Saturday, November 29, 2014

3 Good Gifts for OUTLANDER Plant Lovers

Happy Holidays, Outlander Plant Fans!

As long as you're online shopping for other people, why not buy a gift (or two) for yourself? I know you all are readers - how else could you be fans of books that can be over a thousand pages long? I also know that many of you love reading about Claire's herbal preparations and how plants are used as food, medicine and more. With these interests in mind, here are three books I think you might enjoy.

1. The Complete Medicinal Herbal: A Practical Guide to the Healing Properties of Herbs, with More Than 250 Remedies for Common Ailments by Penelope Ody. This book comes highly recommended by readers because it combines clear, detailed botanical information with high quality photography, explains which herbs to use for particular complaints, and describes how to prepare them (as tinctures, salves, cough syrups, etc.) for medicinal use. This puts the information you need - plant identification, parts of the plant to use, when and how to use them - all in one book. Before you know it, you'll be channeling your "inner Claire."

2. The Herbal Kitchen: Cooking with Fragrance and Flavor  by Jerry Traunfeld. Jerry was the executive chef at the Herbfarm Restaurant in Woodinville, Washington, until 2007, when he opened his current restaurant, Poppy, located in Seattle. His inspired use of herbs and local ingredients won him a James Beard award in 2000 for "Best American Chef: Northwest and Hawaii."

If you've never done much cooking with fresh herbs or you're intimidated by Jerry's credentials, you can relax. This book has recipes for elegant dishes that are surprisingly simple.  Would you like to start an herb garden to supply your kitchen? You'll find lists here for what to plant: "The Essentials," "The Nice to Have," "Easy to Buy, But Nice to Grow," and herbs "For Adventurous Cooks." He also includes tips for growing, harvesting and storing herbs. This is the kind of book that gives confidence to new cooks and inspiration to experienced ones who are ready for some fresh ideas. Read this and Mrs. Fitz will have nothing on you. 

3. The Handbook of Natural Plant Dyes: Personalize Your Craft with Organic Colors from Acorns, Blackberries, Coffee, and Other Everyday Ingredients by Sasha Duerr. This is a book that fans of the OUTLANDER TV series will enjoy. One of the scenes in the "Rent"episode involves women dying fabric with human urine. That has led viewers to wonder what other substances might be used to color fabrics. This book may not be long on information about what was used historically, but offers plenty of practical information for anyone interested in experimenting with botanical dyes, using readily available plant materials. (No mention here, however, of the use of bodily fluids. Which may be just as well, aye?) 

Whatever your interests - reading, botanical medicine, cooking or textiles - there's plenty of information here to help you pass the time until the second half of Season 1 starts to air in April. So treat yourself and enjoy!