What better way for little girls to learn a new word than the gorgeous proliferation of springtime dandelions? Oh, those sudden sunbursts of color after the gray of winter. And that puffy bubble of flyaway seeds that delight anyone with a pucker and strong lungs. Even the dandelion's tenacity is admirable; I have one that grows out of a rock in my rose garden.
Before Birch roared around the place on his little red tractor, the dandelions were spattered over our grass in yellow abandon. And lucky for us! My souvenir from our April visit to Laura Ingalls Wilder's Rocky Ridge Farm (more on that later) was a cookbook. Paging through it on the long drive home, my curiosity immediately landed on a recipe for dandelion soup.
Blossom and Fern eagerly obliged by crawling about in all the shiny spring grass and pinching off tender leaves. I gave a handful of the spiky greens a good rinse and a shake, then I chopped them up.
Here's my adaptation of Laura's farm-hardier version:
2 tablespoons of melted butter
1 cup finely chopped dandelion leaves
1 clove of minced garlic
5 sprigs of minced chives
Salt to taste
Freshly ground pepper to taste
2 tablespoons of flour
2 cups of milk
Melt the butter; add the greens, herbs and seasonings. Saute until the leaves shrink and soften.
Sprinkle in the flour to coat the greens evenly. Cook just until the flour smells like toasted nuts.
Slowly stir in the milk and cook over low heat until smooth. Simmer to thicken it a bit.
Serve hot in dainty portions.
We sipped ours, still steaming, from ramekins. The pungent creaminess was perfect with grilled fish and our first salad from the (over-wintered) garden boxes.
The soup fortified me for my next task: rooting out the dandelions in my front flower gardens. And this week, we've had the perfect weather for that: wet. The long root comes slithering out of the moist soil, gone once and for all. I've learned the hard way that dandelions won't be dispatched from dry ground; a bit of root breaks off to grow again.
When I'm not rushed, pulling dandelions is one of my finest ways to think. Around here, I have plenty of food for thought because the dandelions are...ubiquitous. Or as Blossom puts it, with a plainspokenness Laura Ingalls Wilder would approve, "They are everywhere."