It's a free for all

As I last posted, the community garden is covered in green. Not only are there plots of cover crops, but there are a few large areas of lamium/dead nettle and chickweed.

Last Saturday I harvested dead nettle, chickweed, dandelion greens, and sorrel to make a pureed green soup. I'm not a big smoothie fan (they go down too fast for me) so a rich warm soup is a great way to enjoy the benefits of these "wild" greens.

I've been reading Katrina Blair's The Wild Wisdom of Weeds. From her book: Dandelions are rich in beta-carotene, calcium, iron, potassium, and Vitamins C, D, and E. Chickweed is rich in antioxidants, Vitamins A C D B6 and B12. From other sources I've learned dead nettle is an important supply of nectar to bees, anti-inflammatory, and also loaded with vitamins and minerals.

Cauliflower Sorrel Soup

This recipe was loosely based on Gayla Trail's potato sorrel soup recipe, though I couldn't find my copy of the book with that particular recipe (Easy Growing). I've probably loaned it to someone, which means I just need to go get another copy for myself. Her books don't come back readily.

  • one onion, sliced
  • 4 bulbs elephant garlic, smashed
  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • one head cauliflower, pulled apart into florets
  • 4 cups chicken stock (or vegetable....something rather bland)
  • 8 cups mild flavored greens
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • grated ginger, salt, pepper, garlic powder to taste

Sautee the onion and elephant garlic in butter until translucent, but not golden. Stir in stock, add cauliflower. Simmer until cauliflower is soft. Add rinsed and drained greens and simmer until well-wilted. Blend with an immersion blender until uniformly pureed. Add milk, season with ginger, salt, etc.


A taste of Spring

A few weeks ago the wild violets were poking their pretty little faces up in the yard and I took the opportunity to try my hand at candied violets. Mabel and I brushed the delicate blooms with egg white, coated them with sugar, and set them aside to dry thoroughly.

They were so pretty I asked my baking expert friend Jude to make a special treat worthy of showing off the candied flowers. The cakes definitely upstaged the delicious violets, but not because the violets weren't amazing themselves. Other sweets were topped with sugars colored with wildflower petals. 

Candying violets will be added to our rites of spring. Interested in adding it to yours? We'll have wild violets available at our fundraising plant sale on Saturday, April 18, 2015. Come out to support Little Sugar Creek Community Garden (Charlotte), leave with a gorgeous array of interesting plants ready to inspire tasty treats!

Wildflowers in the kitchen

When I heard the slightest whisper from spring the inspiration to play came on full force. The violets peeked their pretty little faces toward the sunshine and I gathered a cupful for kitchen experiments.

Violet petals in sugar with a hint of lemon zest made the prettiest lavender sugar!

Egg white wash over whole violets, sprinkled with sugar makes for candied violets. I'm dreaming of cupcakes fit for a fairy party!

And because  the violet sugar was so fun, I tried the same with dandelions. I don't know if the color will keep, but I'm already thinking of what other flowers I can try!