Dandelions! I am happy to see them when they arrive in May. I adore their seed pods, too (Irrestible as motifs for graphic design!) Plus they are fun. This year, I taught my grandson, Dylan, an almost-forgotten childhood chasing game “What's the time, Mister Wolf?”. Just picking the seedpod and blowing on it brought the memory and the very words of the game right back…The haptic and the kinetic are key in memory…
We observed the formalities of the game: One player (or better, several players chanting together while tailing the Wolf) cries/ cry: “What's the time, Mister Wolf?”. “Mister Wolf” walking ahead holding a dandelion clock in his hand, turns around, blows on the dandelion to disperse some seeds in a puff and replies in the required, delciously menacing tone (bringing smiles of excited anticipation to the Wolf Stalkers) : “One o'clock!” …The words must be drawn out and delivered accompanied by rolling of eyes, twisting of lips and pawing of the air by Wolf limbs..The Wolf moves on…The Stalkers' question is repeated until Mister Wolf, with his last puff, rounds on the Stalkers (who have been waiting in deep delight for this moment) and snarls his most terrifying snarl: “It's DINNER time and time to eat you all up!” .. Joyful screaming begins and the chase ensues…Whoever is “eaten” last, gets to be Mister Wolf…
No such carniverous eating at the Kemptiville Dandelion Festival! Just an experience of quaintness in a country town with a distinguished agricultural college, a pragmatism that opens doors to creative thinking, a real need to keep a certain culture alive and people employed.
Unfortunately, we arrived late on the last day of the Dandelion Festival in Kemptville, Ontario…we missed a lot of the vendors but not Chef Chris Enlo, late of the Millenium resto in L. A., and now proprietor of The Branch resto in Kemptville. Chef Chris pulled put all the stops.He even shared his recipe for dandelion root beer. Of course, I asked him if he had managed to obtain the maybe-mythical red colour from the dandelion roots while preparing the beer. Just pale brown, he said. Here is his recipe (he gave permission to share it)
Dandelion root beer
1. Gather dandelion roots (or have your farmer friend dig them up, as Chris did)
2. Roast them in a slow oven like chicory (same family, coffee substitute also) – 250 degrees.
3. Grind the dried out roots to a powdery mess
4. Cover with water by an inch and cook gently for an hour. Add one star anise and an inch of cinnamon stick in the last half hour, then remove.
5. Add more water to taste and sweeten with a shlurp of sugar syrup (make your own with one cup of water to one cup of sugar OR maple syrup OR honey.
Then there was this tasty treat: Dandelion pesto! No recipe but if you can make pesto with basil or coriander, then I guess dandelion would be the same. Blow your guests' minds at your next dinner party…
Boo hoo, we missed the dandelion wine artisans and the farmers so headed off into town to check out the lamp posts and shop windows, all dandelioned-up:
Too late for brunch at the Victorian Pantry:
Look what we missed:
But they still had dandelion cupcakes for us with our (regular, not dandelion) coffee ( we could have had dandelion tea if we had chosen to):
I froze the cupcake for Daughter's birthday and for her to share with Dylan today
My own dandelion creations? Eco printed papers from May dandelions in my “lawn” (note the tad of blue from the violet…a perfect complement)
…Dandelion colours and forms that hold their own even with showy tulips:
Eco print watercolour paper fresh from the steam bath:
The whole plant on linen, pre dyed with sumac (Rhus typhina): Yellows…
The finished dandelion print on watercolour paper:
Next flush of dandelion bloom, I will try some more dandelion fun.
Now we go on to the blue Bearded Iris – the June garden is filled with blues and mauves and pinks..But only a short, intense week or two for this heritage variety of iris in my garden ( I have had it over 35 years and it came from another 30-year garden and doubtless from pioneer gardens before that..).Depending on how you look at it, this heritage iris has advantages for an eco dyer: is floppy in rain and wind so one is compelled to pick them…that is why the end up in vases …or dye pots…in my house..
More on blue iris next post and another coreopsis update.
And just possibly some more very old wool socks to dye. After finding my husband's old ski socksin the winter, now I have found my old cross country ski socks from days of yore. Gonna get out the eco dyes…Coreop-socks
Lastly, an update on my eco printed artists books. Some of them will be the national show of the Canadian Bookbinders and Book Artists Guild to be held in Calgary this July.
That is, if I ever get back in the house after being in the June garden…