Herbal Adventures by Rachel Jepson Wolf [free pdf books]

  • Full Title : Herbal Adventures: Backyard Excursions and Kitchen Creations for Kids and Their Families
  • Autor: Rachel Jepson Wolf
  • Print Length: 
  • Publisher: Young Voyageur
  • Publication Date: October 23, 2018
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0760360510
  • ISBN-13: 978-0760360514
  • Download File Format: epub


“A real gem…a perfect beginners’ book no matter your age.”
—Rosemary Gladstar, herbalist and author

In Herbal Adventures, you’ll pull on your boots and discover the magical plants that are growing just beyond your door. Explore nearby parks, fields, and forests, then make all sorts of tasty and useful things for your family and friends! Start with a delicious homemade soda, flower petal pancakes, or a soothing balm for cuts and scrapes. Sip herbal tea that's fit for the fairies, craft syrup to quiet your cough, and assemble supplies for your own rough-and-tumble herbal first aid kit. You can also skip the foraging and dive into making the recipes with purchased, dried herbs.

Herbal Adventures includes recipes and instructions for making:

  • Elderberry syrup
  • Herbal chai
  • Dandelion honey
  • Herbal first aid balm
  • Chickweed pesto
  • Herbal cough syrup
  • Pine needle tea
  • Sore throat soother
  • Splinter and sting salve
  • Plus dozens more herbal teas, snacks, oils, and balms! 

Pack up your own foraging kit, and get crafty making seed bombs, flower crowns, and your own homemade plant press. What are you waiting for? All this and more awaits you on your next herbal adventure!



Herbal Adventures has everything I appreciate in a good herb book: sound practical information and great remedies and recipes, all enhanced by personal stories and insights. This may be my new favorite!
– Rosemary Gladstar, herbalist and author

The beauty on each page of Herbal Adventures makes me desperate to create! Rachel keeps the projects accessible and the photographs are stunning. This book is sure to be well-used and well-loved.
– Jamie C. Martin, editor of SimpleHomeschool.net and author of Give Your Child the World

Like stumbling upon a hidden brook on a bright summer’s day, this book is a refreshing treasure for the earth-curious child and the young-at-heart of every age. Rachel shows us how the natural world is the real fairy tale, and how much closer we are to that magic than we think.
– Asia Suler, Creator and Concoctress of One Willow Apothecaries

If you’ve ever wanted a friendly guide to connecting your family to the plants that sustain and heal us, look no further.
– Ben Hewitt, author of Home Grown and The Nourishing Homestead

Herbal Adventures is the perfect guidebook to plant-based fun for families with children.
– Samuel Thayer, author of The Forager’s Harvest, Nature’s Garden, and Incredible Wild Edibles

About the Author

Rachel Jepson Wolf loves nothing more than bringing people and plants together. With a degree in environmental education and biology, Rachel spent years helping kids and adults fall in love with the natural world. In 2002 she founded LüSa Organics, a botanical body care company, and more recently began leading in-person herbal retreats for adults and children. Today Rachel lives with her husband, Pete, and their two children, Lupine and Sage, on a wonderfully weedy homestead in rural Wisconsin. Her days are spent writing, foraging, playing with plants, and homeschooling her kids. Find Rachel online at www.lusaorganics.typepad.com, where she blogs about herbs, farm, and family; or explore her herbal body care line at www.lusaorganics.com.



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nts—one of my favorite ways to cook at home. Great for feeding a few friends or family, these recipes don’t really need side dishes and such: just set a platter in the middle of the table and everyone digs in.

For meals that are as comforting as my Lamb Tagine, head straight to One-Pot & Slow-Cooked Meals. These dishes are part of my parenthood revelation. In addition to the lack of pots and pans in the sink after dinner, there is also something magical about smelling something amazing cooking in late afternoon, feeling heat coming from the kitchen as Classic Pot Roast braises stovetop.

My parents instilled in me a love of humble often downright homely ingredients—including root vegetables, supermarket mushrooms, and all kinds of onions—that was reinforced working in professional kitchens in France and in the United States. You might think chefs are all about exotic mushrooms and fiddlehead ferns and, while we love those ingredients, there’s something beautiful about taking an ugly vegetable, cooking it simply, and turning it into an insanely tasty dish. How delicious are beets and rutabaga? A simple plate of Buttered Rutabaga or a Summer Beet Carpaccio can round out your repertoire. Raw White Mushroom Salad is such an unassuming yet actually edgy way to begin a meal. I love keeping on hand a batch of recipes like Grandpa Guarnaschelli’s Sweet-and-Sour Onions (so good as a quickie condiment or last-minute touch on a dish!) or Dry-Roasted Scallions with Romesco Sauce to round out a meal.

Great salads begin with a great dressing or vinaigrette; you have a couple dozen to choose from here. You’ve got The Sherry Vinaigrette I Use on Everything all the way to a yummy funky Miso Dressing. Most young cooks start at the salad station (myself included), where nothing is cooked to order, which makes these recipes especially home-cook friendly. Try the Beefsteak Tomato, Bacon, and Red Onion Salad or Fennel and Orange Salad with Walnut Pesto. Then turn to the salads I love as stand-alone meals, such as Thai Beef and Watercress Salad, or as companions to roasted meat or fish, like Crispy Brussels Sprouts Salad or Warm Candied Corn Salad.

I also love grains and beans. Mail-order stores like Kalustyans (kalustyans.com) and SOS Chefs (soschefs.com) have helped me change my ingredient game, from wheatberries to French lentils. I love a bean or toasted-grain salad as a make-ahead side dish or even a light dinner. They really satisfy—and I have an appetite!

I am highly invested in the baking recipes in this book, beginning with Italian American Cookies. Two of my favorite recipes, Dark Chocolate Brownies and Thin Crispy Gingerbread Cookies, bridge the gap between afternoon snack and after-dinner dessert (and, if I am being honest, occasional breakfast treat). Cookies, fruit bars, and even chocolate bark are sweets we often buy—until we realize how simply they can be made at home.

The recipes in Berries & Juicy Fruits are all home runs. Some of my favorite fruits are showcased simply, such as Cherries in Red Wine with Frozen Yogurt. Pavlova with Fresh Strawberries is a light, fluffy dessert that doesn’t skimp on decadence and dramatic presentation.

Cake is a serious subject for me. It really is my favorite food group. Layer cakes are one of its most excellent subsets (see the classic Yellow Layer Cake with Chocolate Frosting or Carrot Parsnip Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting—it’s amazing to me what a few parsnips do to make carrots taste like the best version of themselves). Pies, Tarts & Crisps addresses a cornerstone of American baking and contains recipes made from whatever is in season. I’ve got you covered on the Thanksgiving classics, of course, but Strawberry Ice Cream Pie with Balsamic ups the ante and Raspberry Crisp with a Crunchy Cinnamon Top celebrates the tang of berries melded with warm spices.

Quick Breads and Jams & Fruit Condiments make a nice pair. These are recipes to make on the weekend when you want your house to smell like Creamy Biscuits and Pumpkin Nutmeg Bread. The jams, jellies, chutneys, and marmalades are good to slather on warm bread you pull from the oven and also make nice accompaniments to other dishes in this book. Some of my favorites are the Lemon Marmalade and the Barely Cooked Blueberry Jam.

And, finally, there are Cocktails. You might think I should have started here, but I am really a cook first and not a professional mixologist. These happen to be some of my favorites to make and drink precisely because they do not require arcane bitters or any professional training. They are timeless and always feel appropriate.

Along the way, in various recipes, I encourage you to “taste for seasoning,” my way of reminding you to taste as you go. It’s about salt and pepper, for sure, but it’s also about spices and acid—whether citrus juice or vinegar. Make sure these ingredients have done enough to make your food punchy and delicious. If not, add more. You may like more tang than I do—or your lemons may be sweeter or more acidic than mine. What you cook should taste good to you.

All of this is preparing you to go and cook these recipes. Be the person who says, “I’m going to make my stuffed mushrooms for the office party” or “I think I’ll bake those tangy raspberry cookies for the potluck.” There’s a wonderful confidence in making great food and sharing it with others. Let these recipes be your guide, with your taste buds giving you additional direction. And please, put this book on your special shelf: the one with the sauce-spattered books that you take down and use all the time. I think it delivers.



Breaded Eggplant Fingers with Balsamic Sauce

Marinated Cerignola Olives

Stuffed Mini Peppers

Extra-Crispy Cheese Straws

Mini Goat Cheese Quiches

Individual Brie Sandwiches with Toasted Sesame Seeds

Warm Bar Nuts

Spicy Spinach Phyllo Triangles

Scallion Pancakes

Spicy Chinatown Pork Dumplings

Glazed Five-Spice Ribs

Veal Meatballs with Tomatoes and Parmesan Cheese

A Basket of Drumsticks and Lemons

Spicy Baked Chicken Wings with Honey Vinegar Glaze

Trout Roe on Tiny Potatoes with Lemon Zest and Sea Salt

Grilled Chicken Satay with Cashew Sauce

Shrimp Toast Sandwiches with Garlic

Tequila-Cured Salmon with Grainy Mustard Sauce

Lobster Rolls




I love eggplant; it’s meaty and satisfying. I also love cooking it with the skin on and enjoying the texture and flavor contrasts between skin and flesh. I love to dunk these in a good dip or salsa. They are an adult answer to chicken fingers with way more flavor. The aroma of the eggplant, thyme, and bread crumbs also gives a pizzeria vibe to the kitchen. And that makes everyone hungry. This dish can be prepared in advance and then fried just before serving. The reduction of balsamic coats the eggplant nicely and provides that great balance of tangy and sweet.

1 cup balsamic vinegar

2 medium globe eggplants (about 1 pound each)

Kosher salt

2 teaspoons dried oregano

1 cup all-purpose flour

2 large eggs

4 large egg yolks

¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1½ cups plain dried bread crumbs

Leaves from 4 sprigs fresh thyme

¼ cup canola oil

Preheat the oven to 375°F.

Reduce the balsamic: Pour the vinegar into a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Lower the heat, and cook until it has reduced to ½ cup liquid, 20 to 25 minutes. Set the sauce aside to cool.

Prepare the eggplants: Slice the eggplants lengthwise into 1-inch-thick slices. Stack the slices and cut them crosswise into 1½-inch-wide fingers. Season the pieces liberally all over with 2 tablespoons salt and the oregano. In a medium bowl, mix the flour with 1 tablespoon salt. In another medium bowl, whisk the eggs and yolks with the 2 tablespoons olive oil and 1 tablespoon water. In a third medium bowl, mix the bread crumbs with the thyme. One piece at a time, dredge the eggplant in the flour, then in the egg mixture, and finally in the bread crumbs. As the eggplant pieces go through the breading process, arrange them in a single layer on a baking sheet. Note: The eggplant can be frozen at this point and cooked another day.

Fry the eggplant: In a large skillet over medium heat, combine the remaining ¼ cup olive oil with the canola oil. When the oil begins to shimmer and smoke lightly, turn off the heat and add some of the eggplant pieces in a single layer. (It’s better to cook these in batches than to overcrowd the pan.) Fry on the first side until golden brown, 3 to 5 minutes. Carefully turn them over and fry until golden brown on the other side, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer the eggplant to the baking sheet, arranging the pieces in a single layer, and season each piece with salt. Note: You can cover the eggplant with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 6 hours at this point and bake when ready to serve.

Bake the eggplant: Bake until the eggplant is tender when pierced in the center with the tip of a knife, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove the eggplant from the oven and taste for seasoning. Drizzle with the balsamic sauce or serve it on the side for dipping. Serve immediately.



My favorite olive? Hands down, green Cerignola. They are big and meaty and green, with a large pit that I always roll around in my mouth for a minute after eating off all the olive meat. The flavors of this marinade linger and whet the appetite. I make these in advance so my friends can snack on something while they watch the main course bubble away on the stove. Some grilled or toasted sourdough bread, a couple wedges of cheese or some ricotta, and a bowl of these olives…yum. Put out just enough for your friends and watch how much better dinner tastes after a palate opener like this. The longer these sit, the more pronounced the flavors become: whole spices mixed with fresh thyme and orange zest.

¾ cup plus 1 tablespoon fruity extra-virgin olive oil

Leaves from 6 large sprigs fresh thyme

2 large garlic cloves, grated

2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes

3 light grates of orange zest (see Tip)

4 heaping cups green Cerignola olives

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

1 tablespoon yellow mustard seeds

1 tablespoon coriander seeds

Start the marinade: In a medium skillet, warm the 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat. Add the thyme leaves and cook until they bubble and crisp, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove the skillet from the heat and scrape the thyme into a medium bowl; reserve the skillet. Stir the garlic and red pepper flakes into the thyme. Add the orange zest, remaining ¾ cup olive oil, and the olives to the thyme mixture and toss to combine.

Finish the marinade: In the same skillet, combine the vinegar with ½ cup water and warm it over medium heat for 1 minute. Then add the mustard and coriander seeds, and simmer gently for 8 to 10 minutes. Remove the skillet from the heat and allow the spices to sit in the mixture for 20 to 25 minutes.

Marinate the olives: Pour the vinegar and spices over the olives and toss to blend. The olives can be served immediately, but their flavor improves if they are left to sit. Pack the olives into a jar, cover them with the marinade, and cover tightly. Refrigerate for 1 to 4 weeks. Bring to room temperature before serving. TIP: When grating oranges, don’t press too hard. Grate lightly to get just the top layer of the floral-scented skin and leave the bitter white pith behind.



These stuffed peppers taste sweet and spicy at the same time. The texture of the pine nuts and the scallions contrasts with that of the creamy goat cheese and makes these little bites exciting to eat. These are a fun way to serve cheese—a change from the usual slabs on a board. I put out thick slices of Italian bread with this and marvel at how quickly the platter empties out.

16 fresh cherry peppers

6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Kosher salt

8 ounces creamy goat cheese, at room temperature

4 medium scallions (green and white parts), thinly sliced

3 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted

Grated zest and juice of 1 large lemon

Preheat the oven to 375°F.

Prepare the peppers: Lay each pepper sideways on a flat surface and cut off the top so it’s like a little hat for the rest of the pepper. Use a paring knife to carefully cut away any seeds that stick to the top. Use a paring knife or a small spoon to scoop any seeds from inside the pepper. In a large bowl, toss the tops and bottoms with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and 1 tablespoon salt. Heat a large sauté pan over medium heat. When it is hot, drop in the peppers and tops and cook until they are browned and slightly wilted, 3 to 5 minutes. Tilt the pan so the peppers spill out onto a baking sheet. Set aside to cool.

Prepare the filling: Use a rubber spatula to spread the goat cheese over the bottom and up the sides of a medium bowl so that you can season it evenly. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon salt, the scallions, and the pine nuts all over the cheese. Mix to blend. Taste to make sure the flavors are balanced.

Fill and bake the peppers: Use a small spoon to stuff the peppers with the cheese mixture, and then arrange them on a baking sheet with room between them. (Reserve the tops.) Bake until the filling is hot in the center, 8 to 10 minutes (test the center with the tip of a knife).

Make the vinaigrette and finish the dish: In a small bowl, whisk together the lemon zest, lemon juice, and the remaining 4 tablespoons olive oil. Remove the peppers from the oven and drizzle with the lemon vinaigrette. Top each pepper with one of the reserved tops. Serve immediately.



I infuse these cheese straws with flavors that mimic those of a garlic knot from a New York City slice joint. I usually serve them with some cider, olives, and cheese or with a super-dry white or sparkling wine to get the party going. I love to make this dough by hand. I cut it with a pasta machine because it makes uniform straws, instead of ones in random lengths and shapes. To finish them, I take a page from biscotti bakers and dry the baked straws in a low-temperature oven to make them extra crisp. Arrange them in a single layer on a serving platter and grate additional Parmesan over them for a cheesy touch.

2½ cups bread flour, plus more for kneading and rolling

½ teaspoon active dry yeast

Kosher salt

2 teaspoons freshly cracked black pepper

2 teaspoons garlic powder

¼ cup finely grated aged Provolone cheese

½ cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Make the dough: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment, combine the flour, yeast, 1¼ teaspoons salt, the pepper, garlic powder, Provolone, and ¼ cup of the Parmigiano-Reggiano and mix to blend. Gradually pour in 1 cup water and mix only until the dough forms a loose ball. Do not mix beyond that or your dough will be tough. Put the dough on a floured surface and knead it gently, 2 to 3 minutes, until the dough feels smooth and cohesive. Add more flour if the dough is wet or won’t come together. Grease a large bowl with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and add the dough. Turn the dough in the bowl so it gets coated with the oil. Cover the top with plastic wrap and leave it at room temperature for 1½ hours or so; then gently press down on the top to deflate it. Leave the dough, covered, for another hour or two. It should double in volume.

Preheat the oven to 375°F.

Roll the dough: Transfer the dough to a floured flat surface and divide it into 4 equal parts. Roll each portion of dough with a rolling pin and then run it through the thickest setting on a pasta machine. Each portion should now be about ⅛ inch thick. Return the dough to a floured flat surface and use a sharp knife to cut it into ½-inch strips. Arrange the strips of dough, leaving some space between them, in a single layer on two baking sheets.

Bake the straws: Brush the dough strips with the remaining 3 tablespoons olive oil and sprinkle with 2 teaspoons salt. Bake until light brown, 13 to 15 minutes. Do not overbake. Remove from the oven and turn off the oven.

Finish the straws: Sprinkle the cheese straws with the remaining ¼ cup Parmigiano-Reggiano and return the baking sheet to the warm oven. Let the breadsticks dry out a bit more and the cheese melt slightly over them, 3 to 5 minutes. Serve warm. If you want to make these a few hours ahead, do so through step 4, let them cool, and then when you are ready, proceed with step 5 using a 250°F oven.



I used to make my quiche batter with cream cheese for added thickness and richness. Once, when making it at home, I dropped half a log of goat cheese in the blender as a substitute. I never looked back. The tang of goat cheese adds tremendous depth of flavor to quiche. I always love the effect hot cheese has on people.

One simple finishing touch separates this recipe from the pack: an easy red wine vinaigrette drizzled over the quiches at the last minute takes the flavor to the next level. Sometimes I drizzle some vinaigrette on the quiches and a little on some green leaf lettuce or arugula to go with them.

4 large eggs

2 large egg yolks

8 ounces fresh goat cheese, cut into thick slices, at room temperature

1 cup heavy cream

½ cup whole milk

Few drops of Tabasco

Few drops of Worcestershire sauce, preferably Lea & Perrins brand

Kosher salt

30 mini (1½-inch) prebaked tart shells or mini phyllo shells

¼ cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

1 small garlic clove, grated

6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Preheat the oven to 375°F.

Make the quiche batter: In a blender, combine the eggs, egg yolks, goat cheese, cream, milk, Tabasco, and Worcestershire with 2 teaspoons salt. Blend on low speed (to avoid incorporating too much air) until completely smooth, 1 minute. Scrape down the sides of the blender and blend for an additional minute.

Fill and bake the tart shells: Arrange the tart shells on a baking sheet with some space between them. Pour the filling into a pitcher, stir in the parsley, and then pour it into each of the tart shells as high as it will go without spilling over. Bake until light brown and just set, 15 to 20 minutes. The filling should not move when you shake the baking sheet gently.

Make the vinaigrette and finish the dish: In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, garlic, and olive oil until combined. Drizzle the vinaigrette over the hot quiches. Serve immediately.




This recipe came about after I tasted a simple quiche made with Brie and leeks. The leeks really amplified the richness of the cheese. Sesame seeds add a nuttiness to round out the trio. I know it’s tempting to add a lot of ingredients to a grilled cheese sandwich—like bacon or pancetta and herbs. But these three ingredients are magic enough. And while there are cheeses that are far more distinctive than Brie, none ends up so creamy. These sandwiches can be cut in half to go with a bowl of roasted tomato soup for a warming lunch or quartered and devoured as an addictive starter.

1 medium leek (white and light green parts only)

4 tablespoons (½ stick) unsalted butter

Kosher salt



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