I thought this was Kudzu, Mile a minute plant, solver of addictions, remedy for many ailments, causer of headaches for gardeners who try to eradicate it… But thank you to Fran from Serendipity Farm in Tasmania who politely put me straight. It is more likely to be Morning Glory. Here’s a link showing the flowers of Kudzu…
Ginger, not from my bathroom windowsill this time…
Yesterday was our seventh anniversary, here is what we cooked: Scallops, marinated in the juice of half a lime, a sprig of fresh coriander leaves, finely chopped and a small nugget of fresh ginger, squeezed. After cooking in the marinade, the scallops and sauce were laid on wilted spinach and Elderflowers were sprinkled on top.
Next came grilled lamb cutlets served with a caprese salad and most importantly, Mugwort vegetables. The taste of a top of almost flowering Mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris) infused into mixed vegetables, as they cooked in one of my magical cast iron pots. It was served sprinkled with detached individual Red Clover flowers. Mugwort (Cronewort, Artemisia vulgaris, NL: Bijvoet) is extremely tasty and aromatic when cooked in this gentle way. Just a splash of olive oil, finely chopped leeks softened then chopped aubergine and courgette added to the pan. Lid on and simmer gently for ten minutes or so.
I so enjoyed harvesting, cooking and eating Japanese knotweed today, for the first time in my life.
I found several patches of the plant locally and harvested using a small knife, in much the same way as you would asparagus, except above the ground. The more mature stems were hollow, younger ones were very like asparagus within. Some had thin stems, some fat. I harvested young shoots, about 6 to 8 inches long, took them home, stripped away the leaves and thoroughly washed the stems before chopping them and boiling for 5 minutes in a little water.
The taste was very rhubarby; tart, sour and in need of some sweet. Once cooled a little, I mashed the soft stewed stems with a little banana, homemade yoghurt, a dab of honey and a good pinch each of ground ginger and cinnamon. When combined to my liking, I served in a small bowl and garnished with torn basil leaves.
The outside of the knotweed was more fibrous than I had expected so next time, I shall either push the stewed stems through a fine sieve or pulverize them with a blender, before mixing with the other ingredients. Stringiness aside, this is a delicious dessert! Maida Silverwood’s book proposes freezing stewed knotweed and I shall certainly have a go at that, when I find more of it. I will also keep an eye on how the cut stems repair at my harvesting spot.
Please be aware of the rules for rhizome disposal for this plant in your locality. In some countries it is a criminal offense to allow spread of the plant by careless disposal of the roots.
The roots were apparently used in ancient Chinese medicine for menstrual and post partum problems. It is certainly very astringent to taste and thus must have a drying, constricting effect on the body, at least to some extent.
I’ll do some research into the similarities with rhubarb and more historic medicinal uses. It is truly delicious and if you are a rhubarb fan I am quite certain you could also come to love Japanese knotweed.
I was day dreaming about being in India this afternoon and rustled up a really tasty drink which helped to transport me back to Mysore. It cleaned the cobwebs from my mind and got me back on my Yoga mat. You may like to try it…
Lynn’s Ginger Pineapple Cobweb Cleaning Lassi
1 cup Goat’s Yoghurt
4 Pineapple slices (fresh or canned in pure juice)
1 teaspoon honey
1 teaspoon dried or 1/2 teaspoon fresh grated ginger
Adjust the quantities to suit your taste buds and mental cobwebs.
Simply blend all the ingredients together and drink!
I’m afraid the photo is not mine as my lassi tasted so good I drank it all before I could reach for my camera.
Lassi is a traditional yoghurt based drink from India, there are lots of variations. If you request lassi in a restaurant you will be asked if you’d like it “sweet or salty”. My version is definitely sweet and the ginger gives it quite a kick. Have a look at the Wiki Lassi page for more inspiration.
Louise says that… “It’s really good stuff and clears a heavy cold in a matter of days. I always keep a bottle handy in the fridge and it keeps for ages. I have even given some to colleagues in work.”
The combination of herbs is said to be soothing, antiseptic, antibiotic and expectorant. The aim of the syrup is to thin out mucus and help open up the bronchi. It is recommended by Hedley & Shaw to help relieve deep restless chesty coughs, tightness from colds and sore throats.
I made a batch this week, it tastes wonderful. There are several ingredients but all are easy to obtain and the method is really quite simple. Some of the ingredients contain strong volatile oils so this syrup should be taken in small quantities for a short period of time and should not be used by pregnant women.
Sterilising storage bottles
Remember that your storage bottles need to be sterile, to prevent contamination and prolong the life of your potion. This is best done just before you set to work with the herbs as if left until the last minute there may no time to do it properly.
Clean the bottles/jars thoroughly with hot soapy water and a bottle brush,
Let them drip dry
Sterilise them (with lids/caps off and the openings facing upwards) in a warm oven (about 110 oC) for about 10 minutes. Beware that plastic caps or lid liners will melt and burn if left in too long.
Turn off the oven and leave them in there whilst you make the potion and get ready to pour. If you need to leave them waiting in the oven for a long while, loosely fit the caps/lids when cool enough to handle, to prevent contaminants getting in.Some people find that cleaning them on a hot dishwasher cycle also does the trick.
Cough Syrup (Makes approximately 350ml)
Not suitable in pregnancy or for babies
Put water and chopped herbs into a pan and bring to the boil. Cover with a tightly fitting lid.
Turn down the heat and simmer for 20 minutes.
Cool a little, strain through a fine mesh seive, pressing with a clean wooden spoon to extract the goodness.
Discard the herb and keep the liquid.
Return to the heat and simmer slowly, uncovered until reduced to 200ml (making a decoction).
Add 450g honey, dissolve and simmer for a few minutes, stirring all the time, until of a syrupy consistency.
DO NOT OVERHEAT as the syrup will burn.
Cool a little before pouring into sterilised bottles.
Label (date made and contents) and keep refrigerated to avoid fermentation.
Best kept in a corked dark glass bottle, as a screw topped bottle may explode if fermentation takes place.
Legal Disclaimer: The content of this website is not intended to replace conventional western medical treatment. Any suggestions made and all herbs listed are not intended to diagnose, treat,cure or prevent any disease, condition or symptom. Personal directions and use should be provided by a medical herbalist or other qualified health care practitioner with a specific formula for you. All material on this website is provided for general information purposes only and should not be considered medical advice or consultation. Always check with your personal physician when you have a question pertaining to your health and health care.
There is life in my airing cupboard… The ginger rhizome I wrote about on Monday has sprouted lots of strong roots, after just 4 days! Each bud has started to look shoot-like, become slightly pink and sent out between 6 and 10 healthy roots. I am delighted with this first attempt at growing one of my favourite exotic herbs.
The pot is now in a bright but cooler room so I hope that it will continue to do well. The soil has been moistened a little more and I shall leave the plastic bag on for a couple of days, to ease the transition from the toasty warm airing cupboard. I have high hopes of honey, ginger and lemon using my ginger plant, ths winter. Perhaps that’s a little ambitious!
Ginger (Zingiber officinale) is a great herb to use in all seasons but I find it especially useful in the autumn and winter. It adds a gentle warmth to food, stokes up the digestive fire and stimulates the circulation. It has been used medicinally since ancient times and is still employed for many ailments. I love to add freshly grated, or powdered, ginger to a mug of hot lemon and honey, as a cold remedy. I also find ginger biscuits or chunks of crystallised ginger very helpful against nausea (though not against motion sickness). It is also very tasty!
Ginger features strongly in the Ayurvedic system of medicine and it is quite common in parts of India to eat a little sliced ginger, soaked in lemon juice, before a meal or a little crystallised ginger afterwards. I do find that this really helps me to digest a meal more effectively, especially a heavy meal.
I found a forgotten piece of ginger (a rhizome) in my kitchen this weekend and was delighted to see that it had started to show signs of life. Three green tinged buds had started to form so I decided to help them along. Jekka’s Complete Herb Book provides simple instructions about how to encourage fresh ginger to grow, so today potted it up and hope to add a healthy ginger plant to my indoor herb collection very soon.
I cut the rhizome about 5cm below the first bud with a sharp knife and placed it in a small pot of moistened compost, with the buds facing upwards. The buds are just covered in compost. I then placed the pot in a small plastic bag, and placed it in my airing cupboard. Jekka recommends leaving the pot at 20 oC and hopefully after around three weeks shoots will start to emerge. I shall let you know how it goes.