Category Archives: climate change

Foraging everyday

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Bay Bolete Boletus badius

Foraged food is never going to make up a huge amount of my daily food and unless I spend all my time out looking for it I doubt it ever will. I’m not as committed as Fergus Drennan but I’m keen and try when I can to incorporate it into any trip I make out of the front door. There in lies the point not to see foraging for food as an exercise outside my daily routine but as part of it.

Without making much of an effort I’m slowly changing my habits to incorporate foraging into my life, simply changing my route to the supermarket ( I can’t live without hot pepper sauce) takes me through a park, an open field and a woodland and it only adds about 10 minutes to my journey. I’m opened up to the wild larder before I even get to the shops, the low shelves for mushrooms, the middle for berries and the best apples always on a high shelf that I need to ask a passerby to reach for me.

I can’t seem to help exuding enthusiasm for foraging at the moment I’ve dabbled for years nibbling blackberries and scrumping, sorry ‘picking’ apples but this year I seem to have jumped in head first, perhaps it’s the brilliant hedgerow harvests this year that have wet my appetite but I think that it’s my true belief that eating Strawberries in February is wrong and buying apples in autumn is ridiculous. Eating with the seasons makes meal times better, whatever reason you do it for, knowing that a certain food is about to come into season, planning recipes for it or preserving it for later in the year makes food more exciting and if that’s not enough to wet your appetite then I’ll let you into a little secret, all this food that you can get, which you can just go and pick is FREE!!

If I had a dog it would be easier as I’d have more of an excuse to walk the streets and parks everyday but just changing my route to the shop has made life better, cheaper and sweeter and it is a change I intend to stick to.

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Fly Agaric Amanita muscaria Yeah I know this ones not edible unless you want to dance with the fairies but it’s a great photo.

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Going foraging crazy

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Garden April 3

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Looking up

 

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Looking down

 

Had a break from the garden for a few days, it’s just been so cold, solid and unmoving but with the clocks the weather seems to be changing little by little bright sunny mornings help the mood.

 

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Water water everywhere and not a bite to eat!

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Well you don’t need me to tell you what a miserable summer it’s been, our garden is nothing if not a prime example of a almost failed year. I’d all but given up, the battles with cold, wet and giant killer slugs from outer space had all ended in defeat. I did six sowings of beans, six! Most things are hanging on but more to fill the gaps rather than my belly, I’m beaten but what’s that on the horizon? Could it be? Is it?
Yes it’s, it’s BRASSICAS !!
The Kale Yard has lived up to its name again, the brassicas have brought me back from the brink. Now my sanity has been restored and as I take a less jaded look around the veg patch there are actually quite a lot of successes. All the soft fruits have done well along with the rhubarb. The apples and plums are plumping up nicely and the Triffid like Jerusalem artichokes are unstoppable.

Which makes me think actually amongst all the failures there is hope but more importantly lessons to be learned. All the perennials are almost unaffected as usual and the fruit even though not as good as some years is putting on healthy growth for next year.

So I’ve no tomatoes for the first time ever and there is no fear from drowning in courgettes so again I ask myself do I care? Well a little but it just confirms my desire to grow more unusual and perennial veg, in the words of Mark Diacono ” life’s too short to grow boring veg.” it’s true and also more practical, if we’d had three months of non stop sun the veg patch would be in just as hammered.

The weather is always going to be there and more often than not, not what we wanted, so what do we do? Cry about it? Or Grow Perennials and Carry On? I’m still pissed off about the beans though.

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The foragers larder is open

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Sunburned last week then sat in with the fire on watching the snow fall this but the water butt is full again and I can live with a tan line or two. As I’m no foraging expert, the years foraging for me begins with wild garlic or Ramson’s as we like to call them.

So this week with everyone off school and work we went on our first forage walk of the year, not too different from most walks we go on just a few more things to carry and a focus that keeps my tummy rumbling the whole way round. Even if we were just taking a stroll, the wild garlic still plays a major roll filling the air with their pungent perfume so that you feel you must be near an Italian restaurant.

I had a specific shopping list this time and unlike much else from the wild larder, Ramson’s always deliver. Until the fruit starts to appear later in the year there is little else that is available in such quantities and there is no special equipment just a bag, a hand to pick and most importantly an eye for which leaves may be growing in a dog toilet.

So we return with muddy boots, tales of mice and sheep attacks and carrier bags full, the pungent garlic aroma filling the house so that anything other than cooking is impossible. Whether you want them just to add to salads or to be the main attraction there are a million and one recipes for them, I like to add them cut finely into mayonnaise or butter or simply shredded onto poached eggs. Here is a few I like from people who know better.

Wild Garlic Pesto
# 100g freshly picked wild garlic leaves
# 50g shallot, spring onions or leeks
# 50g shelled walnuts
# 200 ml olive oil, sunflower oil or rapeseed oil
# 50-60g mature hard cheese (Quick’s goats cheese , Parmesan or similar hard, mature cheese), finely grated
# ½ – 1 teaspoon sea salt
# ½ teaspoon sugar
Place in food processor along with walnuts, shallot and 150 ml oil. Blitz for about a minute until the everything is finely chopped up. Fold in the grated cheese, salt and sugar Fill into clean sterilised jars to within 5-7 cm of the top of jar. Make sure you press down firmly with the back of a spoon to remove any pockets of air (trapped air can cause contamination) allowing sufficient room to swirl the remaining oil over the top of the pesto to seal the surface.
Pamjam, Rivercottage.net

Nettle and wild garlic soup

Nettle soup in all its variations is a springtime favourite at River Cottage. Wild garlic goes very well with this other easily-foraged ingredient. Just don’t forget to take rubber gloves on your nettle hunt. Serves six.

1 carrier bag full of nettles

(ideally young leaves)

55g butter

1 large or 2 medium onions, finely sliced

2 celery sticks, chopped

1 small leek, chopped

1 small celeriac (about 350g peeled weight), cut into cubes

1 large garlic clove, crushed (optional)

1 litre good-quality chicken

(or vegetable) stock

Salt and ground black pepper

1 pinch freshly grated

nutmeg (optional)

3 tbsp cooked rice (or 3 rice cakes)

2 tbsp wild garlic leaves, chopped

To garnish

A little cream or some crème fraîche

2-3 tbsp wild garlic leaves, finely chopped

Pick over the nettles and wash them well. Discard only the tougher stalks, because the soup will be liquidised. Melt the butter in a large pan and sweat the onion, celery, leek, celeriac and garlic, if using, until soft but not brown – about 10 to 15 minutes.

Now add the stock and pile in the nettles, pushing them down to submerge. Bring to the boil and simmer, partially covered, for five to 10 minutes until the nettles are tender. Season with salt and pepper, and with nutmeg, if you wish.

Purée the soup in a liquidiser along with the cooked rice (or rice cakes) – the quantity is such that you will probably have to do this in two batches. Return the puréed soup to a clean pan, stir in the wild garlic leaves and reheat, but do not let it boil. Check the seasoning, then serve, garnishing each bowl with a swirl of cream and a generous sprinkle of chopped wild garlic leaves.
HFW, Guardian recipes

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