You know, I really believe in eating local foods.
So when I found myself in my local grocery store, looking at $3.99 a pound dandelion greens, I was kind of amazed.
Amazed, as in, “What the hell is wrong with you people?”
Now, I grew up in a first generation Italian American family. We ate greens. Lots of greens. Including dandelion greens.
At no time in my life, ever, did anyone pay four bucks for a bunch of weeds.
So I went home from the store. I put away my “not a weed” foods and I had a quiet night.
The next day, though, I was out in my yard. My big, wild, just-one-step-shy-of-a-forest yard. What grass there is was populated by many, MANY dandelions. With big green leaves.
Suddenly, my inner homesteader emerged. My inner old Italian Nonni came out. I grabbed my weeding tool and I pulled up a HUGE bunch of weeds.
Weeds that are no doubt healthy, high in vitamin C and iron, and probably…maybe…delicious.
I was SO proud of my old Nonni self.
“Nonni,” I said to me, “If the grid goes down because of a storm, or a hack by the North Koreans or the Russians or the angry men in Anonymous, I’ll be ready!”
Sure. So, yeah. Not totally ready, but still. Wouldn’t it be so cool if Nonni could feed the family by cooking lawn weeds!
So I brought my big pile of dandelion greens into the kitchen. I was feeling pretty cool as I put them into a colander and started to wash them. I’m pretty sure I was humming an Italian love song, like “O, Mio Babbino Caro“.
I rinsed the big pile of greens.
Then I saw that there was….ewww….a lot of dirt, clinging to the roots that I pulled out.
OK, no problem, Homesteader Nonni. You just put the whole pile into a pot of cold water, and you pull out each bunch and cut off the roots.
Then I noticed….uuuuuuh……what is that? A pine needle? A giant pile of pine needles?
Do not panic. A pioneer woman like me can pull out the pine needles. One at a time. Even when there are more than 10,000 pine needles.
So two hours after I started to clean my dandelion greens (Local! Organic! Sustainable! Available even in a Zombie apocalypse!), I found myself faced with a big colander filled with mostly dandelion greens.
I kept picking through them.
“CRAP!!!!! Is that a spider????!!!????”
Screeech! Panic! Run!
Come back slowly…peek at the blob with the legs….
It’s a dandelion bud. With little green spikes around its dandelion head. Cool!
I kept cleaning. I pulled out each skinny, wet, limp leaf. I washed off the dirt. And the pine needles.
Every nice clean piece went into a bowl. All was well….Until.
THAT’S A SLUG!!!! UGH! EWWWWWWWW!
I dropped the leaf, jumped back 12 feet, turned in a circle, made a series of old Nonni gagging noises…..
What if I ATE it? What if I cooked it? And didn’t know it and I ate it and it went into my stomach and I got super sick and nobody could figure out what was wrong and I got sicker and sicker and I ended up on “Mystery Diagnosis”and they never did figure it out and I died of eating a SLUG and my family never knew what killed me and I’d never get to see my grandson or watch my sons get married…..
After about 15 minutes and a quick glass of wine, I slowly approached the counter and the
weeds delicious dandelion greens. I used a very long chopstick to poke the slug…..
Oh, haha! Look at that! It’s actually just a tiny curled up flower bud! Silly me…..
Eventually, after several panic attacks and a lot of screeches, I had a clean bowl of dandelion greens.
I had saved myself 4 whole dollars as I single handedly managed a pile of weeds. I put them in a bowl, poured on some olive oil and salt, then I microwaved the bowl.
I sat down to eat my dinner of roasted chicken and fresh dandelion greens.
Sip the wine. Taste the chicken. Take a tiny bite of greens…..
Delicious. Fresh, bitter and sweet, salty, delicious.
So. If the Zombie apocalypse hits us during the growing season, come on by. I’ll make a wonderful, healthy, slug free dish of dandelion greens.
Just do NOT ask me to deal with fiddlehead ferns.