Dandelions, Foraging, Health, Plants, recipe, Uncategorized

Dandelions; the Sun and the Moon… and Jupiter

One of my favorite plants is Dandelion. If I could have only one plant in my garden, Dandelion would be the one. As I continue to study plants (a lifelong endeavor depending how far down the rabbit hole one wants to go……), I’m intrigued by the correlations earlier herbalists made between the plants and astrology and relating them to a person’s astrological chart as well as thinking about optimal times to use plants or harvest them.

There are herbalists today using astrology in relation to plants, such as Matthew Wood and Sajah Popham, whose course I covet taking some day. In the meantime, he has some interesting videos on You Tube, check them out .

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Looking at the Dandelion, out growing in the full sun, with it’s sunny yellow flowers, I would first say it’s ruled by the sun, but the other day it was talking to me about its relationship with the moon (white ball of seeds, almost glowing in the dark)…. It’s interesting that the plant embodies these opposite qualities, a reminder to look beyond the most obvious uses of an herb.

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It does have an affinity for the breasts¹…..if I think about its actions on the body, it’s bitter and stimulates the gall bladder and liver, and it’s alterative, more of a Jupiter action, but it also is diuretic and affects the kidneys, which is a Venus type action, and acts on damp, overly relaxed tissues…..however, it acts by stimulation, moving stagnation which is more Jupiterian, expansive….. overall, I’m feeling like it’s a Jupiter plant, which being the largest planet, is big enough to include some of the properties of all the other planets.

In general dandelion leaves are used as a tea for the diuretic action and contain potassium, offsetting the potassium loss that occurs when the body is stimulated to urinate more, the root is used in spring and summer as a nourishing building tonic and in the fall and winter for it’s alterative action. All parts of it contain minerals as it’s tap root pulls minerals up from deep in the ground. ( which is why it’s good to leave some in the garden, the roots pull the minerals up and the decomposing leaves make them available on the surface to other plants) It’s bitter taste stimulates the pathway of the Vagus nerve², stimulating the production of bile in the gall bladder and aiding digestion. I believe many of the food intolerances people have these days are due to poor digestive function because people don’t eat enough bitter and fermented foods, as our ancestors would have, which help to break down our food and make the nutrients bio-available.

It’s also a great culinary plant, whose nutrition hasn’t much been dumbed down by breeding as so many of our vegetables have been these days. The whole plant is edible. The flower buds can be pickled and used like capers. One of my favorites is flower fritters, but almost anything battered and fried is tasty! Oh, and dandelion wine from the flowers!

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Here’s a recipe:

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Dandy Veloute over Polenta

Ingredients:

Carrot Cloud:

6 large carrots, chopped into large bits

                 1 large russet potato, chopped into large bits

                  1 tbs. lemon juice

5 bay leaves

rest of can of coconut milk after dividing, see Dandy Veloute

3 tbsp. coconut oil

salt to taste

Broth:

shells from 1 lb of shrimp

1/2 cup white wine

6-7 cups of water, you want to end up with 6 cups after simmering.

or just use 6 cups of broth of choice

Dandy Veloute:

5 loosely chopped cups of dandelion leaves

1/2 onion, chopped

1/2 cup white wine

1 cup broth

1 1/4 cup coconut milk

2 tbsp. coconut oil or olive oil

Polenta:

2 cups dry polenta

5 cups broth, 1 cup water

salt and pepper to taste

 

For the carrot puree cloud: in steamer pan add water and 5 bay leaves to bottom. Steam carrots and potatoes until tender. Add them and the rest of the cloud ingredients to a blender and blend until smooth. Put into a holding container, try not to devour it while making the other parts of the recipe.

For the broth: simmer the shrimp shells white wine and water for about 1/2 hour. Strain out the shells.

For the Veloute: Heat the oil in a large skillet. Sautee the onions until they soften but do not brown. Add the white wine, then 1 cup of the broth and simmer for 10 minutes. Put them in the blender along with the dandelions and coconut milk. Blend until smooth and creamy. Set aside or in a pot on the stove on low until polenta is ready.

For the polenta: Put the dry polenta into a large saucepan. Add the broth and water and salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and let simmer until softened and thick. Stir occassionally to prevent burning on the bottom.

I sauteed a thinly sliced tomato and about a 1/4 onion in olive oil as a flavorful garnish to put on top. (optional)

Once all parts of recipe are ready: spoon polenta into a serving bowl; put a tablespoon of butter or butter sub on top. (optional, but yummy) Spoon carrot cloud over polenta. Spoon Dandy Veloute on top. Top with garnish if using.

 

I think Dandelions are my most photographed plants, lol, I love them so…..

dandelion collecting             dandelions 10-14

¹https://www.planetherbs.com/michaels-blog/dandelion-burdock-and-cancer.html

²http://www.md-health.com/Vagus-Nerve.html

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Plants, recipe

Aronia Berry Wine

It’s berry season and I’m trying a new to me berry this year; Aronia.

The Aronia is native to the Americas, also known as Chokeberry, due to it’s astringency and slightly bitter taste.

It’s not a great berry to pick and eat, but great in wines, jams and syrups. Like most berries, it’s high in antioxidants and bioflavonoids which improve vascular health.

I found some growing locally and decided to try out making a wine; but I’ll have to let you know how it turns out in about a year. Beer is ready in about a week, but to get the fully developed flavor of a wine means waiting at least a year to see how it turns out! Totally different yeasts. And patience level…..

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Aronia Berry Wine

Ingredients

  • 3 lbs. Aronia berries
  • 1/2 lb. raisins
  • 2 lbs. sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp. yeast nutrient
  • 1 tsp. pectic enzyme
  • wine yeast
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1 tsp. loose black tea for tannins
  • Campden tablet (Optional)
  • water to one gallon

Directions

Bring one quart of water to a boil and pour over raisins and sugar in primary fermenter/ food grade bucket, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Mash berries with your favorite mashing device. Add to the bucket. Add loose tea and mix. If desired add Campden tablet. Let sit for 24 hours. Add pectic enzyme and yeast energizer. In a cup, pour orange juice (room temperature) and sprinkle yeast over it. Let it sit until the yeast is bubbly and softened and then add to the bucket. Stir with a sterilized spoon (I run the hottest water from the tap over it) once a day for 3-4 days. Strain marc (your wine ) into a carboy and attach airlock. Let ferment for about a week. Rack the wine by siphoning it into a clean carboy. Let ferment again for 3 months. Rack the wine again. Let ferment for another 3 months, and finally bottle the wine. It doesn’t hurt to test your wine to be sure it’s done fermenting. I had a mead pop corks last year and the floor got to drink it…. sad….. The Aronia wine is a beautiful dark blue purple color.

*To update this post, I opened a bottle recently and it turned out well! I’m going to make some more this year.

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