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A Quest, for an ideal dandelion soup
by Steven Bridenbaugh

Dandelions are ubiquitous, but around here
The fuzzy leaves of cats ears more commonly abound.
But early California March
Beneath a stately larch
A robust colony I found.

I want more than just a leaf
Next to the root, is the heart.
Soaked in water and ice
Thrice washed makes it very nice
One cup chopped: the first part.

To this part, add one part parsley
And of Swiss chard, two parts.
These greens are surely not all that entices
To begin, in a dry pan roast whole spices:
Fennel, coriander, turmeric, and cumin, just to start.

Asafoedita, black pepper, and a pinch
Of cayenne, by hand well ground
With mortar and pestle is best
These spices will divest
To a vegetable broth something that will astound.

I wilt chopped leaves with ashwaganda ghee
With boiling broth complete
In ten minutes green and dark they will be
A blender perfects the sorcery
To this poet, not bitter, and to aging bones, most sweet.

IMAGE: Dandelions by Yayoi Kusama (1985).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I have been reading about harvesting wild plants, and my lawn is a good source for them, since I have never used herbicides. This recipe illustrates a good way to make wild harvested plants more appetizing. True dandelions are not always easy to find in my area. Cats ears are a kind of dandelion, which is also edible. I have made a dandelion salad, following  instructions by Jacques Pepin, using cats ears, and they were delicious, but not as visually appealing as young dandelion. When you harvest dandelion leaves, try to include the white base of each stem, as it is very nutritious, and adds to the flavor. The bitterness of dandelion leaves is diminished by fat. To make a small amount of ashwaganda ghee, I heat a cup of water in a small pan, together with half a teaspoon of ashwaganda powder and a tablespoon of ghee from my bottle of clarified butter in the refrigerator. After the water is mostly evaporated, I toss the liquid into the greens, and braise them. I should add that it it is worth the effort, to grind freshly toasted spices with mortar and pestle, just as they do in India. My recipe is based on one in Kate O’Donnell’s Everyday Ayurveda Guide to Self Care.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Steven Bridenbaugh is a retired teacher, construction worker, and mental health worker. In the last few years, he has been occupied with writing, playing guitar, and he is a student of Ayurveda and Vegan Cooking. Why? Because it tastes so good! He lives in Eureka California, and owns an older home which he is gradually remodeling. He is sorting boxes of books, which he has acquired over the years, mostly from secondhand stores. He plans to read most of these books, or find people who can appreciate them. If by any chance, you haven’t read The Vicar of Wakefield he will gladly give you a copy, as soon as he finishes reading it. Visit him on Facebook.