Ask the Bartender, Ask the Plants, Ask Karoline #68

    I love summer in California...the sky is always blue, warm/hot days, mild nights and no mosquitoes. So what if we don’t have enough electricity?! Then again, summer is just plain great wherever you happen to be...and I’ve got a few tasty herbal beverages that will quench your thirst and nourish you at the same time.
The Herbs...
    Oat straw (avena sativa). Full of B vitamins and calcium, it can help reduce stress and raise your energy. Also found to help reduce cholesterol, good for strengthening the endocrine system and bones, increase vitality, and is good for cranky children, nursing mothers and women in menopause.  It has a mild, almost sweet taste to it.
    Nettles (urtica dioica). High in iron and minerals, easily absorbed by the body. Benefits the nervous system, digestion, muscles, bones, connective tissue, hair and eyes. Kind of like eating spinach, but to the nth degree! The taste is hard to explain (it might take a little getting used to) but it’s quite good when iced. In fact, after brewing this, you can fill an ice cube tray with your nettle infusion and use as ice cubes in other beverages.
    Nutri tea blend. Chris and I visited an amazing herb store in Sebastapol, CA on the recommendation of our friend Wendy this past winter...it is called Rosemary’s Garden (as in Rosemary Gladstar) and they make some rad bulk tea blends. I bought one called Nutri tea (nettles, rosehips, peppermint, alfalfa, oat straw, horsetail, lemon grass, red clover, hibiscus and wild oats) and absolutely fell in love with it.  You can order it from them, or mix it up yourself. (1.800.493.5523 or e-mail at www.rosemarysgarden.com) Boil some water and grab a clean quart jar...
    Put a big handful of any of the aforementioned herbs in the quart jar and pour boiling water over it, cap it and let it sit for at least four hours. I find that it’s easiest to make it right before I go to bed, steep it overnight, and strain in the morning. Can’t get much easier than that, can it?! I like to do separate quarts of oat straw, nettle and the Nutri tea, but feel free to mix ‘em up and experiment with the tastes. Make sure to compost your herbs after use...give back what you have taken.
Forget vitamin pills...
    The best part about these easy (and inexpensive) infusions is that you can really help your body out in a really easily digestible way. Too many people rely on handfuls of vitamins every day that just wind up getting peed out (although bright yellow pee is pretty cool to look at) because your body can’t absorb all of it. Why choke down a calcium supplement (that gets stuck in your throat and is covered in some mysterious chemical coating) when you could be drinking a quart of oat straw?! Learn to eat a really well balanced diet (especially those dark leafy green vegetables!) drink your herbs and you won’t need those vitamin pills.
That’s all folks...
I feel like I should write more, but I had a nasty run-in with a six foot ladder at work today and really wrenched a muscle in my back. Suffice to say that I’m not having much fun sitting at the computer tonight! It’s my own fault, I should have gotten my column done weeks ago. Looks like procrastination has bitten me in the ass this time...or, rather the lower back...um, sorta. I’m off on tour with Citizen Fish this month, come see us and the Bookmobile (see ad in this issue) when we roll through your town. Belated congratulations to Chris for the 15th anniversary issue! She is the most amazing, talented and dedicated woman I know (and who rocks my world in more ways than I could ever explain). Take care of yourselves...karoline
roadiegirl@hotmail.com