Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Roadside gazing and grazing . . .

There has been at least one personal upside to governmental budget tightening -- the day lilies that line our road haven't been mowed this year. And so last night when a friend gave me a ride home, they were in full, glorious, beautiful bloom.

photo by Charlie Woodroof

"Did you know you can eat those?" my friend asked.

I did not.

My friend had learned this, she said, from reading Euell Gibbon's Stalking the Wild Asparagus many, many years ago. Now she would never call  herself an old hippie, which I do. Or at least I used to. I'm not sure someone who's never read Euell Gibbon's 60's classic is still allowed to do that . . .

This morning, I got up and did some research about the culinary possibilities of day lilies. It turns out they are not only edible, but somewhat nutritious.
Day Lily (per 100g)
Hemerocallis fulva
Calories 42
Protein 2g
Fat .4g
Calcium 87mg
Phosphorus 176mg
Iron 1.2mg
Sodium 24mg
Potassium 170mg
Vitamin A 3,000 I.U.
Thiamin .16mg
Riboflavin .21mg
Niacin .8mg
Vitamin C 88mg
And they are also versatile--who knew one could prepare stuffed day lilies, day lily fritters, and day lily cheesecake. Not to mention

Oriental Daylily Buds

2 cups daylily buds
1 tablespoon peanut oil
1/3 cup almond slivers
1 tsp. freshly grated ginger
1 Tbs. Rice wine vinegar
1 Tbs. Tamari or soy sauce
1 Tbs. Water
2 cups cooked brown rice 
Steam daylily buds for 10-15 minutes, until tender. In a wok or heavy skillet, heat the oil over a high heat until very hot. Add the almond slivers, saute until browned. Quickly remove the almonds from the pan, set aside. Turn heat down to medium. Add grated ginger and cook 1 to 2 minutes. Add vinegar, tamari, and water. Stir to mix. Toss in daylily buds. Serve over hot rice, topped with sauteed almonds. Serves 4.

So why am I blogging about day lilies on the day General McChrystal may lose his job, the Gulf Coast is under siege from its own economic life blood,  Nicky Haley wins the GOP nomination for governor in South Carolina, the U.S. must win or go home in World Cup soccer, and Kenneth Turan gives a Tom Cruise movie a good review?

Because, as Sir Edmund Hillary said of Mount Everest, they are there, all those lilies of the fields; allowed to bloom this year as an accident of governmental cost-cutting. And, I thought that even in the midst of all the other turmoil in our lives, they are worth taking note of.

Even if you decide not to stir-fry them for lunch.

another Charlie photo


  1. But how do they taste? Even at its freshest, I find dandelion salad is bitter and repulsive.

  2. I haven't had time to try them yet. Anyone else eaten them?

  3. I haven't, but I'll point out a related experience. I have for years nostalgically reminisced over picking wild strawberries as a child. You know, those little bland tasteless kinda-looks-like-a strawberry wild strawberries. As a kid I loved them - they were magical. Then, somewhere around age ten, I decided they were bland and tasteless. Fastforward through puberty, adolescence, and the twenties. ;) The other week I had a cold, didn't want to drive into town, and had no vitamin C on-hand. I shuffled out into the yard and must've picked a hundred of them. They were sweet and delicious - even to my cold-hampered taste buds. I have three theories: 1. It was exactly the right time year/weather-wise to pick them. 2. They should be eaten in large handfuls rather than by the berry. 3. Since I've cut down on Twinkies, Ho-Hos, and other decadant abominations, I can actually taste real things again.

    Probably my positive experience was aided by all three of those elements. No doubt my love for the Ingmar Bergman film even played into it a bit. Still, just exploring all this, and being more tied in with your surroundings - eating stuff from your own yard or roadside - could lead to a mentality that can solve some of problems we hear about in the news - might even prevent it. The parallels, and thus learning opportunities, are plentiful, and they all scale. I don't pee in the strawberry patch - neither should the aristocracy - especially if serving a manufactured need.

    Also, it's pleasant and cheap.