Monday, November 9th, 2009

In half term, on Tuesday 27th October, as part of the launch of the Young Friends of Myatts Field Park, I did a yarrow herb hunt and vege burger cookup.  Yarrow is a herb we can get all year round, even in winter.  We picked it in the Nature Garden where there are no dogs and where it is safe to eat (with a good wash).
Finding the yarrow in the Nature Garden

Yarrow is a perennial herb with erect, furrowed, downy stems. It has small flowerheads, very pretty, which are white or sometimes pinkish. It has a strong peppery smell.


Discarding the grass of course!

The plant’s healing properties were known to the Ancient Greeks who named Yarrow Achillea after Achilles, the legendary warrior. The specific name millefolium (=a 1000 leaf) referring to the plant’s many feathery leaves.

It’s one of the best fever remedies. It makes you sweat, lowering the blood pressure. you have to drink it hourly until fever subsides (combine with elderflower and peppermint). 

Yarrow tones the blood vessels and aids digestion. It is specific for thrombosis associated with high blood pressure. It is a natural antiseptic (which will also ease cystitis). Use it also for diarrhoea (and it’s safe for children).

 It will speed up the clotting of blood and can be used for all wounds, old and new, rashes, haemorrhoids. Useful emergency treatment to stop haemorrhaging. Use the crushed leaves directly on cuts, for nose bleeds or earache. Chew them for toothache.

 The principal constituent is an essential oil with azulenes that turn blue after distillation. The plant also contains the alkaloids achilleine and stychidyrine, tannins and bitter compounds.

 In China, yarrow stalks are used with the I ching system, in Europe, the druids used yarrow to divine the weather. Yarrow strengthens and protects the etheric body (the aura)

Key words: Fevers, colds, flu; Digestive tonic; menstruation; urinary antiseptic; diarrhoea; all wounds; antiseptic, stomachic, antispasmodic, astringent, diaphoretic.


Enough Yarrow for the burgers and edible flowers for garnish

Other names for Yarrow are Milfoil (a 1000 leaves), nose bleed, old man’s pepper, soldier’s wound wort, knight’s milfoil, bloodwort, staunch weed, devil’s nettle and devil’s plaything.


Nettles behind the kiosk

We also picked some nettle to make tea with. Nettle is another excellent tonic, packed with vitamins and minerals. There are some nice ones right behind the kiosk, part of the nature garden.


Smelling lemon balm

And there is some lovely lemon balm to the right of the path behind the kiosk. Lemon balm makes a great tea. One of my favourites.

lemon balm copy


Yarrow, Milfoil, Bloodwort, Staunchweed hand picked from the Nature Garden

 We washed and carefully selected the best herbs we’d picked and made tea for the thermic Invisible Food flasks.


Putting labels on the tea, all picked from the park

Then we started on the food preparation, all washing their hands first and if anyone dropped out to have a quick game of football, they had to wash their hands again!


Washing hands before the food preparation

We chopped up the yarrow with a mezza luna chopper, to get it nice and fine.


Cutting the herb with a mezza luna chopper


Making the vege burgers with the yarrow added in

We used a packet of burger mix and threw the chopped yarrow in. We carefully made little round burgers, pressing them many times so they didn’t crumble.


Cooking time: it's warmer around the stove

I used the woodgas camp stove to fry up the burgers. We used wood pellets and some sticks from the park as fuel.


Regulating the ferocity of the flame

Here I am regulating the flames. This stove has a battery assisted fan which saves you having to blow the flames to keep the fire going. It works really well.


Homemade tomato ketchup goes well

I used a lovely recipe for homemade ketchup from Hugh Fearnley-Whittenstall’s book. It’s delicious. Will post it here soon.  I also tried making some jerk sauce which is really tasty. 1 scotch bonnet pepper, some thyme, some spring onions and some allspice, olive oil and a dash of vinegar. It keeps well in the fridge.


and there was Levi Roots jerk sauce and a homemade one too!

It was great doing some outdoor cooking in Myatts Field. We had great weather – you can tell by the light in some of the photos – and I’m glad to be able to keep cooking and eating outdoors even as winter approaches.  Thanks to all participants.

Photos by Jorge Goia



Crab apples in the Community Garden

On Monday 26th October, I did a session at the Community Garden at Tate Modern Community Garden together with Carole Wright from Bankside Open Spaces Trust  to celebrate Apple Day.

Getting a rough estimate of how many apples we need

Counting out the bright, juicy apples

Tasting the crab apple 'cheese' with some delicious organic mozzarella and homemade bread

Three different 'cheeses'

The drawings we put on the trees in exchange for the apples


Thank you lovely apples!

Imagine a fire burning. You hear a crack and a spitting sound. This is the presence of Water. The smoke that arises and ascends is Air. The flames that penetrate the wood are Fire, and remaining after the fire burns out is ash, the Earth.

It has, been suggested that the Greek philosopher Empedocles (c490-430BC) may have simply watched a fire burn and realized that everything natural consists of four basic elements: Earth, Water, Air, and Fire.

Earth is solid like a rock. It is heavy and considered the center of everything. It draws all the other elements to it. Earth is immobile, fixed, and stable.

Water is flowing. Water fills in space, It is soft, and has no boundary within itself. Water relies on other Elements to contain it. It is heavy and condensing, but easily dispersed.

Air is fight, active and ascending. Air lifts up and can act as a vehicle for fire.

Fire is penetrative pen·e·tra·tive  
1. Tending to penetrate; penetrant.

2. Displaying keen insight; acute.

Adj. 1. penetrative , purifying, and active. Fire is represented by the stars, is light in weight and is illumination. Fire transforms.

A pond in the winter is frozen. The water is cold and constricted con·strict  
v. con·strict·ed, con·strict·ing, con·stricts
1. To make smaller or narrower by binding or squeezing.

2. To squeeze or compress.

3. ; the molecules are brought together and bound. It is heavy but moving under the frozen surface. This is Water. The rock and stone around the body of water is solid. It is heavy and lasting, it will hold its own form, and the form of the water in a pond. This is Earth. In the spring, the sun shines down, producing heat and fight. This is Fire. The Fire Element transforms the ice into tiny molecules of precipitation, which evaporate and ascende as Air.

// Aristotle and Plato brought fame to the concept of the Four Elements. In order to identify each Element more precisely, Aristotle developed a system of descriptive personalities considered to be the Primary Qualities of each Element. By using the sense of taste, touch, and smell, the predominate Element is more easily recognized. These qualities consist of Hot, Cold, Moist, and Dry. Each Element is made up of two qualities. In this way, there is always an opposite quality to flow into, to be transformed by. Everything is rolling in and out of each other in a state of homeostasis homeostasis

Any self-regulating process by which a biological or mechanical system maintains stability while adjusting to changing conditions. Systems in dynamic equilibrium reach a balance in which internal change continuously compensates for external change in a feedback .

The Earth is cold and dry until it rains, and the cold moist Water fills in the space of dry. The sun comes out. Hot, dry Fire pulls the moisture out of the earth, and into the Air. The hot, moist Air releases Water and once again fills in the dry, cold Earth. It is a continuous cycle, a circle of life.

Greek philosophers used this theory of transformation and mutable mu·ta·ble  
a. Capable of or subject to change or alteration.

b. Prone to frequent change; inconstant: mutable weather patterns.

2.  change to explain the existence of universal life. Ever)thing natural, even the stars and galaxies, are built from the qualities and characteristics of Earth, Air, Fire, and Water. All life is dependant upon commonality. One element cannot exist without the next. Our bones are solid minerals, compost for the Earth: our bodies are 65 percent Water: our blood transports Air; and our spirit is the spark of life Spark of Life is the eighteenth episode in the of the popular American crime drama , set in Las Vegas, Nevada. Summary
Grissom, Sara and Greg work a case where a bushfire kills a man and burns a woman, who survived. , our Fire. We are microcosms playing a role in the creation of a universal macrocosm. The Four Elements consecrate con·se·crate  
tr.v. con·se·crat·ed, con·se·crat·ing, con·se·crates
1. To declare or set apart as sacred: consecrate a church.

2. Christianity
a.  everything in nature. Everything is in balance, or coming into balance. Every action has a reaction related to its primary qualities and its fundamental element. We are the Earth, we are the Air, Fire, and Water, as are the plants, the animals, the stars….

The Four Temperaments system of classification is built upon the balance of the Four Elements. The constitution of each person is recognized by build, spiritual attributes, physiological self, personality, and lifestyle. In Traditional Western Herbalism, the imbalances are found through diagnosis of the Elements and qualities within the client that are out of balance. These disparities are corrected using plant medicine or other therapies with a predominate quality opposite of that imbalance. A hot condition would call for cooling plants, a cold condition would require hot.

These Temperaments are broken down into four categories: Sanguine, Choleric chol·er·ic
1. Easily angered; bad-tempered.

2. Showing or expressing anger. . Melancholic mel·an·chol·ic
1. Affected with or being subject to melancholy.

2. Of or relating to melancholia. , and Phlegmaticphlegmatic /phleg·mat·ic/ (fleg-mat´ik) of dull and sluggish temperament.

phleg·mat·ic or phleg·mat·i·cal
1. Of or relating to phlegm.

….. Click the link for more information.. Most people are a combination of two of these groups.

Sanguine is Air, Hot and Moist. Sanguine people are happy people. The season of Sanguine is spring. This is a time of renewal, rebirth and childhood. Joy is the emotion of Sanguine. These people are not fat or lean, but healthy. They like to sing and dance, and as Nicholas Culpeper puts it, ‘Loves mirth and music, and cares not what comes after.’ Sanguine imbalance may well come from overindulgences of “women and wine.’ They are typically emotional people who would sooner cry than become angry. They do not,. however, hold onto grief, and they fly on to the next plaything in life. This season of carefree living is considered the most favorable of the Four Temperaments, and is what one strives to hold onto, or to become.

Choleric is Fire, Hot and Dry.

A Choleric person is fiery. The season associated with Choleric is summer, representing youth. The reckless time of life when anything is possible. A Choleric person is usually athletic, and not tall or short. They are quick to become violent, and just as easily consoled. They are decision makers, thinking from their gut. Imbalances are predominately hot and dry. They often develop inflamed conditions, like boils and ulcers.

Melancholic is Earth, Cold and Dr)’. The season of the Melancholic temperament is Autumn, representing middle age. It is a time of change, cold and dry. A time to contemplate the past year. Depression is associated with Melancholy. Nicholas Culpeper describes Melancholic people as ‘naturally covetous cov·et·ous  
1. Excessively and culpably desirous of the possessions of another. See Synonyms at jealous.

2. Marked by extreme desire to acquire or possess: covetous of learning. , self lovers, cowards, afraid of their own shadows, fearful, careful, solitary, lumpish, (and) unsociable.’ They are usually tall and lean, and tend to hold onto anger. Imbalances are usually dry and cold, like arthritis or eczema.

Phlegmatic is Water, Cold and Moist. The season of phlegmatic is winter. All is still and frozen. Packed together and waiting. This is the season of old age. The phlegmatic person is usually overweight, and slow moving and slow-witted. They tend to stay close to home and take great pride in doing one task very well. They do not anger easily, and do not hold a grudge. Phlegmatics are prone to moist cold conditions, such as chronic upper respiratory issues…-a0147467102

To be posted soon.