Honeysuckle Vine Wreath: Finally Dry Edition

The gardenias are in bloom and the honeysuckle vine wreath I made HERE is dry.  No thanks to the super rainy and humid Georgia weather this summer.  Now I can embellish it in a variety of ways.  I could cover it with fake flowers, ribbon or another permanent item.  Or I could change out  flowers / leaves from our yard and keep it rotating with the season.

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Mushroom Spore Print: Art

I’ve been eying some mushrooms that I thought were edible.  To help make a correct identification I did a spore print on one of them.  This is a way to get more information on a type of mushroom (different mushrooms have different colored spores) as well as a cool art project.

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Basically you put a piece of white paper next to a piece of black paper and put the mushroom cap on top.  You need both colors of paper if you don’t know what the spore color is because it might be light or dark.  Then you cover the whole thing with a bowl and let it sit for 24 hours.

I came back to this beauty:

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You could even take this a step further and try to find shapes and images in the print.  The spores will rub off the paper but you could try spraying with fixative if you wanted.

A more defined cap will produce a more defined image.  Experiment!

Queen Ann’s Lace White Chocolate

I’m really enjoying foraging for  yummy things to eat.  Like dandelion leaves and day-lily buds.  I look at the world around me very differently now.  Riding down the road in the car I see edible flowers, greens, and berries everywhere.  I also see a lot of plants that I don’t know but wonder what they are and if I can eat them.

Queen Ann’s lace is a flowering weed.  It is related to the carrot and is also known as wild carrot.  It is edible.  It goes especially well with white chocolate.

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I melted a bar of white chocolate and brushed it with a pastry brush onto wax paper on a baking sheet.  I brushed a very thin layer in one direction then another very thin layer in another direction and so on.  I did about 10 layers in various directions.  Then I took some Queen Ann’s lace blossoms and tore off the very tips and laid them on the sheet of chocolate.  It was a little tedious to lay out each little flower but it smelled really good.  Then I took the rest of the chocolate and put it in a snack bag with a tiny corner cut off as a makeshift pastry bag.  I drizzled the rest of the chocolate on the top of the flowers, not covering them completely.  Then I let it solidify, broke it up, and ate it!

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It tasted good, but the flower taste wasn’t quite strong enough.  I might try a denser layer of flowers to add more of their taste to it.  But overall it was surprisingly yummy.  Definitely very delicate and an adult taste, kids probably wouldn’t enjoy it.  But a very classy finish to a meal.  Maybe even a foraged meal!

Is it Really a Dandelion?

If you plan on eating any part of dandelions from your yard (or anywhere else for that matter) make sure you know which bright yellow flowers are actually dandelions.  There are a few other common plants that look similar to dandelions.  The key to telling the difference is that dandelion plants never branch off.  There is only one flower coming straight up one stem for each plant.  Some of the similar plants have multiple branches with multiple flowers.  Like so:

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Another way to tell the difference is that some of the plants that look like dandelions have tiny hairs on the stem, dandelions have smooth stems.

One more difference is that dandelion leaves form what is called a basal rosette.  Basically they have one layer of leaves that fan out around the central stem at ground level.  Similar to the way most kids draw flowers.  The imposters have multiple layers of leaves.  So for dandelions, look for smooth simplicity, one stem one layer of leaves and no hairs.

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Don’t fear the dandelion imposters too much though, they are not poisonous or toxic to humans.  In fact they are technically edible, they might just not taste as good.

Stir-Fried Day-Lily Buds

Alright, lilies may have a use after all.  As long as you are very careful with where you grow them.  Various parts of day-lilies are used in Chinese cooking, the new shoots, the flowers, and the flower buds.  I decided to cook some of the flower buds.  I gathered a bunch of them around midday to cook for dinner.  After I picked them I put them in cool water (tap water with one ice cube in it) in a coffee mug.  Then I left them in a dark and cook place (my kitchen counter away from windows) and left them to The King (that’s a reference to the Elvis mug I used, not another secret identity of a family member).

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I prepared the stir-fry with broccoli, bell peppers, onions, snow peas (from my dad’s garden), and the lily buds.  But you could use any vegetables you have on hand.

Stir-Fried Day-Lily Buds

About a handful of broccoli, chopped (florets and stalk)

About a handful of bell pepper, chopped

About a Tablespoon onion, chopped

About two handfuls of snow peas (don’t forget to string them)

A coffee mug’s worth of Day-Lily flower buds (see photo above)

Dash paprika

Splash grapeseed oil (could also use any other vegetable oil)

First you detach the flower buds from the stems.  You only want to use ones that are between 2 and 4 inches long and have some color to them.  Some of the larger ones had a string inside that I pulled out if it came easily.  I don’t know if this is necessary, it’s just what I did.

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I put a skillet on the stove with some grapeseed oil at medium heat.  First I cooked the broccoli and onions for a few minutes.  Then I added the bell pepper, snow peas, lily flowers buds, and paprika.  You can season any way you want.  I cooked everything until tender, stirring regularly.  I ended up breaking up the flower buds while cooking them.  I think at first glance they look like shrimp.

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It tasted good.  The flower buds have a very subtle flavor, so don’t expect them to carry the dish.  The minion even got to eat one of the flower buds.  She seemed to like it, but ended up smearing it with yogurt.  Of course she smeared everything with yogurt; her shirt, my shirt, the table, the floor…

Dandelion Smoothie

I know most people don’t really care for dandelions.  They’re a weed right?  In my opinion any plant that doesn’t have a use is a weed.  Like grass.  But that’s for another post.

I have heard about many uses for dandelion, the root can be roasted like coffee, the sap can be used as a glue, and there are medicinal uses for the flower.

The leaves can also be used.  They can be eaten just like salad greens.  Now, I’m not a fan of straight salad, maybe it was too much bland iceberg in my youth, but I still want to get the nutrients from the greens.  So my solution is to put them in smoothies.  I’ve done this already with a variety of lettuce, spinach, cilantro, and celery greens.  But this was the first time with dandelion.

I picked some leaves off a plant in the yard.  I made sure to only get the greenest and avoid any with obvious rot or bug holes.  I washed the leaves well in the sink and patted them dry.  Remember when picking the leaves, the sap can be used as glue, so it can get a little sticky.

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I made this smoothie with a variety of fruit, almond milk, and the dandelion greens.  It was yummy.  If you’ve never had greens in a smoothie, you may want to ease into it.  Start with just a little and slowly add more as you get used to the taste.  Also consider using stronger flavored fruits to help ‘hide’ the taste.  This is the recipe I used, but feel free to experiment with different fruits, different greens, and different liquids.  Just keep in mind my quick list of healthy smoothie tips.

Dandelion Smoothie

1 Banana

About 5 large frozen strawberries

About half of an avocado that I had frozen earlier

A few small pieces of pineapple

A splash of almond milk

Dandelion greens to taste

Blend

Enjoy

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