Localvore: Dandelion fritters offer great excuse to go wandering

By Calley Hastings, Special to the Free Press • Sunday, May 23, 2010

Some already have gone to seed, but the majority are at their prime flower stage.

Fried dandelion flowers are a spring delicacy, and you can use dandelions in many ways. The first spring greens can be sauteed and eaten like kale, the flowers can be fried, and the root can be used medicinally.

This time of year I’m making dandelion fritters with the flowers. It’s a great excuse to wander out into a beautiful field to harvest them on a sunny day.

This recipe calls for both flour and cornmeal. We grow Calais Flint Corn during the summer and dry it late in the season. Then we remove the dried kernels throughout the year and grind them into fresh cornmeal using our small household-size mill. You can grind corn as fine as you want, but I like the texture or coarse cornmeal, which I use in this recipe.

Try growing a small plot of Flint corn this year, or look for locally grown cornmeal. In this recipe you also can alter amounts of flour or cornmeal to your preference and its availability. All versions are great. The flour leads to a more tempura-like batter, and the cornmeal adds texture and a slight crunch.

Also, note that the dandelion flowers start to close up as daylight diminishes. The earlier in the day you make the fritters, the more open the flower will be, but make sure to eat them fresh out of the pan so they are still crisp and warm.

Last night’s dinner included dandelion fritters, greens for our garden with maple chevre and a balsamic dressing, a potato-and-garlic quiche, and a caramel rhubarb pie. The crusts for the quiche and the pie used lard rendered from our own pigs.

Calley Hastings runs Fat Toad Farm, a small goat dairy in Brookfield, along with family members Steve Reid, Judith Irving and Josey Hastings. They produce fresh goat cheese and goat’s milk caramel (cajeta). Find their products in natural food stores throughout Vermont. Look for more recipes and information about the farm at www.fattoadfarm.com.

Thunder the Wonder Goat

Thunder came to us from Colorado this week on a plane in a little crate labeled ‘Live Goat.’ He was very excited to see Steve at the airport. We purchased him as our new buck which will help diversify the genetics of our goat herd. He comes from a great line of milking goats and we are so excited to introduce his genes to our herd. After a while the gene pool in this area can get a little limited and it’s good to keep the gene pool diverse for the health and vitality of a herd. He is incredibly cute and has gorgeous brown markings. We have many black and white Alpine goats and white Saanen goats so we wanted to mix some brown in. We are having him follow us around some as he gets adjusted so that he will be a very tame and friendly buck. There is nothing worse than an unruly buck that you can’t catch! Our two other bucks, Danny and Evan are adjusting quite well… so far.