By Zainab Pashaei
I’m not talking about time travel. Nowruz—the equivalent of the New Year—was just celebrated on the spring equinox in Iran as well as in numerous other countries and among ethnic groups in the Middle East. In Iran, the first month of the year is called Farvardin, which began on March 20, 2021 (spring equinox). Although the year is specifically 1400 in Iran, Iranian traditions for Nowruz are thousands of years old and pre-date the emergence of Islam in the country. In contrast to Western nations, the importance of nature and spring plays a critical role in new year festivities of the nation. Many of these festivities are symbolic and involve herbs, nature, and light (fire).
During the festivities, which start on the Wednesday before the spring equinox, Iranians will gather and jump over fires and light fireworks in observance of Chaharshanbe Suri (loose translation =…
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I’m not sure about you but Vancouver Island is awash in tulips! From pale yellows, crimson reds, pumpkin oranges, deep purples, lustred pinks and snow-white, their luminous colours are stunning. The most unsung of tulips many spring charms, however, is her edibility. With flavours and textures as diverse as her colours, her blooms offer not…The Incredibly Tasty Tulip: Chèvre Cheese Balls — Gather Victoria
by Maryann Readal
Chervil, Anthriscus cerefolium, is similar to parsley but has a milder, anise flavor. It is sometimes called French parsley or garden parsley. The Romans named it cherifoliu, the ‘cheri’ part meaning delight and the ‘folium’ part meaning leaves—the joy of leaves.
Chervil is important in French cuisine, where it is an ingredient in classic sauces such as béarnaise and ravigote. These sauces pair well with fish, veal, or chicken. Along with parsley, chives, and tarragon, chervil is in the French herb combination, herbes fines. Chervil is better used fresh as it loses its flavor when dried. It should be added at the end of cooking to get the most out of its flavor. It is a good addition to omelets and salads and can be sprinkled over fresh fruit. Chervil makes a flavorful and colorful butter. The leaves and flowers can…
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Note: This recipe was originally shared on Gather Victoria on Patreon. It was originally a recipe for Imbolc but for reasons that will soon become apparent- I thought I’d share it here for St. Patricks Day! St. Patrick was said to have driven all of the snakes out of Ireland – which is odd. While…Cheesy Dandelion Spirals: Serpentine Spring Magic — Gather Victoria
By Susan Belsinger
(Adapted from her article, “Exploring Rainforest Spices at Villa Vanilla,” featured in the 2019 issue of The Herbarist, the annual journal of The Herb Society of America.)
“Plain vanilla is very much like that little black cocktail dress—always welcome, simply chic, so quietly dramatic.”
—Lisa Yockelson, from Baking by Flavor
Vanilla in the Kitchen
Although I am a chocolate lover, I have always adored the fragrance of vanilla. More than once as a child, I tasted vanilla extract straight from the bottle—knowing full well that I wouldn’t like it—I just could not resist, because it always smelled so good.
Back in my early adult years—and the beginning of my lifetime association with natural foods, herbs, and spices—I used vanilla beyond the kitchen. I found the aroma alluring, so why not use it like perfume? I…
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Organic Alcohol Company (OAC) was founded in 2001 to provide high-proof Organic Alcohol with herbalists in mind. Our founder, an herbalist himself, saw the need to provide an alternative to other conventional ethanols on the market. Focusing on high quality and healthful medicines is still something our whole team values. We regularly purchase products from our local herbalist customers, not only support their work, but to support the use of herbal medicines and remedies.
Many of us at OAC have taken to experimenting with OAC alcohol to make various herbal concoctions ourselves. As a novice, I am learning new information all the time. I only recently found out that traditional tinctures may be only called a tincture when alcohol is used as the solvent, or menstruum (another word for solvent).
Each time I learn something new I am more excited to dive deeper into herbal education, and glean knowledge from…
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By Amy Forsberg
Last week we looked at some of the beverages important to a Trinidad Christmas. Now let’s talk about some of the foods and the special ingredients needed to make them.
So what is on the menu in Trinidad for Christmas? Here is what Ann told me. “Dinner is ham, of course, pastelles, baked chicken, fried rice, pelau, callaloo, macaroni pie…and everybody makes homemade bread. And, of course, sorrel drink and ponché de crème. And you have to have black cake, of course….Everything is homemade, nobody buys anything.”
Pastelles are the West Indian version of tamales and reflect the Mexican/Aztec heritage in the Caribbean. Making pastelles can be labor intensive, and according to Ann, many families make the work fun by turning it into a party and making large quantities assembly-line style. This is part of what makes them such a Christmas treat. Every island has their own…
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By Amy Forsberg
I was visiting my mother just a few weeks before Christmas in 2017. She had recently moved to a wonderful small family-run assisted living home. The owner, Ann Abdul, asked me if I’d like to taste some “sorrel drink” she had made for the holiday season. I had no idea what that was. It looked Christmassy–a brilliant ruby red. I took a sip, and the most delicious taste filled my mouth. It was a rich, complex, and unfamiliar burst of flavors. But it tasted like Christmas, too—it was sweet, and I thought I could detect cinnamon, cloves, and vanilla. But it also tasted a bit like lemonade with a pronounced citrusy tartness. I loved it, and I had to know more!
Ann and her family are from Trinidad, and over the next two years, I learned so much from her about Trinidad cuisine and culture. The island…
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With the cooler temperatures of September and October, the abundance of the Oaks come forth. In my area, we have abundant oaks of a variety of species: white oak, chestnut oak, eastern red oak, swamp oak, and much more. Each of these oaks, every 2-3 years, produces an amazing crop of nuts that simply drop at your feet. Acorn was once a staple food crop of many different peoples around the world–and in some places, it still is. Here in North America, acorns and chestnuts were primary food sources for native American people. Cultures subsided–and thrived–on annual acorn harvests and the bread, cakes, grits, and other foods that can be made with processed acorns. I really enjoy processing acorns and using them as ritual foods for both the fall equinox and Samhain.
Thus, in this post, we’ll explore the magic of the acorn, how to process acorns…
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