Todays post was written by our guest author and good friend Paris Wolfe!
Former Blogmaster for The Herb Society of America, Paris Wolfe planted her first herb garden in 1990. She’s been growing, cooking and crafting with herbs ever since.
I can’t decide whether “Wild Remedies” by Rosalee de la Foret and Emily Han, released in March 2020, is a foraging book or a healing foods book. The authors go both ways with health benefits of “weeds” like dandelion, chickweed, violet as well as fruits like apples, blackberries, elderberries. It doesn’t really matter because the book, with its lush photographs, appeals to the garden goddess in me.
This isn’t an encyclopedic tome. And that’s a good thing. The authors limit the book to 25 plants -- most foraged – for a more comprehensive examination. Keeping it under control makes information accessible to the casual reader. Most, if not all, of this list can be wildcrafted in Northeast Ohio.
An experienced herbie and forager, I was impatient as the authors covered ecology basics and foraging “rules of the road” in the book’s first few chapters. These chapters include journal prompts and exercises that felt elementary to me. Or maybe I was just impatient to get to the action.
As the authors explored individual botanicals, I was smitten. These were plants I knew –and I was learning new ways to use them. Each chapter includes growth habits and summary information. Medicinal properties are discussed followed by information on ecology, harvesting and use. Chapters close with easy-enough recipes. Please consult your physician before using any herbal remedies for medicinal purposes.
I received my copy in April and started with what was in season … dandelions and violets. The first thing I made was the Dandelion Maple Syrup Cake. The cream cheese-based frosting, walnuts and raisins made it seem a bit like carrot cake. Even the skeptical eaters at the table enjoyed it.
For my next production I made violet oxymel – a mixture of violet-infused white wine vinegar and honey. That was the essential ingredient in a Simple Violet Cocktail. The first cocktail was gin-based. I’m going to repeat the recipe with vodka. I might like that better.
I cannot wait to try recipes with plantain, wild mustard, nettles, purslane, burdock and so much more. I just need a prolific, untreated “weed” patch to supply the ingredients for healing teas, tasty side dishes, delicious desserts and enticing bath products.
Here is the recipe for the wonderful Dandelion Cake!
DANDELION MAPLE SYRUP CAKE – from Wild Remedies
1⁄2 cup butter, softened
1⁄2 cup maple syrup
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
3⁄4 cup freshly picked dandelion flowers (sepals and bracts removed)
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour (or gluten-free all-purpose flour)
1 cup rolled oats
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1⁄2 teaspoon baking soda
1⁄2 teaspoon salt
1⁄4 cup raisins, chopped (optional)
1⁄4 cup walnuts, chopped (optional)
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1⁄4 cup butter, softened
1⁄4 cup maple syrup
1⁄4 cup freshly picked dandelion flowers (sepals and bracts removed)
For the cake:
- Preheat the oven to 375°F. Grease a 9 x 2-inch glass pie plate.
- Mix the butter, maple syrup, eggs, and vanilla in a medium bowl. Add the dandelion flowers and mix well. Set aside.
- Mix the flour, oats, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl.
- Add the dry mixture to the wet mixture and stir well. If using, mix in the raisins and/or walnuts.
- Press the batter into the greased pie plate. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool.
For the frosting: Use a handheld mixer to combine the cream cheese, butter, and maple syrup. Taste and add more maple syrup if desired.
Assemble the cake: When cooled, invert the cake onto a sheet pan or large, flat plate. Frost the top and sides. Sprinkle the dandelion flowers on top.
Interestingly enough, this earthy book has much interactive, digital support. Right away I joined its Facebook page and book club. On the Facebook page, members share their recipe successes, photos and questions You can get more information on these by visiting Wild Remedies Book. Or following the following links …
Photos were given to us with permission from the lovely authors who are shown in the 2nd photograph....