It’s a sunny Sunday morning, Charlie (my 2 year old) has woken up early (5ish). Like the hero I am I’ve whisked him downstairs before he wakes Emelia (my 6month old) and Keri (my 30 something old), who’ve been up all night having a milk party. Often I’m really tired when this happens and the temptation is to make Charlie a warm drink (Bot bot) give him a tablet and try and catch 40 more winks for myself.
At this stage we are in the infancy of ALittleMoreOutdoor.com, The aim of which is to help ourselves and others to spend more quality time with the kids in the outdoors.
My tired brain tries to fire up some ideas about what Charlie and I can do. We are out in the garden and there is already heat in the air. The garden is a bit of a mess and the temptation is to put some toys out for Charlie and finish a few jobs.
The late spring heat has given the weeds a vitality that we hadn’t been prepared for. With my long hours at work, Emelia not sleeping and effort of keeping a house clean and safe, the garden has been low priority.
Procrastination is setting in, a coffee might perk me up enough to think and be a good dad.
A small spark happens in my lazy synapses. My mind goes back to when I first met Keri. We met in Cumbria in the deepest darkest Pennines.
There was very little around so you had to make your own fun.
I happened to live with Stan, the Wildest man in Britain. Stan had introduced himself to me by insisting that I accompany him on a three day trek through the Lake District.
The journey started with a pleasant train ride but by late afternoon on the first day I was dangling off the wrong side of Scafell pike genuinely wondering if I was going to die.
One of Stan’s less daunting activities was digging up dandelion roots roasting them and making Coffee. I was so impressed with the flavour I made a pot out of Stan’s supply in order to woo Keri. Come to think of it, this may have been why I was dangled off the edge of Scafell.
It can involve a lot of work to make even enough for one pot. Keri and I have talked about making some over the last 9 years of our relationship but never got round to it.
I’ve cracked it the perfect gift for when sleepy Mama Bear wakes up and the perfect way to entertain a toddler who loves cooking, digging and water.
This is not exhaustive. Add your own Hazards where you might try this I.e. traffic, other people, think about how the risks might change for you and the age group your working with. You don’t have to write it down unless it helps.
I’ve not done a risk assessment for making coffee and chopping and roasting the roots. I believe you got that in hand.
Location: Have an idea where you can find some dandelions and do a little risk assessment. If you don’t have a garden be aware that you can get in trouble for digging up other people’s land. Be respectful, ask if necessary most people would be chuffed if you say your removing dandelions for them.
Clothing: dress appropriately.
Tools: Decide if you are going to use tools, to be honest your hands work fine, but a garden fork can be useful to make sure you get as much of the root. Even an old dessert spoon can be a useful pocket tool for getting as much root as possible.
Dandelions should look like the two pictures above. There are not too many dangerous doppelgangers. However if in doubt leave it out.
Getting as much of the root as possible, depending on the soil some will come out with a little tug, others will need a little excavation with a tool. An old spoon, or a pointy stick can work fine. However if you want to go full batman on the dandelions….
Shake off the excess mud and discard the leaves and flower somewhere appropriate, we only want the root (you can actually eat the leaves, they are a bit bitter but make a great pesto when blended with wild garlic)
if you’re out and about maybe give them a rinse in a stream but give them a good wash in a bucket outside till the water stops being too muddy
Leave them in the sun somewhere, if it’s wet it’ll have to be a window sill (beware of drips)
Using a chopping board and knife cut them into equal sized bits let your smaller roots be the guide. I let my toddler help with cutting sometimes but he has to be in the right mood, any nonsense and it stops, if you do let them help, hold on to there hand over the knife and hold there other hand well away from the chopping area
Stick em on a roasting tray, circa 200 degrees 30 mins. Less if you had thinner bits.
If you got a coffee grinder buie for you, I used our £10 blender it worked great. If you don’t have one of those, crushing it with a pestle and mortar works or the under flat side of a kitchen knife if you don’t practice witchcraft.
Stick the grounds (dandelion dust) in a cafetiere and cover in boiling water. If you don’t have a cafeteria this probably wasn’t the activity for you. If your still keen you just have to figure out away to filter out the grounds brewing it in a pot or jug then pouring through a sieve or cloth might work. I’ve known some coffee addicts to use a (clean) sock filled with coffee grounds over a vestibule and water poured through as a makeshift filter coffee. Maybe ask the neighbour if they have a cafetiere first.
If your feeling decadent you can get la crus… that posh french stuff. This one’s a bit nice.
Pour into an appropriately rustic drinking vessel and enjoy .