This week my dandelions opened their flowers for the first time this spring. Most people hate these “pesky weeds” always at the ready to eradicate them from their lawns but not me. Dandelions are fond memories of childhood. I picked fists full of dandy’s for my mom who proudly placed them in a jelly jar vase on our kitchen table. They lasted all of a day or so but that never seemed to bother my mom. She would grab the biggest flower and put it under my chin like a fine medical instrument to see if I liked butter. “Humm, not very yellow,” she would say and we would giggle. Mom never cooked with dandelions but my grandmother did. Mom said “that is Depression food and we don’t need it.” Sorry mom, you’re wrong on that one. I think grandma was right.
Long before dandelions were a parent-child game or a floral arrangement, they have been used as food and/or medicine. Dandelions are high in minerals especially, manganese and phosphorus as well as sodium, iron, protein and Vitamin A. Its bitter quality, especially in the leaves, make it a great digestive aid. Dandelions were often used during times of war or famine due to their abundance and inability to eradicate. They provided essential nutrients and vitamins when food supplies were low. While they could still be a great food source today, dandelions have taken on a bad reputation.
As our country grew in wealth, perfect homes and lawns became a sign of that wealth. The best homes had no weeds at all and the battle against the dandelion and lots of other beneficial “weeds” began. We tried ever poison, spray or chemical we could think. They may have wilted and withered but next spring back they come and the cycle started again. I think it’s time we stop this battle and renew our efforts in a healthier way. We have never been able to spray, dig or poison dandelions away, so instead of fighting why not try biting! Get rid of the chemicals, let the lawn breath and then eat the dandelions!
Since all parts of the dandelion are edible, cooking with dandelions is easy. Simply harvest, clean and add them to your favorite recipes. I have worked out a wonderful agreement with my neighbors. I clean the lawn of the dandelions and they do not spray or apply chemicals. I have a ready supply always. We have talked more, the lawns all look good and I get to eat some great food. I have even gotten a few of the neighbors to try some. Dandelions could be the best way to reinvigorate our neighborhoods!
So when you see the bright yellow heads of the dandelion, you can’t beat’em, just eat’em! Start in your own yard then spread the word. Pretty soon you’ll have a whole neighborhood of weed eaters. If you need some ideas for cooking check out this web site. http://www.rosesprodigalgarden.org/ Rose was a dear friend and a fabulous cook! Enjoy!