Monday, February 28, 2011

Elderberry (and other) Syrup Recipes

Juicing the Elderberries - multiple times! - for a batch of
"All Power to the People! Eldercampane Syrup."

Stirring the local honey in. Juicing the limes, while the Cinnamon and honey look on.

Measuring out the tincture. The finished syrup. Yum.

Word on the street is that a bunch of folks have Elderberries in the freezer from last Autumn and are seeking recipes. Ask and ye shall receive! I'm including not only recipes for immune-supporting Elderberry syrups, but ones for building Iron, protecting or decongesting the lungs, and settling the stomach. Please see the glossary below if you're unsure of a term. And if something is unclear, please ask! Information like this means little if you can't put it into practice to make medicine for your community!

As with everything herbal, there are a gazillion recipes and methods to making your remedies. I make my food and medicine using pinches, dashes, and handfuls. However, in order to re-create good creations and to share recipes with others, I've been recording general directions and amounts. So, I'm sharing these recipes that I've used, adapted, and created over the years. Feel free to experiment and please post your comments, questions, and recipes!

Why syrups? Herbal syrups are remedies that are more concentrated than teas (though less concentrated than tinctures). They take time to simmer, but they also keep for months, making them more convenient than simmering tonic herbs daily or making decoctions when you’re not feeling well. Using good local honey, rather than the white sugar that some syrup recipes call for, creates not only a sweet tasting remedy but also soothes the mucus membranes of our throats and digestive tracts. Depending on the herbs you choose, you can make a daily tonic with herbs to build blood or give immune support, or a syrup for acute situations, such as an expectorant or sore throat remedy for cold and flu season. Syrups can also be made alcohol-free for kids, those in recovery, those allergic to alcohol, etc, and they usually taste gooooood. If possible, keep your syrups refrigerated so that they keep longer.

A note on sugar and honey: Many syrup recipes call for loads of refined sugar. When I'm feeling under the weather I definitely don't want to be taking sugar, which depletes the immune system, so in my recipes I use local honey and refrigerate my syrups.  I love to use local honey in my syrups. Simmering the honey with the herbs creates a thicker, more syrupy consistency, but also cooks some of the vitality and medicinal properties out of the honey. Oh no! But the bees worked so hard! And the humans, too. So I don't cook the honey, or sometimes I cook just a small amount of it and add most of it later once the syrup has cooled a bit. I would rather have a more liquidy medicinal syrup than a less medicinal thick syrup.

A note on consistency: The recipes below (besides the goopy Horehound Syrup recipe), come out with a liquidy consistency.  They are like a really concentrated tea-concoction, rather than a thicker syrupy consistency that you may be used to.  You can experiment with adding ingredients that will thicken your syrup, such as Slippery Elm powder (from a cultivated, organic source, as this tree is at-risk), to achieve the consistency you're seeking.

Most syrups, especially ones containing honey, are recommended for children over 2. Check in with your health care provider or trusted friends to see about dosages for little ones.

General Syrup-Making Info:
I like to make my syrups when I can be at home and take my time - time to let it simmmer, to let it cool, and to clean up the mess afterwards. Especially if I'm using Elderberries. As always, its a good idea to read over the recipe before embarking on your syrupy adventure to be sure that you've got what you need for ingredients and supplies, or at least that you've got a general idea so that you can improvise.

When I was living somewhere with pretty heavily-chlorinated water, when I would visit friends and family with good water from a well or spring I bring along a half gallon jar so that I can use it for making medicine. Use what you've got access to, but if you can get your hands on good water your medicine will be that much stronger. That being said, I'd rather use tap water than give a penny of my money to Poland Springs/Nestle and other water-stealing corporations.

In general, I don't measure my herbs by weight, as many herbal recipes do. I prefer to measure my herbs out in a measuring cup. I add the herbs and water into a large pot and simmer the brew until I've reduced the liquid by half, i.e. simmer 2 cups of water down to 1 cup. I then remove the pot from heat, strain out and compost the herbs, return the liquid to the pot, and let the hot liquid cool before adding 1/2 the amount of local honey (1/2 cup honey to 1 cup of concentrated tea). I usually let it cool for about 15-20 minutes before adding the honey so that heat doesn't kill the living enzymes and other good stuff in the honey, but it's still warm enough that the honey will dissolve. Many recipes call for far more sweetener, but I feel like this amount is plenty. If I'm adding additional ingredients - tinctures, apple cider vinegar, lemon/lime juice, etc. - I let the liquid cool even more, almost down to room temperature, so that the alcohol doesn't evaporate off and the heat doesn't kill the vitamin C or living enzymes in the other ingredients.

Pour your syrup into sterilized bottles, using brand new ones or washing reused ones with hot soapy water and rinsing carefully with boiling water. Label your syrup with the ingredients and date, and record your recipes if you wish. It's often recommended to use up your syrup within a few months, but depending on the ingredients you choose that may have anti-bacterial, preservative properties, they may last longer.

Elderberry Syrup
This simple syrup combines elderberries, long praised for its anti-viral properties, with sore throat-soothing honey.  Be sure to use only blue-black Elderberries, Sambucus nigra. (The red ones can be toxic.) Here in Northern New England U.S., the Elder trees that you want to harvest from are in bloom in June and ripen in early September. Don't eat Elderberries that haven’t been cooked first, as eating too many can make you sick.

1 cup fresh or ½ cup dried Elderberries
3 cups Water
3/4-1 cup Honey

1. Add the berries and water to a pot. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer over low heat for 30-60 minutes.
2. Strain the mixture through a fine-mesh strainer, being sure to squeeze or crush as much of the juice out of the berries that you can.
3. Let the liquid cool, but while it's still warm enough to dissolve honey, add the honey and stir. 
4. Pour the syrup into clean containers (preferable narrow-mouthed containers for easily pouring) and store in the refrigerator, where it should keep for a few months.  If you would like to preserve your syrup for longer, you can add a few ounces of alcohol or tincture.

Elecampane Syrup
Elecampane is an amazing medicine for infections that settle deep in the lungs.

1/2 cup dried Elecampane root
2 3” Cinnamon sticks broken up into bits, optional
2 1/2 cups Water
3/4 cup (or more) local Honey
1+ ounce Elecampane tincture

Bring the first three ingredients to a boil, and then reduce to a simmer until the liquid is reduced to half. Strain and compost the herb. Add honey after the tea has cooled, but is still warm enough to dissolve the honey. Once cooled to room temperature, add the Elecampane tincture and stir.

Elder starting to bloom by the stream, Old school print of Elecampane (aka Elf Dock)

Elecampane blossom and ripe, heavy Elderberries with dewy spider web 

All Power to the People! Eldercampane Syrup
One time I had a wee bit of Elderberry syrup and a wee bit of Elecampane syrup and so I combined them. It was so delicious and medicinal. This is how the Eldercampane syrup came to be. And then one day I was making a batch while listening to a Democracy Now! program on the 40th anniversary of the assassination of Black Panther Party leader Fred Hampton on our local community radio station 91.1 WGDR. As I made medicine, I reflected on the concept of supporting and strengthening our defenses. I make this syrup with gratitude in honor of all those who’ve organized past and present for community health, including the Black Panther Party and the Young Lords.   (I don't make this syrup available for sale, if I did I'd only use that name as a fundraiser for political prisoners, Black Lives Matter, etc)

I gather the Elderberries from my friend's thriving, abundant bushes, and the Elecampane that I harvest grows prolifically along the tree line in the moist lower pasture at my family's farm. The faraway spices I try to get from the most ethical sources I can find - friends have brought them back from markets visited on their travels or family visits or I try to get my hands on fair-trade, worker-owned, organic, etc. sources. The Ginger and Cinnamon are both great for respiratory/ immune health and the Cinnamon helps make the syrup a bit more viscous, once cooled. This recipe makes a delicious, anti-viral syrup to speed recovery during cold and flu season. I like the taste so much that I integrate it as a food, pouring it on my buckwheat pancakes, or just taking a shot of it when folks around me are sick, I'm not getting enough sleep, or am feeling stressed or under the weather. This is a big batch, feel free to decrease it. Or make a lot and share it!

Here we go! Combine the following ingredients in a large pot and simmer uncovered until the liquid is reduced by half:

3/4 cup dried Elecampane root
4” fresh Ginger, grated
3 3" Cinnamon stick, broken into bits
9 cups Water

While the herbs are simmering, juice your fresh Elderberries. I put my berries through the juicer at least three times to get all their good juice out. If you have frozen Elderberries, remove them from the freezer before making the syrup so that they can thaw out. If you have dried Elderberries, simmer 1 or 1 1/2 cups with the herbs above.  If you don't have a juicer, just add the Elderberries to the Elecampane, Ginger, and Cinnamon and let them all simmer together.

Letting the liquid cool as mentioned above in general instructions, blend together:

2 1/2 cup of Elderberry juice
3 cups local Honey
5 ounces local Apple Cider Vinegar (my favorite is Honest-To-Goodness)
juice of 2 fresh Limes
6 ounces Echinacea tincture (whole plant - root, leaf, flower, bud, and seed)
3 drops homemade Self-heal flower essence per bottle (to support the body in healing itself)

When the hot liquid has cooled enough, but is still warm enough to dissolve honey, add the juice-honey-vinegar-lime-tincture-flower essence blend and stir.  Pour your syrup into bottles, label, and share! The honey, apple cider vinegar, and tincture are all natural preservatives, prolonging the life of the syrup. It's often recommended to use up your syrup within a few months, but with this recipe, I've had the syrup last over a year.

Variations: You can add other herbs that you’d like to simmer along with the elderberries. For a cold and flu prevention syrup, you can add Astragalus root, simmered with the Elderberries and/or added as a tincture. For syrup to take when you’re sick, you can add other herbs such as Thyme for anti-bacterial respiratory support, and/or Marshmallow root for its soothing qualities.

 (You can buy Honest to Goodness Apple Cider Vinegar in C. Vermont Coops, or buy it in bulk directly from them.  Call: 802-685-3061 )

Instant Ginger Syrup
Alright, technically this is really an infused honey rather than a syrup, but the infused honey is just as good (I think), quicker to make, and uses less fuel/electricity.

This "syrup" is great when you want the benefits of fresh ginger root, but you’re not able to brew up tea. You can bring it with you to work and on trips, though it is best to refrigerate it and I like to make small batches and use it up within a few days. It’s powerfully decongesting, soothes a sore throat, boosts the immune system, and helps to ease motion sickness. Simply grate a couple handfuls of fresh grated ginger to a medium sized jar and cover with local honey. As the ginger releases its moisture, the honey becomes more liquidy and spoon-able. I take the syrup as is, but if you don't like to eat lil bits of ginger, you can strain them out. If the honey is more granular, you can gently heat it by placing your glass honey jar in warm (not HOT! - it may crack and/or you may cook the good stuff out) water to liquefy it before straining.

The roots and leaves of Iron Building Syrup.

Iron Building Syrup
Iron Building Syrup is rich in vitamins and minerals, especially iron.  This syrup helps build up iron in the blood with herbs that are more absorbable by your body than synthetic iron pills, which can cause constipation. This syrup is great for those who menstruate, as we are cyclically building and shedding our blood, and especially helpful for vegetarians and others who may tend to get anemic! I like to take this syrup throughout the month or during and after my period to build up nutrients that are lost with my flow.

1/2 cup each dried: Dandelion leaf, Dandelion root, Burdock root, Yellow dock, Nettle leaf, and Raspberry leaf
12 cups Water

Simmer this brew down to 6 cups. Strain the herbs from the liquid. Pour the liquid back into the pot. Remove from heat. Letting the liquid cool as mentioned above in general instructions, blend together:

2-3 cups local Honey
7 tablespoons fair-trade black strap Molasses

Once cooled, to add more medicinal properties and help preserve your syrup, you can add:

4 ounces brandy or tincture of any of the above herbs

Your syrup is all made!  Bottle, seal, and label. Store in the refrigerator. Take 2-6 tablespoons daily.

Old school print of Licorice 
Old school print of Coltsfoot and Coltsfoot leaves

Persistent Cough Syrup
Early this past winter many folks just couldn't kick the persistent cough that held on long after their cold or flu had passed. My neighbor asked for help. Ginger and Thyme came to mind initially. Then he told me he'd tried Echinacea, Elecampane, and Goldenseal roots, and Garlic. When I got home to my apothecary the remedies that I thought would be helpful weren't the ones calling to me. Licorice was loud. Then I went to my lung tonic blend - the leaves of Plantain, Mullein, Lungwort, and Coltsfoot. The Coltsfoot wanted to join the Licorice root and be made into a syrup. I love Licorice root. It's a great syrup herb because it's anti-viral, relaxing, soothing to mucus membranes, and supports respiratory health. I didn't have as much personal experience with Coltsfoot, however, so I took the opportunity to look it up in some of my herbals. And in her writings on Coltsfoot, Mrs. M. Grieve recommends a Licorice-Coltsfoot Syrup. !!!  So here's what I made:

7 large dried Coltsfoot leaves (harvested away from roads, where it commonly grows), crushed into bits
3 small handfuls Licorice root, cut and sifted herb (if long, tongue-depressor like slices of roots, break into bits)
2 1/4 cup Water

Simmer down to 1 cup of strong tea. Add:

1/2 cup local Honey

Take a teaspoon as needed to soothe a dry, irritated, sore throat and to ease coughing. If you're concerned with Licorice's affect on those with high blood pressure, you can keep your daily dosage low or choose a different blend of herbs.

Bitter, fuzzy Horehound.

Horehound Syrup
From Michael Moore’s Medicinal Plants of the Mountain West:  “Horehound is an old and revered bitter expectorant. For coughs and lung congestion in general, a syrup is often preferable. This is my recipe (there are endless variations): Boil an ounce of Horehound in a pint of water for twenty minutes, strain and reduce the liquid to a cup. Add two cups honey and stir over low heat. Remove from heat and add one ounce powdered Slippery elm bark or powdered Comfrey root, the juice from one lime, and one-half cup brandy. If you are fortunate enough to have some handy, several tablespoons of powdered Osha Root can also be added. Mix thoroughly and bottle. Take a tablespoon or two as needed.”

A note on Osha Root, since this plant is at-risk: “Use the wild plant only when absolutely necessary; otherwise use only cultivated resources. Thyme, elecampane, marshmallow, lovage, angelica, and rosemary are all good alternatives.” From Planting the Future: Saving Our Medicinal Herbs edited by Rosemary Gladstar and Pamela Hirsch.  Slippery Elm is also at-risk, so please get it from a cultivated source.

And just be aware that when you add the slippery elm bark powder to this syrup the consistency radically transforms from a liquidy liquid into a snotty globby mess! Hooray (as long as you don't mind)!

Making Elderberry-White Pine syrup with an afterschool program.
tinctures - alcohol-based herbal extracts
decoction - a tea made by simmering the more tenacious parts of plants - i.e. roots, barks, certain seeds.
herbals - herb books. It's a good idea to have at least 3 reliable herbals to turn to for information.
Did I use any other unfamiliar terms? Let me know!

Friday, February 25, 2011

The Campaign to Free Oscar López Rivera Continues!

Clockwise from top left. Puerto Rican Political Prisoner Oscar López Rivera, National Boricua Human Rights Network - working tirelessly for Oscar's freedom, the last of Oscar's co-defendents Carols Alberto Torres is Free! July 26, 2010, and youth calling for the release of the remaining Puerto Rican Political Prisoners,

The US Parole Commission has daily received hundreds of calls, along with thousands of faxes and letters in support of US Political Prisoner Oscar López Rivera over the last 3 week period. (Please see the 2/12 Freedom for Oscar López Rivera! post for more info) The National Boricua Human Rights Network is continuing the campaign to win freedom for Puerto Rican political prisoner Oscar López Rivera. On Friday, February 18, the U.S. Parole Commission issued its decision in the case of Puerto Rican political prisoner Oscar López Rivera, stating “Deny parole. Continue to a 15-year reconsideration hearing in January 2026 or continue to expiration, whichever comes first.”

Please continue to call, fax and mail letters to the USPC. THERE ARE NEW VERSIONS OF THE PHONE SCRIPT AND LETTER. Please make sure you use those.

This decision ignores the express will of the Puerto Rican people and those who believe in justice and human rights, counting tens of thousands of voices supporting his immediate release, the Commission ignored the evidence establishing that Oscar met all the criteria for parole, and also ignored its own rules in the process. Among these many ignored voices are members of legislatures including the United States Congress; the state legislatures of New York, Illinois, Ohio and Pennsylvania; the city councils and county boards of many locales in the U.S. and Puerto Rico; the mayors of many towns in the U.S. and Puerto Rico, including the Association of Mayors of Puerto Rico; bar associations including the Puerto Rico Bar Association, the National Lawyers Guild and the American Association of Jurists; clergy and religious organizations, including the Ecumenical Coalition representing every religious denomination in Puerto Rico; human rights advocates, academics, students, artists, community organizations, and workers.

Oscar and his attorney Jan Susler will meet next week to discuss the decision. Meanwhile, the National Boricua Human Rights Network in the U.S. and the Comité Pro Derechos Humanos in Puerto Rico will continue the campaign to express to the Parole Commission the depth and breadth of support for Oscar’s immediate release.

Oscar, his family, his attorney, National Boricua Human Rights Network in the U.S. and the Comité Pro Derechos Humanos in Puerto Rico want to express our deepest gratitude for the vast support for his release.

Interfaith Prisoners of Conscience Project Denounces US Parole Commission's Decision

The Interfaith Prisoners of Conscience Project denounces the US Parole Commission's decision to deny the parole petition of Puerto Rican political prisoner Oscar López Rivera, a father, grandfather, artist, community organizer, and decorated Viet Nam veteran who has spent nearly 30 years in prison for acts and beliefs in favor of independence for Puerto Rico.

In making this decision, the Parole Commission clearly failed to follow its own guidelines, which stipulate that the petitioner not pose a safety threat and not be likely to commit a future offense.

Past and present supporters of his release include Nobel Laureates such as Desmond Tutu and Rigoberta Menchu; scores of other prominent people, including elected officials, celebrities, and religious leaders and denominations, reflecting the broadest cross-section of the Puerto Rican society. Clearly his supporters would not be working to welcome him home to Puerto Rico if they considered it remotely possible that he posed a danger to themselves or their loved ones.

A whole generation has grown up in the thirty years that Mr. López Rivera has been in prison. Around the world, we see people breathing in the new possibilities of freedom and democracy, while students in one of the few remaining colonies in the Americas are maced and tear-gassed for engaging in peaceful protest at the University of Puerto Rico. Regardless of one's views concerning Puerto Rico's political status, it's past time for people of conscience everywhere to join in this call to pray, meditate, demand, and struggle to bring Oscar home.

Rev. Dr. C. Nozomi Ikuta

Co-Chair, Interfaith Prisoners of Conscience Project.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Valentine's Aphrodisiac Recipes

 Aphrodisiacs ~ named after Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love, beauty, and sensuality ~ are foods, drinks, scents, and practices that heighten our senses. Aphrodisiacs can be calming, so that we can relax and be more present in our bodies. Aphrodisiacs can also be stimulating, promoting circulation and stirring us up on many levels. Imbolc, the midpoint between winter solstice and spring equinox, marks the quickening of the Earth, the movement of the seeds buried under the layers of snow. The light is returning, and though the sap has not yet begun to rise, the sun is still up past 4:30pm!  Saint Valentine’s Day, which follows soon after Imbolc, is an opportunity in deep winter to feel the approach of springtime warmth and fertility.  (And by fertility I don't mean just romantic love and reproduction and all that, but also as a manifestation of creativity and all its other forms.)  Valentine’s Day has been co-opted by the greeting card industry and others that pressure us to 1. Have a lover and 2. Shower them and/or be showered by them with roses, diamonds, and chocolates. But Hallmark’s got nothing on homemade truffles and potions!   

The following recipes are suggestions – feel free to alter proportions and ingredients. I’ve directly quoted the recipes that are from other people, adding my own notes in italics. If you’re seeking calming aphrodisiacs, experiment with integrating herbs such as skullcap, milky oats, and lavender into the recipes below. For stimulating aphrodisiacs, try warming spices, such as ginger, cinnamon, and cayenne. More recipes and writings on Valentine’s Day, see the Love is a Verb & Chocolate Explosion! posts.

A note on ingredient sources: Unfortunately much of what we associate with Valentine’s – roses, chocolate, and diamonds – comes at a great cost that we may be completely unaware of. Systematic sexual harassment/assault of women working in the flower growing industry (and here), child labor in West African countries that supply Hersey’s and Russell Stover, and dangerous labor conditions/child labor in diamond mines. When choosing your ingredients, please choose ones that fully embody the love you’re expressing for yourself and those you’re sharing your creations with by supporting fair-trade, worker-owned collectives, and/or local farmers when possible.

So whether you’re celebrating solo, with a lover, with family, or friends, here are some recipes to heighten your senses, keep warm, enjoy the long nights of deep winter, and to celebrate love and the inevitable arrival of spring.

♥recipes for the inside ♥

cardamom brandy truffles
Recipe adapted from The Joy of Cooking
10 ounces Dark chocolate
1½ cup Coconut milk
¼ cup Cardamom-infused brandy
Cocoa powder
Pinch of Cayenne, optional

Pour the coconut milk into a small saucepan and simmer on low heat until it is reduced to 1 cup (approx. 15-20 minutes). While the coconut milk is simmering, chop chocolate into pieces and place in a double boiler (a bowl resting in a pot of water, so that the chocolate is not directly above the heat). Be sure to keep water out of the chocolate so that the chocolate doesn’t seize and get chunky. When the coconut milk has reduced to 1 cup, remove from heat, add the brandy, and stir. Pour the coconut milk-brandy over the chocolate bits and turn on the double boil to a slow simmer. Stir the mixture until the chocolate has melted and mixed completely with the liquid. Refrigerate until hard (approx. 3 hours, can put in the freezer if you have less time). Remove from refrigeration and scoop out by the spoonful, rolling into balls with your hands. Place balls on a baking sheet and return to refrigeration to harden. Once hardened, remove balls from refrigeration and roll in a shallow bowl of cocoa powder, fair-trade if possible. If storing for later, place balls in tupperware, and place waxed paper between layers. Store in the refrigerator and remove 30 minutes before feasting on them. This gets messy, so I like to get out all the supplies beforehand and have a spatula handy to scrape all the good chocolate from bowls and fingers! To make cardamom-infused brandy, I place about 1 tablespoon whole cardamom seed pods that I crush and then put in an 8 oz. glass jar and cover with brandy. Leave this to infuse for anywhere from 5 days to an entire moon cycle (one month) and then strain. Compost the cardamom and now you have infused cardamom-infused brandy!  You can do the same with other spices and herbs.

easier truffles
To make easier and non-alcoholic truffles, simply omit the brandy from the recipe above and use 1¼ cups of coconut milk without reducing it.  You can warm the coconut milk and chocolate together in the double boiler.  This way you don't have to worry about the chocolate seizing.  And: less dishes, more fun!  For more info on Rose, Orange, Ginger, and Vanilla-Coffee truffles, see my Chocolate Explosion! blog post.

chocolate oblivion torte
thanks mom (and the interwebs)!
8 whole Eggs, at room temperature
¼ cup Sugar
3 tsp Butter, soft
30 ounces Semi-sweet Chocolate chips
1/3 cup Raspberry puree, optional

Yes, that’s right, 8 whole eggs and 30 ounces of chocolate! In a mixing bowl, whip eggs and sugar until eggs become lemon yellow. Melt chocolate in a double boiler. Allow chocolate to cool slightly, and then add butter to the warm chocolate. Fold chocolate into whipped eggs. You can add your choice of pureed fruit if you wish, but it is not necessary. Pour mixture into an oiled spring form pan. Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes at 350ºF. Remove foil and cook for an additional 10 minutes, uncovered. Remove the torte from the oven, let cool a bit, and refrigerate. Let cool at least 6 hours before cutting and serving. Serve with fresh or thawed local berries, depending on the season. If you want something truly decadent, top with ginger maple whipped cream. Feel free to experiment ~ add a pinch of cayenne or cinnamon powder, or try infusing the sugar with a vanilla bean. Warning: this torte is incredibly rich.

ginger maple whipped cream
1” piece fresh Ginger root
2-4 tablespoons Maple syrup (or local Honey)
Pint of Heavy cream

Grate ginger root and squeeze out its juice with a strainer. (Save the grated ginger bits to make tea or to add to food.) Add the ginger juice, sweetener, and cream into a mason jar and shake, and shake, and shake. Watch to be sure you catch the whipped cream phase before it turns to butter. If it does turn to butter, don’t worry – ginger maple butter is delicious on buckwheat pancakes, biscuits, etc.

full dates
adapted from Diana DeLuca’s Botanica Erotica and dedicated with much love to the Bitchin’ Kitchen of Ireland!
Tahini (sesame paste)
Dried Coconut flakes
Ginger-infused Honey (see directions for making infused honey below)

Cut dates in half lengthwise and remove the pit. Fill the hollow with tahini, drizzle on ginger-infused honey, sprinkle on dried coconut flakes, and enjoy! This recipe is quick to make and full of protein and sweetness. It can be made ahead of time and stored in the fridge or at your bedside.

infused honey
Fresh and dried herbs, spices, flowers, and fruits can be infused in honey to be eaten on its own or added to cordials, deserts, and other recipes. In general, you can fill a jar a quarter of the way with fresh or dried herbs, fill the jar with honey, and then stir to completely envelope the herb with the honey. Make infused honeys as you need them or let them infuse over time, and experiment with ingredients and amounts. To make the ginger-infused honey for the recipe above, first grate fresh ginger root into local honey. The honey will become more fluid, as the root’s moisture is released into it. You can leave the bits of ginger in the honey if you wish. If you want ginger-infused honey without the bits, you can peel and slice the ginger, infuse it, and then eat the candied ginger separately from the honey. You can also add powdered or crushed herbs and spices, such as Cardamom, Cinnamon, Lavender, or Rosemary. In the summer months you can infuse fresh wild or organically grown Rose petals in honey. If you are using fresh herbs and flowers and are concerned with bacterial growth, store your infused honey in the refrigerator.  (I make sure to use up the fresh ginger root infused honey within a couple days as I've had it start to turn and get fizzy when I've carried it with me to work (unrefrigerated) to add to warm water or take by the spoonful for warming immune support).

rosewater pudding
Recipe adapted from Caitlin Adair, found in Jeanne Pollack’s Healing Tonics
1 quart Butterwork’s Jersey milk whole yogurt, homemade yogurt, or whatever is most local to you
2 tablespoons local Honey
1/4-1/2 teaspoon organic Orange zest
1 teaspoon pure distilled Rosewater
¼ teaspoon ground Cardamom
1 tablespoon fresh Rose petals, wild or organic, if available
¼ cup sliced Strawberries or whole Raspberries, fresh or frozen

Pour yogurt into a colander or strainer lined with a couple layers of cheesecloth, with a bowl underneath to catch the whey. Cover the colander with a plate and set in the refrigerator overnight. The yogurt will thicken as the whey drains out. Transfer the yogurt into a bowl. Grate the organic Orange zest into another bowl with the honey, stir, and then add the rosewater and cardamom. Drizzle the honey mixture over the yogurt. Garnish with berries and fresh rose petals.

chocolate spice pudding (dairy free)
1 can Coconut milk
½ tsp Agar agar (seaweed)
2 tablespoons fair-trade Cocoa powder
1 tsp each of Cinnamon and Cardamom powders
Sweeten to taste (such as 4 tablespoons Maple syrup or local Honey)

Pour coconut milk, cocoa, and spices in a pan, whisk together, and bring to a simmer. Remove a small amount of it and place in a bowl. Sprinkle the agar agar into the bowl and whisk together until blended. Pour the spiced coconut milk-agar agar mixture into the rest of the pudding-to-be and let sit for a few minutes. Bring the blend back up to a simmer while whisking for another minute. Pour into little glass bowls and allow to cool a bit (to let it firm up) before serving.

Variations to the above recipe:
Vanilla blueberry pudding: Replace the cocoa with 1 tablespoon vanilla extract and add another 2 tsp of cinnamon powder. Pour the blend into little bowls, and add frozen blueberries.
Cardamom rosewater pudding: Replace the cocoa with 1½ tablespoon rosewater, and omit the cinnamon powder

herbal herb*balls! (formerly man balls, but not all who have prostates identify as male)
Inspired by Rosemary Gladstar’s Zoom Balls in Rosemary Gladstar’s Family Herbal (also published as Rosemary Gladstar's Recipes for Vibrant Health)
2 cups of Tahini (sesame paste)
1 cup of (infused) local Honey
½ tablespoon Cinnamon and Cardamom powders each
½ cup Pumpkin seeds
½ cup Sunflower seeds
¾ cup dried Coconut flakes
½ cup Cocoa or Carob powder
All optional:
1 tablespoon Spirulina (fresh water blue-green algae, with lots of protein & B vitamins)
Hawthorn berry powder and Nettle leaf powder (start with a few tablespoons, & then experiment)
½ cup Chocolate/Carob chips
Extra Sesame seeds, Coconut flakes, and/or Cocoa or Carob powder
Infused brandy or elixir

Mix the tahini and honey together until they are smooth. Add the herb powders. Mix in enough cocoa/carob powder to be able to form the dough into balls that will hold their shape. Then add the coconut flakes, nuts, and chocolate/carob chips. Roll the balls, and coat with sesame seeds, coconut, or cocoa/carob powder. These will keep for a many weeks stored in the fridge. Feel free to adjust the amounts, and to experiment with other nuts, dried fruits, and nut butters. Herb balls are great for people of all genders! You can experiment with other powdered tonic herbs such as: ashwaghanda root, licorice root, marshmallow root, and rose petals.

Pumpkin, sunflower, and sesame seeds are great to eat regularly to maintain prostate health. These seeds can be eaten on their own, as a trail mix, or as nut butters. Keep them refrigerated to keep their oils from going rancid. Pumpkin and sunflower seeds are high in zinc, which is depleted through ejaculation (I have only heard this when referring to ejaculation experienced by those with a penis, I don't know if it's the same for those who ejaculate via the urethra for those with vulvas). Replenish yourself!

chicken mole(-ish)
For those of us that like hearty meals, I’m including this mole recipe from the “Green and Black’s Chocolate Recipes: From the Cacao Pod to Muffins, Mousses, and Moles” book I won in a chocolate raffle! I am not at all endorsing Green and Black as a company, especially now that it’s been bought by the multinational corporation Cadbury Schweppes who was then bought by Kraft - see Black Ops on Green Groups: Private Security Firm Run by Fmr. Secret Service Officers Spied on Environmental Orgs for Corporate Clients. I like that this recipe has few ingredients than other (more traditional) recipes I’ve found. Preparation time: 20 minutes. Cooking time: 1½ hours. Use: large, flameproof casserole dish or another flameproof and ovenproof pot. Serves 4.

2 Garlic clove
2 large Onions
2 smoked, dried Jalapeno chile peppers, soaked and chopped, soaking water reserved, or 2 teaspoons of smoked Sweet paprika
8 Chicken pieces on the bone
2 tablespoons Olive oil
one 15-oz. can Red kidney beans (or 15oz of home cooked Red kidney beans)
one 14½-oz. can chopped Tomatoes
2½ ounces Dark chocolate, minimum 60% cocoa content, broken into pieces

Preheat oven to 300°F/150°C. Crush the garlic cloves and slice the onions. Remove the seeds and chop the soaked chile peppers, and reserve the soaking water. In a large, flameproof and ovenproof pot, heat a little olive oil and sear the chicken pieces in it. Brown lightly and then add the garlic and sliced onions. Once the onions are lightly browned, add the tomatoes and the red kidney beans including their juice, the chopped chiles, their soaking juice, and two-thirds of the chocolate. Bring to a simmer, then place in the oven and cook for at least one and a half hours. Skim the surface to remove the fat from the chicken. Taste, and adjust the seasoning with salt if necessary. Add the rest of the dark chocolate to taste. The sauce will be a rich, thick, velvety brown with a gloss all of its own. Hint: Omit the chicken and double the quantity of beans for a vegetarian mole.

Note: *In general, crushing your garlic and letting it sit a few minutes before chopping actually makes it more medicinal. *I don't‘skim the fat’ or remove chicken skin or anything like that. The chickens' lives were taken for this meal and I don't want to just toss out their nourishing, delicious fat, unless someone needs it removed for medical reasons or something like that! *I soak my own beans overnight (or for many hours if possible), with a 5” strip of Kombu seaweed. After soaking, drain and add fresh water to the beans and seaweed, and simmer until tender. I like to do a big batch, and then freeze some for later. Also, I like to use summer tomatoes from my garden (ones that are starting to go are fine, just cut off the funky bits), chop and simmer in a cast iron skillet. I let the tomatoes and liquid cool and then place in Ziploc bags to freeze for later use. 

From another one of Sandra Lory's fabulous workshops about Cacao, the plant that chocolate
comes from - including its traditional uses, history of exploitation past and present by colonizers/corporations, the plant's growth cycle, and the process of growing, harvesting, fermenting, and making chocolate. Clockwise from top: roasted cacao seeds, cacao nibs, cocoa butter (manteca de cacao), roasted coffee beans, cinnamon bark, and chocolate pieces.

♥recipes for the outside ♥

flax goo lubricant
adapted from Sheri Winston’s recipe
Here is a natural lube that you can make at home, even grow in your garden! The consistency of this lube is incredibly similar to cervical fluid (slipperiness created during ovulation), and can be used for self and partner sex, for any kind of dryness or irritation that needs soothing, and as a hair gel! Though this lube is water-soluble and is reactivated with water or saliva, it hasn’t yet been proven to be latex-compatible that I know of. So, if you would like to use it for partnersex, be sure to use it for activities that don’t require condoms. Bring 2 cups water to a boil and add 4 tablespoons of flax seeds (whole seeds- not ground). Turn down heat and simmer 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let sit for 5 minutes. Strain, compost the seeds, and pour lube into squeezable bottles. You can reduce the recipe, or increase it and share it with friends. Your lube will keep for approximately 2 weeks in the refrigerator, 2-3 days at room temp.  (I write this from the Northeastern U.S.  I imagine in hotter climates it may not last as long outside of refrigeration)  This recipe can also be frozen in an ice cube tray and used as needed. You can experiment with simmering herbs (i.e. cinnamon!) in the water before adding flax. Don't wait too long before straining the flax seeds from the goo! With my most recent batch of flax goo, I simmered a 3” stick of Cinnamon in the water in a covered pot for 15 minutes before adding the flax seeds. I have used Red Ape Cinnamon, a company that gives a portion of its profits to protect Orangutan habitat, which gave the lube a warm cinnamony scent and color.

cardamom ginger warming sugar scrub
4 oz. total of Brown and/or Raw sugar, preferably fair-trade
1 tablespoon Dried Ginger powder
1 teaspoon Dried Cardamom powder
2 oz. (or so) Sesame oil

Fill your container almost completely full with the brown sugar. For a four-ounce container, add 1 tablespoon ginger powder and 1 teaspoon cardamom powder to the sugar and stir. Add enough sesame oil to moisten the sugar and stir. If you prefer, continue adding as much oil as you like. 

rose salt scrub
Thanks to Laurel, creatrix of the Rose Petaled Uprising blog and to her Coconut Rose Love Oil post for the inspiration!
4 oz. Sea salt
2 oz. Coconut oil
1 oz. Almond, Jojoba, or another oil that liquid at room temperature
A few drops Rose otto, Rose Geranium, and/or Palmarosa essential oils

Fill your container almost completely full with sea salt. If solid, melt your coconut oil (it is solid below 76ºF/24ºC) and combine with your other oil. Stir your oil mixture into the salt. Add 3-10 drops of essential oil. I use Rose otto essential oil (in jojoba oil) because it is extracted without the use of chemical solvents, unlike Rose absolute. You can also infuse rose petals in any of your oils, to add more of rose’s skin soothing and heart opening/protecting/healing properties.  Instructions for making infused oils are in my (Im)migration and Lip Balms for Social Justice?! post.  I have also added super fragrant fresh Rose Geranium leaves to salt scrubs, which is quite nice and leaves behind little plant bits after you're done bathing.  I just tear the leaves up and layer them in with the salt.

Scrubs give us the opportunity to massage ourselves, make tick checks fun, and help us to reconnect with our bodies, especially when they’re buried beneath winter wool and long johns, for those of us in chilly climates. Scoop out a fingerful of the scrub and massage it into your skin, starting from your extremities and moving in towards your heart and back out again, avoiding the sensitive skin of your face and breasts. (Chests are okay to gently scrub.) Rinse off in the shower or slip into a bath. The salt/sugar exfoliates your skin and is rinsed away by the water, and the oil moisturizes, penetrating deeper with the shower’s heat. Glass jars look nice, but if you’re concerned that it may be broken in the shower, use a plastic container. Note that oil is difficult to contain, even when your jar is sealed closed. If you’re mailing Valentine’s packages or traveling with your scrub, you can place it in a sealed plastic bag so that it doesn’t make a mess. Using a blend of oils that is primarily coconut oil will give you a more solid, less spill-y oil base. Whichever oil you choose, just make sure you use soap to wash the oil off the floor afterwards so that it isn’t slippery!

evergreen massage oil
For those who love the woods, try this fragrant massage oil. Remember, oil-based lube is not for latex! So use this for physical intimacy that doesn't require safer sex supplies that break down when in contact with oil. For those who are susceptible to vaginal infections, you may want to keep this from going inside you, as oil can trap dirt and cause infection.

Dried Evergreen needles, such as White pine, Spruce, or Fir, cut or rubbed between your palms
Olive oil (or Grapeseed, Almond, etc.)

Place needles in a glass jar, filling it 1/3 to ½ of the way. Pour your oil over it, to the top of the jar. Place in a warm spot, such as a sunny windowsill or near the stove, to infuse. Shake daily. After an entire moon cycle, strain out and compost the needles, and pour your oil into a glass bottle. If you don’t have a full month, you can infuse the oil in a crock pot or double boiler at a low temperature for as long as you can. Store in a cool, dark area and use within a year. Enjoy! For more info on making infused oils and balms, please see my (Im)migration and Lip Balms for Social Justice?! post.  When harvesting plants, be sure to take the time to ask the plant's permission and when harvesting tress specifically, do so in a way that doesn't harm future growth.  You can also use tree limbs and needle bundles that blow down in storms, so that the plant isn't at all harmed in the gathering of its medicine.

♥recipes for the both ♥

edible body butter
recipe from Maria Noel Groves of Wintergreen Botanicals
I like to keep mine in a bottle, which I place in a mug of hot water to liquefy (and warm) before using. You can also keep it in a jar, scoop out a bit, and warm it on the body until it’s melted.

3 parts Coconut Oil
1 part Cocoa Butter
½ part Almond Oil

Infuse any or all oils with Nutmeg, Cinnamon, Cardamom, and/or Vanilla Bean (optional). Melt the above in a double boiler. Pour into a blender or mixing bowl. Let sit for a few hours until semi-solid. To taste, add in the following:

Vanilla extract (optional)
Chocolate extract
Sweet liquor (optional) – for example Damiana, Kahlua, Tia Maria, Godiva

Pour in jars or glass bottles. Body butter is best kept refrigerated or in a cool, dry place. It is very shelf stable (Years? Or until it goes rancid…) Edible body butter is not recommended for use in the genital region. Sweet liquors could aggravate yeast or bacterial infections, and the oils are not latex-friendly. (Oil residues on clothing and linens will go rancid over time, so keep things neat and clean, as much as possible. It’s helpful to wipe off excess oils with a old, dry towel or face cloth after the massage.) Enjoy!

chocolate body paint
recipe from Maria Noel Groves of Wintergreen Botanicals
Any chocolate sauce or bar can be turned into body paint. If possible, find organic, fair-trade chocolate, so that everyone involved in the chocolate body paint-making process is treated well!

3 oz. Dark chocolate
3 oz. Vegetable oil (such as Grapeseed or Almond. Coconut oil can be used, but the sauce will thicken as it cools and have a coconut-y flavor. Do not use Olive oil unless you really want that flavor in there)

Melt the chocolate in a double boiler, add the oil. Stir until smooth, and then pour into a glass jar. Blue glass bottles look nice. Use a clean paintbrush that has never been used for paint. This chocolate sauce can also be used for dipping fruit, treats, and body parts. If the chocolate paint hardens, place the bottle into a mug of hot water for a few minutes. This also makes a nice temperature for pouring on the body.

♥aphrodisiac elixirs ♥

damiana tea
Damiana, Turnera diffusa, once known as Turnera aphrodisiaca, is a member of the mint family that grows in Mexico and Central America. It is a tonic herb for the nervous system and has an antidepressant effect. Its energy is warming and stimulating, in a gentle way. Cover one tablespoon dried damiana per cup of boiling water, cover and steep for 5 minutes or so. Strain out the herb, add a spooonful of honey and a pinch of cayenne pepper if you like. Damiana can also be mixed with rose petals, cinnamon, ginger, and cardamom for a more spicy elixir. (Decoct roots and barks by simmering, covered, for 20 minutes. Remove from heat and add leaves, flowers, and seeds to infuse for a few minutes.)

watermelon prostate*love smoothie
Watermelon seeds are diuretic, keeping things flowing in an area that needs movement. Puree organic watermelon with the seeds in a blender and enjoy! You can freeze this drink into ice cube trays to enjoy the fresh flavor year-round. Puree the ice cubes in a food processor for a prostate-lovin’ sorbet!

In Botanica Erotica, herbalist Diana De Luca writes of cordials as rooted in the Latin cor, meaning heart, and originally shared to bring heart to a friendship or situation. “Long Life Elixirs” have traditionally been made with nourishing tonic herbs taken daily. Many people use the terms cordial, liqueur, and elixir interchangeably. Fresh and dried herbs, spices, flowers, seeds, and fruits are infused in brandy, vodka, rum, and other alcoholic drinks, and sweetened with honey, maple syrup, or sugar. Sometimes additionally ingredients such as rosewater, orange blossom water, and infused honeys are added to the mix. These concoctions can be sipped on their own, diluted in water, tea, seltzer, or juice, or added to deserts, herb balls, and other recipes. The recipes below will last for years, and many get better with age.

damiana love elixir
adapted from Diana DeLuca’s Botanica Erotica
½-1 cup Damiana leaves
2 cups Vodka or Brandy
1½ cups Spring water
1 cup local Honey
Vanilla extract or Rose water, optional

Soak damiana leaves in vodka or brandy for 5 days. After 5 days, strain and reserve the liquid in a bottle. Soak the alcohol-drenched leaves in the spring water for 3 days. Strain, reserving the water, and composting the damiana leaves. Gently warm the water extract and dissolve the honey into it. Combine both the water and alcohol extracts and stir well, adding the vanilla or rose water, if desired. Pour into a clean bottle and let sit 1 month or longer. You can make your own vanilla extract by chopping up one vanilla bean per 2 ounces of alcohol and letting it sit, preferably for a few months.

chocolate rose elixir
adapted from Diana DeLuca’s Botanica Erotica
1/3 cup Cocoa powder, sifted – preferably organic, fair trade cocoa
1 heaping cup of fair-trade Sugar
1 cup boiling Water
½ cup Brandy infused with fresh Rose petals
1 tablespoon Vanilla extract

Begin by making chocolate syrup: mix the cocoa powder and sugar together and add the boiling water, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. When cooled, add the vanilla extract. To this syrup, add the brandy and additional vanilla extract or almond extract. Bottle the ingredients and shake well. Let sit for 2 days to 1 week. You can add honey infused with fresh rose petals to this elixir. This recipe is also amazing with brandy infused with spices such as cardamom, star anise, cinnamon, fennel, and fresh ginger. To infuse your brandy, simply fill your jar ¼ full of dried herbs or ½ full of fresh herbs, and pour in your brandy. Let the herbs infuse at least 5 days.  As with any food or drink, make sure that your ingredients - such as rose water - is food grade, and made without chemicals if possible.

heart elixir
For directions on making Heart Elixir with rose petals, tulsi (sometimes called holy basil or sacred basil), brandy, honey, and flower essences to open and protect the heart, see my Heart Elixir post.

oxymels / alcohol-free elixirs
If you desire an alcohol-free elixir, you can make oxymels with fresh rose petals, damiana, cardamom, ginger, and other herbs.  Oxymels are infusions of herbs in apple cider vinegar and honey.  In these parts {N'dakina - traditional lands that include what is commonly called Quebec, Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, New York, and Massachusetts} you can make entirely local oxymels, as there are many great sources of local raw apple cider vinegar and honey.

To make a vinegar:  Fill a glass jar halfway with fresh herbs or a quarter full with dried herbs, and then fill the jar with vinegar. Cover with a glass or plastic lid, or a cork, as metal will rust. You can also put a layer of plastic wrap or waxed paper between a metal lid and jar, but I've still had metal lids rust through the layer. Let the herb vinegar infuse for an entire moon cycle, shaking daily if possible. Strain out and compost the herb, and pour the infused vinegar into a sterilized glass bottle with a glass or plastic lid. Store in a cool, dark area such as a cupboard. Folks have varying opinions about how long herbal vinegars keep. Some say 6 months, many say years.  To make an oxymel:  Fill a glass jar halfway with fresh herbs or a quarter full with dried herbs, and then cover the herbs with honey and stir.  In general when I make oxymels the herb-honey blend fills the jar one-quarter or one-third of the way and then I fill the remaining 3/4 to 2/3 of the jar with vinegar.   Shake so it blends all together.  And follow the vinegar-making instructions above.  Some people boil the vinegar to kill the enzymes and prevent the 'mother' from growing.  I prefer to keep mine raw and am just careful about cleaning well/sterilizing all the jars and utensils.  Using dried herbs will introduce less moisture to the vinegar or oxymel, making it less likely to go bad.  If you're concerned about bacterial growth, you can store your vinegars and oxymels in the fridge.

Elixirs and other products are available at Dandelioness Herbal's online etsy shop.  Aphrodisiac offerings include:
*Heart Elixir: Remedy to Open and Protect the Heart 
*Chocolate Spice Elixir: a Warming Aphrodisiac with local Honey 
*Chocoate Spice Elixir: a Warming Aphrodisiac with Damiana and fair-trade sugar and Damiana Elixir: Relaxing Aphrodisiac available by contacting dandelion778 at yahoo dot com

More Valentine's/Chocolate-inspired blog posts:
*Love is a Verb: A Valentine's Post
*Love & Migration: Migration is Beautiful & Natural. So is Solidarity.
*V-Day: One Billion Rising and Man Prayer (Un Billón de Pie y Oración de un Hombre)

revised 2/16 and 2/18

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Freedom for Oscar López Rivera!

Oscar López Rivera and his artwork: clockwise from middle top - Katrina's Dome, Salvador Allende, Border Crossing, Mita with apron, Mita making morcilla

I'm writing today to ask that you take a few moments out of your day (especially since many of y'all in the Northeastern US are snowed in by this amazing storm!) to call the US Parole Commission on behalf of US Political Prisoner Oscar López Rivera. I've been writing to Oscar for many years, about gardens and history and our families' farms. He was offered an opportunity to be released from prison by the Clinton administration, but wouldn't agree to the terms of the release because two of his comrades were not included in the deal. Now three decades have passed since he was first incarcerated, his comrades have all been released, including the two that he denied release because of. Fellow Puerto rican US Political Prisoner Carlos Alberto Torres was released just this past July.

Oscar López Rivera has been in prison nearly as long as I've been alive not because he was convicted of killing or even harming anyone, but because of his political affiliations - his fierce love for his people and his island of Puerto Rico. He was drafted into the Vietnam War, where he received a Bronze Star for bravery, but like many other veterans, he returned to the States after risking his life for the US gov't and found his community devastated by the effects of racism, poverty, and chemical warfare (the US gov't destroying communities by implanting drugs into poor communities/communities of color). Oscar organized within the community to help create the Puerto Rican Cultural Center, Dr. Pedro Albizu Campos High School, and the Latino Cultural Center at the University of Illinois-Chicago. He advocated for fair housing, bilingual education, and an end to police brutality and racist practices in public utilities, and supported the work of United Farm Workers. And he fought for the independence of Puerto Rico from the US's continued oppressive colonial rule.

Before and since his incarceration he's been dedicated to justice, and it's far time he be released! His daughter, who I met years ago, and grandchild, other family members, comrades, friends, politicians, celebrities, and other community-minded lovers of justice await the end of his incarceration, to have him home again. And I'm looking forward to corresponding with him not as an act of prison solidarity and support, but as two friends writing, and both of us sending photos of our gardens, instead of just dreaming and writing about this.

Truly, taking a few moments from your day this week to call the US Parole Board makes a difference. Please call, print out a letter and mail and/or fax it in, let your friends and family know. More details included below. Much appreciation...

For more general information on Oscar and the campaign for his release:
Click here to see a short video by a relative of Oscar's.
Urgent Action Needed in Rivera Parole Decision

Please let me know if you have any questions about Oscar, his case, what to say to the parole board, etc. Please pass this info along. !Palante, siempre palante!

Forwarded message:

Organizers estimate that over 7,000 faxes and letters have been received by the US Parole Commission and people from the US, Puerto Rico, and around the world have been calling daily. The phone lines have been busy for 15-20 minutes at a time and the fax line has been jammed up to an hour at a time. The US Parole Comissioner has stated to the media that they have never had a case like this, with so much activity. Various people have been told that the only way to make their opinions heard is only through writing. PLEASE DO NOT BE DISCOURAGED. KEEP TRYING. KEEP CALLING, FAXING AND MAILING YOUR LETTERS TO THE US PAROLE BOARD. Spread the word on your personal and organizational Facebook account. WE WILL LET EVERYONE KNOW AS SOON AS WE HEAR WORD FROM THE PAROLE COMMISSION.

The US Parole Commission has said they intend to make their decision to confirm or reject the negative recommendation by the US Parole Examiner 30 DAYS AFTER THE PAROLE HEARING OF JANUARY 5, 2011 on Puerto Rican Political Prisoner Oscar López Rivera, #87651-024, currently incarcerated at FCI Terre Haute. Oscar, 68 years old, is presently serving his 30th year of prison for struggling for Puerto Rican independence. The National Boricua Human Rights Network and the Puerto Rico-based Comité Pro-Derechos Humanos are urging the parole commissioners to reject the wrong-headed and politically punitive recommendation of the parole examiner. We intend to swamp the Parole Board with letters, faxes and calls until they respond positively.

1) DAILY CALL-IN CAMPAIGN (Jan 31 onward until we receive word from the USPB): CALL the Parole Board in support of Oscar Lopez Rivera from 9:00am until 5:00 PM (EST) CALL and have others call. It only takes 5 minutes. The number is: 301-492-5990 hit 0 to speak to operator. They will tell you that you must send your opinion in writing. That is fine. KEEP CALLING ONCE A DAY UNTIL FRIDAY. PLEASE DO NOT BE DISCOURAGED. Sample script is below.

Hi, I'm calling for the release of Oscar Lopez and I live in Chicago [NY, VT, ME, etc.] The Parole Commission should parole Oscar López # 87651-024 immediately, in spite of the hearing examiner’s recommendation to deny parole.

1) Oscar has the support of a broad sector of Puerto Rico’s civil society as well as Puerto Rican and Latino communities throughout the United States.
2) Oscar was not accused or convicted of causing injury or taking a life. He was never accused or convicted of participating in the 1975 Fraunces Tavern bombing or any other action that resulted in injury or death.
3) President Clinton’s determination that Mr. López Rivera’s sentence was disproportionately lengthy, and his offer that would have resulted in Mr. López Rivera’s release in September of 2009.
2) Download this letter and fax it right away. Fax Number: 301-492-5543, Alternative Fax Number: 202-492-5307 Remember the Parole Commission has stated their intention to make their decision by Feb. 4. Get as many of your friends, family, colleagues and forward to your Facebook and retweet.

3) MAIL Letters to:
Isaac Fulwood, Chairman
United States Parole Commission
5550 Friendship Boulevard, Suite 420
Chevy Chase, Maryland 20815
Re: Oscar López Rivera, #87651-024, FCI Terre Haute
Please keep close track of the letters sent/faxed to the Parole Board and let us know at

thank you for all your work and solidarity,
Alejandro Luis Molina
National Boricua Human Rights Network
2739 W. Division Street
Chicago IL 60622
twitter: olrcat