Category Archives: dough and unusual doughs

Horehound Herbal Candy. Cough Drops. Plant Medicine and Confection.

Marrubio vulgare

Family: Lamiaceae



It is fall and I deleted all my other horehound pictures. drat!

But, horehound is hearty. It has many green leaves still as well as sticky seed pods that orbit between leaf growth on stems. I have been picking up seeds, stuck on my clothes.

Horehound wants to grow other places and maybe I helped deliver some.

One of my favorite places to walk our dog, Fella, is here. Covered with patches of horehound. I have admired the plant for a few years in this beautiful locale, where it grows wild.


I knew it must be horehound although I think it looks less silvery than I have read described, and decidedly more frosted looking.

So, sometimes it takes time to decipher descriptions you read of a plant but, makes it all the more interesting a journey.

Horehound feels fuzzy, like wrinkled, crinkly velveteen. It has these beautiful, crenulate leaves, square stems and beautiful discs of seed pods.


And, it is in the mint family. Although more bitter than minty.
A good bitter for digestion.
I liked the taste though and would like to try horehound beer sometime. A traditional beer.



I always was curious about horehound candy as a child and on Western shows, children were sure to suck on a stick of hard candy, often horehound candy.

My grandmother, mother and aunts would get together around the holidays when I was growing up and make a type of rock or hard candy called beach glass candy. My mom grew up in an ocean town and I always enjoyed the baby food jars or other small jars filled with the bright, snipped bits of multicolored beach glass candy inside. All different flavors. yum.

My life is a little bit homesteading, off grid, work in an herbal shop and slowly I am teaching myself. All about plants, a bit of gardening, jelly and jam making, salt preserving food and bits of old time skills here and there.

I went through a sewing phase a few years back and would really love to find an old time Singer Sewing machine complete with treadle and hand wheel. The original off grid kind. 🙂

I’ve always been fascinated with candy making but haven’t done much. I’ve made chocolate truffles which were a blast and one batch of jelly tasted reminiscent of cotton candy. sugar, sugar sugar to bring it to gel.

But, horehound cough drops are my second attempt to make hard candy a.k.a. herbal candy…cough drops. The first time around I did not use a candy thermometer or the cold water test method so ended up with a taffy like syrup made with elderberries, which was frankly, delicious and gooey, but not hard candy. And, the second time was like a caramel! Maybe my thermometer was touching the side or bottom too much and the reading was off…

So hopefully, 3 times a charm!

With my second attempt, all that foam got downright daunting.
(I’ve read not to stir too much as air can get into the mixture and make it cloud over.) Maybe my pan was not deep enough or I stirred too much as it was foaming to the top so, I scooped some out at the syrup stage, all is not lost. The caramel or taffy consistency cough drops just don’t make it. But the cough syrup I scooped out of that batch is great.


Trial and error with herbs and candy. hard candy making…
guess they don’t call it hard candy for nothing! ha ha ☺

I have found and tried a simple, easy recipe that worked great.

I haven’t bought this much sugar, maybe ever but I had fun making hard candy. Herbal hard candy.
A cooking accomplishment for me.

It works best if you have a thick bottom pot. A thin bottom can scorch your sugar.

A greased baking tray is helpful.

Here is a fairly fool proof recipe:


and art piece ☺


Herbal Candy!

2 Cups white sugar
1/2 Cup strong herbal tea
1 ounce tincture (optional)
powdered sugar to coat candy when done (optional)
3/4 Cup light corn syrup.

A candy thermometer isn’t always foolproof but once I angled it and kept it off the bottom it worked best.

Cold water test:

Also drop mixture when you think it is done in some cold water. If it forms a hard ball it is done. It will be in thread form if not done.

Time to make the Candy a.k.a. cough drops if you like…
They taste good too, and, depending in what you add, room for creativity here!

Pour granulated sugar in pan
Add strained herbal tea and one ounce herbal tincture if you have it.
Whisk together off heat
Then turn on heat to medium using a thick bottomed pan if you can.
Add corn syrup, use wooden spoon
and stir too incorporate.
Don’t stir too much, lower heat if you need to to avoid scorching.
Angle thermometer to avoid hitting the bottom as this throws off the temperature…(yep)
listen to some good music 🎶…. wait a half hour or so, watch pot it can get foamy and unruly.
Eventually thermometer will rise to 300°
Some recipes say to bring it to 305°
but, I found 300° works better, so recommend that.
Add any food grade essential oils for flavor when temp reaches 275° fahrenheit. If adding color, add at this stage as well. Non toxic food coloring can be found too. Be careful of steam/reaction when adding essential oils or colors at these high temperatures. Some colors maintain better when removing heat at 290° but candy may be more sticky at this stage. I haven’t tried adding colors or essential oils since the cayenne, ginger and cinnamon added good flavor. And, I like the amber colored candy.

I tried transfering to a pyrex pitcher but the mixture hardened quickly off heat.
Yay! I broke the code but it was challenging. A helper would be good.

I made depressions in powdered sugar to act as a mold and also greased and lined a pan with a heap of powdered sugar too.

The powdered sugar also helps the mixture not to stick.



And it kind of worked. I broke the lozenges out of the thinner parts of candy. With the other pan I just broke the candy into bite size pieces. fun again!

Eventually I had more success pouring the mixture all at once instead of trying to fill each depression with the hot mixture.

That is where the greased baking tray would come in handy.

In the old fashioned way to break up hard candy, in about an hour just break it with the handle side of a butter knife.

Fun and satisfying.

Coat with powdered sugar by tossing it in a pan lined with the sugar or use a bag with powdered sugar in it and shake, if you want. It’s optional.

I mixed in powdered ginger too.

These cough drops…a.k.a. herbal candy contain many goodies….
grindelia, horehound and thyme tincture, and these herbs in the tea: red root, horehound, cayenne, cinnamon, ginger, thyme, and osha!



sugar sugar sugar how about minus sugar recipes… here goes!

You can also make Sugarfree Lozenges!

Use slippery elm powder as the flour. Or marshmallow root powder. I wasn’t sure if marshmallow root powder would work but it worked great.

Slippery elm is on an herbal watchlist. Due to overharvesting and elm diseases.
An herbal friend has used Siberian Elm that worked well.

Look for cultivated Slippery elm or try marshmallow root powder. It worked well for me too.

Make an herbal tea, strain and
let the tea cool. Licorice tea or other herbs such as red root or osha would work well here.

Add enough tea to form a dough.
Mix and pat the dough into a ball.


Press or roll into shape.
Use small cookie cutters or a bottle cap or just cut strips into small pieces, lozenge size.


Dusted with powdered ginger, soothing to sore throats.

Slippery elm powder mixed with a strained herbal tea made from horehound, licorice, osha, red root.

Have fun with this! You can use the slippery elm as a method to mix lots of herbs.

Consider a happy mood lozenge.
Or a soothing tummy lozenge…
Possibilities are happily endless here.

Slippery elm, alone, has many health benefits: mucilage, soothing to gastric tissues, in combination with licorice can heal ulcers, helps heal mucous membranes -throat, etc.

Slippery elm lozenges are a fun activity to do with kids of all ages!

Try other herbal powders too!


This is the marshmallow root dough


And, the marshmallow lozenges cut into shape.

*A tip for drying lozenges. Mine molded. Even when dried for a few days. I recommend purified water, and drying on lowest setting of an oven til completely dry. Air dry first if you like.

Also honey or tiny amounts of stevia can be added to sweeten.

Lemon balm, elder berry and mints make nice flavor additions to counteract bitter herbs.


Hard Candy Cleanup Tips!

Clean up works best with very hot water. It dissolves the candy. Some people suggest adding vinegar to the hot water. Soap and a scrubby sponge helps. But hot water is the trick.

Careful not to immerse the thermometer into cold water after cooking with it, as it could break!



And the cough drops in a fun, recycled jar.

The herbal hard candy looks metallic but is a deep amber brown topped with powdered sugar and ginger.

They taste mildly spicey too. Not bad for medicine afterall.

And, horehound in a happy autumn field.


Fun with cough drops and lozenges, who knew?


Flour Power! Make Your Own Oat Flour Flatbreads or Tortillas!

~This post dedicated to my Dear Friend Nils!~


A quickie post! How fun! Thankyou for joining me!

What you Need:

1. Steel cut oats or rolled oats
2. Coffee grinder
3. Butter or veggie butter or coconut oil
4. Salt
5. Warm water
6. Rolling surface/rolling pin (optional)
Can press out and flatten by hand.
7. Frying pan/flat griddle such as a tawa

Flour seems to be all the rage right now. Or maybe it’s me. Flour is on the horizon and certainly is a staple all over the world.

One of these days I am going to make nopales flour for tortillas! Woo hoo! Living in the desert gets you thinking about foodways and what can be made into flour. Nopales flour has a longstanding history of use in New Mexico, Mexico and other Countries of the Americas.

Nopalés? For those who may be unfamiliar check out
my Homepage.

Another reason oat flour appeals is that I suspect I have a gluten allergy. I have sometimes severe and/or annoying/unhealthy symptoms after eating wheat.

Also I have read some people with celiac disease, for instance, cannot tolerate some of the protein in oats and some oats are contaminated when stored with wheat. So look for non-gluten oats if that is an issue.

*If phytic acid is an issue soak the oats with 10 % of a ground up grain/flour that contains phytase. An example of a non gluten grain that contains phytase is buckwheat flour. Phytase breaks down phytic acid. I have just learned that too much consumption of phytic acid in foods can lead to nutrient and mineral loss.

If gluten is not a problem but you want to reduce the phytic acid in oats… add a grain flour high in phytase such as wheat flour or rye flour, etc.

Look for certified gluten free buckwheat not because it contains gluten. Buckwheat does not contain gluten. It can, however, be contaminated with wheat because it is often used as a cover crop in wheat fields, stored with wheat, etc.

I haven’t tried soaking oats yet with buckwheat but do feel inspired by the health complements this could provide. Here is a link about phytic acids in grains, etc.

I will experiment with this and let you know. I will try grinding the soaked oatmeal/buckwheat flour mixture in a coffee grinder. Add water (perhaps less it would seem) and make the dough for tortillas.


Meanwhile… back to the steel cut oats…

What I appreciate also is that it takes less fuel to cook a tortilla made with oat flour than it does to cook oatmeal on the stove. I know solar ovens exist and I want to build one. But, even in a solar oven, tortillas wouldn’t take as long to cook as a dish of oatmeal cereal. And the tortillas with butter and cinnamon… or veggie butter/coconut oil, etc. really have a yummy breakfast taste. They make a good snack this way too! I even used the tortillas for dinner! More about that in a moment! 🙂

And, given that this can of steel cut oats was tempting me as I sipped my coffee this morning and that my friend has a coffee grinder (electric) … (which made said coffee very yummy)…I thought I would give the fun activity of making oat flour a go!

I started with this:

And poured the steel cut oats into the coffee grinder. After first, unplugging it and cleaning it out and drying it…

I filled the bottom cup of the grinder about 2/3 full. Put the lid back on and did this step twice.

-Just 15 seconds in pulses and you get a soft powdery flour.


-I made a 1 cup batch of flour.

Reserve some of the oat flour for rolling dough/pressing dough into a tortilla!

-And, then I added enough warm/hot water to make it sticky but not too wet. But, if it’s not wet enough it will be too dry to work with. Better to go slow on the water, until you reach consistency you want. Especially, for 1 cup of flour.

-I added about 5 or 6 Tbsp of warm/hot water from the kettle. It hadn’t started whistling yet but the water was just getting hot. Whirring…


I am holding the kettle in the kitchen, in a lovely cabin of a friend; where, I am staying in the mountains of New Mexico.

Off the Mountain Crest Road a pretty view.
And Tall Trees!


Oh Yeah, where was I? 😉 and back to …
Oat Flour

-Mix the cup of flour and add small splashes of warm/hot water to the flour. I added a tablespoon of butter.
1 pinch of salt.

(I imagine vegan butter or coconut oil would work well if avoiding dairy or wanting to use what you have)

Tip: Use refrigerated coconut oil

-Mix and incorporate ingredients with a fork.

-Knead well and shape into a ball.

-Cover with damp cloth for 10 minutes.

This recipe made 4 tortillas about 5 or 6 inches wide.
So separate dough into 4 balls.

-Keep balls of dough covered with damp cloth while you are working on each tortilla.


-Take the ball of dough and flatten it out on a floured surface. I used some of the oat flour to dust the surface.


I used a cutting board as a surface to roll on.
*(and just to be safe, although most people know this…and for the kids helping, It would be better to use a cutting board for slicing bread…and not one from cutting meat or vegetables because of bacteria.
Or use other clean rolling surface 🙂 )

You can press it out with palm of hand and fingers. That is o’kay and makes a hearty tortilla/flatbread.

I have done it that way and it is a nice option. It’s tactile and fun and kids can do it as well as big kids.

I also love the way a rolling pin feels and the way you can roll the dough in rays. Rolling in increments, to and from the center out, all around its flattening rounded shape, to spread the dough in a circle. I sometimes flip it over and go at it from that side too. Also, just because it is so fun!


Or you can make a larger batch and use cookie cutters to make fun shapes. Have a fun or holiday breakfast that way!

Here is the uncooked tortilla ready for the ungreased pan!


-Heat up each side for 1 or 2 minutes. Less time makes them more pliable but you want to cook for at least 30 seconds. More time creates a flatbread type consistency.



My favorite way to eat these is as a light meal, fresh and hot, with butter and cinnamon. Thinly sliced apples would be nice or sliced banana.

They would be good with a chutney or beans and rice. Experiment and have fun serving these!

I improvised and made a quesadilla with cheddar cheese and dried tomato basil pesto! Yum. A little bit delicate but does hold together and I love the the texture of the oat flour. I had put some butter on top of these tortillas earlier after first making them.
Later that day, I just assembled the quesadilla and put it in a dry, ungreased frying pan to heat it up and melt the cheese. I liked the result.

*The one thing I might do differently next time is leave out the pesto and put it on top of the quesadilla or dip into it. The tortillas absorbed a lot of the flavor/moisture from the pesto. But, it was yummy and the oat flour tortillas have great texture!


This has become a favorite breakfast and now lunch or dinner with quesadilla in tow!

I really like this recipe and find the consistency is less of a rolled tortilla and more of a flatbread.
Warm water when making the dough is the key.


I found this great oat cracker recipe!

What about Apple Chutney to go with your tortillas?

Also, I am staying with a friend, for a few days, and she just took out this past season’s frozen apricots from the freezer. I have made an oat flour crust for an apple tart before. And, that friend and I had a great time making it. But my friend’s solar oven was not able to generate enough heat on a semi cloudy day and we didn’t time it right. (Too busy sipping tea and gabbing!) So, I hiked back through the arroyo that day without a chance to try it. I don’t think it ever fully cooked that day. Which can be unusual with the sunny skies of New Mexico…although winter dawns. But, the view through the arroyo was great!


Now I really want to taste a yummy apricot pie with oat flour crust. Stay tuned! 🙂 And found a great site using oat flour as well as nut flour for the crust! mmmm!

And I have been having a great time baking with oat flour! Check out my fun post on Apricot Pie with Oat Flour Pie Crust!

I want to Thank You for taking this Journey with me!

And Happy Foodways to You!



First I had a beer, then I made Plantain Dough

I guess I must have been seeing a lot of plantain…the banana type plantain…in grocery stores in Texas.

Just a few weeks ago when I was on the look out for Palo Verde trees…ripe with their peapods…


Terri and I got an opportunity to harvest these Palo Verde peapods just a few days after I embarked upon a new dough frontier for me.

Plantain Dough which I made for empanadas.

So there I was in the South Texas grocery store looking for fruit and vegetables and the ever beckoning plantain pulled me toward it. 
Remembering my year spent in Somerville, Massachusetts in the Winter Hill area the local grocery had plantains there.  I also visited Cuba that year and felt especially inspired to try the Plantain in my own modest studio apartment kitchen.  The result was that I really did like the fried discs and found them starchy, sweet and satisfying.  (Someday I want to try Tostones…fried discs then flattened and fried again.)

So here goes…I got the plantain and it wasn’t green…this time but yellow with black stripes and spots along with the yellow which reminds me of the ripeness of a banana.


But with characteristic black markings.
Immediately I surf the web and find a lot out about the plantain.  Many parts of the world use the plantain similar to a potato…mashed, fried…etc.  It is one of the main sustaining staples in many parts of the world and here I wanted to make a go of it myself! 

Oh yeah, in Laredo we found a specialty beer shop right next to our motel!  Needless to say…Terri and I were thrilled!


Yummy a toast to you and then I embarked on my plantain expedition.

I had read a surprising amount of posts about plantain dough empanadas!  How exciting.  Although traveling for the last 2 1/2 years with a 7 month stint in Asheville, NC…I had been living in New Mexico for 10 of the last 13 years. 

Empanadas definitely rang a bell.  Various Santa Fe restaurants sprang to mind and I do remember sampling some fried dough empanadas.  Plantain?  I don’t recall that but I definitely remember ordering savory fried empanadas before.

To get started I followed wisdom and advice of other plantain dough enthusiasts and although I concocted my own recipe…certain preparations remain consistent.

First:  use a paring knife cut the peel from end to end.  (The peels do not pull apart as easily as bananas do…even when the plantain is ripe.)

Second:  cut plantain into discs about 1/4 inch in size.
Then boil in salted water until tender…test with a fork it should slide right through when done.
Let cool off completely.



Third:  after plantains are cool mash them


And add a ripe banana.  (I suppose one could try boiling a green banana…perhaps throwing into pot partway through the boil of the plantains…but that thought just occurred to me and would make dough less sweet…)

Back to the Third step:
Add a ripe banana to cooled mashed plantains and mash it all together.  Add a pinch of salt.  Mix/mash it all together.

Fourth step:  perhaps this recipe could easily be paleo:  I haven’t tried it but maybe coconut flour or nopales flour could be added, etc .but I added Organic Corn Flour from Bob’s Red Mill. 
Work the flour in a couple of tablespoons in at a time.  The moisture from plantain and banana should be enough to work with as long as you don’t add too much.
Scoop some out if you add too much or if it’s borderline too dry try adding a bit of water.
Work the dough until it forms a slightly moist ball of dough but don’t overwork it.
Let it rest in a cool spot for 15 minutes.

Fifth step:

Separate dough into four segments.  I don’t have a rolling pin and could improvise but chose to roll segment into a ball shape in my hands.  Then I pressed it flat with palm of myy hand and pressed it out from the center with my fingers on a floured surface. 
It doesn’t need to be paper thin but moderately thin.

Sixth step:

Fill with your choice of filling.  This dough works well for a berry filled empanada.
I made a mixture of raspberries, blueberries almond butter a bit of coconut oil and cinnamon.  (What I had on hand)
I put a teaspoon of filling in middle of one side and folded the other half over it.  I crimped the edges with a fork which reminds me of what my mom likes to do…


*then heat up a non stick skillet and cook on each side a minute or so until dough sets and becomes more firm and browns slightly.


I know empanadas are often fried but I opted out of that and wanted less oil.


Yum!  This recipe made 4 empanadas.

I hope you have fun on this plantain dough adventure!  I know I did!


And here’s a toast to you for making it through! 🙂