Sip Tea While I Tell You A Story July 28 2015
One of the reasons that I am such a great believer in organic food and drink, and good health in general is that I wasn't always like this. Here in Mendocino in the seventies, I ran a nightclub, of sorts, called Toad Hall.
We had a wonderful time, with great music, hard drinking and too many drugs (let's be honest here), and some of us survived to tell about it to this day.
Mostly, no one cared, and it was a part of Mendocino that was not talked about with anything but disparaging tones. If you live long enough, though, people become curious and want to know what happened, so here we are.
I spoke about Mendocino in the seventies and Toad Hall last Sunday at the Kelley House Museum here in town, and I remember lots of great stories, many more than I could tell in an hour or two. I have decided that they should be shared. Here's one of my favorites:
I used to arrive at The Toad (nickname) late, and pull in directly in front of the front door, always in a hurry. In those days I drove an old pink Volvo sedan. My friend Michael's dog was in the back seat, I left my purse in the front seat, as usual, and the keys in the ignition.
It was a regular night: loud,raucous, smoky and dusty; with lots of folks drinking a bit too much for their own good. I did notice one couple having quite an argument in the middle of the evening and the wife storming out, but din't think much about it.
At about 2:30 am, after we had cleaned up a bit and shut things down, Michael went to let his dog out of the car. He came back and said, "Where did you park the car?" It was gone, aparently with the dog and my purse still in it.
I called the Fort Bragg police to report the missing car (and dog) and was told there was probably not a chance in Hell that I would see it again. I said, "Are you kidding? It's a pink Volvo...how hard could it be?"
I went to bed, and got a call about 8:00 the following morning from the police department. They said, "We've found your car in an empty lot in town. We put the keys under the mat, your purse is still on the front seat, and we gave your dog some water."
Farmers Market Blend Beginnings January 23 2015I began making Farmers Market Blend tea many years ago when I actually went to the local Farmers Market to sell my tea. The rules there were that vendors could only sell those things that they grew. So I made a blend out of herbs and flowers that grew in my yard.
I have a great profusion of Lemon Balm and many kinds of mint growing in my yard, and I love roses, especially the fragrant ones, so that became the base of my homegrown tea. I bought a dehydrator, and dried the flowers and herbs as I picked them.
The tea was a combination of Lemon Balm, Mint, Raspberry Leaves, Blackberry Leaves, Nettle Leaves, Pineapple Sage and Stevia Leaf. I would pick those herbs that grew best according to the time of year, and dehydrated them. Then I mixed the herbs together and added whatever flowers I had.
There are lots of colorful, edible flowers beside roses that grow in profusion at different times of year. We have Roses, Calendula, Viola, Pansies, Fuchsias, Nasturtiums, Lavender and Honeysuckle to name a few.
The Herbal Infusion was always different, always delicious and always beautiful. It became quite popular. Then I realized that I was having trouble keeping up with demand, and there seemed to be no way I could make enough tea to keep for winter and early spring. So I made a blend that included not only those herbs and flowers that I could grow, but a number of ingredients that I could buy organically and knew to be especially healthy. That blend, and the healthy aspect of those ingredients will be the subject of another blog.
It's fun to think about how some of the Mendocino Tea Company's blends came into being.
The Edge of the Western World January 05 2015
We got up before dawn, made tea and rushed down to the edge of the western world to watch the moon set this morning. My husband is a real estate broker and has a listing that is thirty five acres overlooking the bluffs and the ocean, so we went there, The moon was obscured by clouds, but we caught a stunning sunrise, saw a gaggle of geese, and made two dogs ecstatically happy.
We took pictures, enjoyed our tea, and came home. Life is good.
Homemade Winter Herbal Infusions January 03 2015
We live in the Pacific Northwest, so these ideas for homegrown infusions will mostly work for our area, but they can give you ideas about what you can grow, or gather, wherever you are for the future. The best way to have delicious infusion materials available is to gather herbs and flowers that appeal to you all year long and dehydrate them, pack them in jars and store them in a dark, cool, dry place or you can reuse the black bags that our tea comes in, and just store them in a cool place.
Since it is winter now, I will concentrate on things that can be gathered and used today. Try:
Candy Cap Mushrooms
Mint or Sage
I even found some Roses, but I know it's something special and unusual this time of year. Rose Petals are always wonderful in herbal infusions, they add color and flavor.
Once you gather these things, you can make your infusions with the fresh herbs, or dehydrate them and keep them for later. If you can, I recommend that you use a dehydrator, but if not, you can try putting in the oven at the lowest setting for a short period of time spread out on a cookie sheet.
‘TIS THE SEASON December 01 2014
Well, the cooler weather finally rolled into the Mendocino Coast and with it some much-needed rain storms. This time every year, I find myself reaching for a hot cup of tea a lot more often. Because I don’t want to get too caffeinated, I look to the herbals. Our HERBAL CHAI is always been a favorite in our house, with its tasty blend of warming ginger, cinnamon, cloves and cardamom. The hearty rooibos base makes for a very satisfying cup on a cold day. VANILLA ROOIBOS is my wife’s favorite. She brews it with brown sugar and this year, added some whipped cream –leftovers from making a Thanksgiving persimmon pudding. Wow! An instant (caffeine-free) addiction!
I also caught my first cold of the season. Sunny day so I put on a light jacket ( didn’t wear a hat) took the dog to the beach. Well, a chilly wind blowing from the East got me……. “You should have brought a hat,” my wife told me when I got home. Anyhow, I turned to my two faithful remedies: CINNABERRY and GINGER-LEMON teas. Delicious and soothing on the throat! Certainly ‘tis the season for holiday cheer and warming herbal teas and….don’t forget your hat and gloves!