Wild Flower Meadow 12/04/2013
I picked up a sample pack of wild flower seeds at a recent event. I decided to use the filled in fire pit from last summer as my site. I’ve also got into foraging for long bendy stems from the hedgerows around here to make obelisks (more in another post) and weaved fences for my vegetable patch. Now London does not have so many hedgerows, but there are country parks within London and one could probably find stems in local parks, which are spread throughout the capital.
I used the following method to construct this fence. I created it to keep the rabbits and Muntjacs out. The sticks in the middle are to keep the very fat pigeons from eating the seed before germination.
I put sturdy sticks into the ground at about 1/2 foot distances. The key is to ensure that the sticks can fit round the posts. If they are too tight then the sticks (unless very bendy e.g. willow) will snap. If too far apart you won’t get a tight fence that will last very long. So it is a bit of trial and error but this fence is actually my third one after surrounding two veg patches.
Once the posts are in you start laying the sticks. Place a stick horizontally behind a stick and then the stick will go round the outside of the next one along, and then inside the one after that until the whole stick is laid.
It is also possible to inter-weave two sticks together whilst going round two, but for a fence I’m not sure this is needed. I used this approach when making a willow obelisk.
So my suggestion for weaving a fence is after you’ve laid a stick. Go back to the beginning and lay a stick on top, but start from the other side of the post. So if you started on the inside, then start from the outside. After this I then picked up close to where the previous stick had ended and carried on until the fence was high enough to deter my rabbits and Muntjacs.
I finished off by putting sticks into the middle to deter the pigeons.
Wild Garlic (Ramson) Pesto 11/04/2013
I made wild garlic pesto last year (well I thought I did and didn’t post a picture or the recipe). It turns out I picked loads of wild garlic last year, left it and then the missus rescued some of it before it all went off. The end result was great, and the caterer for our wedding wants to use it, but needs more.
So off we went back to London and the patch I found last year to collect more. The carpet of wild garlic in this suburban monument to consumerism is immense. No-one else seems to know what it is, or has chosen not to pick it as it resides next to a public footpath.
We picked two bags (1.5kg) and made some pesto. There are loads of recipes on the internet.
I recommend the following:
Wild garlic (briefly blanch in boiling water and put into iced water, supposedly removes bitterness and enhances colour – not entirely convinced but does help wash them and remove dirt)
Lemon rind and juice
toasted nuts (pine though expensive at present)
salt & pepper
I have removed the need for cheese as the nuts do a good enough job
After blanching the wild garlic, roughly chop and put into a food processor (if you haven’t got one try a pestle & morter or again if haven’t got chop finely)
Add a bit of the other ingredients and finally add the oil. Mix, stop taste. Adjust to your liking. Some prefer a strong garlic flavour. Bear in mind wild garlic smells garlicky but is far milder once either cooked or mixed up. So you might add a chopped up clove of garlic.
I would add a small amount of lemon rind and juice as this can be quite powerful and also be careful on the salt too.
Once made put into sterilised jars with some oil on top which will prevent oxygen getting in and mold growing. Alternatively put into ice cube trays, let it set and then put into a bag for longer term storage.
This pesto can be used with pasta, alternative base for a pizza, drop into soup, add to salad. The list goes on
Just one other final note. We had to make some more pesto for our wedding. We used 50% ramson and 50% young nettle from the garden. The flavour was as good as the first batch. My recommendation is that you can use 50% nettle with almost anything else. Blanch the nettle for 30 seconds to remove the sting and proceed as per above.
I also had a bag of wild garlic left over. Last year I left it in a plastic bag and it went off. This year I briefly blanched them as per above, whizzed them up in the food processor and then put them into ice cube trays as per below. I then took them out and put into freezer bags and I can now use them at a later date.
Pickled Rutabaga Strips 15/01/2013
Canadians and Americans use the term Rutabaga, while Australians use the word Swede, the Irish refer to them as Turnips, and the Scots call them Neeps (I think the Scots say it best). Whatever you decide to call this root vegetable one thing is for sure it can be prepared in a variety of ways.
This recipe comes from Liana Krissoff's book…
Torshi Left / Pickled Turnips 06/01/2013
I bought my finacee the amazing cookery book called ‘The Book of Jewish Food,’ by Claudia Roden.’ In it is a recipe for Torshi Left / Pickled Turnips. I have made loads of apple cider vinegar from apples in the garden so want to start using it up.
Ingredients for Pink Turnip Pickle:
1 beetroot, raw or cooked, peeled and cut in slices
3 or 4 garlic cloves, sliced
850ml (1 1/2) pints water
3-4 tablespoons of vinegar (I’ve used apple cider vinegar though she specifices red or white)
2 1/12 tablespoons of salt
Peel the turnips, cut in half or quarters, and put them in a jar (I used a wide mouthed kilner jar) interspersed with the slices of beetroot and garlic. In a pan bring the water, vinegar and salt to the boil, stirring to dissolve the salt (took several minutes). Then pour over the turnips. Let cool before closing the jar (took about 1/2 hour).
I have subsequently found out you need to leave them to pickle for about 10 days before eating.
I’ll update this blog once I’ve tried them as this is a first.
2012 in review 30/12/2012
The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.
Here’s an excerpt:
600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 2,800 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 5 years to get that many views.
Apple mincemeat 24/11/2012
Once again apologies for not blogging my foraging and cooking exploits on a more regular basis. My excuses range from laziness to having three engagement parties.
We did however use a variety of our foraged goods in these events. The fruit leather went down a storm with our friends children and plenty of our friends including some who do not eat fresh fruit. We marinated the shoulders and legs of mutton in our homemade chutney and cooked them in a fire pit. It creates great theatre, but takes up plenty of time on the day (I might write about this separately). We also made mulled wine with the rosehip wine I made last year, and it went down well too. We also made the elderberry pie, but used a gluten-free pie casing as I’ve got Chron’s and aiming to stay off gluten where possible. The elderberry capers were also a massive hit in the potato salad, and will be making a lot more of them for next year.
Right onto this blog, which are two apple mincemeat recipes I’ve used. I first made homemade apple mincemeat two years ago, but in typical fashion can’t find the recipe I used.
The first recipe is from a book called, ‘Good Simple Cookery’ by Elisabeth Ayrton, and the recipe can be found on page 411 under Christmas cooking. Elisabeth has a paragraph about preparation for Christmas which commences from 1st October. During this period she recommends making the mincemeat as the longer it is left to marinate the richer the flavour and consistency, though you could still make it on Christmas Eve. She has three mincemeat recipes, but I have taken the first which is titled ‘Mincemeat’ and can be found on page 415.
1 Ib raisins
1/4 Ib sultanas
1/2 Ib marmalade
1/2 Ib suet
1/2 teasp. mixed spice
1 gill brandy (142 ml)
1/2 Ib currants
1/4 Ib candied peel
1/2 Ib demerara sugar
1 Ib good cooking apples
Good pinch of ground ginger
It says to stalk the currants, and wash all the dried fruit. I was lazy and bought some home brand mixed fruit with chopped peel to the same weight as in the recipe. Grate the rind of lemon. Peel, core and slice applies, put all through mincer. I grated the apple and didn’t peel them and just mixed it all together. When minced, stir all the ingredients thoroughly, add lemon juice and brandy (used homemade rosehip liqueur), stir again, fill into jars and tie down so that they are airtight. I sterilised the jars in the oven. Keep in a dry, cool place.
I will probably make this again next year as it was so easy and quick to do (especially on a working night). The key thing for me is that the mixture soaks up each others flavours.
The second recipe I used came from a blog called ‘time to cook – online’ and I have taken their ‘guilt-free mincemeat‘ recipe. Again I used bought own brand mixed dried fruit with chopped peel, and put int he equivalent amount for the total in the recipe. I also added cooking apples instead of apple juice. I cooked this over a low heat to sweat out the juice from the apples and allow the rest of the fruit to absorb that moisture. The key thing is to ensure no moisture is left at the bottom of the pan. If you do then you are more likely to have soggy mince pies.