Archives for category: Food & Cooking

This is the size difference between eggs produced by our year old hens and our five month old hens.  The shade of brown seems to vary by bird.  All of them are tasty!image

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I like to think that pretty much everybody can identify a dandelion.  If not, ask somebody around this time of year, and they can probably show you.  Usually when you gather from nature, you have to be careful not to overharvest.  This is not a problem with dandelions.  They’re basically impossible to kill, which leads to the only thing you really have to be careful of with them – make sure you’re harvesting from a place that hasn’t been sprayed with weed killer!

Oh, and watch out for your friendly neighbourhood honey-bees.  They like dandelions too!  image

Anyways, I wanted to make some dandelion-infused oil.  It’s a nice massage oil for sore muscles, but more than that, it’s packed full of Vitamin D and is great for cooking with in the deepest dark of winter when you can barely remember what it felt like to be warm.

The actual gathering portion of this is quick and easy.  You probably need less than you think you do, because the garbling portion of the show is pretty tedious.  You don’t want the green bits, just the yellow petals.  The best technique I’ve found is to split the flower head in half and then sort of scoop out the petals with my thumb.  This project will appeal to the same sort of people who like knitting.image

imageI’m infusing mine in sunflower oil, because if we’re going for solar energy, let’s go all the way!  To that end, I’m also letting it infuse in sunlight for the afternoon.

At this point I’m not sure if I’ll even strain out the petals.  They’re totally edible and good for you, after all.  Probably only if I notice the oil starting to get cloudy, at which point straining out the plant matter can save it.

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I’ll definitely be saving some of this for Longest Night!

Do you ever look at those giant bags of garlic at the grocery store and think “Sure it’s a great deal, but I’ll never use it all before it goes bad”? Well here’s a super-easy way I’ve learned to preserve it, and avoid buying garlic powder ever again. (Learned from this article at Mother Earth News.  Really all this info is there, but I like pictures :-p)

Fair warning, your entire house will reek of garlic if you do this. It took me about half an hour of prep work and 4 hours of actual drying time.

First you have to peel and slice a lot of garlic. You want it sliced as thin as possible, and enough to cover a baking sheet in a single layer.

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The peeled stuff in this picture is nowhere enough.  It took me 5 whole heads to cover my baking sheet.

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Then you pop it in the oven on the lowest bake setting you have, and leave the door cracked open.  Remember, you’re trying to dehydrate, not cook it. Mine were on at 170ºF. I checked it and stirred it around a bit every hour and declared it done after 4 hours. Your timing will probably vary if you live in a really humid climate.  You want it DRY DRY DRY to where it crumbles or snaps when you try to bend a piece.

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Let it cool once it’s dry before you jar it.

You can grind it all up for powder now if you want, but it holds flavour a lot better if you just grind what you need as you go. It grinds up quick and easy into a fine powder in an old school mortar & pestle.

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I have no idea how long this stuff keeps, cause I always use it up before it turns, but at least three months so far with no signs of deterioration.

Jar, label & store out of direct sunlight. Use just as you would pre-made garlic powder, tho maybe a little less at first. I find this stuff packs a heavy flavour punch!

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Cute in a box arrived today.

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50 baby meat birds, in a brooder in our basement.

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The next morning my syrup base had almost gelled.  It wouldn’t fit through the sieve!

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I added a bit of water & heated it up and thus solved the problem, but I did wind up with slightly thinner syrup than I had hoped because of this.  Strained it out, then squeezed every last bit of sweet sugary goodness from the plant matter.

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I was left with a rich purply-red concoction.

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After simmering 20 minutes it thickened up.  Mixed in a couple spoonfuls of brandy to help preserve it and then let it cool.  For all of this I got about 2 cups of syrup.  Next batch will be bigger for sure!!

The syrup turned out absolutely delicious, and unique.  The fireweed gives it a flavour you simply don’t find anywhere else.

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Goes GREAT on French Toast!

Success!

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Above you see pictured the ingredients for the syrup I (finally) started making today.  2 cups each frozen cranberries and dried fireweed flowers (and some rose petals, but mostly fireweed).  2 cups of cane sugar, 1 cup of water.  That’s it.

Here are the working instructions I cobbled together from a couple of different recipes in The Boreal Herbal:

I tossed all the ingredients into my trusty enormous frying pan and slowly, slowly heated them up, mashing periodically.

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Took about 20 minutes to go from partially frozen to gently simmering.

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Now the infusion has to sit in the fridge overnight.  I took a sneak-preview taste though and was blown away!  Complex, intense flavour in this syrup.  Can’t wait!

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If any of you happen to be in Whitehorse, be sure to check out the bright yellow mexican food truck at the Fireweed Market. Om nom nom nom – delicious!! Shrimp tacos worth writing home about.

Glad I went out early this morning.  It’s now pouring rain.

The sunrise was an enchanting bonus, but the actual purpose of the mission was this:

Fireweed and rose flowers.

I’m planning to make a syrup with them and some high-bush cranberries I have left in my freezer from last fall.  It shall be fruity pink and delicious on pancakes or french toast!

I try to go really easy on the harvesting of these around civilized areas because I want them to flourish, so it will take me a couple of outings to get enough for the syrup.  I’m letting the ones I’ve harvested dry in the meantime.  You can make syrup out of dry or fresh so I don’t think it matters if I use a mixture.  I’ll let you know how it goes.