A Sentiment

God knew what He was doing when He sent a gentle breeze and brought a lovely butterfly to set my heart at ease. The happiness of your friendship and the gentleness of your words have touched my life in special ways and now I feel assured. Thank you for your loyalty and for reading everyday. I only hope you find things to make a happy day.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The Dandelion Weed or Wonder?

My husband and most of our gentlemen neighbors hate the dandelion. They are out with diggers and sprays...calling lawn companies to get rid of this pesty plant that dots our lawns with yellow flowers about this time of the year. But is also a joy for children. Children everywhere love to make little bouquets to present their Moms and teachers. They love to blow the puffy seed heads, sending the seeds everywhere. My kids and grand kids were like all little ones. I had a bouquet of these special "posies" on my kitchen sill...the vase a Welch's jelly jar. By the end of the day, the yellow flowers were wilted and tossed in the garbage only to find another bouquet the next day. If the delight of children is not reason enough to appreciate the common dandelions. there are some benefits for this plant.

It has several funny names too...Pee in the Bed, Lions Teeth, Fairy Clock, Clock, Clock Flowers, Clocks and Watches, Farmers Clocks, Old Mans Clock, One Clock, Wetweed, Blowball, Cankerwort, Lionstooth, Priests Crown, Puffball, Swinesnout, White Endive, and Wild Endive .I got these names from a dandelion website...I had never heard any of them before.
The name we know it by, dandelion, comes from France. Means tooth of the lion.

The dandelion’s use as a medicinal herb reaches far back into Chinese history. The Arabs were the next to recognize its usefulness and wrote about it around the 11th century. They taught Europeans about its medicinal benefits. Medicinally, Dandelions are considered very safe and effective as a general tonic that helps strengthen the liver, gallbladder, pancreas, spleen, stomach, and intestines, improving bile flow and reducing inflammation in cases of hepatitis and cirrhosis. Dandelions also help to dissipate gallstones and are believed to improve kidney function, thereby improving overall health and clearing skin problems.Dandelion tea is the perfect choice for those with relatively sedentary lifestyles and who experience discomfort associated with this, such as constipation, digestive disorders, indigestion, and general sluggishness and fatigue. Just one cup per day will yield noticeable results within the first few months. Tea may also be of benefit for many of the problems associated with diabetes and low blood sugar. Now I might add...be sure the dandelions you use haven't been sprayed or dusted with poison before you use them.

Here is a recipe that sounded pretty good to me.

Dandelion Fried Rice
Pieces of shrimp or pork enhance the flavor of ordinary fried rice. Pieces of dandelion greens and bits of texturized vegetable protein seasoned with Chinese flavors perform the same function remarkably well, resulting in a rice dish that can serve as a meal in itself.
5 tbs. peanut oil

1 tbs. dark (toasted) sesame oil

2 cups common dandelion leaves, coarsely-chopped

2 small hot chili peppers, seeds and ribs removed, chopped, or 1/4 tsp. cayenne hot pepper, or to taste

4 large cloves of garlic, chopped

1 tbs. fresh ginger, chopped

5 scallions, chopped

1/2 cup texturized vegetable protein

2 cups basmati brown rice or other brown rice

2-3/4 cups water (or 2-2/3 cups water if you’re using a rice cooker)

2 tbs. tamari soy sauce, or to taste1 tsp. brown rice vinegar
Assemble all ingredients beforehand.
1. Stir-fry the dandelion greens in 2 tbs. of the peanut oil over high heat in a wok or frying pan, stirring constantly, 90 seconds.
2. Add the chili peppers, garlic, and ginger and continue stir-frying another 30 seconds. Remove from the wok and set aside.
3. Stir-fry the scallions and texturized vegetable protein in another 2 tbs. of the peanut oil 2 minutes, then remove from the wok and set aside.
4. Stir-fry the rice in the remaining peanut oil and the dark sesame oil 2 minutes.
5. Place all cooked ingredients and all remaining ingredients into a saucepan, bring to a boil over medium heat, reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook 40 minutes, or until all the water is absorbed (or cook in a rice cooker until done.)
Serves 6-8
Preparation Time: 40 minutes

And finally how can I write about dandelions without including a recipe for dandelion wine? When I was raising my kids, a friend invited me over for coffee. I had to use the bathroom and in the tub were big buckets of something greenish brown and unusual looking. I asked about it and she said that her husband was making dandelion wine. When the wine had aged, I was asked if I wanted some. I said..no thanks...I had memories of that bucket of slimy stuff in the tub. I'm sure it was gurgling and spewing bits in the air while brewing. Here's a recipe that I might be able to taste:

Dandelion Wine

3 quarts dandelion flowers
3 quarts boiling water

3 lbs sugar

6 oranges sliced
2 lemons sliced
1 tablespoon active dry yeast

1Pour the boiling water over the dandelion blooms and let stand for 3 days and 2 nights. Strain. To the liquid add the remaining ingredients and mix well. Let the mixture stand for 3 weeks then bottle.

I don't think we will be making this wine this year, but if the economy gets any worse...there may be many people out there in their patch picking these green leaves and bottling that wine. If you happen to come over you may not want to use the bathroom...you know why!

Balisha :)
An Addition: The wrens are back!


Gram said...

Love your blog! I will never look at a dandelion quite the same again. I have tasted dandelion wine - a little too sweet for my taste. Your post brought back wonderful memories of blowing the dandelion seeds all over the yard and picking flowers for my mother. And to think, just last night, I was cursing those yellow flowers which have sprung up with a vengeance!

Roses and Lilacs said...

I just added some dandelion leaves to my salad. Supposed to be more nutritious than lettuce and you can't beat the price;) You have to pick the leaves when they are fairly young. I've never eaten the flowers and the milky stuff in the stems is a turn off.

Anonymous said...

Your recipes sound delicious, Balisha -- I found a recipe last summer for dandelion jelly and intend to make a batch this year if I can get enough flowers early enough. :)

Balisha said...

Hi Gram,
Thanks for reading...Gram..I left a message on your blog.I thought the wine was too sweet too.

Marnie and Nancy,
I have some back by the woods and I may add them to our salad today. I'll have to sneak them past Mr. Fussy.

Elenka said...

HA ! I have OFTEN thought that if you really look at this poor little flower, it really is a beauty. If it didn't grow so easy everywhere, and you had to go and buy it and plant it in your garden...it would be a whole different story. There are many 'weed' flowers that are quite lovely !

Balisha said...

Hi Mona,
I don't know about eating them either. i may put some in a salad and that's it.When I think of the wine...I remember that wine in the bathtub....what a place to put the wine! Not very appetizing.

Balisha said...

Hi Elenka,
In it's native land it is considered a wild flower.They are really pretty...we just have a golf course idea of a lawn.

The cottage by the Cranelake said...

I love dandylions and live in an area there it´s no use to try to get rid of them. There are thousands in the fields round my village :-)
There are over fifty species (or perhaps one species and 49 sub species) of dandylion in Sweden whjere I live. here they used dandylion roots as coffee substitute during WW2. Taste awful :-)
You have a great blog!

Balisha said...

Welcome Christer,
Thanks for reading.I'm wondering about your different kinds of dandelions...do they all look similar? I can't imagine using them for a coffee substitute. How interesting.