Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Serendipity and Salad

Larry and I were off on an errand today to the ironworks near Winchester to pick up some wrought iron handrails for our front stairs. Being of a certain age we have friends the same age and older who can use a little support climbing the stairs. (Not us, of course.) The alternative was keeping our hiking polls next to the steps.

The GPS took us the back route across state 55 which heads over toward West Virginia and then off onto several country roads through farmland with the mountains in the background. What a day! Blue sky, wispy clouds, a wildflower show on the side of the road, and a nice breeze. As we came around a corner my eye caught a field of day lilies on the right and a sign - Thumper's Day Lily Farm.

Wait a minute! I've read about that farm and we've been planning to visit. So Larry pulled off and we turned around and went back. It's not a very big place but lilies are everywhere in abundance and a profusion of varieties. There are over 40,000 registered lily varieties and, because growers can constantly cross breed, there is no end to the new varieties possible. One of our daughters has a father-in-law who develops his own lilies and has shared some with us -- a generous and happy hobby in my opinion. Every time I look at the lilies I think of him and quietly say thanks.

At this serendipitous stop we learned something I've never heard before. Day lilies are edible. The young lady working in the lily field picked one, pulled off the pistils and gave us a petal to taste. It was like a piece of firm lettuce with a little tang. When we got home, I pulled up a few articles on the internet about edible lilies. Most said to try a little at first in case of allergy. What a fun ingredient for a summer salad. The gal at the farm suggesting stuffing them -- egg salad, cottage cheese with chives, artichoke dip...yum.

And what a conversation starter..."What do you think of my secret salad ingredient? Do you prefer your lilies, sauteed, battered fried, or dipped in sugar? What's your favorite color flavor?" (The lighter colors are supposed to be sweeter.)

I've put dandelion greens in salads and dipped the flowers in egg and bread crumbs and fried them, but this was our first light lily lunch. The Texas grandkids are coming in a week. Wonder how a lily tastes stuffed with peanut butter and jelly.


Esther said...

Nice blog Mary Ann. Question: Are Asian lilies edible? Thank you.

Jamie said...

Uh oh please warn me when you're having lily petal salad =) Though I bet Anya would like it...she's never met anything that she wouldn't like to put in her mouth and eat (including lint and all paper products).

Mary Ann Kreitzer said...

I'm not sure about the Asian lilies. They grow from bulbs rather than from roots like the daylilies. Here's a website that shows both edible and non-edible flowers but it doesn't list the Asian lilies. http://asiarecipe.com/flowers.html

I got this off another website (http://whatscookingamerica.net/EdibleFlowers/EdibleFlowersMain.htm) "Day Lilies - Slightly sweet with a mild vegetable flavor, like sweet lettuce or melon. Their flavor is a combination of asparagus and zucchini. Chewable consistency. Some people think that different colored blossoms have different flavors. To use the surprisingly sweet petals in desserts, cut them away from the bitter white base of the flower. Also great to stuff like squash blossoms. Flowers look beautiful on composed salad platters or crowning a frosted cake. Sprinkle the large petals in a spring salad. In the spring, gather shoots two or three inches tall and use as a substitute for asparagus. NOTE: Many Lilies contain alkaloids and are NOT edible. Day Lilies may act as a diuretic or laxative; eat in moderation."

This does not answer the question I'm afraid. I'll keep looking for more information.