During our recent trip to Maine, our friend and local guru, Leif, pointed out that we have a linden tree behind our cabin. And... that the linden produced edible fruits that have a flavor somewhat akin to chocolate. Chocolate? I say, let's move into the cabin right now!
Ok, we can't relocate just yet. When we got home, however, you bet I went on line to learn more about this chocolate-like linden fruit. As it turns out, it's not just the fruits, but also the flowers and leaves that are edible as well. Cooking with linden is part of older, traditional recipes in places like England, Germany, and France where the linden is abundant. Thankfully, it grows well in New England.
The young fruits contain a nut-like seed that when ground tastes similar to cocoa powder. However, older fruits produce seed that taste more like coffee. Yes, that's right, coffee! Actually, the description is a coffee-like flavor with a hint of chocolate. Yum! Hot mocha in the morning! That's when my husband said, "Ok, so where do we buy more of these linden trees?" Since I don't drink coffee, I was happy to learn that the blossoms can be used for tea, and that the blossoms would have a gentle, calming effect.
Of course, the trick is to be able to collect enough of the linden seeds to make either the cocoa powder or coffee grind substitutes. You need a lot, so unless you have a lot of linden trees, you may only get a few bites of chocolate or a few cups of mocha. And yes, we have already sourced out a local supplier of linden trees.
Store the seeds as seeds, not ground up. Once ground, it doesn't hold its flavor well. Once blended with the blossoms and grape seed oil to make linden chocolate, it does not store well. It will last only a few days in the freezer. Thankfully, the nut-like seeds store well and they can be ground as needed.
Perhaps the most practical use of linden, however, is using the leaves to make flour. Linden leaf flour can be used in combination with other flours and grains to bake breads, cakes, and porridge, or be used as a thickener for soups. I found a few web sites with information on using linden in cooking, but this one had the most, and it's just a cool site overall. Check out Celtnet Recipes. Click here to go directly to their linden recipe page.
Building a small cabin shouldn't take long. However, when you live about a five hour drive away (or longer if you have small children that need longer stops for diaper changes and bottle feedings), things can take a bit longer than expected.
Last week, we made a four-day trip up to Maine to work on our little cabin. After being left without work for almost a year, everything was exactly as it was left. Some birds had made a nest, and a bit of a mess on the second floor, and there was a field of dead lady bugs on the first floor. Considering that the second floor was not fully enclosed last fall, and there are still a few gaps that needed sealing in the outer walls, this was no problem at all compared to what we could have found.
The first day was spent travelling, trimming down the overgrowth, and setting up camp. We had one snake in the camper this time, which is a massive improvement from the 10-15 that had taken up residence that last time our camper had been left for the winter. There was also a hornet nest and a yellow jacket nest discovered in various vents, and both were destroyed by my very brave, beekeeper husband!
The second day, friends arrived to help. The men got right into mowing the tall grass for a larger camp, and then set to work on the cabin. The doors framed and hung, and the remaining windows were installed. We also set up a screen house for the little ones to play in, keep the bugs out, and provide some shade.
Speaking of bugs, the infamous Maine black flies were there in numbers to greet us. The mosquitoes were also present in unusually large numbers due to the massive amounts of rain and flooding this past spring. Not wanting to use DEET with small children, we used an essential oil based insect repellent from Burt's Bees. On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the best, I'd give is a 9 for it's effect on the black flies, and about a 7 for it's effect on the mosquitoes. The blood suckers kept buzzing us, but didn't land to bite, making them more of an annoyance than a real problem.
On the third day, the second floor exterior was finished. We had originally planned to put up the roofing shingles as well. With the temperature topping 90 degrees and humid, the idea of working on black roofing paper with black, asphalt shingles wasn't very appealing to anyone. So, it was time for some play. Most everyone took rides on the dirt bike and ATV. Work hard, play harder!
The last day was bright, sunny, and we hated to leave. But, we should be able to actually sleep in the cabin during our next trip up to our developing homestead.