Food Stamp Challenge Day 23: Bread and Weeds

by Michael Nolan on 30 October 2011 · 11 comments

in Food

This is Day 23 of a month long food stamp challenge. If this is your first visit, please check out this link to see all of the posts and get a better understanding of what is going on.

dandelion-nutritionToday we did something that we have not done on the challenge thus far. We foraged for food. At John’s suggestion we grabbed some dandelion greens (in the dark using flashlights – quite a sight, I’m sure) to be a part of tonight’s dinner. If you’ve never tried them, you’re missing out.

The image on the left shows some basic nutrition facts about dandelion greens and as you can see, they’re packed with Calcium, Vitamins A & C and Iron. They also have dietary fiber, and they are free.

All this from a weed. Pretty crazy, huh? That’s why we’re saving seed and will be growing dandelions intentionally next season. The greens can be eaten raw in salad, though they may be a bit bitter for some palates.


DSC_0007-1John also baked his ass off today with three separate recipes: sourdough, white/wheat and a pocket bread recipe from an old Betty Crocker cookbook found on a recent thrift store trip. That’s him on the left, showing his expert kneading technique. I tried to take other photos but he moves so fast this was the only one that wasn’t a blur!

The result were two single slicing loaves and 6 pocket breads intended for dinner that ended up more like flat bread but were enjoyed just as much.


_DSC0001-1BREAKFAST: $1.09
egg & cheese sandwiches on sourdough




_DSC0009-1LUNCH: $.91

chili (leftovers from Day 5)
1/2 pound ground beef/turkey


DSC_0028-1DINNER: $2.25
one pan sauté including:
1/2 pound ground beef/turkey
1/2 cup black beans
1/2 cup green pepper
1/2 cup red pepper
1/2 cup onion
leftover kale sauté (Day 21)  
foraged dandelion greens
sour cream
shredded cheese


NOTE: We really had no idea how this meal was going to turn out. We were using leftovers and making up the combination as we went. There’s something to be said for years of experience in the kitchen though, because this was so delicious that we made a point to remember the recipe.

  • Consumed Today: 5.74 [+3.26 for the day]
  • Consumed To Date (week): 8.10 [+9.90 for the week]
  • Consumed To Date (month): 102.05 [+95.95 for the month]
  • Spent To Date: 208.48
  • Remaining Balance: $70.70

QUESTIONS OF THE DAY: Have you ever foraged for food? Dandelion greens, berries, etc.?

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

Dawn October 30, 2011 at 8:59 am

‘ There’s something to be said for years of experience in the kitchen though, because this was so delicious that we made a point to remember the recipe.’

That is so true! I say that all the time when I whip up something amazing using odd bits that we have on hand. Especially when at first glance it’s easy to say, there’s nothing to eat in this house!

I often feel sorry for folks who don’t have an intimate relationship with a kitchen. ;)

John October 30, 2011 at 9:05 am

For those of you that asked…those are the hands that carry a Superman lunch box.

Chris K October 30, 2011 at 9:06 am

Often! Acorns, walnuts, blackcaps, mulberries, apples, herbs, greens: there are all sorts of great foods around, free for the taking!

Terica October 30, 2011 at 9:10 am

great blog , life on food stamps are hard ,glad you are showing people a little about it!
there are lots of wonderful things to forage out there … check out all the cool recipes for kudzu . peace

Lee October 30, 2011 at 9:21 am

All the time! Dandelion wine is the bomb!

Seriously though,everything from Blackberries to Walnuts…my personal favorites being wild strawberries and mulberries.

Deborah Aldridge October 30, 2011 at 12:07 pm

I would love to learn to bake bread, but not really for thrift sake, because I eat very little bread. I can usually make a load last for almost a month. On the other hand, raisin/cinnamon bread goes quickly, so I’d love to be able to make my own, because at over $3 a loaf, I can’t afford it very often.

CeeCee October 30, 2011 at 7:44 pm

there is a secret to making the pockets…you’ve got to put them into a bag when you take them out of the oven. it’s been awhile since i’ve made them, since my recipe book for that was left behind a few years back, and the person never gave it back, but operating on faulty memory here, i’m gonna say for 1/2 hour or so. i guess it’s the same principle as a souffle…trying to prevent the collapse.
yes, we use dandelion and borage greens, but my daughter hates them and picks them out again. also blackberries, but any other kind of berries is too far away and the gas it takes would be more than it costs to buy them in the store. once inawhile you’ll see a salmonberry or two around, but not enough for a meal by any means.
you can also eat the roots of dandelions. my daughter said you can also dry the roots and grind them to make coffee substitute. She did an internship on dandelions this summer (and she still won’t eat them!)

kimberly October 31, 2011 at 12:58 pm

Once the food stamp challenge is over, would you write more on how to cook with dandelion greens? I tried them last year and it was the worst thing I have ever prepared, but it was probably my fault and not the fault of the greens!

Michael Nolan October 31, 2011 at 1:32 pm

Of course I will! Thanks for the request.

Skylar March 27, 2012 at 11:41 am

I grew up with all the old timers telling me “Pick the dandelion greens before flowers form” (sometimes impossible).

My grandparents always made dandelion and bacon dressing over potatoes. Its a classic up in my neck of the woods. Fry up a pound of bacon (sounds like a lot) but don’t toss the grease! Remove the crumbled bacon, add enough flour to thicken and stir. Beat an egg with some vinegar (some people prefer to add sugar at this stage as well) and water to thin. Add to the roux mixture and whisk together. Boil until thick like gravy, add your greens (we use lettuce as well when the dandelions are too bitter) and bacon. Serve over boiled smashed potatoes. Enjoy.

Sorry its not an “exact” recipe but they never went on one so I’m going from memory. I found this article and it also states “bacon grease was used to “mask” the bitter”.

kathryn February 24, 2013 at 11:27 pm

We used to have blackberries/rasberries (not a lot) close by.And some really tiny wild strawberries on our lawn.

A few times we picked apricots and put them in our oatmeal.

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