Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Sturm und Drang

The weather is wild and windy, in full autumnal storm mode ably assisted by the tail end of Hurricane Gonzalo; we've had gale force winds and driving rain with a noticeable drop in temperature.   It doesn't compare to a true hurricane but the weather is noticeably wild and make a trip to the shops a bit of a battle.

The lawn is full of fallen leaves and the sky full of scattered crows battling their way across the landscape against a backdrop of grey clouds and torrential downpours.  The rain eases and stops every so often (enough so that you almost think about going out but by the time you finish what you're doing and have got your coat on it's pouring down again); but the wind is constant, howling down the chimney and finding it's way through all those small gaps in the doors.

Some of us resort to curling up with a blanky and sleeping the storm out.

Jean-Luc and I will be firing up the central heating this evening and snuggling up in the cosy warmth.
We'll be dining on the leftovers of this leg of lamb, which we roasted on Sunday. 

Jean-Luc has made up a mint and tomato sauce with horseradish and juniper berries to marinade the lamb in.  It'll be cut into slices and cooked up as Lamb Henry.  Yum.  Perfect comfort food for this weather.
Hope you're all keeping warm and safe in this dreadful weather.

On another track, while Jean-Luc was lifting grass on the veggie beds I was making another batch of calendula salve.

I love making this salve; it's a simple recipe and smells delicious.  We use this salve for scratches, bruises, burns, insect bites and for dry or chapped gardening hands.  It's lovely having something in the bathroom cabinet which we know the ingredients of and which works.  
The recipe is from the ever reliable Rhonda at Down to Earth .  

Calendula and tea tree salve

  •  1 cup of fresh or dried calendula petals that haven't been sprayed with anything and have been organically grown.
  •  1 cup olive oil
  •   ¼ cup melted beeswax
  •   5 drops of tea tree oil
 Pick petals when they're dry and add them to a white bowl - you can see any bugs better on a white background.  Strip the petals from the flower heads and when you have a cup full, dry them out for a day.  The next day add them to a jar that you can seal with a lid.
(You can use pre dried calendula petals but make sure they're not herbicide sprayed and from a reputable herbalist or health food shop.)

 Pour in a cup of olive oil.   Put the jar out in the sunshine for about two weeks. This solarises the mix and gently extracts healing properties from the calendula as the oil gently heats up every day.
 When the oil has been sitting in the sun for two weeks, take the jar inside and strain the oil, removing the petals. You can use either cheesecloth or a fine wire strainer.  Press the petals with the back of a spoon to release all the oil. Add the tea tree oil tand the jar in a container of hot water to heat the oil slightly so it will mix well with the hot wax.

In a double saucepan, melt the beeswax, allow it to cool down a little then add it to the oil. If you want to add vitamin E do it now. 
Stir the salve to emulsify it. It lightens the colour and completely mixes the oils with the wax. Pour into a sterilised jar and seal. Store this in the fridge. It will keep for at least a year.

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