Monday, April 29, 2013


This is, in all honesty, the fifth "spring has finally arrived in Wisconsin" post that I have attempted.  I'm a little hesitant to try writing one again.  The last four were typed, ready to go, just needing a few finishing touches in the morning...  and in the morning it was snowing.  Snowing a lot.  Not just in the air snowing, either.  Actual sticking to the ground snowing.

And I just don't have time for that shit.

But, I think we might finally be safe.  It was nice all weekend, and the 10 day forecast doesn't show it dropping any lower than 40 at night.  I'm actually letting the seeds sit out overnight tonight.  I spent all day Sunday in the garden, and I've got most of my seeds planted.

There is something about planting seeds that speaks to me like very little else.  They're like magic.  Seeds, compost, maybe making bread...  All three feel a little bit like making something about what appears to be almost nothing.  (In reality, though, I recognize that it's not almost nothing, mostly because I have a compulsive seed buying problem.  I tried really hard not to spend any money on seeds this year, and I bought at least 15 packages.  I don't have room for 15 kinds of produce in my garden...  I did a Google search on "seed buying compulsion" and there's no official term that I can find in the first page of results, but I did learn that brain scans on squirrels show activity in the same areas of the brain as human hoarders... so there's that.)  I've got my balcony mostly planned out, although there's probably more planned to go out there than can fit.  I'm thinking this year I will plant my squashes and pumpkins on the balcony and let them vine onto the railings.  Last year they went up and over the fence into the neighbor's yard and I had to climb up and over to get them.  I got bruises on my arms and ribs, and scrapes up and down my arms, and this year they have a new rottweiler puppy over there, so I'm pretty sure that's a terrible plan.  We'll see if pumpkins story high fair any better.

We are currently in the final week of the worst three weeks in the WI locavore year, and my mind has turned very strongly to fresh food.  We are in the weeks after the Winter Farmer's Market ends, and before the West Allis Farmer's Market begins, where I'm left with what I've got canned and frozen, and the lettuce and celery root that they're selling at Outpost.  I suppose if you lived in Madison you'd be fine... their farmer's market started last week.  Stupid jerks in Madison thinking they're so fancy.

Let me take a quick digression to say that most of my interest in growing food (and slight but certainly not TV show worthy compulsive seed buying tendencies...) comes from being scarred as a child by The Long Winter by Laura Ingalls Wilder.  For those of you who memorize kids books, that's the one where it snows for like five years and Laura and Mary almost walk out into the prairie because they can't see, and everyone almost starves to death before Pa goes and steals the seed wheat from in between Almanzon Wilder's walls, where he hid it, so Ma can make some super crappy bread out of it.

Moral of the story - hide some damn seed in between your walls or you will starve to death!!!

Now, I have heard some question about whether or not all the stories in the Laura Ingalls Wilder books are true.  I will acknowledge, perhaps, that this may have not actually happened, and, perhaps, that I will not starve to death if I don't hide seed between my walls.  I don't think you can prove it didn't happen, and the number one thing keeping me from hiding seeds in my walls is the fact that I'm pretty sure squirrels already live in there - and any type of grain would probably increase that problem.  But I can imagine, at this time of year, when nothing has started to grow and the canned foods are starting to run low, being in a situation where one could eat just about anything.  If there was no grocery store, today would be the day that I would start looking longingly about the yard for anything I could possibly put into my belly.

And there we have it, my friends, is how this random nonsense will transition into my annual "eat dandelions" post.  

I've said it before, dandelions are delicious.  They are just starting to come up in my yard, so I have not had the opportunity to make any recipes with them.  This is a good thing, because the dandelion season is very short!  I'm giving you the recipes now, so you can start planning your meals ahead of time.  In a week or so, the dandelions will be up and leafy, but not yet blooming.  That's when you want to get them.  Once they start to bloom, the leafs get bitter and far less delicious.  You can, of course, eat the flowers as well.

I hear too many complaints from my friends that eating locally/organic/healthy is too expensive.  To that I say, make some dandelions or don't talk to me about it anymore.  You want to complain about the prices of organic food, then eat the free stuff.  It doesn't even take that much energy.  Go out to your yard, and pull up some weeds.  You're probably going to do it anyway, so you might as well eat them.  (Okay, if you don't have a yard, you're off the hook.  I don't want you eating any lawn that you don't know what kind of pesticides have been sprayed on.  If you would like to come over to my yard and weed/eat, you are more than welcome!)  I saw dandelion greens at Whole Foods this weekend for $5.99 a bunch. That's expensive.  We're in a recession here, people... I think.  Is that over yet?  Anyway, times are tough, and I'm sure each person reading this has, at one point in the past week, thought "gee, I should probably save some money somehow."  Well save money by not buying food and eating the food that's there and has always been there.  Try it this year.  I dare you!  I think you might actually like it.  Let me know!

You can use dandelion leaves anywhere you would use any other bitter green - in place of kale, or maybe spinach (especially if the greens are very young.)  They're great in a salad or on a sandwich in place of salad.  

Here are a few of my previous dandelion recipes.

This year, I'm thinking about making dandelion jelly.  I'll report back on that one.

Happy spring!  Enjoy it while it lasts.  Spring is very short lived in Wisconsin!

1 comment:

  1. I pulled out a ton (well, less than that) of dandelions today. The only thing is...we have a dog, and our yard is also visited by wild animals quite often...I just cant...
    Maybe next year!