I’m an herb collector. My pantry shelves are lined with jars of everything from butcher’s broom and witch hazel to marshmallow root and violet leaf. I buy them in bulk, arguably compulsively. I burn them, drink them, cook with them, bathe in them. I write quick poems & prayers with them. I give them as gifts—as teas, salts, and infusions—packed in amber bottles, weck jars, and muslin bags. And I’ve teamed up with Makr, a new design app for the iPad, to create beautiful labels for my herbal creations! I’m a woman obsessed. When I downloaded the app I spent the whole day designing labels for everything (caramel, pesto, jam, pickles…), menus, place cards, recipes cards, and gift cards & tags. You can even import your own photographs, drawings, and logos. And then they’ll professionally print them for you & send them in the post. Or you can print them at home. It’s basically the best thing ever for creatives that don’t happen to be graphic designers. If it’s a printed thing, you can make it. On Makr. Hence the name. Makr is generously offering a special for Local Milk readers—you can enjoy a free Makr credit and 20% off a print order! Just register with the code LOCMILKFAN and enter the same code at checkout. You can download the Makr app here—and you can check out my project that you see here and customize it to make it your own! So get thee to tea blending & designing! In celebration of making and friends far & near, I’ve created a little virtual tea party here. The recipe for the seer’s tea blend & muffins can both be found after the jump!
I designed this label for a potent herbal blend intended to relax & open the mind. I crafted it to send to some long distance friends. The internet is like that—you find yourself dear friends with people you’ve never seen in the flesh. So what is there to do but mail a package, a small physical interaction in this digital world? If everyone lived near by, I’d have a proper tea party. Well, proper my way. Which is largely improper. Sage would burn, the kettle clarion would sound, and homemade blends would steep in vessels of ceramic and glass while humble muffins baked in the oven. The table would be as it is—strewn with herbs, clippings of budding spring and crystals—smoky quartz and apophyllite, and no doubt my bag of runes would make their way to the table as we sipped lightly honeyed tea out of handmade cups. The simply sacred. The muffins would be eaten decidedly hot, fresh out of the oven. My new oven. My gas oven. Yes, these little rosemary roasted strawberry & buttermilk muffins were the maiden voyage of my new range. You’d think I’d roast a pheasant or something. Nah. Muffins. Wonderfully moist muffins spiked with rosemary and tart, jammy roasted strawberries & vanilla bean to go with my flowering tea.
I actually didn’t have a stove for almost three full months until today when it was finally up and running 100% after a few minor adjustments, and during the dark, ovenless days I took comfort in herbs and their folklore. I’d boil water in the microwave that hulked in my dining room floor and brew tea for friends when they came round or for myself when I’d meditate in front of the fire. We’d sit in the floor and drink. My life was chaos. But I had my herbs. I’m sure whenever anyone renovates anything it’s chaos. Especially when a cook renovates their kitchen. But I don’t bounce back from chaos well—it creeps into my head with strange tentacles. I get disoriented, listless. There seems to be no wall between my internal reality & external, mess in either breeds mess in the other. So, I took to mapping my friends in the stars, reading the synchronicity around me, and making tables of the properties of herbs, both mystical and medicinal. Trust me when I say the damiana & mugwort in this tea are key.
The house fell down around my head over the past three months; the oven, my compass, was missing. No kettle for the morning, no frying egg. No late night biscuits. It was like being so far under water you don’t know which way is up and down. It may sounds like I’m being facetious; I’m not. Cooking is something that has always been a coping mechanism for me. It’s always there for me, even when nothing else is. Cooking isn’t fraught with self loathing & doubt. Cooking is safe. I’m good at it. So I like it. It’s that simple really. Without it, I’m aimless. Things just aren’t the same. I think I lived off of bananas, bread, and candy. It was ugly. But I took respite in blending. It calmed me. My “Seer’s Blend” is for relaxing, for anti-anxiety, for sleep. It’s also for opening the mind, for invoking a multi-dimensional consciousness. For tuning your third eye to the synchronicity. To help you read the poetry of events, signs, and symbols around you. If you wish. Or it can just be for sipping while relaxing with a strawberry muffin. Astral travel is optional.
A reminder that you can make your own labels or find my design (as well as pretty much any other printable you can imagine from gift tags to business cards) on Makr, and they are generously offering a discount for you guys—a free credit and 20% off a print order. Register with the code LOCMILKFAN & enter the same code at checkout. Download the app here if you’re interested!
This is a slightly pared down version of my Seer's Tea blend (which also includes cinnamon chips, cornflowers, dandelion root, & marshmallow root, if you're interested.) It has a unique flavor, all at once earthy, floral, and slightly citrusy, and I find it's best enjoyed with a whisper of good honey. I use the phrase "seer's tea" to denote any tea geared at calming the conscious mind & awakening the intuitive sense. This is a great tea for sleep, anti-anxiety, and for scrying & divination. If you're into that.
- 1 cup green rooibos
- 1 cup hops flowers
- 1 cup damiana
- 1/2 cup mugwort
- 1/2 cup chamomile
- 1/3 cup hibiscus flowers, lightly crushed
- 1/2 cup calendula flowers (marigold)
- 2 tablespoons orange peel
- 2 tablespoons lavender
- All ingredients should be in their dried form. Mix in a bowl thoroughly. Package in jars or bags.
- To brew, pour hot water (just under a boil but not boiling), over 1 tablespoon of the blend per 8 oz cup. Steep at 5 minutes, longer if you'd like it stronger. Best enjoyed with a bit of honey.
- Uses: anti-anxiety, sleep, relaxing, divination, meditation, scrying
Dried herbs & teas can be purchased either online or often at your local health food or natural or wellness store.
rosemary & roasted strawberry buttermilk muffins
These muffins are painfully simple, an excellent addition to a cup of tea, and a great way to welcome the berry of spring as it just starts to make its appearance. The addition of fresh herbs and a hint of vanilla make these muffins special, and pro tip: the same batter makes killer pancakes too! Just halve the butter.
for the strawberries
- 1 pint of strawberries, hulled, halved, & sliced
- 1 teaspoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 5 cracks fresh ground pepper
- pinch of kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped rosemary
- 115 grams (4 oz / 1/2 cup) granulated sugar
- seeds of half a vanilla bean (optional)
- 250 grams (8 oz / 2 cups) all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons rosemary, finely minced
- 113 grams (4 oz / 1 stick) unsalted butter, melted & room temp
- 2 eggs, room temp & lightly whisked
- 230 g (8 oz / 1 cup) buttermilk, room temp
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- the roasted strawberries, cooled to room temp
- Heat oven to 450°F. On a sheet tray, toss berries with the oil, honey, salt & pepper, and rosemary. Roast for about 15-20 minutes or until thick & jammy, being careful to not let juices burn. Put in a small bowl and allow to cool (I pop mine in the freezer for a few minutes to expedite this process).
- Reduce oven temp to 350°F.
- Meanwhile, while the berries are roasting, combine the sugar with the vanilla bean seeds (if using) with your fingers, breaking up the clumps and dispersing evenly. In a large bowl combine the flour, vanilla sugar, baking powder, salt, and rosemary. Stir with a whisk to combine well.
- In a separate bowl whisk your eggs lightly with a fork, just to make them homogenous. Add your buttermilk, butter, vanilla extract, and the roasted strawberries along with their jammy juices. Stir to combine thoroughly.
- Add the wet ingredients to the dry, and stir to just combine so that no dry bits remain. Don't worry about lumps, and don't over stir. You want your muffins to be tender!
- Lightly grease a muffin tin and fill the cups almost to the top but not quite. I used a 1/3 cup measure for my tin.
- Bake for about 30 minutes or until muffins are golden and a cake tester or paring knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool for a few minutes in the pan, and then transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling to your desired eating temperature! (I like them almost hot...with butter. And of course a cup of magical, herbal tea.)
built on the quick bread ratio from Michael Ruhlman's essential book Ratio
This was a sponsored post, and I was compensated for my participation. All opinions, stories, and ramblings are, as per usual, my own. Seriously, this app is freaking awesome.