Monday, April 21, 2014

The Weed-Eaters

Last week the children and I did something I've wanted to do for quite some time. We harvested dandelion greens from our yard for supper.  I've heard of people eating dandelions because they're health-conscious or poor. I was curious. So out came the bowls for gathering, and we nearly froze in the crisp breeze while we gathered from our newly greened-up yard.

My 2-year-old thought dead leaves and grass would compliment the dandelions nicely.

I must admit that cleaning the greens was tedious. Even without the little one's contribution of leaves and such, plenty of grass found it's way into our sink full of dandelion leaves. My eldest helped me for a while, but his enthusiasm for the task soon waned. As soon as I had what I guessed to be enough for supper, I just tossed the rest of the uncleaned into the compost bucket.

I'd heard my mother talk before of how they used to eat dandelion greens in spring, so I called her for some how-to cooking advice. She told me what she remembered, that they'd collect the greens really early while they were still tender and not too bitter and that Grandma would make what she called "lettuce gravy" to pour over the cleaned greens, but she didn't have Grandma's recipe for the dressing. I called my aunt who looked in her "little black book."  There she found where she'd written down exactly what Grandma told her:

Beat up an egg. 
Put in about 2 tablespoons of flour and a cup of water.
Add vinegar and sugar and salt to taste.
Put in some meat grease, about a tablespoon.
Bring to a boil. Then cool to eat.

I talked to my mother again who'd found a similar recipe in a local cookbook that gave me a bit more of an idea about measurements for this warm dressing. Then I made it and poured it over my bowl of greens.

Dressed and wilted dandelion greens, after the crew ate

So how was it? Well, there were mixed reviews. My husband said he wasn't a horse, but he didn't give it a totally vertical thumbs-down--I think he left room for something else, like maybe sauteed poison ivy, to be worse. My second-born gave it two thumbs down; I think he said something along the lines of disgusting. The two-year-old lost interest in eating anything except the fresh-baked bread we had. The other three children all gave it thumbs-up. But. One who gave it thumbs-up didn't eat more than one bite. One didn't take seconds. The other one said he liked it, but didn't want to eat it because it made his tummy hurt. Later he insisted that he loved it and took seconds to prove it. None of them actually gagged on it.

I, on the other hand, liked it. I thought it tasted like endive, with a slight bitter but not unpleasant taste. I would totally do it again, especially if I didn't have to clean it. But whatever you do, don't reheat it for leftovers. I gagged on that.


  1. When I was little we harvested Lamb's quarters plants. It was quite fun for us little girls to go harvest some out of the big grassy area next to church. My mom would cook those like spinach and put cheese on top. I loved it and wish we could get that here and know it was safe to eat without chemicals on it. But I have to settle for spinach from the grocery store instead.

    1. I've heard of that, but I'm not sure I know exactly what it looks like. I looked it up before, but am still uncertain if the weeds I think we have like that actually are. But even if they are, we don't have a lot of them. We do have purslane in our garden, and we've tried that one. We've found out that it tastes better when harvested in the afternoon than in the morning.

  2. Josiah says next time just try dandelion wine! : )