I am in love with the increasing popularity in DIY projects. From brewing your own beer to the many different craft ideas on sites like Pinterest, many people are turning away from mass consumption to their own creativity. It may be easier to go out and buy the beer you drink, it may be more convenient to go out and buy medicines, veggies, and whatever else you need from a store, but it is better for the earth and much more fun to grow, build, forage, refurbish and create these things for yourself. This weekend Timothy and I used most of our time to harness our creativity and to begin some projects together. On Friday night we brewed our first batch of beer. We are dark beer lovers and so we began with a porter. It was a lot of fun working together to learn this process. Overall, it is really easy. It takes a few hours but doesn’t occupy you for that entire time. While brewing we were able to make a delicious dinner. Tim smoked some ribs while I made a healthy salad full of kale, cabbage, greens and carrots.
The next morning we used our spent grains to make bread. I have never made bread before and certainly not with spent grains, it turned out pretty decent. Next time it will be delicious. After our bread was finished, we went to a local garden center to buy some veggies for our late garden. We bought four different kinds of pepper plants, broccoli, and cabbage. We also purchased oregano, chives, basil, sage and thyme to begin an indoor herb garden. This week we will have to figure out a creative system for planting and drying our indoor herbs.
We then decided to make a beef stew to dip our bread in. We were planning on going camping Saturday evening anyway and stew is a hearty meal that we could easily prepare for our trip in the woods. We cut the veggies and prepared the meet at home, but packed the broth, spices, and everything up to be cooked over a campfire. Tim managed to use downed branches in the area to create a tripod that would allow the stew to simmer. While he put his ingenuity to the test, I went out to collect some of the gorgeous wildflowers in the area to for a small bouquet. Recently, I had picked up a book on local plants called Plants of the Pacific Northwest Coast and I decided to find each of the plants I had collected within its daunting pages. Fox gloves and daisies were easy, both coming over to North America from Europe. Fox gloves are poisonous but are also used for its medicinal effects for heart conditions. But unless you know how to use the plant and which parts are safe, I would avoid consuming any part of it. The small deep purple plant was harder to find in my book. Known as prunella vulgaris, this wild growing plant is a part of the mint family. It is also known as ‘self-heal’ and ‘heal all.’ It has been used for medicinal purposes all over the northern hemisphere and according to the book, now grows on all continents.
What a useful plant to pick at random! Intrigued to learn more, Tim and I spent much of the next day exploring and foraging for more Prunella. It seemed to grow everywhere! Because Plants of the Pacific Northwest Coast gives only a brief overview of each plant, we weren’t sure which part was used for medicinal purposes so we pulled up the root of the plant as well. Once we made it home and had access to the internet, we found that Prunella really is a heal all plant. Many resources online show the wide-range of its uses. The leaves can be used in a poultice for a variety of skin issues such as cuts, burns, and other irritations. The flowers are useful for internal ailments and has been known as a diuretic, antibacterial, antiseptic, and many other healing properties. I have decided to dry the plant to eventually make a tea.
I have long been interested in alternative medicine and this weekend has inspired me to grow my knowledge of foraging and to learn the plants of the land in which I am blessed to live. I will be looking for a more comprehensive herbal and healing book for the area in order to learn as many local plants as possible. Why turn to synthetic drugs controlled by pharmaceutical companies that pillage the earth with no account for its beauty and wonder? Why turn to medicines that lead to addictions, have terrible side-effects, and that are controlled by physicians, limiting access for many in need of healing? The earth holds many cures to our ailments just outside our doors.
Here are some other photos from our awesome weekend: