Haven’t you noticed? All the lawns and fields seem to have large spots of yellow.
Unless you are the type who doesn’t care if you have dandelions all over, the yellow blossoms mean it is already too late for some things, but not necessarily too late for other uses.
The blossoms or buds can be a most delectable dish and it’s very nutritious if you pick the bud, strip off the green and deep fry it for two minutes after rolling it in batter of egg and seasoned flour cracker crumbs. Squash blossoms are prepared similarly and are just as delicious and nutritious.
We don’t need to elaborate on the tonic from the dandelion blossoms, leaves or roots when wine is made. The “liquor” is both sweet, pure and potent when it is made from the right recipe. We have enjoyed dandelion wine served in several homes on occasion and it is indeed most delicious. The wine I’m referring to is the one made with oranges, lemons, sugar and other ingredients that make it fruity and sweet.
The dandelion greens are full of iron and are natural spring tonic, either eaten raw in a tossed salad or cooked, there is as much nutrition as spinach or other greens. Cooked with bits of bacon or pork, a clove of garlic and served with oil and vinegar they make a delicious side dish.
It doesn’t take much time to gather enough dandelions for a meal and they are easy to clean. Years ago you would see housewives going up the Lehigh Valley Railroad tracks in Canastota or alongside the New York Central tracks to gather their morning harvest of clean dandelion greens. This was a great spot, also for trekking along later on picking wild strawberries and blackberries. The taste of wild berries is the best. They still grow in abundance on the line, but the overgrowth discourages many from venturing after them.
This is the time of year when people can use a tonic. The weather is warmer and your blood needs thinning and purifying. My grandmother would have her jar of molasses out that she had mixed earlier in anticipation of the weather and her homemade spring tonic.
Before school each morning we would be made to take a teaspoon of it telling us it was to clean our blood. There are times when I wonder if I shouldn’t go back to trying the tonic in the springtime especially when you are feeling logy.
Other spring tonics are cowslips, which were never too popular with our family. There was also a green that grows on the muck called “wild rappi.”
I remember when the muck was in its heyday and onions grew in abundance all down the roads on every side where it had been cultivated, we would go with other friends and gather this to take home, clean and cook much like dandelions, but it had a much nicer flavor and wasn’t bitter as dandelions have a tendency to be if you aren’t careful in the way you pick them.
Fixed with a little olive oil, a few garlic slices and other herbs, greens are good for you.
Wednesday, May 4, 2011
By Carol WeimerWho can remember the Canastota Garden Club? Perhaps you were one of the members of it. On May 1 as you walked/drove to work in the downtown area you would see the most beautiful wicker baskets filled with the most glorious spring flowers hanging on the door handles or door posts of the local downtown businesses. Such as the Key Bank, the insurance agencies (and there were several back then), the Canastota Savings & Loan Association, the lawyers’ entrances and just about every door front in the business section. They would be tied with colorful ribbons swaying in the breezes to attract your attention. It was May Day on the first and our ladies wanted everyone to enjoy its beauty.
The members enjoyed the activities of the club. They would have meetings in various area community establishments but along towards the demise of the club it was the Canastota Public Library, I believe. At one time when the Avon Theater building was still in existence they had rooms of their own up over the theater. There they would work on various projects constructing items for their annual Christmas sale. And, what beautiful centerpieces, wall decorations, door hangings, etc. they would create. I can remember purchasing a dish arrangement that had as its base a 78-rpm record. Seemed you could place them in a form of your selection, put them in a low-degree oven to heat and then form them to your selection. It was sprayed gold with a Christmas arrangement of gold, glitter, greens etc. The ingenuity of these gals was amazing. Their sales were always a “must” to attend if not for something to purchase, to enjoy an exotic cup of tea, coffee, sweets that only these ladies could bake or stir up to serve those attending the sale. I miss all of that as do so many who remember.
The club didn’t only use their talents to use their constructive abilities for items to sell, but they would be seen around the village and area with their tools for gardening, their floppy brim hats, gardening gloves and kneeling pads planting flowers to make the entrance to the village at Route 5 and South Peterboro Street a welcoming appearance of an array of colorful flowers in all sizes and manner.
At Christmas time it was these ladies that assisted the men of the Public Works Department to arrange the Nativity Arrangement in the downtown area at one time and then moved to Clark Memorial Park. They saw to it that the figurines were kept in tiptop shape touching them up with paint and whatever else that needed to be done. Now our employees of the public works do the same and a great job they do.
They would decorate the downtown village streets in the summer and I believe it might have been them who started the planters at various sites on the sidewalks in downtown. Filled with geraniums or other flowers they were the ones who kept them watered and blooming throughout the summer months. The planters are still placed each summer, filled with colorful petunias and kept watered and blooming thanks to our village sponsorship.
The ladies, I don’t believe ever had any men members but one of their most helpful advisors was W. W. (Bill) Sharpe who was the Agricultural and Industrial Arts teacher in our school system for many, many years. Bill was not only advisor to the club, but to almost anyone who would seek his advice and counsel for gardening problems. He was always available and happy to help you, I know I called him my “gardening friend” and was known to be bothering him about one problem or another, whether it was weeds, varmints, production, fertilizer, etc.
Today? Have you noticed the banks that lead up to the overpass on the railroad bridges on both South Peterboro Street and South Main Street on both sides of the hills? The South Peterboro Street is completed I believe and the Main Street is in construction. What an improvement! Shrubs, flowers in the summer and the maintenance have made an unsightly place beautiful. I don’t know if you ever really took a look at it before but it was a place where bottles, cans and other types of throwaways were flung to rid it. There were weeds, leaves, stubs of trees that had depreciated and an unsightly place when entering or leaving the village on either street. The responsibility of the evacuation, cleaning, planting has been done by the work of the Village Department of Public Works, the CSX Railroad and other interested persons.
What has happened to the ladies in our community? Canastota also had an active Canastota Lionettes Chapter and the Canastota Firemen’s Auxiliary. The answer at the time of their disorganization was the lack of not only interest but members who were too busy and didn’t have the time to attend meetings or work on projects. Have other communities had the same experience?