Tuesday, July 12, 2011


Many years ago, following one of Euell Gibbons books and advice from a wild foods friend, I harvested a lot of milkweed buds along the side of our gravel road. I boiled them in three changes of water and served them with salt and pepper.

The soggy, dull, gray-green clumps neither looked, nor tasted appetizing. Even the surface texture was a little odd, sort of suede-like. By popular demand, I didn’t pick anymore milkweed.

However, the milkweed moved from the roadside to my garden and I love seeing it there. The buds change from a light moss green to a greeny pink as they swell. A tiny cross appears in the surface, and then the tiny pale pink flowers appear, hanging almost like droops on their heavy stems. I delight in the Monarch butterflies that rest on the blossoms, build their gold tipped chrysalis’ on the underside of the leaves and then, as caterpillars, feed on the plant.

The story of the monarchs fascinates me. How in the fall, the insects gather in huge masses on trees and then fly south across the United States, across the Gulf of Mexico and into the highlands of Central America where they hibernate over the winter. The next spring, it takes several generations of butterflies to get back to the milkweed plants on our farm.

The milkweed beside the road are cut by the township as part of their weed control effort. But I save the milkweed at the sides of our fields and in my gardens for the monarchs. And I now savor them also.

For the last two years, I’ve been a part of a collaboration by the Friends of the Pelican Rapids Library, the Pelican Rapids Multicultural Committee and the Pelican Rapids School District to create a book of stories and recipes. In that time, over 100 people contributed recipes to the project. The recipes came from farmers, hunters, fishermen, young people and old people, new immigrants and old immigrants. We collected recipes from 25 countries. We interviewed the recipe contributors and wrote stories about them for the book. Finally we tested all the recipes.

One of those recipes was for a milkweed bud gratin. That recipe is delicious! The buds, although cooked three times, are bright green and beautiful, the gratin is smooth and cheesy, and the taste experience is wonderful.

All the recipes in the book Many Cultures, One Community; a book of stories and recipes, are delicious, and the stories are as moving as the story of a monarch butterfly migrating across a continent and an ocean to find a new home.

No comments:

Post a Comment