In with the new

Hello everyone and welcome to a wonderful new year of foraging adventures! It has been many many months since my last blog post and for this I apologise! In my defense…over the last few months I have….

 

Done a lot of foraging….. (also took loads of pictures to share with you of my foraging finds but then somehow never got round to posting them on here)

 

We went to Malta where I made Peter get off the bus so I could go foraging for figs and wild rocket.We didn’t have a basket so we put them in Peter’s hat and ate them while waiting for the next bus to roll around. They were the most intensely flavoured fruits I have ever eaten ….

 

Got an allotment…

 

Did yet more foraging….

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Went to Kenya where we had some close encounters with lions…

 

Peter fed a giraffe (the slobber put me off….eeeeew)

 

We saw so many elephants that we couldn’t be bothered to stop and take photos anymore, we just wanted to go back home!

 

We lost all of our beloved hens to a fox attack…..

 

Got a new brood of hens and ducks! They include such characters as Francis the Drake, Cokehead the duck (Cokie for short)*, Om nom (who tried to eat my trainer when it was still attached to my foot), Noot Noot, Chuck Berry and how can I forget….Cthulhu the Dark Egg Lord.

 

Demolished part of our house….

 

Then slowly rebuilt it to be bigger and better than before with (what will be) a wonderful teaching kitchen. at the beginning of last week it looked like this:

 

Had an absolutely wonderful time teaching 12 children from Victoria Primary School and some of their parents how to make preserves and heard something I never thought I would ever hear…”Rabbit poo tastes nice!”** (I trashed my phone and lost the lovely photos I took. :(

And now it is nearly time for my wild food walks to start again! People always say to me…”When is the best time of the year to go foraging?”. So here’s the answer….all year round!

Nature’s larder is a bountiful one. Even in the depths of winter, she still provides and you can come across lovely velvet shank mushrooms or clumps of chickweed clinging onto life in sheltered corners of your garden or a local woodland. As winter loosens its grip, little green things begin to tentatively poke their verdant heads above the ground. From the prickly to the smooth, edible to poisonous. All have their uses, be they to us or to the other life forms that depend on them.

 

 

For us humans, the wild food year begins as soon as the green shoots of plants and even leaves of trees begin to emerge. In the next few weeks, I shall be feasting on wild garlic, jack-by-the-hedge, linden “lettuce” and chickweed. The rings where my beloved St George’s mushrooms will grow are already starting to darken up in preparation for fruiting and there is always the hunt for the precious, delectable and elusive morel. As spring turns into summer, the blossom begins to perfume the air with heady fragrance. Elder, meadowsweet and linden all dust off their cream coloured petticoats to go dancing in the sun. The mushroom season begins in earnest with those summer delights of Fairy Ring mushrooms and Chicken of the Woods and as those disappear, they are replaced by the bounteous baskets of autumn that are overflowing with fruit and fungi.

 

Autumn gives way to winter and the cycle continues.

So if you are interested in learning about wild food, then really you need to come to at least 3 walks a year. Once in the early spring, once in the summer and once in the autumn. People think that the plants they see will be the same all year round but the remarkable thing is, other than a few things like nettles that cling on all year long, you will learn about lots of new things at every walk. And given that we have been known to cover over 30 different edible wild things at a single walk, the more you come, the more likely you are to remember what things are!

 

A few things are changing this year. Due to the rising costs of everything, I am increasing the cost of the meals from £5 per person to £7.50 for adults and £6 for students, unemployed people and children. For those of you who have come on these walks before and stayed for the meals, you will know that this is still stupendously good value.

 

With my lovely new teaching kitchen, I will be starting preserving courses as well as a supper club. Dates of these will be posted on the website and booking will be in the same manner as for the walks.More information about these can be found on the relevant web pages.

 

In the meantime, enjoy the beautiful weather as we have it and keep your eyes open for those first wonderful shoots of spring.

*She was born with the duck equivalent of a cleft palate and has only one large nostril instead of two. The name came naturally

**It wasn’t really rabbit poo. We made damson and bullace jam and the bullaces looked suspiciously like what the Were Rabbit would have pooed..

Muhaimina Said-Allsopp