February 14th, Valentine’s Day is coming up fast and you want to do something a little different this year. You don’t want buy the same old heart shaped box of chocolate and a dozen red roses; you already did champagne and strawberries; now you are wondering what you can do. I find that the best gifts are the things that are a little off the beaten path (and I don’t mean edible underwear), something that is made by a small local company, or better yet, made by you. I have been married for 24 years and both my husband and I have always made it a point to add our own twist to Valentine’s Day. One year my husband decided to do a “Hawthorn” (an herb that has a special affinity to the heart) theme. He made me a half gallon of hawthorn tincture, some hawthorn syrup (which is amazing on pancakes), hawthorn ketchup and Hedgerow jelly (Hawthorn berries are used in it). I was so happily surprised that I’m clearly still talking about it.
How about making something that will be talked about for years to come; it doesn’t have to be expensive or so far out there that no one would use or like it. The following are a few recipes and links to help you come up with an amazing Valentine’s Day gift that will sure to be a hit.Rose Massage Oil
2/3 C grapeseed oil
1 tsp alkanet root (omit if you don’t want it colored)
1/3 C wheat germ oil
10 drops vitamin E oil
6 drops rose absolute oil
Put grapeseed oil and alkanet root into a top basin of a double boiler. Gently heat the water bath of the double boiler on the lowest heat. Once the oil is the red color that you desire, remove from heat and strain out the alkanet (do not over heat). Add the wheat germ oil, vitamin E, and rose oil to the red oil after it has cooled. Pour the oil into a dark bottle and shake well.
Shake well before each use. Pour small amount of oil into your hands to warm before massaging into your body (or someone else’s body).
Calming Milk Bath
4 oz fine sea salt
8 oz powdered milk
6 drops chamomile essential oil
12 drops neroli essential oil
To Make: Mix the sea salt, powdered milk and essential oils well. Place in a covered container and leave for 3 weeks for the oils to mingle with the ingredients before using.
To Use: Add a handful of milk bath mixture to a running bath; get in and relax.
Chocolate Rose Elixir
1/3 C Cocoa powder, sifted
1 C Sugar
1 C boiling Rose Water (purchased or homemade)
¼ to ½ C Rose petals
½ C Brandy
1 tablespoon Vanilla extract
2-3 drops Almond extract or 1 teaspoon additional Vanilla extract, optional
To infuse brandy: simply fill your jar ¼ full of dried herbs or ½ full of fresh herbs, and pour in your brandy. Let the herbs infuse at least 5 days.
Begin by making chocolate syrup by mixing the cocoa powder and sugar together and add boiling rose water, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. When cooled, add the vanilla extract. To this syrup, add the brandy and additional vanilla extract or almond extract. Bottle the ingredients and shake well. Let sit for 2 days to 1 week. You can add honey infused with fresh rose petals to this elixir. This recipe is also amazing with brandy infused with spices such as cardamom, star anise, cinnamon, fennel, and fresh ginger.
Warming Sugar Scrub
½ C Brown sugar
1 TBL Ginger powder
1 TBL Cardamom powder
2 oz. Grapeseed oil
Place the brown sugar into a container. Add ginger and cardamom powders to the sugar and stir. Add enough oil to moisten the sugar and stir. Let sit for 2 days for the sugar to absorb some of the oil; adding more oil if needed. To use: gently massage sugar scrub onto wet skin, wash scrub off with warm water, pat your skin dry
Margaret’s Spicy Aphrodisiac Tea
From Wise Concoctions pg.100 by Bonnie Trust Dahan
4 C Water
1 tangerine with peel sliced
3 cardamom pods spilt
1in piece fresh ginger, sliced
Dash of ground nutmeg
½ vanilla bean
4 cinnamon sticks
1 to 2 tsp pomegranate seeds
To make: Combine all the ingredients except two of the cinnamon sticks and the pomegranate seeds, Simmer, covered, for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the pomegranate seeds for the last 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Serve in mugs with a cinnamon stick for stirring.
Double Chocolate Cardamom Pot Clementine’s in Ginger Syrup Fig Salad with Goat’s Milk Yogurt and Pepper Cress