Category Archives: Food and recipes

Meet Gingerbeer and Rootbeer!

I am a diehard Gingerbeer girl! and Zoe fast becoming a connoisseur of Rootbeer!….it seemed apropos to name our new kittens Gingerbeer and Rootbeer!

Have you made you own Gingerbeer and Rootbeer’s? Here are our fav recipes. .


 Most of the plants/roots in this recipe are native to North America, with the exception of Licorice and Sarsaparilla. Any of the plants can be omitted and replaced with a native favorite edible root; however, I find if you omit Licorice it has a very different flavor. You can also use Birch Twigs, Ginger root, mint leaves, orange peel, etc.  Through trial and error you too can formulate your own favorite brew.


  • 4 quarts water
  • 4 oz dried Spikenard Root* (Aralia racemosa)
  • 4 oz dried Dandelion Root
  • 5 inches dried Wild Carrot Root [Queen Annes Lace (Daucus carrota)]
  • 1/4 oz dried Sassafras Root
  • 4 teaspoons dried Yellowdock Root
  • 4 teaspoons dried American Ginseng Root** (optional)
  • 4 teaspoons dried Chicory Root
  • 4 teaspoons dried Licorice Root
  • 4 teaspoons dried Sarsaparilla Root (optional)
  • 4 teaspoons dried Sumac Flowering Heads [Red Berries (Smooth)]
  • 1 ½ cups maple syrup/ raw honey
  • 1/8 teaspoon granulated ale yeast.


* Add herbal ingredients to 2 quarts of water and simmer uncovered for 10- 15 minutes.

* Cover pot with lid and allow to simmer for an additional 10-15 minutes.

  • Pour 2 quarts of cool filtered water into a one gallon glass jug. Strain herbal brew and then add to jug.
  • While the brew is cooling, mix the ale yeast into a teacup with luke warm water and let sit for a few minutes.
  • Add the yeast.
  • Cap and turn over several times to mix well.
  • Store in a cool place.
  • You will need to check carbonation in 48-72 hours to avoid exploding bottles. Some people like to cover with balloons for the first 36 hours. As soon as carbonation is right, refrigerate.

This recipe makes 9-11 12 oz bottles. Play with the recipes and have fun!


If you are using fresh roots use 1/3 more to achieve the same potency.

** Never pick this herb in the wild. Only collect if you have cultivated it. For more info on ethical harvesting check United Plants Savers.


 The children in Enid Blyton’s Famous Five stories always had wonderful picnics which nearly always included “lashings of ginger beer!”


  • 1 large Lemon, zest and juice
  • 1 cup Pineapple Juice (optional)
  • 5 teaspoons Cream of Tartar
  • 3/4 cup Honey
  • 1 oz (25g) Fresh Root Ringer, peeled and bruised
  • A pinch of Cayenne
  • 4 pints Boiling Water
  • 4 pints Cold Water
  • 15g Fresh Yeast
  • 1 slice Toast


  • Place the lemon zest, cream of tartar, cayenne and honey in a large bowl or bucket. Add the bruised ginger.
  • Pour the boiling water over the mix and stir.
  • Add the cold water, lemon juice and pineapple juice.
  • Allow to cool until the mix is lukewarm.
  • Spread the yeast on the toast and float it on the mixture.
  • Cover with a clean cloth and leave in a warm place for 24 hours until frothy.
  • After 24 hours, remove any scum from the top of the mixture.
  • Discard the toast and syphon the beer into sterilized bottles, avoiding any sediment.
  • Seal the bottles with screw-caps or corks secured with wire.
  • Leave for 3 days in a cool place before drinking.
  • Drink within the following 3 days or the ginger beer will taste too yeasty.

Makes 5 liters (9 pints)

Making Elderberry Sparkle

It’s easy, it’s yummy!

Step 1   Locate (Black) Elder Trees and when flowering (sometime in June if you are in the Northeast) On a sunny day collect 3 large heads of fragrant elderflowers. Make sure they’re not going by (you can tell by the browning of the petals), otherwise the finished result will taste nasty! 

Step 2  Shake any insects from the elderflower heads and immerse in 4.8 litres of cold water in a crock (a plastic bucket works well also) 

Step 3  You’ll need one lemon, 750g white sugar, 2 tbsp white wine vinegar   Peel a lemon, making sure not to include any pith. Squeeze the juice. Put the flowers, the lemon peel and juice into a large clean plastic bucket, together with the sugar, wine vinegar, and water.

Step 4 Stir vigorously. 

Step 5 Leave for about 24 hours, then strain and pour into strong screw-topped bottles – fizzy water bottles are ideal. Don’t fill them to the top.


Step 6 Leave in a cool place for 2 weeks and the naturally occurring yeast on the elderflower heads begins to ferment with the sugar creating a very weak alcohol content but lots of carbon dioxide.

Lots of CO2 = Big Elderflower Fizz!!!!

It is possible that one or two of the bottles explode! It seems a little random, it is possible that they’re less likely to explode the cooler.

Step 6 Drink cold. Great for a party on a hot summer’s day. I have heard that if stored in a cool place they can last up to a year! 

A Frightful Day

Did you notice the jug of Fright Night Tonic in the third picture?  You can click on the photo to enlarge. Here is the recipe….

Fright Night Tonic (A warming beverage for Grown-Ups only)

Local Black Currants (Bug Hill Farm)

Local Apple Cider (Bear Swamp Farm)

Homemade Ginger Brandy (Ginger from Old Friends Farm, Honey from Warm Colors Apiary)

Put 1/2 pint of Blackcurrants and a little Apple Cider in the blender and blenderize. Pour into a pan add some more apple cider and gently heat. Add a little Cinamom, Clove and Nutmeg to taste. Add a splash or two of Ginger Brandy.

Two books I am LOVING and NEED TO BUY SOON…as they make me happy!

I checked two books out the libray this week and I am absolutely loving them! I have had each of them on my “request” list for some time now, in fact the first one for about 6 months. The last time it was checked out was on June 18th and I know why.

Collect Raindrops: The Seasons Gathered

by Nikki McClure

It’s eye candy. Poetic beauty. Simplicity. If you do not know her work go directly to her website read her bio and drool over her work. This book has barely been out of my site since Wednesday Evening! and will cause great separation anxiety when it is time to return it!

The other book is the

The River Cottage Family Cookbook

by Hugh  Fearnley-Whittingstall and Fizz Carr

It full of so many simple basic recipes and meal preparation ideas. I immediately made a list of 10-15 recipes to try before returning to the library. Many of  the recipes I picked out were deserts! What really sold me on the book was that as it’s title implies it is a family cookbook! Great explanations about what different foods are and how they are made with instructions on how to make at home butter, yogurt, cheese, salt etc. The first recipe I tried was the lamb kebabs. I have never bought lamb before but remembered LOVING lamb chops and Kebabs as a child. Once the marinated lamb was placed on the skewer I thought that they would be much tastier on the grill. SO I trudged through the snow, with the freezing wind chill, over the snow banks to the grill, said a little prayer and tada! the grill lit first try. The result was the yummies kebabs ever!

Easter Egg Hunts and More. . .


This year the Easter bunny brought Zoe the book “Grow it, Cook it” by DK Publishing and in each Easter egg hidden out in the yard was hiding a seed package. There were carrot seeds and broccoli seeds, egg guords and basil, beets and sunflowers and a certificate for a strawberry journal. There was plenty of candy also. We have been long term members of a local CSA so we have had no “need” to grow our own food. I have just focused on growing medicinal and culinary herbs but thought it would be fun for Zoe to have her own garden. Yesterday there was a lot of singing “John the Rabbit”.  She is excited to get going as soon as the weather warms up. It was snowing yesterday on Easter!

Our very favorite Easter book is The Country Bunny and the Gold Shoes. A great feminist tale written in 1939!  suggesting that we can all do anything we set our minds on!

I also wanted to direct any past Herbal Way readers to the Blazing Star Herbal School Blog. Over there we’ll be playing along  The 100-Species Challenge and will be posting the regular herbal apprenticeship updates!

More shots from a street market

For those of you wondering the fruit and vegetable street markets are not comparable to our farmers markets. They are not farmers selling their produce but r traders that sell the produce. It is often imported. At the larger ones their is often a stall for toilet paper and kitchen paper and other household supplies, clothes (including underwear stalls) linens and bathroom rugs as well as international imports as seen below by the matryoska dolls and Russian painted eggs. 

Recently the concept of organic markets is catching on and  it is at these markets where the farmer brings their own produce to sell. There are about 20 weekly organic markets around Athens. I have not been to one yet hopefully Monday. img_4657