Recently I have been craving south east Asian food. And one dish in particular has been coming to mind. I even dreamt of it one night.
Maybe its because at this time of year I am usually sitting in a forest somewhere in south-east Asia recording the local wild food plants.Read more...
It’s been a chilly old Winter this year, and I trust you have had lovely festivities over the past couple of weeks.
Winter is an exciting time for me as a forager. While others bemoan the decline in wild edible plants, I on the other hand get all excited wondering what I can find and what I can prepare from the limited availability out on the land.
A couple of days ago, as I was taking the grand-urchins outside to play, my eyes took in the beauty of the ‘skeleton trees’ against grey sky, and the patterns and shapes they make.
Senses open up when I do this. And I love the natural form and structure devoid of any human mingling. Natural art right in front of us.
From the corner of my eye, I noticed some honey golden beech leaves on a hedge, and was immediately taken back to working with chef Paul Wedgwood in Edinburgh back in 2013.
I visited my local estuary the other day now devoid of tourists.
The sound of the birds doing their thing that only birds do, the array of deep colours as the estuary falls into its Wintery sleep, the smell of salty air on the breeze and the crashing of the waves in the distance make we feel grateful to be alive.
For me foraging is being fed and nourished not only on what I can fill my belly with, but also on how the very act of gathering and engaging with Land feeds me on what I call a “bone level”.
This weekend I wanted to make a coffee substitute, something that tasted ‘rich’. Something that I could ‘chew’ on.
My shop bought coffee-alternatives include the likes of Whole Earth Nocaf, Barleycup etc.
And when it comes to finding tasty “coffee” substitutes from the wild, I have always struggled with the more common substitutes such as dandelion or chicory.
Don’t get me wrong I really like them, but coffee isn’t the first thing that springs to mind when I sip on them.
No, I wanted something that actually had the deep rich smell of coffee, and that could, at a push, be a coffee analog.
There is an old Scottish proverb “Mony haws, Mony snows” meaning that an abundance of haws (hawthorn berries) will bring a severe winter.
It will be interesting to see if this old folk belief pans out this year. I have a suspicion it will.
While on a train to London back in late October, I remember noticing how red the hedgerows looked as we sped along, and the impression they made on me.
The redness came from the Hawthorn trees heavily laden with early Autumn fruits. In some areas, the hedgerows where more red than green!
This Guelder rose (Viburnum opulus) jelly recipe is quite simply divine. The plant is deciduous, and usually found in hedgerows, scrub and woodlands. It favours damp places and can be found along streams, but it also has the ability to thrive in quite dry spaces too.
Tasting the raw berries (which are mildly toxic if consumed in too great a quantity) will most likely result in much spitting, and verbal exclamations, as it is very bitter… but the bitterness goes when it is prepared into a jelly.
I joke that Guelder rose jelly makes the kitchen stink of old socks during preparation, but that rather off putting image is completely negated once you slather it all over some lovely hot buttered toast, or use it with game and other cooked meats.
So give this Guelder rose jelly recipe a try… I really don’t think you will be disappointed!Read more…
With Autumn definitely on its way, and the sun starts setting early, now is the perfect time to give you body a boost with this delicious, nourishing and health-boosting elixir.
I’ve been making it for quite a few weeks using dried elderberries from last year, and dried nettle that I had gathered this Spring. I have to say that I can’t keep my hand out the fridge with this one. With no sugar and only the scrummy, warming flavour of organic honey to sweeten it, even the most risk-averse inner child (or outer one for that matter) will love it!Read more…
Each year I literally swoon as I cup the cherry blossom flowers in my hand gazing at their mysterious beauty set against cloudless blue sky. And each year I promise myself to make a preserved cherry blossom recipe. Each year until this one I miss the window of opportunity.
In Japan, the tradition of “Hanami” which literally translates as “flower viewing” is a practice that dates back to the sixth century Heian period. Cherry blossoms in Japan are called “Sakura”, and are a symbol of the transient nature of life, due to their short flowering time. They represent a life that is beautiful, but also temporary and impermanent.
So as not to miss the year’s flowering season I scoured my patches trying to find some flowers that were still only in bud. For the preserved cherry blossom recipe you need to gather buds that are just starting to open, you can, should you to wish pick some of the fully opened flowers, but best to try and get just the buds. You’ll also need to gather a few of the very young leaves as they are just developing.Read more…
The oldest recorded recipe in Britain according to the Centre for Nutrition and Dietetics at the University of Wales Institute in Cardiff is one for nettle pudding, consisting of not surprisingly nettle with barley. They claim it to be 8,000 years old!
Taking this for inspiration I decided to create a nettle risotto using barley instead of rice, to which I added ramsons (wild garlic), and kelp seaweed.Read more…