Have you ever had one of those Euwell Gibbons’ moments? Moments where you find yourself searching roadside ditches for wild asparagus or turning cattail “hotdogs” into a pancake mix, or even collecting and cooking dandelions?
Earlier this week a friend of ours, Joelie Hicks, posted a recipe for dandelion cookies. Hmmmm?
Back in my Dubuque days with the exciting daily Telegraph-Herald, I wrote a story on a junk yard guy in his 70s who was married and, according to all involved, fathered a child with his 29-year-old wife. There was little doubt of her deep feelings for the old codger, for you could see love in her eyes as she talked of how he respected and treated her as a person. He was one of those tough exterior guys with a soft heart who acted and worked like a man half his age. After recording the interview and doing the pictures, he asked, “Say, Boy, how about I pour you a little glass of my homemade dandy-line wine?”
At that age I was far from being one to turn down an offered drink, so he pushed a paint-chipped chair past the prone German Shepard in his little office and reached for a label-free wine bottle, pulled the cork and filled my glass about a third full. Before jumping to conclusions, this was a little fruit juice glass. “Pour you any more, Boy, and you ain’t drivin’ back to no Dubuque.”
The old man was honest as a summer day is long, for I was challenged to make the drive even with what he poured.
Fortunately I have once again settled down with a dear woman who holds dandelions close to her heart. Actually, I find it a bit disheartening that couples aren’t asked in premarital counseling, “Which is more important to you, John and Rebecca, a field of golden dandelion goodness or to have a dandelion-clean and perfectly green lawn?”
Years ago when my brother, Mark, lived in Omaha, his next door neighbor woman became rather riled over his suspected failure to spray his backyard of the pretty yellow spring flowers. “Mam,” I said, aiming for a spot somewhere on the soft side of her heart, “have you ever heard of this new lawn technique they’re calling ‘naturalizing?’”
This was just enough to stop her rant for a precious moment.
“That’s where you plant native flowers so they will bloom to add interesting color and beauty to an otherwise boring green lawn. That was my dear brother’s intent here with his lawn. Look. You can’t call this a boring lawn.”
She stared at me for a good 45 seconds in what could be generously described as a rage of silence before turning on her heels and stomping off to her house.
Back in the present, a few days ago Rebecca asked, “Have you seen the incredible yellow in the goat pen? The bees are just loving those dandelions.” We have a rich carpet of them.
Between the two of us I’m sure we attended at least three or four meetings this past winter over the crisis facing bees and other pollinators, so we see dandelions as a bridge to our recently planted clover and hopefully the prairie flowers sure to rise in our tillable acres. And, of course, our garden. We hope to have enough blossoms around our little island of pollinator friendliness to withstand the expected GMO corn and soybeans that reportedly carry genes that are causing bee colonies to collapse. In the spirit of marital cohesiveness, I asked her permission before I took my half-cup measuring tin outside to fulfill Joelie’s recipe requirement.
As the cookies were baking Rebecca came inside to say it was hard to see where I’d even picked the blossoms. Our son, Martin, who is here for the month, also came inside to say, “John, I don’t think you even made a dent in the dandelions out there.” Hey, I’m good!
For those just dying for the recipe, here it is: Blend together 1/2 c. butter, 1/2 c. honey, 2 eggs and 1 teaspoon of vanilla, then stir in 1 c. flour, 1 c. dry oatmeal, 1/2 c. dandelion florets pulled or cut from the base of the flower.
Bake at 375 on a lightly oiled cookie sheet or pizza stone for 10-15 minutes. I added a cup of chocolate chips just because I could, so I suppose that should read as “optional.”
Yes, they’re rather delicious, though they don’t seem to have the same kick as the old junk dealer’s dandy-line wine. In fact, I think I could eat the whole batch and still drive all the way to Dubuque.