Onion Skins and Paprika Tins at the Herbstead.

Yesterday, I wrote a blog post sharing a Family recipe for Gulyás. 


Today, I am writing about what I did with the onion skins, because I couldn’t quite fit it into the recipe. I save all my onion skins for multiple purposes. Generally, I throw them into a freezer bag and freeze, but without a freezer, you would just save the papery skins with no onion flesh attached in a paper or muslin bag.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Save the skins and powder to mix with flour for breading fish or chicken, thickener for soup, or to make an antispasmodic and nutritious tea full of antioxidants.

Generally, I save them for making bone broths or veggie broths, then can the broths.

I use them to dye eggs for Easter and Spring Celebrations. We place the skins in a pot, simmer them with 2 tablespoons white distilled vinegar and enough water to cover the eggs. Find beautiful flowers, grasses and leaves in the yard and place around the eggs, and tie them up in cloth or pantyhose (should be called PANTRY HOSE in my house). Dip in the pot and let them cool in the onion water pot. Beautiful designs, and it is easy! We’ve used the saved ends of beets for egg coloring, blueberries, nettles, purple onion skins and brown onion skins, along with turmeric this way. The sky is the limit! Voila, no chemicals, again! This Herbstead has it all! 🙂

I’ve used them to dye wool and muslin for crafts.

I’ve used them in a hair conditioner to give golden brown highlights to my hair.

I’ve used saved onion ends for emergency ear tonics in midnight ear infections.

Worst comes to worst, I compost them, but AWAY from my worm bin, not inside the worm bin. For whatever reasons, I always feel the worms prefer not to have the skins in their box. A hole dug elsewhere in the yard suffices for the skins.

I keep a bag going in the freezer, and add the skins and ends to it until it is full, then I make a project out of them (usually soup unless a special occasion or a creative streak).

The second fun thing is to reuse spice tins. Last summer, a sweet friend of mind gifted me this paprika in a tin, which has been finished off. I’ve been needing a pen holder near my refrigerator for making notes (pens left on the counter always disappear). So, I washed it, added magnets to the back, and voila, a refrigerator pen holder made out of a Hungarian Paprika Spice tin! 


Frugal Herbstead Fun! Fun Blessings and Love to you…find a purpose for everything!

(c) 2014, Summer L. Farkas Takacs-Michaelson, CH

Transylvanian Chard Chowder!


It’s mid-summer, and the chard is rolling in from the farms and the backyard. I have this wonderful chard stacking up from my favorite local farm, Storytree Farm. Here is a very traditional Transylvanian creamed chowder, that I adore!

Transylvanian Chard Chowder:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAStart with a bunch (somewhere around a lb, me no measure) of garden chard.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis step can be done one of two ways. If you want your chowder to be white with little crunchy bits, neatly slice the ribs into small pieces. I creamed mine instead, so I just loosely chopped up the above bunch of chard, added it to a pan, filled it with water and a dash of salt. I covered it, and brought to a boil, then down to a simmer to cook. Meanwhile….

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI took a small hunk of bacon slab (maybe just an inch in thickness), and sliced it then cross-sliced it until…

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Gulyás from the Farkas Takács Family Recipes!

I believe and thought there was a recipe for Gulyás on this blog, but apparently not!

Being asked for Gulyás is like being asked for a big heaping plate of Hungarian Love. Is there a difference? I think not! I know not a difference! Here is one of many recipes and variations of Gulyás. I may make it a project this year to compile some of the many versions, but for now, here is a gift from my Family to yours!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Gulyás, what is it? The meaning of Gulyás in Hungarian is “herdsman”. Coming from a long line of herding people, we become very well acquainted with the many versions of simple theme. The drying of meats, spices, and vegetables was a portable way of bringing foods anywhere, from time immemorial. Often, if one didn’t have any room for vegetables, one only took dried meat and spices with, and harvested what was around when time to make the soup. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABringing the meat and veg back to life with hot water, over a fire in an iron vessel, was the making of sustenance and vital nutrients for the Shepherds. There is a stew that Gulyás is often confused with, but Gulyás is a soup, altho’ sometimes served as wet and moistened meat in its own juices. Following tradition in our Family, we are making soup.

Many different meats may be used in different versions. Offal was always included in the original versions. Cheeks were often used, as well as organ meats. It was common to find many different meats in this soup, unlike the modern versions. Since our Family continues to be traditional eaters, we eat the soup with the ingredients we have on hand. With the eating of animals, we do not waste parts, but consume and use the entire animals as the gift of nutrition and furtherance of life that the animal has given its life to. It is disrespectful to allow food to go unused when a life is taken. This is both a personal stance and a stance of my Family on both sides…is it any wonder that some Hungarians do not fall too far from the ancestral tree? We value and honor each other for passing on the way of living. We live in a way full of blessing, respect and gratefulness. 🙂

Here is a basic and delectable recipe for Gulyás. I’ve kept it simple, because it IS simple at its core, and is the base of building many different versions based on seasonal meats and produce, that are each different expressions of this simple soup from the Great Hungarian Plain.

To get started, find and chop up some meat. We ONLY use pastured and heirloom meats for this. If you choose otherwise, the result will be an industrial Gulyás, which is neither humane nor traditional, and may be contaminated with chemicals/antibiotics and bacteria, OR lacking in adequate trace nutrients such as fat soluble vitamin A, K2, Vitamin C, and more. Today, I had the pickings of some grass-fed stew meat and a pork sausage that is a simple home sausage made with pork, pork fat, salt, black pepper and nutmeg. I chopped the stew meat into chunks and the sausage into rounds. Traditionally, when I have it, I love to use in this recipe beef tongue, beef cheeks and hearts, in addition to a piece of shoulder meat. Today, I made do with what I have.

I chopped these lovely onions, about 4 large ones. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe eat and love onions, THE traditional vegetable to eat with Gulyás. The traditional herders, if having nothing else, would use wild onions.

I chop up the onions, and heat up a cast iron kettle with a cake of pastured lard. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMelt the lard cake in the kettle, and when hot, add your onions. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe trick here is to add about a quarter cup of water to the onions, as you want to cook them until they are translucent and do not want to brown them.

When the onions are translucent, OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAadd your chopped meats to the pot and brown them. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERANext, add a pinch of salt and 1 tablespoon of black caraway seeds. Add water to cover the onion and meats plus a little extra and allow the meats to cook, approximately one hour or longer if you have very tough meats. The key tip here is to simmer this at a LOW heat, we’re not in a hurry. Notice we haven’t added in the paprika yet, so the saucy broth is tan colored (not red yet!).OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

When the meat is cooked, add in pressed garlic, sliced peppers, carrots, potatoes and parsnips (or whatever is on hand).OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA At this point, add in another teaspoon of salt and 3-4 tablespoons of smoked sweet paprika. Cook this at a low heat until the root vegetables are done. Serve this with bread or with csipetke (Hungarian pinched dough). Recipe follows. Egg noodles and rice are alternate grain sides if you do not have time to bake bread or csipetke. Realize, that the Gulyás is finished before adding in the vegetables after the spices are added. 🙂 The rest, is just building on the Gulyás Creativity! OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA


Herbed Csipetke. Csipetke is a Hungarian pinched dough noodle. There are many different types of Csipetke that I make, and one day, will devote a posting to some varied recipes. It is simple, just some flour, egg, milk, salt and water, butter and herbs. Mix the ingredients until you have a stiff dough. Place in an oiled bowl to rest for 15 minutes. Roll out into finger sized logs, pinch small pieces and place on a baking sheet. Meanwhile, bring a pot of salted water to a boil, drop noodles in the boiling water, cook for 8 minutes or until floating on top of the water. Remove with a slotted spoon, and mix with butter. In the above photo, I added chopped cilantro and chives on top!

(c) 2014, Summer L. Farkas Takacs-Michaelson, CH 

March Azure Ordering Time!

It’s time for March’s Azure Order! Order cut-off is THIS Friday, February 28th at 4 PM with delivery the following Wednesday, March 5th from 2PM-6 PM. If you would like to order any extras or participate in the salt split, details are below!
Salt Split is ON again! We’ve been waiting, and its back in stock. Salt is $1.60 a bagged lb…let me know ASAP if you would like to get in on this order! 

 Serendipity Plant Lore’s Workshops and Apprenticeship Listing! If you feel moved to, please share with friends and family…word of mouth IS my main way of getting these offerings to the outer community as I spend my time either out in the field, garden, or working with people. That is ALWAYS where my heart may be found.Thank you for looking! Apprenticeship for 2014 is about to start March 15th, so if you’re wanting in the program this year, the deadline is approaching fast!
March Workshop and Nature Hike Plant Schedule:
~MONTHLY (often weekly) SHARE SHELTER DONATION currently in progress! Donate here on Azure Day or on the doorstep, and I will collect and bring to the Share Orchards Shelter! Or donate to SHARE directly yourself! This month, Erin H. had a marvelous idea to share. She suggested that we each order an extra, quality whole foods item from Azure for the donation pile!!! This is great from another perspective…many of the food items donated to SHARE are often low quality processed foods. This is a way to share healthy abundance! 🙂 So let’s make our own Azure Challenge! To participate, add an extra item on your Azure order for SHARE donation!!! (Picture below of a donation last Azure Day)!
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Serendipity Plant Lore’s Tea Listing! 

These teas and herbs are highly medicinal, and are extras from my own organic garden and wild forages. All ethically harvested, the exceptions to the herbs that I’ve grown or foraged myself are those like Cinnamon, All Spice, and Red, Black and Green, and Olive Tea Leaves. These are ethically obtained from other Herbalists who have the same great care and ethic. These Tea Herb extras help to support the consultation work for those those in need of receiving free services. I thank you for your support, and hope, in return, you are tantalized with amazing Earth Medicine for your own health care and lovely, compost-able gifts! Some NEW offerings too! Limited Quantities. 🙂

Serendipity Plant Lore has beautiful hand grown, hand sourced, sustainable and ethically wild-crafted herbal teas for $7 a box/sack. Each of the tea offerings has been used by this herbalist for many decades to aid health, enjoyment and vitality, recovery from many health problems. They have “lived” with me for so long, they have become part of me, and I am excited to have these offerings which truly support our family and the work as I continue my ongoing education and offering sliding scale consultations for those in need.Choose from:
~Lovin’ Liver Tea (your liver will be happy!)
~Summer Time Afternoon Tea (relaxing and sweet)
~Great Grandmother Gertrude’s Memory Lovin’ Tea (brain cell oxygenating crew!)
~Green Tonic Tune (tuning cells and soul together!)
~Vanilla Coffee Substitute (nourishing and coffee like)
~Cinnamon Coffee Substitute (nourishing and coffee like)
~Great Gert’s Cold Hand and Foot Tea (circulatory warming tea for the cold)
~Galloping Gertrude’s Tea (relaxing and locally nutritious)
~Flu Flummox Tea (just befuddle your flu bugs in style!)
~Arabian Summer Tea (a tea to remind you of the smells of an Arabian Love Garden, with plants that touch our center, build up the immune system, and sweep away what needs to be swept away.)
~Shepherd’s Tea! When you want to corral those irksome viral beings and nondescript inflammatory triggers, what you need is a Shepherd to round ‘em up and over the bluff!
~Olive Leaf Tea, an anti-viral, anti-oxidant tea to ward off the minions of Mordor!
~Delicious Radheish Chai!
~Spicy Radheish Chai (inspired by my great friend, Radhe G.)
~Mother’s Milk Tea…to help Mother nourishes Baby Ones.
~Comfrey Leaf
~Elder Flowers
~Pineapple Sage
~Garden Sage
~Rue (only to practitioners)
~Shitake Mushrooms
~Chanterelle Mushrooms
~Lobster Mushrooms (seasonal offering)
~More offerings, please inquire and I will check the Apothecary.
(c) 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014 Summer L. Farkas Takacs-Michaelson, CH
Much love and Gulyas Blessings to ALL!!!! May the light grow upon us now!
Gulyas Blessings!
Summer L. Farkas Takacs-Michaelson, CH
(c) 2014, Summer L. Farkas Takacs-Michaelson, CH

A föld művelési. Cultivating the Earth.

Hungarian language is stunning. It is so beautiful, how words and meanings grow out of one another.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

What’s even more beautiful, are the ancient traditions that the words sprung up and spun around to describe, in essence, a way to live, a way to eat, a way to cure, a way to heal, a way to bless,  a way to be.

One of my beautiful teachers, Adina, gave me this to work on, to think on, as a description for what I enjoy, cultivation of the soil.

A földművelési. Talajművelés a szív. Just this. Explains it all. The relationship to this beautiful world.

Cultivating the Land, cultivating the Soil, cultivating the Ground, cultivating the Heart. One devotes ones life to this, to this craft, to these skills. One lives this, as a way to be. One lives this way to be a Healer.

I still smell the dirt on my Grandfathers hands. On  humid mornings, the smell of soil, wafting in the windows of our very old house. I feel the warmth in ground well insulated, when my Grandfathers had me check the base of plants in mornings before sun appeared, then again, out to the workings of making more compost.

To the Olde World Traditional Farmers, compost was the focus of everyday, at least once a day there was tending it in many ways. Many Ways.

The Olde World Herbalists tended the compost for wild and homely herbs alike. We bring gifts like bombs to the forests, in nourishment of wild plants we care-take.

If this sounds odd, then one must become acquainted with how the Cherokee nourished their wild plants. Everything in life is an exchange, of love, character, and nourishment, before the final eating. We all, eventually, get eaten.

(c) 2014, Summer L. Farkas Takacs-Michaelson, CH

Wilderness Medicine, Wild Foraging and Herbal Healing Workshops and Hikes Spring 2014!

Serendipity Plant Lore School of Ethnobotanical Studies

Wilderness Medicine, Wild Foraging and Herbal Healing Workshops and Hikes

Spring 2014 

~Traditional European Fermentation, Pickling and Preserving Workshop at Neighbor’s Market!

Serendipity Plant Lore School of Ethnobotanical Studies is coming back to Neighbor’s Market for another fun workshop on Traditional European Fermentation and Pickling for preserving harvests, using up the winter stores, for health, for FUN! We’ll preserve all sorts of things, with a fun project for you! Whispers about are begging for more Hungarian Pear Pickling, so Summer’s Hungarian Pickled Pears and Toltott Korte may be IN THE CLASS LINEUP TOO as we pickle and naturally preserve many other things with! 

Date: Saturday, February 22nd, 2014 Time: 1-4 PM’ish Cost: $40, Pre-registration only to guarantee a spot! Email lemonlotus@gmail.com

~Singing Spring Herb and Tonics Workshop!

Come and work with the plants of Spring as we make Seasonal Herbal Tonics to open up our systems to the blossoming year. We’ll identify and carefully select herbs to make lightening brews with many properties. Be prepared to smell interesting smells, taste interesting tastes, and get your hands dirty with folklore!

Date: Saturday, March 22nd, 2014 Time: 1-3 PM’ish Cost: $40, Pre-registration only to guarantee a spot! Email lemonlotus@gmail.com


~Wild Foraging Spring Edibles and Medicinals Hike

We’ll gather together and carpool to a local forest for a botanical romp in the woods. We’ll meet at 9 AM to arrange our carpool caravan and head to the forest! Come out and meet some of the amazing faces of spring, as we hike, identify and commune!

Date: Sunday, March 23rd, 2014 Time: 9AM-2 PM’ish. Cost: $40, Pre-registration only to guarantee a spot! Email lemonlotus@gmail.comDSC_0545

© 2014, Serendipity Plant Lore School of Ethnobotanical StudiesOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Wild Foraging Spring Edibles and Medicinals Hike!

We’ll gather together and carpool to a local forest for a botanical romp in the woods. We’ll meet at 9 AM to arrange our carpool caravan and head to the forest! Come out and meet some of the amazing faces of spring, as we hike, identify, learn and commune!DSC_0595

Date: Sunday, March 23rd, 2014 Time: 9AM-2 PM’ish. Cost: $40, Pre-registration only to guarantee a spot! Email lemonlotus@gmail.com

What To Bring: Dress ye for the weather, bring a sack lunch and plenty of water and something to write on for notes! Let me know if you can volunteer as a driver when you register. 🙂OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

(c) 2014, Summer L. Farkas Takacs-Michaelson, CH

Singing Spring Herb and Tonics Workshop!

It will be only two days after official spring, but the Greens and Herbs will be ready for play! Come sing with the greens, and learn how to make nutritious tonics for health and home, and identify some of our local wild plants!Don't know oxbow park 016

This class makes a nice introduction to many of the common wild edibles and medicinal’s in our area. This class is potluck, so please bring a dish to share, as well as your own plate, mug, fork and spoon. Come learn about our local wild greens! To register, send an email to lemonlotus@gmail.com!
Date: Saturday, March 22nd, 2014
When: 1-3 PM’ish
Where: Location provided with Registration
Cost: Pre-registration only to reserve a spot, $40
What to Bring: A dish to share, as well as own plate, mug, fork and spoon.
Friendship Deal: Sign up and pre-pay with a friend, and each of you receive a $5 discount! 🙂
(c) 2014, Summer L. Farkas Takacs-Michaelson, CH

Surviving Wild Greens Under Snow

Weird weather, everywhere! This past weekend, our neck of the woods which generally does not receive snow (just rain), received snow. It stopped Vancouvertown in its tracks. The town stopped, shops closed, the streets opened up for children to play in. Neighbors, willing to risk the roads to obtain supplies offered to pick up things for other neighbors.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Children played in the streets. No longer belonging to adults and their big toy cars, the children in our neighborhood took over the streets and snowboarded, sledded, had snowball fights and built snowmen, chasing each other to land melting snow on bare necks, then running away. Somehow, I was reminded what it was like to live in the Mountains again. Everything was quiet. Sounds took on a brisk echo in the air. The sound of non-stop traffic of the highways outbound were stilled. Life reared its head, the world slowed and became more joyful for the moment.

As the endless drum of progress was slowed, warmth, food, families at play, reading and tea drinking became the important items of the day.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

While I am aware that the snow storms caused some great distress and my heart goes out to you, whoever you are, people responding to the season and laying low a bit is a great teaching in our lives. For one, I miss the quiet joy of rural mountain living, I miss the shutting down that happens in northern seasonal scapes. A time of rest. A time of joy. A time of just being.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Of course, the children also worked. They cooked and baked between playing in the snow. A close friend of ours was stuck out of town, and as a pure stroke of her love to us, bought my son Ben a chicken mug (he is a chicken keeper and chicken fanatic) and me a Hungarian Hen candle holder. What surprises await with snow! Now, it’s melted, and my wild greens are completely fine. I’ve got my munchies, no worse for snow!






(c) 2014, Summer L. Farkas Takacs-Michaelson, CH

Taltos, A Large Healing Tradition with Many Branches in the Tree Of Life, Part 2

Written to my friend belsbror just now, I decided to share here as a second part to writing about Taltos Healing Tradition.

Taltos, A Large Healing Tradition with Many Branches in the Tree of Life, Part 1: https://serendipityherbals.wordpress.com/2013/12/25/taltos-a-large-healing-tradition-with-many-branches-in-the-tree-of-life/OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Again, I agree belsbror. There isn’t much money in herbal medicine, unless a corporation finds ways to sell substandard supplements and hype it up. The tradition of medicine is a deep one. Here, in the US, there is next to no real concern for preventing any disease, and when the disease is full blown, people are given toxic medications and go under the knife. I am not disputing that there isn’t a time for this, I am thankful for emergency medicine in dire circumstances. What I am saying is so many people could prevent so much with herbal medicine, can learn and use on their families, learn correct ways of eating and living, nourish themselves in ways that are very economical or free…prevention is the best remedy.

Herbs can be used to help someone who is on medications to get healthier and more nourished, or to find ways to break their disease pattern, bring joy, sleep, correct digestion, and more.

Herbs are also becomming very fadish, and people in the US have lost their own family traditions of working with herbs. That is where Tradition really comes in, each herb works and reacts with different bodies and different herbs. That is a lifetime science to learn, and not necessarily needing to be learned unless one is working as a healer of others.

In the meantime, people can learn from their own body, the body speaks. There is so much to learn, and so much healthcare can be taken in a person’s own hand. With this, is the realization that old age, death, and sometimes illness do happen, even to the healthiest of us. Negotiating these streams of life is a little different than just listening to a TV commercial that recommends a new drug selling promises (that often never materialize) that skipped the all important work of mental, emotional, spiritual and physical lifestyle health.

Much of the work many Herbalists do, like myself, is for those who have no access to healthcare, or who are receiving healthcare that is not working. Sometimes, I am asked to help someone who is receiving medical care that is working yet they want to maximize the healing even further. Much of herbal medicine is listening, to others bodies, to the herbs, to peoples stories, noticing and really helping someone through difficult situations, whether physical, mental, emotional or spiritual, which all together make up a whole person, indivisible.

Besides the fadish element of herbalism happening now, (this is also a positive that more people ARE getting interested, but hopefully take it deeper than mainstream get rich supplement companies), this kind of healing is not appreciated in most commercial environments.

In Taltos, like most indigenous healing systems, a healer lives the lifestyle fully as a path, and that is the way that people are helped. If someone is recommended by me a certain herb, I know that herb so deeply in every cell, and I know why their body seems to need it, because I am living that connection. In that connection, I can help someone to reconnect themselves to their environment and the healing available within their world, so that they can navigate themselves.

If anything, that is a very olde medicine that is hard to explain in words, yet is very real.

My son Hunter has those eyes too. Those kind of eyes are cultivated and available to all. They are eyes of the heart. They come from sitting and working in nature for long periods of time, and bringing that back out to the outer world of humans.

Taltos is alive and well and vitally important. Teachings from the Hungarian Tree Of Life.

(c) 2014, Summer L. Farkas Takacs-Michaelson, CH

Painting above done by Artist Arna Baartz, all rights reserved on the photo.

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