In Search of the Lean Six Life

Smarter, not harder. Preferrably A LOT smarter.


Leave a comment

And Then There Were None

I woke up one morning and the dandelions were gone.

No, it wasn’t a dystopian nightmare of manicured suburban lawns sprayed into submission until they glittered the perfect grass green.

The dots of sunshine that littered my yard had transformed into the puffballs of every child’s delight. I had missed the window for dandelion wine.

Too late for dandelion flowers.

And then there were none.

Dandelions enjoy a huge surge of flowers in the spring, followed by occasional blossoms the rest of the year. And there were some dots of yellow hiding here and there among the fescue. Just not the staggering quantities one needs for wine.

We’re talking a gallon of flowers, and for best flavor that entails pulling off the bitter green bits. Who’s got time for that? Picking apart a gallon of dandelion flowers would take forever. Maybe next weekend… or the weekend after that… oops?

It’ll be OK though. I have a backup plan: my slacker approach to dandelion liqueur! Yes, dandelion liqueur is a Thing. Here’s my (very unscientific) method. In a glass jar, place petals (technically ray flowers – yes, that is scientific). Cover with vodka. Continue collecting petals when they become available, and continue covering with vodka when needed. Allow to steep until … well, until it tastes dandelion-flower-y. (Test tasting is my favorite part.) Once the infusion has steeped long enough, strain the petals and add simple syrup to sweeten (also to taste).

I’ll get started on that dandelion liqueur… next weekend… or the weekend after that…


1 Comment

Weed Walk, Week Ending April 8

Not that kind of weed, people! Wrong blog!

I’m starting a new series to highlight what is growing wild and edible in the piedmont Maryland region. “Weed Walk” will feature backyard plants many people will recognize; “Forage Finds” by contrast, will go off the beaten path.

As always, please be 100% sure of your identification before eating something you’ve foraged! Even if you are confident in your harvest, introduce wild foods slowly to your domesticated digestive system.

Wild lettuce (Lactuca virosa) in a shady spot in my yard. Note the line of teeth on the underside of the leaf’s rib.

Wild lettuce (Lactuca virosa)

Wild lettuce (Lactuca virosa)

 

20180406_1433581937562790.jpg

Wild Lettuce – Underside of Leaf Rib

 

Violet (Viola papilionacea). Pleasant mild leaves – a great salad addition. The flowers are edible too. Some people (not me) dip the flowers in egg whites and then sugar as an edible cake decoration. I was very sad when working on this post to find numerous websites advocating ways to eliminate this “difficult to control weed”. I love violets in my yard.

20180401_1403231288752431.jpg

Violet (Viola papilionacea)

First year leaves of garlic mustard (Alliaria petiolata). Not only invasive, but downright dangerous. Do your ecosystem a favor by pulling these up, even if you don’t intend to dine on them.

20180401_1321111359316834.jpg

Garlic Mustard (Alliaria petiolata)

Chickweed (Stellaria media). Literally my favorite wild edible, especially this time of year. So crunchy and juicy in salads.

20180331_1629541144769585.jpg

Sheep sorrel (Rumex acetosella). Adds a sour tang to dishes. Most foraging resources warn of its high concentrations of oxalic acid so I will as well. But then, so does rhubarb and it does not feature disclaimers in the produce section of supermarkets. Double standard much?

Sheep Sorrel (Rumex acetosella)

Sheep Sorrel (Rumex acetosella)

Field garlic (Allium oleraceum). I minced the field garlic and sheep sorrel and mixed both with butter to baste a chicken I roasted for dinner.

20180331_120544347194093.jpg

Field Garlic (Allium oleraceum)

Henbit (Lamium amplexicaule). I’ve never actually eaten this, because most accounts suggest it is bland and boring. My tastebuds have better things to do.

Henbit (Lamium amplexicaule)

Henbit (Lamium amplexicaule)

Purple dead nettle (Lamium purpureum). I haven’t eaten this either because I’m miffed it’s not the much more famous and charismatic stinging nettle.

20180408_153948400668509.jpg

Purple Dead Nettle (Lamium purpureum)

Pretty sure this is wild mustard (Sinapis arvensis). (So of course I haven’t eaten any. Right? Gotta follow my own rules.)

Wild Mustard (Sinapis arvensis)

Wild Mustard (Sinapis arvensis)

An extremely cheerful upland cress (Barbarea verna). Most of the ones I found were too diminutive to bother with. Unfortunately only this one was worthy to eat, but one plant is not enough for cress soup. Maybe a peppery sandwich filler, though.

Upland Cress (Barbarea verna)

Upland Cress (Barbarea verna)

Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale), the king of the jungle… er, yard. This is the best time of year to enjoy the leaves raw; soon they will need extra prep to cope with the bitter flavor.

Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale)

Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale)


2 Comments

New Ebook Sneak Peek!

I’m writing an ebook to introduce people to the fun of foraging with a plant everyone recognizes: dandelions!

That’s right, dandelions are edible – assuming you didn’t just apply pesticides to your lawn, of course. Dandelions are very nutritious, and provide a versatile and abundant source of food.

Many foragers believe dandelions are too bitter to bother with, but my book covers the right timing and techniques for the best harvest.

My ebook is a collection of recipes and an informational guide to identifying (just in case!), harvesting and enjoying the weed everyone loves to hate!

Lion's Tooth Smoothie

Lion’s Tooth Smoothie – taste testing recipes from my new ebook!