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Posts Tagged ‘nettles’

Because I have a bin of worms in the entry hall and we ate nettles for dinner.

Also, we started seeds in toilet paper tubes. And my mother-in-law brought over the dandelion “honey” she made from the flowers the girls picked yesterday. And instead of maple syrup on our pancakes this morning we had rhubarb sauce from the rhubarb I picked yesterday, or  wild plum jam from the plums we foraged last fall.

And it’s only the first day of her visit…

She didn’t actually say she thought I was weird, but she does keep saying, “Wait until I tell your sister about this!”

In fact, my mother is responsible for most of this weird behavior, having taking us dandelion picking when we were young, cooking from scratch, and being into environmental issues as long as I can remember. I came by all this pretty honestly.

Okay, maybe it is bit out of the ordinary, but really, I kind of think it’s weird not to be doing this stuff…

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Round 1 Explore the dandelion

This one is pretty easy, given we already eat them every year as I described in an earlier post. But I have been exploring other ways to eat dandelion.

My mother-in-law makes dandelion honey. I am not sure how she does it, but I know she sends the girls out to pick 100 dandelion flowers, cooks them up in a simple syrup and then leaves them out to sit over night. She must then strain it and put it in jars. So, it’s basically dandelion flavored sugar syrup, but it’s yummy. We eat it on pancakes and use it to sweeten tea.

I have also been experimenting with dandelion muffins. I got the idea here, but use an entirely different recipe that I adapted from The New York TImes New Natural Foods Cookbook (published 1982 and stolen from my mother in about 1992).

Fabulous 3-grain Dandelion Muffins

1/3 cup corn flour

1/3 cup sugar

1/3 cup soy flour

1/3 cup whole wheat flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 egg, lightly beaten

1 cup plain yogurt

1/3 cup oil

1 cup dandelion petals

1/3 cup or so dried cranberries

Combine dry ingredients. Add in dandelion petals and mix well. Mix egg, yogurt and oil together and then add to dry ingredients. Mix in cranberries. Bake 25 minutes at 350F.

Mixing in the dandelion petals. The muffins never stick around long enough to photograph!

And, to top it all off, with all my talk about dandelions, a colleague made some dandelion jelly and brought me a jar. Delicious!

Round 2 Hunt for morels

Mushroom hunting is big in the Czech Republic. Very big. It has been quite dry here, though, notwithstanding a couple days of rain not too long ago and I haven’t seen the mushroom hunters out. I hope I can do some hunting myself this year and will surely post about it if I find anything. The problem always seem to be that the serious hunters are out at dawn (which occurs about 5am these days) and there is nothing left by the time normal folks roll out of bed and get into the woods!

Round 3 Cook a foraged meal

This is the one we really go into. Friend and neighbor, Andrea, my partner in all these crazy things I am doing these days (who is highly amused at being called “friend and neighbor,” though it is an accurate description) got in on this one with me. And once again, she sacrificed her vegan principles for a taste of our (not in the least vegan) foraged dinner.

Elder is flowering so we decided on a traditional German elder pancake for dessert and elder cordial to drink. For the main course, I proposed nettle gnudi and a salad. The salad is mostly from the garden, but we threw in some foraged lamb’s quarters.

Foraging is even more fun with a nice basket.

The nettle gnudi recipe comes from the Fat of the Land Blog, a wonderful source for foraging and home of this round of the challenge. The recipe calls for ricotta but there was none at the store, so I substituted tvaroh and cottage cheese and it turned out just fine. Of course, frying anything in sage butter and olive oil is bound to taste good!

Adding the chopped, blanched nettles to the cheese.

Roll it out and cut into pieces.

I made them by the plateful.

My helpful daughter cooked them while I rolled and cut. When they float, take them out of the boiling water.

Ninety nettle gnudi…try saying it 5 times fast!

Fry them up in olive oil, butter and sage.

I barely had time to snap a photo…those gnudi disappeared fast!

Now for dessert:

Andrea made a thin pancake batter, dipped the flower heads in and then plopped them into hot oil.

Fry until golden

Nibble right off the stem!

They were great plain but also with a little dandelion honey.

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Monday Menus

I used to have a colleague who would sign her emails with a catchy little alliterative phrase like, “Marvelous Monday,” or Terrific Tuesday.” I thought it was kind of cute and sweet, but some of my colleagues would just roll their eyes… So, at the risk of annoying any readers out there, I am launching a regular feature with an alliterative name…Monday Menus.

I notice lots of bloggers do it. I’ve seen Frugal Fridays, Wordless Wednesdays, Meatless Mondays… I thought it might encourage me to post more regularly. I didn’t want to steal anyone else’s idea and I have found that lots of people wonder what we eat since we are a vegetarian family (yes, even the Czech mate – he’s a rare one!). So, once a week I will post a menu selected from the week’s many meals.

I do actually plan out the week’s menus ahead of time, much to the Czech mate’s amusement (reference Czech film, Pelišky), partly to make the shopping list and partly so I don’t have to think about it every day when I come home from work. And when it’s in writing on the refrigerator door the girls seem to accept that it is not up for discussion and we can just get to work on making it.

Added interest – let’s see how much really is local, seasonal or grown ourselves.

Enough gabbing – what did we have for dinner tonight?

30 April – Greek Night

Vegetable plate of carrot sticks°, cucumber sticks and radishes°

Spring dip (tvaroh°, chives*, garlic, oregano*, salt, pepper)

Romaine lettuce, arugula* and mustard greens*

Cherry tomato salad

Chick peas, plain and with wild nettle* pesto

Bread°

Feta cheese (the excuse for calling it Greek night)

For dessert, rhubarb* streusel cake and ice cream.

°from farmer’s market

*from our garden

The girls would like to let you know that it was yummy .

What did you have for dinner tonight?

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