Sunday, 7 December 2008

Learning about herbal vinegars

Yesterday I had the pleasure of attending a workshop on herbal vinegars run by Sarah Head at her home in Solihull. It was a practical session (lots of tasting... chopping... mixing...) and with much knowledge shared and enjoyed by all. I've dabbled with making tinctures, but what I learned is that vinegar can also be used to extract the goodness from herbs, and in some cases slightly different properties than alcohol. Apple cider vinegar is usually used as it is reputed to have medicinal properties even just on its own. (I tried it at one point with honey and water for hayfever, and found it refreshing and clarifying).

We tasted and learned about various different vinegars and honeys that Sarah had already made up, such as:
  • Bramble root vinegar which is good for upset stomach/ diarrhoea because of it's astringing quality
  • Rose petal vinegar for burns
  • Sage vinegar for fevers and infections because of it's cooling/ drying properties. And mixed with elderberry honey and ginger to stop coughing
  • Motherwort vinegar for period pain
  • Nettle leaf vinegar for osteporosis
  • Fire Cider vinegar (which I was convinced was called Fireside Vinegar until I read the notes afterwards - but actually I rather like mistaken name! :-) for viral infections
  • And lots more...
Then we got down to making our own Fire Cider vinegar. But first, Sarah strained off some she'd already made and we got to taste it. We were all expecting a bit of a blast, but it was actually very tasty - and mixed with some horseradish honey and hot water, quite delicious! Who'd had thought! :-)  The ingredients are: horseradish, ginger, garlic, onion, rosehip, cloves, paprika, turmeric, cayenne and of course apple cider vinegar. We tried it later on with some olive oil and bread, and it makes a tasty dip.

I just love this kind of kitchen table wisdom, so freely shared, and so happily received! After a shared lunch, we all ended up in the front room trying out different musical instruments. A big thank you to Sarah! :-) For now my Fire Cider vinegar has a home in the airing cupboard where it will keep nice and warm, and I look forward to trying it in about 6 weeks.

For more information about Sarah's workshops, take a look at the Springfield Sanctuary website or her blog, Tales of a Kitchen Herbwife.

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Monday, 1 December 2008

Getting excited about... community!

Since moving to Leamington a couple of months ago (it feels a lot longer!) I've been thrilled to discover some of the community initiatives going on here, and start to get involved...

Canalside Community Food, the community supported agriculture scheme, which I wrote about in a post last month.

Leamington LETS, or Local Exchange and Trading System, which enables local people to exchange time and skills. 

Transition Town Leamington (TTL), an initiative to become more self-sufficient as a local community in order to meet the challenge of Peak Oil. See more about transition towns here. I just read the TTL newsletter and looked up a mention of a video on how Cuba survived Peak Oil. Recommended viewing!
I find these initiatives inspiring. I'm not in favour of trying to escape or go back to some kind of past way of doing things. We're where we are - as humanity - for a reason, and we have to go "through the eye of the needle" to learn from it, hopefully evolve, and find a new way forward. What I find inspiring about these initiatives is that they're all about community, finding a way forward together, and becoming more self-reliant - a quality generally so lacking in our current society.

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