Tag Archives: foraging

rampaging ramsons!

Here are some ideas of what to make with ramsons, which are also known as wild garlic or bear’s garlic. It is more akin to chives than to the garlic bought in the shops. Not only is it free to pick in woodland areas from March to end of April but it is also quite diverse.

So here are some thoughts:
First off, you can make the easy classic wild garlic soup. This was originally a war-time soup. It is made with potato and ramsons and a dash of cream.

Shove a few handfuls of ramson leaves into a chicken, together with a lemon. This gives the chicken a sweet garlicy taste. Roast the chicken breast side down for the first hour. Then turn over for the last 30 minutes.  I made this on Sunday and it was to die for!

Jamie Oliver makes a ramson carbonara. He blends the ramsom leaves in with the carbonara sauce before adding the cooked spaghetti to it. I reckon this is a good way to introduce ramsons to children. Here’s hoping they are not discouraged by the green colour!

The first recipe that pops into people’s minds is of course the ever-popular  pesto. I like to make mine with a twist – using walnuts instead of pine nuts. For a milder pesto try sun-dried tomatoes, basil leaves and ramson leaves with the obligatory pine nuts, olive oil and pecorino.

Ramsons go well with eggs. So scramble your eggs and sprinkle freshly torn ramson leaves over it when cooked. Alternatively, you could make a light omelette.

Another way is to make a goats-cheese and ramson quiche.

Throw in a handful of torn leaves into some mashed potato, a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of sea salt.

Lastly, mix the chopped leaves with butter and lemon zest. Form it into a roll and freeze. Then when you have a fillet of salmon/steak cut off a piece as a sauce.

And there you have it! Now get picking…

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parsley honey

parsley honey

Parsley honey is one of the simplest things to make. It tastes good and can be used as a substitute in many different recipes. The recipe originated during the hard times of World War 2, when people found it difficult to get honey. It appears in many cookbooks of that time. This way of making honey is cheap and is great to give away as a present.

Parsley (Petroselinum Crispum) has long been regarded as a medicinal herb, being used to treat diuretic and stomach ailments. This recipe is probably not that healthy though because the prolonged cooking depletes the parsley of its minerals and vitamins, not to mention the large amount of sugar added to it!!

I made this recipe as the parsley in our herb garden grew so much that I had surplus. Besides freezing lots, I had plenty more still to use.

Method

my trusty helper

Wash and roughly chop a large handful of parsley, including stalks. Place it in a pot and cover with water. Bring to the boil and boil for half an hour. Strain through a muslin square. To each pint of juice add 1lb of sugar and juice of 1 lemon. Bring back to boil and reduce heat. The sugar has to dissolve and the liquid becomes like a syrup. Pour into sterilised jars et voila.

This is delicious poured over a fruit salad or muesli and natural yoghurt for breakfast.

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homemade autumn crumble

seren and i went picking blackberries and elderberries in the park last weekend. we had so much fun and it was hilarious seeing seren eat a bitter blackberry and crumple up her nose in disgust. she was a sight afterwards with her purple stained lips.  i got a lot of funny looks from passing strangers, falling into bushes, trying to cut down elderberries, while olwyn sat abandoned in the stroller. she thought it was pretty hilarious though. i wasn’t sure what to do with our findings so i thought i could concoct a crumble of sorts from scratch. all was going well – the sweet smell was filling the house. until i decided i better move the oven rack down a notch as it was up too high in the oven. bad idea. i took out the rack with the crumble and, in slow motion,  the dish slid to the ground! well i let out the loudest yelp, frightening the bejaysus out of the girls. i grabbed a ladel and spooned the contents back into the dish and shoved it in the oven. thankfully, i salvaged the best part of it. we all enjoyed it after dinner, laughing at silly mami’s antics :)

autumn fruits

Ingredients

Freshly picked blackberries, rinsed

Freshly picked elderberries, rinsed

Frozen mixed berries

two apples

a few drops vanilla essence

ground almonds

Crumble mixture:

100g butter

100g stoneground wholemeal flour

100g lavender sugar

Method:

Mix the crumble mixture through your fingers until it becomes a breadcrumb consistency. Fill a pie dish with the fresh berries and use the frozen berries to bulk it up. Add the chopped, peeled apples. Pour over a capful of vanilla essence and sprinkle a liberal amount of ground almonds over the fruit. Pour over the crumble mixture and pop it into a hot oven for about half an hour. Serve warm with custard, icecream or a dollop of whipped cream.

Don’t drop the dish! Enjoy…

autumn crumble

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Wandering Yarrow

Common Yarrow

My walk to work usually takes about 40 minutes and it takes me through suburbs and a park. I always admire the foliage, flowers, trees and the birds singing. I love to watch the changing colours as the seasons turn.

This morning, I discovered common yarrow growing on the side of the footpath. There is nothing common about this little beauty. Not knowing at first what this plant/weed was, I picked a sprig and crushed the leaves. Wow, the smell was deliciously sweet. I looked it up and identified the plant.

Yarrow, or achillea millefolium, has a long extant history. It is said that Achilles, the greek warrior, used this herb to heal his wounded soldiers in the Trojan War. It has gained the name herbal militaris for its properties that aid the staunching of blood flow from wounds. It grows as a wildflower throughout Ireland and flourishes in sunny areas. Its leaves are green and feathery and it has little white daisy-like flowers from June until August.

Yarrow was a popular ward against evil. As a result, it has also been called the devil’s plaything.

Its medicinal properties make it a useful herb to use to fight colds and flus. It is good combined with elderflower in tea infusions as it can help promote sweating to rid fevers.

Its modern Irish name is athair taluin and in old Irish it may have been referred to as eimer. It is thought that the name of Cu Chulainn’s wife, Emer, may be derived from this plant.

Yarrow is a great plant to grow in an allotment. It attracts aphid eating insects such as ladybirds and lacewing. Therefore it would be ideal to plant it beside broccoli. I’ve read somewhere that, supposedly, yarrow leaves aid in a more rapid process on the compost heap.

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