February 12, 2018
The last Sunday in January we harvested cottonwood buds. I love how cottonwood buds have this mid-winter harvest time. It's nice to have something as intoxicating and important as cottonwood to look forward to in the winter.
Cottonwood trees (also known as : Black Cottonwood, Balm of Gilead, Populus trichocarpa) can be found near the banks of rivers and streams. We found ours on the banks of the Clackamas River.
Buds appear on cottonwood trees from late winter to early spring. You can smell the fragrance in the air, it resembles the sweet notes of honeysuckle. Just before they open, the leaf buds will expel a drop of red to yellow colored resin. When you pinch the buds and see resin inside, it is the perfect time to harvest. The cottonwood buds that we found were varied - some were fat & ready while others will still on the smaller side. For the most part, the juiciest buds are up very high so be sure to look around on the ground for branches that may have been knocked down in the wind.
To break off the buds, you just bend them a bit with your fingertips until they snap off. They are sticky with resin so be sure to line your collecting basket with a bag of some sort.
Many parts of the cottonwood tree are medicinal. A compound called salacin, which is found in the leaves, buds and bark of cottonwood, has been proven to lower fevers and reduce inflammation and pain.
Next up... how we make cottonwood bud oil & then use that in our Healing Balm!
xo - Casey
I had a shitty week, but the things that made it a bummer were things I did not want to share.
It left me lonesome and blue.
My business partner was going to be over after teaching all day and I like to have tea and snacks ready for her. I knew we both needed something deeply nourishing.
When the kids were little we made vanilla sugar for gifts a few times. It's simple, but decadent. I miss it from time to time, but I found some vanilla beans, not the freshest, in the freezer and ground them up whole with organic sugar in the Vitamix. If the vanilla beans were fresh, I could've split them and scraped out the fragrant seeds, but blending it all together and sifting out the biggest pieces worked great. Since my sugar was like powdered sugar (fluffy) once it left the vitamix, I've adjusted the recipe accordingly.
I rarely have hot cocoa, but it seemed just right for the day.
I goggled DIY cocoa mix and started there for proportions of milk to cocoa to sugar and worked from there. Then I started adding things that were both cozy and heart warming.
It was the perfect thing. Cozy and rich, not too anything.
Here's the recipe:
1 cup Cocoa Powder, unsweetend
1 1/2 Cups Powdered Milk, any kind, I used nonfat leftover from a milk bath recipe I no longer make
1/3 Cup + 1 TBL Powdered Roses, you can buy them here or powder dried unsprayed roses in a blender or food processor
2 cups Powdered Sugar (or 1 granulated sugar)
1 1/2 tsp. Cornstarch (optional) To reduce clumping
1 Vanilla Bean, split and scrape into the bowl that you're mixing everything in or use my blender method above
1/2 to 1 tsp Cardamom Powder
1/2 to 1 tsp Ginger Powder
1/2 to 1 tsp Cinnamon Powder
Mix it all together
add 2 heaping spoonfuls to a mug and top with nearly boiling water
It's a pretty blush color when done.
Let me know what you think.