Thursday, March 15, 2018

Borage / Hjulkrone

Borago officinalis

Borago originates from Europe where it was cultivated by the Arabs in the south. It grows wild along roads and in fields.

Borago is in Denmark also known as agurkeurt = cucumberherb. The plant is 30-60 cm tall with elliptical leaves covered in rough hair, the flowers are wheelshaped with a fine skye blue colour all summer untill october. The plant smells of cucumber when it is chopped. Borago is actually not a spice herb. Today there is a warning against eating the rough leaves since the plant is related to comfrey, Symphtym officinale, which is forbidden to use for food. 

The borago keeps its germination for up till three years, and it is best to saw it in May. Make small grooves in the garden bed with 25 cm's distance between the rows and 7 cm between each seed and cover the seeds  The seeds have to be covered with soil since they need darkness . The plant throws many seeds, so it will germinate in many places the next year, especially since it is spread by ants.

The plant thrives well in all kinds of soil, but mostly in a nutrient rich and moist soil. If it grows in a sunny place it will flower long -  if the surroundings are too dry, the leaves will collapse and have to be watered. A poor soil must be given compost before seedling.

Borago can be plant in pots in window boxes or plant together with dill, fennel ananas-sage etc in jars on the terasse. It is loved by the bees and it has a rich flowering all summer. Borago is an annual self-seeding summer flower Only the flowers and seeds of borago is recommended in cooking.

Food: Vegetable use of borage is common in Germany, in the Spanish regions of Aragon and Navarre, in the Greek island of Crete and in the northern Italian region of Liguria. Although often used in soups, one of the better known German borage recipes is the Green sauce (Grüne Soße) made in Frankfurt. In Italian Liguria, borage is commonly used as a filling of the traditional pasta ravioli and pansoti. It is used to flavour pickled gherkins in Poland.



Borage is traditionally used as a garnish in the Pimms Cup cocktail, but is nowadays often replaced by a long sliver of cucumber peel or by mint. It is also one of the key "Botanical" flavourings in Gilpin's Westmorland Extra Dry Gin.  

History: Pliny the Elder and Dioscorides say  that borage was the "Nepenthe" mentioned in Homer, which caused forgetfulness when mixed with wine. Francis Bacon thought that borage had "an excellent spirit to repress the fuliginous vapour of dusky melancholie." John Gerard's Herball mentions an old verse concerning the plant: "Ego Borago, Gaudia semper ago (I, Borage, bring always courage)". He states that "Those of our time do use the flowers in sallads to exhilerate and make the mind glad. There be also many things made of these used everywhere for the comfort of the heart, for the driving away of sorrow and increasing the joy of the minde. The leaves and floures of Borage put into wine make men and women glad and merry and drive away all sadnesse, dulnesse and melancholy, as Dioscorides and Pliny affirme. Syrup made of the floures of Borage comforteth the heart, purgeth melancholy and quieteth the phrenticke and lunaticke person. The leaves eaten raw ingender good bloud, especially in those that have been lately sicke."

Companion planting: Borage is used in companion planting. It is said to protect or nurse legumes, spinach , brassicas and even strawberries. It is also said to be a good companion plant to tomatoes because it confuses the mother moths of tomato hornworms or manduca looking for a place to lay their eggs. Claims that it improves tomato growth and makes them taste better remain unsubstantiated.

 Folk Medicine: Harpestræng 1300s: to drink together with wine makes the heart happy; a decoct with honey for diseases in lungs, heart and throat.  Christiern Pedersen 1533: against heartache and pain, eat leaves in salad; the flowes with wine; plant juice to mix with decoct of leaves and flowers in honey against jaundice  Henrik Smid 1546: a kale dish of the plant  and spinach is healthy for sick and fragile people; destilled water from flowers help against malaria; the ashes of the burnt herb mixed with honey for  mouth rinsing; the flowers pickled with sugar strengthens the heart. 

The herb was written into the pharmacopoeia in 1772


source: Brøndegaard Folk og Flora , Anemette Olesen Krydderurter i haven; Wikipedia: Borago officinalis

photos from wikipedia  


Monday, February 26, 2018

The Month of March - Daffodils and Birthstones

March is the first month of spring in the Northern Hemisphere (North America, Europe, Asia and part of Africa) and the first month of fall or autumn in the Southern Hemisphere (South America, part of Africa, and Oceania). Birthstones of March are Aquamarine and Bloodstone /Heliotrope.

Flower emblem of March is Daffodil.  

Daffodils, Mindepark, Aarhus/GB
The Danish name Paaskelilje refers directly to Easter, and it is impossible to imagine a Danish Easter without bundles of those pretty yellow flowers as a decoration in the house together with the Easter eggs and all the other traditional Easter decorations. The name Narcissus is mostly connected to the legend about the youth in Greek mythology who became so obsessed by his own reflection that he kneeled and gazed into a pool of water until he fell into the water and drowned. The legend says further that the Narcissus plant first sprang from where he died. Narcissus is the botanic name and there are many variations. The common English name Daffodil is sometimes used for all varieties. The Narcissus was listed as a medicinal herb in 'De Medicina' by the physician Aulus Cornelius Celsus, who said that 'it was powerful to disperse whatever has collected in any part of the body'.

Birthstones of March:

  • Aquamarine/Beryl
    Aquamarine (from Latin: aqua marina = water of the sea/ referring to its sparkling ocean colour. It is a blue or cyan variety of beryl. The gem-gravel placer deposits of Sri Lanka contain aquamarine. The deep blue version of aquamarine is called maxixe. Maxixe is commonly found in the country of Madagascar. Its color fades to white when exposed to sunlight or is subjected to heat treatment, though the color returns with irradiation. Aquamarine is in several localities in USA, Brasil and in Africa. The largest aquamarine of gemstone quality ever mined was found in Marambaia, Minas Gerais, Brazil, in 1910. It weighed over 110 kg (240 lb), and its dimensions were 48.5 cm (19 in) long and 42 cm (17 in) in diameter. The largest cut aquamarine gem is the Dom Pedro aquamarine, now housed in the Smithsonians institutions National Museum of National History.

    Facetted Aquamarine, wikipedia.
    Aquamarine evokes the purity of crystalline waters, and the exhilaration and relaxation of the sea. It is calming, soothing, and cleansing, and inspires truth, trust and letting go. In ancient lore, Aquamarine was believed to be the treasure of mermaids, and was used by sailors as a talisman of good luck, fearlessness and protection. It was also considered a stone of eternal youth and happiness. Today it protects all who travel by, over, or near water, and opens the channels of clear and heartfelt communication.

    Art Deco  Aquamarine ring,1920s (Pinterest)
    Ancient seer considered it to be under the influence of the moon, an orb exerting very great magnetic influence. Present day supporters of crystal-gazing suggest that when using an Aquamarine to view coming events, do so when the moon is increasing. The magnetism of the moon on the included iron oxides will strengthen the stone's forecasting ability.Aquamarine embodies all things connected to the sea, as well as those things relating to Heaven reflected on the surface of the water. It becomes a mirror, reflecting itself indefinitely, making it possible to discover hidden meanings of reality. As a stone of symmetries, it is conducive for meditation and revelation, a stone of prophets, shamans, healers, and mystics. It also allows us to explore the darkest depths of our souls, face to face with ourselves, and with other

    Aquamarine is the blue variety of Beryl, though the Beryl family forms in other colors used as gems, such as green Emerald, yellow Heliodor and Golden Beryl, pink Morganite, Red Beryl or Bixbite, and the colorless variety, Goshenite.

    The mineral aggregate Heliotrope,  also known as Bloodstone , is a variety of jasper or chalcedony. The "classic" bloodstone is green jasper (chalcedony) with red inclusions of hematite. The red inclusions are supposed to resemble spots of blood; hence the name "bloodstone". The name "heliotrope" derives from various ancient notions about the manner in which the mineral reflects light. Heliotrope was called "stone of Babylon" by Albert the Great and he referred to several magical properties, which were attributed to it from Late Antiquity. Pliny the Elder (1st century) mentioned first that the magicians used it as a stone of invisibility. Damigeron (4th century) wrote about its property to make rain, solar eclipse and its special virtue in divination and preserving health and youth. Heliotrope features as an invisibility stone in one of Boccacio's stpries in the Decameron and as a healing magic item in a musical comedy derived from it. Heliotrope is sometimes used in carved signet rings and is the traditional birthstone for March.

    In the Middle Ages, bloodstones were associated with the crucifixion of Christ. According to the legend, when Christ was crucified, blood dripped onto the green ground, and this red-green stone was formed.  Greeks and Romans wore Bloodstones during athletic games to increase their strength and endurance. They are most commonly sourced from India, but can also be found in places like Brazil, China and Australia. Bloodstone is a good birthday gift for someone who would value a reminder of their strength.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Chatelaine - a keychain or a mistress of the house

Antique figure with chatelaine
chatelaine jewelry

Named after the French word for "a lady who controls a great house," a chatelaine was the precursor to the keychain, the swiss army knife, the multitool, the tool belt etc. Attached to the waist of the dress, a chatelaine consisted of a series of chains from which hung keys, scissors, pen and paper, eyeglasses, whatever tools a lady thought necessary. They tended to be amazing pieces of jewelry.  Most major jewelers made or sold chatelaines, including Tiffany, Liberty,  Boucheron, Faberge and Lalique.

Chatelaines were quickly adopted by nurses and professional seamstresses who needed their tools handy. Purses were tiny and most dresses didn't have pockets. When pocket watches became all the rage, many chatelaines started out as watch chains with added accessories.

Each chain is mounted with useful household appendages such as scissors, thimbles, watches, keys, vinaigrette and household seals.The chatelaine was also used as a woman's keychain in the 19th century to show the status of women in a household. Similar jewelry was worn by Anglo-Saxon women, as seen from the
medieval chatelaine
burial record, but their function is uncertain. Chatelaines were worn by many housekeepers in the 19th century and in the 16th century Dutch Republic where they were typically used as watch chains for the most wealthy.  Ancient Roman women wore chatelaines with ear scoops, nail cleaners, and tweezers. Women in Roman Britain wore 'chatelaine brooches' from which toilet sets were suspended.

chatelaine Victorian.
The woman with the keys to everything important in the house was "the woman of the household". She was the one who would direct the servants, housemaids, cooks and delivery servicemen and would open or lock the access to the valuables of the house, having total authority over who had access to what. When a woman married a son and moved into his father's house, the son's mother would usually hold on to the keys.  But if the mother became a widow, the keys and their responsibilities and status were often passed to the oldest son's wife. In the case of the absence of a woman of the house, the controller of the keys was often a hired housekeeper.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Eat Healthy Nuts each Day.

Almonds are especially known for having a slimming effect and a special beneficial effect upon the fat of the stomach. But almonds are also a fine source for E- vitamin, a strong antioxidant, which both strengthens the immune system and takes care of the aging proces of your cells, when they are threatened because of oxygenation. In addition, the almonds have a high content of dietary fibers, iron and magnesium. The dietary fibres are good for you because they at the same time saturate and benefit the digestion, while the magnesium plays a part of your Heart Health.
Energy: 527 kcal.
Protein: 20,5 g
Fat: 39,1 g
Carbohydrate 29,5 g
dietary fibers: 9,2 g 

 Hazelnuts abound with E-vitamin which is a common term for a group of vitamins, which among others work as strong antioxidants. If you  eat 30 gram hazelnuts, the body's daily need of E- vitamin is covered. Besides this the hazelnuts have a fine content of the B-vitamin folic acid, which among others supposedly can prevent depression, blood clots and dementia.

Energy: 640 kcal.
Protein: 14,9 g
Fat: 54,4 g
Carbohydrate: 29,3 g
Dietary fibers: 8,2 g

Walnuts - if  you don't eat much fish it would be good for you to eat some walnuts, which have a fine content of the special omega-3 fatty acid ALA, which your body changes into the genuine and important fish oils EPA and DHA. Because of the fatty acids the walnuts attenuate inflammation in the body and lower the blood content of the dangerous LDL- cholesterol. Besides of the healthy fatty acids you'll also get lots of B6-vitamin, which is a part of a multitude of metabolic reactions - and which has an important function in the formation of the red blood cells.

Energy: 678 kcal.
Protein: 14,3 g
Fat: 64,3 g
Carbohydrate: 16,2 g
Dietary fibers 5,6 g


Pecans have a very high content of the mineral zink, which plays an essential role in the metabolism of the body and is a part of many enzymes and hormones. At the same time zink is important for the skin. Pecans have a high content monounsaturated fat, which works beneficially upon the cholesterol level. Besides the pecans have a high concentration of E- vitamin, which keeps the cell membranes healthy by creating a protection against the free radicals.
Energy: 707 kcal.
Protein: 9,2 g
Fat: 72 g
Carbohydrate: 13,9 g
Dietary fibers: 9,6 g

Pistachios are stuffed with dietary fibers and proteins - and they are a very good solution, if you are a little hungry and need a saturating snack. They are a good choice if you wish to keep the slim line. Besides they give you a shot of potassium, which is important for the function of muscles and nerves. They also regulate the heart rhytm and the blood pressure. The nuts have a high content of E-vitamin and riboflavin, which is a B-vitamin with a big influence upon your skin, nails and hair. A bonus is the high content of the antioxidant lutein which protects your eyes against the ultraviolet rays from the sun.

Energy: 566 kcal.
Protein: 20,6 g
Fat: 44,4 g
Carbohydrate: 28,0 g
Dietary fibers: 10,3 g

Cashew nuts have in general a high content of various minerals, like zink which is an important piece of the body's metabolism, but they also bring you magnesium, which is important for the nerve function, the metabolism and the muscles. The nuts also give you a fine supplement of iron, which is a part of the production of the red blood cells. Cashew nuts are rather caloric , but at the same time you'll get many heart-healthy fatty acids.

Energy: 597 kcal.
Protein: 15,3 g
Fat: 46,4 g
Carbohydrate: 32,7
Dietary fibers: 3,0 g

Peanuts are propped with niacin which both is a part of the metabolism of the body and plays an important role for the hormone production and the repair of the body's dna. In addition you'll get two strong antioxidants , E-vitamin and resveratrol (which is known from grapes). The experts have the opinion that resveratrol protects against aging and against cardiovascular diseases. Although all nuts in general are a fine source of protein, the peanuts have a high content which reminds about the protein content in meat, chicken and fish.

Energy: 576 kcal.
Protein 24,9 g
Fat: 42,7 g
Carbohydrate: 28,4 g
Dietary fibers: 7,7 g

Brazil nuts  are especially known for the huge content of selen. This trace element is a strong antioxidant which among others can protect you against cardiovascular diseases - and on the whole protect the body cells against damage and destruction. Selen supports your immune system and is also an important piece in the formation of metabolic hormones . Brazil nuts also give you a  supplement of E-vitamin, which strengthens your immune system and of potassium which lowers your blood pressure. 

Energy: 678 kcal.
Protein 15,0 g
Fat: 65 g
Carbohydrate: 13,8 g
Dietary fibers: 5,3

Photos from wikipedia
Source: Hjerteforeningen. dk, article in /2015

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Quote for the New Year 2018

You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.

C.S. Lewis 

photo gb/ Sculpture by the Sea

Tuesday, January 02, 2018

Common Purslane / Sommer Portulak

Portulaca oleracea

Common Purslane
Common purslane, also known as verdolaga, little hogweed, red root, or pursley and khorfe is an annual succulent in the family portulacaceae, which may reach 40 centimetres (16 in) in height. Approximately forty cultivars are currently grown. The plant was cultivated as a kitchen herb since antiquity. Purslane is very rich in C-vitamin and the important omega 3 fatty acids, which strengthen the immune Systeme. The plant is also diuretic. 

It has an extensive distribution throughout the Old World extending from North Africa and Southern Europe through the Middle East and the Iran, Indian Subcontinent to Malesia and Australasia. Scientists suggested that the plant was already eaten by Native Americans who spread its seeds. How it reached the New World is currently unknown. It is naturalised elsewhere, and in some regions is considered an introduced weed

Mostly prostrate stems and alternate leaves clustered at stem joints and ends. The yellow flowers have five regular parts and are up to 6 millimetres wide. Depending upon rainfall, the flowers appear at any time during the year. The flowers open singly at the center of the leaf cluster for only a few hours on sunny mornings. Seeds are formed in a tiny pod, which opens when the seeds are mature. Purslane has a taproot with fibrous secondary roots and is able to tolerate poor compacted soils and drought.

A common plant in parts of India, purslane is known as sanhti, punarva, paruppu keerai (Tamil), gangavalli(Telugu) or kulfa (Hindi) 

Australian aborigines use the seeds of purslane to make seedcakes.

Greeks, who call it andrakla or glystrida  use the leaves and the stems with feta cheese, tomato, onion, garlic, oregano and olive oil. They add it in salads, boil it, or add it to casseroled chicken.

In Turkey, besides being used in salads and in baked pastries, it is cooked as a vegetable similar to spinach, or is mixed with yogurt to form a tsatsiki variant.

Similarly, in Egypt, it is known as reglah  and cooked as a vegetable stew.

Called Bakleh in Syria and Lebanon, is eaten raw in a famous salad called fattoush, and cooked as a garniture in fatayeh (triangular salted pastries).

In Albania, known as burdullak, it also is used as a vegetable similar to spinach, mostly simmered and served in olive oil dressing, or mixed with other ingredients as a filling for dough layers of byrek.

In the south of Portugal (Alentejo), baldroegas are used as a soup ingredient.

In Pakistan, it is known as qulfa and is cooked as in stews along with lentils, similarly to spinach, or in a mixed green stew.

Known as Ma Chi Xian (pinyin: translates as "horse tooth amaranth") in traditional Chinese medicine Its leaves are used for insect or snake bites on the skin, boils, sores, pain from bee stings, bacillary dysentery, diarrhea, hemorrhoids, postpartum bleeding, and intestinal bleeding.

Use is contraindicated during pregnancy and for those with cold and weak digestion

Nutrition and chemicals of the plant read wikipedia

Common Purslane/ Sommer Portulak is an old kitchen herb which was known back from the 1500s. The fresh shots can be eaten raw in salads etc. The taste reminds about mangetout peas, but with a sour touch. In old garden books it was often classified as a spice herb. Both leaves and stalks can be cooked and be mixed into mashed potatoes, in soups and sauces. The leaves act as a smotthing. The plant is suitable for vinegar pickling and it  can also be caramelized when fried in an oven.

Folk Medicine:

Harpestræng ab. 1300s: the juice from the herb to drink or the herb to crush and put upon the stomach against fever; the crushed herb upon an aching tooth or sick eyes; the plant to take with salt and wine against indigestion; purslane was the part of an ointment for abscesses and wounds.

Henrik Smid 1546: the juice from the seeds and destilled water from the plant against stomach-, liver- and kindey diseases. The plant and the juice against cough, shortness of breath and gonorrhea.
Purslane attenuates the superfluous unchastity.
Herb or seeds crushed and mixed with barley flour upon forehead and temples against headache.
Juice or destilled water from the plant with rose oil rubbed upon the forehead give a restful sleep. 

Simon Paulli 1648: put the plant on left side of body against pains from malaria. 

1700s: at the pharmacy was sold a sirup from purslane seeds for childrens' stomach pain.

The seeds were written into the pharmacopoeia in 1772.

In 1648 purslane /portulak grew in the Danish gardens, and the chefs used it in a salad. 
In 1800 purslane was used in soups, the chopped parts in kale soup.
The stalks were sugar candied like pumpkins, and vinegar pickled and used in a sharp sauce. 

Purslane counteracts drunkenness.
If the plant hangs above the bed peope don't get bad dreams.

Purslane in the fodder provides greater milch production in cows.

Source of the Denmark-text: 
V.J.Brøndegaard: Dansk Etnobotanik 1978-80, Folk og Flora, Portulak/ Portulaca oleracea 

photo and image: wikipedia.