SMOKINCHOICES (and other musings)

April 30, 2012

Sharing an “herbal asset”

John Gallagher of LEARNING HERBS

(John Gallagher of LEARNING HERBS   is a treasure of a source for all things herbal.  I am embarrassed to say that I possibly have not posted on him and his valuable site before now.   I am sorry.  John so often has these wonderful training sessions online which are great for someone like me (and maybe you).  Of course, I found out about him a year or two back on Mountain Rose Herbs.  I have learned how to make lip balm (for my granddaughters) and kept some for me too.  It’s nice – never used it before. 

Then watching a teaching demonstration he arranged online for making the best ever face cream, I was hooked.    He had some lady in her kitchen and I remember that her blender broke down – but she saved all while continuing on til all was completed and looked great.    Her gracious commentary while she casually worked was so helpful as she explained her preferences and so on.    If I remember right, she might have used some olive oil in the mix which I didn’t use as others online had said it can leave a greasy looking shine on skin

This is John’s field, so it is no wonder that he is so well connected, and has all these great people on to teach one thing or another.   He has taught how to make essential oils, tinctures.  He’s done the tooth cleansing powder too, as a matter of fact, it is from him that I learned of the Kaolin Clay to use in my tooth powder recipe which I have given out, because I tried essentially using some of the ingredients I copied down from Nadine Artemis of  Living Libations.   Kaolin Clay made sense to me, so I added this too. 

At the end of this post, I left the comments there, which I would normally no do since they were written for another’s blog.  They are totally related to the subject at hand and seem relevant and useful, so they are in.  

The subject here is a recipe for everyone’s favorite sandwich.  Got my salivary juices flowing.  Enjoy.  Jan  )
Issue 81

The Herb Fairies are coming!
Catch them before they disappear… is VERY excited to introduce our new children’s herbal learning system.

Kimberly has been working on this for nearly 3 years, and we have never been more psyched about a new project.

GO TO THIS SITE NOW to find out about this unique opportunity for the kids in your life.

Herb Fairies will not be listed on this site again until mid-2013.

In order to learn about or participate in Herb Fairies, you need to visit today…

…before they fly away. :)

By the way.. Hailey also shows you on video (with Kimberly) how to make candied violet flowers…

Chickweed Grilled Cheese!

by Rosalee de la Forêt

At we love to love weeds. So many of those green pests that grow so easily and so abundantly are actually medicine chests in disguise.

One of the first of these green allies to emerge from the snow or ground is a little star of a plant, chickweed (Stellaria media).

A member of the pink family (Caryophyllaceae), its delicate stems and tiny white flowers sit unassumingly in garden beds and other disturbed soil areas. It spreads well (it is a weed!) and thrives in the cooler temperatures of spring and fall. If you’re wondering where chickweed gets its common name from, feed a plate of it to chickens and you’ll see them go bonkers for this nutritious feast.

Energetically this plant is moistening and cooling (think of eating a slice of watermelon on a hot summer day and you’ll get the idea). It is often classified as a demulcent and refrigerant. Therefore, in herbalism we tend to use it for hot and dry conditions like inflamed tissues. It’s especially adept for external use such as a poultice, or made into an ointment or salve. Try it externally on rashes, pink eye, styes, diaper rash and other inflammatory skin conditions.

It has a special affinity for bringing moisture to the mucous membranes, whether it is for soothing a hot and irritated urinary tract such as a bladder infection, or for relieving dry inflamed mucous membranes of the lungs that have resulted in a hot irritating cough.

Nicholas Culpeper (1616 – 1654), an herbalist from England, recommended placing chickweed poultices over the liver; it “doth wonderfully temper the heat of the liver and is effectual for all impostumes [abscess] and swellings whatsoever; for all redness in the face, wheals, pushes, itch or scabs.”

Chickweed isn’t just for medicine, however; this spring green is packed with nutrients. I learned from Paul Bergner that an Amish herbal treatment for increasing breast milk features our starry wonder.

“Chickweed is highly nutritious, with an ounce of the dried herb containing 400 mg calcium, 8.4 mg of iron, 176 mg of magnesium, and 280 mg of potassium. Directions: Place an ounce of chickweed in a quart of water in a pot. Bring to a boil, and then simmer on the lowest heat for an hour. Strain and drink the quart throughout the day.”

Paul Bergner

Chickweed’s flavor bursts of fresh spring goodness. A perfect food following the heavy and rich foods of winter.

Chickweed in harvesting basket.

And luckily for us this is a nutritious, easy to grow and easy to harvest weed that tastes delicious! It makes a wonderful fresh salad, or can be gently steamed as a side dish. Just in case you have some picky eaters at home, today’s newsletter shares a meal that is a slight twist on some good old comfort food.

Okay, admittedly I did doll up the recipe a bit, calling for goat cheese and fancy olives, but I am sure you can easily adapt this recipe for your own version of grilled cheese.

Chickweed Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

To make this recipe you’ll need:

  • 2 pieces of bread
  • Soft goat cheese that spreads easily
  • 1-2 minced kalamata olives (or other high quality olives)
  • Fresh chickweed
  • Butter

Begin by spreading the goat cheese on your sandwiches.

Next mince your olives and sprinkle them over the cheese.

Mince up the chickweed and cover the slice of bread well.

Place the other slice of bread on top and cover it with a layer of butter.

Warm up a cast iron pan (or whatever you use for grilling sandwiches). I like it to be sizzling hot when I put the sandwich on.

Place the sandwich butter side down on to the pan.

Grill until the bottom slice of bread has turned golden brown, taking care not to burn it. Spread a layer of butter on the top piece of bread.

Flip the sandwich, turn to low heat, and cover. It’s done when both sides are golden brown and the cheese has been melted.

Sometimes we spice this up a by adding minced garlic or a dash or two of cayenne pepper.

However you choose to eat it, I hope you get your fill of chickweed this spring. And remember to harvest this plant gently, keeping your eye out for fairies!

How do you like to use chickweed? For food? Medicine?



Speaking of chickweed…
meet Stellaria, the Chickweed Fairy…

Click her before she flies away…

Good heavens. This photo looked so yummy I shared it around the office. It looks AMAZING! Can’t wait to try it. Thanks for a great idea!!
Today, 2:10:52 PM
YUM! I can’t wait to try this! I just started eating chickweed in my salads and will definitely try it in a grilled cheese. It seems to be the theme this week as I just got a post from another blog about grilled cheese with maitake mushrooms! Anyway, I had a question… I see chickweed everywhere now and am trying to get my neighbors and friends to love chickweed too but we were unsure about where it was safe to harvest. There is one yard that is tiny and really close to the driveway.. could that be dangerous from the residue toxins from cement driveway? And another friend who has lived at her property for 3 years and hasn’t put any fertilizer or pesticide in her yard, but is unsure of the residents before her..?? I appreciate any advice. Thanks!!
Yesterday, 3:27:53 PM
Rosalee de la Foret
Hmm… in general I don’t harvest next to driveways because of the reasons you already stated. As far as your friend… I could only guess. I know it takes a farmer three years of organic farming before they can be certified, but I am not sure if some pesticides stay in the soils longer than that or not. Sorry to not be of more help!
Yesterday, 7:10:35 PM
This was so amazing to learn about. For us women, iron and calcium intake become increasingly important with age. I plan to add this to my diet right away. Thank you so much.
Yesterday, 3:27:31 PM
Hi, I’m currently using a chickweed poultice for a couple of ‘blind’ spots on my leg and it’s working a treat! I’m interested to learn that it’s ok to eat chickweed as I’m sure I’ve read somewhere that if you eat too much it can be poisonous – can you please tell me if it’s completely safe to eat? I’m from across the pond and haven’t yet come across a living plant – only dried from the internet, is this something I could buy from a garden centre (as it’s classed as a weed rather than a herb)? I’d love to grow my own! After coming across your website I’m hooked! Thank you (all) so much for providing such fab information on all things herbal! I wish you all the best with your Herbal Fairies – I’m sure it will be a huge success!!
Yesterday, 10:28:23 AM
Rosalee de la Foret
Chickweed is completely safe to eat (as long as it is grown in a safe location). I’ve eaten plates of salad made entirely of chickweed before. Probably the best way to grow it is to order some seeds and plant them in your garden. I’ve never seen it sold in nurseries before, but if they have it, great!
Yesterday, 11:50:28 AM
Where do I buy chickweed?
Yesterday, 7:59:26 AM
Rosalee de la Foret
I don’t know where you can buy fresh chickweed and dried is not very useful (in my opinion!) it turns to straw too quickly. The best thing to do is buy seeds and plant some in your own yard or find local organic farms who don’t mind you doing a little weeding.
Yesterday, 11:53:17 AM
Excellent twist on a classic…I will make this very soon….Yummy!!!
2 days ago, 10:30:58 PM
Chickweed is our winter salad and garden nibble. My chickens adore it and it is the first green food we offer our new chicks. I also use it as a cover crop for the garden.
2 days ago, 8:18:50 PM
Liked by
De Anna Muecke
Dear Grapenut: what is the name of your yahoo PLANT group, I would like to join…Thank you,DeAnna Michelle
2 days ago, 7:45:30 PM
How would you go about asking for free chickweed? :) I am in a yahoo plant group that gives advise but also keeps me up to date with plant exchanges,free plants other have to give etc. But having to ask about a ‘weed’…seems silly . Can I buy weeds at a nursery? I am not sure if I would find it in my yard or garden.Thanks for any suggestions you might have
2 days ago, 4:16:53 PM
Liked by
John Gallagher
Do you have an organic farm near you? I often harvest from green houses in winter or in the rows in summer. Great way to meet your local organic farmers. They love you weeding their farms :)
2 days ago, 4:23:01 PM
Kimberly Yoder
This morning I saw in my yard what looked like chickweed. I first ran to my Wildcraft game I purchased from you several months ago. The card was somewhat of a help, but after seeing this picture I ran out and sure enough it was. Chickweed it was. I think I will try hummus instead of the goat cheese later on today as I have just finished lunch. Thank you once again for all your knowledge…..
2 days ago, 3:34:06 PM
Liked by
John Gallagher
2 days ago, 4:23:16 PM
I enjoyed some mixed greens that included chickweed this week. Yum! Cooked them with a bit of olive oil and garlic greens.
2 days ago, 2:18:14 PM
And for breakfast, chickweed, feta cheese, red pepper, in scrambled eggs. Thanks for the inspiration. Your photos are perfect and so helpful.
2 days ago, 12:42:28 PM
Love chickweed! I have used is as an external wash. BTW where did you get that gathering basket?
2 days ago, 11:51:14 AM
Rosalee de la Foret
John bought that basket for Kimberly from herbalist and story teller Doug Elliot. I believe it is made from tulip tree bark. Kimberly let me borrow it to harvest some chickweed – it is beautiful!
2 days ago, 12:36:05 PM
John Gallagher
Yes… Seems as if you can arrange to get them from his site. Great baskets and supports a great herbalist. :)
2 days ago, 4:29:47 PM
Liked by
Wow that looks amazingly yummy!
2 days ago, 11:38:04 AM
Beth Adelsperger
I actually haven’t found any chickweed around my area…maybe I need to look better! ~
2 days ago, 11:13:51 AM
Beth Adelsperger
~ Yummy, Yummy, Yummy!! ~
2 days ago, 11:11:56 AM
I have a small back yard, and my 2 chickens found my chickweed….!
2 days ago, 10:48:46 AM
Liked by
2 Guests
Love this, thanks for the reminder, and tell me more about the lactation enhancing properties? I remember eating this plant – doesn’t grow in Albuquerque either best I can tell.
2 days ago, 10:39:04 AM
I have Chickweed in my yard. Never knew you could eat it. That look awesome.
2 days ago, 10:31:58 AM
Looks divine. Wish I could try this but here in Egypt it doesn’t grow!!!!!
2 days ago, 9:58:01 AM
Oh, chickweed is one of my FAVORITES! I use it in my smoothies and spring tonics and now I will DEFINITELY try it on grilled cheese. :)
2 days ago, 9:53:37 AM
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