Category Archives: recipes

Drying sage to make tea

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It’s a good time of year to cut back sage stopping it getting woody and lanky, it’s also a great excuse for drying sage. We just cut the plant back to a few inches from the ground, remove the most woody stems then blitz in a mixer and leave out to dry. Chopping it up first allows it to dry quicker which is useful if you are air drying it. You can also do this in summer meaning you’ll get a fresh flush of leaves for autumn.

This year it is going to form part of my wild and garden teas experiment. We drink loads of tea, black and fruit but we make very little of it ourselves which seems strange as we have a go at making most other things. I’m going to be trying out different herbal teas and also experiment in making my own black tea. I can see the sower faces I will be pulling in the near future but hopefully I can find some alternatives to shop bought teas that will become new favorites.

Sage Tea (Salvia Officinalis).  As a herbal infusion it has many medicinal properties. Sage acts as a relaxant for nervous disorders and depression, also as a disinfectant / antiseptic in the treatment of mouth ailments and stomach pains, it’s also good for brain function.

http://www.herbwisdom.com/herb-sage.html

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The taste is not as strong as I’d first thought but I can’t seem to get the taste of a roast dinner out of my head, not entirely a bad thing. I shall wait for the brain function to begin.

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Kale Yard soup

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I I feel that finally I’ve cracked winter and spring green growing for years I’d had a few successes but never enough to make more than a token gesture at dinner time. Its the end of February and we’ve had Leeks, Artichokes, Salad leaf and 5 types of brassica all ready for the kitchen for the past few months. In a bid to celebrate this bounty I decided to make a ‘half the garden soup’ with what I had to hand in the veg patch.

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5 Cabbage Kale Yard Soup

Bunch of Cavolo Nero

Bunch of Russian Kale

Bunch of Curly Kale

Bunch of Spring Cabbage

Bunch of left over Wild Cabbage or you could use Purple sprouting Broccoli leaves

5 Leeks

4 medium Potatoes (the last of my pink fur apples I had in store/had forgotten about)

5 cloves of Garlic

Veg or Chicken stock

Sprig of sage and thyme

Wash and chop the leeks, Crush the Garlic and add to a large pan with a knob of butter and the chopped herbs, let them all sweat. As that’s doing its thing wash and remove the tougher stalks from the Cavolo Nero and the Curly kale but the others should be fine as they soften quicker, chop then add them to the pan. This allows them to wilt. Next add your stock. At this point I put the soup into a food mixer as we don’t have a hand blender, with the potato and blitz keeping a bit of texture. Add a vigorous twist of black pepper and a pinch of salt and simmer for 10 mins. You could add chilli which would have been good but I wanted the taste of the garden.

Serve with cream if your greedy like me, and a huge crusty bread. done grew it ate it!

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Salami and Chorizo finally ready!

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It’s not without a great deal of pride and excitement that my Charcuterie experiments are complete. These meaty gems have been hanging around since November and every few days Ive been out there poking, peeking and perusing their porkine perfection. Finally this morning i tried them for the first time and they are excellent if I had to be critical I’d say that they are a little fatty but they taste great.

I’ve experimented with lots of self sufficiency brewing, growing, rearing chickens etc and Charcuterie has been just as pleasing, rewarding but more importantly better quality and cheaper. The last local made chorizo I bought was £5 for one a little larger than a normal sausage. The 3 salamis and 2 chorizos I’ve cured has cost less than £10.

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The Best Wild fruit Infusions

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I’m not the greatest of wine makers I can admit that, not that I’m not going to keep trying but there is something about the process that I always seem to get wrong. That’s perhaps why I love infusions, the alcohol part is done for you all you need to do is add flavor and drink it! Last autumn was a great season for wild fruits of all kinds so I took it as a chance to experiment with something other than Sloe Gin.

While out walking one day I came across a damson tree laden with fruit, I kicked myself as I must have walked past it dozens of times before without noticing. I did consider making jam but you can have too much jam but never enough booze, so I made damson vodka, after a few months of patience it turned into a beautiful thick rich comforting blanket of a drink, instantly better dare I say than Sloe Gin. Using vodka instead of gin allows the fruit to impart it’s own flavor rather than be masked by the taste of the alcohol. Needless to say it’s all gone now.

By now the bug had bitten so I was on the lookout for more fruits to experiment with. The second I made was Cherry Plum vodka, made in the same way as the Damson, this has a sharper flavor, a little more tart. A search on the internet gave me my next and I must say favorite infusion ever, Blackberry Whiskey, it’s smooth and comforting after a cold January walk with a real depth of flavor, that I insist that everyone tries.

Blackberry Whiskey

blackberries

sugar

bottle of whiskey

Take a large jar, fill it 2/3 of the way with blackberries, pour in half that amount of sugar then top up the rest of the jar with whiskey. Don’t use expensive whiskey that would be a crime. Shake the jar now and again to help dissolve the sugar, leave in a dark cupboard for at least 3 months, try and make it in time for Christmas but better still hide a bottle of it for a year.

Damson Vodka

1kg damsons

500g sugar

1 litre vodka
Put all the ingredients into a large Kilner jar, shake every so often to dissolve the sugar and bottle after 3 months. Some people prick each fruit but who has time for that I tend to squash them lightly with a potato masher in the jar before I add the vodka. Like most infusions it will be better after a year if you can wait that long. Don’t forget that when you have bottled it you can eat the fruit with cream or custard etc.

Cherry Plumb Vodka

Make in the same way as the Damson Vodka but try freezing the cherry plums first then letting them thaw before adding them to the jar, this breaks down the skins and removes the need for tedious pricking.

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Eating the past

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Spent the afternoon leafing through this recipe book dated from 1679 at Leeds university, slowly making myself hungry as I went. I hope to return soon to research wild food and hedgerow harvests and experiment with some of the recipes. The entire book is written in beautiful long hand making some of the translations difficult that coupled with the rather colourful spelling, ‘Apricocks’ for example! I hope that Yorkshire based recipe book with open up some traditional recipes for wild food. Some interesting ones were, Walnuts to preserve- white, To preserve Pippins in jelly, syrup of wood sorrel and Syrup of red poppies.

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