Heavenly muscle soak bath bags from Herbalist Scotland
To end a long day in the garden, why not soak tired muscles in a hot bath with Calendula and Epsom salts muscle soak bath bags, available from Herbalist Scotland. Each bag contains 60g epsom salts for releasing cramps and muscle stiffness, 15g pink Himalayan salt for detoxifying, and a generous handful of Calendula blossoms, to heal and nourish the skin. These giant draw-string ‘teabags’ can be just tossed in the bath or used in a foot bath as a healing treat for tired, aching feet.
Epsom salts contain magnesium, used medically for muscle cramps and aches, for relaxing mind and body, and for aiding sleep. Taken in through the skin, magnesium works even better than taken in tablet form, which is why epsom salts baths are so popular. Himalayan salt is a marvellous detoxifier, aiding muscles to release build-up of lactic acid and other waste products. It leaves the skin feeling silky smooth. Calendula has long been used for its anti-microbial and skin healing properties, and a handful of dried calendula blossoms is placed on top of the salts in each of the hand-made bath bags, to allow its healing properties to soak into the skin with the salts.
Easy to make yourself, I recommend placing the ingredients in bags, otherwise you will be coated with Calendula blossoms when you get out of the bath!
Get in touch with us at Herbalist Scotland if you would like to buy some (8 bags for £2.95). They are also available with Rose petals or chamomile blossoms – my favourites are the Calendula blossoms.
Duck Poo is here again! This healing, soothing salve contains no duck products at all, just Comfrey herb, also known as ‘bone knit’, for tissue healing, Arnica montana for bruising, and Gaultheria procumbens or Wintergreen for its anti-inflammatory salicilates, bound together with organic beeswax. Available from Herbalist Scotland – just send me a message from this page or from the website. For those who feel queasy at the thought of duck poo, this medicated salve is also lovingly known as ‘Arnagreen’.
For strains, sprains, bashes and bruises from Herbalist Scotland
One of the loveliest things about being a herbalist is having the opportunity to make healing salves and creams, with a solid background of knowledge about what works and why it works. This means I can combine my creative, crafty, hand-made yearnings with my solid academic nerdy side. Bliss!
Duck Poo is used partly for its effect on bruising, helping tissue to remove debris from bashes or strains quickly, and restoring good blood flow to the area; the anti-inflammatory effect of the Wintergreen combines with the Arnica to reduce pain and swelling, whilst Comfrey (Symphytum officinale), has been confirmed in numerous clinical trials to be an effective therapy option for topical treatment of painful muscle and joint complaints including pain, inflammation and swelling of muscles and joints in degenerative arthritis, acute myalgia in the back, and in sprains, contusions and strains after sports injuries and accidents. Just one of those trials can be viewed here.
Best of all, Comfrey grows readily in almost anyone’s back garden! This is no exotic foreign import. Right now, I am looking out onto a patch of magnificent Comfrey shooting up by the compost heap, which will be giving me leaves to macerate in safflower oil for the next batch of Duck Poo.
Rich and light Rosemary and Orange skin cream from Herbalist Scotland
Everyone can do with some delicious skin nurturing from time to time. This rich and light skin cream from Herbalist Scotland is made from Rosemary infused safflower oil with rose hip oil, shea butter, and vitamin E. Essential oil of bitter orange lends a heavenly scent. Made in very small batches, it is moussy and yet rich at the same time, and disappears into the skin without leaving a greasy residue. Wonderful as moisturising body cream, or as face cream for mature skins. £9 for a 60g jar. Why not get in touch to order your jar from the next batch we make.
One of the best things about being a herbalist is that I can make my own salves, balms and ointments. One of our best-sellers is the marvellously named ‘Duck Poo’ – it does really look rather greenish in the jar! Its magic lies in the Arnica (for bruising), Symphytum (for healing tissue: it contains allantoin, which the body produces itself to aid tissue repair), and Gaultheria or Wintergreen, a very rich source of anti-inflammatory salicylic acid, similar to the acetyl salicylic acid in aspirin. The fragrance is divinely medicinal. Am rubbing this on my own sore back, helping to relieve muscle tension, and it works well on all muscle, bone and joint conditions, for soothing pain relief and healing. Get in touch with me at Herbalist Scotland if you would like some yourself . We still have a few jars left of this batch.
Joolz and I have been working on a sugar-free, grain-free fruit cake recipe for a while, to add to our repertoire on our refined sugar-free, grain-free diet. This recipe, adapted from an extraordinarily delicious Mrs. Beeton cake, has eventually emerged as being the yummiest. Yes, it is free of added sugar, but does have loads and loads of dried and fresh fruit, so by no means unsweet or entirely sugar-free. It contains no grain. We have fiddled around with a bit more of this and a little less of that, and this seems to work best for us. This one looks a little darker than it was in reality. It is a small cake and was demolished within two days. We were holding back. Please feel free to enjoy the recipe and improve.
Ingredients for one large cake or two small cakes:
- 300g sultanas
- 300g raisins
- 70g currants
- 115g chopped prunes
- 115g chopped mixed nuts
- 100g flaked almonds
Combine all the above in a big bowl, add a dessert spoon of almond flour and mix to coat each piece of fruit with flour.
- 225g organic, unsalted butter
- 4 large organic free range eggs
- 1 whole orange, chopped and blitzed with a stick blender, including skin
- 200ml double cream
- 6 dessert spoons of good cognac
Set the butter to whizz in a food processor with metal blade. This takes quite a while (longer than it would if you were adding sugar). I let it whizz on quite a high speed whilst I prepare the flour and ground almonds below.
- 120g almond flour
- 80g ground almonds
- 4 teaspoons baking powder
We have experimented with varying amounts of almond flour and ground almonds. Too much flour and the cake becomes claggy. Too much ground almonds and the cake falls apart. This ratio seems to work best. Mix these in a bowl together.
Prepare a large cake tin or two smaller ones (about 9″ each or 22cm ish). I butter and line mine.
When the butter is creamed (it will look and feel like thick double cream), add the eggs, one at a time, with a spoonful of the flour mixture after each addition. Add the cream, the blitzed orange and the cognac in the same way, then add the rest of the flour mixture. I let it all whizz on quite a high speed – this seems to bring about the best consistency.
Combine the wet ingredients with the coated fruit and mix well. Tip into the cake tin(s) and bake in the oven at 160C. One whole cake takes about two hours, two smaller ones take about one hour forty. Test as usual with a knife or skewer. If it comes out clean, the cake is done. If there are uncooked bits left on the skewer… there are still uncooked bits in the cake.
Here is Rose Cognac in the jar, rose petals happily giving up their scent and flavour to the cognac and honey mixture: 50g dehydrated rose petals from Baldwins. They go a very long way. 150g organic honey, dissolved first in 100mL Courvoisier cognac, then topped up to 850mL Courvoisier. Altogether 1L menstruum and 50g rose petals. Combined in a large jar and stirred. Smells divine. After a few days I shall taste and add more honey if needed, until perfect.
Just about to start making the internal preparation for the Pharmacy exam, now the rose petals have arrived. It’s going to be Rose Cognac, an entirely delicious concoction of rose petals steeped in Courvoisier with added organic honey. Leave for two weeks, shaking it lovingly every day, strain, label prettily (that’s going to be the hardest part!) and hand over for test consumption 🙂
I am making a large batch, of which only half will be sacrificed for examination purposes. The other half will be put to celebratory / rehab use after the exams are over. The proper written exams. That would be June 10th.
Fragrant body cream
I’ve made variations on this many times before, always searching for the ideal cream, and this is my favourite to date. It is light enough for a rich face cream, but nourishing and luxurious. This version seems to be absorbed very quickly and leaves no residue on the skin. When I rubbed it in (straight from the mixing jar!), it was all gone within a few seconds. A tiny amount goes a very long way. I shall use this daily.
This time I made it using a hand held stick blender rather than a coffee frother, which seems to be producing rather frothy creams… not entirely surprising. The blender, on the other hand, works well, as long as I keep it on low, or low-to-medium as the cream thickens. I could have added more rose absolute, but I don’t like my creams too fragrant. Adapt for any other fragrance, maybe lavender, frankincense or rosemary, instead of rose. Here is the recipe:
Phoebe, dispensary cat
Phoebe has taken to sitting on top of the dispensary cupboard door, where she has a good view into the garden through the library window, and can surprise anyone approaching the cupboard by dropping on to their head and shoulders. I was ambushed mercilessly.
Joolz bought me a dehydrator for Christmas – an Excalibur – five drawers of pure dehydrating joy. I can dry anything from herbs at 35 C to crisp breads at 68 C – or indeed fruit at 55 C. A client brought me an enormous bunch of organic parsley which has dried to a brilliant emerald green with an almost pungent aroma. A couple of days ago we dried raspberries – according to the manual they are ‘poor’ for dehydrating, but they are extremely tasty when dried, so it was worth experimenting. I spread them out with plenty of room between each raspberry and dried them at 55 C for about 18 hours. they have turned out beautifully preserved and crumbly crisp. Fantastic in my morning porridge, and I shall be layering them into flapjacks. And into chocolates.
Scottish raspberries are wonderful little beings, and in the summer we shall be picking and drying by the bushel. They are easy to keep in Kilner jars.
Fruit leather also works beautifully – blitz any fruit, but add raspberries if you need some pizzazz. Pour the thick liquid on to the silicone sheets on the dehydrating trays, making a layer about 2 – 3 mm thick, and dry until leathery or even crisping. Totally yummy to eat as sweets, and no added sugar. I like 80% plums, 20% raspberries.