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docks & lemon balm

I’m still pretty much harvesting wild edibles at this point. Thank goodness for weeds! I really do owe them an apology. Until this year, I had acted uninterested around them and at times been ruthless in my dealings with them. Blame it on ignorance and OCD.

I still don’t like seeing weeds in places that I want to stay organized, but I’m much more relaxed now in letting them grow wild where their presence doesn’t interfere with the “look” of the garden. They’ve been feeding us for weeks now. If not for them, I wouldn’t be able to put nutritious, organic, fresh, and delicious eats on the table. I’m exaggerating, I know. I just want to make a point that not all weeds are bad. Take it from someone who’s been battling horsetail for years. You haven’t met a weed until you’ve met horsetail, but that’s another story, which I’m sure I’ll tell you. That’s probably why I started blogging. I have so much to say about plants and gardening and Sabo could only take so much. Now, what were we talking about?

Oh yeah, back to this week’s harvest. I got lemon balm and docks, so they were on the menu this week. The lemon balm made delicate, lovely teas, both hot and cold. TG loves hot tea and TB loves iced tea. So I complied and made them both. I’m sure y’all know how to steep leaves for tea, but if you want to know what I did, this is the how-to:

tea

Pour 2 cups of boiling water into a receptacle filled with 1 cup shredded lemon balm leaves. In my case, I used my coffee press. Let steep for 3-5 minutes. For hot tea, just pour into a teacup and serve. For iced tea, let the tea cool down a bit, then pour it into a glass filled with ice cubes. Oh, I also added dried stevia leaves from last year’s garden to sweeten the tea. Of course you can use sugar.

About lemon balm, here’s what I have to say. It’s an herb, not a weed, though you’ll never know it from the way they behave in my backyard. Along with the oregano, it has spread under my pine trees, acting like a living mulch. Honestly it’s pretty invasive, just like any weed. Don’t ever let it go to seeds if you don’t want that to happen.

Now, onto the docks. They were made into pakoras and dolmades. Pakoras for TG, dolmades for TB. Must I always cook separate dishes for my 2 very different kids?

pakoras
Pakoras
Pakoras is a popular Indian snack consisting of pieces of vegetables that are dipped in a spiced batter and deep-fried. Very addicting and therefore dangerous to your diet, because you can’t stop at just one!

Ingredients:
About 20 small dock leaves, use the bigger ones for dolmades (If you’re scared of eating docks, use spinach or chard leaves instead, but they also contain oxalic acid)
Oil for frying
½ cup besan flour aka chickpea flour or gram flour.
1 tbsp corn starch
½ tsp cumin powder
¼ teaspoon asafetida (hing) or substitute with onion powder
½ cup water
Salt & Pepper

Method:
1. Mix all the dry ingredients together.
2. Add the water slowly to make a smooth batter (batter should be the consistency of crepe batter).
3. Heat the oil in a frying pan on medium high heat.
4. Dip the leaves into the batter, make sure it is covered by the batter completely. Drop into the frying pan, slowly.
5. Fry for 1-2 minutes an each side, or until they look golden brown and feel crisp. They must be crisp

dolmades
Beef Dolmades

Ingredients:
1 lb ground beef
⅓ cup rice, uncooked
1 medium onion, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 medium tomato, puréed
2 tbsp chopped parsley
1 tbsp chopped mint
2 tbsp olive oil
Salt & Pepper
1 to 1½ cups chicken stock
30 Dock leaves (I only had 10 larger-sized dock leaves, so the rest of the meat mixture was wrapped with cabbage leaves instead. The ones wrapped in cabbage tasted better, in my opinion, but can we still call them dolmades? I think collard greens can also be used with good result, or be authentic and use grape leaves. Wish I still had my grape.)

Method:
1. Mix all the ingredients together, except for the leaves and stock.
2. Blanch leaves by submerging in boiling water for 30 seconds, a little longer for the cabbage. They need to be pliable enough for rolling and wrapping.
3. When the leaves are cool enough to touch, take one at a time, fill with 1 tbsp of the meat mixture and start wrapping like you would a burrito.
4. Place the parcels seams side down in a sauté pan that has been lined with more leaves so the dolmades don’t stck to the bottom of it. Pour in 1 cup of the chicken stock. Then put a heavy plate on top of the dolmades so they wouldn’t slosh around in the pan.
5. Bring to a boil on medium-high heat, then simmer for 15 min. It bothered me not being able to see what was going on inside the pan, so I removed the plate after only 5 minutes. As long as the dolmades are not floating in stock, I don’t think there’s any danger of the wrapping to become loose.
6. Place in preheated oven at 350° F. Bake in oven for 30 minutes or until rice is cooked thru. Add the rest of the stock if necessary.

Alternately, you can skip step 5, and just throw the pan in the oven, but you’d have to cook it for at least 1 hour. Serve with avgolemono (the Greek lemon-egg sauce) if you like, but we served ours with plain yogurt instead.

The docks are in the buckwheat family (Polygonaceae) which includes garden sorrel and rhubarb. I’ve known for a while that they are edible, but only this week I used them in the kitchen. I have three kinds of docks growing in my backyard, broad-leaved dock (Rumex obtusifolius),

broad dock

curly dock (Rumex crispus),

curly dock

and red-veined dock (Rumex sanguineus).
red dock

The first two are weeds growing in the wild part of my garden (the part way in the back corner that is hard to see from the street), while the last is an ornamental I planted as part of what I hope will become my tropical garden. So I tried them all. The best tasting one I think, is the curly dock.

By the way, docks, like sorrels, spinach, beets, chard and rhubarb, contain oxalic acid. It’s the substance that makes docks taste sour. It can be potentially harmful if taken in quantity. Cooking decreases the amount of oxalic acid. Some websites mention that ingesting any part of a dock may cause mild stomach upset, and contact with the foliage may irritate skin, but neither happened to us. Still, use caution and limit your consumption.

Plants For A Future cautions that people with a tendency to rheumatism, arthritis, gout, kidney stones or hyperacidity should take especial caution if including this plant in their diet since it can aggravate their condition.

Now go to Daphne’s Dandelions and see more conventional harvests.

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