can grow as tall as fifteen feet in one season. The leaves resemble a mint plant and the entire plant has quite a lovely smell to it. The stems are wood like and thick and the smaller branches coming off the main stalk are almost a square shape. The flower heads are covered in prickly spikes while the petals are brilliant orange and are resemble a lion’s mane.

 All parts of wild dagga can be used medicinally. Extracts and tinctures can be used for relieving coughs, colds and flu symptoms, fever reduction, bronchitis, tuberculosis, hepatitis, jaundice, regulating the menstrual cycle, headaches, and for lowering blood pressure. The leaf and root of the plant can be  dried and  made into  a decoction and applied externally to treat a variety of disorders. This remedy is often used in the treatment of eczema, itching skin, insect bites and stings, rashes, hemorrhoids, and boils. It is also used for treating muscle and joint pain associated with arthritis. In many countries it is also used as a snake bite remedy both internally and externally.When the stems and stalks are added to a bath, they alleviate itching and muscular cramps.

 In African countries, wild dagga leaves are commonly made into a medicinal tea, which is favored for the hypnotic focus it gives . The petals of the flowers can  also be dried and smoked supposedly for a mild opium type effect and the  leaves are commonly smoked as a tobacco substitute. Believe me it tastes terrible, if it was all I had to smoke, I would in a hurry become a non smoker. The flower petals are supposed to be the most potent part for  smoking but  from my own experience, the “buzz” from it only lasts a few minutes and it tends to upset the stomach so it kind of off sets any euphoric effects it may have. I thus far have not tried to make a tea to drink, as it is said to have a purgative effect and I   just do not feel like testing it out to see for myself. I personally prefer to use it   as a decoction or poultice for skin ailments than trying to actually ingest the stuff. I  have not been sick in so long that I can't say how  well a tincture works either, but I have it sitting in a cupboard just in case.

While there are no known side effects from using wild dagga it should be avoided while pregnant or nursing. Just like every other plant or weed used medicinally, use caution until you know you are not going to react to it.  This plant is perfectly legal to grow in all 50 states so there are no worries  about the legalities of growing it, although, to purchase from anywhere one must be 18. 

I  wonder how well it would work in a  potpourri or a air freshener type bag?

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

simple supper-butternut squash pasta

No, no, this is not plasticized processed cheese food over pasta! It is a butternut squash sauce and boy is it good. Well, I think it is quite good and  I am sure picky kids would find it quite tasty. The picky manthing's, well you can't please everyone all the time :) When I made this the other night and served him his plate, his eyes went dim and out of his darlin'  pie hole came the opening words of this post. I looked at him n said, "why yes  dear, I jogged all the way to town  today  just to get  you some plasticized, processed cheese food for dinner because I know how much you like it." Truth be told, he is not a pasta fan to begin with  and  he  only tolerates squash because he has no choice in the matter. Anyway, this is a very simple,  quick, and cheap dinner  that is  also nice and healthy. And  thankfully, it tastes better than it looks.

 When I make this I  puree the squash after roasting or use already pureed squash that I have frozen. You can  however,  dice the squash,  roast and serve with bits of squash if you prefer. Most any winter squash or pumpkin can replace the butternut in the recipe, so don't be scared of changing it up. Most folks like to use bow ties or penne for the pasta, I use whatever I have on hand, why pay more for fancy shapes when it all tastes the same. In the recipe you will notice I have included choices for the liquid, the choice is yours as to what  is used. For creamier sauce, use cream or milk for a cheaper, less fattening sauce use veg. stock or water.

    1 butternut squash weighing about 2 1/2 pounds
    8 ounces of pasta
    1 tablespoon butter or olive oil
    1/3 cup of chopped shallots or green onion
        1/2-1 cup of heavy cream /milk/water/ or chicken stock
    1/8 teaspoon of grated nutmeg
    2 teaspoons of lemon juice
     Salt and pepper to taste
     2 teaspoons  fresh chopped sage
1/2 cup pine nuts or 1/2 cup parmesan cheese or 1/2 cup bread crumbs
Cook the pasta to au dente, drain, and set aside. Roast the squash, scoop out and puree. In  frying pan,  place butter and shallots and cook till translucent, add remaining ingredients and toss with pasta. The amount of liquid added will vary  depending on how thin or thick you want the sauce.  Add nuts, cheese or bread crumbs to top and serve. 

Served with a side salad this really does make a nice meatless  meal, don't let the picture fool you.  There are several other variations of this recipe out there. If you are not a fan of this one,  search  butternut pasta recipes and  an entire library of recipes will show up. Give them a try, they are a nice change from traditional sauces.