Baking with Dandelions

Dandelions are one of my favorite flowers.  They come up early, they bloom all spring and summer long and they don’t care where they grow.  They were brought over by European settlers for food and medicine and now people spend hours and tons of money to get rid of them.  They are flowers disguised as weeds, and anyone who knows me can probably understand why I like them so much.

Everyone gets dandelions from Ben.  Everyone.
Everyone gets dandelions from Ben. Everyone.

With two kids at home I am the recipient of daily dandelion bouquets.  Charlotte walks through the door every day with the ones she’s deemed prettiest and hands them to me.  Ben will come up to me with a hand behind his back and tell me that he has a surprise for me.  He’ll hand his dandelion over with a flourish and wait, expectantly, for me to gush over how it is the most beautiful one I’ve ever seen.  I do, and I mean it every time.  I can’t bring myself to throw these tokens of love out, so the house is littered with dried blooms.  Every so often I gather them up and into the fire they go, votive offerings of love to Hestia.

This spring, as I am working on learning more about the various flora in our yard, I thought I’d try my hand at some herbalism and baking.  So this morning I went out with two baskets and foraged the front and back lawns.  I’ll only take from my land because I know we don’t spray (much to the annoyance of the neighbors, I’m sure).  I thought Ben would love the activity, but he doesn’t like the dew on the grass.  He also forbid me from blowing on the white seed heads because then they wouldn’t e beautiful any more.

The fruits--or rather flowers--of my labor.
The fruits–or rather flowers–of my labor.

Even leaving the flowers on the parkway, by the property line and the driveway, as well as leaving plenty for the bees, I filled up the basked in about fifteen minutes.  The backyard yielded another basketful and you can hardly tell I was there.

Picking was a pain in the back, but the real work came once I was in the house.  I had to wash and then proccess the flowers.  Processing them involved snipping off the petals and discarding the leaves and buds.  That took the better part of an hour.  Most went into a jar to soak for dandelion wine.  One and a half cups of petals went into a batter for dandelion muffins.

Dandelion muffins!
Dandelion muffins!

The muffin recipe is actually for bread and comes from here.  I decided on muffins, because why not?  And they came out tasty.  The dandelions seemed to really only add to the aesthetics.  Or it might be that the honey hid any of the natural dandelion taste.  Either way, I think the muffins would work for use in pagan rituals, or maybe as an accompaniment to a tea and tarot party (since divination and dandelions are linked in magical herbals).

All in all, I call this my first success in backyard edibles.  I’ll have to wait six months to judge how the wine turns out.

Baking with dandelions, petals for the muffins.
I trimmed the petals with scissors. This was what went into the muffins.
Baking with dandelions, petals for wine.
And the rest of the petals went into water to soak for the wine.

VikingDad Pro-Tip #6 (Popcorn Trick)

OK, so if you have an infant/toddler who can eat popcorn but isn’t old enough to know not to eat the kernels, this is a bit more important, however, this trick is handy for those who don’t like to deal with the kernels at the bottom of the bowl when you make microwave popcorn.

Here’s the trick I learned.  Pop the bag as normal, but when you pull it out, don’t tear it open right away… open the bag just a little bit.  This may be a bit tricky since the bag is hot and may already be partially opened. See the picture below:

Open the bag just a bit, enough for the kernels to get out, but not the popped corn.
Open the bag just a bit, enough for the kernels to get out, but not the popped corn.

This bag was already partially opened, but like the instructions on the side of the bag say (who reads those anyway, right?), gently tug on opposing corners if it’s not open at all.  You want to make sure it’s big enough to let out kernels but not too big to let all the popcorn fall out.  You then shake it over a bowl like in the picture below:

Shake the bag over the bowl, occasionally tilting to get the ones that gather in the corners.
Shake the bag over the bowl, occasionally tilting to get the ones that gather in the corners.

IMPORTANT NOTE:  Do NOT shake the bag of popcorn directly over your garbage can.  While this may seem like a good idea to skip a seemingly pointless step, trust me, it’s not pointless.  What happens if you DO shake the bag of steaming hot popcorn and those steaming hot kernels go into your garbage is that they end up melting a bunch of little holes in your garbage bag (thus severely weakening the structural integrity of the flimsy plastic garbage bag) that makes garbage day at your house a bit more interesting when you try to pull it out (and it inevitably falls apart in mid air).  I speak from experience here.

So, shake the bag vigorously over the bowl tilting once in a while to either side to get the kernels that fall in those corners.  Once the kernels stop flowing while you shake (and have tilted) then you should be nearly kernel free and are able to enjoy a bowl of hot popcorn without worry that you’ll break a tooth when you’re watching your favorite movie and not really paying attention to what you’re putting in your mouth.

Enjoy!