Even though winter is making it’s slow exit, it isn’t over quite yet. I find myself daydreaming about my garden, ordering more seeds than I’ll probably plant, and coveting people who have greenhouses.
As each day comes and goes, more often than not it snows or dips into the teens or single digits. I keep telling myself that maybe tomorrow it will get better. I know that something must be growing under all that snow, and the robins and redwing blackbirds certainly must have a reason to be singing their little heads off.
It’s still the time of year that the children come home from school with a sore throat and chills. One of my daughters is interested in herbology, and she’s found that drinking tea of lemongrass and marshmallow root helps to relieve her symptoms and speed her recovery. The lemongrass apparently has an anti-bacterial effect. The marshmallow root helps soothe the throat and also is claimed to have anti-bacterial properties. Neither of those plants grow in our climate, but fortunately there is a natural grocer in town, and I stopped in to pick some up when she came home with some kind of crud yesterday. (I also made a mental note to myself to find local wild plants that have similar properties that I can dry and store.)
She drank her tea, but said that her throat hurt, and wished she had some lozenges. “I’ll make you some from your herbs,” I said, excited at the prospect of trying something new.
I boiled about 1 tablespoon of each herb in 3 cups water until about half the water had boiled off. I then added 2 cups sugar and 1/2 cup corn syrup, and 1 teaspoon of cream of tartar.
I boiled and stirred this for what seemed to be about 45 minutes, until it had reached hard ball stage. I was aiming for 300 F, but my thermometer wasn’t working correctly. So I took a clear glass of cold water and dripped my mixture into it every once in a while. At first it just dissolved, then later made a soft little ball, and then finally the drip made a solid ball.
At that point I turned the heat off and spooned the drops onto parchment paper to cool. After they had cooled enough to handle, I rolled them into balls. After awhile they hardened completely.
She’s feeling better today, and took a little bag of the drops to school with her. I’m definitely going to try this with other herbal mixtures, and maybe experiment with some just to make flavored candies with things I grow in the garden like mint or basil. One of these days things will start growing again, I just know it.