Grilled Summer Squash with Spanish-Style Olive Reduction

This recipe just makes summer squash so special and the star it should be in the kitchen. The reduction sauce is tangy and bright from the olives. You can use any type of summer squash – the grilled planks are simply covered with a tangy and rich olive and tomato based reduction sauce… great even cold.



4 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
3 tsp tamari
2 tsp of black pepper
2 tsp balsamic vinegar

3 zucchini or other summer squash – sliced lengthwise into 1/4 inch slabs

2 more Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
about 1-2 Tbsp of minced garlic
3/4 cup of diced canned tomatoes
1/2 cup of sliced pimiento stuffed green olives (I usually use the ‘queen’ size)
1/2 tsp of sea salt
1 more tsp black pepper
3/4 cup stock (could be vegetable or chicken)

a big bunch of chopped fresh cilantro





First make the marinade – whisk together the 4 Tbsp olive oil, tamari, 2 tsp black pepper, and the balsamic. Pour into a shallow dish and rub all over zucchini planks.

Heat up a panini press.(Or you can do this in a grill pan on stove or on an outdoor grill.) When the press is very hot, place the zucchini on it and press down with cover, searing the planks. You want to get dark grill lines, but not over cook the squash. SO keep it hot and fast. Once they get good grill marks, take them off the heat and place onto the platter you will be serving this on. You may have to do this is batches. Don’t do more than a single layer at a time.

To make the sauce – heat the 2 Tbsp of olive oil in a wide saute pan on high heat. Once it starts to ripple, add the garlic and brown it. Then add the tomatoes, olives, salt, and 1 tsp black pepper. Cook for 3 minutes, stirring, then add stock. Keep cooking on high heat until reduced by one quarter and thickens up.

Take off heat, stir in most of the cilantro. Let settle a minute or two. Then pour the sauce over planks on the platter and sprinkle the rest of the cilantro on top.

This is great hot or cold ! A perfect midsummer meal to enjoy out in the garden.


Lemon Grass Marinated Pork


This recipe involves a couple steps and takes a couple days, but it doesn’t take up too much time. For two people, you can make it in two batches saving the marinade from the first batch to make the second.

It is so delicious and gorgeous and a great way to celebrate Lemon Grass* and well-grown pork**!

Serve with Scallion Oil on the side or poured over the meat. You can also serve with a fried egg, pickles, or a light semi-bitter salad.




Make this Scallion Oil to go with it – you’ll LOVE it! 

1 bundle of scallions – cleaned and sliced or finely chopped
about 2 cups of light olive oil or sesame oil (unroasted)

Combine in a glass jar or pyrex container and keep in fridge – it’s pretty good in a day – but it is amazing on everything in a week!!!

You’ll have extra to add to salads, pour over other meat dishes, and combine into eggs!


Lemon Grass Marinated Pork


You can use bone-in pork chops or ham steaks for this recipe. We use pork from Churutabis Farm in Branchville, NJ – the farm is run by our friend Hannelie with wonderfully-treated pigs and pure, organic methods. The flavor of her pork products is divine!


1-2 Ham Steaks** or 2-4 Pork Chops

About 5 – 10 Lemon Grass* stalks depending on size and freshness of the stalks and your taste.
4 shallots or 1 large onion
1 Ancho pepper
about 1/3 cup fish sauce
about 2 tbsp XO sauce or you can substitute Oyster sauce
1 tbsp chili flakes or 1 small hot chili like a tabasco (or to taste for heat)
4 Tbsp sugar
2 tsp sea salt
Plenty of freshly ground black pepper
Light olive oil or Sesame oil

Start by making the scallion oil or make it a couple days ahead of time.




Then make the marinade – begin with bruising (I place the stalks between two kitchen towels and hit firmly with a heavy sauce pan bottom or a wooden kitchen mallet) lemon  grass. Then chop the lemon grass along with the onions and peppers.




Then combine the lemon grass, onion or shallots, ancho, chili pepper, fish sauce, XO sauce, sugar, salt, and black pepper in a food processor. Process until well chopped and smooth, adding oil to keep it moving nicely.



I usually use a baking dish for marinating. I put a big spoonful of the sauce into the dish…




Then I press the meat over it, making sure it has full contact with the marinade.




**If you are using Ham Steaks, which is my favorite way to do this recipe, be sure to cut into the edge of fat around the steaks. See pic. This keeps the steak from curling up as it cooks.

IMG_2914Ham Steaks are a wonderful way to eat and prepare Ham. For two people or a small family, a Ham can be a gigantic amount of meat and can take a long time to prepare. I feel it is beat to save for for big gatherings and holidays. But a Ham Steak is so much more useable. Ham Steaks are basically slices of ham. They have a center bone and sections of meat like a pie. Marinating is a great way to use this cut of pork well. It also is best cooked quickly and hotly. Always remember to cut the fat layer. I use scissors and cut it as I rinse the meat.

Then I scoop more marinade over the meat, fully submerging and coating it.




Marinate at least 8 hours. Overnight or two nights is fine.


You can cook this on a grill, which is a traditional Vietnamese way, but I usually just want to pop them under the broiler. I use a baking rack (Stainless Steel) in a baking sheet. Put a piece of heavy duty aluminum foil in the baking sheet. You will often rip it at some during cooking, but if you don’t rip it, it makes clean-up much easier!

I heat up the broiler on high and raise the oven racks to the highest point closest to the broiler element. Place the meat on the rack, leaving marinade on it.




Pop the meat into the oven. Cook for 5-7 minutes on one side. You want the meat to have its edges dark, crispy brown.





Then take it out and flip onto the other side. You can spoon more marinade over it if you want.




Cook another 5-7 minutes. Watching until edges are nice and dark. There will be some smoke…





Take the meat out and let it rest a minute or two. Then, gently wipe the majority of the marinade off (the lemon grass can be a bit stringy and chewy). Distribute onto plates with other items like a fried egg, scallion oil, greens, pickles…







IMG_2883*Consider growing your own Lemongrass Plants

We always have them for sale at our Plant Sale – both “West Indies” and “East Indies” Styles. They are easy to grow. Plant the young plants in a big pot and keep in a warm and sunny location.

Toward the end of summer, you can freely harvest the stalks from around the outside of the grass-clump. Wear gloves – the blades can be sharp! Simply grasp a stalk around the base and pull out. Rinse and slice and use!
To continue growing Lemongrass through the winter – it will need to be brought into the house as a houseplant or into a greenhouse. It works well as a houseplant – but feel free to give the grassy blades a trim as it can take up a lot of space!

Visit our website for more recipes for cooking super-healthy foods! 

And check out our Courses and Workshops for successfully growing your own organic food! 

Lamb Ragu Pasta Sauce

IMG_8519This recipe has quite a few steps and takes some time. Plan it for a cold and rainy day. It smells absolutely wonderful as it cooks. The flavor that is created by the initial searing and then the slow cooking is totally worth the efforts!

It is also a great recipe for letting fresh herbs shine. Add plenty – I put 1/4 cup in the ingredients list, but I usually add a lot more.

And save herbs for garnishing the bowls while serving – the bright freshness of the herbs contrasts beautifully with the warm developed flavor of the sauce. I really like bright herbs like parsley or basil here. Basil Micro Greens are particularly great for those times of year when you may not have fresh plants growing in the garden. Check out our Micro-Green Growing Video!

As always, it is very important to purchase meat from trustworthy and organic sources. You want meat from farms who treat their animals respectfully and feed them what is appropriate for their species not what is cheapest for their bottom line. Lamb are quite easy to keep almost 100% on grass, it is fine if the farm occasionally feeds grain especially for pregnant and lactating ewes, who need a bit more nutrition. For our Farm Dinner, we purchased our lamb from Jamison Farm.


2-4 tbsp of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2-3 pounds of lamb – I use the shoulder cuts which are quite inexpensive
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
a sprinkle of onion powder (optional)

3-5 carrots, finely chopped
3-4 stalks of celery, finely chopped
1 onion, finely chopped mushrooms (optional)
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
at least a 1/4 cup of fresh chopped herbs – rosemary, sage, oregano, and/or thyme
1 tsp of chili flakes, or a pinch of cayenne powder, or a bit of chopped hot chili
1/2 cup of dry wine – can be red or white
2 large cans (28 ounce) of diced tomatoes or the equivalent in fresh tomatoes

Fresh herbs to garnish (optional) Parsley, Basil, or Micro-Basil are lovely
Start by rinsing and blotting dry the lamb. Season liberally with salt, pepper, and onion powder.

Heat up a large heavy pot or dutch oven. Add the oil to the pot and heat until shimmering.

A note here – you can easily double or triple this recipe – you would just do the lamb in stages. Even with 2-3 pounds of lamb shoulder, you may not be able to fit it all in one layer – so just sear the lamb in several stages.

Using tongs, place the meat in a single layer in the oil and sear well – about 3-4 minutes – until well-browned. Then flip over and sear the other side the same way. Then sear the edges for 30 seconds or so for each area in contact with the pot. Keep heat high – you want to hear the meat sizzle each time you start searing a new section. It will get smokey.

Once seared all over, place the meat in a covered bowl and continue until all your lamb is seared.

Turn your heat down now to medium low. Add the chopped carrot, celery, mushrooms, onion, garlic, and herbs. Use a flat sided spoon. As the juices are expelled from the vegetables, use the flat edge of your spoon to deglaze the fond, or browned goodness left from searing the lamb from the bottom of the pot. Cook until the vegetables are softened, about 8-10 minutes. Stir often.

Return the lamb back into the pot now along with all the juice left in the bowl. Turn up the heat again, and once everything is sizzling strongly, pour the wine in. It should make a lot of noise. Stir and scrape the bottom. Cook for about 2 minutes or so and then add the tomatoes. Bring it toa boil, and then turn down the heat to low, cover partially, and cook, lightly simmering, for about 3 hours.

IMG_1107Turn off the heat. The lamb should be falling off the bone. Carefully move it, using tongs, into a clean bowl and let cool a bit.

Once the meat is cool enough to handle, pull it apart and shred it. You want it be like a pulled pork size rather than chunks so it spreads consistently throughout the sauce. I usually use my hands for this – plus with shoulder cuts you can get loose (and sharp!) bone pieces which you want to be sure are all removed. I usually stir though the sauce carefully checking for bones as well.



Toss the bones and add the meat back into the sauce. Taste and adjust for seasoning. Serve over a pasta that allows the thick sauce to cling to it – I love radiatori or fusilli with this although it is classic to serve with a pappardelle. And it is stunning with mafalde!

You can add grated cheese if you want as well!


Check out our website!

For our full menu and more Table-in-the=Field recipes, click here! 

For info on our Plant Nursery, specializing in herbs and heirloom vegetables, click here! 

More info on our Poultry Raising can be found here! 

And lots more recipes….

Midsummer Farm Duck or Chicken Liver Terrine

At Our Midsummer’s Eve Table in the Field Dinner in 2018, we served this recipe as a purely Duck Liver Terrine (from our own home-grown ducks, butchered a couple days before) with a variety of grainy crackers and hearty breads and a Light Frisée Salad dressed with a mild vinaigrette.

IMG_2868You can make it with chicken livers and it comes out lovely as well. The Duck Livers may it a bit more buttery and richer. You can also combine the two types of poultry livers.

Organic is Super-Important here – Make sure you use organic chicken livers – they should be a nice purple-brown color. Non-organic livers are a tan color and as detoxifying organs, they are concentrates of chemicals and other nasty things.

I love terrine and paté and believe that liver is a very important and healthy super food. Having high quality and clean livers on hand is a big reason why we raise our own chickens and ducks.

2 quarts water
4-5 stalks of celery (can have leaves on them)
big bunch of fresh parsley
about 4 tbsp ground black pepper
2 pounds or so of organic poultry livers

2-1/2 tsp of salt
1/2 tsp of tabasco sauce
4 tbsp of butter, softened
about 1/3 cup of extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp of ground nutmeg
4 tsp of powdered yellow mustard
a small onion
about 2 cloves of garlic

Start by bringing the water to a boil in a large pot. Separate the parsley into two smaller bunches and chop one bunch coarsely.

Once the water is boiling, add the celery, non-chopped parsley, and 3 tbsp of the black pepper. Let simmer for about 5/6 minutes.


A note on parsley: I always feel like I’m cheating when I talk about adding fresh parsley to a recipe. We grow an amazingly flavored parsley that seems to make every recipe shine. It was originally from Italian Heirloom Seeds and we’ve been growing and developing it and saving the seeds for over ten years. We always have plants available at our Plant Sales and this year we will also have seed for sale!



Then add the livers to the water. Note: you don’t need to go crazy with prepping the livers. I simply give them a rinse with water. In many recipes, you are asked to cut sinews and stringy things off the livers, but because we’re processing this up very well, it is simply not necessary.

As they simmer, you will notice some foam gathering on the water. I usually scoop this out and toss it.


After livers have boiled for 10 minutes, drain them. Let them cool a tiny bit just so you can handle them. You do need them quite warm for processing. At this point, I put some of the celery and parsley from the boiling water into the food processor along with 2 tbsp of the butter.


I add about half the livers.


Process and grind these a bit, then add some oil and more livers. Process again until they are moving decently in processor.


Then add the rest of the livers, the other 2 tbsp of butter, and the onion. Add oil as necessary don’t pay a lot of attention to the amount, go with what seems right. Again, process well.


Take the time to open the machine and scrape down the sides and pulse the processor. The difference between a delightful terrine or pate and a weird one is getting the livers very smooth and velvety.


Once your livers are moving well in the processor, add the salt, tabasco, nutmeg, mustard, chopped parsley, and garlic. Don’t be shy about some of these more dramatic spices like nutmeg and tabasco – the liver flavor is very strong and you need these to round out the flavor. Process again – super well – again scraping down the sides and pulsing. You’ll start to found that the mixture is smelling awesome…


Once you’re sure it is smooth and velvety, scoop into a bowl. I’ve tried pouring this into a mold, but have never been thrilled with how it looks… You’ll know you processed it enough if it has a little spring to it as you scoop.


Put in the fridge at least overnight, two days is even better. It just tastes better and better as the flavors get to develop over time.

Great served with course and grainy crackers or a hearty bread. I love it with a bitter greens salad – like frisée and dandelion. Dress the salad with light vinaigrette of Olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice, salt and pepper. It is truly a delightful meal for any season.


Check out our website!

For our full menu and more Table-in-the=Field recipes, click here! 

For info on our Plant Nursery, specializing in herbs and heirloom vegetables, click here! 

More info on our Poultry Raising can be found here! 

And lots more recipes….

Curried Mussel Chowder

This is a tasty and spicy treat; great in the summer or the winter. You can use coconut milk instead of heavy cream, if you want to avoid diary.

The final chowder is brightly colored – very festive – and smells and tastes delicious – addictive even!

You can get very creative with the vegetables – this is how I prepared it for our Midsummer Eve’s Table-in-the-Field Dinner on July 28th 2018.

It is one of our most-requested recipes from that evening!

Check out our webpage for more info on our Table-in-the-Field Farm Dinners:


Mussels in Shell with Vegetables4 pounds (usually two bags) of mussels. I really like to use certified organic PEI mussels or from a sustainable farm in the Long Island area
4-5 cups of water
2 cups of dry white wine – I love using a Vermentino from Sardinia, but any dryish white would be fine
1 stick of butter (grassfed and organic would provide best flavor)
3 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil – I love the California Olive Ranch brand
2 pounds of small potatoes – can be any variety of colors or the small golden ones are excellent as well
8 carrots
4 small leeks or 2 large leeks – be sure to slice these in half length wise and thoroughly wash out any sand in between the layers
1 yellow bell pepper
1 cubanelle pepper
1 red bell pepper (or any combination of sweet peppers you happen to have)
1 large shallot or several smaller ones
4 garlic cloves – finely chopped
3 teaspoons of Curry Powder (not all curry powders are even close to the same flavor – curry is a mix of spices… I like Mountain Rose Herbs curry powder, which is a classic flavor. Or you can make your own curry – I’ve made it with 1 part fenugreek, 1 part coriander, 1 part turmeric, 1/2 part cumin, 1/2 part cardamon, 1/4 part cayenne – and I was very happy with it…)
1 -2 extra Tablespoons of turmeric
1 – 2 cups of heavy cream
Lots of chopped fresh parsley
Lots of chopped fresh cilantro
Salt and Black Pepper to taste


Start by adding the water and wine to a big stock pot or dutch over and bring it to a boil over high heat. Once it boils, bring the heat down a notch and let it settle at a rolling boil with cover ajar.

Meanwhile, clean your mussels – give them a good scrub and pull off any beards.

Add the mussels all at once to the boiling water and cover fully. Leave cover on for 4 minutes. Then check on them – give them a stir and if it seems some are still closed, put cover back on and let them go another 2 minutes.

Take pot off heat. Scoop mussels into a large bowl to cool – you don’t want them to over cooks at all because you’ll be re-heating them again later and you don’t want them to get rubbery from being overcooked.

Save your mussel water – that’s a huge amount of flavor! But you do need to strain the liquid to remove any sand or sediment left behind. Let it settle and restrain if necessary. This mussel broth will be a cloudy greyish color. You should have at least 4 cups – if you don’t have 4 cups, add a little water. If you have more than 4 cups, then use it all!

Process your mussel meats – I like to save out about 20 or so mussels in their shells. Pick out nice small ones. But then take the time to remove the rest of the mussel meats from their shells. Two many shells in the chowder will make it hard to serve and uses up two much sauce with shell. But I feel like you need the drama of a couple shells to make this chowder really pop!

Throw away any mussels that did not open – these are the bad ones.

The above steps can all be done a day or so ahead and refrigerated.

Prepare your vegetables – cut potatoes into bite size pieces that match one another in size as much as possible. I like to cut the carrots into rounds. Cut the peppers into pretty big pieces as they shrink a lot and can get lost in the curry. Cut the leeks pretty small and I usually slice the shallots into rounds.

Heat butter in a Dutch oven or heavy stock pot until melted then add potatoes. Salt liberally and stir and cook over medium heat for about 5-7 minutes. They smell awesome! Then add the carrots, peppers, leeks, and shallots. Cover the pot and let cook for about 12 minutes. I usually test a large piece of carrot to see if it is just-about tender. Once the carrots are almost tender, add the garlic and the spices including plenty of black pepper. I usually give it another sprinkle of salt now too. Cook for another minute or so with cover off, turn up heat a bit to get mixture sizzling.

Now add the Mussel Broth – I usually pour gently so that any extra sediment that may have collected on bottom of bowl remains behind. Bring it back up to a gentle simmer – and cook about 5 minutes, letting the vegetables absorb the mussel flavor. Pull out a potato and test for tenderness. If its fully tender, then add the cream. (you can also stop here with this recipe and save adding the cream until the following day… you want to add the cream and the mussel meats about an hour before serving.)

After adding the cream, adjust the heat – you don’t want it to wildly boil at this point – you want a very gentle simmer – then add the mussel meats.

The mussels are fully cooked at this point, but you want to allow the mixture to meld flavor-wise – let it cook gently for about 3 minutes.

Taste for salt and pepper… then leave it at room temperature for an hour. This resting period also helps build flavors. You can also save in fridge overnight at this point – I find that the mussels may get tougher, but the flavor may be even better…

When you are ready to serve, reheat gently and sprinkle with liberal amounts of the chopped parsley and cilantro. Serve with a crusty bread for scooping up every last drop!

Visit our website for more recipes from this Farm Dinner Event! 


Bechamel Chicken with Cabbage and Leeks


A great seasonal recipe

We just finished processing our meat chickens for the season, and we had a great year for cabbage, so one day last week I pulled together a recipe for using the left chicken meat from a roast bird along with some chopped cabbage and a leek that also was just ready for harvesting … and it turned into a great meal!

If you don’t have cabbage, then Swiss Chard or Spinach or even Escarole or Endive would work well – actually, I think the bitterness of the chicory family greens would complement these flavors in a really lovely way.

Bechamel Chicken with Cabbage and Leeks

2-3 cups of cooked chicken meat shredded or cut into bite sized pieces
1-2 cups of fresh white (green) cabbage (I like the variety called Tendersweet) cut into bite sized pieces
½ of a medium-large leek, sliced thinly

1 cup of milk
4 bay leaves
1 tbsp plus 1-1/2 tbsp butter
1-1/2 tbsp flour
2-3 garlic cloves – pressed or chopped very fine
Sea salt to taste
Black pepper to taste
A sprinkle of nutmeg (I prefer freshly ground)

Directions    Start by preparing the béchamel – Put the milk and bay leaves into a small saucepan. Heat over medium-high heat, until little bubbles just start forming along the sides of the milk. Then, remove it from the heat and cover – let it sit and infuse for at least 10 minutes.

In another medium saucepan (the heavier the better for this part of the recipe), melt the first 1 tbsp of butter over medium heat. Add the leaks and cabbage and sauté until softened and sweet. Scoop leeks and cabbage out of pan into a bowl and set aside.

Then add the second 1-1/2 tbsp of butter to pan, and melt over medium heat. Add the flour, and whisk or stir, letting it bubble but not burn for 3 minutes or so. Strain the hot infused milk into the butter mixture, discarding the bay leaves. Keep stirring until the mixture thickens to a nice consistency similar to heavy cream. If it gets too thick, you can add a dash or two more milk.

Stir in the garlic, chicken meat, leeks, and cabbage. Heat thoroughly, and add salt and pepper to taste. Dust with nutmeg. And enjoy!

Check out this Buttered Cabbage recipe – It is delicious – imparts a similar comfort-food feeling as pasta – truly! And very good for you especially if you use butter from pastured, grass-fed cows.



Cabbage and Shallot Sauté

1/2 of a small, fresh cabbage, cut into bite-sized pieces (about 2 cups)
1-2 medium shallots, sliced (or you can use onions, scallion, etc.)
1-3 tbsp grassfed butter
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil (optional)
salt and pepper to taste

Directions    Heat butter and oil in a sauté pan. Add shallots and cook just until starting to get tender, about a minute. Add cabbage and cook until bright and tender. But don’t cook too much so it’s mushy. Taste as you go and season…

So good and so healthy! Cabbage is one of the healthiest foods on the earth.

Click here for other healthy sauté recipes on our website.

Sublime Hard-Boiled Eggs

I feel like I just became re-acquainted with simple hard-boiled eggs. And suddenly, I can’t get enough of them!


When you use well-produced high quality ingredients, simplicity seems called for – so that the egg itself (with all the levels of flavor accumulated by the diverse and natural upbringing of the hens) is the star. The art is in the raising of the poultry allowing it to shine in the dish…


Consider raising your own flock of laying hens and get your own fresh and naturally-diverse organic eggs! Our next Poultry Workshop here at Midsummer Farm will be on June 18th 2017. See more info and register here. We are also currently developing an on-Line version of our Poultry workshop – to come Summer 2017.


Hard boiling is often considered difficult to do with truly fresh eggs. When an egg is fresh (meaning laid a couple days ago, not bought in the grocery store), there is almost no air between the white and the shell. This lack of air space makes fresh eggs very hard to peel. You end up pulling a lot of white off with the shell, and the end results look messy. You can find a lot of very different – and sometimes insanely time-consuming – instructions for how to go about hard boiling a fresh egg and being able to gracefully peel it… They all work sometimes.


This is how I usually go about hard boiling… most of them will peel ok, but you’ll still get some messy ones. They will still taste great even if they look messy!

  • For regular sized chicken eggs, refrigerate them first, so they are cold. Then place the eggs in a single layer on the bottom of a pot of water and fill with cold water. There should be about 2 inches of water over the tops of the eggs.
  • Take the cold pot and heat on high until it boils. Allow them to boil for 2 minutes. Then take them off the heat and let rest 2 minutes.
  • Then run them under cold water until they feel cool to the touch. I usually bounce them a bit here, letting the shells crack.
  • Let rest again for about 5 minutes. They should feel slightly warm to the touch at this point. Peel them as usual, being as careful as possible. Some will peel perfectly, others, not so perfect…
  • For bantam eggs – Allow to boil only 1 minute; let rest in hot water 1 minute more.
  • For duck eggs or jumbo chicken eggs – Allow to boil 3 minutes; let rest in warm water another 3 minutes.


How to tell how “fresh” an egg is. Fresh eggs will lay on their sides when immersed in water. The more air that is in the egg, the more it will float. A not-so-fresh egg will sit up on ones of its top or bottom (pointed/narrow) sides. An older egg will start to bob or even float on the surface of the water…


After peeling, I simply cut the hard boiled eggs in half. My goal is to get the yolks dark, velvety, and vibrant with the whites being tender and sweet. I found that sprinkling a bit of colored sea salt or smoked sea salt just brings the flavors out and is perfectly sublime.



Herbal Nervine Salve


One of things we do in the Herbal Apothecary Course is make herbal salves. They are really very simple and easy to make and are extremely effective.

After shoveling snow this past week, I knew that my elbows were going to bother me. I have a tendency for an issue similar to carpal tunnel where the nerve channels in my elbows – the cubital tunnels – get inflamed and compress the nerves. When I came in from shoveling, my elbows didn’t hurt, and I felt good from the exercise, so I didn’t think of rubbing the nervine salve I make on my elbows…

But that night, my fingers started getting the tingling sensation, and my elbows and arms started really hurting. I was not worried though, and I didn’t take a painkiller medication. Instead I grabbed my container of what I call “Nervine Salve” and rubbed it into both my elbows. Within 5 minutes, the pain was gone and the tingling stopped. And it was moisturizing too!

The herbs I use in the Nervine Salve are effective for dealing with all the symptoms of nerve compression as well as healing the nerves and nerve tunnels themselves. And the oil-based salve gets absorbed quickly, bringing the herbal medicine right to where it needs to be.

I can’t recommend this salve enough for any nerve issue. Herbs that are considered “nervines” heal and tone the nervous system. Infused into a salve, they can fix all sorts of nervous system issues like carpal tunnel, pinched nerves, sciatica, etc. They are also used for treating anxiety, depression, and stress related issues of all sorts.


How to Make Your Own Nervine Salve

I start by infusing dried herbs into extra virgin olive oil. I use a double boiler for this.


Herbs should be covered by the oil and able to move freely when stirred.

You want to keep the oil warm, but you don’t want to over heat or fry your herbs.


The temperature should be kept so you can touch the oil without burning yourself. So keep the heat on very low. Put the dried herbs into the top of the double boiler and pour enough oil to cover the herbs with about 1.5 inches of oil.

The herbs I use in my Nervine Salve are:
~Nervine herbs:
2 parts St. John’s Wort upper leaves and flowers. St. John’s Wort is one of the most effective nervine herbs. I also add 1 part Chamomile blossoms, 1 part Hops, and 1/4 part Alkanet root.
~General Healing herbs:
1 part Comfrey leaves, 1 part Goldenseal root, 1 part Solomon’s Seal root, 1 part Chickweed whole plant.
~Painkilling herb for quick relief:
1 part Meadowsweet flowers
~Anti-Inflammatory herbs to help reduce
the inflammation causing the compression:

1 part Licorice root.

Most of these herbs can be easily grown in this area. The few that can’t, can be easily found online or at local herb shops or health food stores. I love and recommend Mountain Rose Herbs for organic herbs.

Step by Step:

I let those herbs infuse into the oil for about 4 hours. Except for occasionally stirring them, they don’t need much attention.

After that time, you’ll see that the oil has changed color, which indicates that the oil-soluble herbal chemicals are now in the oil. I strain the herbs out (give them to your chickens or compost pile) into a glass pyrex-style large measuring cup.


I usually strain through a wide mesh strainer and then through a fine mesh.


I then add about 1/4-1/3 cup of beeswax to each 2 cups of oil.


I place the measuring cup into a preheated oven at 325 degrees F until the beeswax is fully melted.


At this point, your salve is basically complete – but I do like to add some essential oils to make it smell nice and make use of the benefits they may impart. Lavender Essential Oil is calming and also can act as a painkiller. I have made it a tradition to add a couple drops of Rose Geranium Essential Oil to my Nervine Salve as it is known to relax muscles, which I feel can get stressed when one is dealing with nerve pain. Pour it into little containers and let cool completely before covering.


Once you get your ingredients together and your supplies, it is amazingly easy to create your own herbal salves and I encourage you to try it. Once you go through the steps, you’ll feel more confident about it. And once you try it out, you’ll be simply thrilled at the effectiveness.

In the Herbal Apothecary Course, we make many salves together as well as tincture and teas and more. I won’t just be dictating recipes; the format of the workshop is working together to develop the ways of thinking to build herbal remedies…

We will also talk about herbs that no household should be without, how to substitute herbs, and basically everything you need to know to create an effective and useful household herbal apothecary. You’ll be building your own herb-based household health plan, as well as your own herbal medicine cabinet, beauty spa, and emotional well-being resource.



Check out our webpage on our Building a Sustainable Herbal Apothecary Course for more info on our course. We offer a full line of herbalism courses and workshops: Midsummer Farm Herbalism. 


Cucumber Spaghetti

Before the cucumbers slow down in production  – make some Cucumber Spaghetti!
This summer, we have been eating almost all of our cucumbers as “cucumber-spaghetti.” This is so easy and fast and simple – all you need is a julienne vegetable peeler – I use the OXO Good Grips one.

Start by cleaning your cucumbers:

Then simply peel or julienne them – watch your fingers.

I keep going until the seeds make the strips uneven and break:

Pile all the cucumber strips into a bowl with room to toss:

Then add salt and pepper, a dash of vinegar (I used Golden Balsamic), and a dash of extra virgin olive oil. I usually put in a pinch of cayenne flakes, but that’s optional. Toss and mix thoroughly. Let it sit for at least 15 minutes. The salt will encourage the cucumber to release its juices, filling every forkful with cucumbery goodness.

Before serving, toss and mix again. And serve!


Basil is a wonderful herb and is really at its prime right now in the garden !

Nothing beats fresh basil – it just tastes like summer! We just can’t help ourselves but sprinkle some fresh leaves on almost anything we are eating! It’s even good on vanilla ice-cream!


Spicy Globe Bush Style Basil – Great flavor and tons of style!

A great summer use of basil is pesto – no need to cook or heat – it is raw seasonal eating at its best!

I make pesto in my food processor – I start by adding 1-6 cloves of garlic, 2 cups of coarsely chopped basil leaves, 1/2 cup of pignoli nuts, 1/4 cup of parmesan cheese, and a pretty decent amount of fresh ground black pepper. I give it a couple pulses, then add a dash of extra virgin olive oil. I keep pulsing and dashing the oil just until the mixture starts to move in the food processor freely and smoothly, then I let it spin for about a minute. I usually end up using about 1/3 cup of oil.

This Classic Pesto is fabulous over pasta on its own or spread onto a fresh slice of artisanal bread. I also like to scoop it up on stalks of celery or romaine leaves.

You can also make it with walnuts or brazil nuts instead of pignoli. And you can add all sorts of other herbs too – try it with basil-parsly-cilantro in equal parts…

Basil also goes great with bitter herbs, balancing the bitter flavor with the basil-sweetness. Try doing a basil dandelion mix! And sometimes just a sprig or two of an herb can add a whole other dimension – I made a pesto with a touch of mint and squeeze of lemon and it was sublime! And you just can’t beat cilantro-cashew pesto!

Pestos make balanced meals – super healthy and energizing for hot languid summer days!


Siam Queen Thai Basil just starting to flower. The flavor of Thai Basil is just as good when the plant flowers, and the flowers are flavorful and lovely.

You can also add super-nutritional herbs like Stinging Nettle or Chickweed to your pesto! These herbs mellow the basil flavor a bit but add a more complex background to the pesto.


I also make a Basil Vinegar – it is really lovely on arugula salad. I simply take a new glass bottle of white wine vinegar, open it and pour about 1.5 inches out (use it on a salad). Now that you have the extra space in the bottle, add fresh basil leaves. You can chop them a bit for a stronger flavor faster. But there’s something really cool about having whole basil leaves in the vinegar bottle.

I also usually use the Thai basil – like Siam Queen that gets the fluffy looking dark purple flowers for the vinegar – the whole sprig goes into the bottle flower and all! Lemon Basil is also really fun for vinegar and so is purple basil!
Freezing Basil
The best way to store basil is to freeze it. It freezes very well. You can freeze the pesto as well – I freeze pesto in serving size containers – some small to be added as a fresh spike of flavor to a tomato sauce and some larger containers for a whole meal of pesto in the middle of the winter.


To freeze your fresh basil:

  1. Pick it early in the morning, just as the dew dries off.
  2. Don’t wash it or get it wet… just pop it right into zip lock bags and put the bags into the freezer. You can pack the bags pretty tightly but don’t bruise the leaves smushing them together.
  3. After a day or so, you can open the bag and crush and crumble the frozen leaves down to make room for more fresh leaves. I keep doing this about 4 or 5 times to get a really dense bag of basil.



Perfectly Frozen Basil Leaves – can be simply thrown into any recipe or tomato sauce all winter long for fresh basil flavor!


Drying Basil
I dry a little batch of basil each year. About 1 cup worth. I don’t use dried basil often in cooking, but I always run into a couple cool recipes that call for it …. The flavor is different – sweeter – when dried so I think you really cannot substitute dried basil for fresh in most cases.

I dry it by simply spreading out some of the tips – just about to flower – over a paper towel on a tray or open basket. I usually lay a piece of cheese cloth over so pet hair and dust doesn’t get on them. The basil should be dry within a week. Always feel it and make sure it is completely and totally dry before putting away in jars otherwise it can mold.

This year I want to make a basil salve – so I am going to dry some extra!


Most people don’t think of basil as a medicinal herb
But it originally was used as a salve ingredient long before it was mixed with pignoli nuts and made into pesto!

Any plant with a strong flavor and scent is rich in phyto-nutrients and anti-oxidants. And this is true of basil. Basil is a great example of letting “food by thy medicine” – adding diversity to the diet. It is also great for soothing upset stomachs and calming the nervous system – alleviating depression and fatigue – actually I think it can have these effects when you just take a big whiff of fresh cut basil ….

Basil is a great headache tea especially for headaches caused by tension. Combined with Lemon Balm, Chamomile and a bit of Sage, it can be a fabulous tea for before bed – helping with insomnia and calming recurring and circular stressful thoughts.

Fresh basil juice has antibacterial properties! Mashing or Chewing some up and applying to a cut or insect sting can be very helpful, preventing infection and easing the itch and pain.

According to James A.Duke in one of my favorite herb reference books, The Green Pharmacy, basil has 6 phyto (or plant) compounds that help lower blood pressure. Not as many as celery and purslane, but a nice extra effect for adding basil to a recipe!

Basil is a mild medicine – its cousin, Holy Basil or Tulsi, is much more powerful healing medicinal – but basil is also one of the safest herbs to use with no known side effects.

If you’re interested in learning more about how to use herbs in your life – consider taking one of our herbal courses – our next Herbal Apothecary Course starts next Sunday July 24th  – you still have time register! Click here for more info!


Visit our website for lots of tips for using your herbs and living a healthy herbal lifestyle.

Take a look at our 10 Great Ways to Use Your Herbs Page.