Herbs: Lemon Balm

Every gardener needs a clump of Lemon Balm. Not only is this a lovely perennial herb, but the compact, lush green bushiness is a visual addition for a gardener in an herbal garden or a bed of flowers.

Lemon Balm, Melissa officinalis, has traditionally been regarded as an herb with the ability to rejuvenate. During the Middle Ages, Lemon Balm was a key ingredient in all medieval elixirs of youth. Even as late as the 18th century, Lemon Balm continued to maintain its reputation as an “elixir of youth.”

Lemon balm is known to contain volatile oils (including citronellal), polyphenols, bitter principle, tannins, rosmarinic acid, and flavonoids.

The actions of the plant have alternately been described as sedative, anti-depressant, a relaxant and restorer, a digestive stimulant, antibacterial and antispasmodic. Lemon Balm is also known for its ability to promote sweating, relax the peripheral blood vessels, and for its antiviral properties.

lemonbalm

The leaves of the Lemon Balm plant are wonderfully scented — like a fresh lemon. They are believed to help relieve the symptoms of depression and tension. The leaves are known as carminative, so are thought of as ideal for those individuals who are affected by digestive upsets when they become anxious or worried.

Because of its ability to cool, Lemon Balm is also good for people who may suffer from feverish colds. Lemon Balm cream can be used to treat cold sores and other conditions related to herpes simplex.

The best time to harvest lemon balm is just before flowering. In the summer, the leaves of the lemon balm plant can make a delightfully cooling and refreshing tea.

The essential oil of the lemon balm plant is also popular with herbalists. The concentrated oils from the lemon balm leaves are much more potent than the leaves themselves. Just a few drops of lemon balm essential oil can affect an individual. In fact, a few drops of lemon balm essential oil are recommended as an antidote for depression.

Other popular methods for consuming lemon balm in herbal remedies
include as an infusion for hot tea and as ice cream flavoring. Hot lemon balm tea is used to treat nausea, indigestion, and nervous exhaustion.

A lemon balm compress can be applied to any area of suffering from painful swellings. Lemon balm can also be used to create a soothing massage oil. Simply dilute 5-10 drops of essential oil by combining with either almond oil or olive oil, and then rub to relieve chest complaints or other areas of tension.

Lemon balm should not be taken by anyone on thyroid medication as the herb may inhibit the absorption of the medicine.

Disclaimer: I am not a physician and cannot advise anyone to use or to ingest any portion of any herb for medicinal purposes.

Dandelion Jelly

Dandelion Jellydandelion

4 cups dandelion blossoms
1 quart water
1 teaspoon lemon or orange extract (optional)
1 package powdered pectin
4 1/2 cups granulated sugar

Pick dandelion blossoms early in the morning when blossoms are freshest and insects are not stirring.

Remove the dandelion stems and any green from the dandelion plant because they will turn the jelly bitter.

dandelionpetals

Boil blossoms in water for 3 minutes.

Strain blossoms from water (I poured the boiled mixture through cheesecloth into a glass measuring cup).

dandelion_strained1

Save the dandelion liquid for the jelly mixture. The liquid will appear yellowish-olive in color.

dandelionwater2

Use 3 cups dandelion liquid, the lemon or orange extract, the package of powdered pectin and sugar.

Cook the jelly according to the directions on powdered pectin box. Process in 5-minute hot water bath to preserve.

dandelionjelly1

Finishing The New Chicken Coop

coopThe new chicken coop is nearing completion and our granddaughter is admiring the work already!

This chicken coop is much smaller than the old one (now destroyed). Since we only have requirements for a small laying flock, there is no need for a large coop.

This coop has four nest boxes and several roosts, enough for our small flock.

Building the coop was about $150 and it should last about 20-25 years.

coopnestboxes

The above photograph shows the four nest boxes which can be accessed from both inside the coop and outside through a hinged door. Above the nests, a screened punch-out window was added for some cross ventilation. The silver panels between studs is insulation.

Many of the supplies were scrounged from our own extras.

Salvaged:

  • The window (a double-insulated Anderson window!) was originally in the dining room, but was replaced by a set of french doors during our remodeling job last year.
  • The exterior door was a side door that was replaced by a set of french doors when we added on several years ago.
  • The dimensional roof shingles and soffits were leftovers from the new roof installed in 2002.
  • The coop is fully insulated, using leftover panels from our previous construction work in the house. These birds will be warm during winter next year!!

We still need to add some guttering (we catch rain water), then we can remove the ladder-guards nailed temporarily on the side near the roof’s edge.

Lastly, 2 coats of oil paint will seal the coop nicely.

Purchases for the coop included wooden studs, sheets of plywood, the 6″ x 6″ posts, and cement.

The outdoor run was made with fencing and posts we keep around here. For now, My Mister has a make-shift gate using PVC piping and gauge wiring.

Now where are those little peepies…..We’re almost ready!

Beer Bread

Beer Bread

3 cups self-rising flour *
3 T sugar
1 12 oz beer, room temperature
Optional: 4 -8 tablespoons of butter

Grease and flour large 9×5 loaf pan. Preheat over 350 degrees.
Combine bread ingredients and stir until completely mixed. Bread batter will be very thick and sticky.

Transfer bread batter into loaf pan, spreading as evenly as possible. Batter will rise as it cooks.

Bake 45 minutes. Remove bread from oven.

Bread will be slightly browned with a crunchy top. To make a buttered bread, slowly pour ½ to a full stick of melted butter over top of bread. Return bread to oven. Bake another 15 minutes or until buttered top has browned.

Beer Bread is a quick bread, so it is very fast to make. This bread makes an exceptionally good loaf for toasting!

Note: If you do not have self-rising flour, make your own. To make 1 cup of self-rising flour, mix 1 cup of all purpose white or unbleached flour with 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder and ½ teaspoon salt.

Herb Bread

Herb Bread

The no-knead Herb Bread is delicious and I’ve been baking this bread for more than 20 years.

2 packages active dry yeast
2 cups warm water (105 -115 degrees)
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons salt
2 cups whole wheat flour, divided
1 egg
4 – 5 cups all-purpose flour, divided
1/4 cup vegetable oil
3/4 teaspoon dried basil
3/4 teaspoon dried, rubbed sage

Dissolve yeast in water. Combine yeast mixture, sugar, salt, 1 cup wheat flour, and 2 cups all-purpose flour in a large bowl. Mix for 2 minutes. Add egg, oil, herbs, and 1/2 cup flour; mix 2 additional minutes.

Mix remaining flours together (1 cup of wheat and 2-3 cups of the all-purpose flour). Gradually stir into yeast-egg-herb batter. Dough-batter will be a moderately stiff bread batter.

Divide dough in half; place each half in a greased bowl, turning dough to place greased side up. Cover and let rise in warm place (about 85-degrees), until double.

Punch down and shape into 2 loaves. Place in greased 9 x 5 x 3 loaf pans. Cover and let rise until double in bulk. Bake at 375 degrees for 25-35 minutes.

Makes 2 loaves.