Baking Soda Hearts

In a recent blog post, I promised to share recipes for some new goodies. DIGITAL CAMERA




A couple days ago, I shared about stewed tomatoes, secret sauces and our wonderful dinner, with history from the ground up in my family.


Today’s recipe is super simple. How to make Baking Soda Hearts! OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I do not use store-bought chemicals for cleaning my house, ever. I will buy ingredients such as lemons, distilled white vinegar, castille soap and the like for making cleaning products, as well as the occasional Seventh Generation or Bio-Kleen product for the dishes. Everything else we make here at the house.


Here is a fantastic and super cleaner and degreaser recipe:


A great natural scrubbing recipe is baking soda and vinegar or lemon juice mixed together. This is also good for helping to keep pipes clear, if used regularly and in preventative cycles.


Baking Soda Hearts for the house are a beautiful and easy way to add a pleasant and clean smell to the house while absorbing odors. It’s a fun kid project too!

For every 1 cup of baking soda, add around a third cup of filtered or distilled water. Make a paste, adding in more baking soda or water as needed, and add essential oils if you wish, of your choosing! For my recipe, I chose a few drops of Lavender and Lime Essential Oil. Essential oil is optional, and flower waters may be used instead. Pack in paste into a silicone baking mold, and allow to dry. In my house, it takes about three days for these to dry thoroughly. Gently pop them out, and place in your refrigerator, stored shoes, back of closets and drawers, bathroom, wherever!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

They’re pretty delightful and beat buying commercial products filled with chemicals, any day!

I like to stick them around windowsills during our Pacific Northwest winter, to help absorb extra moisture. I simply set them in muffin papers, and then find little nooks and crannies to place them in. When these get older, crumble them and recycle for use as a scrubbing powder.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA


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

All Rights Reserved.









Recipe: Traditional Secret Sauces, Olde School Tomato Growin’, Grandfather Iván’s Stewed Tomatoes

One of the questions I am often asked is about the secret to sauces. Many of the recipes that I cook are both recipes from my family, but also, the understanding of the making of real food using the skills we were brought up with in daily life. Real food to me is what can be grown and processed on one’s own land. It is not shipped away to some other location or some other country for processing, the cycle grows and dies all in one place, one bio-region. This, to me, is real food.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Barring the ability to grow one’s own food, then one’s food mostly comes from one’s neighbors, and neighborhood farmers. This is eating in one’s own food shed. This keeps money and resources in communities, as well as building deep community ties if the community is open enough not to allow deep prejudices to get in the way. (Here, my son Benjámin taking a picture of me as I start today’s cooking!)

Basically, we’re back to Traditional Living Practices. Where true understanding of ecology (the land, its inhabitants and its cycles) live. Strong communities can lend helping hands to struggling communities, but to remain strong, they must also keep cultivating their own strength.Home and Hearth 024

In the time of much fast paced nonsensical living, there is little time for cooking. When I speak of cooking, I mean real cooking. Not 15 minute cooking, not instant rice and instant coffee menus with flavored additives that trick the brain into thinking its eating real food.

My Grandfather Iván taught me about tomatoes. He was famed for his prized stewed tomatoes and tomato based sauces. He was famed for his tomato growing and huge lines of people who couldn’t wait to buy what he grew!

Contrary to the beliefs that advertising has try to convince us of, my Grandfather grew tomatoes in a very intensive way, very close together, organically with huge yields of numbers and incredible taste. He kept them thinned, and strait. My job, every morning before sun up, was to go through each tomato plant individually and pluck off the new shoots. This sounds like a lot of work, but it was incredibly easy if you keep a routine to it.

My Grandfather grew tomatoes that grew strait up, with no more than three main branches. In some tight corners of land, he grew them with one stalk going up, with a string fence. I have NEVER seen anyone grow as many tomatoes per a plant, or as large and sweet as His. They were loved and tended everyday. They were bio-dynamically grown, even before there was such a term.

We checked the root base everyday and tended the roots together. We put compost on frequently, no less than once a week, often twice a week  to every other day if there was plenty available. Every morning, at the crack of dawn, we tended the tomatoes, which were basically left on their own the rest of the day. Grandfather’s tomatoes were so numerous, we would have bushels and bushels, upon more bushels and bushels.

Fungal disease just wasn’t a problem for him. Going back to his tomato growing days on the family farm in Washougal, these practices of keeping the tomato plants growing upward more than outward, allows greater distribution of sunlight on the whole plant…a much needed practice here in the often misty Pacific Northwest!

We would sell and sell and sell. Neighbors would come by, people would stop by because of a sign we put out on the road. We would stop by grocery stores such as Piggly Wiggly, Kroger, and Community Owned, and let them know when our next harvests would be ready and how many bushels. They would buy us out one day, and then the next, we would have to sell all over again! We’d set up weekly booths at fairs and flea markets, back when it was relatively easy to do so, and what was left at the end of the day, we would fill up the back of Grandfather’s car, go drive down a road or highway, pull off, prop open the trunk and set out a sign. People would see Grandfather and double back to get his tomatoes, peas, corn, cucumbers, greens, watermelon, peppers and other foods!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Those were days when people took food, flavor, art, traditional skills, and public acknowledgement of who is doing what, seriously. Grandfather Iván and I would love to eat a fresh tomato with freshly pounded black pepper as a snack when working in the fields. That’s quick, and a delightful snack!

We would love to eat tomato sandwiches with home-made mayo, fresh ground salt and pepper on home-made bread. That’s quick when appetites are huge from working outside! But other foods and dishes, no. We were NEVER to ruin them by cooking them quickly. We handled them with kid gloves.

The secret to sauces is a long, slow cooking time. Always the truth. We can rush them, to fit schedules, we can try to flavor them to make up for the lack of attention, but in the end, the true cooking takes time, love, attention. It is a Spiritual Task. It doesn’t fit into the cracks of a rushed, have-to schedule. The fruits of it are in the waiting, the tending, and the sweat of a hot summer day. The fruits are in the loving and the expectation after great patience.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

There are NO 20 minute stewed tomatoes. You can cook tomatoes for 20 minutes and call them stewed, but a name is hollow without the deep personality that goes with it.

Traditional Stewed Tomatoes take a whole day, minimum to cook. Very low fire to the pot, and a good stirring every so often. Low and slow, to release the flavors and bring out the sweetness. If you cook them as you would tend a love affair, you will get that in return. Flash cooking on the stove, all you have is a flash cooked meal.

All you need for traditional stewed tomatoes is freshly crushed salt and pepper, and home-made bread with grass-fed butter. In it’s simplest version, that is all.

Yesterday, I stewed fresh garden tomatoes all day long. In the early evening, my Husband surprised me with a back massage to help me out of some pain I’ve had recently from a hike. I came home late, after a great chat with my masseuse, so we had a very late dinner.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I cooked some buckwheat with butter and chives, brown jasmine rice with peas, and made a traditional sauce from my day long stewed tomatoes for our meal. I took some beautiful grass-fed steaks which I got a fantastic deal on, sliced them into strips against the grain. I pan seared these in an iron skillet, then added a little broth, strips of Ukranian frying peppers and Hungarian wax and banana peppers and beautiful yellow onions. I placed these in the pan, and lightly simmered them for a couple of hours. At this point, I put my precious stewed tomatoes through a food mill, and added two tablespoons of Sweet Szeged Paprika, fresh ground black salt, pounded smoked peppercorns, some oregano and thyme to taste, and about a half cup of organic oat flour. I stirred this well, and poured over my simmering meats and veggies. I allowed this to reduce another 20 minutes.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Served with buttered buckwheat, rice and peas, mung bean sprouts and home-made sauerkraut, with a huge side of cultured sour cream and chives from Garden Delights.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Simple ingredients turn stunning when cooked to perfection, with time, love and care. This wasn’t a flash cooked meal, and the taste of it spoke the truth of flavors that released themselves as opposed to just being thrown together.

To honor ones food is the greatest form of respect to the Great Designer of Life. To this, we give thanks, and our love to. The secret to sauces if of a heart, the heart to take, the heart to cook, the heart to release, the heart to love. No, it is not simple, and yes it is if you can be with it. 🙂


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

All Rights Reserved.



Feathers for Thoughts

One of the most precious pictures I have is of me, as a baby, being surrounded  by many generations of women in my family. This family picture is precious to me, because I am surrounded by women of many different worlds….Hungarian and Cherokee, and of many different generations.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

These women made me who I am today, along with the men in my family. Growing up in many worlds at once, Olde world, Overseas, Native American Mountain Dwellers, I am very happy and very proud that the people of my family are very common peoples, living close to the earth, to the lessons that life whispers to us constantly. People who did and do stuff with their hands, knowing the ins and outs of living, making, blessing. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

These last two weeks have brought many computer troubles my way, with my very old laptop finally giving up its ghost. I am very lucky to have been able to navigate, with the help of my Husband, my way to a new computer. During this time, I have only had speckled access to a computer. Even tho’ I spend much time away from all electronics when out in the field, there are times I have also been spending way too much in the electronic worlds!

Coming down to the reality of my own life, being *disconnected* from online realms, I have come to find my computer dying a beautiful gift and remembrance. As a writer, of this blog, and a book in progress, I cannot be away completely from the computer, nor away from my many long distance Friends, Family and Students, but the time away has given me fresh perspective.

1) A lot of what we think is real in the world is not real, in that, it is not sustainable and internet and tv advertising will do a number on us and our brains selling us what we think we need, and even finding clever ways to sell sustainability to folks. Sustainability always starts right where we are, in our own community, in our own homes. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

2) The most sustainable actions any person can take is getting closer to the production of their own food sources through gardening and/or raising of livestock. Other solutions are disingenuous about our food and power problems. Without participation, sustainability is a fantasy. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

3) The joy and the love available to us in every moment of life is immense. A world that seems mundane is only so because we have lost our space of flight and being in it. Listening too much to the thudding stomp of societal noise, is wearisome to the Spirit. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

4) Precious gifts of love between real people in a real community trumps the rigid boundaries of containerized hierarchy.

5) Life is a process of love, the greatest gift we’ve all been blessed with. Being thankful for this, our days bloom happiness! OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

6) I found time to make Traditional Hungarian Head Cheese, can a long simmered Skull Broth, blanch great amounts of Kale and Wild Mustard Greens, pit many pounds of Rainier Cherries for jams, sauces, ferments and smoothies, harvest a Rooster,OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Brine Meats, render Pork Fat into cute little pumpkins, make Deodorant Hearts for the house, teaching with Apprentices, split onions and salt across our Neighborhood Community, have an AMAZING coffee date, and love on some teenage kids. Life has been good being away, and now that I am online again for real, it’s time for me to focus on getting a fish order together, finish a new schedule for school next year, get more pages done on the book, and set REAL boundaries for time spent on electronics…for as fun as it is, life face to face, is far more satisfying and clear!

The honey bees have been going gangbusters on my Spearmint Flowers. Lettuce is bolting in the heat and the kids are harvesting as much as they can. Peppers and tomatoes are here! I’m pulling up my crazy heirloom garlic patch, so much garlic coming in and curing!!! Comfrey growing with abandon. Second go with Rhubarb. Wild Tomatillos speckling my back doorstep. Saving some tail and wing feathers for art projects, and thankful we do not waste any bit of our precious livestock, the pieces all find use in one way or other. Piles of herb harvests to be garbled and dried for medicinal and nutritional teas. A Dear Friend gifted me this gorgeous Hungarian evening dress, which I wore recently to my friend Beth Swanson’s Cooking Party. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Shelter Collection collected from Friends and Students……you all rock! OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Recipes for some of the above goodies forthcoming in a future blog post!!! 🙂

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

All Rights Reserved.












Touching the Beautiful Forest Heart

It is midsummer, and there is so much work to be done! Growing, finding, foraging, picking, putting up, teaching, consulting, making do with what we have and dreaming beautiful dreams of the forest and dinner with friends. As always, it’s been full, but especially so for Forager Farmer Granny Herbalists in the middle of the summer season!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Recently our family went to dinner at a dear Friend(s) farm. Hunter had found sticks that he wished to make spears of. When he got home, he whittled the tops of the sticks into sharp points, and now wishes to go hunting!

What a beautiful experience it is for him to go hunting, even if in other realms first! As I have lots of botanical field work to do, I load him up, and he loads his spears up and we go to work. I sitting with plants while he is stalking animals in the shrubs.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Hunter had a great time observing everything. We actually saw three dear all told! We also saw a Raven, Red Tailed Hawks, heard Owls and Woodpeckers, Various Spiders (one in which I was looking at too closely and breathed into my nose accidentally (not an uncommon occurrence in my world!), listened to frog songs and offered live food samples to Mosquitoes, and watched dragonflies as if in trance of wing induced vibration. As I got my work done in the field, and passed by many, many beautiful places, and made many, many beautiful prayers, we also had fun dancing with a camera.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Some day, Hunter may grow up and learn the ways of an ethical way of hunting, to feed himself and his family, like all the generations of men (and some women!) in my family who are Hunters, Herders and Foragers. He will learn to sit in the shrubs, he will learn to listen. He will learn to pray, and he will learn of what he must give in offering. In the meantime, I give space to him to find his inner being, to explore his growing and coming of age, and to practice whittling of sticks as he learns that the beginning of any great art is the whittling that happens that reveals wisdom.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

As we sculpt, life sculpts us. As we listen, life listens to us. As we are thankful for our experiences, we are given everything we need to eat, learn and grow on. I am very happy that my son Hunter is exploring himself in relationship to all the other beings in and around him, and starting to comprehend what a balance of respect  and mutual need means. It is THE teaching.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA


(c) 2014-, Serendipity Plant Lore School of Ethnobotanical Studies

All Rights Reserved.



July Azure Order, Garden Delights Bulk Herbs, Serendipity Plant Lore Teas, Koya Designs Herbal Goodies and Crocheted What-Not Bags, Salt Split, Onion Split, Pastured Eggs, Benjamin’s Organic Egg Shoppe, Wild Salmon Payments Due, Shelter Donation!

Hello Serendipity Azure Folks!
It’s time again for our Azure gathering, our July order cut-off is this coming Friday, July 18th at 4 PM with delivery the following Wednesday, July 23rd, pickup times from 2-6 PM.
Himalayan Salt Split….$1.60 a bagged lb!
Organic Yellow Onion Split….we have *approximately* 15-20 lbs of organic yellow onions to find a home for, $1.20 per lb!
If you would like me to source some pastured eggs to have with your order, please let me know how many you would like!
Benjamin’s Organic Egg Shoppe will have one or possibly two dozen organic, free range, corn and soy free eggs for sale at $6.00 a carton. This is Ben’s little side business that helps support his flock of beautifully loved chickens that he tends. Chickens receive garden pickin’s, hand made feeds, a bit of clabbered raw milk, spouted peas/lentils/radish seeds/misc. beans and scraps from our kitchen.
Second Salmon Payment is Due no later than August 10th! Please wait to send payment until I have confirmed the amount you owe by email, or catch up with me on Azure Delivery Day!
THANK YOU all who donated to Share Shelter! Let’s go for a new donation round!!! We’ve been keeping this shelter love going for a few years, let’s light some more fires and clean our homes! Ordering an extra can of decent food for the Shelter is an idea that Erin H. came up with a little while ago. Here’s a picture below of some of what was collected and donated to the Orchard’s Share Shelter! Other things we can collect are gently used items for kitchen, clothes, backpacks, hotel samples of hygiene supplies, books and magazines!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Garden Delights Bulk Organically Grown Herbs! Supporting local Herbalists and local Herbal Farms helps to keep money in our communities, provide fresher and stronger herbs than commercially available, and helps to keep local and bio-regional Herbalism alive! Here we have some amazing bulk herbs from Garden Delights, a farm that I highly recommend for ethics and care in the arts of growing and processing. Prices range from $.50 to $2.00. Choose from: Parsley, Chives, German Chamomile, Roman Chamomile, Sage, Lemon Balm, Yarrow, Plantain, Peppermint and Thyme.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
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
~Dandelion 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

Gulyás Blessings! 
Summer L. Farkas Takács-Michaelson, CH
Serendipity Plant Lore School of Ethnobotanical Studies​

Our 5th Red Salmon Fish Bliss Order Second Payment!!!

Hello Red Salmon Fish Bliss Group!
It’s time to start thinking about gathering up those second payments as we near closer to harvest time. Our Fisherman and Fisherwoman are in Alaska fishing their hearts out for us, so now would be a good time to get to preparing our payment so everything is easy!
When Iliamna Fish Company Folks come back and set a time for our group delivery, we will need extra hands for sorting and sending fish off to our families! If you would like to volunteer for the day of the fish handoff, please let me know!!!
Our group reached 88 shares this season with a minimum of 85 families that I know of! This is thrilling! Our total share cost is $ this year for a full share.
Please do not pay until you receive a personal email from me with the amount you owe. I will be working on sending an email to everyone over the next few days. Let’s make it a goal to have all payments received by August 10th!
Any questions, hollar! Thank you Amazing Group!!! Can’t wait to see everyone come together again!!!
Summer Farkas Takács-Michaelson, CH

Gulyás Blessings! 
Summer L. Farkas Takács-Michaelson, CH
Serendipity Plant Lore School of Ethnobotanical Studies​


(c) 2014, Summer L. Farkas Takács-Michaelson, Ch
All Rights Reserved.