A Culinary Adventure, From Gardens and Markets to Restaurants and Home Kitchens
Jan 15, 2013
08:51 AM
Local Flavor

Salve to the Rescue

Salve to the Rescue

I believe that we are what we eat. I feel much better, cleaner and more energetic if I eat a balance of good food that is grown as naturally as possible.

I also believe that we are what we wear.

I'm not talking about clothes, though I do have a friend who develops rashes if she wears new, unwashed clothes—yuck! I'm talking about body care products, such as moisturizers and soaps. Though many people are trying to eat healthier, most people don't consider what they slather onto their bodies.

I remember making a facemask as a young teen. I think it contained egg, honey and avocado. My mom joked that I would be better off eating it (she was also probably calculating the cost of the ingredients and thinking how that could feed all of us for dinner!). She would probably say the same thing about the recent batch of salve I made. It's a delicious mix of high-quality oils, essence from flowers from my garden, and beeswax. Yeah, pretty tasty stuff.

Salve is one of the most useful body products to have on hand, especially during the winter. It’s like wearing a humidifier on your skin.  Making salve at home is super-easy and way more affordable than buying it. I spent about $35, including jars and have eleven 8 oz. mason jars of salve. And it's the one kitchen cooking project that leaves your skin feeling great! I use it as a lotion, a healing salve for burns, cuts and rashes, to soothe calluses from drumming, and as a lip balm. I don't know if I'd be better off eating it, but I could. And that makes me feel good inside and out.

RECIPE: Otehlia's All-purpose Salve

10 cups of oil (I use a mix of grapeseed, coconut oil, pure Shea butter, canola oil and olive oil)
1/2 cup lavender flowers **
1 cup calendula flowers **
8 oz. beeswax beads **
a few drops of pure, organic tea tree, lavender oil, or other natural scent if you like.
**available for purchase at Community Pharmacy

1. Boil and dry about enough canning jars and lids (I use small, wide mouth jars) to hold 10 cups oil.

2. You can make less, if you want, using ratio of 1.5 oz beeswax per 2 cups oil.

3. Heat oils in large stock pot over very low heat. For easier clean up, use a stock pot that can be especially designated for salve.

4. Add in flowers and let heat for 1 hour or so, until flowers can release essence. The heat must be kept low—do not let them sizzle and fry!

5. Strain oil through small mesh strainer into a bowl, or large Pyrex container.

6. Stir in beeswax beads immediately until melted. The above proportions will make a pretty firm salve. Use less for softer salve.

7. Pour into clean, dry wide mouth jars and let cool to room temperature before putting on lids.

8. Store in fridge or cool, dry room. It keeps refrigerated for months!

About This Blog

Writing has always provided an anchor for my passions, which focus deeply on food, dance, environmental conservation and culture. I grew up “helping” my dad cultivate a prolific garden that produced too many radishes and watching my mom make almost all of our food from scratch, including horehound candy. Meanwhile I took my first African dance class in high school, which ignited my continuing quest to travel to West Africa, via Europe and South America, to study dance.

Through my travels, I learned that we are all connected by food, and our basic need to eat. Since moving to Madison in 1998 to pursue degrees in conservation biology and dance, I have developed an appreciation for the richness of our local food community, and a great desire to share it with others. What started as a personal food blog, A World of Flavors, has since grown into a business teaching cooking classes and leading local and international food tours.

I look forward to sharing culinary adventures with you through my Madison Magazine blog Local Flavor and monthly Dining In recipe column.

  – Otehlia Cassidy
Follow Otehlia on Twitter @madisoneats

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