Homemade Toasted Nut Butters

Peanut butter
550 g (1 lb 4 oz/4 cups) peanuts
½ teaspoon Himalayan salt

Almond butter
650 g (1 lb 7 oz/4 cups) almonds
½ teaspoon Himalayan salt

Cashew butter
625 g (1 lb 6 oz/4 cups) cashews
½ teaspoon Himalayan salt

Pistachio & macadamia butter
350 g (12 oz/2½ cups) pistachio nut kernels
230 g (8 oz/1½ cups) macadamia nuts
½ teaspoon Himalayan salt

Preheat the oven to 150ºC (300ºF).

Line a baking tray with baking paper. Spread your chosen nuts on the baking tray, sprinkle with the salt and bake for 10–15 minutes, or until golden, shaking the tray occasionally to ensure they don’t burn.

Transfer the toasted nuts to a high-speed food processor and start blending. The blending time will depend on how smooth and creamy you like your nut butter, and how powerful your processor is. It can take up to 10–20 minutes to achieve a smooth nut butter, and you’ll need to stop and scrape down the sides of the processor bowl a few times, and to give the motor a rest. The nut butter is complete when it is smooth and creamy, with no nut pieces — unless you prefer a crunchy nut butter, in which case you can stop processing earlier.

Store your nut butter in a clean jar in the fridge. It will keep for up to 3 weeks.

Lavender of Provence

Flowers bloom throughout the year in Provence, but none are more synonymous with the region than lavender, which turns acres of land purple. With more than 2,000 producers and roughly 25,000 people employed in the industry, working across 20,000 hectares, lavender is big business. You’ll want to visit between the last week of June and the beginning of August, just before the harvest begins, to see the flowers at their best.

Bezoars

Bezoars are a mass of undigested fiber formed in the stomach of animals, and were once believed to be an antidote to poison. They have been found in the guts of cows and even elephants, but mostly they come from the “bezoar goat.” Bezoars were first introduced into medieval Europe by Arab physicians. Although doubts were sometimes cast over their properties, the demand continued well into the 18th century.

Wealthy collectors spent considerable sums to acquire the best “stones,” which were kept in elaborate cases. According to A Compleat History of Druggs, first published in French in 1694, the medicinal strength of the bezoar depended on the animal that produced it. “Bezoar Stones taken from Cows,” for instance, “have nothing near the good Qualities” of the true bezoar goat. On the other hand, a mere two grains of “the Bezoar that is found in Apes” will have a far greater effect than that of a mere goat.

Starting a Commune

What You Need:

  • A house, preferably with several outbuildings
  • A group of open-minded, perfectly matched people with complementary skills, goals, and life philosophies
  • A goat
  • A chore sign-up sheet
  • A casual relationship with the notion of privacy
  • “On Liberty” by John Stuart Mill
  • The collected works of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels
  • A natural inclination toward egalitarianism
  • A belief in the inherent benefits of “intentional communities”
  1. Move into house.
  2. Get along.
  3. Garden.

Rules:

Rules are naturally a touchy subject.  If you are starting a commune, you’ll need some guidelines in order to prevent complete chaos, but it is best to keep them to a few, if only to avoid the several day-long house meetings required to decide which rules to make and how to follow them. The first you might consider “Everyone gives something, and everyone gets something back.” If you didn’t do your part (e.g., you refuse to help paint the porch) you’re asked to leave.

Television is generally discouraged in communes, mostly because the number of people makes it hard to decide what to watch. 

Once you accept that everyone has an equal responsibility to share in the commune chores, you can immediately begin trying to get out of them.

Gardening:

There is nothing better for a commune than a good-sized vegetable patch. A few tomato plants, some basil, and some rhubarb will keep you busy for the better part of a summer. Everyone can participate in the garden’s care and harvest. Because all residents are participating, the garden is truly a product of the community and a central element of commune life. Also, a bountiful garden can feed a bevy for several months—longer if produce is jarred or frozen.

Gua Sha

This practice of strategically “scraping” body surfaces is performed to relieve pain, reduce inflammation, increase circulation, and boost the immune system. Traditionally this is done with a small, flat jade stone with rounded edges, which can be used on the body, muscles, acupressure points, and/or meridians to release heat, toxins, and so on. You usually scrape in the direction of the meridians only until you see small red dots (called petechia). These red dots indicate that blood has been brought to the surface of the skin, where it is able to release the heat and toxins. Chinese medicine calls this “raising the sha,” which is said to eliminate stagnation and inflammation in the blood and protect the immune system for days or even weeks after the treatment. You can easily learn to do this at home for certain conditions, such as when you are feeling vulnerable to a cold, have tight or sore muscles, or are feeling inflamed in a particular part of your body. For chronic conditions such as cancer or autoimmune disease, or if there are lumps, cysts, or fibroids, I recommend working with a practitioner before performing gua sha.

Jade Facial Roller

This is a hand-held facial massage tool that is used to increase circulation in the face and neck, increase absorption of skin care products and reduce fine lines, wrinkles, under-eye swelling, and dark circles. It works by supporting lymphatic drainage away from the face. The roller is typically made with two smooth jade stones, one at each end. Depending on the size of the area you are working on, you can use either the small or large end. To use, simply massage your favorite skin cream or oil onto your face and neck and, using the roller, make small sweeping motions from the center of your face, out toward your hairline or down toward your neck. Do this for about five minutes each morning. If you tend to have puffiness under your eyes or red, irritated skin, you can put the roller into the freezer overnight and use it cold the next morning.

Pennyroyal (menthe pulegium)

Pennyroyal (menthe pulegium)

A small member of the mint family, but less pleasant in aroma and containing the toxic compound pulegone that is notorious for causing abortion; for years the plant has been used for ridding the home of fleas. Two thousand years ago, pennyroyal was the herb used to terminate unwanted pregnancies. Dr Art Tucker, author of The Big Book of Herbs explains that pennyroyal induces abortions by first damaging the mother’s liver: death sometimes follows. In modern times, most of the pennyroyal incidents involve the use of the plant’s essential oil (generally used for therapeutic or homeopathic purposes or as an insect repellent), which is so potent that it should be considered a poison. In the interest of safety, the advice should be never use pennyroyal essential oil for anything, not ever.

Magical propensities for physical strength and endurance. Worn to bring success to business or to rid the home of negative thoughts against you. Carry when dealing with negative vibrations of any kind.

Mistletoe (viscum album)

Mistletoe (viscum album)

An evergreen, parasitic shrub growing on apple, lime, poplar, maple, hawthorn and rowan trees; in spring inconspicuous yellow flowers are followed by poisonous, sticky white berries.

The Pharoadendron species contains a toxin called phoratoxin, which can cause blurred vision, nausea, abdominal pain, diarrhoea, blood pressure changes, and even death. The Viscum species of mistletoe contains a slightly different cocktail of chemicals, including the poisonous alkaloid tyramine, which produces essentially the same symptoms. Although mistletoe has therapeutic uses, eating any part of the plant (particularly the leaves or berries) or drinking a tea from the plant can result in sickness and possibly death.

Magical propensities for fertility; creativity; prevention of illness/misfortune; wear in an amulet to repel negativity and ill will; protect against unwanted advances. Use to draw in customers, money and business.