Chocolate Box Cottage Diary, Volume 2
Week 13: April 2, 2022
Ducks and Dandelions
We were anticipating the hatching of a nest of Silver Muscovy ducklings this week. When I say “we,” I mean me. Sam is not as keen on ducks as I am. That’s okay, he has other admirable qualities and he doesn’t mind helping me take care of them.
We had an unexpected visitor to the henhouse, unfortunately, and the eggs have vanished. We suspect an opossum, because we regularly see opossums. It could also have been a fox or raccoon, but it is not likely as we didn’t lose any birds this week.
It is dandelion season, have you noticed? Known scientifically as Taraxacum officinale, the sunny yellow flowers are popping up everywhere. It is a little known secret that dandelions, both leaf and flower, are delicious and useful. Pop them in salads where their sweet/salty/bitter flavor will shine as brightly as their color, offering benefits to the digestive system and liver. Read further to see how I used these sunny yellow flowers in the kitchen! (Link to colander here. And visit my Shopping Guide, too!)
Sam’s major project this weekend was to service the small equipment. The chainsaw, splitting maul, wheelbarrow, lawnmower, weedeater, have been cleaned and oiled; where necessary spark plugs were sanded, blade sharpened, emptied of old fuel and refilled in preparation for service.
Is there anything prettier than sun shining through daffodils?
Indian runner ducks ponder running away. In the morning they make a beeline for the ditch across the way.
Have you ever watched a carpenter bee? They drill tunnels (holes) in my greenhouse, it’s true. They also do the work of pollination. Here in my vintage A-frame greenhouse, this fellow is pollinating blossoms on a Meyer lemon tree. See the teeny, tiny green lemon just above left of the bee?
Basil seedlings in the greenhouse, 5 kinds, for tea, pesto, cooking, and pure pleasure! By planting them a generous distance apart to prevent cross-pollination, I am able to save pure seeds for replanting each year. Except for Pesto Party basil, which is a proprietary variety, a hybrid, developed by Burpee.
Processing wild milkweed seed, Asclepius fascicularis, means rubbing the (brown) seed free of the fluffy floss so that it won’t float away. The seedpods were gathered from plants growing next to a city sidewalk. (This colander gets used a lot.)
We had a special guest join us for tea at Mom’s this week, Joy Longiotti, my mom’s best friend of many years. What fun it was to remember when they were young mothers and I was a “youngster.” Joy bakes wonderful homemade biscotti, which we enjoyed with our tea luncheon.
Joy is the most creative person I know, with talents ranging from sewing and quilting, ceramics, painting, knitting, decorating, baking, and cake decorating, which she did professionally in her own business, Joy’s Creative Kitchen. In fact, she and Mom used to “do” cakes together! Mom baked cakes in round Wilton pans and base iced them, then passed them over to Joy, who did the decorating.
Joy is famous for her wedding cakes. Now retired from baking cakes, she is enjoying renewed interest in quilt making and brought several for Mom and me to ooh and ahh over, and I took pictures to share with you!
Grange Co-Op buddies: Mick McBride (center) and I used to work together at the Central Point store, Michael Villarreal (right) came on later. I stop in whenever I can to see what interesting plants are available.
We are nearing the end of last year’s feta cheese supply that has been stored in brine in the cool storeroom. Homemade feta adds a salty pop of flavor to this scrumptious Dandelion Salad with spring greens served alongside Mexican Meatballs with Creamy Salsa.
Spiralized zucchini and potato noodles step in for pasta frequently on our dinner table. (Link to a good countertop siralizer here.) We love the noodly deliciousness of zucchini mixed with potato. They’re light and filling, both! A generous amount of Freezer Basil Pesto was stirred into the veggie noodles which made a bed for poached wild Atlantic salmon received as a Christmas gift. (Now THAT’S a great gift!)
I hope you enjoyed this leisurely stroll through my week and feel a new zest to enjoy your own. The blessings are there, if we look for them.