Healing Salve

I taught a group of 1st-3rd graders how to make this salve yesterday. If they can do it, you can too.

This takes an otherwise silky, moisturizing salve and bumps it up a notch with the healing powers of calendula and plantain. Both are excellent for your healing everyday cuts, scratches, and scrapes, but I have found calendula to be excellent at healing infected or hard to heal wounds, and plantain to be excellent for eczema that is easily irritated by other oils and lotions.

Healing Salve Recipe:

1 part infused plantain oil

1 part infused calendula oil

2 parts beeswax

1 part cocoa or Shea butter

1/2 part lanolin

5-10 drops of essential oil for scent (optional)

Melt all the ingredients in a double boiler. Pour into a heat proof container. It’s that simple.

When I made it with my group of girls, we did some as chapsticks too, because what little girl doesn’t like her own chapstick. We also poured some in a jar to use as salve.

If you don’t know how to make an infused oil, refer to my post on making your own garlic oil, and simply sub calendula flowers and plantain for the garlic in the instructions.

You can also skip the infused oil and use plain olive or almond oil if you prefer to have the moisturizing properties for everyday use without the healing powers of calendula and plantain.

Bookshelf: Urban Foraging

One of the authors of my favorite regional herbal medicine books (see blog post here) just put out a new book. Look up Urban Foraging by Lisa Rose. It’s in my shopping cart.

I like that the book covers plants that are common to many regions and that it explains basic botany terms, as well as how to identify the plant, the parts used, what it’s culinary uses are as well as medicinal ones, and suggested recipes.

It covers 50 plants including,

apple, artemisia, aspen, autumn olive

blackberry, burdock

catnip, chickweed, chicory, crabapple, currants

dandelion, daylily, dock

elder, field garlic

garlic mustard, ginko, goldenrod, ground ivy

honeysuckle, hyssop

Japanese knotweed

lamb’s quarters, lilac

monarda, mulberry

nettle, oak

pennycress, peppermint, persimmon, pine, plantain, prickly pear, purslane

raspberry, red clover, rose, Russian sage, spearmint, spruce, St. John’s wort, sunchoke, sweet clover

violet, wild carrot, wild grape, wood sorrel, yarrow

The nicest thing about this book, is that you don’t have to live in the wilderness to find these plants; you can find many of them even if you live in the city.

If you want to get your feet wet on making your own medicinal remedies, check out Homesteading Family’s free Herbal Medicine Webinar coming up this week on Wednesday, April 20, 2023 at 4PM Eastern/1PM Pacific. Carolyn always gives great information and answers your questions live.

Happy foraging and medicine making. 🌱

Note: This post includes affiliate links.

Coffee Kombucha

Never heard of it? Me either. But it’s a thing.

I just learned about it from Farmhouse Teas Kombucha Mastery Class, and since I am more of a coffee girl, I had to give it a try and mix up a batch.

Don’t get me wrong. I like a good cup of tea, and I love making my own tea blends with black tea and herbs. And my husband and I are faithful kombucha drinkers, but this peaked my interest. I didn’t even know coffee kombucha was a thing.

But it’s so easy to try. Just mix up some sweet coffee and add some starter tea and let it sit for about 5 days checking it often. It will brew faster than coffee becomes coffee is more acidic. So keep an eye on it and taste it to determine when it is ready. I’m grateful to have the Kombucha Mastery course to guide me along with this advanced brewing technique.

I can’t wait to try it. I’ll come back in five days and keep you posted as to how I like it. 😊

Note: This post contains affiliate links.

Homemade Sour Cream

Did you know that you can make your own sour cream at home?

All you need is two ingredients – heavy cream (any kind is fine, but the less additives the better) and buttermilk with live active cultures.

In a clean, dry jar, pour 1 cup of fresh heavy cream from a newly opened carton and add 1 tablespoon of buttermilk. Put on the lid and shake vigorously. Let the jar sit on the counter undisturbed for 6 hours or overnight until the whole mixture thickens and sets.

The key success with this recipe is to use fresh buttermilk with live cultures AND to use heavy cream from a carton that has just been opened. If the carton has been previously opened, you will need to pasteurize your heavy cream to 165 degrees F and then let it cool to room temperature before adding your buttermilk. If you add the buttermilk to the cream while it is hot it will kill the cultures and you won’t end up with anything but a tangy heavy cream and you’ll be back where you started.

If you have access to raw milk you can also use a culture from some of your milk that has clabbered to make some wild sour cream. Simply follow the instructions above replacing the buttermilk with clabber. It works quite well and some people, like my son, tolerate the wild culture better than the cultures in the buttermilk. You can use the cream that you have skimmed from your fresh milk, or cream from the store, and both work fine to make this sour cream at home.

Once the cream has set, store in the refrigerator and use within two weeks.

You can also keep your culture going perpetually if you make a new batch within 7-10 days of culturing the last batch. And if you need extra, just double or triple the recipe. It works great!

Stay tuned for an allergy friend recipe for homemade, sugar and vinegar free ranch dressing….

Homemade Boursin Garlic & Herb Soft Cheese

You can make this in a matter minutes, the ingredients will cost 1/4 of the price, and you’ll end up with 4x the cheese.

First begin by making this Soft Cheese recipe. It couldn’t be easier.

Homemade Boursin Garlic & Herb Cheese:

For 1 gallon of milk, stir in the following:

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp black pepper

1 1/2 tsp granulated garlic

3/4 tsp onion powder

2 tsp dried parsley

Adjust the seasonings to your own tastes. I have also tried this recipe with dill for a little added punch and it’s got a little flare reminiscent of Ranch dressing.

Refrigerate this cheese and consume within 7-10 days.

Make ahead Pumpkin Spice Quinoa Porridge – an easy and allergy friendly breakfast!

I have made this in a couple of years, but it’s been one of those weeks and I need something easy for breakfast in the morning. Try this easy make ahead breakfast. You can set it up the night before and it’s ready and hot when you wake up. Get the recipe here!

DIY Spice Blends – Garlic Salt

Garlic Salt is the seasoning I use the most. It’s basic and I find it to be the most versatile. I use it on the kids chicken strips that they eat every day for lunch, and I REALLY like it on our sourdough crackers. If you want to try to craft your own, save an empty grinder and mix the following together.

Homemade Garlic Salt:

3 tsp parsley flakes

3 tsp dried minced garlic

2 tsp onion flakes

2 tsp salt

And if you’re interested in making your own spice blends and seasoning mixes, check out Homesteading Family’s Homestead Kitchen Membership (affiliate link). They have a full Pantry Challenge going on right now with a whole workbook full of DIY baking and spice mixes that you can make yourself for pennies.

Easy Homemade Cheese 3 Ways – Soft Cheese, Ricotta, or Cream Cheese

Easy Homemade Cheese:

This cheese couldn’t be easier. All you need is a gallon of whole milk that has not been ultra-pasteurized, a big pot, colander, tea towel or cheese cloth, lemon juice, and milk.

This recipe yields about 1 pound plus of cheese. If you want a smaller batch, this recipe can also be halved. Just buy a half gallon of milk instead.


1 gallon whole milk (not ultra-pasteurized)

¼-½ cup acid such as lemon juice or vinegar

¼ tsp salt

Optional Ingredients:  seasonings like pepper, garlic, chives, and parsley for a savory cheese, or your favorite jam for something sweet.


Cheesecloth or non-fuzzy tea towel


Large heat proof bowl 

Heavy bottom pot (stainless steel, enameled cast iron, or Instant Pot)

Digital food thermometer (optional)


  1. Pour 1 gallon of milk into an Instant Pot or heavy bottomed pot. Heat until the milk is steaming or until a thermometer reads 185 degrees F. If using the Instant Pot, pour the milk in and select the Yogurt setting. When the display reads Yogt, the milk has been sufficiently heated.
  2. Add ¼ cup of your acid and stir. Let the milk sit for 10 minutes. If it doesn’t begin to separate and curdle, then check your temp and heat your milk so that it is a little hotter, or add 2 tbsp more acid at a time stirring to distribute the acid through the milk. Do this until you begin to see the curds separate into greenish looking whey.
  3. Once you see the separation, let the curds sit in the whey for 10 minutes.
  4. Line your colander with the cheesecloth or tea towel and pour the whey into the colander being careful not to burn yourself. There will be lots of whey. Be sure the bowl doesn’t overflow.
  5. Once all the contents of the pot have been poured into the colander, move the colander over to the pot to continue draining until the desired texture has been achieved. If you wish a drier, more crumbly cheese, let it drain longer. If you desire a softer, more spreadable cheese, drain less. 
  6. Add salt and seasonings if desired and mix through the cheese.
  7. Serve immediately, or store in an airtight container in the fridge. Consume within 7-10 days.

Soft Spreadable Cheese: Simply drain drain the whey, salt and either immediately warm, or cool and refrigerate until needed. If your cheese is too dry, simply add a little bit of the whey that you poured off and stir back in until the desired soft texture is reached.

Ricotta: Follow the instructions above but drain a little longer until the cheese is a little drier and the curd is crumbly.

Cream Cheese Variation: If you desire a smoother, cream cheese texture, run your cheese through the food processor until smooth. This can be used as a cream cheese substitute. If your cheese is too dry, and won’t blend to a smooth texture, simply add some of the whey back in until the desired texture is achieved.

This cheese is great spread on crackers with a little of your favorite jam to sweeten it up. 😊

Note: Leftover whey from cheese can be used in baking or to water acid loving plants.

Want to learn more….

Consider Homesteading Family’s Practical Homemade Dairy Course (affiliate link) if you’re interested in creating more homemade dairy products in your kitchen. Carolyn covers basic fresh dairy products that you can make in your kitchen like homemade coffee creamers and butter, and then she moves on to cultured dairy like buttermilk and sour cream, and finally easy and advanced cheeses. It’s definitely an all in one course. My family has benefited as now I can make cheese for my son that he can eat because I can control the cultures that are added. It’s the most comprehensive homemade dairy course out there.

Free Bread Webinar

Is learning to make bread on your bucket list? My friend Carolyn Thomas is offering a free bread webinar next Thursday, February 16 at 1 PM Pacific time.

Sign up even if you aren’t available at this time as they usually offer a free replay if you miss it.

Click here to sign up and save your spot:

https://classes.homesteadingfamily.com/a/2147527079/YBfWojoA (affiliate link)

My Favorite Books on Herbal Medicine

I spent a fun morning talking about herbs with some local moms today. 🌿

Below you can find my favorite herb books with the reasons why I like the them. Maybe you’ll find something to add to your bookshelf. (Note: Links are affiliate links.)

(Books are not listed in any particular order.)

Basic Book Resources:

1. Nutritional Herbology by Mark Pedersen, https://amzn.to/3EnyQfV

Has nutritional profiles for each herb.

2. Prescription for Herbal Healing, by Phyllis Balch, https://amzn.to/3g1gBVf

Complete. Very good at listing possible cautions and contraindications.

3. Northeast Medicinal Plants, https://amzn.to/3TCcPiO

Very good on listing plants that grow in this area, as well and when and how to ID, harvest, and the remedies best suited for each plant.

4. Botany in a Day, https://amzn.to/3hFKc6X

Best book for learning plant ID and plant families.

5. Homegrown Herbs, by Hartung, https://amzn.to/3TAMD8a

Best book for growing and using medicinal herbs yourself. Excellent charts for growing and harvesting.

6. The Herbal Apothecary, https://amzn.to/3E3SFbV

This is excellent at giving you the personality of each herb and helping you get to know the plants.

7. Wild Remedies by Rosalee de la Floret, https://amzn.to/3TxQFyh

Good for wildcrafting basics.

8. Alchemy of Herbs, https://amzn.to/3UxMN1z

Anything by Rosalee is well done. I find the herb profiles on her website useful and have found some of her podcasts to be interesting.

9. Rosemary Gladstar’s Medicinal Herbs,https://amzn.to/3UBgfni

Very basic. Good for beginners who don’t know where to start. Has some good basic recipes.

10. The Herbal Kitchen, https://amzn.to/3WYgOJp

Good for using herbs medicinally in your kitchen as food. Also good basics for making infused oils.

11. The Healing Garden, https://amzn.to/3E3jxZw

This book is newer to me. It includes some herbs that my other books do not have listed that I wanted to study. I haven’t delved too deeply into it but it is a lovely book.

Technical Resources:

These are more technical and get into the more medical side is using herbs.

1. Practical Herbalism by Fritchey, https://amzn.to/3Adn46l

2. Modern Herbal Dispensatory by Easley, https://amzn.to/3WVAmhv

3. Materia Medica of Western Herbs by Carole Fisher, https://amzn.to/3g5eZtt

Other Resources:

1. The Big Book of Homemade Products by Jan Berry, https://amzn.to/3hAxPJu

This is her newer book. I had the older one with me. It is excellent as are herb books on soapmaking.

2. Fermented Vegetables by Shockey, https://amzn.to/3G8fzl3

Anything by the Shockeys is good. I also have their books on Vinegars and Firey Ferments.

Botany Basics:

Exploring Creation with Botany by Apologia, https://amzn.to/3Gc9UdK

Good intro to basic Botany.

Elementary Botany Class:

This is a link to my online Botany class which includes learning to ID plants by plant family.

Last but not least, write your own book…

Keep your own notes on each herb and ailment you study by creating your own book. I use an old address book that has alphabetical sections. I write the name of the herb or ailment alphabetically and make notes of what I learn about it.

Cranberries! Try this Fermented Lemon Cranberry Relish for Thanksgiving!

Do your local grocery stores have fresh cranberries yet? If so, snatch them up while you can. I’ve made this fermented Lemon Cranberry Honey the last couple of years and realized last year that I didn’t make nearly enough last time. So I upped my game and instead of the two jars I made last year, this year I made six! One bag of cranberries will yield about three cups worth of relish. Hopefully this will last us through till next year when I can get fresh cranberries again. I tell you there is nothing better on toast in the morning and it makes whipping up a batch of lemon cranberry scones a cinch!

It couldn’t be easier, chop the cranberries in your food processor, put them in a jar, add some lemon peel, cover them with honey, and put on the lid. Let it sit on the counter for a couple of weeks agitating the jar a little each day and then move to cold storage. I’ve had a forgotten jar last nearly a year and it was still delicious.

Find the Cozy in your Home

My friend Michele recently reminded me to look for the simple things to give my home a cozy feel. I feel like I’ve lost this lately in all the busyness of life.

Tonight some coziness is brought to our table by a big pot of comfort food. It includes homemade pasta with chicken and garlic cream sauce. My kids affectionately call this meal “colorful noodles.” The pasta will be topped with grated, homemade cheese, the salad with homemade croutons from homemade bread, and homemade lime vinegar as a salad dressing.

Now, don’t let this post make you feel guilty for not making homemade croutons. If I could buy ones at the store that everyone in my family could eat, then I probably wouldn’t make them either. But, let this encourage to stop a moment and find the things that you already have lying around, the skills you know but haven’t used in a while, or the things you’ve made in the past but are now gathering dust by the wayside. The time to reflect will ground you in the present moment as you take stock of what you need, what your family needs, and what you have been blessed with, and as a result of that reflective moment, you will be able to meet those needs in some creative way. This will look differently for everyone, but everyone has something that that will make a meal or a room or a moment feel special.

Your thing may not be croutons. It may not even be bread. But that’s what I had laying around today. So stop a moment and take stock of what that thing is for you. What is it that you are really craving? What thing, or food, or skill, or time are you remembering and wishing you could get back to? Is there something you can do that will connect you to a past memory or person and make your home feel like it is more than just the place where you live? Ponder that, and as you do, find one little thing that will move you in the direction of feeling connected to your home.

Today that thing for me was putting this meal together and filling the bird feeders. I hadn’t touched the bird feeders in so long, but I had heard the red birds calling to me earlier in the day and I realized that I wanted to see them out my kitchen window again. Some things are worth taking a moment or two out of your day to do if it adds some connection to what would be an otherwise scattered day. Today the bird feeders did that for me. That one simple thing re-connected the thread of all the times I’ve watched the red birds out my kitchen window and took me all the way back to being a tiny five year old scattering bird seed out the sliding glass door of her grandmother’s house so that I could watch them land on her patio.

So what is worth your time and effort today? Putting out time and effort to make something is an investment. You may not have any time, or money, or even creative brain space to spare today. If so, that’s okay. Just let this discussion sit there. You’ll come back around to it when you are ready.

And if you are ready to try something, don’t mimic me. Everyone’s list of the things they long for is different and the practicality of implementing it depends on your budget, skills, personality, and what you enjoy. If making homemade bread feels like work, buy the bread. Your time and effort are worth something. Put it into something that you love and enjoy. It doesn’t even have to be food like my comfort meal tonight. It could be growing flowers so that you can have a bouquet on the dinner table even if dinner is takeout. It could be crochet or knitting or some other kind of needlework because you remember sitting with your grandmother on her wine and pink brocade sofa in a living room covered with green shag carpet while she teaches you to crochet a doll blanket for your baby. Find the little things that make the everyday just a little bit more special.

I hope you find a little cozy in your home this week. I’m going to try to.

For more Homemaking inspiration, follow my friend Michele who inspired this post at http://www.chocolateboxcottage.tv. She excels at combing cottage economy with modern conveniences.

And for further inspiration, the posts by @jesthepilgrim on IG are full of quaint, thrifty ideas that hearken back to the simple things. She makes her home feel beautiful and special for the people that live there.