ashley englishsmall measures

small measures with ashley: love potion #9

by Grace Bonney

[image credits, clockwise from top left: ashley english, polyvore, marlinmac,bridal buzz, ehow, southern accents, ashley english, fiveprime]

February is the love month. Whether you participate in celebrating Valentine’s Day, with all of its attendant delights, temptations, suggestions, and paraphernalia, is completely irrelevant. The month is rife with love, especially here in the states. From celebrating African American history all month long, to being dubbed “American Heart Month” by the American Heart Association (not to mention “Library Lovers Month,” “Potato Lovers Month,” and, especially relevant, “Weddings Month”), February incites pulmonary and aortic valves to pump more intensely, to perhaps love a bit more fully.

Whether you’re partnered or loving life as a party of one, February serves as a gentle reminder that, not only is love all around us, but there are also plenty of people, places, and things to love, care for, and diligently attend to. If that love should manifest itself as awareness about your and your family’s health (remember, heart disease is the number one killer of women in the United States), remembering and respecting the sacrifices of others who bravely and intrepidly forged a path towards better lives for all, or participating in fundraisers for your local library is entirely up to the individual.

You can also choose to manifest that love in a decidely more carnal fashion. Again, whether your status is partnered or solo is inconsequential. Today’s small measure celebrates invoking physical pleasure, via an herbal elixir. Heightened senses and healthy bodies make everything, and everyone, more open to embracing all the loves available in life, I’ve always maintained. This elixir, concocted by my gifted friend Heather Houdek, a certified herbalist, is her take on a love potion. Brewed with four herbs easily sourced from most natural foods or medicinal and culinary herb stores, Heather’s love potion fires up the cardiovascular, circulatory, nervous, and adrenal systems. The herb damiana works as an anti-depressant, aphrodisiac, hormone regulator, reproductive system balancer, nervine tonic, and libido enhancer. Roses support heart emotional well-being and are historically used as a “love” flower. Milky oats strengthen, repair and relax the nervous system; they’re also a mood elevator, chi tonic, and are nutritive. Hawthorn berries are excellent for the heart, as well as the entire circulatory system. The elixir is ready in mere hours, and, according to Heather, is perfect as an after-dinner nip or tucked into hot coffee. Share a sip with your partner, your mom, your closest friend, or yourself. What’s not to love?

CLICK HERE for Ashley’s Love Potion #9 recipe after the jump!

Heather’s Love Potion #9

The Goods:
-1 quart water
-2 ounces dried damiana
-2 ounces dried rose petals (look for no spray, chemical-free options)
-1 ounce milky oat tops
-1 ounce hawthorn berries
-1-2 c. honey, sugar, maple syrup, or, for a sugar-free version, vegetable glycerin
-1 c. chocolate syrup (optional)
-Cinnamon, ground (to taste)
-Vanilla extract (to taste)
-1/2-1 c. brandy (optional)

The Deal:
-Combine herbs and water in a medium-sized pot.
-Over low heat, simmer and reduce down to one pint of concentrated tea. This will take up to several hours; you needn’t stand by the stove the entire time, just peek in on it every half hour or so.
-Once reduced, remove the pot from heat, strain off the solid matter, and compost the herbs.
-Return liquid tea to pot. With heat set at lowest setting, whisk in 1-2 c.honey (or sweetener of choice-customize the amount of sweetener to desired sweetness) or 1 c. honey (or other sweetener) and 1c. dark chocolate syrup; be sure to prevent the mixture from boiling, especially if you are using honey, as boiling honey kills off its beneficial enzymes.
-Whisk in cinnamon and vanilla extract, to taste.
-Add 1/2-1 c. brandy (you can also simply omit this addition, for an alcohol-free version).
-Bottle and share with someone you love, or keep it all to yourself!
*With alcohol, this elixir will keep un-refrigerated for about a month (if you can keep it that long!). Without, refrigerate it and use within two weeks.

Have you ever crafted any love potions or elixirs? What herbs did you employ? What foods do you use to introduce a bit of health and cheer in your life? I’m always looking to up the ante on my repertoire of loving foods!

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