“It’s a spring cleaning ritual – but for your body,” touts reporter Jennifer Sheehan, extolling the merits of eating dandelion. “It cleans your blood and you get a lot of good vitamins from it,” another endorsement I read in Sheehan’s article from Lehigh Valley’s The Morning Call.
My mother would agree. Each spring about this time, she took her wooden-handled trowel and dug out dandelion plants fertilized by cow and horse manure in the meadow next door. “Dandelion has a lot of iron,” she said of the long, spiny leaves. “And it’s so good with hard-boiled eggs and bacon.”
Last week my sister Janice shared Mother’s recipe. I was pleasantly surprised because I didn’t know it was written down anywhere.
Add a little water till soft.
Add white sugar – a little vinegar
Fry bacon and hard boil two eggs
The recipe wouldn’t pass muster for cookbook publication, lacking as it does measurements and a logical order. But reading between the lines, I constructed her dish in a slightly different way.
First of all, I bought dandelion at a local farmer’s market. The label reads organic. The dandelion stalks pictured here look too perfect The dandelion strands of my childhood were more wiry, a deeper green. “Organic” was not a selling point back then.
I began by frying bacon and hard boiling eggs.
Instead of white sugar, I used brown.
And I saved the broth from cooking the dandelion. “It’s good for what ails you,” I imagine Mother would say.
Finally, good enough to eat!
Continuing the discussion of dandelion in The Morning Call, Sheehan quotes Patrick Donmoyer, an expert on Pennsylvania Dutch folklore, who believes eating dandelion greens is symbolic. “Donmoyer, who lectures at the Pennsylvania German Heritage Center in Kutztown, reports that some people believed that the dandelion were special, holy even, gathered as they were during the week leading up to Easter.”
Christians observed Easter nearly a month ago, but beginning Friday evening, Jewish families observe Passover, enjoying the ritual of the Seder meal. Surely no bacon will be served, but the menu will feature eggs, symbolizing renewal, and bitter herbs, signifying the agony of Hebrew enslavement in Egypt.
You can see a fully furnished Seder table here in a previous post. I wonder whether dandelion, like horseradish, would qualify as a bitter herb.
What rituals do you observe in the spring – eating certain foods? cleaning house? planting a garden?
Do you have a dandelion (or endive) recipe to share, or an experience of eating the dish? Have you observed the Passover Seder?
Coming next: All Creatures Great and Small: The Power of Pets
Good morning, Marian! Now I understand your comment on my FB page about another Seder you were thinking about. 🙂 We\’ll be having our family \”Seder\” tonight, observing our crazy family rituals, including the totally irreverent Passover play. I put a chicken bone from the soup (I also have vegetarian broth) on the Seder plate for the shank bone and a dab of horseradish for the bitter herb. Another part of the ritual, charoset and horseradish together on the matzo, sounds crazy, but it\’s actually very good.
I love that your post shares food and memories–you know that\’s something that I love. I can imagine your Mother\’s spirit smiling at you over this one. I\’m sure you enjoyed that dandelion, egg, and bacon meal!
I wonder if your totally irreverent Passover play will turn into poetry or prose. Knowing you, it will be one or the other – maybe both.
I\’ll think of the dandelion recipe as my gentile Seder side dish – ha!
I didn\’t write the play–one of my daughters did. I meant to write irreverent not irrelevant. 😉
You spelled it right. I corrected my error – ha! I wonder whether it\’s the daughter whose wedding decorations quoted Bronte.
Yes, it is. Actually, she recycled some past plays that both wrote, but then she added a few new bits for this year. 🙂
The meal looks delicious, Marian. I\’ve never eaten dandelion, but I do enjoy the tea.
Although I donate year around, my spring ritual typically consists of purging items from the house for a larger donation.
Don\’t you feel virtuous drinking dandelion tea, knowing you are adding iron and purging poisons from your system? 🙂
My spring purge is ever more intense this year because of our intention to downsize. Bless your heart for donating year round.
Marian, dandelion greens were a staple in my Italian grandmother\’s kitchen but I never knew about all the benefits you have presented. Your recipe sounds and looks delicious. And I love how you weave in precious memories of your mother. You have brought her alive to all of us through your words and stories.
I wonder if you ever watch Lidia, an Italian cook on food network http://lidiasitaly.com You could probably identify with some of her dishes. Her show comes on our PBS station Saturday afternoons. She\’s a little off the cuff, sort of like Julia Child, which makes her demos endearing. Perhaps your\’ve seen her.
Your comment about stories keeping memories alive reminds me of the Memoir Revolution, now in full swing for more than ten years. Even if our memoirs don\’t become best sellers (Who knows?) our descendents will have our stories as part of their own history.
No I haven\’t seen Lidia but I will be sure to check out her show. And, yes , our stories –bestsellers or not–are and will keep serving a purpose for generations to come.
Wonderful blog entry! I rarely see dandelion growing wild anymore but will keep an eye out for it at our local farmers market. Does dandelion taste bitter, like endive? Also, is it boiled in the water, vinegar and sugar? Or is the vinegar & sugar added later, like a dressing?
Dandelion tends toward bitter and quite similar to endive, I think.
Yes, the recipe was sketchy. You need more detail if you plan to make the dish. The dandelion is blanched in hot water for a very short time. I like to remove it from the boiling water while it is still green. The vinegar and sugar is prepared separately and added later with the eggs and bacon folded in last. If you decide to make it, I\’d like to know how it turned out, Lynn.
I drink dandelion tea. Soothing.
I wonder if dandelion is blooming now in Ontario. As tea, though, it\’s available year round. Thanks, Arlene.
Dandelions are making their presence known in my lawn, but no blooms yet. I\’m not worried though. I know they\’ll appear!
Dandelions I have many in my yard never knew that they are edible. Thank you for this blog. I read it to my husband Pablo who loves eating everything green. Love the recipe bacon eggs and dandelions. I want to try it. You did bring mom to life picturing her in the kitchen preparing this. I\’d loved to watch her cook and she\’d sit on the stool next to the stove in front of the window waiting to add an ingredient and I\’d stand there conversing with her. What great moments. Can\’t wait to go to PA in June.
You can probably smell the dandelion mingling with eggs, bacon and vinegar on Mom\’s stove. 🙂
Remember, one of her canning pots is waiting for you at Ruthie\’s house.
I\’m going to look for organic dandelions at the farmer\’s market. I love this recipe, made exactly the way my mother made them. And how creative to connect to the bitter herb of the seder.
You call this creative, but the blending of the two was entirely serendipitous, your word for the year. I didn\’t realize until after I made the recipe that it coincided with Passover seder celebrations. Voila!
Maybe you can share online your experience of fixing dandelions. We\’d love to know!
Very interesting post but I\’m not much on trying spring growth that we always considered weeds! I loved your grandmother\’s recipe! I don\’t plan to try it though! 😉
Sweet of you to comment here anyway. You are probably not alone in your distaste for dandelions as food.
I really liked your post today. I hope others will see this comment and click on your photo to link to a great read.
You make me wonder what garden greens you really like, Anita.
How amazing! I never knew you could cook dandelions. Your dish looks lovely. I wouldn\’t mind trying.
If you try it, let me know how it tastes. It\’s not everyone\’s cup \’a tea, but you can adjust the degree of bitterness according to the amount of sugar or vinegar you add. Are dandelions blooming where you live now?
I\’ve heard of eating dandelion greens, but have never tried it. Certainly didn\’t know you could buy them at the store. Your recipe looks absolutely delicious! Thanks for sharing it, Marian!
Oh, Marian, we DO come from similar pasts!
Last year I posted a dandelion recipe, too. My mother and I picked dandelions from our non-sprayed yard, washed carefully, separated the blossoms from the stems, rolled in egg whites and then corn meal (or flour) and fried them! And along the way (I was young) I would take two blossoms, one for each of us, and rub the yellow on our noses!
I went back to your website, Marylin, and re-read the recipe. My, it\’s very detailed and looks delectable. Thanks for refreshing my memory of this post. Only kids (or a kid at heart) would think to rub yellow blossoms on their noses.
Yes, dandelions! I sure didn\’t like eating them. I would pick out the bacon and eggs. BUT I loved going out to the fields and digging them with Grandma! She took along her sliver of a knife made out of a saw blade when she went to housekeeping and an aluminum bail pot. When we found a young dandelion plant she cut all around the base of it to release the tap root.. I remember the gritty sound of the sharp knife in the soil. I would intently scan the surrounding ground and say \”Oh Grandma, here\’s another one!\” I must have been about 4 or 5 at that time. I couldn\’t accurately identify the plants until the end of the gathering session. We went early in the spring. The ones we gathered couldn\’t have any buds or blooms on them. Thanks for bringing to mind a great memory.
Just like Marylin, you make gathering dandelions into a lovely, sensory experience, adding richness to the comment column here. Now that you mention it, I think I picked out the bacon too before eating the dandelion. We had to \”clean up our plates,\” as we were chided. Thanks, Ann.
Marian — Like Merril, I can imagine your mom smiling over this post. Her recipe is priceless: \”Add a little water till soft. Add white sugar – a little vinegar. Fry bacon and hard boil two eggs.\” She knew you\’d read between the lines.
Like Arlene, I drink and enjoy the soothing health benefits dandelion tea.
What rituals do I observe in the spring? We deeeeeeeeep clean.
I wonder whether the remark about spring cleaning is a before or after comment.
My Italian mother-in-law collected dandelion greens each spring as her mother did. The Italian ladies cooked them with olive oil, lots of garlic, a little hot pepper, and soft white cannellini beans to soften the bitter bite. These were a favorite of my family, although I usually cooked the dish with escarole (a slightly less bitter green) grown in my garden.
This year, I helped plant 13 young trees (and wrote about it for the coming blog) with the young man who helps me on my land. It was celebratory, even though he did 80% of the work. One misty evening, I planted lettuce, Swiss chard, and peas in my newly tilled garden. I did get the recycling to the recyling center, but somehow spring cleaning always comes last on my list.
I\’m happy that working in the soil is helping to keep you grounded during this stressful time. I carry that image of you with a cap on your tractor ready for spring. (Facebook, I believe.)
And I look forward to your upcoming \”green\” post.
Thanks for sharing this dandelion recipe Marian. I\’m going to try cooking with them as my husband can use all the iron he can get now.
You\’re explanation of the Seder plate was wonderful. I went to my sister last night for the Seder, the first time I left hub alone since his illness. It was wonderful to get out and be with family and not worry about leaving hub alone. 🙂
Self-care is SO important just now. I\’m glad you are paying attention to yourself a little bit. Taking in energy is the only way not to become depleted entirely. 🙂
So true Marian. Thanks again. 🙂
I have heard of dandelion and burdock pop . When I was little fizzy pop( I think you call it soda) was expensive , or maybe drunk to quickly , whatever the reason , we only had it on special occasions. Dandelion and burdock was my least favourite and always the last one to go 😊
Do you have wild garlic ❓we have it here during April/ May in our woodlands . The small leaves and flowers are great with maybe a lemon dressing .
The woodland smells rich will garlic right now … Love this time of year don\’t you .
Your mum had some good ideas didn\’t she . We should listen to our mum …cos they know best .
I never heard of dandelion soda, and because we live in the city I don\’t know whether wild garlic grows in the woodlands. I certainly don\’t remember it from woodlands in Pennsylvania growing up.
You give me the urge to make a lemon dressing – it goes so well with greens. When I click on your replies I always smile because I know I will learn something interesting. Thank you, Cherry!
Many folks around here make a gravy to serve with the greens (I know that\’s not exactly your style, but it\’s what I associate with dandelion greens. The closest I\’ve come to serving or eating dandelion greens is when I made a salad out of lambsquarter weeds. https://findingharmonyblog.com/2013/05/28/if-you-cant-grow-spinach-eat-weeds/
I hear that once the dandelions shoot blossoms or go to seed the leaves are too bitter to enjoy. That would work with a seder menu!
Your May 2013 blog post was published before I \”knew\” you online, Melodie, so I read it as \”new.\” Clever title too. I never knew that blossoming dandelions reveal that the leaves have turned bitter. Thanks for the recipes and the appetizing way you present them. 🙂
Just checked my crop of spinach this morning. One lousy plant cropped up, out of row wistfully sown. My daughter and I chose a new type of seed thinking it might make a difference. We got them out early. But we haven\’t had much rain. I guess I will eat lambsquarter again for greens!
I believe your garden keeps you grounded – sorry, just couldn\’t resist the pun.
Haven\’t tried dandelions, but I do like nettle sooup.
Ah, nettle soup! Thanks for pausing in your busy life (traveling still?) to comment here. I just posted the lovely Japanese cherry blossoms on your blog today to my Facebook page. Lovely!
This is a delightful post, though it reminds me how late in the season we are up here in the northern tundra.
The young man who helps me with our land reminds me each spring that every part of the dandelion is edible. He claims the yellow heads are excellent in a batter and fried. I don\’t recall what he said about the roots; I\’ll check. Probably soup stock I\’d guess.
Today, the forecast is for 1-3\” of snow!
I won\’t be trying your recipe for a few weeks.
I\’m glad you like the dandelion \”greens\” post. Floridians will be green with envy in sweltering July and August when Vermont is lush and livable. I never heard about fried dandelion heads. Think I\’ll pass.
Bundle up and stay warm. Remember A. E. Housman\’s \”Cherries in the Snow\”? Wishing you May flowers and dandelions galore.
Dandelion wine was popular on the prairies although I don\’t remember my parents making it. Mom made beet wine once which was not very good so she just put it down as a mistake. About 5 years later we opened a bottle and it was excellent. I guess it needed to age! We still tease her about this.
You have such sweet family stories. They always make me smile. I think Grandma L. spoke of dandelion wine, but I don\’t know that she ever made any.
There are plenty of organic dandelions in my lawn. Maybe I\’ll dig some up 🙂
Good idea – I wonder how you will fix them!