The Herbal Kitchen: A Book Review

“It is really not in our cellular memory to be alone in the kitchen,” writes Author, Herbalist and Teacher, Kami McBride, of LivingAwareness.com. Not being alone in the kitchen applies two-fold: for having both people and the herbs as kitchen companions, to prepare with and to dine together. This is the heart of her book, The Herbal Kitchen: 50 Easy-to-Find Herbs and Over 250 Recipes to Bring Lasting Health to You and Your Family. Through its 258 pages, Kami offers a cornucopia of recipes and plant wisdom, in support of wellness and togetherness, both with family and for effervescent hospitality for guests.

The book offers engaging storytelling, with tremendous insight on the author’s focus on food as medicine. Kami’s description of her upbringing laden with local fruit and nut harvests, and her experience of the ritual of picking blackberries in August, were so tangible I could taste the berries. Her ruminations mixed with the wholesome goodness of the meal created a longing within myself for a similar childhood experience. Her special relationship with her grandparents in particular, was abundantly clear. Family traditions evolving from food, such as the gathering of wild mushrooms made me want to ask, “May I please be adopted into your family?”

I grew up in Northern California as well, in what was historically a major fruit capital, yet the stork landed me in suburbia; the tract homes had already laid waste to most of the orchards and the fruit packing evidence was replaced by shopping malls. Kami’s reflections on her childhood and the bounty of fresh food left me waxing poetic, consoling myself that I experienced it somewhat in other ways, such as a backyard garden one summer as a youth, and my best friend’s grandparents’ weekly produce truck that would park nearby, where I would visit as a teen.

Not to be focused solely on the dietary or even the energetics of herbs, as there is a plentiful harvest of both, Kami reminds us of the sanctity of the Plant Kingdom. She writes, “Herbs and spices are a gift from nature. We are nature, and plants have an affinity with our bodies. They are our allies, not only enlivening the taste of our food but also working in hundreds of ways to keep our bodies healthy.” She also touches on the body-mind-spirit connection, or interconnection with herbs, specifically with Mugwort: “It enhances mental clarity, clairvoyance, and self-awareness. It is a purifying and stimulating herb that activates intuition and memory.” This is but one of the 50 herbs she showcases, providing not just a dynamic read, but also a ready reference manual.

The book’s beverage section alone will have readers clamoring to tinker with the hundreds of recipes and tantalize their taste buds, yet there is an additional, vitally important message: “With the widespread consumption of prepackaged and conventionally farmed foods, we are experiencing the phenomenon of being overfed yet undernourished. Eat fresh, whole, organic, and locally grown food and add herbs to as many meals as possible.” This established a sense of urgency, making not only perfect sense to a budding herbalist, parent, or chef, but a teachable moment fit for the masses.

Interspersed throughout the book are varied glimpses into the author’s personality. We can become acquainted with elder flower for its versatility, but its introduction by Kami on Page 63, paragraph one, also brings across the author’s ability to further sing its praises with an amusing brand of candor: “But when we are stuck with an exorbitant amount of fluid dripping and draining from various locations, it is time to engage the snot-busting features of elder flower.” Who ya gonna call?

Whether urgent, reminiscent or resplendent, Kami’s words echoed, leaving a legacy of truth that was deeply affecting, nothing more so than, “Many family home lineages in the Western world were lost in the last several generations. We were mesmerized by the novelty and scientifically proven ‘superiority’ of synthetic food and modern medicine. We cast our grandmothers’ teas and herbal powders to the wind. I have often wondered how it must feel to a grandmother when her clan dismisses her ancient wisdom as an old wives’ tale. This loss of ancestral food is nothing short of tragic.”

We can move forward with knowledge and thanksgiving, together, as in The Herbal Kitchen, we celebrate this multifaceted gem of Herbalism through recipes, teachings and insight that will leave an indelible impression upon the reader’s heart, just as the kitchen is the heart of the home.

Botaniscape™ received a complimentary book copy for an honest review.

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The heart of Botaniscape™ and budding Herbalist/Wildcrafter, Lori McClellan sees the Art of Herbalism as her lifelong connection to Nature and wonder manifested most fully—another exciting medium and source of abundant joy. A daily meditator and career Journalist, Author, Artist and Poet, she creates as Loretta Boyer McClellan. Her works as a publisher and writer of fiction, nonfiction and poetry; conscious PR, brand, graphic design, and communications; and as an Arts instructor, journalist and artist, “sized the canvas,” so to speak, for a fruitful life of expression, connection and inspiration. Author of The Nature of BEing: A Healing Journey, The Misthaven of Maine Series, and Dodging Raindrops: Poems and Prose of Beauty, Peace and Healing, Lori creates from a place of Oneness. Writing, meditating, painting, and her relationship with Nature and all beings, most tangibly through Herbalism, are her connection to the Infinite. 

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