Gardener's Grapevine 2011.06.15

Written by David Green.

On Saturday women from our church went to Shalom Tea Room in Sylvania, Ohio. We had a great time and it was very enlightening. We had tea and a light lunch. They served many varieties of tea and it was interesting to see what was used to make the different kinds. The Garden Club has been there also.

One thinks of tea and tea leaves, but some tea is made with absolutely no tea leaves. We had a lovely dessert tea called strawberry kiwi that had no tea leaves and actually had rose hips in it. Tea has been a staple in societies around the world for thousands of years. This tea room offers a theme every month for its luncheons and one of the ones slated for this summer is an African tea. Sounds interesting to me!

On the way home there were four generations of my family in the car—my grandmother, aunt, her granddaughter and myself. We got to talking about gardening and how people eat different things.

My grandmother, Katherine Wollter, remembered her mother, Hila Eldridge, cooking dandelion greens in the spring. She would point at the one she wanted and my aunt would use a kitchen knife to remove it. They had to be picked before the blooms started to form as that was when they were the most tender to eat. These were washed and cooked much like greens or wilted lettuce is today.

I remember eating with my great-grandparents once and they were all excited about having dandelion greens for lunch. One bite told me all I needed to know—yuck! Bitter to an extreme must be an acquired taste. I asked why they would choose to eat something so very unpleasant. My grandmother replied that in those days there weren’t lettuces and such at the grocer’s, so they ate what was  available. After a long winter of eating what was put up in the cellar, fresh greens were a treat. I think a Snickers is a treat, or a fresh homegrown tomato, not my arch enemy weed Number One. I cut these out of my lawn with a vengeance in the spring.

Lucas Johnson, our next door neighbor, had a desert tortoise growing up. It started out the size of a half dollar and from the beginning had a passion for dandelions. He never cared if it was flowering or not, he was in tortoise heaven with a bunch in his enclosure. Unfortunately, he got out one summer and disappeared, never to be seen again. He was a neat pet and we all miss him. I never look at a huge dandelion without thinking of him… and then I dig it out as fast as I can!

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