Every part of the dandelion is edible, with supposedly more nutrition in one plant that in a whole week’s worth of supermarket food. These pop up in lawns and disturbed ground so like any foraged greens make sure they haven’t been sprayed. The leaves can be cooked or eaten raw in things like pestos or salads. The flowers make a nice addition to salads and the petals picked off and sprinkled on top of food as a pretty garnish. The flowers can be reduced into a syrup and used as a sugar substitute, or made into wine and beer. Leaves dried and drank as tea. The roots can be roasted into a coffee substitute or shredded and added to homemade sauerkraut mix.
The roots are better in winter as the sugars are pushed down into the root when the frosts kick in. It can regrow from a small part of the broken off root so don’t worry about depleting the stock if you pull out the plant. The plant is particularly high in minerals and is good for the body and garden – e.g. add it to weed tea fertiliser. The Latin name is Taraxacum officianale meaning the ‘the official remedy for all disorders’. It’s been used medicinally by many cultures for thousands of years. All round it’s a good plant to add to the diet.
I recently did a Growing Great Veggies course taught by Nat Wiseman from Village Greens and Steven Hoepfner from Wagtail Urban Farm. They both very generously shared their knowledge honed through experience running market gardens using organic methods. Well worth attending if you get a chance. The course was held at the Glandore Community Garden and growing in one of the patches was this gorgeous broccoli.
Broccoli is a favorite in our house and the whole plant can be eaten. The seeds can be sprouted. Leaves can be used in salads, juices or cooked. Stalks can be cut finely and used in stirfries or diced and put in stews and sauces. The heads can be chopped into florets and can be eaten raw or cooked in dishes like Gado Gado. The flowers are also edible. It’s such a versitile plant and fairly easy to grow through Adelaide’s wet winters.
A simple way to prepare broccoli is use it in a budda bowl. Budda bowls are a great way to put together simple seasonal produce into a nourishing meal. Braise the broccoli florets in stock, cook until tender. Roast some pumkin seasoned with oil, fennel seeds, salt and pepper. Assemble the bowl by adding broccoli, roast pumpkin, wild or salad greens (mallow, chickweed, cooked nettle), saukraut, and cooked chickpeas. Garnish with dandelion petals. For a simple dressing put together 1 part lemon juice and 2 parts olive oil, season with salt and pepper.
Deep in the forest lives an old crone. She lives amongst the trees that reach high into the sky. Their roots reaching deep into the ground. She lives in the space between the sky and the earth where all is well.
She made her home many years ago from things she gathered from the forest – stone, wood and mud. It is a beautiful home that has served her well. She is very fat and her fingers gnarled and old. Nobody knows how old she is but she has always been there.
She has lived there as long as anyone can remember and is known by all as a very wise woman. She spends her days walking through the forest and visiting the trees and the animals that share her home. She gathers all she needs to eat from the forest. Enjoying the dandelions and their cheerful yellow flowers, and all the other greens that nourish her.
One day, she was walking by the river and saw a big ribbon gum. She saw signs that there were witchetty in the tree, with their small white eggs on the bark and sawdust spilling out onto the ground. In another place, she saw holes with doors made of sap marking the place the witchetty had made their home, digging in deep and then up the tree.
She knew the witchetty would give her strength so she decided to dig them out. She knew that digging them out wouldn’t hurt the tree, instead it would help it. Those witchetty get greedy sometimes and kill the tree. First, she got a sharp stone and made the hole bigger and higher. Then, she took a hook that she used for many things and pushed it up into the hole, hooking the witchetty and pulling it out gently. Then, she cooked it over hot coals and was full.
On this day some people who had heard of the wise old crone decided to come and find her to gain some wisdom. As they reached deeper into the forest they heard things they hadn’t heard before. The plants started whispering their secrets to them about the things they could do. They told them about the ways they could help them. The animals welcomed them and were happy to share the forest with them.
They didn’t find the old crone that day but left the forest with the wise wisdom of the plants. They always remembered their time in the forest. They remembered to listen very carefully to the plants, and kept that wisdom for all their days.
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