edible weeds

Yard Food Day 2010

As you know, Yard Food Day is a traditional post in honour of the first day that I eat something that is growing in my back yard, and in 2010, it is April 18th.

I've noticed that my chive plant has been growing for a few days now, and so technically, Yard Food Day could've been an omelet with some chives a few days ago, but that didn't happen.

Weedgeekery is shifting. Circa 1995, when Toxics Watch ran its "Lion's Tooth Festival" to celebrate the much maligned dandelion, there were few resources describing the uses of this valuable plant.

LionsToothFestival
 
But today, there seem to be weedgeeks in the mainstream. My lunch recipe today was published in the April 7th, 2010 edition of the Globe & Mail's Food & Wine section: Salad of dandelion greens, pancetta and boiled eggs, a dish served at Montreal's Toque restaurant.


A quick ellipse.

At the 2009 Annual General Assembly of the Canadian Environmental Network, one of the presenters was local permaculture expert, Ron Berezan, who presented on the idea of no-till gardening. To help build up poor backyard soils, the no-till gardener applies layers of newspapers, leaves, and fall garden detritus to the yard to rapidly build up organic matter. I understand the initial layer of newspaper is supposed to suppress weed growth.

Of course, weedgeeks don't suppress their weed growth, so I left the newspaper part out.
The consequence of this omission is that what appeared to be ordinary, young dandelion plants growing atop a layer of leaves actually had 2 or 3 inches of sweet, tender, light-starved mid-ribs growing beneath them. Once picked, these plants resembled a true vegetable, kind of like a thin bok choy.

Notice the length of white underleaf in these plants: 
Dandelion_shoots01
Compared to these which were growing directly out of the soil: 
Dandelion_shoots02


My version of the Toque hot dandelion, pancetta and egg salad turned out like this:  read more... »

Burdock

Today’s weedgeek post is a bit of a cheat because I didn’t make this product, but if I ever adopt brewing as one of my hobbies, this is definitely something I’d attempt as two of its main ingredients are prized crops in the Vacant Lot of Eden.

While riding home from a downtown meeting late last summer, I noticed a burdock growing at the southern approach of the Highlevel Bridge  read more... »

Dandelion Hearts

My weed books refer to the white part of the dandelion that connects the root to the leaves as the “crown”, but the term is confusing. Crowns are at the top of things, where the blossom on a dandelion is. As I was picking dandelions this afternoon for both this post and for a side dish to tonight’s Cassoulet-style Chicken dinner, it occurred to me that this part of the dandelion is the dandelion ‘heart’, just like the heart of celery, or the artichoke heart.

So, from now on, I’m calling them “dandelion hearts”.

Pick, trim and clean as many dandelion hearts as you wish to serve. I halve or quarter the larger hearts so that they are all a uniform bite size.
 read more... »

Good Dandelion Questions

Readers at both my blog suite-mck.livejournal.com and here at greenedmonton.ca asked about the taste of the dandelion root coffee that I described here.

As you can see below, after grinding and brewing, it certainly looks like coffee, and the 50-50% blend with real coffee is barely distinguishable for having been economically adulterated.  read more... »