Things are just getting off the ground in the vegetable department right now, but there are little handfuls of things to pull – peas, a small zucchini, some parsley or chives, a carrot. Today I got a zucchini before it got huge, and it had an amazing bloom that I thought would make a nice garnish for some leftover pasta. Vegetables quickly sautéed with butter, then a good squeeze of lemon and toss it with the pasta.
This summer we added two new recipes to our family repertoire. First, on a whim one day while playing tourist down at the Pike Place Market we bought a baby shark for Robbie. Which was actually a trout but he didn’t need to know that. We brought it home, filled the fish with sliced lemons, rosemary, mint, lavender, thyme, and oregano, tied it up, and put it on the grill for a couple minutes a side. Miracle of miracles, the kids devoured it, and then played pretend with the bones for the rest of the afternoon. In the times since, Hannah has been enthusiastic all they way until it came time to actually eat the fish, but Robbie still loves Grilled Baby Shark with Local Herbs and Imported Lemons.
Our other new tradition is lemonade made by mashing up lemon slices with sugar and herbs. One time we tried it with honey and it was pretty tasty that way too. And after the kids go to bed if there are any leftovers, a little (or a lot of) vodka makes for a mighty fine cocktail. Pretty much the same herbs as the last time – rosemary, mint, lavendar, and thyme. I usually skip the oregano for some reason.
We were in Bellingham for a music festival and there was a great hippie/hipster (getting harder and harder to tell the difference) lemonade stand, where you could have mix-ins added to your drink. I had a blueberry-ginger lemonade, and the kids got basil raspberry. The truly hipster part was that it came in a mason jar that you had to bring back to the stand to get your dollar deposit back. All this to say that if you treat your lemonade well, it will show you respect and be delicious. If you make it from a can, you’re on your own, and results may vary.
Yes, weeds in the plural, dandelions to be specific. Hannah and I were out on an errand, and I was telling her about a recipe for dandelion bread that I had just read about (in Langdon Cook’s foraging book Fat of the Land – anybody seeing a trend here? However I can guarantee I won’t be diving down to the bottom of Puget Sound to spear lingcod anytime soon.) Of course she was delighted by the idea of cooking with flowers, so we kept our eyes out for a good patch. We found some huge dandelions out beside a sketchy Chinese restaurant and filled the only vessel we had handy – mom’s hat.
Back in the kitchen, the process of picking the yellow petals from the flower head was a bit tedious, but got easier as I refined my technique. I needed to get a full cup of them, which was no small feat, and Hannah lost interest pretty early on in the project. The bread was a basic quickbread, and the dandelions only seemed to add color (though a lovely color it was), and apparently also a ridiculous amount of vitamins. The flavor was pretty plain, and next time, I’d add some cinnamon, or maybe lemon zest. Fortunately we had some tasty lemon curd from the Bent family pantry, and it made the perfect accompaniment.
I’m also thinking that dandelion petals could go into pancakes or scones just to sneak in a little extra nutrition and interest from the kids, but only when I have an extra half hour to kill. The recipe is after the break.
Dispatches from Paradise Volume 2
Being in Hawaii, there is all kinds of fresh, tropical fruit available anywhere you look. Starting with the back yard, but also extending to roadside fruit stands, farmers’ markets, and even tables out in front of people’s houses. The latter type is my favorite… they are unmanned, the goods are usually really cheap, and there’s a lock-box of some type to put your money into.
Below are a few of the fruits we’ve had here:
• White Guava (mild flavor, the seeds were really hard but a pain to spit out so I just swallowed them)
• The tangerines from the tree at the house where we’re staying
• Ice Cream Bananas (apparently you freeze them and then cut them open and eat like ice cream… it tasted like a frozen banana to us though)
• Don’t know what this is… we’ve been calling it an Ugly Fruit. It was only $1 (you can see the price written on it). We haven’t tried it yet but it smells good, which is a good sign.
• These are gigantic avocados. Still waiting for them to get soft.
• A hat-full of lemons and limes… 25 cents each