Books

 

Featured Post for November 2015

As many of you know, if you’ve been following The Herb Cottage for a while, I like books!

I especially like books on plants and gardening. And, it will come as no surprise to you, that I especially like books on herbs. I keep finding myself adding to my book collection, even though the volumes I have would likely comprise the foundation of a good herb library. Each person who sets out to write a book on herbs brings something different to the project than anyone else. At least, that’s my excuse for having so many good books on herbs!

As I have done in past years, I’ve decided to review some herb books that you might find interesting for gifts or for yourself. Some of these are new titles, some are new to me, but published earlier, and some are my favorites for the study of herbs. So, settle back and enjoy the journey through some books on herbs. A cup of herb tea would be just the thing to accompany you.

lavender_garden

The Lavender Garden

by Robert Kourik,

Photographs by Deborah Jones,                    Published 1998

This book has been reviewed many times since its pubication. It is a lovely and useful book on growing lavender, one of the most popular herbs, if my sales are any indication. It covers the main species and many of the cultivars available. The information on growing deals with soil, light, climate and what types do best in what growing conditions. There is a section that will introduce you to the many varieties of lavender- all lavenders are not created equal, you might say- and the pictures are beautiful and helpful. Harvesting and pruning of the plants is also included.

If you are not interested in growing lavender, only in using it for crafts or cooking, you will still find this book helpful. There is considerable information on using lavender in crafts, toiletries and cooking. Mr. Kourik even talks about using the leaves of the lavender plant for flavor, not just the flowers or buds.

You can’t go wrong with this book for a lavender lover! It captures the essence of lavender and is a useful book to have on the shelf. The photographs are divine!


 

dental_herbalism

Dental Herbalism, Natural Therapies for the Mouth

by Leslie M. Alexander, PhD, RH(AHG) and Linda A. Straub-Bruce, BS Ed, RDH                                        Published 2014

I saw this book at our local library and thought I would scan it, reading bits here and there to see what it’s all about. Much to my surprise, I’m quite fascinated by it. Dental Herbalism has an introductory section on the physical characteristics of the mouth including teeth, gums, bone, etc. Then, the book opens up into why our oral health is so important. How the mouth is key to our total good health.

As the book continues, various strategies concerning the health of the mouth, teeth, etc. are discussed with the focus being on using herbs to maintain good oral health. There’s a mini herbal encyclopedia with herbs listed that are beneficial to the care of the mouth. Alternative methods for oral care are discussed, giving the reader choices other than the commercial products available.

All in all, this is a valuable approach to wholistic health with the care of the mouth as the focus. A good reference for anyone interested in a healthier body aided by the use of herbs. Even with so much technical information, the book is easy to read and comprehend. It’s written in a very friendly style.


 

southern_herb_growing

Southern Herb Growing

by Madalene Hill and Gwen Barclay    Published 1997

If you live and want to grow herbs in South Texas or elsewhere along the Gulf Coast, this book is a must-have. Written in 1997 and updated a couple of times since then, it was the first book that really addressed growing herbs in Texas, which many people said “couldn’t be done”. The book is a wealth of growing information in the Southern climate, when to plant which herb, which ones are easy and which ones are more difficult to get to thrive. It’s useful for anyone along the Gulf Coast from Texas to Florida.

There is a Recipe Section with absolutely mouth-watering photographs accompanying each recipe, a section on planning your herb garden, preserving and crafting which makes the book really complete.

Even with all the books in my library, this is still my go-to book for growing herbs here in Texas.


 

The Big Book of Herbs

by Arthur O. Clark and Thomas DeBaggio Published 2000

More scholarly than some of the other books on this list, this one goes into great detail about all the various cultivars available for each herb, how to grow the varieties, historical uses as well as the chemistry of each plant. Even though the book is very detailed, it is easy to read and understand. Here’s what Jim Long, publisher of many books on herbs says: “Tom DeBaggio and Dr. Art Tucker give us new insight into herbs we thought we knew well. Everything from propagation to the chemistry of herbs is found here, along with precise pronunciation and the origins of each plant. These two highly esteemed experts have brought together expansive and enlightening information from their many years of experience.”

If you’re serious about herbs, whether growing or using them in products, this book is invaluable. 


 

ency_of_herbs

The Herb Society of America New Encyclopedia of Herbs & Their Uses

by Deni Bown                                         Published 2001

This is an extensive and very complete collection of herbal information. The Herb Catalog section contains a description of the plants, country of origin and, in some cases, a bit of the usage. In the next section, The Herb Dictionary, you’ll find what the herb is used for, how to grow it, harvest it and a history of usage. Good photos compliment the listings.

If you have room for only one book on herbs and their uses, this would definitely be one to consider.


 

ency_of_magical_herbs

Cunningham’s Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs

by Scott Cunningham                                                             Published 1985 (numerous updates)

I added this book to my collection in 2014. Even though I’m not given to casting spells or magical chanting, I do think there is more to this world than we can see. (Fairies, Elves, ESP, Dreams …?)

Scott Cunningham has nicely categorized many herbs into encyclopedic form listing the botanical name, associations for each herb (gender, planet, element and powers) and provided a black and white line drawing for most every listing.

Here’s a sample:

“Dill, Anethum graveolens
Folk Names: Aneton, Dill Weed, Dilly, Garden Dill, Chebbit, Sowa, Keper, Hulwa, Buzzalchippet
Gender: Masculine
Planet: Mercury
Element: Fire
Powers: Protection, money, Lust, Love
Magical Uses: The herb is protective when hung at the door and carried in protective sachets. Placed in the cradle it protects children. And if it is placed over the door, no one ill-disposed or envious of you can enter your house.

Dill, owing to the number of seeds the plant produces, is used in money spells. (As is fennel.)

Added to the bath, it makes the bather irresistible, and dill stimulates lust if eaten or smelled (which is why dill pickles are so popular).

Smell dill to cure hiccoughs.”

It’s an interesting and useful book, even if you never want to cast a spell!


 

 

wild_weedy

The Wild and Weedy Apothecary by Doreen Shababy, Published in 2010

I wrote about this book in the November 2012 edition of the newsletter. I love the tone of this book… and the title! And, now in 2015, I find myself using this book more and more!

It’s incredibly useful, easy to read and the information is clearly presented. The book contains “recipes” for healing uses of herbs, simple teas, food recipes using herbs and a lot about harvesting and using herbs found in your own area. Then, there is an encyclopedic listing of herbs with remedies and recipes for each listing. For instance, under A, you will find the following– Alliums, Anise, Apple, Aromatherapy and Aunt Carols’s Manicotti– each with a recipe or useful commentary.

The Wild and Weedy Apothecary is a book to own and browse through. Use it to make tried and true homemade recipes for simple, everyday ailments with easy to find ingredients.


 

edibleEdible, An Illustrated Reference to the World’s Food Plants

by National Geographic                                           Published 2008

This book isn’t about herbs, but it’s a fascinating look into the geography of the food we eat.

Given the intense interest today in local foods and eating a more plant based and basic diet, this reference gives us a look at food worldwide. If you’re looking to add some more unusual foods to your diet, this book can help- with food history, how the food is prepared locally and lots more interesting information.


There are almost innumerable books on herbs, each one offering something a little bit different. Whether your herbal passion is to cook with herbs, use them in the garden as pollinators and companion plants, for skin care or other medicinal uses, for use in rituals or in crafts there are books for you.
In addition to books, there is a wealth of information on the Internet, of course. But, something I like about books is how immediate the format is. You can flip from section to section, have several books open on your table at once, make notes in the margins, press herb sprigs or flowers among the pages -try doing that with your laptop! Books are warm, they don’t intrude and can be kept forever.

Oh, if your books are being nibbled on by silverfish, press wormwood, Artemesia officinalis, among the pages or scatter it around your bookshelves to deter them.

cornucopiahappy_thanksgiving

And… who could resist…

Happy-Thanksgiving-Day-From-Samantha-Endora-bewitched-2915030-800-600
QUOTE FOR THE MONTH

The best theology is probably no theology; just love one another.

-Charles Schulz, cartoonist (26 Nov 1922-2000)

Herbs in Colonial America

This post was originally published as the July 2004 Newsletter.

Happy Independence Day, everyone. It’s the morning of July 4th as I write this. I’ve been listening to the audio book called Founding Mothers by Cokie Roberts.

Book cover Founding Mothers

It tells the stories of many of the women related to or married to the founding fathers of the United States. It’s an uplifting and fascinating book.

Anyone interested in learning how the women of our young country contributed to its beginnings would find the book a good read. I was interested in the part where the colonists boycotted “English Tea”, which was their preferred drink. What kinds of “tea” did they then drink, I wondered? So, after a little research, I came upon some interesting information.

Of course, not everyone in The Colonies could afford to drink the imported English Tea, which was actually imported from either India or China. Some of the native herbs used for tea were bee balm, Monarda didyma, wintergreen, Gaultheria procumbens,a variety of goldenrod, Solidago odorata, New Jersey tea, Ceanothus americanus, and leaves of the raspberry bush. In the southern colonies, sassafrass tea was enjoyed, made from the bark of sassafrass root. This also is the original ingredient in root beer.

Bee Balm Plant
Mondarda didyama, Bee Balm, Oswego Tea
Wintergreen leaves and berries
Wintergreen leaves and berries
Leaves of the Sassafras Tree
Leaves of the Sassafras Tree
New Jersey Tea
New Jersey Tea,

 

In the Virginia Gazette, Williamsburg, Virginia, January 13, 1774 is an article signed by one Philo-Aletheias that details the patriotism of the “English Tea” boycott and gives some examples of “Liberty Tea”. The article begins as follows: “Can posterity believe that the constitutional liberties of North America were on the Point of being given up for Tea? Is this exotic Plant necessary to Life? … But if we must through Custom have some warm Tea once or twice a day, why ma be not exchange this slow poison which not only destroys our Constitution but endangers our Liberties and drains our Country of so many thousands of Pounds a Year for Teas of our own American Plants, many of which may be found pleasant to the taste, and very salutary, according to our various constitutions…”

And, Mr./Ms Philo-Aletheias gives 17 examples of substitutions, some of which are: “Sweet marjoram and a little mint; mother of thyme, a little hyssop; sage and balm leaves joined witha little lemon juice, rosemary and lavender, a very few small twigs of White Oak well dried in the Sun with two leaves and a Half of Sweet Myrtle; Clover with a little chamomile; Peppermint and Yarrow; Twigs of liquid Amber Tree (commonly called Sweet Gum) with or without the flowers of Elder…” The list goes on.

Herbs certainly were used for more than tea during the colonial period of our history. A well stocked medicine cabinet would contain portions of dried herbs for poultices or to make a soothing draught for a cold or sore throat.

The kitchen was not neglected, either, when it came to using herbs. Some of the notes on cookery that survive mention sassafrass flavored New Orleans gumbo, rose water added to a wedding cake, and Sally Washington’s chicken dressing had thyme in it. A “smothered veal” dish contained the heady combination of parsley, thyme, carrots, turnips, roast chestnuts, potatoes, onions and celery root. In Louisiana the French flavored their dishes with Bay Leaves , thyme, cloves, garlic, cayenne pepper, mustard, tomato and parsley. In the West, marjoram was a Spanish influence added to cayenne peppers.

Many of the colonists brought over seeds and a few plants from the gardens they left behind. Since regular shipping routes were in place, plants and seeds were soon being sent for. Some newspaper clippings have survived with notices such as this one from the South Carolina Gazette in 1735: “Just imported from London to be sold by John Watson… mustard seed”, and from the same paper, December 28, 1738: “Just imported from London by Doctor Jacob Moon… anis seeds, carraway seeds, sweet fennel seeds.”

So, as you celebrate this Independence Day, think about the people who came to the Americas and made a life here, eventually risking all for freedom from England. And, if you’d like a different take on the history of the Revolution, read “Founding Mothers” and you’ll realize all the people of the colonies played a part in the birth of our nation.

(Much of the information for this newsletter came from a book originally published in 1933, Gardening with Herbs for Flavor and Fragrance, by Helen Morgenthau Fox. It was reprinted in its entirety in 1970, and is sold by Dover Books)
QUOTE FOR THE MONTH

America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter, and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves. -Abraham Lincoln, 16th U.S. President (1809-1865)

Wild and Weedy Apothecary

If you saw a book with the above title, would you pick it up and look at it?

Well… I did and now I have it here with me.

Here’s how I acquired the book- I attended the Texas Renaissance Festival with my sister-in-law earlier this month. One of our favorite shops is Creative Life Booksellers, not too far inside the front gate. The shop is filled with books, calenders, coloring books, cards, book marks, tarot cards and more on subjects as varied as dragons, faeries, pirates, Celtic history, the Renaissance and, of course, herbs.

The herb book selection is small, but there are always books I don’t have, and such is the case with The Wild and Weedy Apothecary by Doreen Shababy.

Book Cover

The book contains “recipes” for healing uses of herbs, simple teas, food recipes using herbs and a lot about harvesting and using herbs found in your own area. Then, there is an encyclopedic listing of herbs with remedies and recipes for each listing. For instance, under A, you will find the following– Alliums, Anise, Apple, Aromatherapy and Aunt Carols’s Manicotti– each with a recipe or useful commentary

The aspect of this book I like most, besides the content itself, is the tone. It’s friendly and helpful rather than pedantic or authoritative. It feels like you’re sitting at the kitchen table with Doreen over a cup of herb tea, discussing the herbs you’ve used, have growing in your yard or nearby outdoor area and herbs you’re interested in but have yet to grow or try. There’s no feeling of having to rush through this book. The information is easy to access and to use. It’s one to keep handy and think of when you’re feeling a cold coming on, flu-like symptoms, have irritating bug bites or one of your kids has a sore throat.

The recipes for food are for wholesome dishes with easy to find ingredients- or with ingredients right out of your own garden. There’s lots of family history tied up in food and recipes in general, and Ms. Shababy generously shares some of her family with us.

All in all, I consider this book a great find. I’ve been slowly going through it skipping from section to section as I think of herbs to look up or recipes to try.

If you’re into reading blogs, Ms. Shababy has one here.

One more book that is a little unusual that captures my imagination is an Almanac, as it follows the Calendar, rather than an alphabetical pattern. It is by Susan Wittig Albert, author of the China Bayles herbal-infused mystery series set in a fictitious Texas Hill Country town called Pecan Springs.

Book CoverThe book is called China Bayles Book of Days.

Each day of the year has a discussion of a particular herb, usually with a recipe or two to accompany it, often with gardening advice. There is a wealth of information in this book. You can read it year after year as the entries follow the calander and thus, the seasons, rather than any particular year.

There are myriad herb books that have been published, from Culpepper’s Herbal published in 1649, to the many colorful books of the present. Some are herb growing guides, some are food recipe books using herbs, some are strictly medicinal, some are about crafting with herbs, while many are a combination of the varied aspects of the world of herbs. Whichever is your choice, there are books to help you learn more and deepen your knowledge and appreciation of this vast world. Whatever your interest in herbs, it is all rooted in the plants, the soil, the natural world around us.

I hope you’re enjoying the holidays with family and friends.

CELEBRATE THE SEASON!

green line

QUOTE FOR THE MONTH
C.S. Lewis said “You don’t have a soul. You are a soul. You have a body.”

Books!

Monthly Feature NOVEMBER 2014

Book

As many of you know, if you’ve been following The Herb Cottage for a while, I like books!

I especially like books on plants and gardening. And, it will come as no surprise to you, that I especially like books on herbs. I keep finding myself adding to my book collection, even though the volumes I have would likely comprise the foundation of a good herb library. Each person who sets out to write a book on herbs brings something different to the project than anyone else. At least, that’s my excuse for having so many good books on herbs!

As I have done in past years, I’ve decided to review some herb books that you might find interesting for gifts or for yourself. Some of these are new titles, some are new to me, but published earlier, and some are my favorites for the study of herbs. So, settle back and enjoy the journey through some books on herbs. A cup of herb tea would be just the thing to accompany you.

The Lavender Garden

The Lavender Garden by Robert Kourik, Photographs by Deborah Jones, published 1998

This book has been reviewed many times since its pubication. It is a lovely and useful book on growing lavender, one of the most popular herbs, if my sales are any indication. It covers the main species and many of the cultivars available. The information on growing deals with soil, light, climate and what types do best in what growing conditions. There is a section that will introduce you to the many varieties of lavender- all lavenders are not created equal, you might say- and the pictures are beautiful and helpful. Harvesting and pruning of the plants is also included.

If you are not interested in growing lavender, only in using it for crafts or cooking, you will still find this book helpful. There is considerable information on using lavender in crafts, toiletries and cooking. Mr. Kourik even talks about using the leaves of the lavender plant for flavor, not just the flowers or buds.

You can’t go wrong with this book for a lavender lover! It captures the essence of lavender and is a useful book to have on the shelf. The photographs are divine!

greenyellow line

Dental Herbalism

Dental Herbalism, Natural Therapies for the Mouth by Leslie M. Alexander, PhD, RH(AHG) and Linda A. Straub-Bruce, BS Ed, RDH, published 2014

I saw this book at our local library and thought I would scan it, reading bits here and there to add it to this newsletter. Much to my surprise, I’m quite fascinated by it. Dental Herbalism has an introductory section on the physical characteristics of the mouth including teeth, gums, bone, etc. Then, the book opens up into why our oral health is so important. How the mouth is key to our total good health.

As the book continues, various strategies concerning the health of the mouth, teeth, etc. are discussed with the focus being on using herbs to maintain good oral health. There’s a mini herbal encyclopedia with herbs listed that are beneficial to the care of the mouth. Alternative methods for oral care are discussed, giving the reader choices other than the commercial products available.

All in all, this is a valuable approach to wholistic health with the care of the mouth as the focus. A good reference for anyone interested in a healthier body aided by the use of herbs. Even with so much technical information, the book is easy to read and comprehend. It’s written in a very friendly style.

greenyellow line

Southern Herb Growing

Southern Herb Growing by Madalene Hill and Gwen Barclay, published 1997

If you live and want to grow herbs in South Texas or elsewhere along the Gulf Coast, this book is a must-have. Written in 1997 and updated a couple of times since then, it was the first book that really addressed growing herbs in Texas, which many people said “couldn’t be done”. The book is a wealth of growing information in the Southern climate, when to plant which herb, which ones are easy and which ones are more difficult to get to thrive. It’s useful for anyone along the Gulf Coast from Texas to Florida.

There is a Recipe Section with absolutely mouth-watering photographs accompanying each recipe, a section on planning your herb garden, preserving and crafting which makes the book really complete.

Even with all the books in my library, this is still my go-to book for growing herbs here in Texas.

greenyellow line

Continue reading “Books!”