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Passing thoughts after teaching at Mission Tejas State Park.

I had such an amazing time talking to so many wonderful people! Every time I do this, I come away with more than I started the day and this was no exception. One thing I did notice was this makes my ADD worse than ever. I’ll get started on a story, somebody will ask me a question, and I completely forget anything and everything that I was doing.

I would ask, if you are listening to me telling a story and I get sidetracked, I don’t mean a single thing by it, and I love it when people can remind me what I was talking about.

I’m still absolutely stunned by how many people want to hear me. This has gone from a personal passion I was picked on for, to something that I find I share with a lot of you!

When there’s so many people coming through, and I’m there all day, I do like having a table where I can just sit and visit and have a few favorite plants easily to hand. It saves the time of the walk to go get them.

If you came and saw me, I would love some feedback. What did you like? What did you want to see? What can I do better in the future? I’m literally making this up out of whole cloth and it is a trial and error. Input helps!

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Texas Master Naturalists here I come.

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I’ve been wanting to get my Master Naturalist certification for a long time but life and the timing of things kept on getting in the way. The local DFW (Cross Timbers) chapter holds its classes during the week at 6pm. I have a day job and can’t make it to Fort Worth by 6pm on a work night.

Talking to the Rio Brazos chapter, and they listed their class times and schedule on the weekends. I can attend!!! Wahoo! *happydance*

Dandelions

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Too much has been written about dandelions to even begin to scratch the surface. Those maligned beauties we all know and love from childhood are now despised by homeowners as weeds.

In my family we would regularly eat them either just wilted ( what would now be called stir fried) with a little bacon fat and hot pepper vinegar, or if they were very very young, you could eat them raw mixed with other greens in a salad. Still the same treatment, hot pepper vinegar and bacon grease.
It was used as a medicinal food especially for swelling of the legs and feet and for muscle spasms especially in the legs. It is one of the best diuretics out there, and one of it’s original names pissabed What makes it exceptionally good is the high levels of potassium to fight leg cramps.

But we brought dandelions to North America as a food crop and while it’s fallen out of favor with American palates, you can still find it in Asian markets sometimes labeled as mindeulle in Korean where they still use it fresh in salads.

Something that had surprised me in my research was running into a Maori woman that stated they also eat it in its early stages. Typically you find it in a stew called a “boil up” with pork bones, sweet potato, and add the greens last. The French do a similar version called pot-au-fer.

I do think it would be interesting to study how the various cultures around the world eat this lowly weed and research when Americans lost our love of bitter greens. But this is enough for now.

Our version of nyquil… or Cherry Bounce.

This is one of the recipes that is the most loved. Mostly because 100 years ago, nobody had an idea how to make it.

Now we all know that cherry is good for coughs, and this is about the only use we really had for cherries. I can remember my aunt Ode sending me out to pick chokecherries for her out in the big thicket.. but the stand is gone where we used to pick them. This does work with domesticated cherries but isn’t the same flavor.

1 quart wild cherries
1 pound sugar
1 quart bourbon (or your favorite high proof drinking alcohol)

Wash and pick over cherries, removing stems and drain. Pour moist cherries into a half-gallon jug. Pour 1/2 cup sugar over moist cherries, then shake until cherries are coated. Pour remaining sugar on top of cherries. Do not mix. Place cap on jug loosely to prevent pressure build-up. Let stand until sugar melts on top of cherries, then stir by revolving jug. Repeat until all sugar is dissolved.
Let stand for 2 months. Pour bourbon over cherries and close jug tightly. Let stand 3 or 4 months. During the 3 month period, revolve jug occasionally. Strain through cheesecloth and pour into bottles. (Makes about 1/2 gallon)

While cherries are fermenting, a mold may form on top. If it is a white, green, or blue mold, skim it off before adding bourbon. If it is a brown or black fuzzy mold, dump it and start over.
Since I don’t always have wild cherries available, I use two cans of sour cherries. I usually let stand 2 months after adding bourbon, then strain and let sit another 2 months before use.

Sip, don’t drink! This is not a suggestion; it is a warning.

What was life like in 1917?

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Photo from about 1922 of my grandparents, great grandmother, and all but one of the siblings. My mother is the girl to the far left with the black belt. Only my aunt Sissy wasn’t born yet.

I recently came across an article talking about “What was life like in 1917” with beautiful fashion models, and very old looking pictures of WWI. But that’s not how I see it.

My aunt Ozell was born in June 1917 and my mother was two years old. This was around the time of the passion flower story. My grandparents were sharecroppers on 120 acres near Loco, Oklahoma and my grandmother and great grandmother were in high demand for medicines and help. There were no hospitals in the area so if you got into trouble, there was no place to go.

I remember the description of the house they were living at the time, that there was just a fence around the house without a gate so these beautiful well dressed ladies from the city would have to get down and crawl under the fence because they couldn’t trust their skirts to go over it. So they had to get down on the ground and take off their big pretty hats to go see my grandmother.

I remember they had a kitchen garden mama could remember them coming home after working all day in the field, they’d get home and tend to their garden after dark. And the landowner’s cows broke down the fence and ate the garden.
My grandmother was absolutely furious. Crying, she grabbed the gun and started marching down the road to the owner’s house going to shoot the cows that ate her babies’ food. Papa trying to stop her and eventually great grandma Nancy Ann going “Honey, we don’t NEED a garden to eat!” Unfortunately that’s all I can remember of that story at the moment.

Papa registered for the draft, but was too old and had too many kids. Rene could remember him sitting by the lamp reading the paper about the troubles in Europe. I have a scanned copy of his draft card around here somewhere.

1917 wasn’t that long ago. Just a blink past living memories.