Category Archives: wild food

Wild Garlic Pakoras

The sight of ramson shoots popping their fresh green through bare woodland floors is a welcomed one after the winter months, it means spring is finally arriving.

This year I have tested out a new recipe to add to the annual spring pesto which was very nice and went down very well at the ‘bring a dish to share’ lunch I took them to.

Wild Garlic Pakoras – I loosely based on this recipe.

My recipe:

  • Pick a large bowl full of ramson leaves, wash and pick out any that don’t look nice.
  • Finely slice an onion and put it in a mixing bowl. Roughly chop the ramson leaves and mix with the onion.
  • season with salt and black pepper, a little chilli powder and turmeric
  • add gram flour; mixing as you do so until the leaves and onion has a ‘dusting’ over them
  • Add an egg to the mixture and mix so as everything sticks together
  • separate the mixture into the size portions you want and deep-fat fry until golden brown
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Leaf day doings (including pesto recipe)

Things are on the move again and making a big step in a positive direction, all of which I shall be up-dated anyone who is still out there on soon but in the mean time a nice productive day has been had…

Woodland carpet; Wild Garlic or Ramsons - 7th May 2012Go to local plant sale ~ done (very wet and not much of interest there but nice trip out)

Harvest wild garlic/ramsons and make pesto ~ done

Harvest rhubarb ~ done

Harvest nettles for dinner ~ done and almost cooked

Plant out comfy ~ done

Plant out lettuces and salad plugs ~ done

Sow next succession on lettuces seeds ~ done

Prep and start off rhubarb cordial ~ done (I’m hoping this time it has been wet enough as last year when I tried this it had been to dry and it didn’t work very well)

Use rhubarb leaves to make Brassica spray (against cabbage white fly) ~ done

Wild Garlic Pesto 

I loosely basic it on this recipe but adapted it to suit what was in the cupboard.

 Wash and sort a carrier bag of ramson leaves, picking off the older stems. Roughly chop a small onion and add it to a blender along with a few Brazil nuts and a handful of hazel nuts, blend whilst adding the leaves, olive oil ( I used a sherry glass full as I don’t really like the taste), grated cheese (cheddar) and half a teaspoon of salt and a teaspoon of sugar. Blend until smooth and serve.

Fruit harvest

Life is odd at the moment but still carrying on in that relentless way it does. I have tried to write about my dads funeral but don’t have the words to do so…

Fly Ararics which are very pretty but not so useful - 18th September 2011

Fly Ararics which are very pretty but not so useful - 18th September 2011

Fruiting plants haven’t done too badly this year; there seem to be plenty of apples, plums and berries weighing down the branches of trees along the road sides and in the woods and mushrooms are starting to appearing dotted around the forest waste land in the early mornings.

Wall garden; ever-bearing strawberries and 100's and 1000's tomatoes - 18th September 2011

Wall garden; ever-bearing strawberries and 100's and 1000's tomatoes - 18th September 2011

In the garden the tomatoes are starting to ripen, the ever-bearing strawberries are still flower and bearing fruit and french beans are coming in in fits and starts.

Boston squash; possibly from one of the seeds I saved last year - 16th September 2011

Boston squash; possibly from one of the seeds I saved last year - 16th September 2011

At the allotment the squashes are doing well again and I have learnt from last year and harvested the ripe ones to allow the plants to put their energy into the un-ripened and forming fruit.

Nettle soup

Especially for Shaz from Our Front Plot

Nettles - 2nd May 2011

Nettles - 2nd May 2011

Ingredients: 2 onions, chopped. 1 potato, peeled and diced. A bunch of freshly picked nettle tips, washed and roughly chopped. 1 vegetable stock cube, onion and celery seed, mixed herbs and a little butter and oil.

Method: Fry the onions on a low heat in the oil a long with the onion and celery seed and mixed herbs. When the onions are soft and just starting to brown add the nettles and enough butter to stop them sticking to the pan and cook until soft and well mixed. Add the potato and cook whilst stirring to stop the potato sticking to the pan. Add water and a stock cube and bring to the boil and then allow to simmer for 5 – 10 minutes. Whiz in a blender and serve.

A wet and windy morning

There are some ups to weather like todays; warm and wet. 

Ink caps - 3rd of October 2010

 

Turning a little to the left - 3rd October 2010

 

And standing back for a look - 3rd October 2010

 

Mushrooms

Autumn beauties; some of the mushrooms we haven't been eating - 18th September 2010

 Well, I really hate to say this but Autumn seems to be well on its way. I am sure it is much earlier than last year, I hadn’t been on holiday yet last year and I remember that being mostly warm and sunny so it must be earlier this year. 

Any way, with the cooler, damper weather comes the mushrooms and this year is shaping up to an excellent year for them. The green across the road is full of Puff Balls, up the lane the Ink Caps are out in force and we are collecting Parasols wherever we go and those are just the ones we can spot from a mile off. 

Yesterday was a particularly good day and we filled a blue mushroom creat with Ink Caps, Parasols and Puff Balls without going anywhere other than on the normal rounds (e.g. checking the sheep, feeding the ponies, etc.) so hopefully in the next few weeks a mushrooming trip can be fitted in. 

Autumn picking; Ink Caps, Parasol and Puff Balls - 18th September 2010

Rhys made yesterdays pickings into a lovely wild mushroom soup which we had for dinner.

The Vanishing of the Bees

Back in January I went to watch The Vanishing of the Bees (thank you to Nip it in the Bud for letting me know it was on.) The film was really interesting and anyone who gets the chance to go and see it should, after the film there was a talk by someone from The Global Bee Project which is a charity whose sole aim is to educate people about bees and their importance. The charity is a locally based one but this was the first time I had heard of them and the talk was invaluable for putting the film into context.

The Vanishing of the Bees focuses on just one type of bee, the European honey bee, which is the specie of bee that is most commonly farmed for pollination and honey, however it is far from being the only species of bee with 20,000 bee species world-wide, more than birds and mammals combined, and 256 species of bee in the UK. The oldest bee found is 18 million years old, they are evolved from wasps with bees being vegetarian and having body hair, wasps will eat meat and are without hair.

As well as the European Honey Bee there are 500 other species of bee that produce ‘honey’ but only the ‘honey’ from the European bee can be sold as honey. 80% of bees are solitary and honeybees are descended from solitary bees. Solitary bees are actually better pollinators as they eat pollen but the European bee is easier to farm in large numbers and so travels for anything up to a week at a time to pollinate crops around the world.

The number of honey bees has doubled in the last 50 years because of the increase in demand of ‘luxury” foods such as strawberries which are pollinated by bees. Bees also pollinate cotton and 80% of the amazon trees are pollinated by bees so it is not just food production that is reliant on them. 25% of all species rely on a bee specie for their survival other than the honey bee (I think that is what my notes say?) however the Australian government wiped out all the wild bees in the country so as they could not spread disease to the European bee when it was first imported.

 

The European honey bee is native to the UK, which is possibly why Colony Collapse Disorder has not yet been seen on the same scale as in the U.S. which is now importing bees from Australia to cope with the demand for bee pollination of crops with the reduced bee population there.

The film suggests a strong link between Colony Collapse Disorder and the use of a pesticide called Gaucho, something which sadly doesn’t seem to be taken seriously by the British government, but the whole way bees are treated, with colonies being shipped backwards and forwards around countries, fed on poor quality food replacements, completely horrified me.

The picture of beekeepers I have in my head are people like my granddad, who had a few hives in his garden in the middle of Cambridgeshire or one of mothers best friends who had a hive just because she liked having bees around. A far cry from the warehouse like buildings where pallet loads of bee hives wrapped in plastic were being loaded by forklifts onto refrigerated lorries and then driven in convoy across states and then back again just weeks later. It is not natural for 20, 50, 100 hives and more to be in the same place and there can only ever be enough feed for this amount of colonies if humans provide it. From the way it was depicted in the film modern bee keeping is not any different from battery hen farming.

A patch of wild flowers humming with insect life in the evening sun (does anyone know what these flowers are?) - 14th May 2010

The Co-op funded the film and has taken the step of banning all fruit and vegetables that are treated with pesticides that are linked to bee deaths, which is a pretty impressive step. Research has shown that the lose between crops that have been treated with pesticides and not is still about the same, as some of a crop will always be lost.

The French Government also took the step of banning the use of Gaucho on crops when French beekeepers first suspected a link between the pesticide and Colony Collapse Disorder over ten years ago. French beekeepers filmed bees on treated sunflowers and non-treated sunflowers, the bees on the treated sunflowers behaviour in an disoriented manner, often dropping to the ground and manically trying to clean the pollen from themselves, where as the bees on non-treated flowers followed an orderly pattern over the flower head and then flew on.   

The Vanishing of the Bees is mostly based in the U.S. which is a shame as I would have liked to have known more about what is happening in England, and where I can made a difference. Interestingly, but sadly not surprisingly, most of the money for research into Colony Collapse Disorder is coming from the very companies that produce the pesticides that are possibly responsible, which begs the question is research funded by them really going to find that their product is cause great harm to all living kind? Part of me has faith that they would if they are bothering to fund the research, but another part is more sceptical.

If you have not been lucky enough to be able to go and see this film locally then I think I have found a way to get it for FREE! A friend who is fundraising for a research expedition in Malawi sent me a link to this site (easyfundraising.org.uk), if you sign up then LoveFilm are offering a free trial membership and they also donate £5 to the research trip. I have looked through their website and they do have The Vanishing of the Bees available in their shop so I am guessing that they will have it in their rental selection (although I have not way of checking this without first signing myself) just remember to cancel your membership before the free offer runs out if you do not wish to stay a member*

* I can in no way be held responsible for memberships that are taken out with either easyfundraising.org.uk or any of the links on their website, I am just trying to share a worthy film with as many people as possible. I do not gain anything from this

Mushroom kechup

I finished making mushroom kechup with the mushrooms that weren’t eaten on toast the other day. It tastes a little too vingery really but is ok.

I VERY loosely followed a recipe for it from Food as Gifts by Jo Marcangelo which is a lovely book that I got from a LETS meeting a while ago.

Image003Ingredients: 2 ib (1kg) large, open mushrooms, 1 oz (25g) sea salt, 1 level teaspoon black peppercorns, 1 level teaspoon whole allspice, 10 cloves, piece of root ginger, 1 pint (600ml) vinger

1. Cut off the bottom of the mushroom stalks and discard. Break them up into small pieces and place in a bowl. Sprinkle with salt, cover and leave to stand for about 12hours. 2. put the mushroom mixture in a saucepan and mash up. crush the spices and add to the pan along with the vinger. Bring to the boil and leave to simmer for 30minutes. 3. Pour the mixture into a blender and puree it. 4. Pour into hot, sterilised bottles, leaving a 1inch (2.5cm) headspace, seal while hot with screw caps. 5. Put a thick wad of newspaper in the bottom of a large deep pan and then stand the filled bottles on this. Slacken the screw caps by a quarter of a turn and slowly bring the pan of water to the boil and simmer for 30minutes. Remove the bottles from the water, tighten up the tops, then cool and label. Store in a cool, dry place.

I didn’t weigh anything, I just used all of the mushrooms that were left, a good half a basket full, add what I thought was enough salt and ended up leaving it for over 24hours in the fridge. I left out the cloves as I couldn’t find any and the all spice was already ground. I left the mixture to simmer on the Rayburn and came back in from the garden almost an hour later, it really didn’t feel like an hour, and as it wasn’t meant as a gift and I think it will get eaten soon enough I didn’t bother with steps 4 or 5 but just put it in clean jars.

Fungi gathering

Image002.1This morning I went fungi gathering on May Hill with some friends.

I haven’t been to May Hill for a few years but it is always something we mean to do come mushroom time, and this year we have started harvesting a crop of Parasol mushrooms from the garden which have started growing after we gathered some from May Hill, bought them home and never got round to doing anything with them and so chucked them out.

We were there a little late, and most mushrooms had started going over but there were planty of different types and it was a lovely walk.

Image020.1We took my basket and a book that I found in a charity shop and, as well as the Parasols, came away with some Wood Blewitts, which are unusual because they keep their blue-ish colour after cooking.

Some of the Parasols have been eaten on toast with scambled egg and the rest I am going to try making some mushroom kechup with I think.

Image022

Fungi Weekend

Yesterday was the first day of the Fungus Weekend at The Dean Heritage Centre, I have been to the event once when I was younger and went on the walk, and then when I was working there I arranged the event but never got to go on the forary inspite of my best laid plans.

PICT0135

So this year it went on my ‘things to do and see’ list (along with seeing a Severn Bore) after I was made redundant from there.

The forary, and display, is arranged by the Dean Fungus Group*, who are a wonderful friendly group and all the members are very knowledgeable and willing to help in whatever way they can in passing on their knowledge of the subject.

The event is normally held later in the year, towards the end of the main fungus session, but this year it has been changed to be held at the start so as people who become interested have a chance to go out again before the end of the session, a very good idea but it’s down side is that it has been a very dry month, and so not many fungi out yet but still very worth while going.

PICT0137 PICT0136

Some of the things I learned on the two hour walk included:

  • There are more fungi than plants in the UK, and they all plants have some sort of fungus helping them in some way.
  • Puff balls have an eleven month growing cycle, they grow on tree stumps and their spores are spread on the wind but release from the fruit by rain drops
  • Truffles grow under Beech trees on the ‘wet side of valleys’, the fruit is found under leaf litter from two  to twelve meters away from the main tree truck. They spread their spores by encouraging flys to lay their eggs in the fruit, the maggots then eat their way our from the fruit, including some spores, and spread the spores in their poo once they have turned into flys. They are very rare in the UK
  • Cauliflower fungi only grow on Scots Pines and have a taste like raw hazelnuts
  • There is no difference between mushrooms and toadstools and the UK is the only place in Europe that has two words meaning the same thing, it is possible that this is because toadstools were considered sacred by druids and so ‘must not be eaten’ outside of rituals
  • Chicken in the Wood mainly grow on Oak but also can be found on Sweet Chestnut, Ash and Yew. they should NEVER be eating if they are found growing on Yew as they absorb the trees toxins and will make you ill. They are a bracket fungus and will eventually kill the tree that they grow on although this will take upwards of thirty years 

*the Dean Fungus Group do not appear to have their own website so I have linked to the Cotswold group who have contact details for the Dean Fungus Group and many others around the country