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Bringing elements of the homestead to everyday life.

fermentation • cooking • herbalism • foraging • traditional crafts • cooking • community

Orange Blossom Shrub

Women's Heritage


Simply put, a shrub is a drinking vinegar that includes vinegar, fruit and sugar. Once the drinking vinegar is created you can add bubbly water or spice it up a bit by adding alcohol and maybe even some bitters. There are so many different ways to make shrubs. Some recipes invite you to heat all of the ingredients before straining and using. Others require no cooking at all. I prefer the later. I also love to use Braggs apple cider vinegar due to it’s raw, unfiltered quality. I figure I might as well get extra health benefits from the drinking vinegar I create and indulge in. Below is one of my favorite fall/wintertime shrub drinks. If you don't have orange blossoms on hand just sub more oranges.


1 cup orange blossoms
1 orange
2 cups sugar
1 ½  cups apple cider vinegar                                                                                          


1. In a large jar or other container with a tight-fitting lid, combine the orange blossom, flesh of one orange (peel and pith removed) and sugar. Use the back of a wooden spoon or a muddler to smash the fruit a bit.

2. Cover and refrigerate.

3. After about a week strain out the fruit with a mesh sieve. Add the vinegar and taste the mixture. If it’s to your liking, that's it. It should taste fruity with a mellow vinegar flavor. Pour the syrup into a clear jar.

Your shrub should keep well, covered in the fridge, for three weeks.

To make a non-alcoholic cocktail just add 1 ½ parts shrub mixture to 2 parts tonic water, aka bubbly water (more or less tonic water can be added given your taste preference. If you want a little alcohol in your cocktail add one part shrub, 1 ½ parts alcohol of choice and one part tonic water.




Women's Heritage

We are beyond thrilled to be announcing the Grand Opening of our new store "Heritage Goods and Supply".   We have been working so hard over the past several months to bring you the goods sand supplies you need to  bring elements of the homestead home!

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We have a range of from animal husbandry supply to wood working supply to herbal supply to kitchen supply to clothing and more!

Vendors will include Modesto Milling, Joie, Dansko shoes, Patagonia, Yeti, Blundstone Boots, Current Elliot Denim, Weck Jars, Brookes Boswell Hats, Urban Coop Company. 

Local artisans include Maddie Gordon, Kara Thoms, Garment Farmer, Bolt West, Butterbean Studios, Madewell, Four Leaf and so many more!

Heritage Goods & Supply will occupy the building that was once Rincon Cycles. It has been transformed with the helping hands of our husbands and friends! We feel so lucky to have the support of our family's community and be sharing the things we love with you all!

See you on the 26th of August for our Grand Opening!


Lauren, Emma and Ashley


Women's Heritage

I remember my first sourdough starter experience. I actually received some from an acquaintance. However, after about a month I threw the starter away because I thought it was bad (there was a thin layer of brownish liquid on top). Little did I know that this was okay and that I just needed to add a tad more flour to the mixture or feed my starter in more regular intervals. Regardless, I decided to start over and make it myself and I haven't looked back.

With sourdough, all you need is flour and water and the wild yeasts in the air around you to create a bubbly mixture capable of producing a bread that is full of flavor and texture. While taste is certainly enough reason to create a sourdough starter, it is not the only one. The process of souring the dough means that it is actually healthier for us. In essence, the acids created in the fermentation of the starter make flour more readily available for digestion. What is more, the fermentation process also produces good bacteria for the digestive system and makes gluten more easily digestible.

Sourdough Starter


  • flour
  • filtered water


  • large jar to house your sourdough starter
  • scraper
  • cloth for covering the sourdough starter


Starting the sourdough: Vigorously stir ¼ cup of flour and 3 tablespoons filtered water in a small bowl. Pour this into a jar and cover with a cloth but don’t seal it, and let it rest somewhere warm (70 degrees fahrenheit is optimal) and let it sit for twelve hours.

Twelve hours later, stir in ½ cup flour with ¼ cup filtered water and scrape the sides of the jar. Continue adding ½ cup flour and ¼ cup water and scrape the sides of the jar every twelve hours for five days until your starter is bubbling.

By now, you are hoping for bubbles and the start of a smell, something musty and soured. If this isn’t the case don't fret, just keep feeding and looking for the signs. Temperature, climate and other variations can make it take a little longer. 

Maintaining the sourdough:

After a week, your sourdough should be sturdy enough to bake with or consider storage. If you bake infrequently (you bake less than once a week) you can store your sourdough in the refrigerator, bring it to room temperature and feed it well for two, twelve hour cycles before you plan to bake.

Storing a sourdough starter in the fridge slows down the process such that they can be fed once a week, and in this case, it might be worth doubling the amount flour and water for feeding. If you bake more frequently (every day or a few times a week) you can store your sourdough at room temperature on your counter and feed it with ½ cup flour and ¼ cup filtered water (or ¼ cup flour and 2 tablespoons filtered water) once a day. 

What to do with all of your starter:

If you've made too much sourdough starter for the capacity of your jar, take some out and use it to make sourdough flatbread, biscuits, pancakes or crackers to name a few.

Sourdough bread is made by the fermentation of dough using naturally-occurring lactobacilli and yeast. Sourdough bread has a mildly sour taste and better inherent keeping qualities than other bread due to the lactic acid produced by the lactobacilli. This bread recipe has become a staple in our household. With a thick crackly crust and a soft and tangy interior it won't last long!

No-Knead Sourdough Bread


  • 3 ½ to 4 cups (600 grams) flour
  • 1/4  cup (100 grams) sourdough starter (I feed my starter the night before or early in the morning)
  • 2 cups (350 grams) water
  • 1 teaspoon (10 grams) fine grained sea salt plus 1/4 cup water (25 grams)
  • Rice flour for dusting and prepping loaf.


1. In a large bowl combine starter and water. Add flour and mix together until mixture comes together. Dough should not be too wet or too dry.
2. Cover with a cloth and leave overnight for at least 8 hours. 
3. Mix sea salt and 25 grams of water in small bowl. Add water/salt mixture to dough and squish to combine. Let rise for 4 more hours. 
4. Form your loaf. Place a generous amount of rice flour on your kitchen counter. Scoop dough out onto the flour then sprinkle generously with more flour. Gently create a rectangle. Fold in thirds and then in thirds again to create a ball. 
5. Place more rice flour on a clean tea towel. Invert the loaf with the seam side up and place back in bowl. Cover and let sit for 3 to 4 hours.  
6. Place a large oven-proof dish with a lid in the oven (I use a dutch oven). Preheat oven to  500°F and the oven proof pan for at least 1/2 hour.
7. Carefully remove the hot pan from the oven. Remove lid. Gently place the loaf in the pan inverted so that the rougher surface is now on the bottom. Don’t worry about smoothing it out or having it centered – it will work itself out in the oven. Score the loaf if you wish. Turn the head down to 450°F.
8. Pop the lid back on and bake for 20 minutes.
9. Remove the lid and and bake for a further 20 to 30 minutes until the loaf is deep brown.
10. Cool on a wire rack uncovered for at least 30 minutes if you can wait that long.

Enjoy, Emma

Homemade Bug Spray

Women's Heritage

Summer is the season for camping, day hikes and beach barbecues, and it's also the season for bugs!  And for some reason, the bugs seem to really love me.  Conventional bug sprays have ingredients that are harsh on the environment and our bodies, so I make my own at home with natural ingredients - apple cider vinegar and herbs that are safe for people but ones that the bugs are not keen on.  

To make your own bug spray, you will need: 

-apple cider vinegar (I use Braggs)
-lavender blossoms

You can use either dried or fresh herbs.  If you are using fresh, chop them up and fill a mason jar 1/2-2/3 full.  Then, pour apple cider vinegar to the top, and screw on a plastic lid.  If you are using a metal lid, just put a piece of waxed paper in between the lid and the jar.

If you are using dried herbs, they will expand when they begin to soak up the vinegar, so only fill your jar 1/3 full at most.  Then pour your apple cider vinegar up to the top and put on the lid.

Give your jar a good shake, and set on the kitchen counter, or some other place out of direct sunlight where you will see it.  You will need to shake your jar at least once a day for two weeks, then let it sit for another two weeks if you have the time.  Strain out the solids, and you have your bug spray.  If you will use it directly on your skin, dilute it with water 1:1, and pour it into spray bottles.  If you are more likely to use it on your clothes and socks it's better to keep it full strength.  

Happy summer!

Love, Ashley

Video by Nicole Halabisky

Photos by Brittany Smith


Women's Heritage

We decided to get a pig last summer.  I had never owned a pig and was excited to jump in and see what these funny little creatures were like to own.  I knew I didn't want a giant pig and I knew I wanted a friendly breed and also one for meat, so I was lucky enough to find what for me is the perfect breed, the Kunekune!   

Kunekunes are of Asian origin but have been in New Zealand since the 19th century.  They were an important part of Maori culture, and Kunekune means "fat and round" in their native language.  Kunekunes are the smallest of the meat breeds ad are known to be friendly, easy going, good mothers and intelligent. In fact they root less than most pigs because of their short snout and actually graze on grass too!

After owning our Kunekune for several months we had the opportunity to get 3 more so of course we did!  We slaughtered one and it is the best pork I have ever tasted!  With the 3 we have now I am going to try to breed and am so excited to have piglets.

All pigs need basic care, shelter, food water and love. Pigs also need a place to wallow (yes - be in the mud) so they can regulate their temperature when it's too hot. Our piggies eat EVERYTHING! So all our compost and extra food goes to them, I also feed them hay and a little ration of grain everyday. It's easy to overfeed a pig as they seem so hungry all the time, so make sure your pig is staying a healthy weight. I have automatic water in their pen which always helps minimize chores. I have straw bedding in their shelter and they seem to love to make nests in it. Pigs are very social and need attention to thrive, especially if alone.  I let mine out during the day and they roam around our few acres, and with a "piggy piggy call" and some grain they come running into the pen to be locked in at night.  From my experience these pigs are incredibly easy going and adorable.

I love my animals, so you might be wondering how we could slaughter one.   Just because we are raising the pigs for meat does not mean we withhold love or proper care for them.  We honor the animal we are slaughtering by doing our best to give it a good life while we raise it, and thank it for it's life.  Death makes me uncomfortable and sad, so I am not the one to make the kill.  But I have chosen to eat meat, so I feel better knowing the animal had a good life and was loved, but this still doesn't mean it's easy.   

Though I have not owned any other breed of pig the Kunekune has my heart for it's easy going ways, adorable little faces and tasty meat!  Stay tuned for a post when there are piglets!

Oink Oink,


Photos by Lauren Ross

Jun Tea

Women's Heritage

Although I have been making my own Kombucha for years now, I recently was gifted a Jun scoby to ferment with. Jun is similar to making Kombucha but instead of using black tea and sugar it is brewed with green tea and honey. For this reason, there is a lower caffeine content (if any by the time it is fully fermented). 

I have also found that by using green tea and honey together the flavor profile is lighter and fresher tasting. What is more, it takes less time to ferment than kombucha and is said to have a higher lactobacillus content. Which means it can be even healthier for our gut. The one down side of making jun is that it is definitely more expensive to produce due to the cost of honey versus sugar. Still, I do think the health benefits and the taste make it worth trying!


  • 1 Jun scoby (purchase here)
  • 2 teaspoons green tea or 2 green tea bags
  • 8 cups hot water
  • 1/2 cup raw honey
  • 1/2 cup Jun tea from a previous batch
  • one 1/2 gallon glass jar, cloth cover, rubber band
  • optional: glass bottles with stoppers


  1. Boil the water, remove from heat and let cool to 165 degrees fahrenheit. 
  2. Steep the tea for 2 minutes. The longer the tea steeps the stronger “green tea” flavor your Jun tea will have.
  3. Remove tea and set aside to cool between 96 and 104 degrees fahrenheit. Add honey and stir to dissolve. You can skip this step but the health benefits are greater when the honey is not heated at a higher temperature. 
  4. Pour this mixture into a ½ gallon container and add the scoby and previously cultured Jun tea.
  5. Cover the container with a cloth and secure with a rubber band.
  6. Allow to culture for 3 days. You can culture longer however the taste might just become more acid than you'd like. 
  7. Once pleasantly sour and still a little sweet, you can drink your tea right away or try second fermenting it for added bubbles. Think Kombucha Champagne, YUM!
  8. Save 1/2 cup of your Jun tea then repeat this process!
  9. Enjoy!

xxoo Emma

Photos by Lauren Ross

Tea, pie and eggs with sheree

Women's Heritage

Sheree Commerford found us on instagram and asked if she could come meet and interview us.  We were already fans of her inspiring family blog "Captain and the Gypsy Kid" so of course we were excited to meet her... and when we did we knew we were all long lost soul sisters!  She spent the day making tea with Ashley, cooking with Emma and helping with Lauren's animals.  We talked about everything from family to style to chores to travel.   How we wish she didn't live so far away, but we'll have to do a Women's Heritage tour down under... Thank you again to Sheree for reaching out and writing such a great story on us.  Here it is! 


I was so excited when I stumbled onto Women’s Heritage through Instagram. Here were these three women sharing and teaching life skills. Real life skills. Skills that allow you to live from the land and be self-sufficient. You! As in me, a woman. Their workshops won’t show you how to create a vignette for Instagram or give you fashionable tips for the season but they will share with you how to weld metal, care for a jersey cow and milk it making kefir and kefir cheese. How to master the art of fermentation or how to forage for nutritious weeds and flowers in your own garden. How to master horse grooming and saddling with the addition of my favourite part of any female gathering, wine and food tasting. Of late I have been feeling restless with my intention, my purpose. What skills do I really have? What am I contributing to the world and what am I teaching my children that will keep their feet firmly grounded in the soil…

Tell us how you all met? How did the idea of Women’s Heritage come to life?

We met at our children’s preschool.  We went on a family trip to the mountains together and began talking about how we wanted to learn one another’s skills and from there Women’s Heritage was born.  We held our first class on sourdough bread baking and it sold out within minutes of posting it! The day was so magical, we knew we were onto something.  From there we began a blog to share our how to’s, recipes and inspirations.  We are also so excited to announce we are opening a homesteading supply store this fall in Carpinteria, California.

Define homestead and what it means in relation to Women’s Heritage?

Homesteading has different meanings to different people. To us in this modern age, homesteading  means self-sufficiency, and learning how to make things from scratch like generations before us did.  Connecting to the land, food, animals, community and learning where things come from is empowering for ourselves and for our families. We strive to bring women together to resurrect the traditions and crafts of the past while encouraging a feeling of sisterhood and support.

What was the moment when you realised that this was something worth sharing, that there was a growing need for this type of support and circle of learning for women?

We ourselves wished to have more time to be with other women and learn from one another.  Each class leaves us with a feeling of fulfillment and knowledge.  We’ve created traditions within our classes to connect and learn more about each person.  There is no feeling better than learning something among supportive women and everyone leaves with something they created in their hands.

Perhaps there might have been a time say in the 80’s and 90’s were these skills were socially given little value, and if anything, dismissed as being “domestic”. Why is it now you think women are gravitating back to these more traditional skills and giving them the respect and platform they deserve?

It’s a pushback!  We feel that over the decades, modern conveniences have been helpful, but because of them we’ve forgotten we can actually hand make much of what we need if we so choose. There is a big movement of wanting to reconnect to the natural world around us and the things we are putting in and on our bodies, possibly because we are becoming more aware of the impact food and preservatives in skincare have on our health and well being.  The skills we teach are part of our heritage, and were passed down for generations until relatively recently.  We want to reestablish that connection, bring women together in learning, and empower people through independence and interdependence.

I know I cannot survive as a healthy human, a generous partner or sane mother without my immediate community of women. How important is community is to WH? 

Community is at the heart of Women’s Heritage!  Teaching and learning, sharing and growing in friendship are all pillars of why we started our business.  We together are more than the sum of our parts!

Have you been surprised by the response and interest to what you are all doing?

We have been very pleasantly surprised by the enthusiastic response!  We have made so many good friends and learned so much, having lots of fun along the way.

What role has motherhood played, if any, in the decision to seek out and nurture these forgotten skills and crafts?  

Motherhood has ignited a passion for learning new skills that we can bring home and use to create a wholesome and fun environment for our families.  Baking bread, planting the garden, making herbal medicines – these things are even more enjoyable when shared with our children!  Becoming mothers encouraged each of us to really start living healthy lifestyles.

I feel definitely that I have made no room in my life at present to discover new passions, new skills outside of my career and this makes me sad. What would you say to the sisterhood out there who feel overwhelmed or intimated by making such changes in their everyday life or might not feel so confident seeking out such a community?

It takes much less time than you might think!  One afternoon of learning can offer years of inspiration.  And even if you don’t continue a newly learned skill right away, it is made forever accessible and you can include the aspects that work for you in your home.

What do you look for when deciding on a skill share workshop?

We hold workshops on subjects we are passionate about, or new skills that we are dying to learn ourselves.

What does the future hold for WH? 

We are really excited to announce the opening of a retail store – “Heritage Goods & Supply” in Carpinteria, CA, coming this August. Our store will feature a curated assortment of apparel, goods, and supplies for the urban homesteader – man, woman and child, and we will also have a teaching and learning space where we will host workshops.



Describe the difference between a straight up herbalist and a folk herbalist?

There are so many different types of herbalists – folk herbalists, clinical herbalists, community herbalists, professional herbalists, wise-woman herbalists… I like the title “folk herbalist” for what I do. I do not have a practice, and I rarely sell my medicines. It feels good to me to be able to offer healing help as a gift, to share what I’ve learned and to learn from others through classes or meeting for tea, and to keep myself and my family feeling healthy and happy with the earth’s medicine.

I am so baffled at how much you know. You’re like a modern day wizard; a good witch making potions and spells that improve our health and wellbeing. Is this something you studied or was it self-taught?

Thank you – I do like to think of myself as a good witch!  Herbalism is something I have been really interested in, even before I knew what the name of it was. I began reading books on plant medicine, herbal remedies and homemade beauty products when I was around six years old, and the idea that we could use the plants around us for our health  and wellbeing has always been fascinating to me. I am grateful for the online and correspondence courses available in herbalism, and I’ve taken as many as time and mothering allow. I have enjoyed studying  with master herbalists like Susun Weed and Rosemary Gladstar, and also at The Herbal Academy.  My dad is a doctor, and he has been a big inspiration to me to spend a lot of time on what you might consider the “medical” side of herbalism – the systems of the body, the herb-drug reactions and side effects, the chemistry and active constituents. But I would say most of my herbal education has been self-driven just out of pleasure – I try to read every book on the subject I can get my hands on, take classes offered by local plant experts, and spend as much time as possible out in nature, making medicines and working with the plants. It’s very rewarding! My children love to help me make tinctures and elixirs, salves and creams, and they especially enjoy helping me wildcraft the herbs. It’s such a fun way to spend time with them!

Lets talk about the little shed in the back of your house where you keep all your herbs and dried ingredients; walk us through what it takes to collect and house these wonderful and mysterious plants.

Oh, the little shed my children lovingly call “The Witch Hut”, and they each have their own space under the eaves to whip up their own concoctions!  The herbs that you see are nearly all from our garden and the foothills and mountains near our home. We collect what we need (never more!), hang it in bundles to dry, or dry it in the outdoor dehydrator, and then store it in glass jars for later use. We usually use up whatever we have within 6 months so we are in a constant state of replenishment. Because we mostly grow or wildcraft our herbs, my children and I get to know each plant in a really lovely way. I adore the entire process – growing, harvesting, hiking, wildcrafting, drying, storing, medicine-making and taking!  The herbs in here we use to make teas, herbal candies, cough drops, syrups, salves and ointments, tinctures and oxymels.  I love having on hand the things I will need to care for my family and friends, and the process of making medicine from start to finish is really as beautiful as it is empowering, as good for the soul as it is for the body.

DIY Herbal Tea
Making tea is a beautiful ritual at our house.  Herbal teas (tisanes) are so healing and nourishing to the mind, body and soul.  When I make a tea blend, I think about what my body and mind are craving.  Am I feeling tired or stressed?  Am I coming down with a cold?  Do I feel like I need some cleansing for my skin?  I also always think about how the tea will taste, and even how it will look.  I want my teas to be delicious and also delightful to look at.  So, for example, I might be thinking of a tea that is both good for my skin and nourishing for my whole body.
I could use some nettle and calendula, then maybe I add rose petals and a sprinkle of blue cornflowers.  Not all of the teas I make are specifically medicinal.  Sitting in a cosy chair sipping a delicious cup of tea on a foggy day is great medicine on it’s own!  Sometimes I wildcraft herbs along the way when I am on a hike.  When I get home I like to make tea from what I gathered, and it reminds me of the hike.  I dry and store the herbs and can have a tangible reminder of my day on the mountain whenever I like.
To make your own tea blend:
1. Start with a few different (edible) leaves.  Some of my favorites are nettle, peppermint, and red raspberry.
2. Next, add some (edible) flowers – rose, chamomile, calendula, cornflower are all delicious and look lovely in the blend.
3. Start with a small scoop or handful of two types of leaves.
4. Mix them together and see how they smell.  Then, smell your flowers.
5. Use your intuition, add a few and smell again.
6. Keep adding some of this and some of that until your blend looks and smells just right.
A little practice and you will be a pro.
xoxo Ashley
What is an animal specialist?

I have my degree in “Animal Science”, which was a four year program at University. The program was wonderful and I learned such a wide array everything ranging from animal anatomy to animal feed to animal behaviour. I have worked in many different ways with animals from helping with cattle ranch work to working with cheetahs in Africa.

Have you always been this person, connected to the earth, to animals? Has ranch life always been a part of you or was there a moment or an experience that made it clear that this was the way you wanted to live?

I have always loved animals and felt an incredible connection to these beings I can only communicate with through body language.  I grew up with lots of animals and even worked on dairy farm since an early age.  I would come home cover in manure but so happy!  I think those early days working on the dairy ( I worked there from age 8-18) it was clear there was no place I’d rather be and nothing I’d rather be doing.  I now have a family milk cow and sometimes I just sit with her and enjoy her company, being near my animals always been my happy place and still is!

I know more and more people who reside closer to cities and suburbia who want to house chickens and bee’s, ourselves included. Do you have any advice for people wanting to farm animals in non rural areas?  

Yes, do it!!!  But realize the commitment to the animals when you do!  Chickens and bees are such a great place to start.  When planning a chicken coop, make sure you have automatic water and a big feeder (makes life easier) and an appropriate coop and space for the chickens.  I got bees a year ago and have been learning so much from a mentor, so I would recommend finding a beekeeper so you can pick their brain!  My advice when considering getting any animal is do lots of research on what the animals needs  before hand and also ask people who have those animals you are interested in lots and lots of questions. And then just go for it, learn by doing!

 Tips for Keeping Chickens
Chickens are perhaps some of the easiest animals to keep, and with one of the biggest rewards! There is nothing like fresh eggs in the morning or sharing our eggs, and I love knowing I’ll always have eggs for my recipes!
There are many different ways to keep chickens, but here are a few things that I do to ensure that chicken keeping is easy for my family and my hens are happy and healthy.
The first thing you need, of course,  is a secure chicken coop that wildlife and dogs cannot break into. That means having it set up so animals can’t tunnel into the coop, so there has to be wire underneath or wire dug deep into the perimeter.   Chickens need shelter in their coop, a nesting box, roosting poles and a run where they can be outside, but still protected.  The rule of thumb is 4 square feet in the coop for every chicken and 10 square feet in the run per chicken.  If you really want chickens and see yourself having them for a long time I would say invest in a nice solid, large coop. You can build it yourself, buy a kit or, like I did, hire a local carpenter to build a coop.
Something I discovered along the way is that having an automatic waterer makes chicken keeping a lot easier.  They are inexpensive and really easy to install, so build your chicken coop near where a hose bib is located.  The other thing I do is I have a very large feeder that I only have to fill about once a week.  We also feed our chickens fruit, vegetables and grain scraps daily.  They love it and we reduce our food waste.
Lots of people let their chickens out daily and then when they return to roost they close them in for the night.  I prefer to keep my chickens in the coop most of the time and if I do let them out, it is just before dark and roosting.  We have lost several chickens by letting them out and they make a mess in my yard and eat my garden.  We made sure in designing our coop they’d have enough room to stay in most of the time.  Another option is having a coop that can be moved around, but I haven’t tried that yet.
Chickens lay according to the amount of sun light, so remember they lay less in the winter and start to lay more as the days get longer. Chickens slow down their laying as they get older, so I like to get new chicks every other year to ensure we have plenty of eggs.
I don’t have a specific breed of chicken I like best.  When I get chicks I usually do a variety because I like the look of having all different types, and then the eggs are different colors too.
Chickens are fun and easy, my kids love them and we get the best tasting, healthiest eggs around.  We reduce our food waste, use their manure as fertilizer and just enjoy having them around.  Even after years of raising chickens I am still learning new things, but the only way to really learn is to do it!
Happy chicken keeping!
Love, Lauren

Just being around you I wanted to start cooking differently. Actually let’s be honest, it made me want to start cooking period!! You actually sounded more like a doctor who was creating the most delicious medicine. There’s a whole other layer to this than just cooking…how do I describe what you do?

I try to provide myself and my family the healthiest lifestyle possible. After all, they are the ones that have inspired me to cook the way I do. I believe my quality of life, health and environment are related to the foods that we put in our bodies. As such,  I do treat food as a medicine. It can be preventative, healing and restorative.

To do this, I try to find the freshest and purest ingredients possible. This means growing what I can in my small backyard urban garden, foraging local seasonal edible plants from the trails and sourcing other ingredients from the local farmers market when possible. In essence, I like to know where my food comes from.

Part of my approach to cooking this way includes fermentation that not only adds flavor but creates an array of health benefits for our gut.

What are the basics you need in the pantry to build a foundation for this medicinal type of cooking?

I like to know where my food comes from and start with the purest and freshest ingredients possible.

If cooking with meat, I like to know where the animal has come from too.

When using sweeteners, I tend to try to minimize cooking with refined sugars. So I use what nature makes instead: Honey and maple syrup.

As for having healthy fats on hand, grassfed butter, unrefined extra virgin coconut oil and extra virgin olive oil are my favorites. Again, source matters.

After that, much of what I do is already available in the kitchen, it just might take an extra step or two. For example, I could just buy a can of coconut milk to make coconut milk kefir but when I buy a fresh coconut and start from scratch the flavor and health benefits are that much greater.

Do you have any advice for parents on ways to include their children so they are inspired to make healthy and sustainable choices in their own lives regardless of age?

Yes! Practice what you preach. Grow food together, forage together, cook together, and even shop together at your local farmers market. I have found with our two children that they are more willing to try vegetables that we have grown ourselves and are more enticed with dinners that they have helped prepare (even if it’s just chopping veggies for a soup). We also talk openly about the food choices we make as a family and why we eat what we eat. For example, just recently I purchased hard white wheat berries at the farmers markets. Our daughter who is eight was thrilled with the idea of turning the wheat berries into flour and then making sourdough bread. So we did it together and along the way we talked about the farmer that we purchased the wheat berries from, what the process for making sourdough bread entails and so on. These moments teach our children how to connect back to the earth and provide nourishment for their own bodies no matter how old they are.

Rhubarb Strawberry Pie with Sourdough Pie Crust
Sourdough Crust:
1 cup white flour
1 cup whole wheat flour (or flour of choice)
1 tsp salt
1 TBSP sugar
2 sticks butter, cut into 1/2″ cubes and chilled*
1 cup sourdough starter
7 cups rhubarb (1 ¾ lbs) when chopped into 1 inch / 2.5 cm pieces
3 cups strawberries washed and hulled
2 apples (peeled, cored and chopped)
1 ½ cups unrefined sugar
1 orange juiced and zest
1 to 2 inches grated ginger
¼ cup tapioca granules, ground
Crust preparation:
1. Using 2 pastry blenders blend together the flours, salt and sugar.
2. Cut in the butter until it resembles a coarse meal, with some chunks of butter remaining.
3. Gradually stir in the starter and fold in with a spatula until it starts to come together.
4. Gather the dough into two equal balls, wrap with plastic wrap and allow to chill in the fridge for 7 hours or overnight.
5. When ready, roll out 1 piece of dough to make a bottom crust. Place into a pie dish.
Filling instructions:
1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
2. Put all ingredients in a large pot except strawberries and tapioca.
3. Cover and bring to a boil; then remove the cover and reduce to a gentle simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, until the rhubarb pieces are soft.
4. Stir frequently and deeply, to avoid scorching.
5. Stir in prepared strawberries and tapioca, bring back to a boil, then turn heat off and let sit for 10 minutes.
6. Pour filling into prepared pie crust. Roll out the other piece of dough and place over filling. 7. Crimp to seal edges. Bake at 425 degrees F for 15 minutes.
8. Decrease temperature to 375 degrees F and bake for an additional 30 to 45 minutes, or until the filling starts bubbling. Let cool before serving.
Enjoy! Emma
Photographed by the always awesome and very clever Scott Soens on location in California

Lauren, Ashley and Emma wear Ulla Johnson

Visit Women’s Heritage | Follow @womens_heritage


DIY Herbal Aftershave

Women's Heritage

With Father's Day coming up, I've been thinking of special gifts to make for the men in my life.  This herbal aftershave smells so good, and will keep my husband's and dad's skin nice and soft, while helping to stop any bleeding from small nicks and keeping them clean.  They could even splash a little on their underarms for a natural deodorant. 

You will need:

  • A pint jar
  • A small handful of dried bay leaves
  • 3-4 star anise pods
  • 1T dried orange peel (or 3T fresh)
  • 1T dried allspice berries
  • 1t cloves
  • 2T dried Yarrow blossoms (or 2 fresh flower head clusters)
  • 1 cup rum
  • 1 cup witch hazel extract
  • 1t aloe vera gel
  • 1t vegetable glycerine

To make:

1. Put the dry ingredients into the pint jar, follow with the liquids, leaving 1/2 inch of space at the top.

2. Put on the top, and give your aftershave a little shake.

3. Set it on the counter, away from direct sunlight, and shake it once a day for 2 to 4 weeks.

4. Next, strain out the solids, reserving the liquid.

5. Use a funnel to pour your aftershave into a nice glass bottle, tie a little twine around the top, and you are all set!

Love, Ashley

Video by: Nicole Halabisky

Photos by: Brittany Smith



Grilled Nopal (Cactus Paddle)

Women's Heritage

The idea of cooking and eating a cactus might sound a little weird and let's be honest, intimidating. It's a cactus after all, it has spines! But with a little bit of prep the result is a savory dish that is full of flavor. 

Nopals are the paddles of oputnia (prickly pear) cactus. Prickly pear cactus grow in the United States, Mexico, and South America. It also flourishes in Africa, Australia and the Mediterranean. The flavor profile is similar to a green bean with a little more acidity. They are tasty grilled just on their own or can be a savory taco filling or even sliced/diced and served in a salad. 


  • One or two nopalitos per person
  • Olive oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper


1. If spines are present, remove them carefully by holding the pad by the stem end (wear gloves or hold with dish towel) and cutting, with a sharp knife, against the grain, removing the bumps that are around all of the spines.

2. After you have removed the spines, use a sharp knife to score crosshatch in the paddle from the round end toward the base, about 1/3 inch apart, being careful not to cut through the base. (This not only makes them look pretty after grilling but helps to speed the cooking process and to reduce some of the mucilage from the pads.)

3. Brush each paddle lightly with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Sear the paddles, allowing three to four minutes per side, until they are yellowish green with charred spots. If they start to curl, press down on the paddles with spatula or even a potato masher, if necessary, to keep them in contact with the surface of the grill.

4. Either eat as is or slice into long spears and place grilled nopales inside a warm tortilla for a cactus paddle taco. I like to top it with this lacto fermented salsa.

Enjoy! Emma


Meyer Lemon Marmalade

Women's Heritage

Tis the season her in California for Meyer Lemons!  So if you want to preserve this sweet lemon to have all year round now is the perfect time!  Marmalade is labor intensive but I don't find it that  much harder then jam and your house will smell like spring freshness, so give it a try if you've never made it and make it again of you have. Good to plan on giving the project 2-3 hours. My favorite is this preserve is on top fresh sourdough bread and ricotta.


  •  9-10 lemons
  • 6 cups water 
  • 6 cups organic granulated sugar 


1. Wash lemons and cut off 1/4 inch of either end

2. Cut lemons into 1/4 segments

3. Remove any seeds or membranes and place in separate bowl

4. Cross cut all lemon segment into little triangles

5. Place lemons and water into a large pot (make sure its big)

6. Put seeds and membranes into cheesecloth and secure so it can simmer with lemons and water this will  help thicken the marmalade

7. Let boil for about 30 minutes or until lemon peel is soft then remove from heat

8. Remove cheesecloth bag and let cool until you can squeeze out extra pectin(  this can take 20 minutes) back into your lemon/water mixture

9. Add measured sugar and bring to boil

10. Stir constantly with a wooden spoon for 20-10 minutes. If foam is overflowing your pot reduce heat

11. Have a chilled plate in the freezer and test your marmalade on it by putting a small spoonful on it, if marmalade stays put and has thick consistency like egg yolk its ready, if it is sliding around plate and has a liquid consistancy keep cooking!

12. Ladle into jars

13. Can to preserve longer or keep in refrigerator 


Photo by Brittany Smith



Women's Heritage

It was so fun to have everyone out to my house for our Here Now Brown Cow class.  We gathered in the kitchen first and after introductions talked about any cow or milking experience.  Most hadn't had any experience with a dairy cow and I was so excited to share my love of cows with everyone.  We broke up into two groups one staying up in the kitchen with Emma to learn how to make Milk Kefir, Kefir Cheese, Kefir Creme Fraiche, Yogurt and Ricotta Cheese.  The other half headed to the barn where we talked "cow" for over an hour before we even began to milk! Then each person got a chance to milk "Ruby".  It was exhilarating as a teacher to watch the women learn something new and see the joy on their faces as milk squirted into the pail!  Thank you to all who came and for those who couldn't, don't worry we will have the class again.  We wanted to share our photos from the class and one of Emma's recipes. See Lauren's post about milking here.

Ricotta Recipe

Makes about 1 generous cup of ricotta


  • 3 1/2 cups whole milk, preferably organic, raw or non homogenized (never ultra pasteurized)
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream, preferably organic, raw or non homogenized (never ultra pasteurized)
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt 
  • 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice


1. Pour the milk, cream and salt into saucepan.  Heat milk to 185'F, stirring it occasionally to keep it from scorching on the bottom.

2. Remove from heat and add the lemon juice, then stir in once or twice gently and slowly. Let sit undisturbed for 5 minutes.

3. Line a colander with a few layers of cheesecloth and place in a large bowl (to catch the whey).

4. Pour the curds and whey into the colander and strain the curds strain for at least an hour. At an hour, you'll have a tender, spreadable ricotta. At two hours, it will be spreadable but firmer, almost like a cream cheese.

5. Eat ricotta right away transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 1 week.


Photos by Brittany Smith

Lacto Fermented Salsa

Women's Heritage

If you are not sure where to start when it comes to fermenting fruits and vegetables this is such an easy and tasty recipe to begin with. What I like about this salsa recipe is that it is light and fresh tasting! The fermentation process just adds a little more depth and flavor. Serve on tacos, your favorite buddha bowl or with chips. Or add an avocado and fresh corn, maybe even some black beans after the fermentation process and you have a yummy salad!


  • 1/2 medium red onion
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and finely chopped (optional)
  • 1 pound tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • Olive oil for drizzling (or cabbage leaf)


Combine all ingredients except olive oil in a large bowl. Toss well.

  1. Transfer to quart size jar. Drizzle with olive oil and/or top with cabbage leaf.
  2. Loosely close the lid. Let sit on counter at least 3 days. Taste on day 3 to decide whether to ferment longer.
  3. When salsa is to your liking close lid completely and transfer to refrigerator.

Enjoy! Emma

Photos by Lauren Ross

Cleansing Grains

Women's Heritage

I use our "Beautyshare" oil based face cleanser   and my skin is so much happier!  Once every week or two, though, I substitute cleansing grains for my oil based cleanser.  These cleansing grains are exfoliating, without disrupting the skin's protective layer, and without stripping moisture.  Even better, they can also be applied and used as a mask.  I use bentonite clay in my cleansing grains, along with gluten-free oats and my favorite skin – nurturing herbs.  You can switch up the ratios to make the consistency perfect for your skin type, but a good place to start is:

  • 1 cup organic, gluten free oats
  • 1/2 cup bentonite clay
  • 1/2 cup of dried herbs (try any combination of calendula, chamomile, lavender and rose)

Directions for cleanser:

  1. Grind all ingredients in an herb grinder, a coffee grinder (but not one you use for grinding coffee beans), or a mortar and pestle.
  2. Mix together and store in a glass jar with a tight lid. Stored this way, your cleansing grains will last for many months.
  3. To use, put a scoop of cleansing grains in your hand and mix with a little water or toner, massage onto face, and wash off with warm water and/or a warm, wet washcloth.
  4. Follow with toner, serum and moisturizer.

Directions for mask:

  1. apply as above and leave on until dry
  2. Once completely dry, wash off with warm water and a warm, wet washcloth.
  3. Follow with toner and moisturizer.

If I have a little extra time, I like to mix up my cleansing grain mask with organic, raw, local honey and our balancing toner. This is the ultimate treat for your face! To make, blend a scoopful of cleansing grains with a tablespoon of honey and enough toner to make it the right consistency - not too runny but not too dry to spread. Leave on for ten minutes before rinsing off.

Love, Ashley

Photos by Lauren Ross

Rendering Lard

Women's Heritage

Once upon a time, most persons raised their own meat and had ample lard due to the necessity of using the whole animal. With modern conveniences and ample fats for sale at our local grocer we might not think to render our own lard. However, I am here to encourage you to try it out. The flavor profile and moist texture in home baked goods really shows when using lard.


  • 2 pounds leaf fat or kidney fat from pasture raised pigs
  • 1/4 cup water
  • Large pot (I like to use my dutch oven)



1. Start out with cold fat and cut into small half inch to 1 inch chunks (the smaller the better), making sure to cut out any blood spots or remaining meat from the fat. 

2. Place 1/4 cup water and the diced fat in large pot on the stove and simmer over medium low heat for about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. The key is to keep the temperature verylow. If you render the fat too quickly, it's more likely to result in a “piggy” taste and golden color. It’ll still be usable, but not ideal for baked goods unless you want to also taste the "piggy" flavor. 

3. You are looking for the bits of browned fat (these are the “cracklins”) to rise to the top, leaving clear, liquid fat underneath. 

4. Strain the liquid fat by lining a strainer with either a piece of cheese cloth, coffee filter or paper towel) and store in glass jars. Although you can leave it out at room temperature, it will last a longer in the fridge or freezer. So that is usually what I do.

Some of my favorite things to use lard for are for making pie crusts and biscuits. However, I also love to just rub lard on veggies before I grill or roast them. I also use lard in soups and stews where oil is called for. 

Enjoy! Emma

ALL about beautyshare

Women's Heritage

We at Women's Heritage believe in going back to basics, even when we are talking about skincare.  This is why we have developed "BeautyShare" - a small batch, handmade beauty line with only the purest, freshest ingredients with no additives!  In these modern times it is easy to forget simple, pure and clean are better.  

The commercialization of skincare has changed what women put on their faces, just as fast food chains have changed the American diet.  Food should not last forever (I think most of us know this!).  Healthy food is quite perishable and should be consumed fresh for the best nutrition.  The same goes for skincare.  Without harmful preservatives and other synthetic additives, skincare will not last indefinitely.  A little mold on the lid of your face lotion after several months of use is actually a good sign.  Yes, it's a sign that it's time to get a new jar, but it is also a sign that your lotion is not made with synthetic preservatives.  

So how and why do we keep our products fresh?

  • We hand make each of our products in small batches of 10-15 units, which means the ingredients are at their peak potency, and because we make it so often we can avoid preservatives. 
  • We use the only highest quality, organic and natural ingredients including oils derived from beneficial plants. 
  • Our products are designed to nourish your skin, and to restore balance instead of stripping away your skin's natural oils and then trying to replace that lost moisture.
  • Our ingredients are pure and simple, with calendula, the skin's ally, as the base.

How and why did we develop BeautyShare?

When I learned about the questionable ingredients that were in my (natural, organic, from the health food store) skin care products I decided to make my own.  It took years of research and experimenting, trial and error, but I finally came up with products that performed  better than what I had been used to, and were also completely natural and free of any harmful ingredients.  We now have a full line available, a wash, a toner, a serum and a face lotion.

When we began Women's Heritage in 2016, we immediately dreamed of offering women a simple, handmade alternative to the average skincare.   We also feel strongly about teaching women how to make products themselves, so we have beauty DIY's on our blog and have instructional classes like our "Natural Skincare" coming this summer. 

This new wave of skin care, skin care that is perishable and truly natural, will take a bit of a paradigm shift for the general public, but we do know once people understand the difference and see the benefits of glowing, happy, healthy skin and body, there will be no going back!

Here's so healthy skincare!

Love, Ashley

Photos by Lauren Ross


Women's Heritage

Milking is a lot of work! But that sound of the milk hitting the pail and the nutritious raw milk at the end of it make it all worth it.  

I grew up working on dairy farm that used all machine milkers. Now, with my family cow I have chosen to hand milk.  With just one cow it is more efficient to hand milk because you don't have to deal with cleaning/ sterilizing a machine after, so this post is about hand milking.  I have also chosen to leave the calf on the cow nursing and only take what is left, (the mother and calf are normally separated at birth at production based dairy farms).    

Before we jump into milking we must talk about the cow. Your cow's health is an essential part of healthy milk production.  Keeping her the correct weight, in correct conditions with a shelter, access to clean water, grass or hay and the necessary minerals is a must.  Our cow is on a little plot of land, without much to graze, so I feed her oat hay and alfalfa while supplementing with Modesto Milling Organic dairy grain while milking.  She also has free access to organic kelp and a mineral supplement at all times.  I have trained her to go into a stanchion and to be milked in her shelter while eating and I prefer the latter.  

The key with milking is making sure you are keeping everything that comes into contact with the milk and udder as clean as possible - including your hands and the milk pail. This is hard considering we are talking about cows!  It is all about sanitizing, sanitizing, sanitizing!

Before milking I make sure the area I have chosen to milk in is clear of cow poop and is as clean as possible.  I usually brush my cow to get any debris off her before milking and she enjoys it.  

I then spray her teats with an udder cleanser, (you can  use iodine, buy a teat cleaner or make your own) wait 30 seconds and then wipe down her teats and my hands with disinfectant wipes.     

The milking pail I use has been cleaned with soap and hot water with a sanitized sponge and left to air dry. 

After the teats are clean, I "strip" the teats which means I take a few squirts into a separate cup and take a look at the milk, making sure there are no lumps or blood, indicating mastitis or something else wrong.  This is important also because the first few squirts are likely to hold any bacteria that could have gotten into the teat.

So once I am all ready I get my pail under the cow and assume a squatting position.  The reason I choose to squat instead of sit on a stool is I can better feel if the cow is going to move - or worse, kick over the milk pail.  So, once I am squatting I begin to milk, and I usually start with the back teats.  If you're a beginner milker starting out it is good to focus on one teat at time.  As you progress, getting in a rhythm of two teats is more efficient.

I think a common misconception about milking is that you just pull down on the teat.  The milk is actually in the udder and needs to move from the udder to the teat and then be squeezed out.  

  1. First  position the teat between your thumb and index finger.
  2. Then clamp the thumb and forefinger at the top of the teat and
  3. Then squeeze out milk that's trapped in the teat by using your palm and other fingers. Squeeze down while pushing the milk out and keep grip even at the base of the teat so milk does not flow back into the udder.
  4. Next open your hand to let the milk flow from the udder back into the teat and begin again.

The udder is in quarters, so make sure you milk each quarter until it is empty. I start with the back because they are hardest for me and then I move to the front two. After milking spray teats down with either iodine or teat disinfectant until there is a drip at the bottom of the teat.

Just like a nursing mama, the release of oxytocin helps the let down reflex, so the more relaxed and happy your cow is the more milk you will get.  So try to have a calm atmosphere without dogs or any other added stresses.

No yanking or tugging, be gentle yet firm.  Milking is something that takes hand and arm strength and lots of practice! I think I am a decent milker until I see someone who has been milking longer and they are much faster and more efficient! And my hand seems to always get tiered and even cramp.  It's ok, be patient, I seem to get a little faster every time I milk!

OK, now you have your pail full of milk. By either using a reusable filter or one time use type, pour milk out of the pail, through the filter and into a clean sterilized jar.  Now the milk must get chilled as quickly as possible.  I put mine in the freezer or in an ice bath for about an hour and then transfer it to the fridge.  We consume our fresh, raw milk within 3 days and make cheese and yogurt with any excess (post coming soon).

Hope this helps you to comfortably, safely and efficiently get milk from your cow into your kitchen!  Below are a few great resources for a more in depth look!

Happy milking!  Lauren 

Photos by Lauren Ross









HERBAL Facial steam with Rip & Tan

Women's Heritage

Honored to be featured on rip & tan. Check out this incredible lifestyle blog.


"I love this simple, effective facial steam idea from herbalist Ashley Moore of Women’s Heritage in Santa Barbara. Made with a few skin-loving herbs and some hot water, it couldn’t be easier to whip up when you skin is feeling dull, you’re recovering from a cold, or just want to take a few minutes out for some self-care. While the ingredients and instructions are bare bones, the effects of a steam can really be felt and seen instantly. Like a good facial mask, the treatment deep-cleans and brightens the complexion without stripping or drying it out in the process. Read on for Ashley’s recipes and instructions for this restorative treatment, below"! XXJKE

A treat for the senses, facial steams are beautiful to look at, feel wonderful on the skin and in the lungs, and they smell fantastic! They are excellent for the complexion because they open the pores and draw deep impurities to the surface of the skin where they can be released. They bring fresh blood to the face and impart a healthy glow. To make, first choose the flowers and herbs that suit your skin type: 

For dry skin, choose any combination or all of the following: calendula, chamomile, lavender, rose, mallow, plantain, comfrey

For oily skin: calendula, comfrey, plantain, rosemary blossoms or sprigs, red raspberry leaf, sage

To make a big batch that you can store in a glass jar, start with a handful of each herb you are using. Mix in a large bowl and smell your mixture. Adjust if desired. When it smells just right, pour it all into a big glass jar and use once a week.

To prepare your steam, put a handful of your herb mixture into a large bowl. Pour 2-4 cups of just-boiled water over it and give it a stir. Sit down at the table in front of your bowl, put a towel over your head and the bowl and breathe in the steam for 5-10 minutes. Follow with a spritz of toner and a little moisturizer. 

To make just enough for one facial steam, use a tablespoon of each herb you are using and just put it directly into your large “steaming” bowl.

Love, Ashley

Photos by Lauren Ross

Shepherd's Purse Tincture

Women's Heritage

February into March is the time to harvest Shepherd's Purse, aka Capsella bursa-pastoris in Southern California, it grows wild throughout the spring and summer in many areas in North America. In Asia it is farmed as a food crop! This beautiful little plant, with tiny heart shaped seedpods, is one of my favorites.  Every year, I make sure I gather some to make a tincture so that I have it on hand when I prepare birth kits. This delicate herb is best used fresh, as that is when it is the most potent.  

Rosemary Gladstar calls it "The herb par excellence for hemorrhaging during childbirth," and also recommends it to ease excessive menstrual flow and nosebleeds (Gladstar, 1993).  Susun Weed says "it can stop postpartum hemorrhage in as little as five seconds"(Weed 1986).

Shepherd's purse is beneficial for everyone though, not just women in childbirth or those prone to nosebleeds. This mild member of the mustard group is high in oxytocin, contains more calcium per 100g than milk, and has all the factors needed for calcium absorption. The entire plant is edible. The fresh leaves and flowers are wonderful in salads, and can also be dried and added to soups and stews. The heart-shaped seedpods are delicious, and look adorable sprinkled on top of flat bread or pizza, or even as a topping for cupcakes and other desserts. 

To make a Shepherd's Purse tincture:

  1. Fill a mason jar 3/4 full with freshly harvested Shepherd's Purse
  2. Pour vodka or brandy over the herb, up to 1/2 inch from the top of the jar, making sure to cover the herb completely
  3. Shake once a day for a week and then set aside in a dark spot for three more weeks
  4. Strain out plant material, pouring your tincture through a coffee filter
  5. Pour into dropper bottles and you're all set

For dosage, Susun Weed recommends "10-20 drops as needed" (Weed, 1986).

As always, make sure you are foraging responsibly, that you have permission to harvest and that you have properly identified this plant (the heart-shaped seed packets make it pretty easy!). 


Love, Ashley

*This post has not been evaluated by the FDA and is not intended to replace the advice of your healthcare professional, nor to diagnose, treat, or prevent any disease.


  • "Herbal Healing for Women" by Rosemary Gladstar,
  • "Wise Woman Herbal for the Childbearing Year" by Susun S. Weed
  • "Edible and Useful Plants of California" by Charlotte Bringle Clarke

Chickweed Please

Women's Heritage

Chickweed (Stellaria media) is one of the best-tasting spring weeds. Chickweed grows in moist, shady areas from urban settings to mountain canyons, alongside streams and rivers in the spring, and is gone by summertime, when the soil dries out.  

Bring along a good plant identification guide and look for the beautiful white, five petaled flowers. (They may look like they have 10 petals, because each petal has a deep cleft.)  If you see something that looks like chickweed, but the flowers are orange, do not eat it. That is a toxic look-alike called Scarlet Pimpernel.  Another toxic look-alike is young, common spurge, and it often grows in patches of chickweed. To tell the difference between the two, look for a line of white hairs on the stem, which chickweed is known for. Also, spurge grows on an erect stalk and doesn't sprawl along the ground like chickweed. One way to distinguish between the two is by breaking the stem. If you break the stem of spurge, you will see white sap, whereas chickweed does not have any.  

Use scissors or a sharp knife to trim off handfuls of this delicate plant. If you pull it up with your hands you will likely pull up the entire plant with the root, preventing regrowth. The leaves and stems are edible, but sometimes the older stems can become coarse, and should be discarded for best results. 

Chickweed is extremely versatile and can be used in salads, sandwiches, stir fries and even soups. Another use of chickweed is to create a pesto that you can use to top a flatbread, add to scrambled eggs or even pop on top of a rainbow bowl. 

Once picked, chickweed wilts really easy. For this reason, after I forage chickweed I like to soak it in in cold water until I am ready to use the wild weed.  When it's time, I simply strain the water and lightly pat it dry. 

Take avocado toast to the next level with Emma's recipe: (If you don't have time or access to forage chickweed you can also use sprouts or microgreens.) 


  • 1 slice sourdough bread (or toast of choice), toasted
  • 1/2 ripe avocado, halved, seeded, peeled and mashed
  • 1 tablespoons olive oil
  • A small handful of chickweed (or sub microgreens or sprouts in place of foraged chickweed)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste


1. Drizzle olive oil in an even layer on freshly toasted bread.
2. Spread with mashed avocado, top with chickweed. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
3. Serve immediately.

Love, Ashley

Photos by Lauren Ross