Friday, February 1, 2008

Wildflowers In Literature

It's week three in Elizabeth Joy's Wildflowers In Winter series. This week's theme is "Literary Wildflowers." When wildflowers are presented in fictional stories, many times it is in a romantic vein. Picture the lover's bouquet gathered during a walk through the woods. Or a child clutching a bunch of dandelions and presenting them to Mommy. I've had my heart-melting share of both.

But wildflowers turn up in unexpected ways, too. A couple of years ago, my good friend Marsha gave me a book entitled Meet Me in the Meadow: Finding God in the Wildflowers, written by Deborah Hedstrom-Page. She knew I would love reading the facts and history of many of the common natives we encounter as we walk through the woods we call "Oklahoma" or on the many other treks where geocaching takes us. Better yet is seeing our Creator's hand in each one of the wildflowers highlighted in this book.

Taraxacum officinale

Take those dandelions, for instance. Often the black sheep of the wildflower family, we can see little good in them except that they herald the beginning of summer when we see them blooming along the roadsides. We take great measures to eradicate them from our lawns. But as we read in I Corinthians 1:27-29:

But God chose the foolish things of this world . . . and the despised things - and the things that are not - to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before Him.

God's got a purpose for everything and everyone, no matter what value we give them.

The dandelion is edible and more nutritious than most green vegetables. It's high in magnesium, calcium, potassium, and vitamin C. You can make jelly from its flowers, tea from its roots and wine from its greens. It has medicinal value, too. The early settlers and Native Americans used it as a laxative and diuretic.

And you thought it was just a weed.

Dandelion Jelly

1 quart fresh, bright dandelion flowers
2 tablespoons lemon juice
5½ cups sugar
1 package (1¾ oz.) powdered pectin
Paraffin to seal

Using an enamel or stainless steel pan, boil the dandelions in two quarts of water for 3-5 minutes; cool and strain, pressing the liquid out of the flowers gently. Measure 3 cups of the liquid; add lemon juice and pectin. Put into a deep jelly kettle and bring to a boil. Add sugar and stir to mix well. Stir and boil for 2½ minutes or until the mixture sheets from a wooden spoon. Pour into jelly glasses and seal with melted paraffin when cool.

Making dandelion chains.

Information about the dandelion presented here, including recipe, is from Meet Me in the Meadow: Finding God in the Wildflowers.


Shari said...

Meet Me in the Meadows sounds like a good read. I'll have to find a copy. Thanks for the tip.

Molly said...

That is an interesting title. Thank you for including the recipe for dandelion jelly. I have had dandelion greens and dandelion wine, but not the jelly. I had forgotten about dandelion cahins. You picture brings back fond memories of childhood. Thank you.

Lisa at Greenbow said...

What sweet pictures Kylee. I imagine they are of your sweet daughters??

The dandelion jelly sounds good. I might try that this year. We always have an abundance of dandelions. Have you made this??

During our garden party last year a friend of mine said to me "I am so glad you haven't pulled every dandelion from your garden". She is a true wildflower lover. :) I do like to see those bright happy little faces in spring. Of course if they are too prolific in my garden I grumble about them.

Silly Goose said...

Good for you for posting about dandelions! I like them too - brings back fond memories of blowing the seeds off and watching them parachute to the ground, or of making chains like the girls in your photo. I've made dandelion jelly and it's very good; it tastes very much like honey. ;-)

Entangled said...

Like MJD, I had forgotten all about dandelion chains. Thanks for the reminder! If only I can remember to make one when they sprout again.

Nancy J. Bond said...

I'd heard of dandelion wine, and have had greens many times, but didn't know about the jelly! Have you made it? What sort of flavor does it have? This fascinates me. :) The book looks like a great read, too.

Great Wildflowers in Winter post!

Louise Hartwig said...

Such cute pictures. I am amazed you know where to access the right pic for the right subject. You are more organized than I thought.

Sherry at the Zoo said...

wow - I'll never think about dandelions quiet the same way again! Did you try it? DId you enjoy?

Anonymous said...

Dandelions...we try to get rid of them in Ohio! ha... but Oh my Gosh, Making Dandelion much fun was that!! That is a great memory, love the picture of the girls! Hugz, Brenda

Mr. McGregor's Daughter said...

That reminds me of the time my dad's great-aunt came to our house. She was so excited about the beautiful dandelions growing in our lawn because she often made an Italian dish of dandelion greens. I can't write the name because she spoke only a regional dialect of Italian. I've never had the nerve to try it myself.

Shady Gardener said...

I could hardly get through your post. I choked up. Thank you so much. So often I forget the wonder so many things that are often overlooked. And talk about making the best of a situation - Dandelion jelly is going into my recipe collection for this Spring! :-) Thanks again! Your children are as beautiful as you must be.

Pamela said...

Several weeks ago I wrote a short story about Great Aunt Fern (who will be 99 in April)
She told me about her aunt climbing into the attic on her wedding day to find the hidden bottles of Dandelion Wine... during prohibition!

Yolanda Elizabet Heuzen said...

I've never made dandelion chains but did make some daisy ones.No, I don't think of dandelions as a weed, I named one of my Russian Blue kittens Dandy Lion, and he was a very special kitten to me.

Sometimes I use the leaves of the dandelion in a salad, they taste rather nice and are, as you said, chockful of vitamins and other goodies.

As you know, wildflowers are a big favourite of mine so thanks for this wonderful post and for the pics of your two lovely wildflowers. ;-)

ellen b. said...

Beautiful post and I learned so much. You've changed how I will look at dandelions...

Unknown said...

Thank you for the wonderful book review and reminders.

Thanks also for the lovely comments on my blog this morning. I am going to bookmark your blog and come back later when I have time to enjoy it.

Barb-Harmony Art Mom

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