Sunday, July 26, 2009

dandelion jelly

Tonight I am back in Ohio, here for a few days to take care of my dad following his recent surgery. I stayed up after everyone else went to bed with the intention of catching up on work, but instead have spent the evening looking through my mom's old cookbooks, hoping to find a few of her recipes that I have been thinking about lately.

One recipe I had hoped to find is for the Easter bread I mentioned in my earlier blog about leftovers. I flipped through mom's old copy of the Better Homes and Gardens "New" Cook Book (not exactly new anymore) and happened upon a folded, two-page leaflet titled "Sweet Yeast Breads" dated 1983 from CBS publications. I wouldn't guess that "CBS Publications" was any great clearinghouse of culinary expertise, but for whatever reason, my mom saw fit to keep it. The leaflet features holiday and feast breads from around the world - Ensaimadas (Spanish Sweet Buns), Kugelhupf, Houska (braided Czechoslovakian bread), Portuguese Sweet Bread, Greek Feast Bread, Italian Easter Bread, and Kulich (Russian feast bread).

I've read through all the recipes, and none of them matches my memory exactly, but I'm fairly certain the Easter bread I remember my mom making was Kulich. The recipe calls for baking the bread in cans and icing the tops with lemon confectioner's sugar icing. I know my mother did not use the lemon icing recipe, but the hot cross buns icing recipe in the leaflet sounds more like what she would make. I am so excited to have found this recipe - I will post it at some point - and I can't wait to try it.

I also found my mom's recipe for baked pumpkin and her dandelion jelly recipe. I already have a copy of the dandelion jelly recipe at home, but this version has some extra notes that I'm pretty sure are not included in the copy I have. I remember helping my mom make this and violet jelly in the summer as a child. It takes a long time to pick enough dandelions to actually make jelly, and was probably a good job for a busy, active kid who enjoyed being outside. Mom first gave this recipe to me at my wedding shower, to which all guests were asked to bring a favorite recipe. We both got choked up as I unwrapped her gift and told our guests about the recipe she had given me. I'm sure some guests might have wondered why a recipe for jelly would make us cry, but our shared memory of spending my childhood together and the love between us made it a sweet, special, bittersweet moment.

So here it is, in her words - my mom's recipe for dandelion jelly.

Dandelion Jelly

Pick 1 quart of blossos in the morning. Hold each flower by its calyx (the green base) and snip off the golden blossoms with scissors into your saucepan. Discard calyx. Boil blossoms in 1 quart water for 3 minutes. Drain off 3 cups of liquid. Add 1 (1 3/4 ounce) package powdered pectin to the liquid + 2 Tablespoons lemon juice. When it comes to a rolling boil, add 4 1/2 cups sugar and a few drops yellow food coloring. (I don't use food coloring - the jelly is a beautiful yellow without it). Boil about 3 minutes, or to the jelly stage. We all love it. One batch lasts about 1 week. It tastes like honey! Tedious but fun.


  1. The custom header took my breath away. the blog is taking such a beautiful form. Your boundless abilities and aesthetics make you a natural for this sort of thing. Thank you for so freely sharing stories about your family and your mom with all of us. She would love to see you putting yourself into Nina.

  2. Thank you so much, Nick! I am so glad you checked out the new header - when I was putting it together I knew you would love it. It took me a while to figure out that Fiestaware should be the basis of the design of this blog, but now that I figured that out I'm really pleased with the way it's shaping up.

    Thank you for reading and for your sweet comments. I think my mom would love this, too.