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Healing Wise ...
with Susun Weed

November weed walk; Mullein Chai

Weed Walk
Here are photos and info on some of our delicious finds at the CSA pick-your-own garden. Enjoy!

Barbara's cress (Barbarea vulgaris)
This mustard family plant was growing profusely on the rows that had been harvested and left fallow. What a beautiful sight to see such solid masses of this shiny plant. Unfortunately, it is far too bitter for most tastes, including mine. Since it stays green all winter, it has been praised as an emergency food. Several bath in boiling water, which is discarded, will remove enough of the bitter to allow one to eat it. When it blooms in the spring, it is known as yellow rocket.

Just look at all the green beans that were left on the bushes. One long row of bush beans was too much for the members and lots of beans went unpicked. (Note to self: Pick more green beans next year.) Time to harvest the dried pods, spend a few mornings shelling the beans, and use them this winter in baked beans. Yes indeed, dried beans are the mature seeds of green (that's why they call them green) beans.

The pods that were completely mature and totally dried on the vines gave beans that were all one color. The pods that weren't, produced beans in a rainbow of shades. (Mentored students, there is a bean story waiting for you.) I'll save a handful of the seeds and plant them next year. Who knows, perhaps they will lead me to the magical harp and the goose that lays the golden eggs.

Shepherd's purse (Bursa capsella pastoris)
Another mustard family plant enjoying the cool early winter weather. We found shepherd's purse in all stages of growth out at the farm: some seeding plant and some just making new rosettes of leaves to overwinter.

The photo is of a bowl of shepherd's purse seeds. I found a massive stand of it this summer, with lots of seeds, so I harvested about half of it, stuck the seeds heads in a bag, and put it aside to deal with later. Now is later; later is now. These seeds were easily freed from their capsules and winnowed to make ready to use. Books say they were used to extend flour during lean times, but I have never really seen enough to make that a practical possibility. As you can see, even half of a massive stand yielded very few seeds.

Tantalizing Thyme
In First Nations cultures around the world, the winter months provide time for handwork – such as processing food plants, sewing and decorating clothing, mending and creating storage containers – and for storytelling. When I sit down with a basket of dried plant matter, I like to imagine someone is telling me a story as I work with it. (If you would like to do the same, it is best to turn the TV, the CD player, and the computer, too, so you can hear the voices of the Ancestors.)

Dried thyme (from the top): de-leafed stalks, leaf from 2012, new leaf, leaves and small stalks.

Listen for the story in the plant. Listen closely but broadly. Perhaps the plant you are touching will tell you a story. Perhaps an animal ally will tell you about the plant. Maybe a daydream will arise. Be sensitive to information from all directions and in all manners.

The thyme spoke to me of sunny days as I stripped the tiny leaves from her brittle, dried stalks. She shared with me a smiling, sunny, sweet-scented day decorated with fluffy white clouds and flashing flying birds. Ahhh.

Orodell the cat wants to help.

The main stalks of the thyme remain intact, but the smaller stalks break off and get in with the leaves, no matter how carefully I try to keep them separate. For culinary use, most of the stalk must be removed. A sieve with holes just the right size is helpful, as pulling the stalks out one by one with the fingers takes way too long. But note that even with that aid, there is still some stalky/leafy material left.

Ready for use . . . almost.

This stalky/leafy material has now been ground in my "coffee" mill – that I never use for coffee, it is only used to grind herbs – with a generous amount of salt. I used pink Himalayan salt in this creation. The salt acts as grit and helps grind the plant material. This is now ready to store and be used as a condiment: sprinkled on food at the table for an antioxidant boost, added to Tara cheese to make an instant heart-healthy dip, or added to an omelet.

Thyme salt

When I was done, I had three parts of the thyme, ready to use in three different ways: Stalks for tea, the nicest leaves for culinary use, and the rough stuff, ground into thyme salt.

Finished products, up close

Here is what I made (from the left): ground thyme salt, culinary thyme for soups, thyme stalk tea, to soothe upset stomachs, ease sore throats, prevent and treat colds, and bring the sun into the grey days of winter.

Finished products

Mullein Chai

  • 1 quart - mullein infusion
  • 1 quart - milk, raw preferred
  • 2 cinnamon sticks, each
  • 2 T fennel seeds, whole
  • 1 pinch nutmeg, powder
  • 2 pinches cinnamon, powder
  • 3 tablespoons honey or 6 tablespoons maple syrup

You will need two pots one medium pan for making the infusion and one large pan for making the chai milk.

To make mullein Infusion bring one quart of water to a boil. Add to the pot with boiling water, one ounce or 2 cups chopped dried mullein leaves, flowers, and stems. Turn the stove off, cover pot with a lid and let set for four or more hours.

Strain well through a sieve and cloth if hairs present, the infusion should be dark in color and free of plant particulate, if needed strain again.

To make the milk chai, put milk and spices and sweetener into a large pan with heavy bottom on low heat, taking care to not scald the milk.

Let the milk, spices, and sweetener infuse on very low heat for 20 plus minutes....then pour the strained mullein chai into the pan with milk chai....continue to heat on low flame for a while can begin to drink the chai at any time now. Add additional sweetener if desired...

To store the mullein chai, let it cool on the stove-top until room temperature, pour all contents of the pot (including the spices, but not the mullein herb discarded earlier) into quart or half gallon glass jar or pitcher, store in the fridge for future use. You can reheat if desired or drink cold, will last up to a week..

Enjoy and to your health!!

Susun Weed’s books:

Wise Woman Herbal for the Childbearing Year
Author: Susun S. Weed.
Simple, safe remedies for pregnancy, childbirth, lactation, and newborns. Includes herbs for fertility and birth control. Foreword by Jeannine Parvati Baker. 196 pages, index, illustrations.
Retails for $14.95
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Healing Wise
Author: Susun S. Weed.
Superb herbal in the feminine-intuitive mode. Complete instructions for using common plants for food, beauty, medicine, and longevity. Introduction by Jean Houston. 312 pages, index, illustrations.
Retails for $21.95

NEW Menopausal Years the Wise Woman Way

Author: Susun S. Weed.
The best book on menopause is now better. Completely revised with 100 new pages. All the remedies women know and trust plus hundreds of new ones. New sections on thyroid health, fibromyalgia, hairy problems, male menopause, and herbs for women taking hormones. Recommended by Susan Love MD and Christiane Northrup MD. Introduction by Juliette de Bairacli Levy. 304 pages, index, illustrations.
Retails for $22.95
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Breast Cancer? Breast Health!

Author: Susun S. Weed.
Foods, exercises, and attitudes to keep your breasts healthy. Supportive complimentary medicines to ease side-effects of surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, or tamoxifen. Foreword by Christiane Northrup, M.D. 380 pages, index, illustrations.
Retails for $21.95

Down There: Sexual and Reproductive Health the Wise Woman Way
Publication date: June 21, 2011
Author: Susun S. Weed
Simple, successful, strategies cover the entire range of options -- from mainstream to radical -- to help you choose the best, and the safest, ways to optimize sexual and reproductive health. Foreword: Aviva Romm, MD, midwife, 484 pages, Index, illustrations.
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Abundantly Well - Seven Medicines The Complementary Integrated Medical Revolution
Publication date: December 2019
Author: Susun S. Weed
Seven Medicines build foundational health and guide you to the best health care when problems arise. Includes case studies, recipes, exentsive references and resources. Introduction by Patch Adams illustrated by Durga Yael Bernhard 352 pages, index, illustrations
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