Saturday, May 31, 2014

Living the Pantry Lifestyle - Self sufficiency on a teeny tiny scale

I let the apple mint take over most of the herb garden, the garlic chives and sage are standing their ground in one corner.  The thyme was killed off by this last winter.
This has been a week when I haven't felt well at all since the doctor had to switch my insulin/s.  But he warned me so I knew what to expect.  Still, feeling wonky and miserable with blood sugar running between 300 and 400 has kept me on the sofa more than I would like.  They will adjust it when I see the nurse mid-week.

However, I was able to enjoy the garden a little at a time (what my friend called "littling"). It is pleasant even to hoe weeds when the early morning symphony of bird songs are all around the forest and there is a cool breeze.

I pulled the gallon jar out of the garage, washed it out, and started making sun tea this week.   I know it went out of favor for awhile when there was media coverage that it was not safe.  But then I read that keeping the jar out in the sun two or even three hours is usually safe.  People had been leaving it out all day.  It is such a delicious way to make sure I get plenty of water.  ;)

So I put three Lipton white raspberry tea bags in the jar and I was stuffing the jar with both apple mint and lemon balm.  Well... I read this past week that people taking thyroid medicine should not ingest lemon balm!   Yikes!

I knew one should not use it if on any herb or pharmaceutical meds that are for depression or anxiety (which neither of us are)... but I had no idea about not using it if you have low thyroid, Hashimoto's disease (which I have), or if you are on thyroid medicine (which I am).

So now I add only apple mint to the jar with the tea and I am brewing a separate lemon balm tea for Hubby in the pretty yellow teapot I keep in the kitchen.  It is good for what ails him since he does not take any pharmaceutical medication, anymore (they made him suicidal).

The garden is growing nicely, I'll show some pictures next week that I took yesterday.  None of the greens are quite large enough to harvest but the herbs are huge.  I already had to cut back the lovage to give the bee balm elbow space.

As you can see in the photo at the top of this post, the larger and older corner herb garden is nice and full.  Would you believe all that apple mint started out with one or two small plants?  I planted it after watching the West Lady's DVD about herbs.*

And I'm still using the compound butters I made from herbs last fall and froze.  The nasturtium butter has been delicious when used for sauteing potatoes and other veggies.  It has a very peppery flavor.  I usually mix a little oil with it in the skillet to raise the smoke point (making it less likely to burn).

My red dishpan is already used a lot to rinse herbs and veggies.
I hope I can encourage you this week to do something to be a little more self sufficient, even if on a very small scale.  I think we all believe at times it is all or nothing.  City folk can deepen the pantry and perhaps grow herbs and people like me who have a yard can grow a small raised bed garden.

It doesn't have to be all or nothing.  I started out growing herbs at the side of the house where we lived in Iowa soon after Christopher was born and I learn more each year.  Like ummm... not drinking lemon balm tea!

Now off to rest a bit again.   Then I must come up with a creative way to use the leftovers from Thursday night.  Hmmm... that's part of the fun of cooking.  :)

* Homestead Blessings (The West Ladies) The Art of Herbs DVD... here.  I love it!  Amazon Associate's link.


Terra said...

That apple mint patch is very pretty, and I like the concept of littling, since that is how I garden. Good tips about herbs and prescriptions.

My Cottage Diary said...

Hi Brenda! Hope you'll be feeling better soon and that your blood sugar levels will mightily improve. With my heart meds I can't have grapefruit. Then I read a year or so ago that I shouldn't have pomegranate, not that I had had much of it. Your tea and butters sound good! I have a teeny tiny pantry, and so far, so good. (It's actually a drawer!) But I agree that we should probably do what we can, and not worry about doing what we can't do. Feel better, Bess

Bookie said...

I had no idea about the lemon balm! I take that med too so I had better what my herbal teas.

I so love that yellow tea pot! I have one similar but my yellow is not such a strong vibrant color as yours.

Today I picked lettuce and kale for salad that I am growing in flower pots!

Have a lovely weekend.

Manuela@A Cultivated Nest said...

I hope you feel better soon!

The apple mint patch is just beautiful! I have a huge patch of spearmint. Didn't know that about lemon balm. I think I have bee balm but I'll double check. I take a teeny bit of thyroid med too.

Anonymous said...

I think being self sufficient in a small way is a more realistic option for most people. Wonder how many of those 1960's "back to the landers' are still living on farms.

Thank you for the caution about mixing lemon balm and certain medications. I am also on thyroid medication and was unaware of that.

It's a shame that you have to go through all that just because your insurance company is too stingy to cover the kind of insulin that works best for you. Hope you feel better soon.

Vee said...

Oh I hope that the meds get adjusted soon. You have things you want to do! How interesting about the herbal teas. I only have spearmint in the garden, which I really don't care for. I'll look for apple mint just because it sounds so good. Saying a prayer for The Lord's protection and for those levels to come back where they belong.

Nana said...

Hi Brenda;
Thinking of you often, it is awful when your meds are changed and your blood sugar goes up so high! Can you tell when its high or low? I can tell sometimes, I simply do not feel good, it would be awful to feel like that a lot of the time. I love your gardens. I grow peppermint and have for years, it takes over everything! We make peppermint tea, my great grandson asked for it yesterday! My mom always use to say nothing lasts forever, not the good and not the bad, so you'll feel much better soon. Love and Hugs Nana

Anonymous said...

Praying your body adjusts to the new meds and you get to feeling better soon! I just got my garden all planted this week! My wonderful daughter-in-law came over to help. What a Blessing! We got it all done in record time! She jumped right into the big garden barefoot!! Just finished potting up a bunch of plants for my deck today. We're in for a stretch of sunny, warm weather! Love your herb garden! I'm growing orange mint and Morrocan mint in pots but they didn't come back as well this year. I think they want more room! Love putting them in with sun tea. I never heard about the danger of leaving sun tea out all day. I usually leave it out for 3 - 4 hours. Why is it bad to do that??
Take care and God Bless.
Laura C. (from WA)

Kathy said...

Hope you feel better soon! I'm sorry that you had to switch medicines, but I hope that you are able to get your blood sugar stable.

Good advice to do what we can.

Anonymous said...

I've never heard of nasturtium butter but I'm intrigued. Will you share your recipe? I love, love your blog, Brenda, and am so grateful for all the diligent attention you give it.

Deanna Rabe - Creekside Cottage Blog said...

I didn't know about the lemon balm either! Hmmm

Praying for you blood sugar!

I planted Apple Mint this year - can't wait to try it for tea!

As one who dabbles in many homemaking things; sewing, knitting, cooking, baking etc…women like Edith Schaeffer and Emilie Barnes where such great mentors to me!