Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Dandelions in the Post


This morning when the postman came, he delivered dandelions. They arrived carefully packed in a padded envelope sent by a lady known to me only as Purple Luv. I met her on a BBC internet food message board where I appealed for help with D vegetables. In this virtual waiting room we chatted about dandelions with someone else known as Ian in France. London dandelions punch their way through the gaps in the paving stones but I wasn't going to feed them to my family coated in diesel fumes and dog pee. So I needed a purer supply. Purple Luv generously offered to pick them from a farm in Cheshire following Ian's detailed instructions. "...it's better to blanch the leaves - what some people do is to put a slate over the plants and wait a few days before picking just the palest yellow/green leaves, that way they're a lot less bitter." Ian also had invaluable information for me;
"I suggest you do them as the french do. Tepid salad. A couple of rashers of bacon cut up into strips, and some cubes of bread. Fry the bacon, when crisp remove to a warm place for a moment. In the same fat (add more if needed) fry up the cubes till crisp and golden. Tip in the bacon again, then tip the lot over the dandelion. Use the fat to make a simple dressing (lemon, made mustard and pepper). Tip over, toss and serve right away."

So this is what I did with my Dandelions from Cheshire and my recipe from France with some added asparagus tips. It was a perfect arrangement coaxed from the internet. And Freddie has been following the story of the dandelions as if it were a wonderful fairytale. He imagines Purple Luv covered in purple dandelion flowers, a magical figure who is guided by Wizard Ian from his castle in France. And consequently Freddie, taken up by the magic of the whole story, ate dandelions. His score for the Dandelion salad was eight out of ten. Thank you Ian and thank you Purple Luv!
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  1. Schmoofaloof7:52 PM

    Your story has warmed the cockles of my heart! Lovely :-)

  2. That looks amazing! Plenty of dandelions in my garden to try it out too. Are the flowers edible too?

  3. Fabulous ... it will be hard not to look at dandelions in future without imagining them purple - much prettier! This is a link to the dandelion recipe I keep thinking I should try ... http://fxcuisine.com/default.asp?Display=78

    there's so much sugar in it, Freddie's bound to like it. But maybe that's not really the point?


  4. You write with such humour and wit. I thoroughly enjoy reading your posts.
    Sara from farmingfriends

  5. what a fantastic journey for you and your son. i hope you can grow some of your veggies, too. it might help him stay interested:


    we have a little garden of tomatoes, zucchinis, spinach. home-grown and eating in season is so delicious, we don't enjoy grocery-bought anymore.

    lots of luck!

  6. I found your site through Joanna's Food. I have spent the last fifteen minutes reading and laughing. Thank you so much for cheering up the end of a very long day.

    I don't think that Daikon will ever be on our shopping list.

  7. Anonymous12:36 AM

    I've been following the challenge with interest. I had thought that perhaps you could cheat on the D veg and use other languages but hadn't had time to do any research. However a friend of mine up here in North Cumbria looked in her veg book and came up with Dudi - which must surely appeal to any boy (young or old!)? - which is a bit like a cucumber. Also there are dwarf beans and dry shell beans which is apparently the US name for haricot beans.

  8. That dandelion salad looks so good. I've been trying to think of other D vegetable for Freddie to try - that's apart from daikon (in Japan they seem to serve it in teeny tiny amounts - a dainty finely grated mini mount fuji of delicate daikon or a white half moon floating in miso soup). There's dasheen (leaves or tubers) and doodhi (calabash gourd) both you might find in asian or west indian grocers. Apart from that you could try a dill dip or dill pickles (jars of small cucumbers pickled in a sweet dill flavoured vinegar are available in shops selling eastern european and kosher foods).

    E seems a bit tricky too - encore Aubergine/Eggplant and Chicory/Endive. You could try the curly green endive (rather than the blanched shoots we call chicory) and make a salad similar to the dandelion one that proved so popular - I'd put a poached egg on top too.

    Just been for an early morning walk round the veg garden and there's nothing beginning with D or E (unless you count Dwarf French Beans which you can serve with the Dill Dip).

  9. Wow!
    Freddie ate salad!

    What a milestone!

    Go Freddie, go Charlotte and go the dandelions : )

  10. What a fantasic project! I'm so glad to know about this blog, and your kids are so sweet. I'll be back often.
    Thanks for your kind words!

  11. Wow! I don't really think you can call it a challenge anymore the boy is amazing! Great story! The dandelion syrup I was talking about is the same link that Joanna has mentioned. They made it with the flower heads. Keep up the great work. Amanda

  12. What a fantastic story! My grandfather used to make the most incredible dandelion wine. Certainly not ideal for kids to be consuming, but if you ever spot some grab it up quick- it's delicious!

  13. Aii, Freddie, you must be so proud of yourself, eating a salad and liking it!! You go, guy! It's so cool that this project is being so fun for you and your family. Think of all the good stuff you're learning!!! And you know what? It's going to get even better because it's almost summer -- and there are so many many many fresh choices in the summer. You'll be swimming in vegetables before you know it! PS Did you ever think that eating vegetables could be, like, addictive? I didn't either til I started!! Cheers from your friend Alanna in Missouri! PPS Have you asked your Mum about planting a few herbs in pots so you can have your very own 'garden'?

  14. Hi Charlotte,

    I Have tagged you to do a meme on 7 Random Foodie Facts!

    Hope you will join in, maybe Freddie and Alexandra could help you write yours! It should be fun!

    Tinned Tomatoes: Tag! You're It!

  15. The Tale of Purple Luv and Wizard Ian is one of your best yet. Thinking ahead to "E", don't forget the terribly trendy edamame bean ("Daaahling, they're just sooooo good for you"). There's even a website (www.edamame.com) with pictures of a bouncing bean.

  16. Great Big Veg Challenge8:09 PM

    Paul - It was the most fun to write. Thank you.
    Are endamame the same as the soya beans that I see Birds Eye are selling now as a frozen product?
    Holler - I am working on my random facts now.
    Alanna and Kazari-Lu, we will make a salad prince of him yet!
    Little Foodie - Yes I know - but parenthood teaches you that tomorrow it may all change and we could be back to veg-phobe. The challenge continues..
    Thank you for all your comments and particuarly for your ideas for our journey.

  17. Dandelions - of course! That salad looked very tasty. What an inspiring blog!

  18. What a great story! I love Daikon! During the winter I stew it, during the summer I grate it and put it on the boiled meat or tofu. Soya beans are called "Daizu" in Japan. So, it's good for D!

  19. I've been following your vegetable adventures and this post spurred me to action. I'm not bad about eating my veggies (some more than others of course), but I don't make salads as much as I might.

    (I didn't make quite the same salad you had but similar and we thought it was tasty. If you'd like to see I blogged about it here)

  20. You sure do get more interesting mail than I do!
    That salad sure does look purdy!


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