smoothhawksbeard001m.jpg (4981 bytes) Smooth Hawksbeard
Crepis capillaris
ani-c.gif (406 bytes) Crop weed in Oregon

September 5, 2004 - Yesterday I harvested a small stand of Smooth Hawksbeard. They look so much like dandelions and, after my resounding success processing and cooking dandelion, I assumed the Smooth Hawksbeard would be a snap. *sigh* Well, we all know what we get when we ass-u-me anything. These little darlings are anything but a snap! If you would like to see a thorough pictorial record of the plant, please go to my Scientific Name index and click on Crepis capillaris.

hawksbeard001a.jpg (11570 bytes)hawksbeard001c.jpg (21680 bytes)I pulled them out of my truck and dropped them onto the table in Studio O and pulled out my trusty old butcher knife. I chopped them up from top to toe, including fluff, flowers, leaves and some of the roots. I think I could have just as easily slipped these down the chute of the chipper/shredder as they took some solid swings to cut the stems into small pieces. If they were browned off, chopping with the butcher knife would not have been an option. The leaves are a little prickly, similar to some of the thistles, so I needed to use a small board to hold the plants down as I got closer to the root.

 

hawksbeard001e.jpg (21842 bytes)I dumped all the cuttings into a large enamel pot and poured hot tap water over them. I was surprised they did not float like all the other plants I've cooked. They behaved quite nicely and, even when the water came to a boil, stayed fairly well immersed! When I first harvested the plants, I suspicioned they were sturdier than dandelions and, as I processed them for the pot, I realized my suspicions were true. So I started off the pot right away with one tablespoon of Arm & Hammer Washing SodaŽ per quart of water. After two hours I did a finger test where I grip each end of a piece of the plant with my index finger and thumb and pull gently, but firmly across the grain to see if it breaks. Nope. Again at three hours and again at four hours. Nope. Not even close. At four hours, now wishing I had some lye, I poured out the water and replenished it with new water and washing soda. I do this because washing soda is pretty much used up within a four hour cooking period, as I learned from Kevin Martin at The Papertrail. I am now going on six hours and still cooking!! Cooking with washing soda makes the Smooth Hawksbeard yield a lovely tea that gives a beautiful camouflage green and, if you dip the item in several times, it becomes a warm greenish brown.


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