31 May 2010

Lion jelly

Introducing the new and improved
(but mainly low sugar diabetic friendly)
RAWRRR! Warning..... if you have read my last post and decided to try this dandelion jelly recipe out, please note that if you consider yourself a "green thumb" reconsider, because every single digit will now become yellow. Yes I said yellow, and not to mention a very very sticky mess.

I had some lovely helpers the other day out picking these dandelions. The toughest part is that at this time of the year the dandelions are seeding into those wispy, billowing seeds that blow all over the place with a single breath. So there we were deep into dandelion territory, we were lucky to get out alive if ya ask me...

So after gathering 2 half filled bags worth it was off to home to separate the blossoms from the bitter stems. If my fingers were not yellow before, well..... even lava soap does not do the yellow dandelion pigment justice!(good thing I read the sap was good for warts, cuz I surely will not grow any on my hands!) It was tedious work but once I had 3 cups of blossoms I heaved a huge sigh of relief! Dandelions wilt pretty quick once you pluck them so just be sure to separate as soon as possible because they close up as they die and thats just more work than you need to do....
unless you like doing things the hard way of course....My new favorite pectin to use is: Pomonas Universal Pectin. It really does use less sugar (some pectins just say you can use less, but this brand is absolute magic!!) it is pectin powder that you mix with calcium water and you can buy it locally in Sitka at Simple Pleasures and at Evergreen health food store. Since this was all a huge experiment, I was not positive how this recipe was going to turn out because simmering dandelions dont exactly have the greatest aroma..... and since I have gotten away with adding less sugar to fruits and berries in recipes, I had high hopes this dandelion recipe would at least be edible...... However.... Lion jelly is delicious! If you dont believe me you should really attempt to make your own, you could ask me to help you, but Im not sharing mine so go pick some dandelions and call me!


27 May 2010

Dandelion delight!

I am a type of cook in the kitchen that will just about try anything once. Using ingredients from the local area is high on my interests. Some things, like attempting salmonberry jam: is fantasticly extraordinary and I will keep on producing this phenomenal treat into a tradition.

Other things, like rose hip fruit leather and devlis club tea....not so wonderful (unless messy, bitter, thorny fun is what you consider a good time) but what to do with dandelions? Those pesky "weeds" that sprout up in the cracks and crannys of every sidewalk, planter bed, and under hard to reach decks.
As a child I remember collecting these vibrant yellow flowers into a bouquet and presenting them to the nearest lucky recipient. Or getting into dandelion wars and flicking the heads off at anyone and everyone.

Here is a recipe I will be testing out this weekend:

Dandelion Jelly Recipe #420372

1¾ hours | 1 hour prep
SERVES 20 , 2 jars

4 cups yellow parts dandelion flowers
3 cups boiling water
4 1/2 cups sugar
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 (6 ounce) package dry pectin

Pull the yellow blossoms apart from the green parts. Get lots and lots of blossoms. While you are collecting them, you can freeze what you already have. Make sure there are no green parts since the green parts have a bitter flavor. I pack the blossoms into a 4 cup measure. More blossoms mean more flavor for the jelly. Bring the water to a boil and fill the water with dandelion blossom shreds.

Simmer over very gentle heat about 10 minutes.

Pour the water and blossoms through a strainer. Press the blossoms as dry as possible to extract the maximum amount of water.

Add more blossoms to the strained water and simmer for about 10 minutes. Continue simmering and straining until all the blossoms are used up.

Add more water to make up 3 cups. You lose some water because it is caught in the blossoms.
Strain the water very well. I use a coffee filter.

Combine water with lemon juice, sugar and pectin. Bring to roiling boil and stir until sugar is dissolved. Boil hard for one minute. Skim.

Pour into hot jars and seal. I haven't used food coloring but I have seen this jelly lightly tinted and it looks prettier.

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According to the U.S. Department of
Agriculture, a serving of uncooked dandelion leaves contains 280 percent of an adult's daily requirement of beta carotene as well as more than half the requirement of vitamin C. Dandelions are also rich in vitamin A.

Dandelions are also used as herbal remedies. The white sap from the stem and root is used as a topical remedy for warts. The whole plant is used as a diuretic and liver stimulant.

I will get back to you and tell you how mine turns out!!

What are you creating these days in your kitchen?!

01 May 2010

Bring on the spring

Allergies affect so many people on a day to day basis. Many do not even know they are affected, and I can sneeze why; allergens are minuscule terrors that float unseen on the breeze.

I wake up some mornings in the spring time with symptoms that make me think I may be coming down with a cold. I rub my eyes, and blow my nose- but my symptoms never develop into anything. Sometimes for weeks before I realize I can solve this blundering idioc haze with a little blue pill called Benedryl. But I dont like solving anything via pill, isnt there a better naturopathic solution?

I read somewhere recently that honey is a natural allergen reducer. As is goldenseal and grape seed extract, but you must get it in a pure form. Of course eating correctly in the first place helps a great deal, there are many foods which produce nutrients that block the histamines that affect our nasal passages.

If pollen or weed allergies affects you there are also foods you should avoid including: cucumber, banana, chamomile and ANY herbal supplements containing echinacea. As they can make your allergy symptoms worse(says webmd.com) Okay I am done ranting about health problems for now!

I am lucky that I only get seasonal allergies, and they really are not that horrible (sniff, sniff, ACHOO) but as many allergies are caused by dirt, mold and animal dander, the best way to begin preventing allergies is to have a clean home. And isnt that exactly what spring cleaning is for?!! Spring is here- YAY FOR SPRING TIME!!

On another note, I went to a potluck this weekend and someone stole my shoes!!! Okay it was probably not their fault since I had the exact same brand of shoes and it was a party with alcohol involved, but really, cant you tell if you are wearing YOUR shoes or not? They were the exact same size, but mine were a heck of a lot dirtier and older than the ones that were left behind (which I wore home, how else was I supposed to get around) So morally, if my shoes are the older gross pair, should I try to track down whoever now has my smelly/dirty old pair? There were a lot of people (about 40) at the party and most of whom I didnt really know. Now I feel kinda bad and for the next few weeks Im sure I am going to be checking everybodys footwear.

Get outside and enjoy your spring!!