I love birthdays. I guess it’s the kid in me but nothing cheers me up more than singing happy birthday and blowing out candles. That is why the walk this Saturday was especially fun. It involved birthday cake.
This Saturday we celebrated two of their birthdays by going on a super special walk to a secret location. We had an unbelievably bountiful walk. Filling one and a half baskets full of wood blewits, shaggy parasols, ceps, yellow and red cracking boletes and a perfect brown birch bolete.
One thing that I love about nature is its bounty. The variety and quantity of wild food you can find out there is just mind boggling. Even walkers like one of our birthday girls, Sophie, who has been on (I think) 3 walks as well as a weekend long intensive foraging course, still found things that she hadn’t seen before. It is a never ending journey of discovery and knowledge accumulation. And this isn’t just true for the new foragers who come on my walks, but for me too. Although for me, new knowledge tends to come from new books. Every so often, I will treat myself to a new book about wild plants and fungi and their uses. The most recent book was “Hedgerow Medicine” by Julie Bruton-Seal and Matthew Seal. This book covers just 50 plants and their herbal uses but does so in so much detail and with so many fascinating stories and concoctions that it is easily my favourite book on wild herbs (and I have a lot of them!). For example, did you know that eating bilberries can help improve your night vision by boosting blood circulation in the capillaries in your eyes? Well…I certainly didn’t.
It’s also one of the things that is the most enjoyable for me out of these walks – that it is as much about knowledge sharing as it is about me imparting my knowledge. I have learned that you can use horse chestnut leaves to wash your clothes when camping, that dandelion sap is an excellent cure for warts, that plantain flower heads can be used to pelt people with, and that their leaves can be used as an alternative to drawing the short straw.
Some of the fun things we did this weekend were; played with Himalayan Balsam (not only is it great fun because the seed pods explode in your hands but they taste great too, especially in curries), foraged a wonderful foraging stick (O.K, I have to come clean here, it was my stick -I got so excited by all the wonderful mushrooms that in my rush to runn of and pick things, I put my stick down then forgot all about it!) and nibbled on raw deceivers which are a wonderful treat!
After the walks we normally cook up a wild food feast. While we did do it on Saturday, after the SUnday walk I had to run off and there just wasn’t time. On Saturday I brought along with me a flame roasted red pepper and honey fungus frittata, some honey fungus and pepper patties cooked in batter for our vegan, and an elderberry and apple cake with elderberry icing.
We pan-fried a selection of the mushrooms we picked in herbs and made scrambled eggs to go in our baguettes. Simple but oh so delicious!
There’s nothing quite like cookingfood we’ve just picked on a stove set upon a card table in the open airthen eating while sitting on a tarp in the grass (or for the organised few, on camping chairs). Heaven!