Our nature study has been focused on completing Spring Series #4: Wildflower Study ~ Dandelions. We did this series on 2 different days over a period of 2 weeks.
I was purposefully looking forward to this study because I knew that dandelions are edible (and a good source of vitamins) and I just needed a good excuse reason to try them.
So, the first half of our study focused on dandelions as wild edibles.
We harvested them from our own backyard.
Nice tap root.
To prepare the roots, we scrubbed them good and boiled them in water for 20 minutes. Then I sliced them and sauteed them in butter with some onion powder.
I didn't make enough! They were very good and disappeared quickly, much to my delight.
Next, we tried some dandelion greens. We looked for greens that did not have flowers yet, since I read that mature greens can be bitter.
I also read* that cooking them with a sweet veggie, like the carrot, takes away some of the bitterness. So, I sauteed the greens with carrot peels in olive oil and then salted them.
I served them with chick pea burgers and they were a hit! Luke said he liked them better than the burgers. (Not sure I agree with him there, but I am glad that he liked them!).
After our success with the carrot/dandelion green medley, I decided to steam some greens.
I prepared them just like I would swiss chard - steamed until tender with a little butter, salt and pepper and a splash of vinegar.
Nathan was the brave one to try them.
He dug right in, didn't he? This time they were a little bitter ~ edible, but not necessarily enjoyable.
I had full intentions of making dandelion fritters with the flowers, but my plan was to finish our study today and our lawn is covered with snow - so maybe another time.
*One of my favorite sites for wild edibles is Naturalist "Wildman" Steve Brill's site. Under Foraging, click on Wild Plants and then on Dandelions for more info on harvesting and preparing dandelions and their nutritional value.
In order to finish our study, we did decided to dig off the snow to find our dandelions to observe and sketch.
Well, we learned that not only do dandelions close at night, they also go to sleep under a blanket of snow.
We read the lesson from The Handbook of Nature Study and talked about the parts of this composite flower (disk flowers, ray flowers, bracts, etc.). We may have to revisit this study so that we can observe the flowers going to seed, and all the other suggestions for observation that we missed.
One of my favorite things about dandelions - my youngest boy still likes to pick them for me.
He brought me a bouquet of dandelions and asked me to take a picture of him. =) So sweet.
Be sure to see all the great entries for this challenge! (You might even find some recipes).
We missed the Bird Study, but will have to come back to that . . . cattails are up next, and they are edible too!
Before I go, I want to mention that the Outdoor Hour monthly carnival is up and there are a lot of great entries. If you need some inspiration to get started with nature study, check it out!