Tag Archives: self-sufficiency

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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Sea cabbage and the politics of foraging.

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Sea cabbage Brassica oleracea

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Not sure if this is a lucky accident or deliberate but useful having such a lush green veg by the back door.

Went for my first coastal forage of the year on Saturday armed with everything I’d need to collect a large haul of shellfish, so I was a little disappointed when I couldn’t find a single mussel. Tried a beach Ive never been to before, Staithes then walking along the beach to Port Mulgrave and back along the cliff tops. Its a beautiful place just a little further up the coast from Whitby.

However even though I was without protein I was delighted to find Sea Cabbage in abundance, for a plant which is quite rare it was everywhere. With such a profusion of plants I thought it would be fine to take a couple of handfuls but there lies the problem, not can I take but should I take? The media recently seem to be focusing in on the ‘gangs’ of foragers stripping the countryside of it’s native plants and fungi. Recently 15 people were in court for collecting fungi from Epping forest.

For those people who collect commercially I have no sympathy, nothing is going to give foragers a bad name more than people who turn a resource into a commodity. Like most wild food collectors I take what I need and only when I can see it in abundance not stripping a solitary plant or picking every fruit from a bush. Even if you take out the ethics and conservation issues it makes little sense destroying a harvest for the future, making sure there is enough to set seed or keep on producing means you can keep coming back to it, surely that’s the whole point of foraging? tapping into a resource not destroying it.

I think that as a forager you feel a sense of stewardship for an area, the life of the insects and birds etc which rely and have always relied on that patch are all part of it. Considering the bigger picture is important for me, I don’t need to pick and gather from the wild, I want to, I need to remember that I’m sharing this resource and it’s not just there for my benefit. Pick mindfully.

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A few of the rare wild greens.

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A family that knits together…..

A family that knits together.....

I just wanted to post a photo of the blanket my girlfriend has finished crocheting together. Six members of the family have knitted different squares of this baby blanket for the newest member of the family. i love the idea of these family made blankets, I have a blanket than I’ve had since a child which was made by my great grandma and her sister, I love it and the memories it holds within every stitch.

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Strange fairytale edibles

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Scarlet Elf cups

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Jelly ears

These must be some of the oddest edible mushrooms lurking in the undergrowth on a wet February afternoon or stuck to the underside of a dead twisted Elder they couldn’t be more fairytale.

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Hairy bittercress pesto

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There’s not a great deal to get excited about in January in the veg patch, Fartichokes turn up everyone’s noses and the rest is lying dormant ready for the spring, however what is going strong is the weeds. They are getting their head start as usual on the rest of the garden but before I loose all hope the best thing about them is that they are mostly edible, Hairy Bittercress, Sheeps Sorrel, Chickweed, Dandelion and Couch Grass, OK not the last one but the rest are in abundance, tasty and I need them gone anyway, perfect. Its fair to say that they are never going to in sufficient quantities to live off but if you treat them more like herbs their culinary capabilities come into their own.

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Hairy Bittercress pesto recipe

A handful of bittercress around 15-20 heads

1 clove garlic

3 tablespoons of rapeseed or olive oil

a good grate of Parmesan cheese

generous pinch of sugar

a furious squeeze of lemon

salt and pepper

Chop the bittercress within an inch of it’s life if you like, I like to retain a little texture, finely chop the garlic and add both to a jar. Next add the rest of the ingredients, pop the lid on the jar and shake, check for seasoning. It’s Pesto not rocket science.

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That’s what it looks like in a jar.

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