At Home in Nature

  (Agate, Colorado)
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Violet soup and violet salad

What to do with those delicious violets?  Try soup and salad!

 

Violet Pineapple Soup

Recipe from Valentine Floral Creations, 2009.  http://www.valentine.gr

Serves 6

Ingredients

4 cups pineapple juice

3 tablespoons quick-cooking tapioca

3 teaspoons sugar

1/2 teaspoon grated lemon peel

2 cups strawberries or raspberries, sliced

1 cup diced orange sections or drained canned mandarin oranges

2 tablespoons orange liqueur

1/2 cup fresh violets

Sour cream

Instructions

Combine pineapple juice and tapioca, bring to a boil. Remove from heat adding sugar and lemon peel. Cool to room temp. Add fruit, liqueur, and violets. Chill, before serving, add dollop sour cream to each bowl and garnish with a violet.

 

Violet-Mint Salad

Recipe from Prodigal Garden. http://www.prodigalgardens.info

Ingredients

2 cups violet leaves, cut into thin ribbons

1 carrot, grated

1 cup mint leaves, chopped fine or minced in food processor

1 cup dried fruit (choice of raisins, dates, craisins, currants, apricot)

1 cup walnuts

1 cup violet blossoms

Dressing: Creamy Violet Dressing is recommended (See entry for Speedwell, and substitute violets for speedwell)

Instructions

Toss everything together and top with your favorite dressing.

 

 
 

Thistles for plate and medicine cabinet - Thistle Soup

The thistle is an ancient Celtic symbol of nobility of character as well as of birth, for the wounding or provocation of a thistle yields punishment. For this reason the thistle is the symbol of the Order of the Thistle, a high chivalric order of Scotland - though another story to explain this is that a bare foot Viking attacker stepped on one at night and cried out, so alerting the defenders of a Scottish castle.  The thistle is not of great repute elsewhere, however: Shakespeare classes "rough Thistles" with 'hateful Docks" and, in the Bible, thistles are one of the afflictions Adam and Eve are cursed by when they are cast out from Eden.  It is a noxious weed in many nations, and penalties fall on landowners who do not eradicate them, and governments eradicate thistle from the roadsides. 

It is very medicinal.  Milk Thistle was used to strengthen the liver the world over, and in modern times has been shown in scientific tests to be effective for many health concerns.  The active chemical in thistle seems to be silymarin, but the exact way that silymarin works in the body is only beginning to be understood, however, it seems to take the place of many of the enzymes and other chemicals produced by the liver, thus relieving its burden somewhat as it detoxifies the body, allowing the body's energy to be distributed elsewhere.  Holy thistle is mentioned in all the treatises on the Plague, and especially by Thomas Brasbridge, who in 1578 published his Poore Man's Jewell, that is to say, a Treatise of the Pestilence. The distilled leaves, he says "helpeth the hart...expelleth all poyson taken in at the mouth and other corruption that doth hurt and annoye the hart...the juice of it is outwardly applied to the bodie...therefore I counsell all that have Gardens to nourish it, that they may have it always to their own use, and the use of their neighbours that lacke it."  Culpepper declared that a decoction of thistle in wine "being drank expels superfluous melancholy out of the body and makes a man as merry as a cricket."  The Emperor Charlemagne, when his Army was afflicted by a great disease that killed thousands of his men, prayed earnestly to God, and in his sleep there appeared to him an angel who shot an arrow from a crossbow, telling him to mark the plant upon which it fell, for with that plant (a thistle) he might cure his army of the pestilence. 

Fiddlehead Fern and Thistle Soup

Recipe modified from Mignonne.  http://nativefood.blogspot.com

Serves 4

Ingredients

4 cups fiddleheads, fresh and cleaned

2 cups thistle leaves, stems, or flower stalks

2 teaspoons unsalted butter

1 small onion, minced

2 cups soup stock

2 cups milk or cream

Lime zest

Salt and pepper to taste

Nutmeg

Instructions

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the fiddleheads and thistles, return to a boil and cook until they are almost tender and turn pale green, 5 to 8 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water. Coarsely chop and reserve. Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until they become translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the fiddleheads, thistles and soup stock. Stir, increase the heat to medium-high and bring to a gentle boil. Cover and cook until the fiddleheads and thistles are thoroughly tender, about 5 minutes. Add the milk, reduce the heat to medium, and heat until nearly boiling. Do not let the soup boil or the milk will curdle. Stir in the lime zest and season the soup to taste with salt and pepper. Divide the soup into four bowls, garnish with nutmeg and serve immediately.

 

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Dandelion Blossom Syrup AND! Cream of Dandelion Soup

Dandelion Blossom Syrup 

Recipe from Prodigal Garden. http://www.prodigalgardens.info

Makes just over 1 pint (2 cups)

Ingredients

1 quart (4 cups) dandelion flowers

1 quart (4 cups) water

4 cups sugar

1/2 lemon or orange, entire fruit including peel, chopped (optional)

Instructions

This is a traditional recipe passed down from the old world Europeans.  It can be used in place of honey in most recipes.

Put blossoms and water in a pot. Bring just to a boil, turn off heat, cover, and let sit overnight. 

The next day, strain and press liquid out of spent flowers.  Add sugar and sliced citrus and heat slowly, stirring now and again, for several hours or until reduced to a thick, honey-like syrup.  Can in half-pint or 1 pint jars. 

This recipe can be doubled (or more!).

 

Cream of Dandelion Soup

Recipe from Prodigal Garden. http://www.prodigalgardens.info

Ingredients

 4 cups dandelion leaves, chopped

2 cups dandelion flower petals

2 cups dandelion buds

1 tablespoons butter or olive oil

1 cup wild leeks or onions, chopped

6 cloves garlic, minced

4 cups water

2 cups half-and-half or heavy cream

2 teaspoons salt

Instructions

Gently boil dandelion leaves in 6 cups water.  Pour off bitter water.  Boil gently a second time, pour off bitter water.

In a heavy-bottom soup pot, sauté wild leeks and garlic in butter or olive oil until tender.  Add 4 cups water.  Add dandelion leaves, flower petals, buds, and salt.  Simmer gently 45 minutes or so.  Add cream and simmer a few minutes more.

Garnish with flower petals.

Raw Cattail Soup

Raw Cattail Soup

Recipe modified from Steve Brill. http://www.wildmanstevebrill.com

Serves 6

Ingredients

2 1/2 cups almonds

10 cups water, or as needed

2 cups thinly sliced cattail shoots (about 30 shoots)

1/4 cup fresh spearmint leaves or other mint leaves, finely chopped

Juice from half a lemon

Instructions

Cover the almonds with water and soak, refrigerated, 6 hours to overnight.

Puree the soaked almonds, about 2 cups at a time, with about 3 cups of the water at a time in a blender until all the almonds have been pureed.  Pour the almond-water puree into a colander lined with cheesecloth or thin nylon fabric over a bowl. Twist the top of the cloth and squeeze the remaining water. Discard the pulp.

Mix the remaining ingredients with the almond milk. Serve chilled.

 

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