Dandelions: Use Them or Lose Them. We Lost.

One of my challenges in Cow Head is finding good ingredients for good meals. With a little planning it can be done and done well, especially if I get out and find my own ingredients. In the woods, that is, not down at the liquor/convenience store for a box of pizza pockets. Didi had the idea of making a dandelion green potato curry…a friend had made it for her a few years back while visiting the Peninsula and she swore it was one of the tastiest curries she’d ever eaten. I was totally game and thought that if we could pull this off, it would make the best blog ever and we’d receive heaps of praise from friends commending us for being cool earthy chicks. Didi emailed her friend and asked for the recipe. He gave it to us with a word of warning that we were too late in the spring, the greens would have turned bitter by now. We scoffed. Well, yeah, in St. John’s. Everything grows a little later on the Peninsula. We’ll be fine. Her friend is a vegan. They know that kind of stuff. We should have listened.

Another gorgeous, sunny Monday off. A couple of lazy beers on the back step in the sun in the early evening. Really warm for May in Cow Head. I realized for the first time how beautiful the view was from here and got excited about summer barbecues. We dragged ourselves in eventually. Didi sorted through the greens that she had picked off her land the day before while I sorted through the spices. I was a little alarmed at first. The recipe called for two or three teaspoons of pretty much everything in my spice library….one that had to do me the whole summer. We didn’t have an obnoxious amount of greens so I halved the spices just to see if we could pull it off.

Chopped up garlic and onions, sauteed them in canola oil, put in the greens and spices and we watched everything reduce down like nice wilty spinach while thinking how great we were to be living off the land like our hearty Newfoundland ancestors did. Except we had cumin and Sapporo beer and nobody had scurvy. We tasted. Really strong and…bitter.  Well, of course!  We hadn’t added the potatoes yet.

So we peeled and boiled some potatoes, neither of us mentioning our growing panic: This curry might be the shits. Had we wasted all those precious spices on something that we’d have to heave out the door for the crows? The potatoes went in in nice-sized chunks. We stirred and tasted. Again, strong and bitter. We were determined to make it work. We threw the bowled-up curry back in the pot. A precious, precious two-hour-drive-away can of coconut milk was thrown in. Still. Not. Good enough. Two tablespoons of honey to counteract the bitterness.

…saved. But just barely. The greens were still bitter but the curry was smoother and edible. Mildly enjoyable. A paranoid, panicky moment of “are these actually dandelion greens…? We’ll be okay tomorrow…yes?” Didi told me not to be so foolish. I cleaned my bowl. Don’t try a dandelion green curry unless you get the very first green shoots of them. Or you know a vegan/botanist/someone who knows what they’re doing. Not a terribly successful meal for the little red chicken. But a good Monday with good beer and warm and sun.

Redemption! A brownie pie to finish everything off. Didi made it while I drank more beer. I’ve made this recipe so many times that the page in the book is splattered and stained. Not an experiment for the week but such a quick and easy fix that I had to share. Sour Cream Brownies from Rose Reisman Brings Home Light Cooking (Robert Rose Inc, 1995). This is the original recipe using light sour cream and margarine, but I’m over that nineties low-fat thing and I use butter and full-fat sour cream whenever I make them now. Sorry, Rose. The cookbook is still a lovely one.

2/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup soft margarine
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 cup light sour cream

In bowl, beat together sugar and margarine until smooth. Beat in egg and vanilla, mixing well. Combine cocoa, flour and baking powder. Stir into bowl just until blended. Stir in sour cream. Pour into 8-inch square cake pan sprayed with nonstick vegetable spray. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes or until edges start to pull away from pan and centre is still slightly soft.

Lighter and fluffier than Nigel’s brownies, a little more like cake. A quicker fix and dead easy to throw together, especially if you’re like me and you always have basic baking supplies in your cupboard and sour cream in your fridge. A greased pie plate will suffice if your rented house for the summer is lacking in bake ware. Good with your favourite chocolate bar cut up in chunks and sprinkled on top before baking. We (miraculously) had an unopened Caramilk bar lying around. Not even time for a cup of tea. Gone before the kettle was boiled.

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3 thoughts on “Dandelions: Use Them or Lose Them. We Lost.

  1. Helga is still laughing. She says she has a good recipe for””early” dandelion greens and another one for nettle soup. At least you were brave enough to try. There’s a book available called “”Fat of the Land” she thinks you might want to keep an eye out for. Here’s the blog url:

    http://fat-of-the-land.blogspot.com/

    Hi to all.
    Hoodie

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