Monday, 20 May 2013

Review: 'A Gift of Herbs' by Heidi Hartwiger

A Gift of Herbs: How to Make Easy, Inexpensive and Thoughtful Gifts Using Herbs, Heidi Hartwiger, Illustrated by Susan Tracy, 1993, Downhome Press, $13.95, softbound, 152 pages. Category/Genre: how-to/crafts. Cover: passable. Where we got it: borrowed it. Where you can get it: Amazon, Barnes and Noble. 

The book opens with herb folklore and trivia before moving on to a section on culinary uses and gifts. The author does make a note of caution here: it would be wise for the reader to practise moderation when using herbs, particularly when drinking herbal teas, as some of the herbs in this book have medicinal uses and, therefore, may have side effects, as well. It would be best, the author says, to consult a physician if any unwanted side effects occur. 

A list of vocabulary words is included in the culinary section of the book. Infusion, for example, is the act of pouring boiling water over herbs and steeping them, then pouring the mixture through a strainer in order to remove the wilted herbs. The tea is then consumed. 

With each project, Hartwiger includes a 'Busy Herb Lover Method' as well as a 'Lovingly Long Method.' 

In the culinary section, the reader is introduced to herbal vinegars (which the author says are simple to make), herbal salts, herbed butter and cheese, herb jelly, herbal teas, and crystallising herbs.

Next is 'Herbs for Comfort and Beauty.' Here the reader will find a listing of floral scents, outdoor/fresh air scents, citrus scents, and spice scents from which to choose. There are methods for drying herbs and instructions on preparing an herbal facial treatment; herbs for the bath; herbs for skin care; herbal oils and shampoo; insect repellent; pet cosmetics; and more. 

There's a large section on potpourri, and there are directions for making pomander balls (air refreshers), and all-occasion crafts. Hartwiger outlines the tools, equipment, and materials that the reader will need to make the crafts, along with how to make herb wreaths, a swag, a kissing ball, etc. Plus there are crafts for busier herb lovers: a nosegay (tussie-mussie), magnetic gifts, hot pads, and more.   

If you like this one, try: Suggestions? 

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