Ain't no Mountain...
There are days when I do things that I think were a good idea at the time, then realise….maybe not.
This Saturday was just such a day. One of my very close friends and I have been meaning to do something together over a weekend but the fates have been conspiring against us for months. Either I was busy with a wild food walk, or we were away. Finally, we realised that both of us were free and decided to go on an extra special jaunt to the Dales. B had been told about a fantastic set of waterfalls at Ingleton and we decided that we would go there. Armed with the mandatory foraging stick, basket, and my amazing new ceramic foraging knife, we bundled into B’s little blue micra and tootled off.
When we arrived at Ingleton, we parked the car and headed off to the falls. This was where the silly ideas began to creep into our heads. What if, instead of following the trail and paying £10 for the priviledge, we looped round and went through the neighbouring fields where there was a designated path. We thought to ourselves that this way, we wouldn’t have to pay, and could have a much more exciting walk. Well…….exciting isn’t really the word I would pick. More…..spine-tinglingly terrifying (for me at least!) and this is why..
That red line on that steep cliff is where I ended up scootling down to get to the path. And let me tell you, I have never been so terrified in my life. I hate heights. I remember one wild food walk where, rather than walk down the hill, I decided to get down on my bum and roll myself down over the beech mast, much to the amusement of all my foragers.
After trying to follow B down the cliff that she’d picked, I froze, nearly burst into tears, and, convinced that I was going to die, dragged myself back up to the top and clung onto a tree for dear life. B found me an easier route down that involved less climbing and more undignified scooting down on my bum while clinging onto rocks that kept dislodging and only just missing B who was standing below me.
We eventually got down onto the path and you know what? I think that the next time I go back, I will just pay the £10. Because the views were worth every penny. I come from a country where everything is on a much grander scale. When we say “Waterfall” in Kenya, we don’t mean a 6 foot drop of water surrounded by gentle rapids, but a majestic 30 metre tall roaring beast of plunging fury. As we followed the path, the falls got bigger and bigger.
Then we reached the final crescendo that was this cataract.
Sometimes, when you go out foraging, you don’t actually find very much. What with the recent frosts, we found shrivelled up honey fungus everywhere that had fallen prey to autumn’s icy fingers. Other than a couple of overgrown specimens that were inedible and a huge ring of clouded agaric, there wasn’t much to forage. (Which in the end was a good thing as I had to tie my basket to my backback to make it down the mossy banks.)
What we found that was pretty amazing though, was the honey fungus mycelium. This mushroom is also known as the bootlace or bootstrap fungus due to the way its mycelium looks like black bootlaces winding their way round trees. It tends to be under the bark, but where the trees have died and the bark fallen away, you can see it. Like a black alien lifeform trying to take over the world.
So when you’re out walking this autumn and see this, black stuff on the trees, do remember where you found it and keep an eye on it. You may be lucky enough to find some scrummy honey fungus. And if you do, here’s a recipe just for you.
Roasted Red Pepper and honey fungus patties
This is a recipe I invented for a recent wild food walk were we had a vegan who wouldn’t be able to eat my usual egg and dairy based offerings. They are really yummy, very easy to make, and taste equally good cold as they do hot.
Honey fungus needs to be blanched before cooking. You chuck them into plenty of water, bring to the boil, boil for 5 – 10 minutes then drain and use in whatever recipe you like.
1 cup honey fungus
3 large potatoes, boiled and mashed
I shallot, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 roasted red pepper, finely chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
Finely chopped fresh thyme
2 cups of plain flour
Salt and pepper
Sautee your shallot in butter until nearly translucent then add the garlic and cook for another minute or so. Remove and add to the remaining ingredients and mix thoroughly. Use your hands to mash it all together so that it clings to itself then form into small patties.
Stir just enough water into the flour to make it into a thick batter. Coat the patties in the batter then shallow fry them until golden. Serve with wedges of lime and enjoy!