Eating + Drinking

Kitchen Lab herbalist cabinet for homemade remedies from the garden via www.studiogblog.comCold, flu and winter allergy season has already started in our house.  When the heat came on a few weeks back I was instantly plagued with intense allergy symptoms (I have a mouse allergy and I  have finally figured out that those little buggers – and their nastiness – are all over inside my old house heating ducts ).

Kitchen Lab herbalist cabinet for homemade remedies from the garden via

I like to tough things out if I can.  It’s not that I have an intractable nature, it’s just that I find so many ailments come with cures whose side effects are as bad or worse than the original problem.  Like now for instance, the allergy attack led to an immediate sinus infection whose antibiotic treatment is currently wreaking havoc on other parts of my body (which I don’t care to discuss).

Kitchen Lab herbalist cabinet for homemade remedies from the garden via

I am however interested in learning more about herbal remedies.  I figure at the very least I can become more knowledgeable about plants and their properties and the science behind their uses and at best I get a little relief and assistance while I hold out waiting to see if something goes away on its own or with a little of the right natural encouragement.

Kitchen Lab herbalist cabinet for homemade remedies from the garden via

I’ve been starting to read up and learn, but when I came across this natural kitchen, designed by Nienke van de Pol I decided to go all in.    Unfortunately this particularly pretty cabinet that comes with all the pretty implements isn’t in my budget but I do like the idea of a home Kitchen Lab for making my own self-care remedies straight from the garden.  I think it will be housed inside the existing dining room cabinet – along with the liquor (they go together right?).  As Nienka says: “Today’s circumstances force us to take the initiative when it comes to our health….[and] By exploring you will find how easy it is to make your own self care remedies for everyday ailments.”

images Studio Nienka Van De Pol

This is one of those crazy weeks and for some reason I feel compelled to pile it on.  Today I have an exciting lunch meeting to plan some fall classes in the barn (more to come on that). Then later tonight, I’ll be laughing til I’m sick with David Sedaris.  Tomorrow I’m hosting a little gathering in my kitchen with Lowes to preview some holiday decorating ideas.  I rather insanely decided I needed to repaint the kitchen in advance of this as well as decorate for the holidays (a little early but it is all for you to see pretty holiday inspiration).  (It is 6am and my awesome daughter is sitting next to me as I write this, she is taping the 70 window panes in my breakfast area off so I can paint – she rocks.)

So much to do!

Thursday, I’ll be cleaning up one party and prepping for another.  On Friday, I’m taking a couple carloads of kids to the largest corn maze in the world (which happens to be down the road from us) for my daughters birthday. My kids love my homemade birthday cakes and for this birthday I will be trying my hand at re-creating this.

Wish me luck.

Saturday is the last farmers market of the season and on Sunday, hopefully I will be able to rest…..and maybe make some sloe gin.

Have you ever made sloe gin?  I have always loved this liquor and have had my eye peeled for the last few weeks for someone locally who has Prunus spinosa (Blackthorn) trees growing where I might forage for ingredients.  This is the season for Sloes and I am hoping to make some lovely bottled Christmas presents.

Having struck out (so far) on the local foraging I am thinking I might need to place an order for fresh sloes to be sent from England.   And I am also researching trees to add to my garden for another year’s harvest.  Fresh Sloes can be bought from this Etsy seller. And the trees (which are actually quite shrubby) are available from Oikos Tree Crops.  I think these blackthorns will be a fine ‘edge of the woods’ sort of thing to grow – but I am hoping they won’t attract the local bear. Do you grow them?  What do you know?

What sort of craziness are you up to? October always is nuts for me…is it the same for you?

Images #1, #2, # 3, #by Leo Michels. Usage: Public Domain

I confess my vegetable garden this year sucks.  I blame the book project….you just can’t do everything.

tomato bed by rochelle greayer www.studiogblog.comDespite my negligence, I do have peppers, corn (I got in just one planting) and tomatoes (both from starts and volunteers) and basil.  Everything else has either been eaten by the woodchuck, was never planted, or  succumbed to weeds.

But its the tomatoes that are really making me feel bad – especially the volunteers.  They are working so hard to give me lovely fruit  — that aren’t even splitting (that’s what I get for not watering!)  — but they are pathetically buried in weeds and their limbs lay all over the ground.

The guilt of taking the red treasures without even the slightest attempt to help them to their feet finally got to me and I set out to do some late season tying up.

This isn’t the easiest thing to do and I don’t recommend you ever let things get to this stage.  But if you make the effort and you are really careful — your tomato plants will be happier and the fruit they produce will not lie in the dirt rotting or waiting to be taken away by creatures.


You will need stakes (I like these metal U-posts and use them over and over every year), twine (my favorite is the Nutscene Tin of Twine– it never tangles and it comes it pretty colors), something to cut the twine with and a sledge hammer.

tying up tomatoes by rochelle greayer

The posts will provide you with something to wrap the twine around (make sure to pound them in deep with the sledge) and I advise putting them on all corners of the planting area as well as wherever else you need.

Slowly and carefully thread the twine under the plants and wrap it around the posts – easily lifting the plants off the ground.  Keep moving around the planter and work with the plants to figure out the best way – because honestly, if you have left it to this stage (as I have) then you have no right thinking that these plants should succumb to your will.  You must work with them…coddle them…do what they want to do or I assure you, they will literally snap.  And then you just have useless broken plants.


Tie off the string regularly so it doesn’t unravel.  And also take care to prop plants up on the posts and tie them in.

It’s late but if you do it now, it is better than never.

images by rochelle greayer

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Lowes.  This is a series that I am doing through the end of the year.   I am not an employee of Lowes and all opinions are my own.  See the other posts in this series. 

Do you know what a physic garden is?  I have to admit that until I attended design school at the Chelsea Physic Garden, I had no idea what the term meant either.  So in case you don’t know, a physic garden is a special kind of herb garden whose purpose is to grow medicinal plants.   
urban physic garden
The  first known physic garden was started by Matthaeus Silvaticus in Salerno, Italy in the 1300’s and many more followed as the main suppliers of medical apothecaries.  With the use of modern medicine and the loss of a collective knowledge of the healing and medicinal powers of plants, it is rare to see a new Physic Garden so that is why the Urban Physic Garden is particularly exciting.

moss wall urban physic garden

medicinal plants at the urban physic garden via

The Urban Physic Garden, which in its original home was a pop-up space in Southwark, London, is currently a travelling exhibit that is making its way through Asia (anyone want to help me see if we can bring it to the states?).

gastro plants from physic garden

The Garden, which hosts a variety exhibits, a cafe, and lots of related arts and science events, is organized into wards – just like a hospital so you can learn about plants as related to their medical application.

urban physic garden via www.studiogblog.comThe most clever part is that the kitchen for the cafe is in a converted ambulance and it is called the Rambulance Cafe (get it, rambling and abulance cafe….cute right?).

medicine cabinet via

medicine cabinet via
(click on the images above for a bigger version where you can read more about some of these elixirs)

I have made cocktails with mint and other herbs but despite a few lessons from a friend who is very good with this sort of thing…I don’t think to head outside or garden my way out of a headache.   I think this is a lost knowledge that we need to regain for the benefit of better understanding our world and how to make sure that our pharmaceutical companies are serving us well.

I’m curious if you use any plants from your garden to treat ailments?   And If you do use plants medicinally, I would love to hear your remedies and methods. 


images from Urban Physic Garden

Are you looking around your garden wondering where you might be able to make a little extra space for a veggie patch?  Perhaps you might take a little inspiration from Nancy Steiner who transformed her driveway into a garden that feeds her family.   
driveway garden via

When Nancy and landscape designer Leslie Needham realized that this was the place that got 8 hours of sun a day and it was easily accessible for picking as the family arrived home at the end of the day and headed into the house, — the decision to transform the driveway into a garden was obvious.

driveway garden via

Using a variety of space saving options (like growing cucumbers up on tuteurs and putting every spare inch to work) they were able to create a garden that feeds her whole family – 2 adults and 5 teenagers!
driveway garden via

driveway garden via

I so wish I could share the before of this….but I think we can all imagine a car parked here an agree that this is much much better.

martha stewart garden featureThis story appears in this month’s issue of Martha Stewart Magazine where you can find more ideas and information about some of the products that can help you create this same look.

Photos by Juliana Sohn. Courtesy of Martha Stewart Living. Copyright © 2013. For more gardening ideas, visit


I had a belated mothers day well wishing call with my mom yesterday.  We missed each other on Sunday.  She really enjoyed one of the gifts that I sent to her….which was a copy of Deborah Madison’s new cookbook Vegetable Literacy: Cooking and Gardening with Twelve Families from the Edible Plant Kingdom.  I have a copy for myself and love how it was organized (by plant kingdom) so I shared.

vegetable literacy

My mom particularly mentioned how excited she was to see recipes for shishito peppers in the book.  Have you heard of them?  Seems that these tasty pepper treats are quite trendy in Denver.  I also saw a story about their popularity the restaurants of Dallas.  But they haven’t made their way east to DC (where my mom searched for them when she last visited my sister) and they certainly are still unheard of here in the New England culinary hinterlands.  Mom found some starts at Tigawa Gardens last year but hasn’t had any luck this year.  (if you have seen them in the Colorado Springs or Denver Metro area let us know — she is on the prowl)

blistered shisito peppers from spoon fork bacon

Regional scarcity and promised tastiness is just the impetus I need for planting something new! Seeds can be found at Kitazawa seed Company if you care to join in the experiment.  There is still time if you act quickly to get these going for this year.

My mom says that these sweet peppers are perfect when grilled and tossed with a little salt and oil just like this recipe at Spoon Fork Bacon.  Sounds perfect after a long day in the dirt…washed down with a cold beer.

image Spoon Fork Bacon

greens mix foragedI am so grateful for this handy visual guide to greens that can be foraged in the early spring (or at least as soon as the snow melts!).  The collection is part of a foraging story in the current issue of Martha Stewart Living.  Tama Matsuoka Wong (co-author of the lovely book Foraged Flavor: Finding Fabulous Ingredients in Your Backyard or Farmer’s Market) is featured in the issue for her guidance on foraging for simple foods that are widely available. It is a sweet story that highlights Tama’s journey from international lawyer in Hong Kong to teaching kids how to forage for food in rural Connecticut. And it includes some lovely recipes – including how to make mugwort soup.

It is a recipe that I am eager to try — and I am fairly sure that it’s green qualities will be overlooked when I tell my kids it something that Harry Potter eats from his garden. If you are interested in making it yourself, get your hands on a copy of the magazine. (It is the pretty one with the cherry blossoms, fritillaria and tulip on the front) - Rochelle
mugwort soup from foraged ingredients

 images from Martha Stewart.