Hollyhocks

I read in the Peterson’s Wild Edible Field Guide that you could make marshmallows, capers and tea from the  hollyhock plant. Well actually they were under the marsh mallow plant. The book said there are similarities between the two flowers, so I wanted to give these recipes a try.

I have planted flowers in the yard the past few years. I am very discriminate against any non-edible flowers. If you are a flower and you are in my yard, you need to feed me. I looked into edible flowers or bee attracting flowers; Bee’s help to pollinate flowers. I have planted: marigolds, lady slippers, johnny jump-ups, hollyhocks, nasturtiums, zinnia, echinacea and many others, but only a few of them took.

Hollyhocks are a gorgeous flower. They look like something my grandma would have had growing up. They grow to be over seven feet tall, with several flowers coming out of the stalk. They are a perennial and they re-seed more flowers. This year I had several I never planted growing in our main vegetable garden. I knew what they were when they started to come up, so I let them grow. They are a great addition to the yard.

   

I have a dozen hollyhock plants in my yard and I wanted to use them. The Japanese beetle devoured a lot of the leafs off the flowers, but I was able to get a half pint of the small flower buds. Then I dug up four of the roots for marshmallows and medicinal tea.

The first thing I tried were the marshmallows. It’s a marshmallow before the marshmallow we know today. You take the root of the marsh mallow plant, peel the outer skin, cut it in pieces and boil it in sugar water. It puffs up and looks and tastes similar to a modern marshmallow. The hollyhock root didn’t turn out. It didn’t puff up and it was really stringy. It didn’t taste half bad, but I will need to try it with the marsh mallow root.

I needed a recipe for the capers. The Wild Edible Field Guide didn’t give me one. I found a recipe at The Splendid Table for nasturtium capers. When I work in the kitchen I often listen to Lynne Rossetto Kasper; She inspires me! The recipe is for nasturtium seed pods, but I thought I would give it a try with the hollyhock flower buds. 

I combined three cups of water and six tablespoons of salt and brought it to a boil. I poured the mixture onto the clean flower buds in a clean wide mouth pint jar. I put a normal size lid in the jar and a weight on the lid in the jar to hold the buds in the brine. I covered and let it sit in my pantry for three days. On the third day I made a mixture of: 3/4 cup white vinegar, 2 teaspoons of sugar, two bay leafs and some dried thyme. I brought this to boil and poured it into a jar with the drained flower buds. I put a lid on it and set it in the fridge for another three days.

The taste was… like eating young unopened flower buds, that are in white vinegar, seasoned with bay leafs and thyme. It seems pretty straight forward. Maybe the taste changes as they age. The texture is cool. It has a rough- thick, thicker than a lettuce leaf, but not too thick outer leaf. Inside there is a very young flower with a bright color to it.

I enjoy the tea the most out of these three recipes. I took the unearthed root, let it sit outside to dry for a week or so, brought it inside, rinsed it off, cut a couple inches of it up, boiled it in a quart of water for 15 min or so and drank the cooled tea.It’s not real strong and it has a very pleasant taste- like root. It’s not bitter at all. I am looking forward to drinking more. I have three more large roots out back to save. I will drink the stuff just for the taste, but medicinally it soothes a sore throat and helps with an irritated digestive tract.



Hollyhocks on Punk Domestics

The Move

We moved this past weekend. Change has always been hard on my diet. A week or two ago I told Kristina, “This is it- We are eating crap food from here until we are settled in to the new place, two or three weeks from now.” We were getting serious about moving.  It’s not the stress of change, it’s the convenience of eating convenient food; not having to plan, buy, cook and clean.

Crap food baby! Pizza, Wendy’s, McDonald’s, more Pizza, Arby’s, Jimmy John’s, Chipolte… POP! Yep, I am a HFCS sucking, supporting Monsanto stealing the world’s culture- P.O.S.!

Did I mention pizza? I have had Pizza Man twice during this move. I love Pizza Man. I grew up with it in the A.N.O.K.A. I have lived outside of the delivery area, as an adult, all but one blessed year when we lived across the street from one. I have driven miles to get it myself. It’s that good! Well, good news. I now live with-in the delivery area, but I will still drive to get it. Screw those pizza delivery guys!!!

Please forgive me for giving props to a -crap food- pizza place on this blog, I have sunk that low. I want higher standards, but I also want to be real. I am all about local, good, healthy food and cooking. I am also trying to figure out how to eat that way all the time: During family vacations, during moves, when the family is sick, when I REALLY don’t want to cook, when the thought of a chicken on a farm makes me confused -about our food system- and I want 20 McNuggets for $5 to show that free range chicken who’s boss.

I’m being silly! Sometimes you feel that way.

I have lost track of the garden. I see a few of my neighbors drooling at the thought of us leaving forever so they can harvest our vegetables. I have politely reminded them that we still “own” our house and we will be back several times a week.

The thought of going to Trader Joe’s has been out of reach the past few days. We are just getting to that point now, since our kitchen is almost unpacked. That’s just a grocery store, not the co-op, or the garden, or foraging. There is a process for me to get to that “ideal” of what my diet should be.

The good news! I have been reading Guerrilla Gardening: A Manuafesto. That’s right I -want to be- on my way to become a Che Guevara; only with plants, not guns. I can’t say I am on my way, until I actually do some guerrilla gardening. I do have dozens of plants back at the old house I want to plant somewhere.

More good news! We have a dinning room! We went to Ikea and bought the largest table they have. It seats up to FOURTEEN PEOPLE!… and we only have five people in our family.

Annika

Overboard my ass!

I like to have people over for dinner. My thought is: Build it and they will come! Kristina challenged me to fill our fourteen seat dinning room table up, so… You are invited to dinner at our house any Saturday night. Please bring the family and a dessert or beverage and I will give you a great meal.

Sauerkraut Brownies

OK, I know what you are thinking: ‘Sauerkraut brownies!? Those can’t be good.’

My sauerkraut turned out after fermenting on the counter for a week of so and I wanted to use it. Two cups of it went into the brownies. I want to take credit for doing something weird. I like to be different, but I can’t. I found the recipe last year at Bubbies. Bubbies makes awesome products; they have some of the best sauerkraut and pickles I have had. I adapted the recipe:

  • ¾ cup salted butter
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ½ cup flour, plus 2 tablespoons flour
  • ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 cups sauerkraut
  • 1 cup water
  • ½ cup dark chocolate cut into small chucks

Preheat oven to 350F. Coat 9×9 cooking pan with cooking oil. In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Stir in sugar until blended, about 2 minutes, remove from heat and beat in eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition. In a medium bowl mix the flour and cocoa together, add the flour mixture to the butter mixture, stirring until combined. In a blender, pulse the sauerkraut with the water for approximately 8-10 seconds; then drain and squeeze the sauerkraut until the water is removed. Mix the sauerkraut into the batter. Stir in the dark chocolate chunks. Spread the mixture into the prepared pan. Bake 45-50 minutes.

I took the brownies to our Block Party tonight for National Night Out and they were all eaten!