Life on Regal-Hill: April 23, 2008

 

With this beautiful weather one wants to spend as much  time outside as possible. Here at Regal-Hill we do go outside, but we try to do something useful while we are there — like hang up clothes, clean up flower beds, trim and fertilize roses, pick daffodils, hyacinths or crocuses and make plans for when it is safe to plant flower seeds or buy less hardy flower plants. Grass seed and the seed that was stored in the kitchen for a couple of weeks has, or will be planted as soon as the ground can be properly prepared. Hopefully that won’t include picking stone. 

Hanging clothes outside to dry not only saves energy but gives you more exercise than if you just put them in the dryer; they also smell so nice when you use these items again whether they are clothes, bedding or towels. This time of year the flies aren’t bothering the clothes either.

Last week I cleaned flowerbeds and pruned the roses and fertilized them. There is only one that I am not sure is sill alive, but I hope to get more this year. I am always looking for different colors that will increase the flower arranging opportunities. 

The early spring flowers are busy blossoming now. I tried to pick a few crocuses when they first started to blossom since they were the first, but they didn’t last at all so I didn’t pick any more since they last much longer outside. Now the daffodils and hyacinths are beginning to blossom. Once the weather decides to stay above freezing at night the rest of them will undoubtedly soon blossom. I am still looking forward to when the tulips come out, but it may not be until May, since they are usually a little later to do so.

We had a big surprise this spring. George noticed a flower plant near the edge of the lawn towards the road with white blossoms on it, and he asked me what kind they were. I said that they were snowdrops or galanthus. Before we put in our swimming pool I planted  flower bulbs there. That was probably at least 20 years ago. Now how this bulb got moved maybe eight feet, I have no idea. I would assume some animal must have moved it. Anyway, it is certainly a mystery but a welcome one.

The other bulbs that I had planted in the same location were anemones blanda. I call them windflowers. I had saved the part of the packaging with a picture, number of bulbs and price. For $2.29 I got 20 bulbs of mixed colors of white, lavender and mauve daisy-like flowers. Hopefully some day I will be able to get more of these bulbs.

Don’t you agree that spring is a wonderful time of year when the temperature gets warmer, the flies don’t bother and the spring flowers blossom with the promise of more soon?

Dandelions will soon be ready to eat. Although many, including myself, consider dandelions as weed but it is also considered an unloved flower according to Ella Wheeler Wilcox in the April issue of Organic Gardening. Besides being called dandelion, which is a French term meaning dent de lion or “tooth of the lion,”  it’s also called swine’s snout, sun in the grass, puffball and monk’s head.

Organic gardeners consider dandelions as not only harmless but have three reasons why they are good for your garden or lawn. First, they nourish bees and are important for honey production. Second, they attract beneficial ladybugs and third, their deep roots help aerate compacted soil. 

We are advised that if you can’t weed it, eat it. The leaves taste best when harvested young, so early spring is the best time of year to enjoy these tender greens. For the tastiest leaves, gather from the center of the plants growing in shady areas. Some authorities say to harvest the greens before they blossom as well so they don’t taste bitter.

If you are a fan of dandelions, be sure to attend the Dandelion Fest ’08 in early May in Dover, Ohio.

Try these recipes and enjoy your first fresh greens of the season.

Dandelion Salad with Cooked Dressing

4 slices bacon, cut in small pieces

Approximately 2 cups chopped new dandelion leaves

2 tablespoons chopped onion

1/4 cup butter

1/2 cup cream or milk

1 egg, beaten

1/2 teaspoon salt

Dash of pepper

1/4 cup cider vinegar

2 tablespoons sugar

1 tablespoon flour

Toss together chopped dandelion, chopped onion and fried bacon pieces. Set aside.

In skillet warm butter and cream until butter melts.  

Beat egg and then add salt, pepper, vinegar, sugar and flour.

Blend the egg mixture into the slightly warm cream mixture. Increase heat and cook, stirring constantly until the mixture thickens. Pour hot dressing over the greens and toss gently.

Serve at once.

Online 4/18/05

Dandelion Fritters

36 dandelion blossoms

Oil for frying

1 cup ice water

1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 egg, beaten

Rinse the dandelion blossoms in cool water and drain thoroughly. Snip off as much of the stem and greenery as possible while leaving the blossoms intact. As dandelion greens, they become bitter.

Preheat the oil for deep-frying.

Prepare the batter just before frying. The ice water helps create a crisp lacy effect when the blossoms are fried. Stir the water, flour and salt together. Beat in egg. Dip the blossoms in batter and deep-fry until golden. Drain on paper towels and serve immediately. 

The Nine Seasons Cookbook