Thursday, April 29, 2010

Gin Rhubarby

The rhubarb is bountiful in the garden again, and so we're breaking out the gin. This springtime treat is too easy to even write out as a formal recipe--simply dice about two cups of fresh, clean rhubarb, pour a bottle of gin (we always use Bombay Saphhire)over it, cover, and refrigerate for a week. At the end of the week, strain the gin and enjoy with tonic. It's pink perfection. It's the taste of earth in the morning of the year. It's the soul of spring.

(Note: do not get carried away with the beautiful simplicity of this cocktail and try to replicate it with strawberries or some other bossy fruit, unless you're particularly fond of Kool-Aid. In which case I'd recommend making Kool-Aid with vodka--no sense wasting the juniper delights of gin.)

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Dandelions Four Ways

Yellow blossoms are just starting to pop up in my yard and I'm determined to make the most of it this year. Nova Scotia is full of incredibly nutritious and tasty wild foods (I just realized that half the "weeds" in my garden last year were yummy lamb's quarters!) but I'm especially excited about dandelions--I can find and eat these virtually anywhere I go. We'll be making at least the first three preparations listed here in the coming weeks, as I already have a capper and bottlecaps. We'll see how much the wine-making equipment costs before committing to dandelion wine. If you try any of these, drop me a note and let me know how they turned out!

1. Dandelion Greens

Dandelion greens are best eaten early in the spring before the plant flowers (in other words, NOW!) Once the plant starts to flower the greens become much more bitter, although they are still edible. Pick and rinse dandelion greens to enjoy on a salad, or saute them for 20 minutes in olive oil with garlic and/or onions, finishing with a splash of wine. Delicious and ridiculously nutritious!

2. Dandelion Root Beer


  • 1 gallon water
  • 1 1/2 cups molasses
  • 1 teaspoon yeast
  • 4 ounces clean, peeled dandelion root


Mash the dandelion roots with a potato masher (alternatively, put them in a plastic baggie, give your five-year-old a hammer, and stand back). Put the mashed roots and the water in a pot, bring to a boil, and simmer for 20 minutes. Strain into a large container, add molasses, and cool to lukewarm. Once it is lukewarm, add the yeast and stir. Cover the container with a cloth and put it in a warm, draft-free spot. After two hours, pour the mixture into clean bottles to within 1/2 inch of the tops. Cap with capper and metal caps (available at any of these beer-and-wine shops that have popped up all over the place). Place the capped bottles on their sides in a warm, draft-free spot for 5 days, then set upright in a cool place. Root beer will be ready to drink in 10 days. Enjoy all summer long!

3. Dandelion Jelly


  • 2 cups dandelion blossoms, separated from leaves and bracts (essentially all the green stuff) Pick midday when the blossoms are full.
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoon fresh-squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons pectin


Boil flowers in water on medium heat for about 10 minutes. Strain petals from liquid and return liquid to a clean pot to boil. Add sugar, lemon juice, and pectin as per the instructions on your box of pectin. Boil and stir vigorously with a wooden spoon, skimming the foam, until the top surface becomes blobby and glasslike (2 or more minutes). If you know how to can, you can put this jelly in sterilized jars for year-long storage. If not, simply pour the jelly into containers and store in the fridge. This also freezes well, so feel free to stock some in your freezer for anytime! Dandelion jelly is dandy on toast and also as a condiment for meats.

4. Dandelion Wine


  • 1 quart dandelion petals
  • 3/4 pound chopped golden raisins
  • 2 pounds sugar
  • 3 lemons
  • 3 oranges
  • 1 teaspoon yeast nutrient
  • 7 1/2 pints water
  • wine yeast

Combine dandelion petals and water, bring to a boil, and simmer for two hours. Strain the liquid to remove the solids, return the liquid to the heat, and bring to a low boil. Zest the oranges and lemons and set aside. Juice the oranges and lemons and add the juice and the sugar to the boiling liquid, stirring well to dissolve. Add the zest and raisins, then remove from heat and set aside to cool. When the mixture reaches room temperature, stir in the yeast nutrient and activated yeast. Cover the mixture and put in a warm, draft-free spot. Stir 3 times daily for two weeks. After two weeks, strain the liquid again to remove solids and pour into a fermentation vessel (such as a bottle or jug) with a fitted airlock. After three weeks, remove airlock, skim any foam from the top of the liquid, and put the airlock back on. Repeat until fermentation is clearly finished, then store for a year before drinking. Worth the wait!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

A tweet tweet

Here's my new article on sustainability and social media on campus. Any excuse to mess around on twitter...

Sunday, April 11, 2010


Now that I have a nanny here on weekdays, I have regained something resembling a weekend. And when I have a weekend, I can spend a good chunk of a day cooking meals ahead for the week. This weekend I made: 20 servings of a turkey, spinach, mushroom, onion, carrot, and green bean stew (about half local/organic and half conventional); 12 servings of pancakes fully loaded with last year's local organic strawberries and wild blueberries; and 2 family dinners worth of local, organic pork tenderloin with a Jack Daniel's, maple syrup, and Sriracha marinade.

Now it's that last item that I really want to talk about, see. I recently researched Tennessee whiskey for a work project. When I learned that it is A) filtered through maple sugar charcoal, then B) aged in oak casks that have been charred internally to caramelize the wood sugars, I thought, "Aha! Perfect affinity with maple syrup!" I've been playing around with sauces that balance maple syrup against Sriracha, and even trying to drum up a good liquor to throw in the mix. This did the trick in spades. Possibly the best damn pork I've had in my life--and the recipe couldn't be easier. Here ya go, folks:

Happy Jack Pork

1 -2 pounds of pork tenderloin

1/2 cup Jack Daniel's
1/2 cup Sriracha
1/2 cup maple syrup

1/2 cup Jack Daniel's
1/3 cup Sriracha
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup heavy cream

Mix the ingredients for the marinade thoroughly, then submerge the tenderloin in the marinade and refrigerate for 5-8 hours. Prehat oven to 375 F/190 C. Place pork with marinade in a baking pan and bake until no pink remains in the center (depending on the size/shape of your tenderloin, likely 45-80 minutes--if you aren't tenderloin-experienced begin checking at 45 minutes.) Remove pork from oven and prepare sauce by thoroughly combining the whiskey, maple syrup, and Sriracha in a saucepan and bringing to a boil. Boil for 4-5 minutes, remove from heat, and whisk in cream. Plate the pork, drizzle with sauce, and serve immediately. Enjoy!

***April 29, 2010: I hear from my aunt Sallea that you can substitute soy milk for the heavy cream in this recipe with good results. Thanks a bunch, Sallea! I love hearing from folks who try my recipes.***