apple blossom

Kitchen herbalism

(a little bit of magic goes a long way)

Waking up before dawn makes me happy. Lately, I’ll put some fuzzy socks on because it’s cold, and will pad downstairs quietly, while the cat weaves her way around my feet. I’ll brew a cup of California Mountain Tea (a blend of rose petals, white sage, black sage and wild mint), add some cream and honey, and then wrap myself in a blanket and sit on the front steps thinking about things and watching the light change.

I spent this morning thinking about creativity. My whole life has been, in some ways, a jump from one creative pursuit to another, be it writing or drawing or dancing or cooking or herbalism. And while the side effects of herbalism might be that people get healthier and happier and more connected to the earth and the universe, to say that’s my primary goal would be lying. I do it because I need to create. To weave a bit of magic into the every day. To make things that affect the world around me. And herbs are a beautiful outlet for that: a little bit of this, a dash of that, a sprinkle of something else. Depending on the person you can add things to make a heart light up or to make roots set deep in the earth, or to make lungs open or simply just make someone go to the bathroom. What is it exactly that makes it work? I don’t quite know. There are chemical constituents and there’s the whole plant and its place is in the biosphere, and then there the intention of the person GIVING the herbs, and then there’s that little bit extra. That little bit extra, I like to call it magic.

When I’m in my kitchen, mixing up a tea or a salve, or pouring brandy and honey over some recently gathered plant matter to make an elixir, or stirring a pot of soup, or putting a few leaves in a cup to make tea for a friend who’s having a bad day, I feel like I’m doing the same thing- weaving, creating, and making things happen. Sometimes I’ll whisper things over a cup of tea or a tincture, things like ‘it’s going to be ok’ or ‘this is a liquid hug’. Sometimes I can even see basil as if basil was a cute little creature made of foggy air, and basil jumps into action, rearranging himself into ‘it’s all going to be ok’. And while it might seem silly, it still works: people realise that it’s going to be ok, or smile as though they’ve been given a hug. There is magic in the world, even in a tiny kitchen in the middle of Los Angeles.

One of the things I love about herbs is that a lot of them taste good. This seems pretty elementary, but people often cook with herbs (like basil, rosemary, sage, parsley) and people pass the herbal aisle at the Health Food store, but I think that the vast majority of people don’t realise that when they’re cooking, they’re using plant medicine. One might assume that, because we use them so often, culinary herbs are weak, but that’s not true at all. Some of the herbs I use most often medicinally are boring old culinary herbs, like garlic, basil, sage, rosemary and thyme.

Sometimes I feel like things are a little disjointed around here. One day I’m writing about cookies and another I’m writing about herbal medicine. The two are not really that separate. So if you guys don’t mind, in the coming weeks I’d like to start talking about herbs that we all have access to. Things you can find at the grocery store or in your back garden or in your neighbour’s back garden in the middle of the night while they’re sleeping. Things that you can tincture yourself or hang to dry and make tea with yourself and then maybe next time you add basil to a stew you’ll smile mischievously because you know that you too are putting a little magic in there.

In the mean time, my recipe for you today is something you can pick for yourself. We’ll call it ‘Herb Garden Tea’.

Herb Garden Tea

What herbs do you have lying around in pots or outside or in a bag in your fridge? Basil? Rosemary? Thyme? Sage? Mint? Rose petals? Peach leaves? Pick a few leaves (or a variety of them!) and drop them into the bottom of a mug. Top with hot water, steep for ten minutes, then stir in a little bit of honey. Add cream if you like. There. You made magic too.

  • Renèe A.D.

    LOVE IT!

  • latisha

    oh i loved this. your posts are always fantastic. i totally resonate with it being a creative pursuit.

  • latisha

    oh yeah and i love your herb garden tea,, we do the same thing. and that picture is so dreamy. i wanna be in that kitchen. we call ours tad tea, a tad of this a tad of that. ;)

  • Misty

    I love this post! I’ve had a very stressful, dramatic, endorphine filled day. This was just what I needed. I also love herbs, creativity, and the magic of things made with love.

  • Julie-Anne

    Thank you for creating this wonderful model of what to do, how to do it,and why -
    the kind of thing women dream of doing in their simple kitchens. I’ve found a
    connection with the heart and soul of my family through creativity in food, and
    have come to learn about the herbs with respect for their strength. I just didnt
    have the words for it, so thanks again! and, ps I’ll share this with pleasure.

  • Debbie Bryer

    sigh… a kindred spirit. thank you for my morning smile and a calming sense of peace. blessed be… xoxo

  • bethany

    Friend linked to this post on FB and it made me happy this morning. Great writing, great spirit. Thank you.

  • fairybekk

    Thank you so much for all the lovely comments, guys!

  • Lee Ann

    This is wonderful :) I, too, love the fact that you can cook your medicine into your food and that it is all part of creation and being creative.

  • wendy

    i love this – it totally resonates with me – and I can picture you in your kitchen making magic. thank you.

  • Aja

    I love this entry. Totally informative but personal at the same time. I wish you lived near by :(

  • stasha

    I absolutely love your art of plant medicine & food. i wish you were closer to me too! come to northern california!

  • Tara

    Can I use a crock pot in my herbal magick instead of a metal cook pot?

    • fairybekk

      Yes, of course :)