September 14th, 2013

chookie

Questions without answers.

I just received a newsletter from Susun Weed's site and in she makes a pretty big statement with no references to back it up. I really question this statement....not because it may not be true....quite possibly it is ....but how would she know? Our ancestors did not have the scientific facilities we have today so  knew little about mineral content of foods they ate, so where I ask did this statement come from?

"For our bodies to function optimally – including the nervous, immune, and hormonal systems - women must ingest a broad spectrum of minerals. In our Western culture, many of our diets are mineral deficient. 
Partially due to food choices, another factor is the condition of our soils.  The needed mineral content is simple not available after decades of large-scale, industrial farming, which has stripped the soils and washed the minerals out to sea.  Even our organic foods has less mineral content then when it was ingested by our ancestors..." Susun Weed Newsletter 14/09/2013.
A second attempt at Cleaver tea had me picking them fresh and making the tea in a smaller amount than previously. Once it was brewed I  strained it and drank a smaller cup than last time just in case I have a similar reaction to the firstresize_005 time. It reminds me of new mown hay , not sure if it the flavor or the smell. it seems to be just a grassy flavor really.
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My books sitting beside my chair. Without meaning to , over the years I have amassed quite a collection of books containing information on herbs and their uses. Maybe I always had a secret desire to study herbs?resize_017
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chookie

Borage, recipes and anecdotes.

Some research today on  the uses of Borage.
it seems to be a friendly herb that offers relief from Stress, Arthritic pain, earache, wound poultice, and several other benefits to the human body. Far and above it's medicinal qualities are the listed recommendations for it's culinary uses. Instead of rewriting each  websites information, i shall include here some quotes and recipes with links to the information. I am definitely going to try the Borage Ravioli.

i am not at all sure I entirely agree with the list of Primary and Secondary uses of Borage below. It seems to me that the medicinal benefits are given very low priority. It could be from lack of good information rather than an informed logic imho.

History:
Originating from Syria, this annual herb is now naturalized through Europe, Asia, North Africa, and South America.
Trivia:
Borage was once used to flavor wine.
Borage was historically used to give men courage.
This embroidered tea tray cloth is inspirational, no I am not a needleworker, but will incorporate Borage into one of my collages very soon, thanks to this wonderful needlework for the inspiration.
USING Borage
Primary Uses:
Leaves - light cucumber flavor; fresh or cooked (can be added to soups, pastas, sauces, or used as a cooked green, also reportedly used in jellies and lemonades)
Flowers - light cucumber flavor; fresh use in salads, as an edible garnish in soups, added to Summer time mixed drinks (Gin is most common), frozen in ice cubes for drinks, used in teas, and even candied (beautiful edible garnish for cakes), can also be dried for decorative uses
Seeds - pressed for oil; commercially raised for this... used as a supplement, not a cooking oil
Secondary Uses:
General insect (especially bees) nectar plant
Host plant for lacewings to lay eggs
Favorite plant for beneficials (spiders, damsel bugs, ground beetles, parasitoid wasps)
Reportedly a great companion plant for tomatoes, squash, and strawberries
Deep rooted green manure - can help break up hard packed soils... great addition to seed balls
Traditional medicinal uses

and here a  list of recipes compliments of  the South African site...Herbal Academy
http://www.herb.co.za/herbal/borage-tonic.htm
Borage Recipes
Beverages and Drinks with Borage
To flavour a glass of tomato juice or cocktail add 1 tablespoon minced young borage leaves. Add borage flowers when serving alcoholic drinks and fruit drinks. Especially good with a claret cup. Add borage leaves and flowers to hot or iced tea or lemonade.
Borage Wine Cup
Makes about 2 liter
125ml brandy
30ml castor sugar
750ml bottle dry white wine
125ml orange juice
250ml crushed ice
750ml bottle pink champagne
250ml lemonade
250ml ginger ale
250ml chopped fresh borage leaves
Borage flowers to garnish (optional)
Blend brandy, sugar, wine, juice and ice until combined.
Combine champagne, lemonade, ginger ale, borage and wine mixture in large bowl just before serving.
Decorate with borage flowers.
Borage Ice Blocks
Half fill ice block trays with cold water and freeze solid. Remove from freezer and tip out the half blocks. Put a borage flower into each division, replace the half blocks and top them up with water. The flower is then trapped between the water and the ice. When the tray is returned to the freezer the borage flower will be set in the middle of the ice block. Otherwise the flowers tend to float to the top.
Borage-Flavoured Lemonade
¼ cup lemon juice
2-3 tablespoons sugar
3-4 medium-sized borage leaves
2 cups water
Put all ingredients in a blender and blend for approximately 30 seconds. Strain into a tall glass, and garnish with borage flowers.
Strawberry and Borage Cocktail
4-5 borage leaves
250ml dry vermouth
450ml orange juice
450ml soda water
450ml ginger ale
1 lemon thinly sliced
1 punnet small strawberries
Lightly crush borage with mortar and pestle. Place in a large punch bowl and add all other ingredients, except strawberries; chill. Clean and prepare strawberries and float in a punch bowl just before serving.

Desserts with Borage
To Candy Borage Flowers
Pick the borage flowers, each with a small stem, when they are quite dry. Paint each one with lightly beaten egg white, using a water colour paintbrush. Dust them lightly with castor sugar and set to dry on waxed paper in a warm place like an airing cupboard or in a very cool oven.
Fruits with Borage
Tropical Fruit Salad with Lime Syrup
Make a mixture of fruit e.g. Passion fruit, kiwi fruit, pineapple, selection of berries, paw paw, melon, water melon. Combine fruit in a large bowl. Add lime syrup, toss gently to combine, cover, refrigerate for several hours, even overnight.
Lime Syrup
125 ml lime juice
125 ml sugar
60 ml chopped fresh borage leaves
Combine juice and sugar in small saucepan, stir over heat without boiling, until sugar has dissolved.
Bring to boil, reduce heat, simmer, uncovered without stirring for 5 minutes, cool.
Stir in borage.
Preserves with Borage
Add flowers to herbal vinegar as a dye and for a slight cucumber flavour.
Borage Jelly
A great spread with cream cheese and crackers.
6 cups borage leaves and flowers parts soaked in a 4 cups of cold water overnight, drain
4 cups of borage infused water
4 ½ cups sugar
1 tablespoon lemon
1 pack commercial pectin
a pinch of salt and red pepper
Cook according to commercial pectin direction.
Salads with Borage
Red, White and Blue Salad
1 medium cucumber
3 medium vine ripened tomatoes
¾ cup sour cream
1/4 teaspoon course black pepper
1 teaspoon white sugar
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1 teaspoon chopped dill leaves
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated lemon peel
1/4 teaspoon finely grated red onion
salt to taste
borage flowers togarnish
Combine all the ingredients except for the tomatoes and flowers. Slice tomatoes and arrange them, overlapping, around the edge of a serving platter. Mound the cucumber mixture in the center of the platter, just covering the inner edge of the tomatoes. Chill well, and place the borage flowers decoratively on the salad just before serving.
Serves 4 to 6
Mixed Herb Salad (La Salade de Plusieurs Herbes)
Adapted from a 16th century French translation of a book originally written in Latin in 1474.
2 heads lettuce
1 handful young, tender borage leaves
1 handful chopped fresh mint leaves
1 handful fresh lemon-balm leaves
1 handful tender fennel shoots and flowers
1 handful fresh chervil leaves
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon oregano or marjoram flowers and leaves
salt
1/3 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons wine vinegar
Wash the lettuce and herbs well, dry them and place them in a large dish. Sprinkle with salt, add the oil and finally the vinegar. Let the salad stand a while before serving. Eat the salad heartily, crunching and chewing well.
To serve 6
Borage and Cucumbers
3 large cucumbers
200ml sour cream
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
½ teaspoon celery seed
1/4 cup chopped green onion
1 teaspoon sugar
salt and pepper to taste
¼ cup fresh, young borage leaves (chopped finely)
Slice the cucumbers thinly. Salt lightly and set aside in a colander for 30 minutes, then rinse and pat dry with paper towels. Mix the remaining ingredients, add the cucumbers to the mixture, and toss lightly. Garnish with borage blossoms. Chill for one hour before serving.

Sauces with Borage
Cucumber Sauce
Serve with fish salads, fried seafood and green salads
1 cucumber
2 shallots
5 ml soy sauce
salt and pepper
10 ml lemon juice
5 ml orange or lemon rind
5 ml made mustard
a dash of cayenne
20 ml chopped borage leaves
125 ml mayonnaise
Grate the cucumber and shallots. Add all other ingredients and blend in electric blender.Makes ± 375 ml
Frankfurter Gruene Sauce (Frankfurter Green Sauce)
3 cups mixed herbs (parsley, chives, chervil, borage, dill, spinach greens, watercress, tarragon, basil, pimpernel)
1 cup sour cream or plain yogurt
2 small onions, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons cream
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
¾ cup low-fat cottage cheese (pressed through a fine sieve in order to smooth curds)
ground white pepper
small pinch of sugar
1 to 2 eggs, hardboiled and coarsely chopped
Choose all or merely a selection of the herbs and greens mentioned in the list of ingredients (using the tarragon more sparingly than the others). Wash them thoroughly and drain on paper towels. Coarsely chop the greens; loosely packed, they should amount to about 3 cups altogether. Take 2 cups of the greens, combine with the sour cream or yogurt and the onions, and puree in the blender or processor; add a few tablespoons of cream if it doesn’t seem to be fluid enough. The rest of the greens should just be finely chopped and stirred in a mixing bowl with the puree in order to give the sauce a little bite. Stir in as much mayonnaise and low-fat cottage cheese as it takes to produce a smooth, creamy sauce.
Season with salt, pepper, and a ittle sugar. The hardboiled eggs can either be mixed in with the sauce or strewn over it as a garnish.
Makes 2 to 3 cups

Soups with Borage
Add one tablespoon young freshly chopped leaves to every 4 cups beet, cabbage, green pea or spinach soup
Acquacotta di Verdure – Cooked Water with Greens
Acquacotta literally means cooked water. It is generally served as a one coarse meal and in the past was eaten by shepherds and stockmen. There are as many versions as there are cooks.
A loaf of day-old Italian bread
1 cup potatoes, peeled and cubed
500 g ripe tomatoes, chopped (and peeled, if you like)
500 g spinach washed and coarsely chopped
500 g vegetables such as peas, beans, bell peppers or whatever else is in season
Bouquet garni of minced borage, marjoram, thyme, parsley
125 ml extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Fill a fairly large pot ¾ full of water and add the vegetables and herbs. Season with a little salt and cook for about 40 minutes. When the vegetables have finished cooking, cut the bread into thick slices. Dip each in the pot, let it drain, and put it in a bowl. Spoon some vegetables and a bit of the vegetable broth over the slices, drizzle some olive oil over them, and serve them with freshly ground pepper.
Vegetables with Borage
Borage flowers makes an attractive edible garnish and may be added to any green or fruit salad to taste. Young finely chopped borage leaves may be added to any green salad, but do not add too much because of their hairy texture. Especially good with beans, green peas and spinach.
Borage Leaves as a Vegetable
Wash young borage leaves and remove stalks. Chop finely and cook in a little butter in a covered saucepan over a very low heat. Season to taste. The dampness of the washed leaves should be enough to keep them from sticking to the bottom; they should soon be tender and their hairy texture disappears when cooked.
Try to combine the borage leaves with cabbage or spinach using about one-third borage leaves to two-thirds cabbage or spinach and cook in the same way.
It is makes a great 'marog'.
Borage Fritters
250 ml flour
8 ml baking powder
salt
125 ml milk
1 beaten egg
125 ml – 250 ml cooked, chopped borage leaves
15 ml grated onion
oil or butter to fry
Sift flour, baking powder and salt into a basin.
Make a well in the centre and stir in combined milk and egg to make a stiff batter.
Add chopped, cooked borage leaves and grated onion.
Heat oil in a frying pan and fry the mixture in tablespoons, turning to brown both sides.
Drain on brown paper and eat hot with mashed potatoes and grilled tomatoes.
And a South African site that recommends Borage for skin care.........may be just the thing for my soap making! http://www.herb.co.za/herbal/borage-
If you have dry skin, and most of us have in winter, try this recipe.
Beat together 1 egg yolk, 10 ml of almond oil and 7g. of fresh yeast, or use dried yeast mixed with a little warm water to make a paste. Add 15 ml of strong borage infusion, made by pouring 250 ml of boiling water on to 45 ml of crushed or chopped leaves. Smooth the mixture on to the skin and leave for 10 minutes. Wash it off with warm water, pat dry and apply moisturiser.
Companion Planting with Borage
Borage is traditionally grown in cottage gardens, both as a culinary herb and because bees loves the flowers, yielding an excellent honey.
It is a good companion plant and mulch for most plants, being an excellent source of minerals, especially calcium and potassium. In particular , borage and strawberries help each other and strawberry farmers always set a few plants in their beds to enhance the fruits flavour and yield. Borage is also a good companion for tomatoes – both seem to improve in growth and disease resistance when planted near each other.
http://www.herb.co.za/herbal/borage-

Wikipedia tells me .....
"When added to soap, borage oil soothes and softens dry and mature skin. For those suffering from serious skin conditions stemming from low fatty acid levels, borage oil soap may help restore these levels as a topical application."

Not  at sure if Borage oil is available in Australia but will definitely do a Borage oil infusion as well as a tea for
 soap. It won't have the same  beneficials as the borage oil is from pressed seeds. I will check the oil availability on soap forum.

I planted a Rue today , picked and made some borage tea and now have an idea for the canvas on my easel. I knew it would be something to do with bees but now Borage has inspired the final  idea........at last....it has sat on my easel for a month waiting for inspiration. A productive and happy day.