Posts tagged guest post
What's in My Bag with Val Elkhorn of Woodspell Apothecary
What%27s+in+my+bag+with+Val+Elkhorn

Val Elkhorn is an herbalist that, in her lovely words, “uses practical magic to heal land and body by cultivating the forest and crafting bitters.” She is the owner of of Woodspell Apothecary and captures her Michigan woods life in a beautiful series of photos that she posts to her instagram. Val is also a creator of magic and herbal goods, (make sure you follow along to get updates about her product launch and shop restock on July 29th!!) as well as curator and writer for her free monthly publication, the Forest medicine Journal. I’m so excited that Val was willing to share what she keeps in her bag to feel powerful and connected to herself and the land around her. Enjoy.

Spencre xo

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My name is Val Elkhorn and I am an herbalist living in the middle of the Michigan northwoods. I craft specialty bitters that incorporate the magic and flavors of the forest as well as other well-loved herbs. Aside from growing and producing this medicine, my main focus is to explore and share various sustainable agriculture practices as the world and climate change. Forest farming and biodynamics are what call to me the most. I believe all the medicine, food, shelter, and magic we need can be found in the forest, and by working with the rhythms of the earth we can produce the largest harvests while also connecting to our roots.

When I’m not working in the garden, I spend most of my days with my dog Odin, traversing the thousands of acres of woods that surround my house. From the carpets of wintergreen to the mighty white pine, medicine is offered in every nook and cranny. Because our ancestor’s stories are no longer passed down from generation to generation, I try to seek out those who remember. The crimson cardinal flower and wise elderberry are two of my favorite allies. Even the lakes and streams of this water state have taught me more than I can ever repay.

 
What's in my bag with Val Elkhorn
 
  • Bag: This bag is amazing. It’s a stylish cross-body bag that is durable and has pockets on the inside for my various tools. I take it with me when I’m going on a short walk in the woods or travelling to town.

  • Trees of Michigan: I love tree medicine. Not only do they offer their bark, roots, sap, and leaves, but many branches can be used for crafts, tools, and building supplies. This little guide is small enough to tote around with me and is very helpful in identifying trees in the winter when most trees have dropped their leaves. I also like to have this on hand when travelling to other parts of the state with trees I am not as familiar with.

  • Pruners: My most important companion. I have multiple pairs of these in my bag, car, home, etc. just in case. I love the simplicity and durability of this brand and I’ve found them to last longer than any other pair I’ve owned. If you ever only buy one pair of pruners make sure they’re Felco brand. 

  • Plant Alchemy Solar Eclipse Zinc Sun Shield: Although a good portion of the year is cold and snowy in Michigan, I need to have this with me during the summer months. It’s smooth coverage and natural ingredients make it a no-brainer for me.

  • Forest Salve: I make a big batch of this forest salve every winter when most things are hidden under the snow. I forage pine resin, wintergreen, juniper, and black spruce and infuse in hemp oil to make this healing salve. When you live in the woods, there are constant scrapes, bruises, burns, and other wounds that benefit from the use of a salve and I use this on almost everything.

  • Bitters: As a person with a sensitive stomach and unpredictable digestive system, I have to have bitters on me whenever I go out to dinner with friends or spend the weekend with family. These are delicious and help to keep everything running smoothly. I also use them as an alcohol alternative when I want to take part in social festivities without drinking and being prey to the dreaded hangover.

  • Foraging knife: This knife is perfect for stripping bark and harvesting mushrooms. Handmade out of damascus steel, it has a nice hefty weight, but is small enough to carry into the woods for long periods of time. It also comes with a nice leather holster with a loop for your belt as well.

  • Sketchbook: I am a writer and an artist at heart and love to have a journal with me when I wander into the woods or travel. One of the best ways I have found to get to know a new plant is to sit and sketch it. You begin to notice the fine curvature of the petals and formation of the leaves, and soon the plant takes on a life of its own. I found this journal on Etsy and am obsessed. The UK based shop makes these sketchbooks and journals out of recycled materials and I love the rustic simplicity of it.

  • Wisteria oil: Wisteria has been a favorite plant of mine since I was a child. Its dreamy mysterious vines have always filled me with wonder. This oil smells heavenly and is used in magickal practices to bring illumination and elevate consciousness. I use a few anointing drops when meditating in the woods and can find complete serenity. 

Find Val online www.woodspells.com and on Instagram @woodspell.apothecary

 
What's in my bag with Val Elkhorn
What's in my bag with Val Elkhorn
 
What's in my bag with Val Elkhorn
Sanne's Outdoor No Knead Bread

This is a guest post from Sanne of Running With Sheep. Sanne wrote a zine called Natural Apothecary, a Field Guide and is based in the woods of the Netherlands. I’m really excited to share this recipe with you and try it out myself this weekend! - Spencre xo

 
Outdoor No Knead Bread
 

For me there is something special about outdoor cooking, like a mindful ritual. No scale or timers, just you, the ingredients and fire. Slow and in tune with nature. My favourites to cook outdoors must be bread and stew, although I love a good pie and pizza as well.

A cast iron pan, such as a Dutch oven, is really nice to use if you cook over the fire. It heats up evenly and holds the heat very well. When you don’t have a Dutch oven, or find it too heavy to carry around (I totally get that!) a double mess tin (or other thick non-coated pan with a lid) will work as well for this recipe.

 
Outdoor No Knead Bread Recipe
Outdoor No Knead Bread Recipe
Outdoor No Knead Bread
 


INGREDIENTS

2 cups spelt flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1.5 teaspoons sea salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
As much water as needed
About a handful of mixed seeds
Some extra olive oil and a baking sheet (optional, but handy) for your Dutch Oven.

METHOD

Make sure you have got a (camp)fire burning or preheat your oven to 200ºC/390ºF.

Start with mix all the dry ingredients (including the seeds), add the olive oil and stir really well. Add water till a nice dough forms, it needs to be cohesive but not sticky. You probably need about 3/4 cup water (if you want extra fluffy bread, use sparkling water). Mix/knead it until you have a nice ball of dough. There is no need to wait for the dough to rise, since we are using baking powder. One of the things that makes this an easy outdoor bread, is that it doesn’t require much kneading.

Make sure your Dutch oven (or mess tins) has a good coat of olive oil on the inside (don’t forget in inside of the lid). Place the baking sheet on the bottom and place your ball of dough on top of it. Press some extra seeds onto the ball of dough.

Now back to the fire: Move the fire, or make sure the ground is covered with hot coals (no direct flames/fire). Add a couple of hot coals on top of the lid of the Dutch oven. With bread, the top heat is more important than the heat from below. If you are using the mess tins (or other pan), use the same technique, however you should be extra careful not to burn the bread.

Your bread will be done in about 40 minutes or so – depending on the heat of the coals/your oven, the size of your Dutch oven, and so on. To put it simply, your bread is done, when it is done. If it looks golden brown and sounds hollow if you tap on it, it is probably done!

Outdoor No Knead Bread Recipe
Outdoor No Knead Bread Recipe

About Sanne

Sanne is a nature lover in skin and bones. Reconnecting with nature through ancient skills and crafts. Sleeping under the stars and sipping on tea when the sun rises. Encouraging others to head outdoors and find calm and strength along the way.

Find Sanne online at runningwithsheep.com and on Instagram @runningwithsheep

 
Outdoor No Knead Bread Recipe
 

All photos were taken by and/or belong to Sanne