Celebrating diversity and making lemonade...

Celebrating diversity and making lemonade...

Tuesday, February 22, 2022

Foraging for conifer needles...

 On the Farm and in the Kitchen

I know spring is right around the corner but I have something to say about winter and foraging before the season is over.  For several months, I have been thinking about what else I could take to the Farmers Market to sell.  I enjoy making the jams and jellies.  I also enjoy growing sunflowers and I am thinking of expanding the flowers BUT I keep thinking about something else to offer and it has to fit in with everything else I am already doing!  I posted a blog about Apple Cider Vinegar in November.  I started thinking more about doing flavored vinegars.  I started "googling" flavored vinegars.  I found a post about pine needle vinegar and it said that it was similar to balsamic vinegar.  I LOVE balsamic vinegar so I just had to give this a try and this led me down a rabbit hole of conifer needle goodies...

For the vinegar, I started collecting conifer needles around the farm.  We have several types of conifer trees around our home.  I found this article to help with identification: How to Identify Conifer Trees: Pine, Fir, Spruce, Juniper & More  It was still pretty challenging to identify everything.  One big "take home" message for me is to stay away from Yew trees (they have red berries) and can be poisonous.  Luckily, we don't have any Yews.  I think we mostly have pine, spruce, hemlock, and junipers...but I could be wrong.
Making a pine needle vinegar is super easy.  Here’s how herbalist Susan Weed does it (from the article Pine Keeps You Fine):  “I preserve all the vitamins found in fresh pine needles by soaking them in apple cider vinegar for six weeks. I fill a wide-mouthed jar with pine needles and pour room-temperature, pasteurized apple cider vinegar over them until they are completely covered. A plastic (or non-metal) lid and a label with the name of the plant and the date completes the preparation. I call this tasty vinegar “home-made balsamic vinegar” and you will be surprised at how much it tastes like the store bought stuff —’Only better,’ say many, with a smile” (Weed, 2008, para. 4).

Here is my jar of pine needle vinegar.  I was surprised to see it fermenting away so there must be a good amount of sugar in the pine needles?  Side note for this next winter: You can also infuse vodka or gin with pine needles the same way and use to make winter cocktails!
Some uses for pine needle vinegar:
Pour a spoonful or more on beans and grains as a condiment
Use it in salad dressings
Add it to cooked greens
Season stir-fries with it
Look for soups that are vinegar friendly, like borscht
Put a big spoonful in a glass of water and drink it
Use it as a hair rinse to add shine to your hair!

Something else you can make with pine needles is tea.  Just pour boiling hot water over the needles and let them steep.  I did make some tea with a couple of different needles but I have to say that I just did not really enjoy it that much.  I will just stick to my own peppermint herbs for a tea.

I even found a cookie recipe that uses pine needles: Pine Needle Sugar Cookies  

Here is an article with 30 Uses for Pine Needles...everything from syrup and pastries to beard balm!  If you infuse a carrier oil with pine needles, you can use it to make a lip balm.  I am seriously thinking of doing this...just put pine needles in a jar and then fill it with oil and let it sit for 6 weeks. Voila!  You have a conifer infused oil to use in making salves and balms.

Some benefits of pine needles include: lifting your mood, dispelling worry and fatigue, relieving the pain of sore muscles, relieving headaches, soothing frazzled nerves, and relieving skin irritations.  I did see a recipe for a Headache Balm made with the infused oil.  

The great thing about conifer needles is that they are not seasonal!  You can go out and pick them any time of year.  BUT...Did you know that you can eat the bright new growth at the end of the branches in the spring?  They are called "tips" and spruce tips seem to be the most popular.  They have a bright, citrus flavor that works well in both savory and sweet dishes.  Almost all conifer tips are edible, and the only exception is yew trees.  Pine and fir tips have their own unique taste, and as an added bonus, all conifer tips have medicinal properties.  I had never really paid attention to tips before but the bush right by our front door always has some bright green tips and now I see it as a sign of warmer weather!

Conifer Tips ~ From left to right:
Hemlock Tips, Spruce Tips, Young Fir Tips, Older Fir Tips and Pine Shoots
Taken from Foraging Spruce Tips

I just love finding new uses for something that we have lots of and there are a good amount of conifer trees around our property.  I am hoping to make a gallons of apple cider vinegar (from the 50 apple trees we have) this fall so I can make lots of fun, flavored vinegars next year!  I just need to get some bottles and I should be able to get started.  I am going to put some pics of bottles in a Facebook post later this week and would love some input!

Have an eggcellent day!



Sunday, February 13, 2022

Using eggs in your beauty routine!

In the Bathroom

Eggs can make you beautiful on the inside AND outside!  I am going to be honest.  I have not had much personal experience using eggs for any beauty routine.  To be honest, I don't really have much of a beauty routine at all.  However, I do know that eggs have multiple uses in beauty regimens (just google egg and beauty).  Most of the information that is in this blog are taken from other blogs and there are links to the original content.

Eggs and Hair Mask

Eggs have protein and several vitamins (see list below pic) that can make your hair soft, strong, and shiny.  Lecithin, in the eggs, helps to clean the dirt and greasiness without stripping out the natural oils of your scalp.  There are actually egg shampoos that you can purchase.
Vitamin A- It enhances sebum production in hair, thus keeping away the problem of dandruff. Besides, it also deals with the problem of hair loss.

Vitamin B- This vitamin plays a crucial role in supplying adequate oxygen to scalp, thus improving the overall circulation in hair.

Vitamin D- Improves the strength of hair, fighting with the problem of hair loss simultaneously.

Vitamin E- Deeply cleanses hair follicles and scalp, providing optimum and much needed levels of moisture to the scalp.

Fatty Acids- Makes hair more lustrous than ever before. It also strengthens them from roots and thus, prevents hair loss.

One way to use eggs in your hair is to make a mask and leave it in your hair for a while and then wash it out.  Taken from Beutyepic.com...here are some of the benefits of using a hair mask: softens and moisturizes hair, reduces hair fall, promotes hair growth, nourishes hair follicles, cleanses scalp and makes hair shiny and silky.
Egg Honey Apple Cider Vinegar Hair Mask:
1 egg
2 tablespoons of honey
1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar

Mix all the ingredients to make a smooth paste.
Apply this paste to your scalp and hair with your fingertips.
Leave it on for about 45 minutes, then shampoo your hair.

I did try this egg hair mask.  It was pretty thin so that made it challenging to apply.  I wish I had a shower cap to keep it in place but I just put a towel around my shoulders to catch any drips.  My hair did feel soft and more "full" after washing and drying.  I want to try to do this more in the future but it is pretty messy.  

Here are some more hair care tips from Haircaresquare.com :
If you have dry hair, use only egg yolk
If you have oily hair use only egg white
If you have normal hair, use whole egg (both egg whites and yolk)

Eggs and Face Mask

Egg shells are full of calcium and minerals.  Eggs also contain collagen that aids in improving skin elasticity and firmness, and the protein in egg whites helps reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.  You can make a face mask with egg white and egg shell for bright and flawless skin.  Taken from Beautyglimpse.com:

Eggshell Face Mask
This is an all-in-one eggshell face mask that can beautify by nourishing, brightening, and firming your skin. To prepare it, separate the white from the yolk and beat the white portion. Now, mix the eggshell powder with the egg white and whisk properly. Use it all over your face, massage gently for a few minutes by using your fingertips, and allow it to dry. Then, wash it off with fresh cold water. It will give you a healthy and shiny skin while preventing premature aging.  (To make eggshell powder just crush dry eggshells with a grinder.  You can heat them at low heat in the oven to make sure they are germ free and dry.)

More beauty tips using egg taken from Makeupandbeauty.com:

• Egg For Toning The Skin– Whip an egg till it becomes frothy. Apply it all over your face as well as neck. Wait till it is dry and rinse in lukewarm water. This practice would help to tone and tighten your skin.
• Egg-White For Firming Pores– Take an egg and the egg-white has to be separated from the yolk. Beat the egg white to produce a thick foam and now, apply it on cleaned face. Wait for about twenty minutes and wash off with lukewarm water. This mask helps to firm skin pores and also treat acnes.
• Egg To Reduce Under-Eye Puffiness– If the skin under your eyes seem puffy and your eyes look tired, apply a thin coating of egg white on the area under your eyes and leave on for about ten minutes. Wash off with plain water. Eggs are known to fix puffy eyes effectively.

It seems that a lot of these recipes just use the white.  Did you know that you can use an empty plastic bottle to remove the yolk from an egg?  Just push the air out of the bottle and then suck up the yolk leaving the white behind!
Enjoy using eggs in your beauty routine...they are natural and great for your skin and hair!

Have an eggcellent day!