Ah, it’s been awhile since I welcomed you all in to a sneak peak at my cozy cottage life, as part of my cozy cottage weekends feature! Today I am taking you back to my first Summer at the cottage when we first became home owners (just a year ago). Open the cottage gate, grab your cup of tea or coffee and come sit with me for a spell as I tell the tale of “The Time I Fed My Family Coreopsis Mashed Potatoes” !
I had always wanted to own a garden. I had always wanted to grow herbs. The Summer of 2013 I got my wish, as God provided a home for us that came with both already built right in! I felt I must have died and gone to heaven that first Summer, as I had a good look around and discovered the abundance of plants that were practically handed to me. It would be prudent to point out here that I had no gardening experience whatsoever. Just a love of nature and a pretty good eye. I spent that first Summer madly researching types of plants, herbs, and flowers via every resource I could think of (mostly the internet, but also encyclopedias and the like). Curious by nature, I wanted to learn to identify each plant on the property so I could properly care for and utilize them.
This led me to my first foible as a new (and inexperienced) gardener and culinary adventurer! The youngest of the two sons who had inherited and were selling the estate we now call home, took me around the yard to show me some things and help me identify what he could. His parents had owned the home since 1950 and he grew up there, but of course it had been quite some years since the boys had lived there too. One of the plants he pointed out to me, of which I was quite excited about, was the herb dill!
Now was my chance to try my hand at cooking with real fresh herbs straight from the garden. Feeling like a French chef on one of those tv cooking shows, I went out back to cut some French tarragon and a whole slew of dill to impress my family with a gourmet meal like they had never had before. I can tell you for sure no one ever has had such a meal before or since- HA!!
Harvested herbs in hand , I set off down the street to Mom’s house to make her, Dad, and brother tarragon chicken and mashed potatoes with fresh dill. I can still see myself in the kitchen with Mom, thoroughly enjoying the spicy licorice fragrance of the tarragon as I chopped the fresh ingredients. The dill didn’t have much of a smell. Being that the only dill I had ever been exposed to was the dried and bottled variety from the supermarket, I just shrugged and went about my business.
When cooking and inventing my own recipes , I add a bit of this and a bit of that until I get the desired taste I want. That is one of the secrets to my (usual) culinary success! Let me tell you- It took HEAPS of dill before I could detect much of a flavor at all , and I found myself thinking that dill just wasn’t all it was cracked up to be. Ah well, it looked like a gourmet dish at any rate, even despite some of the longish thread-like strands popping out of my fabulous mashed potatoes. Dinner was served and we all sat down to enjoy the first gourmet meal from my very own garden 🙂 .
The tarragon Chicken was to die for. Of that no one could deny! And actually the mashed potatoes weren’t too bad either. The texture was off though. Mom was raving about the fresh herb foods right along with me as we ate every last bit of those potatoes. Dad and brother kept asking about the green things (they were quite grassy in texture and a bit chewy-not tender like one may expect). Mom and I proudly boasted about the fresh dill with oohs and ahhs over what a gourmet meal this was! We came away from the table feeling blessed to have had such fine cuisine.
A few weeks later, flowers appeared on the “dill”. Flowers that did NOT look like dill flowers. They WERE yellow, but not the right shape, size, or formation. What on earth I thought… Of course I went straight to Google, typing in yellow flowered plants and was shocked at my discovery. HA! The dill was actually Tickseed, aka Coreopsis!! Oh brother. Thank goodness none of us got sick and it wasn’t a toxic plant. After the shock wore off, I couldn’t help but laugh at the thought of me “harvesting” quite a lot of some random perennial flower from my garden that is not at all made for culinary use! I told Mom and we all had a good chuckle.
No wonder why it sort of seemed like we were eating weeds! Needless to say, I went straight to the kitchen and threw out the rest of the harvested Coreopsis that I was drying to save for future meal creations. I am happy to say that the Coreopsis plant came back lush and full this year, despite having at least a quarter of it harvested for cooking haha. Year two of gardening and I have come a long way. I have most everything correctly identified thank heavens to Betsey! Now you can’t say I’m not adventurous or that I don’t try new things!
If you’re ever in the area, won’t you come on over for supper and have a heaping pile of mashed potatoes?
What is the worst thing you have ever fed your guests? Tell me I’m not the only one who has had such things happen in the comments below 😀 .
Other funny cooking stories by Rebekah include:
- A Crumby Story (an I Love Lucy like Cookie disaster)
- Happy Little Accidents (or the Surprise Lump Loaf I Cooked Up)
Have a cozy weekend,
What a great story, Bekah! And really, the threadleaf coreopsis leaves do look a lot like dill in a general way. But, it does remind me of the importance of knowing what you’re foraging on -good for you now for recognizing most of your garden plants. Lots of “wild foragers” are way too cavalier about it…. Fortunately most plants aren’t super toxic!
You’re so lucky to have moved into garden full of treasures. Enjoy!
Hi Lisa! Thanks for stopping by! The one thing that makes me feel better is that the son of the owners thought it was dill too….so I was largely going on that and don’t feel quite AS silly as I would otherwise :). Yes, I have read a lot about foraging and there are so many things one must be aware of that I wouldn’t go it without a field guide myself. For instance , I found some wild onion in my yard too, but read Star of Bethlehem ( I think I remembered that right) is onion like but without the strong onion smell and can be deadly when consumed. Most of the herbs and such haven’t been too hard to identify, and only a few trees are left that we can’t figure out. I do really feel lucky and blessed indeed. It has been one of my life’s miracles to get this home :).
That is both hair-raising and cute. But now you are an expert on coreopsis cuisine. 😉
Mine too was a disaster with beautiful mashed potatoes. I thought I was sprinkling a hint of fresh chopped parsley and paprika on top of a shepherd’s pie–but actually, it was cinnamon! (I had lost my glasses that day.)
Fortunately I smelled the cinnamon as I was cooking so I was able to scrape the top off and correct it.
My family said it tasted “vaguely East Indian today”, though. 😉
HAHA Marya! Cinnamon instead of Paprika would make quite the flavor difference. These foibles make for great memories anyway :). Thanks for stopping by to comment!
SO funny and cute! Please tell me you eventually made real dill potatoes and that it was great!
Well, After my family got a flair for the exotic, I just couldn’t do dill mashed potatoes. So the next time I made them with chopped up mulberries from the tree out back. HA! Kidding…, yes I have made real dill potatoes since then, but with store bought dill, as there isn’t any dill in the herb garden. It is on my plant wish list though!
What a great memory you’ve made there!! Haha.
When I was a kid there was this one time when we were camping. I asked Dad to cut me some cheese for my crackers. He obliged with very generous thick slices, also cutting some for himself. He took a bite just before I was about to and scared me by suddenly yelling “don’t eat it!”. Turns out it was butter 😀
Funny! Thick butter on crackers sounds gross! Ironically we always joke with my mom because of her love for butter and dipping crackers in butter. She acts like it is cheese dip…ew!
Cute story, Bekah! I have done some guided Wild Weed Walks, and one time a guy ate some hemlock (which killed Socrates). Everyone was really worried about him during lunch, but he must not have eaten enough for it to be a problem, because he had no symptoms…
A couple of weeks ago I was at my friend’s place and for dessert we had fresh pears chopped up with agave syrup and cinnamon – except that it was actually chilli powder! (like the commenter above, he had forgotten his glasses). So I ran into the bathroom coughing and spluttering, and we had to cut short the voice recording we were doing because I couldn’t sing any more that night!
Oh wow….that would have been scary! I can picture you sputtering at chili powder now haha. Oh my , THAT would be a surprise and I imagine it WOULD burn the throat a bit…. too bad you don’t have that on video!
What a funny story, charmingly told. I’m glad you had the good luck to choose something that wasn’t toxic. Maybe you should publish a recipe for coreopsis potatoes that would become a rave fave and make you a name in the foodie community. I wish I had a similar story to share, but I guess I’m just not that adventurous in the kitchen.
Thank you Dara! HA ! The foodie comment cracked me up. Wouldn’t that be funny if that happened. Coreopsis doesn’t have much flavor and adds nothing to the dish really, or I would write it into a recipe haha.