I know you probably think it’s weird, and I’m OK with that. The thing is, there are lots of edible plants all around us, but we have been convinced that it’s better to buy food than to grow food or eat what is available. Think about it for a moment. Who benefits from this? Food companies and grocery stores, but not necessarily your body. You may even be afraid to eat from your yard. And if you use herbicides or pesticides, that is a good impulse. If, however, your yard exists in a state of benign neglect like mine, you can probably find some tasty, healthful and perhaps even medicinal plants. In the spring, we first notice the violets, which I showed you how to candy here. Next, we see the dandelions. Dandelions, while most often thought of as a pesky weed to be eliminated at all costs, were imported by immigrating Europeans because they are such a medicinal panacea. Free, medicinal panacea. Free, easy to grow, medicinal panacea. You get the point. I missed the blossoms this year, which we make into fritters, but we did harvest a good quantity of leaves that I made into Indian-inspired pakora (fritters). The root can be dried and roasted and used as a liver cleanse and/or coffee substitute. But I digress. Today’s post is about roses.

I have a lovely rose bush in my yard that we inherited with the house. For the first few years we were here, it was pathetic and scraggly and had only a few blossoms each year. I even offered to dig it up and give it to a friend. Luckily, she never came for it because in the interim years, it has decided to flourish. It is extremely fragrant and smells like only pure roses can. I literally require my family to stop and smell the roses when they are blooming, because there is absolutely nothing like it. It’s funny how in my post on candied violets, I mentioned that my grandmother used to eat violet pastilles. Here I am going to mention her again. Growing up when I would visit my grandparents in the summer, there were rose bushes at their house. Sometime, my grandmother suggested that I eat the rose petals. I do not know why. But I did. With peanut butter. That was my suggestion, but I’m not suggesting it now, because that is clearly a child’s palate. Probably I thought the peanut butter would cover up the taste of the rose!

Last year, in an effort to hold onto the fragrance and beauty of those pink roses, I came up with a few recipes. The first was a rose petal “jam” based on some traditional Eastern European recipes. It involves only filling your food processor with fresh, “organic” rose petals, lemon zest, a squeeze of lemon juice and sugar to taste. The petals puree down to a thick, heavenly scented paste that can be saved in the fridge for quite some time. It is amazing on toast. I also used it to make Rose Smoothies, which was just a passing idea but the kids quite liked. This year, the rain beat my roses badly, so I only had a few perfect roses to use, so I tossed them into a smoothie without making the jam.

The taste is light and fresh, but creamy like a milkshake. The color of your roses will influence the final color of the smoothie.

Put all the following ingredients into a blender or smoothie jar, scaling the ingredients for your portions:

    • Just picked rose petals to equal 2 roses (or more) for each smoothie, shaken to remove insects
    • Ice cubes
    •  Vanilla extract or paste 1/4 tsp for each serving
    • 1-2 Tablespoons raw honey for each serving
    • Coconut milk or milk of choice to fill the cup

Puree your smoothie and drink it up! Rose petals are a good source of vitamin C, which helps to cool the body in the summertime. So if you needed another reason to try it – there you go!

**It might go without saying, but absolutely do not use conventionally grown commercial roses or roses that have been sprayed with pesticides, or any roses you are not 100% sure are not chemically treated for this smoothie.

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Signs of Spring or Eating from Your Yard

by Chance on April 4, 2014

Here in Atlanta, spring has sprung! Some of the earliest signs of spring here are… allergies. Actually, we start to notice tiny flowers first. Violets are in abundance in my yard and my neighbor’s yard this year. I had read about and mentioned candying violets to my daughter in the last few weeks and at her insistence, we tried it. Violets are supposed to be a good source of vitamin C, plus they’re pretty, plus I think it’s a good idea to eat things out of your yard (as long as you know they have not been treated!). When I was a child, I remember having violet pastille candies with my grandmother.

The recipe is simple: violets, a lightly beaten egg white and superfine sugar. I used an egg from my chickens. For those of you who eschew raw eggs, you will want to buy either flash pasteurized eggs, pasteurized egg white or merengue powder. Water will not work, sorry.  I used an organic cane sugar which is so fine already that I didn’t bother with powdering it or purchasing castor sugar. It worked fine.

Leave a little bit of stem on your violets so that you have a place to hold (or not, our first ones did not have stem and I didn’t think it was any more difficult). Use a paintbrush (I tried with my finger, but the brush worked better) and paint the fronts of the petals with egg white. You want it completely coated, but not glopped up or dripping off. Flip the flower into a dish of sugar and gently press down with the dry end of the paintbrush. Carefully pick the flower up and let it rest on the index finger of the hand that is not holding the paintbrush, sugared side down. Gently paint the back of the petals with egg white and again, flip it into the dish of sugar. Ever so gently press the petals down. You want them fully coated, but you don’t want to tear up the petals. Once you have coated both sides, gently (yes, I did say gently, again!), place the flower on a sheet or parchment (or wax paper) and leave it until the flowers are completely dry. Some flowers dried very sturdily and can be picked up without the petals moving. Others, the petals are a little floppy. I suspect these did not get quite enough egg where the petals meet in the center.

The flowers can be eaten whole. You get crunchy sugar taste first (forethought and using vanilla sugar would make this awesome!) and then as you chew the petals, you get a very delicate violet flavor. Pretty cool!

I have read that these keep indefinitely, but I don’t think we coated ours enough for this to be true. If I wanted to keep them for longer than a few days, I would put them in the dehydrator so that they were completely dry before storing.

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Pot of Vegetable Happiness

November 10, 2013

**No, that’s not a picture of soup! Just wanted to show you the view of the sky in the mountains of Hiawassee where I’ve spent the last few lovely days. The credit for this soup goes mostly to my mom. She always made vegetable soup, but it was never really my favorite thing. Dear partner [...]

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The Tasty Horrors of Halloween

October 27, 2013

I really love Halloween. It is, hands down, one of my favorite holidays. As a teenager, I defied labels like punk or goth, but I loved black lipstick, black nail polish and snake jewelry that other people only wore on Halloween. I revel in the fact that my daughter spent her own money recently to [...]

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Simplest Summer Sorbet

September 23, 2013

At my house, we like our cold, creamy desserts. However, store bought ice cream is out of the question since we don’t “do” cow’s dairy. I know there are goat milk ice creams out there, but really, I am not willing to pay the price. We lived in Florida when the first goat milk ice cream [...]

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Makin’ Banana Ice Cream

September 11, 2013

I started this post quite a while ago. And then, well, summer happened. Summer in Atlanta this year was alternately hot and rainy. Mostly rainy. Honestly, it started to feel like we were living in the rain forest. My back yard has washed out so much that I can see bare dirt. One afternoon, I [...]

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Quick and Dirty “Soda”

July 8, 2013

In my last two posts, I’ve detailed two simple cultures that you can use to make your own homemade, probiotic-rich soda. However, I know that lots of people aren’t ready to have bacteria growing on top of their fridge. I understand. So, for you, I offer three quick and dirty sodas that you can make [...]

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Water Kefir Soda

June 22, 2013

I have lots of friends who ferment and culture lots of things. So, I am lucky to be the recipient of their knowledge and experience. And now, you are lucky to be the recipient of mine.  In my last two posts, I taught you one way to make a homemade, probiotic soda: a ginger bug. [...]

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Sippin’ on Lemon Bug and Strawberry Bug

June 3, 2013

In my last post, I taught you how to make a ginger bug. We can now use it to make homemade soda. In the picture above you can see that there are tiny bubbles around the edges. When the jar is agitated, many tiny bubbles come to the surface. I use my ginger bug differently [...]

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Need a Little Sparkly Fizz In Your Life?

May 27, 2013

You will probably be surprised to hear that in my house, we drink soda every day. Grape, Strawberry, Sassafrass, Lemon and Ginger sodas all make regular appearances in our glasses. It might also surprise you to find out that I put these beverages into the “health food” category. Why? Because they are homemade, fizzy drinks that [...]

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