The Acceptance of Imperfection

This summer has been a deep time of healing, resting, transforming and integrating for me. So much has been shifting and changing! I’ve made so much room within myself for growth and expansion both personally and professionally, and I am incredibly proud of the work that I have done to get where I am.

And yet, there has been so much that has been neglected, as I shifted my focus to do this work. For instance this blog, my newsletter, my appearance at markets, and the Boo Radley garden I’ve allowed to go wild this summer.

Nevertheless, I have found so much satisfaction in my ability to let these things that are so important to me go wild and be put aside. My ability to honor the cycles of attention that are essential for my growth have been beautifully mirrored to me through the neglect of my garden.

These natural cycles of what we give our attention to are so often discarded in hopes of attaining perfection or at least a false cultivation of perfection through social media and only showing people our best sides. We often spread ourselves too thin trying to be everything to everyone and keep up the appearance of perfection. And yet, what actually suffers is our own health, wellbeing, and vitality– the things that deeply connect us to our inner soul voice and our wildness.

Therefore, I proudly share with you my wild, imperfect  garden, the reflection of my wild, imperfect self, full of native weeds, grasses, random volunteer plants and the immense amount of wildlife and insects that called this terrain home for the summer. I am pretty certain the fairies and nature spirits were also happy to call this wild place home.

I share this with the hope that you too will find room to neglect something seemingly important to you, and allow it to go wild, as you do the work you need to take care of yourself, or allow yourself to rest, or if for no other reason than to release a wee bit of that imaginary control that we impose on the chaotic, wild, ride we call life.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on the healing powers this summer has brought about! Have you been making room for things to go a bit wild? Have you been making space and clearing old patterns and blocks in order to make room for new growth?  Has this summer gifted you with tenacious amounts of healing and transformation? Just comment below to share your thoughts with me. 

Special Event Thursday at Omnisara Labyrinth & Gardens!

Exploring Herbal Tea: Labyrinth Walk & Bring Your Own Picnic Lunch

Thursday, April 12th from 11am to 1pm

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At this event The Manifest Nest will be providing some lovely herbal tea to share, while discussing the benefits of incorporating herbal teas into our everyday lives, and the benefits of doing so in a mindful way.

Join Constance Frankenberg and Heather Sheppard, herbalist at The Manifest Nest, for a bring your own picnic lunch, open labyrinth walk, and information on herbal tea.

Bring your lunch and join other interested members of the Omnisara labyrinth community as they enjoy a day of exploring herbal tea, good conversation, and a relaxed meal together.

$5 Suggested Donation
No RSVP is required for this event.

Omnisara Labyrinth & Gardens,
414 Third Avenue North, Jacksonville Beach, FL 32250

Please contact Constance Frankenberg at 1.800.588.3659 with any questions.

My husband and I are in the latest edition of Edible Northeast Florida Magazine!! And we’re so excited!! 

Yesterday, we got our copy of Edible Northeast Florida Magazine to see that we made the cut! We had been contacted by them in December to do a photoshoot on backyard chickens, and were excited to see how our little urban homestead and our beautiful hens would be portrayed!

Well, it came out lovely! We are so excited to be representing sustainable, backyard, local food systems in our community. And I love that my husband, Lang, grabbed the pitchfork for a modern take on the famous “American Gothic.”

All the ladies, except Marigold, got a cameo. They’ve been well rewarded for their modeling skills with grub worms, sunflower seeds and scratch!

At The Manifest Nest we do more than just herbs. We believe in sustainable health not just from herbal support, but from food as medicine.

Today, we will be at the Beaches Green Market with lots of lovely herbal support. After a few freezes we will not have any garden produce today, but we will have a fresh batch of Fire Cider Tonic and Fire Cider Tonic Especial, fresh batches of Immuni-Tea and Inner Peace Tea and lots of other goodies to keep you happy and well as the weather changes and our bodies adapt.

The Beaches Green Market is today, Saturday 1/20 from 2-5pm at Jarboe Park in Neptune Beach. We will have extra copies of Edible Northeast Florida as we always do, even when we aren’t in it, so come on by and say hello!

 

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Beaches Green Market Today! 2-5p

Today, we have fresh sugar snap peas, cilantro and dill! As well as lovely herbal products! Come on by and see what we have for you!

The market is at Jarboe Park in Neptune Beach from 2-5pm!

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Candied Roselle Hibiscus

For the last month or so, my Roselle Hibiscus (Hibiscus sabdariffa) has been producing bountiful amounts of its beautiful and unique fruits. So many, that I have been selling them at market and looking for new and innovative ways to use them. After a bit of searching I ran across candied Roselle Hibiscus. I even found them used in mimosas as whole candied fruits. I was intrigued.

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Roselle Hibiscus (Hibiscus sabdariffa) fruits.

Roselle Hibiscus is full of antioxidants and Vitamin C, thus many find it to be helpful in cases of mild colds and flus. It is also a tart and colorful addition to teas. Many people know it as the “zing” in Celestial Seasoning’s Red Zinger tea.

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Freshly harvested rosella.

I normally stick to using Roselle Hibiscus in teas, and often just pull the “petals” from the fruit and dry them for winter use, when Vitamin C is in high demand. But after a few internet searches and foreign videos I happened upon this post at Renee’s Garden Seeds that has a wealth of information on growing Roselle Hibiscus and a few different recipes, including the inspiration for the recipe that follows.

Because I have candied fruit in the past, mostly citrus peels, I first began the process in much the same way as I would for that. However, my results were very pale and any of the small, tender rosella turned to mush. I then tried to thicken the syrup by cooking it down and bringing it to a high boil. This produced much brighter, but very sticky and flattened rosella. All of the above results were however delicious. But what I wanted was a rosella that held a bit of its shape, so that I can place the rosella in the bottom of a champagne flute for mimosas and be able to eat it in the end should I chose.

Therefore, I ended up making a much thicker syrup, although not as thick as the one suggested on Renee’s Garden Seeds, and left the rosella in the warm syrup for about 5 hours. I then put them on drying racks over night. As of right now they are not dry, but they are sweet and have a shape worthy of a champagne flute.

How to Candy Roselle Hibiscus:

Step 1: Wash the Rosella

I did this by submerging them in water and then straining, because much of the debris is inside the calyx like structure not on the outside more debris is removed this way.

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Washed Rosella

Step 2: Remove the Seed Pod from the Rosella

Take a sharp knife and cut about an eighth or quarter of an inch off the bottom of the rosella. You want to leave all the pretty points, but you want to cut a bit into the seed pod so that it is no longer attached to the rosella and will pop out easily.

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Do this to all the rosella, and then either with your finger or with a tool pop the seed pods out. I used the rounded metal end of my butter knife, which fit perfectly.

You will then end up with a big bowl of prepared rosella. You can keep the seed pods and lay them out flat to dry and as the pod dries it will begin to open and you can replant the seeds to grow your own rosella. You can also use the pods in jams  as they are full of natural pectin.

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Step 3: Get your ingredients together

Get your prepared rosella (I had about 12 ounces), your sugar and water ready. You will need a large pot with a lid. The pot should be at least 3x as deep as your liquid because boiling sugar can very easily boil over and cause very bad burns and terrible messes. You will also need a rubber spatula to stir your mix. A cookie sheet with parchment liner and metal cooling racks to place the candied rosella on will also be necessary. You may want to make space in the fridge to dry them over night as well.

Step 4: Make your sugar syrup

Once you have all your equipment and ingredients together. You will place the sugar and water in the pot and bring to a boil. I brought the sugar water to a boil on high and then turned it down a notch or two to keep it boiling but not popping.

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Because I was experimenting as I went you will notice my sugar water in its boiling state is already red, because I had already tried cooking the rosella as I would normally candy fruit. They were delicious, very apple like, but not the look I was hoping for.

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You want to get the sugar water to a syrupy consistency. It will stick to the spatula but it will still slowly, slower than honey, drip down off of the spatula with gravity.

Step 5: Add your Roselle Hibiscus to your syrup

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Add your cleaned, prepared rosella to the boiling hot sugar syrup. Stir gently to get all rosella fully coated. Push the rosella down until they stay completely covered. I put the cover back on my pot and allowed the rosella to sit for 5 hours. You could leave it over night as well, but I wanted to dry over night in the fridge.

Step 6: Dry Rosella Over Night

Gently remove your rosella from the syrup and place upright on the cooling rack and let drain and dry over night in the refrigerator. fullsizerender-17

As of this posting my rosella have not dried. I will post again on how to make mimosas with them and how to keep them once they dry properly.

I do want to note that the hibiscus syrup is also very useful. I have put mine in the fridge for the night, but I do believe that I am going to make a few different batches with some other flavors. One I definitely want to make is ginger and hibiscus syrup. I think I may need to water down the syrups a bit. I will write about that soon as well.

You can use the candied hibiscus and the syrup for many things. Ice cream comes to mind, as does coconut tapioca pudding. I hope you enjoy this recipe, and I’d love to hear about your successes or failures or any new uses you may have for these delicious and unique fruits.

UPDATE:

I found that after keeping the rosella on the drying rack in my fridge for 24 hours they were still very sticky. I decided to put the parchment lined baking sheet with rack in the oven with the rosella on it standing up right. I put the oven on 175°F and let them dry for an hour or until all stickiness was gone. I put them in an airtight container and put in the refrigerator. Alternatively, you could coat them in sugar, but they will still be sticky. I prefer the heated method.

Recipe:

Ingredients:

12 ounces of prepared rosella hibiscus (about 1.5 lbs with seed pods)

6 cups of water

9 cups of organic sugar

(It’s a 1 cup water to 1.5 cup sugar ratio)

Instructions:

Clean rosella. Cut bottoms off and remove seed pods from rosella.

Place sugar and water into large pot. Bring to boil and then reduce to bubbly simmer, but no popping sugar.

Add rosella to sugar syrup. Turn off heat. Gently stir for a few minutes to get all rosella completely coated and until they stay in the liquid without floating above syrup.

Let sit for five hours or over night.

Remove from syrup onto cooling racks over parchment lined cookie sheet, being sure to carefully place each roselle upright. Let dry overnight in the refrigerator. *See UPDATE above about drying.

Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Store the syrup as well in the refrigerator. You can water it down for a more simple syrup consistency by heating, then store in refrigerator as well.