Making Medicine At Home

herbal tincture

For a live video go to Hollyberry Herb Farm on Facebook

An Herbal Tincture is a method of preserving the medicinal attributes of an herb in such a way will allow you to use the herbs long after their season is gone.  As I have said before, the more herbs you eat, the healthier you will be.  However, at certain times of the year, certain herbs are not available.  So, by making tinctures you can use herbs all year round.  Typically, to make a tincture you steep the herb of choice in vodka or brandy for four to six weeks.  Once the herb matter is strained out and the liquid re-bottled, the tincture will keep indefinitely.

The essential oils and herbal essences are soluble in alcohol making alcohol a better solvent than vinegar for making tinctures.  Once the menstruum (plant material and solvent) has steeped, all the herbal goodness and health benefits of the herbs will be suspended and concentrated in the alcohol.  This concentration is why so little of the tincture is needed in an individual dose.

There are many combinations of herbs that can be used- select the herbs based on your needs.  Dandelion is an all around great herb with so many medicinal qualities.  I use this herb alone to make a tincture that is taken by anyone feeling “under the weather” to boost the immune system and ward off the colds and flues that tend to go around in the winter.

A small amount- 1/4 teaspoon to 1 teaspoon per day is all that is taken by adults around our house.  When the children were toddlers a few drops in their sippy cups helped battle the snotty noses and colds that came with childhood.

There are many resources on the internet for recipes and several good herbal books that give instruction as to preparation of tinctures.  I like to use Growing 101 Herbs That Heal, by Tammi Hartung.

A basic recipe is:

1 clean 1 pint glass jar with a fitting lid

Approx. 1 cup chopped fresh herb or 1/4 cup dried herb, coarsely chopped.

1 pint of brandy or vodka.

Place the chopped herb matter into the jar.

Creating an herbal tincture

Pour in Vodka or Brandi, let steep for 4-6 weeks, shake weekly, then strain.

herbal tinctures

Herbal tincture steeping and waiting to be strained.  Be certain to label with contents and date- the only way to be certain you will remember what is in the jar.

Once strained, pour liquid into a bottle and cap

There you go, it is that easy!

You can see me make a tincture on Facebook @ Hollyberry Herb Farm

This is what I use for my family.  Research for yourself and decide what is best for your family and yourself.  This is not meant as medical advice or to diagnose illness.



Another Day on the Farm

The last of the tomatoes ripening on the window sill.
The last of the tomatoes ripening on the window sill.

The chicken spaghetti is done and Jonathan and I are waiting on Tony to get home.  Urgent Care is a busy place these days.  I guess I am not the only one who is trying to get well.  Tony has been working a lot lately as the number of patients seen in a day keeps setting new records.  At least their “busy season” doesn’t conflict with the farm’s busy season.

Last night I ordered another round of seeds from Southern Exposure Seed Exchange.  The are not the only seed company that I order from, but they are my favorite.  The seed is always of good quality with excellent germination and good, strong plants that result.  Along with more herbs, this order contained all the seeds for veggie seedlings we will carry this spring.  It is hard to believe that it is already time to start those seeds!  I can’t wait.  I know to rest during this time of the year because I will need it, but I long for spring and the growing season.  For now, the wonderful smell and lovely green color of hundreds of seedlings in the greenhouse will hold me over.

I went to bed with expectations of having a very productive day today.  However, after a night of coughing fits and little sleep I had a very hard time of getting going.  I did clean out the China hutch and put away a lot of odds and ends that had turned up on the work table.  Jonathan cleaned out the entertainment center and collected a stack of movies to be sold at Half Price Books.  So, while not the day of cleaning I had hoped for, progress was made.The utility room is in my cross-hairs, that room is the first one we see when we come home and the last thing we see when we leave.  So, it is important that that room be well organized and visually appealing- at this time it is neither.  I hope to correct that on Thursday.

Little Herbs just emerging, these will soon grace our customer's gardens.
Little Herbs just emerging, these will soon grace our customer’s gardens.

Thankfully, there were no animal fatalities today.  All the animals are doing fine and getting very furry with their winter coats.  Sometime within the next month we should have goat kids.  We just love goat babies!  They are just so cute.  And of course, goat kids also means fresh goat milk!  Awesome stuff, that lovely white liquid.  Next Tuesday we plan to have a work day and clean up the barn stalls and prep for kidding season.  On my list for tomorrow is to call the feed store in Emory to check on the price of bulk feed.  We can take our own containers and have them filled, wit  the price being cheaper that way.  We used to purchase the feed like this, but I am not certain why we stopped.  Could have been the fact that while Tony was a flight medic, his days off were so hard to come by and then he would be so tired it was just too much trouble.  We are coming up on the second anniversary of his retirement our beginning the nursery.  Hard to believe how fast the time can go by.  It is also obvious that we are just now finding our stride again after that huge change.  I look forward to what the future holds.

We have had some much needed rain over that past several days.  I am happy to work inside on these gray days.  Once the sun pokes it’s head out again I will be in the green house.  The seedlings that have sprouted are now ready to be bumped into the 4 inch cups where they will reside until purchase.  Then, the next round of seeds will go into the trays.

Gratin Dauphinois- A Fancy Name For A Flat Out Good Potato

The humble potato!
The humble potato!

You could call these scalloped potatoes, but Gratin Dauphinois has so much more flair!  It is hard to go wrong with potatoes, they are a humble food from the earth that need only a little dressing up.  You will be hard pressed to find a menu that can’t be complimented with a potato dish.  With the pototoes cooked in the oven with milk/cream, butter and a little garlic, the simplicity is deceptive.  This taste is subtle but engaging, the texture is smooth, and the experience is wonderful.

This dish complimented the Beef Carbonnade the family greatly enjoyed at our Christmas Dinner.  There was not a bit left after dinner, always a compliment to the cook!  Unless of course there is none left because the cook did a poor job of planning for her guests, but that was not the case- this time.




Gratin Dauphinois

3 pounds of boiling potatoes– peeled and sliced 1/4 inch thick (the food processor works great for this)

1 cup of whole milk – I like to mix 3/4 cup whole milk with 1/4 cup cream- adds to the richness and wonderful texture.

1 clove garlic– pressed and spread on bottom of a buttered flame proof baking dish- I prefer a deep dish 9 inch cast iron skillet

3 tablespoons of butter plus more for greasing the bottom of the dish.

Once you have buttered the cast iron skillet and spread the pressed garlic, place the potatoes in the skillet spreading in layers.

Season the milk with salt and pepper, pour over potatoes.  Add more cream until the milk is 3/4 of the way up.  Place on burner and heat just to a simmer- this is a very important step so that the liquid and potatoes come together in the oven.

Distribute 3 tablespoons of butter (real butter, not margarine) on top of potatoes.

Bake in a 425′ oven for about 25 minutes- until the liquid is absorbed and the potatoes are tender.


Serve and be happy!  That is some flat out good food!  Great food does not have to be complicated to be wonderful.



What Did You Do?

When you have four kids you get asked a lot of questions. I am very proud of my children and  so often people now ask me what we did to get such great kids.  This question is especially asked of my older daughters who are now 19 & 17.  It seems that respectful youth with good work ethics and self-confidence is unusual.  This is sad, and not the fault of the kids.

The problem I have with that question is that those that ask seem to think I can some up 20 years of hard work into a couple of sentences.  That is simply impossible and when I am faced with it, I don’t even know where to begin.  But really, the beginning is God and His plan for my children.  When they were born I was excited to see what He had gifted them to do and what His design was for their life- not mine.  I do believe a frequently made mistake by parents and other adults make with children is dreaming dreams for the kids without ever consulting God or simply looking at what the child is and what their desires are.  Each of us are gifted from the womb with abilities and desires written on our hearts by the hand of God.  To ignore these in our own lives is to live a life of misery.  To ignore these in our children is to set the children up for hardship.  In this situation, the child will either have to bury their God-given desires and dreams to conform to the parents wishes or they will have to rebel or fight to follow God’s will for them.  Woe to us as parents if we ever put our children in that position.

So, as my children grew they were free to dream, to express their hearts desires, and they were free to obey.  Everyone answers to authority, the sooner we accept this the sooner God can move in our lives.  I answer to Tony (my husband) and to God.  My kids answer to me, their father, and to God.  The idea here is that I am following God so that answering to me is the equivalent to answering to God.  Which means I had better be keeping close with God or I will mess my kids up!  So, my children learned that they were free to be the person God created them to be, but obedience was a key to that.  Some of the four accepted this with out much protest, some of them were not going down without a fight.  Either way, they have come to understand authority and the blessing that obedience brings to their lives.

Another key to developing great kids is to have time at home.  In the society that we all live there is this merry- go- round.  You know the kind that was once in all the playgrounds.  It could go as fast as the kid pulling or pushing it could go.  Well, the society merry-go-round is spinning out of control with lots of “good” activities for you too participate in and for you kids to be involved.  The problem is this- most of these activities have no eternal benefit.  They do not develop any skills or fundamentals that your children will need as adults.  I even include sports in this because sports had become a god to so many.  Yes, there are benefits to sports- I know because my kids played and so did I.  However, there is no reason for a kid to be playing every sport, many at the same time.  If your schedule has you gone from home every night of the week and most Saturdays- your house is a hotel and not a home.  Changes must be made if you want your children to be successful, confident, and stable adults.  We were once on the merry-go-round as well.  We have four kids and with each one choosing only 1 thing each at a time, we were still busy every night, then you add in church, family events, and school with all its demands= we were out of control in our time and stressed.  We did find the key to getting off the merry-go-round– You have to JUMP!  It will not stop and people around you will not applaud your choice.  But, it must be done, you will be glad you did!  We cleared our schedule- no sports teams, no camps, no anything for a few months and then we only added back what God clearly said to do.  Wow, we were happy, even the kids were after the initial hurt feelings.  We had time to play card games, board games, and time for fishing and camping.  This is the life!

Now, I could go on for pages about the things that we did as parents to get the results we are seeing, but these few things I have listed are key elements.  There will be many more blog posts on different aspects, but these are the ones I believe give the best starting point.

My Beautiful Family