Curly Dock (Yellow Dock) Medicinal Food Plant

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Curly Dock, which has yellow roots is often called Yellow Dock. The “weed” most farmer’s do their level best to rid from out of their fields.  There are myriad medicinal uses & nutrition. I make crackers (recipe below) from the brown seeds (found after the flowers have turned).

It is a high protein survival food. As you walk in the open, if you need a nutritional boost, take a handful of the seeds, green or brown & enjoy..chew well to help absorb the nutrition available before swallowing.

Medicinal uses derived from Peterson Field Guide Eastern/Central Medicinal Plants page 214.  The dried root tea (as a decoction, boil & then simmer for 30 mins.) is a “blood purifier,” for bad blood. Works on chronic (been there a while, not sudden) skin diseases, chronic enlarged lymph glands, liver ailments, sore throats. May cause or relieve diarrhea, depending on dose. Too much will cause diarrhea, but the right amount will correct diarrhea. This is if you take large doses. You will be the judge by taking small amounts until bowels soften, then back away the dose to a level dose. Anthraquinones can arrest growth of ringworm & other fungi.

Edible Wild Plants – A North American Field Guide, page 121, harvest the leaves in early spring or thru late winter. Strip seeds from stalks in late summer & fall. Leaves cooked taste like beet greens. Cook older leaves longer with 1 or 2 water changes to make them tender & no bitterness. Do not overdue if you are not used to eating dock leaves, can cause stomach upset. Work up gradually.

There are no poisonous look alikes.

The roots have minerals such as  iron, contains tannin. Used to treat coughs, fever, scurvy, tumors & cancer. The crushed root is used as a poultice for wounds & skin irritations.

Collect the root after it has gone to seed (seeds turn brown & dry), in midsummer & use as a decoction or tincture. Usual dose of the tincture, 5-3 drops twice a day. The looser the stool the smaller should be the dose. Matthew Wood in his book The Earthwise Herbal -Guide to Old World Medicinal Plants recommends 1-3 drops, 3x/day sufficient for bowels loose or constipated. Do not use water dock in place of curly dock.

***The one caution…if you have a history of kidney stones, be watchful to not use large dose, very minute if necessary to use for above complications.

Below I will list the medicinal uses for the root made in an alcohol tincture unless noted otherwise.

Yellow around the eyes, nose or mouth, dry cheeks

irritable sleep especially in young girls at puberty

throat swollen, dark red, with little pain to no pain


Diarrhea, especially in morning

slow digestion where food sits like a brick in the colon

hemorrhoids, with bleeding, itching


retention of urine

Pregnancy:anemia (use with nettles)

Ringworm; 1 cup in pint of vinegar, boil down to half pint, cool, strain, apply with soft cloth (external)

More uses are listed in depth in the book by Matthew Wood*

Book list

Matthew Wood has several books, but I only have two, both Earthwise Herbals so for any other information, I cannot vouch for his information in other writings. His books thus far are a wonderful addition to ones herbal information & I can highly recommend them.

This next book is a wonderful book to have if you live in TN or the Ohio Valley or the Southern Appalachians, as the pictures are clear & the explanations are thorough.

Dock Seed Crackers

• Blend the seeds in a blender, spice grinder, or if you have some time a mortar and pestle.

(Store extra dry dock seed flour in a jar, and whole seeds in a paper bag.)

Mix together :

 one cup of dock seed flour

one teaspoon of salt

and one cup flour of your choice. ( whole-wheat pastry flour and rye flour or any choice)

Mix in enough water to make pliable, but not sticky dough.

Optional, herbs like dill, or coriander & garlic to taste

  • On a well-floured surface, roll dough as thin as possible. Cut into desired shapes or transfer it whole to a well-oiled cookie sheet.
  • Bake for 10 -12 minutes at 375O or until crisp.

Lemon Balm (Melissa)

Lemon Balm is a calming herb. Reduces stress~ It is in the mint family & grows amazingly fast. The aroma is so wonderful which helps with the calming effect.

Make tea using a large handful of leaves, stuff them into a quart jar & pour boiled water over the leaves filling the jar. Leave to steep about 8 minutes. Do not exceed as it tends to turn bitter.  Pour into your picture, add sweetener & stir, then fill picture with water to dilute. Chill & serve over ice. Or enjoy it hot.

The picture shows the fresh washed herb in the colander, the spent leaves in the jar & the tea in the pitcher before sweetening & diluting. The bag shows the leaves in an air tight bag ready for the freezer. I had to gather all my Lemon Balm to avoid the possible frost, so I grabbed it all & preserved it!

Ways to use Lemon Balm~ flavor butter, sugar, ice cream, great with fish.

How to preserve: Dried in a dehydrator, or on trays in a hot car out of sunlight (remove before sun goes down), for long term storage over winter. Fresh leaves are the best for tea. Tincture fresh leaves for highest quality tincture. For an easy essential oil, take fresh leaves, place in clear jar with oil of choice (coconut, jojoba, almond), cover fresh leaves with oil. Place lid on jar, tighten and put in a window or outside in the sunshine for 6 weeks, shake daily. Strain and you have essential oil for many uses. Use with salves, lotions, etc.

Avoid lemon balm if you are on thyroid medicine…not sure why but if you are on the medicine I am sure you know why. It says it is an inhibitor of the medicine so you don’t want to do that. It is a very safe herb otherwise.

Dutch Goose (Stuffed Pigs Stomach)

When we butchered our pig this past year, I had read a wonderful cookbook from the library called Pennsylvania Dutch Country Cooking by William Woys Weaver. The one I was fascinated by is the title for this blog. Stuffed Pigs Stomach. Since I knew we would soon butcher Bobby Que, I knew we were going to save his stomach to try this recipe. I did not know it was edible till I read the recipe. There is a time for everything under the sun. This was our time. In our years of learning to eat as much of the animal as we can, we have gotten braver as we go. One word of warning if you get a stomach either from a local farmer or your own critter, make sure to not put a big gaping hole in it. You will be sewing this thing back up & the less you have to do will cut down on the time to make the dish. So be present to give instructions. We had much of Bobbie Que’s carcass in this recipe. Which is a wonderful feeling to know we did not have to purchase much to accomplish it. So, here is this recipe in pictures & word. Page 142 & 143 of the above mentioned book: 1 cleaned pig’s stomach 1 1/2 cups diced bacon (this too was from same said pig!) 3 cups chopped onion 1 1/3 cups ground beef, pork or venison (we had Bobbie Que still in ground form for this recipe which included heart, liver & meat) 1 1/2 tsps grated pepper (coarse) 1/4 tsp cayenne 1 TBSP ground basil (used in place of marjoram) 1/2 tsp ground cardamom ( ground this fresh for an amazing flavor you can’t get any other way) 1 tsp sage & thyme (used in place of savory) 2 tsp salt (I use the pink sea salt) 1/2 cup bread crumbs (rye or spelt bread- I used wheat) 3 large eggs (from my own chickens) 6 cups diced cooked red potatoes clarified butter Soak the pig’s stomach 2 to 5 hours in salted water, then rinse and drain. Put the bacon in a large skillet & fry til browned. Remove from pan. Add onion to the fat in the skillet & cook till soft. Remove & cook the ground meat in the same pan with drippings till the meat changes color. Add the bacon, ground meat, pepper, cayenne, basil, cardamom, sage, thyme, salt & breadcrumbs .Mix well. Beat the eggs until lemon color, then add to the meat mix. Stir the potatoes into meat mix & mix well. Turn the stomach inside out & sew the holes with needle & quilting thread. It needs to be strong but not large string or it will make bigger holes. You need this to hold the ingredients & not let them seep out during the three hour boiling in water process. Turn the stomach right side out & fill with the meat mixture packing it in tightly but leave a small space inside for the expanding it will do during cooking. Fill a large stock pot with 2 gallons or so of water with salt added & bring to a full boil. Reduce heat & add stomach with all the filling inside & sewn closed tight. Simmer, uncovered for 3 hours. Heat oven to 375 degrees. Remove the stomach from the water & set in a baking dish, seam side down. (this was not happening with our stomach~it was too wobbly & only laid on its side) Bake for 20 to 25 minutes basting with the clarified butter (to make clarified butter, melt butter & only use the liquid on top, leaving the solids on the bottom.) till the stomach is a golden brown color. Serve immediately on a platter & enjoy. Serves 10~ well, I will let you know how far it does go! we are only four mouths to feed. We had homemade egg noodle pasta that my daughter made with this dish. Same cookbook as above. Made with spelt flour. Oh boy…this meal was one of those amazing treats!. There is a thin layer inside the stomach that is edible & tastes like a hot dog! The outer layer is too tough, but the dogs loved it! The pasta was surprisingly good. Being spelt flour, I figured it would be too much like wheat pasta, which this family does not like. It was a keeper. Will be doing it again. We made the ball of dough & grated it on a cheese grater. Easier than rolling out & cutting like pasta shapes.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


Milk Cows & Natural Cures

This still fresh on my mind I must put down in words. It has been a frightful day, one of much prayer & hard thinking. A messy & frustrating day to say the least.

I woke this morning & noted my milk cow attempted to get up off the ground & she could not. I dressed quickly telling the family & off downstairs, grabbing my coat & boots & heading to the barn/stall. She was down. Knowing so little about cows being not yet a year owning a cow had my mind in a whirl. I did know it was not normal. The calf was bawling which was obvious to me he had not eaten & was very hungry.

We tried helping poor Ethel for several hours. We tried our new bucket with nipple to give the calf some nourishment to shut him up if nothing else. He would not take it..we got a little bit down him but it was by force.

I got out all my homeopathics for what I thought was milk fever or being lame. She got lots of herbs~nettle, plantain, echinacea, comfrey, oat straw, alfalfa.

Homeopathics~ phytolaca, arnica, mag phos, ipecac, every fifteen minutes. We managed to help her crawl bit by bit to get out of her stall into the sunshine which we praise God for it being warm & sunny today. Cold & rainy or snowy would not have been a good mix.

I read some more information & gathered some vitamins & minerals, C, Magnesium Oxide, & copper. I added to it diatomaceous earth, azomite, molasses, apple cider vinegar & managed to get her to lick the bowl clean. Now we are in a wait & see mode.

We got from the vet some Calcium gel which she seemed sickened by~she had that look in her eyes as if she would puke, but got it down. Most of it anyway. She went back to her hay & about three hours after her getting up laid down. In my panic, which is normal for a cow to do, but since she had trouble this morning I didn’t want it to be another episode. I sent husband to TS to get the recommended I.V. and Calcium Gluconate and will see how that goes! never having done such this should be interesting!

I write this so we can get a good source of help from other’s who have had to experience such an episode. How to prevent it & what to do in case it happens to someone else.

I sure need support & much of it is too far away to have someone else come help. Money is an issue at present as income is at a halt so this adventure is yet another trial we must go thru & on the other side use for future reference. We have had several of those the last couple years with dogs & chickens. Things we learned!

The I.V. not put in the vein but into the peritoneum (a layer of skin) not on the surface but more deep. The needle is proof it needs to go down into, not like a vein needle that stays more near the surface skin.  The following are the instructions we were given by a friend who is a farmer that helped us to accomplish this task. A neighbor who has done intramuscular injection came to help & she is the one who did the needle jab & got it done right the first time. I told her I am so glad she came because I probably would not have done it so well. It helped having the confident person doing it. I know now I can do it if I had to again.

“If you can’t get her to a vet, you will either need to get someone to administer the calcium gluconate for you, or do it yourself. If you are going to do it, go to Tractor Supply and buy 4 bottles of calcium gluconate and an IV set. Lay the cow on her left side. Push the IV needle  quickly and forcefully into her right side behind the ribs and a few inches down from the spinal processes. The needle needs to puncture her peritoneum, not just her skin. Open a bottle of calcium and connect the tube to it, then hold the bottle up high so the solution flows into her side. It will take a few minutes, don’t rush it, but you need to make sure it is flowing. Give her a second bottle, then watch her for an hour or so. She should regain her strength in a while. If she isn’t making any progress in 2 hours, I would give at least one more bottle of calcium, maybe two. You can’t overdo the calcium.

 She doesn’t need antibiotics. She doesn’t need vitamins. She needs calcium, quickly. If you don’t do this, you will need a backhoe to bury her. It’s that simple.”

We do not know what was wrong with our milk cow, I was told if she had milk fever she could not have gotten up on her own without the I.V. but she did get up after I gave all the above vitamins, minerals & homeopathics. She was standing while we did the I.V. because how do you make a cow get down once she’s up. I did not want her back down in case she couldn’t get back up. I know standing is a good sign. She is still doing great two days later with no signs of having been down for the several hours giving me a new awareness of fear!

One of my biggest frustrations in all of this has been finding a diagram of the skin layers on a cow! I have googled every possible wording to no avail. I wanted to see the peritonuem layer so I knew I was in the right place.
Here is a good site that has a 911 question/answer section. I did not have this available when I needed it, but good to know it is there.
She’s eating her hay as it snows covering everything in site. No worries today. I slept well last night to boot. Ahh healthy cow!

Rennet for Making Hard Cheese

This is not the kind of blog I like to write, but information good & bad is how we make our decisions.

what a little research will tell you. 

The more I research, the madder I get…here is from wikipedia on rennet in the USA..

Alternative sources of rennet

Because of the limited availability of proper stomachs for rennet production, (really? we nearly feed the world & we have no calves available for stomachs..they kill many young ones for the tender meat. what do they do with the stomachs? oh I so don’t want to tell you what I think, its ground up & fed back to the cows in the feed lot? I hope its not so!) cheese makers have looked for other ways to coagulate the milk since at least Roman times. There are many sources of enzymes, ranging from plants, fungi, and microbial sources, that can substitute for animal rennet. Cheeses produced from any of these varieties of rennet are suitable for lacto-vegetarians to consume. GMO-Microbial rennet (see below) is used more often in industrial cheesemaking in North America today because it is less expensive than animal rennet, whereas cheese from Europe is more likely to be made from animal rennet due to tradition.

Aren’t we a sad case of cheap!!!

 In 1999, more than half of US hard cheese was made with genetically engineered chymosin and it has most of the global market share for rennet,  approximately 80% to 90% of commercially made cheeses in the US and Britain were made using GM-based rennet,  the most widely used genetically engineered rennet is produced by the fungus Aspergillus niger.  Don’t you feel safe using this stuff! not!

Acid coagulation

Milk can also be coagulated by adding an acid, such as citric acid

Citric Acid  

In this production technique, which is still the major industrial route to citric acid used today, cultures of A. niger are fed on a sucrose or glucose-containing medium to produce citric acid. The source of sugar is corn steep liquormolasses, hydrolyzed corn starch or other inexpensive sugary solutions. After the mold is filtered out of the resulting solution, citric acid is isolated by precipitating it with lime (calcium hydroxide) to yield calcium citrate salt, from which citric acid is regenerated by treatment with sulfuric acid.

NOTE…the corn steep liquor is likely genetically modified corn. 

Other methods

Prior to the fermentative process, ascorbic acid was isolated from citrus fruits. The juice as treated with lime (CaO) to precipitate calcium citrate, which was isolated and converted back to the acid.

In 2007, world wide annual production stood at approximately 1,600,000 tonnes. More than half of this volume was produced in CHINA.    Folks…do we trust China? isn’t it amazing how we come full circle to the influx of damaging products from this place. We have been duped far beyond anything we can imagine. 

When rennet is listed on a cheese label, you may not be getting what you thought.

I do not know what other rennet’s offer, but I do have one here I will share with you so you know just what could be in that cheese you are eating. To avoid any liability I will only post the ingredients, and not the web page it came from…you do your own homework if you want to know more. 

**This item is currently out of stock. We recommend Liquid Vegetable Rennet and Vegetable Rennet Tablets as substitutes.**

2 oz. bottle liquid animal rennet for cheese making.

Ingredients: Veal rennet, sodium chloride brine, acetate, propylene glycol, caramel color, sodium benzoate, potassium sorbate.

It is time we get back to doing it the old fashioned way. For our health’s sake. 

Get back to local, knowing where it is coming from & how it is made. I am one farmer, small as I am who is going to do all I can to do it right & safe. Making my own rennet to make my own cheese so it is safe to eat. Hard work never hurt anyone!