Little hands stained yellow. A bit sticky too but that is not unusual. We’ve just finished picking the first batch of spring dandelions. They grow in abundance on municipal areas and school yards. These are places where cosmetic pesticides are banned and it is enforced.
It wasn’t too long ago, though that there was a war on dandelions. Viewed as unsightly weeds, a plethora of chemicals were used to prevent their spring arrival as well as other weeds or common vegetation. These herbicides were applied in abundance throughout the warm months (and they still are on golf courses) with little consideration of the environmental and human health consequences. The desired end, to have a green monoculture of grass, that needs constant tending and watering. A “make-work” project in my mind.
I wrote about this phenomenon for my undergraduate thesis. At the time, there was such a huge backlash against banning chemical use. Aesthetics and the need to control nature were the focus. It seemed that effective change would be very far in the future. But, it actually didn’t take that long. Groups of people gathered for change. In April 2009, the Cosmetic Pesticide Ban Act took effect in Ontario. Similar bans have occurred in provinces across Canada. Slowly, dandelion acceptance has changed the way some view this cheerful and abundant flower.
Sometimes it appears that positive and forward thinking change is a lifetime away. The hurdles seem too large. But, I assure you, they are not always what they seem. During my undergraduate research, I came across a quote that I continue to define myself by and it seems to be more relevant every day.
My daughters can play in fields of dandelions. Pick them until their heart is content or even bake with them. This was something I could not do as a child. Positive change.
This recipe comes for the beautiful book, Cooking with Flowers, by chef and creative director at mali b sweets, Miche Bacher. Each page is truly inspirational, especially if you are new to cooking with flowers. She shows that flowers are more than just decorations.
Makes: 1-2 dozen
Time: Picking time (20 minutes) + Prep time (30 minutes) + Baking time (30 minutes)
Reprinted with permission from "Cooking with Flowers: Sweet and Savory Recipes with Rose Petals, Lilacs, Lavender and Other Edible Flowers", by Miche Bacher, copyright © 2013, published by Quirk Books.
300 g (2 cups) all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
1 cup dandelion petals*
65 g (1/3 cup) of dried apricots, finely chopped
40 g (1/3 cup) of almonds, chopped
340 mL (1 ½ cups) milk
4 tbsp mild spring honey
31 mL (¼ cup) almond or sunflower oil**
1. Preheat oven to 375°F (190°C). Place papers liners in a muffin or cupcake tin or coat pan with nonstick spray.
2. In a large bowl, stir to combine flour, baking powder, salt, dandelion petals, apricots, and almonds. In a separate bowl, whisk milk, honey, and oil. Beat in the egg. Mixing muffin batter by hand prevents over-mixing.
3. Add liquid ingredients to dry and mix by hand to combine. The batter should be wet. Pour into the prepared pan (grease muffin tins or use paper liners). Bake for 30 minutes***, or until a toothpick inserted in the centre of a muffin comes out clean. These muffins are best eaten the day they’re made but can be kept for up to 3 days; if stored, they taste best toasted.
Variation: Dandelion Bread
Pour into a loaf pan and increase the baking time by 5 to 10 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Young dandelion blossoms have a sweet honeylike taste and fragrance that make for delicious muffins. I like them for breakfast or brunch, but you can easily bake this recipe in a loaf pan and use the bread for sandwiches.
* 1 cup dandelion petals = petals from about 40-60 blossoms
** This recipe calls for almond oil (for an improved taste) but I substituted sunflower oil.
*** Mine were baked after 25 minutes.
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