Sunday, April 21, 2013

Dandy Veloute over Polenta

Dandelions; the plant people love to hate. Sadly, I've seen many of my neighbors out spraying Round up on them numerous times. If the overspray could only be contained to their yards...... the city of Seattle frowns on using herbicides, but until they ban them from sale, like they did the plastic bags, people will use it.

But why spray dangerous chemicals on the ground when you have a free source of nutritious food popping up? Dandelions were brought over from Europe for their food and medicinal value. You can eat the whole plant from root to flower. The roots make a tasty coffee substitute and an environmentally friendly one, too, as they are right out in your yard rather than in a far off country. The leaves can be used in salads or as a cooking green. The flowers can be used to make wine or fried as battered fritters or sprinkled in salads. They're often an ingredient in bitters, which I plan to try to make one day.

 A breakdown of the USDA listing of nutrition is here. They are particularly high in vitamin K and have lots of minerals. If you are avoiding iron you may want to limit your intake. The French nickname piss-en-lit  describes its somewhat diuretic effects, however, dandelion also replaces the potassium loss that happens with prescription diuretics. The word "Dandelion" is a variation from the original French name of the plant, Dent de Lion; lion's tooth, because of the serration of the edges of the leaves, although different species have quite a bit of variation.

Dandelions are in the asteraceae family, which is a ginormous family of plants that also includes sunflowers, and Cat's Ears which are fuzzy and also edible; their leaves don't get as bitter as dandelions, but they also have somewhat less nutrition, I've been told.

This recipe is somewhat foodie, but also comfort food. The Dandy Veloute is somewhat bitter, but the perfect complement to the bland polenta and somewhat sweet carrot puree. I used a broth I made from the shells of 1 lb. of shrimp, but you could use any broth. I like to find multiple uses for my foodstuffs and see just how many things I can come up .

                                                  Dandy Veloute
Printable Recipe

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


                 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
               1/14 cup coconut milk
               2 tbsp. coconut oil or olive oil


              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.

Let me know if you try this recipe and like it. I see lots of views of my posts, but rarely get comments. I'd love to know how you liked it or what variations you might have come up with.

Saturday, April 20, 2013


My latest sculptural ceramics piece was waiting for me at the ceramics studio today. I'm so happy with how it came out, just like I wanted, which if you've ever glazed ceramics, you know it ain't easy. 

Without further ado, I present "Intuition"

My sculptural artwork has centered around my connection to Spirit and the Earth; and it's timely that I completed this one on the weekend of Earth Day. I'd like to remind people that we are all intimately connected to Life and Nature.

and the obligatory kitteh shot

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Happy /Lucky Water

Inspired by one of my classmates, I made this mini well for Happy/Lucky water. It's mounted by my front door so that I can bless myself as I leave the house and remember to feel lucky and be happy. 

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Cedar Groves Tour

Last weekend I toured Cedar Groves compost facility in Everett, WA as part of the MCSB (Master Composter/Soil Builder) class I'm taking through Seattle Tilth. It was truly interesting and a beautiful day, to boot. We toured the facility and learned about their process, as well as the triumphs and challenges of composting food and plant waste for a large urban area. The biggest challenge is dealing with all the non-compostables people put in their bins or truck in; things like plastic, broken tools, and items that may have been recyclable or are just garbage. Cedar Grove has come up with all kinds of ingenious ways to try to sift these items out with screening and magnets, etc., but it would be so helpful if people were conscientious about what they contribute; because at the scale of their operation, it's impossible to keep out everything that shouldn't be in there. Cedar Grove provides a very valuable service composting tons of material that can be re-used rather than going into the overloaded landfills. The facility meets very stringent requirements for their output both in their product as well as water runoff and so forth. This is the second largest urban composting project in the US; apparently the largest is in Delaware.

The industrial feel to the facility would have been fun to just run around and photograph, but there's heavy equipment and trucks all over, so I had to keep up with the tour. These are some of my photos from the morning:

There were eagles and hawks flying around attracted to critters that are naturally attracted to compost....

Fellow students on tour.....

Beautiful setting...

Magnets extract metallic objects before the material goes into the piles.

Material goes down conveyor belts that screen out foreign material and then are formed into long piles.

The piles are covered with Goretex covers that breathe and help the huge piles reach temperatures that kill pathogens. The crane moves the covers back and forth over the piles at the beginning and end of the process.

Life finds its way in....

As our tour coordinator said "these piles are done because the weeds are happily growing in this compost"  

Monday, April 1, 2013

Spring Eggs

So, probably this should've been posted a week ago, but this is my attempt at natural egg coloring. This is something I still have to perfect. I tried a few different dye baths using natural materials and these two so far at least gave me some real color, turmeric and elderberry. Yes, I added vinegar to the baths, and simmered them to unleash the color. I tried paprika, but it didn't do a whole lot. I didn't have a rack to dry them on, so I stuck them in an empty egg carton, which gave them this sort of mottled look, which I actually liked.

My local egg lady has eggs again, yay! and these are eggs shells as they naturally occur:

I'm kinda leaning toward the natural look.......

Has anyone else had luck with natural dyes? What did you use?