Forms of cacao

Raw cacao and the cacao health benefits

The Cacao Bean

Ted talk on the cacao bean

Ted talk with David Wolfe about chocolate

dandelions

dandelions.jpg

I remember when my grandmother picked dandelions many years ago. She would equip herself with a knife and a white plastic bag and would disappear for a couple of hours. She knew exactly when to go pick them and how to cut them in order to minimize the work involved to prepare them. When she came back the bag resembled a big stuffed pillow. She would ask for our help in cleaning and separating her find. The dandelions were to be cleaned and processed the same day in order to get the ultimate benefits.

So if you’re a longtime dandelion picker or just beginning,  you will find the post “Dandelions as Food and Medicine“, written by herbalist and forager Sarah Lawless very educational. Sarah’s blog “Fern & Fungi”  is a treasure house on foraging.  Discover what is growing all around us!

My neighbor’s backyard is not only big but also dandelion heaven. The flowers are a beautiful deep yellow and very big. She is elderly, so rarely uses her yard. It is all fenced in, no dogs, and no pesticides.  So I have her permission to forage as many dandelions as I want. Looking from my window at these beautiful flowers I went to pick a few and decided to make this jelly. This is a very easy and fun project to do with kids. It will become one of their favorite activities to look forward to in the spring and learn to appreciate this amazing power flower!

ingredients

4 cups water
4 cups dandelion blossoms 
1/4 cup plus 1 1/2 teaspoons ( 1/2 package) powdered pectin
4 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
rind of 1/2 lemon cut in very thin strips

instructions

Bring water and dandelion blossoms to a boil in a medium saucepan. Reduce heat to medium, and simmer for 3 minutes. Remove from heat, and let stand for 10 minutes. Strain through a fine sieve into a measuring cup, pressing solids. Discard blossoms.

Combine pectin and 1/2 cup sugar in a small bowl. Bring dandelion liquid and remaining 4 cups sugar to a boil, stirring constantly to dissolve sugar.

Add the pectin mixture, stirring constantly to dissolve pectin and sugar. Add lemon juice and rind, and boil for 1 minute. Skim foam from the surface. Let cool slightly.

Pour mixture into an airtight container. Cover with a lid. Refrigerate until set, about 4 hours.

Colorful carrots can make an amazing side dish, both in presentation and taste. Easy and quick to prepare, these can be roasted in the oven or grilled on the barbecue. I had some place on my pizza pan so I decided to add finocchio. Turned out great!

ingredients
colorful carrots (cut in even sized pieces)
finocchio (cut in even strips)
olive oil,  balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper, garlic,
parsley, and or any other spice you like
bread crumbs

instructions

put cut carrots and finocchio in a pan

add oil, balsamic vinegar and all spices
toss until well coated

add bread crumbs

line a pizza pan with parchment paper and place carrots and finocchio

drizzle a little more olive oil  all over

place in 350* oven on roast for 30 minutes or until tender

(if you don’t have the roast option on your oven, roast for 15 minutes on one side
and turn over to roast another 15 minutes on other side)

serve immediately, garnished with parsley, if desired