There’s always a lot to do in Ohio Amish country and it’s always a good place to shop, eat, and spend time with friends. One of my favorite memories is of attending a quilt retreat at the historic Hotel Millersburg and of eating dinner with an Amish family in their house. A different trip had me attending a quilt show and sitting in a seminar on designing fabric. My worst memory was of visiting the area during my birthday weekend and not getting to visit a single cheese house. There was other good food involved, and we were on motorcycles, so it was still a good enough trip.
Last Saturday, I hopped on a bus with the West Virginia Traveler’s Club and headed to the Dover, Ohio, area to attend The Dandelion Festival. Who knew there was such a thing? I’m kind of ashamed that I’ve spent my life without any respect for what most people consider to be a weed. In that area, dandelions are planted and harvested as a crop.
I’ve always known that the dandelion leaves were edible but I didn’t know the whole plant was a powerhouse health food. The tender spring leaves can be added to soups and salads, and the flowers themselves can be batter dipped and fried. Boiling the flowers makes the juice for jelly, herbal beverages, and wine. The root is traditionally used as a coffee substitute.
While attending the festival, I sampled dandelion wine and sangria, and two flavors of dandelion ice cream, one of which was “coffee” flavored. All of it was delicious but my absolute favorite was the dandelion gravy served over mashed potatoes. This strange concoction had a brown gravy base with dandelion greens, bacon, onion, and chopped boiled egg. It sounded totally gross but I was intrigued so I tried it. I loved it enough to look for the recipe. I am now the proud owner of a dandelion cookbook which does not have the recipe I wanted! It has a different dandelion gravy recipe but I found the one I wanted online. I’m sure it’s a few steps beyond normal, but the dandelion may be my new favorite flower. They seem to grow easily enough, the deer don’t eat them, and the gravy is delicious!