Friday, July 31, 2009

Potion Making - Beginnings

I began with the Purification Potion about 8 years ago. It was part of a year long project that I embarked on where I focused on one plant and one goddess for each month for a year.
Rosemary was one of the monthly herbs.
During the month, I made different tea blends, studied historical uses, burned it, made hair rinses, wreaths, face scrubs and steams and so on.
It was during this time that it seemed like wherever I went people would be smudging, which is all well and good except that it didn't seem to mesh well with the elderly, the sensitive and allergic. Generally burning herbs indoors causes people to cough and makes many uncomfortable.
I love the idea of using herbs to purify. My stand-by for my own smudging at that time was sage, rosemary & lavender.
At our house smudging is done seasonally, like deep cleaning and I always open all the doors and windows.
I wanted to come up with a way to have the benefits without the harm.
A "smokeless smudge" was what I called it.
I brewed together
Rosemary - clears the mind as well as spaces, reminds one to stay present
White Sage - clears and dispels negativity
Lavender - gently purifies with love and peace
and a few other herbs with the intention of purification, put a little alcohol in it to keep it from going funky and put in in a spray bottle and voila! it was a smokeless smudge.
I liked it so well, and it worked so well, that I added it to the line of my home based herbal business Bliss Botanicals (no relationship to current online entities) and it became very well loved by customers as well.
When the time came for me to take the next step in my business it seemed that perhaps I should make more Potions.
I sat with this idea for days, scribbling ideas into my notebook.
Should I make 3 or 5?
Should they relate to elements? Earth-Air-Fire-Water?
Should they relate to deities? Planets? Colors?
I had enough inspiration and ideas for dozens of Potions. It wasn't hard to come up with lots of ideas, the hard part was narrowing it down.
Of course, there had to be a Love Potion, but I wanted it to be different than the cliched aphrodisiac potion of bad movies and old songs.
Money spells are often desired and a money potion was a contender.
A Luck Potion?
In a way it's like naming a baby. You come up with a bunch of great names and then you narrow it down to names that fit your family and then to the one that belongs to your baby. The name that was theirs all along that you just had to discover.
The Potions made themselves known and guess what?
They fit none of the boxes that would be easy to describe them.
Earth - Grounding
Fire - Empowering - Sun
Center - Purification - Clearing
Heart - Love
Moon - Perception
They are so lovely and I am honored to do this work.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Shirley Temple Cherries aka organic maraschino cherries

When I was little we rarely went to restaurants and when we did it was generally for a special occasion.
We would always wait to see if a grown up would suggest for us to order something to drink. The girls would get Shirley Temples and the boys Roy Rogers. It never occurred to me to want a Roy Rogers, even though I liked lots of other "boy" things.
It's funny to realize the only difference between the two is clear soda (ginger ale or 7up) versus dark soda (coke or pepsi).
A few years ago we went to an event where cocktails were being offered and our children were with us and as I was waiting in line I was reminded of the Shirley Temple.
We ordered them for the children and as I was watching it being made I could see that it was just a couple of ingredients.
I quickly tasted the simple concoction, much to the dismay of my waiting daughter and was immediately transported back in time.
Unlike many beloved childhood tastes, this one stayed true for me.
The children order them every so often when we're out and they're so lovely that I thought I'd get the ingredients to make them at home for birthday parties and other celebrations.
However, one of the key ingredients is maraschino cherries. One of those super poison foods I reluctantly let my children have every so often.
So here goes:
Step 1 make a non poisonous and still fun and yummy preserved cherry
step 2 make grenadine syrup
step 3 buy ginger ale and straws
step 4 assemble and indulge

Today I made a version of preserved cherries, it goes like this:
Pit 2 cups tart & sweet cherries
In a small saucepan add 1 cup organic sugar and 1 cup water, bring to a boil and stir. Boil until all the sugar is dissolved.
let cool a bit, add 1/2 teaspoon almond extract and 2 teaspoons rose water
pour liquid over cherries, stir
pour it all into a glass jar with a lid
should keep for a month or so refrigerated

Now I need to make the grenadine syrup before my children return from summer camp, so we can celebrate with Shirley Temples.
I already have ginger ale and bendy straws!

Rose Conserve update

Well, as I always say, so much of medicine making is about the experience. The making of medicine is what's healing to the maker and those around her.
I'd love to say that the rose conserve was a miracle.
It is, and yet, one of the jars did eventually mold.
It took over a month, so if I had either refrigerated the jar or used it up in that amount of time, it would've been just fine. But my goal was to have the fragrant summer preserved easily in a jar for the wintertime.
The good news is that one of the jars is dreamy.
In the future:
1. layer sugar between each layer of rose petals (don't put a big stack of petals together, too much moisture)
2. leave enough room in the jar to shake it around a bit so that things don't get stagnant.
While the jar of rosy goodness was deciding whether to mold or not, taking it's sweet time, I was able to have some heavenly tea with it.
I added a half of a teaspoon of the rose sugar to a cup of darjeeling tea and it was just heavenly. A light rosy taste and at first a strong rose scent, almost too strong. But in the tea, lovely.
I will definitely make this again.
The jar that succeeded sat in the sun for a week and was shaken daily.
I plan on using it in wintertime desserts.
Sprinkled atop shortbread cookies, sugar & rose petals layered between a birthday cake, creme brulee and of course, added to tea.