Posts tagged ‘canning’

April 27, 2010

Dandelions

The darling of seasons, SPRING, has arrived. Flowers are popping up to treat winter weary eyes with their unmatched beauty. One of the first lovelies is the humble dandelion. Just as the majestic lion is the crowned king of the beasts, dandelions are the reigning monarch of SPRING!

Recently, I read an article about the woman who brought dandelions, not indigenous to North America, to Minnesota for her famous dandelion bread and other concoctions. Dandelion bread – who knew? I’ve had dandelion greens in my spring salad green mixes, but the thought of bread opened a whole new world. I began to research and found other recipes such as dandelion wine (my grandmother used to make) and jam, but what really caught my fancy was dandelion syrup.

I read several references about Swiss grannies in the Alps with jars and jars of dandelion syrup. Now not only was my curiousity peaked, but now my imagination was in full bloom. I had to have some – I became a bit obsessed. If little Swiss grannies can, I can too!

Gathering my faithful foragers, we picked a bucketful of the fragrant spring blossoms (fortunately, I’m closely related to some certified organic farmers so I knew where to find the good stuff!). Alas, my busy bee-like boys soon got bored, and grabbed their baseball equipment. Apparently, the romance of gathering spring flowers for sweet and sticky syrup was lost on them. I knew once they tasted dandelion syrup, they would be transformed. Undaunted by their lack of enthusiasm, I acquiesced and joined the ball players. Even though I was stuck in the outfield, I managed to continue to pluck a few more dandelions and chase the occasional ball that came my way. In the end, we had a ton of fun and my bucket of flower heads was full.Then came the work of separating the petals – this was fairly easily managed with a knife. I covered the blossoms with filtered water, boiled for the designated amount of time, turned the heat off and let steep overnight.

In the morning, the mixture was strained and I was left with a yellowish, dandelion blossom tea. I added sugar and some lemon juice, and the mixture was simmered for about 3 hours. The end result was a unique and special syrup rather honey-like in taste.

Dandelion syrup is a delightful addition to warm cornbread or wheat germ pancakes. I’m excited about the possibilities; a whole new world has opened up to me. I’m now eyeing the fields of yellow dots of sunshine with a fresh point of view (my taste buds). Dandelions, the reigning monarch of Spring, have found a new and sweet place in my heart!

Follow some of my rabbit trails for dandelion recipes & inspiration:

5orangepotatoes.blogspot.com

fxcuisine.com

yummysupper.blogspot.com

fat-of-the-land.blogspot.com

*************

Flowers appear on the earth; the season of singing has come, the cooing of doves is heard in our land.” Song of Solomon 2:12

Advertisements
July 30, 2009

The Cherry Orchard

P1010018All Russia is our orchard. The earth is so wide, so beautiful, so full of wonderful places. [Pause]. Just think, Anya. Your grandfather, your great-grandfather and all your ancestors owned serfs, they owned human souls. Don’t you see that from every cherry-tree in the orchard, from every leaf and every trunk, men and women are gazing at you? if we’re to start living in the present isn’t it abundantly clear that we’ve first got to redeem our past and make a clean break with it? And we can only redeem it by suffering and getting down to real work for a change. ~ by Anton Chekhov, The Cherry Orchard

P1010014

It’s a beautiful thing when literature and life collide! When you leave your every day routine, step into the unfamiliar and purpose to experience the moment, life enlarges and expands.

P1010003

Last week, I found an ad for one weekend only of pick your own cherries (and currants) at a local orchard, and was determined to wedge it into our scheduled weekend. One of my favorite books is French Woman Don’t Get Fat.  In her book Mireille Guiliano reveals the beauty of the French culture.  She writes about her childhood home and various types of fruit her family grew, harvested and preserved. Food is respected and fruit is treasured in French homes and hearts. Her book has inspired me to get in touch with my French-side (yes, I’m part French). Now, I make my own bread, yogurt and have preserved fruits and veggies for years.

P1010012

My lovely mother joined us for this adventure in the cherry orchard. I love to pick fruit on so many levels. With so many references to fruit, the Bible literally comes alive. The fruit itself has a unique beauty that inspires the artist in me. The joy of watching generations of people experience the same child-like wonder fills my heart.  And the thoughts of cherry pies sans metal cans and high fructose corn syrup, spurs me on despite the occasion cloud burst.

P1010011

For me the most amazing part was what I alluded to earlier, the literary experience.  The majority of the people who had travelled for miles and miles to pluck buckets of cherries were Russian immigrants.  They brought everyone from Grandpas to little tots and in between – beautiful teen girls and polite young men in their twenties and thirties.  Every generation joined in the effort to provide their family with the cherries that culture so delights in. For me, it was like I stepped into the backdrop of the Russian play, The Cherry Orchard. I’m a huge fan of Russian literature and just inhaled the moment so precious and lovely.  The beautiful morning, the melodious sound of Russian spoke by natives, the joy in their eyes, the little old man who climbed the cherry tree to get the ones just out of reach – I captured it all in my mind’s eye and treasured it all my heart.

P1010006

Not only do my jars of currant jam for tea and scones and cherries frozen for Valentine’s Day pies represent “getting down to real work,” they will be a tasty reminder of my morning in The Cherry Orchard.

P1010007

And then we’d send the dried cherries off in carts to Moscow and Kharkov. And money! And the dried cherries were soft, juicy, sweet, and nicely scented. . . They knew the way. . . . ~ by Anton Chekhov, The Cherry Orchard

P1010020 

Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. Matthew 7:17

P1010003