South African Idol

     On my recent trip to visit my son in Brooklyn, I made sure to schedule the class Cooking with Wild Foods and Weeds at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, because you never know when a dandelion will be your last meal and it would be taught by Marie Viljoen- a woman a greatly admire.
     Ms. Viljoen (who authors the blog 66squarefeet and a new-to-be-released cookbook), is a master forager and cook.
     Hers is the blog that got me started- that inspired me- that is my touchstone, and the chance to meet her and to be taught by her, was too much to resist. So off I went giving Chase an afternoon away from entertaining Mom.
     I took a cab asking to be driven to the classroom building on Washington Ave.
     I was dropped off at Flatbush and Empire ( I don’t know the area, and sadly, neither did the cabbie because just the week before he had left his home in New Deli for the first time in his life).
     I approached a glass enclosed ticket office and was further advised by a glass enclosed ticket taker to follow the path through the Gardens to the left- to the left- follow the path to the left.
     Thankfully a security officer took pity on me and asked to help.
     “To the classrooms sir.”
     “You’re off base.”
     “If only you knew.”
     Entering the correct building, winding my way down to the correct classroom, still on time, and being greeted by Marie, all six feet of her with her lovely South African-accented welcome of “A Pleasant House!” was like finding the campfire after a long day hiking- except it was still 11am…

but Marie was cooking.

Brooklyn Botanic Garden
900 Washington Ave.
 The Main Entrance at last!

My desktop
– front row center-
with my always present notebook, umbrella and ice tea.
Marie had a goody bag with a serviceberry cookie
and a sample of her soon-to-be-released cookbook recipes
tucked inside.

A cold soup
made with field garlic and knotweed.*

This classy lady had a cold, thinly sliced flank steak,
marinated in herbs and barely seared
ready to be paired with a smear of burdock pesto
and pickled field onion bulbs.*

*I may have gotten all the ingredients wrong because
I was too busy munching and not paying attention.
Story of my life actually.



  • Sue - Serviceberry cookie-? Because I have a serviceberry tree growing outside of my office/front of house. The flicker birds come is large flocks every year and rudely strip the serviceberry tree of every last berry.
    It is so cool that you combined your visit to see your son with a cooking class by a fellow blogger. We and everyone else in the neighborhood have lots of dandelions in the yard when we don’t spray for weeds.ReplyCancel

    • Cheryl Nicholl - That’s right. She husks them and then grinds then into a powder and adds them to almond flour- very tedious but they were DELISH! And you can steam the dandelion stems (like spinach) or just cut them up into a salad. I remember munching on dandelion stems as a kid. TThey’re kinda tart. It was a fun class and Marie is such a charmer.ReplyCancel

  • Caro Ness - Splendid!ReplyCancel

    • Cheryl Nicholl - Hi Caro! Nice to meet you! The class was splendid and the idea of foraging for food is very interesting. Thanks for stopping by!ReplyCancel

  • Dana Hemelt - Those photos are making me hungry, Cheryl! Wanna come over to my new kitchen and make me dinner? My plans for supper seem pretty sucky right now.ReplyCancel

  • William Kendall - Oh boy…. hungry again!ReplyCancel

  • Cheryl Nicholl - I know. It’s a gift.ReplyCancel

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