A Mountain Joy

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When my sister went to Ecuador a few years ago, she came home with some recipes that work beautifully with an herb that my family likes to grow. In Ecuador, they use this particular herb, not just for seasoning, but also for medicinal purposes. In Ecuador, as I recall, they use it in chicken soup with lemon added in to help with colds, and upset stomach.

That herb is Oregano. Now, I know that reading about an herb may not sound all that terribly exciting unless you are into gardening. I wasn’t overly interested in it myself until just recently because my line of expertise lies more in the livestock than in the garden. My dad is more the gardener. However, I do use it in cooking and I decided that aside from mentioning the plant and the fact that it is used both as seasoning and medicinally in Ecuador, I ought to look it up and see what the history on this plant is.

As it turns out, Oregano has a long and very interesting history. Did you know that Oregano was first as I understand it, found in Greece? As a matter of fact, it has a place in the ancient Greek lore. The ancient Greeks believed that the goddess Aphrodite created the plant as a source of joy for her garden. Oregano comes from the two Greek words Oros which means mountain and Ganos which means joy. So, this plant is not only a culinary delight but is also a Mountain Joy.

Another interesting fact to me historically, is that the ancient Greeks used it as an antidote for narcotics poisoning. The ancient Egyptians also used it as an antidote, and as a preservative.

Apparently, and this was a fact of interest to me as a homesteader who keeps milk goats, dairy farmers also used to feed it to their dairy animals to help sweeten their milk.

 

I used this culinary delight in a stew recently. I call this type of stew the Watchagot Stew.

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Basically, it’s whatever you have on hand. I made a huge pot of the stuff and it was fantastic! The ingredients I used were:

Barley: 2-3 cups
Lentils: 2-3 cups
Smoked turkey: approximately 3-4 cups
Carrots
Tomatoes
Green beans

1 1/2 cups of mushrooms
1 lime squeezed
fresh Cilantro to taste
fresh Oregano to taste
A pinch of rosemary
A pinch of basil
Chicken bullion to taste

 

The white strips in the stew are home made noodles. The recipe for those is:

2-3 eggs

1 pinch of salt

3 cups of flour

Knead that until it is no longer sticky.

Then cut it into strips and drop it into boiling soup.

 

I put all of that in a large pot, and boiled it for about 2 hours. It was one of the best stews I have made in a while!

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There was really so much information out there on the medicinal uses and the folk lore behind this herb, that I felt that I couldn’t do it justice in this blog post without it taking many more hours than it already has to look up information aside from how we use it for cooking, and the fact that we do grow it. I knew how to grow it, but I had no idea how much there really was to know about this herb. If you are interested in reading further on it, the websites where I was reading up on Oregano¬† are as follows:

http://www.herballegacy.com/Branca_History.html
http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/266259.php

The History of Oregano

 

 

 

Treating poison ivy

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Most of the time, I love living in the country. There are just a few things that I don’t like about country life. Ticks, chiggers, and plants that cause rashes! Recently, I had family coming out to visit and we’d had our mower down for a while and had to order parts for it. So, I ended up mowing the lawn with a little push lawn mower. No big deal! I’m wearing boots with jeans over the tops. No problems! What could possibly happen besides ticks or chiggers? I mean yeah, right now, we have a ton of tiny seed ticks on the farm, but aside from them?

Poison ivy! That’s what else can go wrong! Despite having long jeans covering my boot tops, I managed a nice case of poison ivy. There are several ways of treating poison ivy.

I used Epsom salts twice a day, and put Calamine on it four times daily as directed. Unfortunately, my rash continued to spread. Aside from calamine, there are a few other things that my family likes to do for pois0n ivy. Epsom salts!!! Epsom salts are practically a homesteaders best friend! Aside from the fact that they are great for sore muscles, they also will help ease the itch from tick bites, chiggers, and even help dry up poison ivy. 30 minutes once or twice a day in a tub full of Epsom salts will do wonders to dry up poison ivy without being very harsh on your skin. The other thing which most people know about is Calamine lotion to help with the itching.

 

Unfortunately, just like your skin can absorb essential oils which can genuinely help you, I learned the hard way that sometimes, it can also absorb poison ivy oil. Which causes systemic poison ivy. Yeppers! Oh joy! Mine went systemic. At that point, do yourself a big favour if the poison ivy doesn’t respond to over the counter treatments in a few days time, and go see a doctor. You may need steroids and a cortisone shot to stop the reaction.

 

So, how do you identify poison ivy? I know I thought I was very good at it. As a matter of fact, I was blaming my horse for getting me into weeds on the side of the trail when I had a novice rider in the front of his saddle, and I was doubling on his rear. I know that my dad is an avid gardener and is generally exceptionally good at identifying plants. When I decided to talk about the joys of poison ivy here on this blog, I took pictures of what I believed was the culprit causing my rash. This is what I showed my dad:Virginia creeper1

Dad told me that this is a plant commonly confused with poison ivy. This plant is called Virginia Creeper.

This was the other picture I showed him of this plant:

virginia creeper2

That’s just another Virginia Creeper there. Not a plant that causes rashes. Just bears an unfortunate resemblance to one.

This plant that we found in the yard where I had been mowing, turned out to be the culprit of my woes:

IMG_9092As you can see, both plants have the leaves attached at a nodule. But the poison ivy looks a little more innocent in my book than the creepy creeper.

 

My own education in homesteading continues. Hope you enjoy learning along with me,.