Dandelions!

A few weeks ago, I wrote a column for the Record Newspapers about dandelions and my family’s long association with them. In fact, all the dandelions now growing so happily throughout northern Illinois might be the descendants of plants grown by my pioneer ancestors.

Dandelion CAnyway, in the column I noted that my grandmother used to harvest dandelion greens in the early spring for use at the table. It’s important to get dandelion greens before the plants flower, after which time the greens are not simply sharp tasting, but are downright bitter.

In my family, we served them as a dish similar to wilted lettuce, with a family-concocted sweet/sour sauce served, usually, with some sort of pork product, such as pork chops, pork steak, or ham. I haven’t had dandelion greens for decades, so imagine my surprise when I saw them today for sale in the produce section of our local Meijer store. If I had of a mind to, I could have bought a whole bunch or maybe two to have as the side dish for a meal this week.

If you decide not to click through to the column, here’s the recipe for our family sauce, which works on dandelion greens as well as leaf lettuce as a good compliment for pork:

•One egg, beaten

•1/4 cup vinegar

•1/2 cup half & half

•1/2 cup milk

•2 or 3 slices of bacon, or use pan drippings from pork chops, ham, or pork steak

•Salt and pepper to taste

Cook and dice bacon, retain a small amount of pan drippings, mix in other ingredients and bring to a boil. Pour over dandelion greens or leaf lettuce to wilt. Serve as a side dish or (as we do) use the sauce as gravy over potatoes served as part of the meal.

There’s also dandelion wine, but we won’t get into that right now…

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3 Comments

Filed under Food, Illinois History, Nostalgia, Semi-Current Events

3 responses to “Dandelions!

  1. Great blog, I loved this post! I’ve always had a soft spot for dandelions, and use them instead of spinach in some recipes. Thanks for the tip about picking them before they flower. I love being able to pick them for free in my backyard :Dandelion wine would be really neat to try too…

    • Some recipe books say you can eat dandelion greens after the plants blossom by boiling them, pouring off the water and then boiling them again. Sounds like a lot of work to me and not sure what kind of soggy mess you’d have after you were done. Especially when leaf lettuce is coming on at the same time.

      I have fond memories of my grandmother out picking dandelion greens in her yard. She was the last person I knew who actually wore a sun bonnet.

      • I’m so very sorry for the late response, I completely missed your lovely comment somehow! Thank you for getting back to me. That does sound like an awful lot of work! I did try making a tea once with dandelion leaves, peppermint, and lemon balm and it was easy enough and quite refreshing. I love the image of your grandmother out there with the sun bonnet, that’s a very nice memory you have 🙂 I sort of wish they were still worn, it seems like they did a great job keeping the sun off while staying put on your head. A lot of old fashioned things seem to me to be not just beautiful but very practical as well!

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