Category Archives: links

More About Dandelions

Hey again.

Just a quick couple of links to other people’s posts about how to use wild dandelions beyond the obvious salad greens:

First, of course, is dandelion root “coffee” (which my ex girlfriend adores as-is, but which I think would be neat used as a mocha-esque flavour for ice cream, cupcakes, or other goodies).

According to this site, you can also blanch dandelion roots and include them in mixes of (sweeter) roots like beets, celeriac, carrots and parsnips for use in casseroles and stews.

According to this page on edible flowers, young dandelion blossoms have a sweet, honey-like flavour (if you pick them small and cut off the green parts). You could combine them with, say, red clover blossoms, cornflowers (bachelor’s buttons), hardy rose petals, elderberry flowers, a handful of rhubarb slivers[1] to make an iced tea reminiscent of lemonade with hints of licorice, clove, and nutmeg hiding in its flavours.

The Daily Spud suggests frying dandelion flowers the way you might do with squash or daylily blossoms.

The Herb Garden has a recipe for dandelion flower jelly.


You can find a recipe for dandelion wine over at Allotment Heaven.

[1] You could also use rosehips, red/staghorn summac berries, or maybe even thin slices of crab apples, to add sharpness if you are making this in August/September rather than May/June/July. Garden/French sorrel could work for a slightly lemony kick as well.

Caviar Dreams

Years ago – I probably was about sixteen, give or take a year, so literally half my life ago – I went fishing with my Dad, and – much to my shock – caught a catfish.

Now. I am not particularly fond of catfish. The texture is… weird… (Maybe that’s just the one I caught, or maybe it has to do with the body makeup of cartilage fish versus that of boned fish like the bass and trout and similar that I was used to) and I understand why then get done up in Cajun spice at the grocery store. :-\

However. The catfish I caught had a belly full of gleaming orange eggs (to this day, when I imagine what “orange” would taste or smell like, the fishy scent of those eggs rises in my mind – way more than tangerines or clemintines do, funilly enough…).
I felt slightly terrible, having caught a girl and, thus, kept her from bringing more catfish into the world. Like I’d just wasted a few thousand fish right there. At the same time, though, I wondered if you could eat them.

I didn’t eat them. Not then. But it’s a question that’s come back to me many times over the years – even more-so after I discovered Sushi and the Masago and tobiko that decorate maki like little red and orange jewels, popping so perfectly on your tongue. (Love ’em!)

So, with fishing season Actually Here (fishing license, er, still to be obtained, mind you…), and having just read a couple of posts about trout caviar over at Starving Off the Land, I thought I’d do some poking around.

What I turned up were the following how-to posts on brining your own fisheggs:

Curing Salmon Roe (from The Homebrew Chef)
How to Make Caviar (from Hunter, Angler, Gardener, Cook)

So. Now I know. If, over the coming summer, I somehow manage to catch myself a brown trout full of eggs, I’ll know what to do with the eggs. 🙂

Meliad the Birch Maiden.

Quick Link on Butchery

So I’ve spent the last… six(?) hours working on a post for an upcoming blog carnival (there will be links as well as the post in question – stay tuned) but I wanted to throw a quick link up here today.

Home Deer Butchering 101

Sofya writes about killing and butchering your own food – among other things – with great enthusiasm and a practical approach (and lots of pictures).

Even though most of the pics are in sepia, I was watching my reactions to reading about (and seeing, albeit quite second-hand) the process of butchering a dead deer, and I was interested to note both (a) my initial squeemishness over the idea of cutting through joints (in spite of the fact that I do this all the time with cooked dead animals…), and (b) my growing interest and comfort with the subject.

I’m definitely not at the point where I can seriously start working on Going Hunting. I haven’t even killed a fish yet, after all. But I wanted to read this, to SEE this, even at a distance, just to see where I’m at with it. Taking my temperature, so to speak. If my long-term goal is to be able to competantly hunt and kill my own food, the first tiny micro-step in that is to be able to look at what comes after – the process, with all its blood and smells and mess, of dressing and butchering a carcass – with open eyes.

It’s a tiny step. But it’s a step.

Meliad the Birch Maiden.

Blackout Day on the Internet (cross-posted to Syrens)

So. January 18th, 2012. Blackout Day on the Internet.

Basically, because of SOPA and PIPA threatening to wipe out free speech on the internet, a bunch of websites, big and small, have locked their contents for the day and left a note for their readers/users/contributors/etc explaining why.

No, actually, I’m not being hyperbolic about this. Watch this video for details (the last minute of the video is probably most important in relation to this post):

I support this black-out. It’s meant to show people – people who might otherwise not pay attention to something about Hollywood – what the internet could end up looking like if these laws get passed.

However, I’m also in Canada and thus, like everyone else outside of the U.S. (who none the less uses U.S.-based (either by owner or by ISP) websites), I’m pretty-much stuck.
Their vaguely-worded, heavy-consequence-bearing would-be laws would screw the rest of us, too, but we don’t have a political voice (or perhaps a political ear?) to harass their congress into stopping it.

See… Here’s the thing. In theory, this is about the entertainment industry having cart blanche to shut down any website (entire site – as in all of WordPress, not just one blog) they’ve decided is violating copyright laws in some way (like, say, someone posts a video of themselves recreating a Lady Gaga video in their livingroom). But it has the potential to be grossly abused both in the U.S. and as a model for laws passed elsewhere[1].

This is why people are so (rightly) up in arms about this. And this is why, if you live in the U.S., the rest of us would really appreciate it if you’d get on the phone (or the email, or the twitter feed, or the snail mail, or all of the above) to your congress-person/senator and tell them in no uncertain terms that you do NOT support these laws and don’t want to see them pushed through. even has a handy pre-fab letter you can send in directly (hey) via the internet.

Go forth and save us all.

Thank you, (no, really, THANK YOU),
Meliad, the Birch Maiden

[1] Like here, not to put too fine a point on it.

Cheese Recipes (just a link)

So this is a fly-by posting. Basically:

Hey, look! Cheese Recipes that you can make at home! 😀

Note: I have not actually tried any of these (though one of my friends tells me that you get a lot more panir if you use raw, whole milk than if you use, say, pasturized homogenized milk, just FYI).


Urban Foraging – Some Links

So things are kind of wild around my place just now.
As such, for the moment, I’m just going to hand you a couple of links talking about urban foraging.

My garden is kind of suffering at the moment. I’ve been throwing eggshells into my various large planters, in the hopes of giving my sqaush, tomatoes, and beans a bit of a calcium boost, but it doesn’t seem to be working. (Next year, I’ll be adding a healthy dose of bone meal to all my large planters, going with a bush-delicata squash (only one, I suspect), and inter-planting the squash with the beans).

In the next few days, I’ll be collecting choke cherries and wild grapes (apples will come later, I think, though if I had a ladder, I could probably snag some from the tree around the corner right now), as well as harvesting the radishes from my balcony garden (I want to try pickling a bunch of them, if I can). For now, though, I’m going to take a walk over to Arts Court to check out their Will Work For Food art garden, to see what’s going on over there.

Beyond that, have some links!

Foraging for Wild Berries in the City (Toronto)

Urban Foraging and Guerilla Gardening (Location Unknown)

At Vacant Homes, Foraging for Fruit (Atlanta)

– Meliad, the Birch Maiden

Unexpectedly Lammas-Related, Poetry-Inspired Baking

Yeah, I know. That title’s a mouthful. A mouthful of deliciousness!

See, today I made Peach Jam. Specifically, I made peach jam with the addition of pear-cider vinegar and a few strawberries I had lying around (it’s a remarkably pink orange colour as a result of both the peach skins and the strawberries, I don’t mind telling you).
I used my last two 2C jars to can the stuff, though, so when I was left with about half a cup of fresh jam lying in the pot with nowhere to put it (except in me, of course), I decided that it was time to do more baking.

So I wrote a cupcake recipe (see below).

Of course, me being me, I didn’t actually stick to the recipe once I wrote it. My recipe calls for eggs, yoghurt, and a couple of other bits and pieces that I didn’t have on-hand at home. I switched up a bunch of stuff (including adding half a cup of fine cornmeal to cover the ground almonds I didn’t have, and adding a handful of chopped white chocolate plus a few dried apricot bits and dried cranberries, all of-which came from an ancient and failed attempt at making white chocolate bark one Winter Solstice) and baked with what I had. The recipe you’ll find, below, is actually an amalgamation of the original recipe with the extra thrown-in-stuff added (either as definite ingredients or as optional ones).

The resulting baked goods, possibly due to the cornmeal, taste more like a very, VERY fluffy muffin than like a cupcake. BUT they’re still uber-tasty and I recommend them, for sure. 😀

Some Notes:
The recipe itself is in part inspired by the jam I made, but it’s also inspired by Peach Creamed Honey (I hope that link works for everyone), the award-winning poem from Amal El-Mohtar’s gorgeous book of poetry, The Honey Month. So, obviously, the best choice for the small amount of honey called-for in this recipe is actual peach-creamed honey. Which I have no notion where to find. BUT it seems to work nicely with clover honey, so do what you like.
Also: While I didn’t mean for this to end up being Lammas-related, it includes honey[1], cornmeal[2], peaches[3] AND jam[4]. So I’m feeling like it’s kind of Seasonally Thematic, half by accident.

Anyway. Without further ado, the recipe:




For the Cupcakes

1½ C flour (wheat, oat, barley, mixture, whatever)
1 C ground almonds (OR ½ C ground almonds + ½ C fine cornmeal – which is what I used)
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt

½ C sour cream OR yoghurt
½ C margarine/butter/shortening
½ C brown sugar
¼ C peach jam
2 tbsp creamed honey (liquid honey is also okay)
2 egg yolks
1 tbsp vanilla extract
½ tsp orange extract (optional)

2 egg whites, beaten until stiff

¼ C chopped dried peaches (may substitute dried apricots – the emphasis here is on “dried”)
¼ C white chocolate chips

For the Frosting

1C icing sugar
¼ C margarine/butter
1 tsp orange extract OR vanilla extract
1 tbsp peach jam

Flaked almonds OR strips of orange zest (to garnish)


Preheat oven to 350F

In a small bowl, beat the egg whites until they are very stiff

In a large bowl, cream together the sour cream, egg yolks, sugar, and margarine

Add the jam, vanilla, honey, and optional orange extract, and blend until smooth

In a separate bowl (or not) mix the dry ingredients together, then add them to the sour cream mixture and blend gently until smooth, being careful not to over-mix

Fold in the beaten egg whites

Add the chopped dried fruit and the white chocolate chips and fold in until well-distributed

Spoon the batter into paper-lined muffin cups

Bake for 20-35 minutes (until golden brown)

Remove from oven and let stand ten minutes before moving the cupcakes to a wire rack to finish cooling

When cupcakes are fully cooled, frost them with the frosting and decorate them with orange zest, flaked almonds, or whatever your heart desires


Please note: My oven only has one element (as opposed to the usual two) and so a dozen cupcakes tend to take a good half hour for me. If you have a fully-functional oven, chances are good that your cupcakes will only take 15-20 minutes. Be aware.

And, yeah. That’s my recipe. 😀

– Cheers,
– Meliad the Birch Maiden

[1] Harvested, around hear, in Mid-to-Late July. (You can also do a harvest around Hallowe’en, actually, which I’ll be keeping in mind come late October).

[2] It’s corn-harvesting season at the moment and, if you do Lammas as a specifically grain-related festival, that’s your grain if you’re in my bioregion.

[3] Currently in season in Ontario.

[4] home-canning, related to harvesting and planning for the future, plus the jam includes strawberries[5] and locally-brewed[6] pear-cider vinegar. I could also note that the dried fruit, drying being another method of preserving produce, fits the same correspondences as the jam. Just saying. 🙂

[5] Also in season (though getting late) in Ontario.

[6] By a friend of mine who had a batch of pear cider go… awry. It’s a gorgeous, mild, seriously fragrant vinegar that I love using in desserts. 🙂

Choke Cherries – Part One (Plotting)

So, in addition to linking to this post at Seasonal Ontario, which documents what is typically available all through the Ontario Food Year, I also wanted to talk a bit about Choke cherries.


I’ve only just started cluing into them.  I wasn’t entirely sure if they were edible.  Half of me thought they were, and half of me thought they weren’t.  (Where is the line between tannins-a-go-go and this-bitterness-is-poison, again?)  But, yes, they are.  The key, I gather, is to pick then when they’re slightly over-ripe (very, very black, not even a hint of red or wine colour anywhere), at which point they’ll be acerbic, definitely, but they won’t make your mouth go numb.


Choke cherries, being an indigenous wild cherry, are all over the place.  In weedy lots, sure, but also planted in front yards and parks by city officials and home-owners who wanted easy-to-care-for trees that looked kind of cool (purple leaves, long frilly flowers, and subtle yet still eye-catching fruit).  And the fruit is generally just left to rot off the tree, like so much other front yard fruit around here.


There’s a tree in one of my local parks (YAY!) and tonnes of others within easy reaching distance along sidewalks around town, so I’ve got no shortage of availability.  My plan is try making (a) choke cherry jelly, and (b) choke cherry syrup[1].  Since my sweetie and I have Big Plans to try brewing apple-pear cider (using wild apples and cultivated pear-scrumps, plus Whatever) this year, we may also throw in some cherries or other berries to add some extra zing of flavor.  Some pitted choke cherries or sour cherries may find their way into the mix, as well as a scoop or two of honey.


I’m also kind of curious about doing a fruit-leather – take mashed apple pulp and mashed pick-a-fruit pulp and mix them together, then spread the mixture on a lightly-oiled baking sheet and dry it out in an oven on super-low heat for many, many hours, flipping it over part way through.  It makes for a good dried fruit snack and, duuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuude… there are SO MANY apples around town, you have no idea…


Anyway.  This is my plan.


Chokecherries!  Who knew?


– Cheers,

– Meliad, the Birch Maiden


[1] The kind of thing you could mix up with sparkling water for a lemonade-like drink, y’know?  Basically, I’m always on the look-out for lemon-substitutes.  What can I use instead of lemon juice for this dressing or those cupcakes, or that chicken dish.  Right now, cranberries are kind of in the lead, but I’d like to try my hand at using rosehip/hawthorn/chokecherry juice (or syrup) as a stand-in as well.  Thoughts?  Suggestions?

Random Link

So there is this blog (see “Pagan” section of my links list) called Adventures in Animism.

It is pretty awesome, as far as I can tell.

She has a post there about food and culture and relating to the land and how art and culture grow out of eating.  Which is not the point of the post, per se, but it’s a significant chunk of what I got out of it.

Do go read.

I will, probably, end up talking about this subject (at length) in future posts.  So, yeah.  Putting this here in part for my own benefit/reference.  (NOTE:  She also has this hand Bioreeeeeeeeeeegional Quiz.  See how much you know about your home. :-))


– Cheers,

– Meliad the Birch Maiden