Friday, 28 April 2017

Snail snacks

The village and surrounding woodlands are well and truly blooming. We've had a recent cold snap (a tiny frost on the car one morning too), but the warmth of early April brought many flowers with it. I don't think we'll be lighting the fire anytime soon.

The roadsides are flagged by cow parsley and dandelions, the woodland is carpeted in wild garlic and bluebells, and our garden is brimming with gorse, blue and whitebells, and lily of the valley. A plump little red breasted robin sings most days from his perch in the hawthorn, and sparrows dart around our outdoor table eating the bread I put out for them.

There are tiny seedlings popping up, and the vines covering the front of our cottage are unfurling and beginning to bud. These are all signs of new, and as yet unidentified, life. Until they make themselves known, I was going to leave the lily of the valley flowering in the garden so that there would be some pretty things to look at when I pad outside, barefoot, with my cup of tea. In the end I snipped them and brought them inside to sit on my nightstand. A selfless act, actually, because they were being mercilessly munched by snails. I think it would have been an altogether bigger crop of lily of the valley had it not been for the snails. A lot of the new tender leaves were gobbled up and damaged beyond hope earlier in the season.

A small posy was all I got. Still, better me than the snails.

We are eagerly watching and waiting for the wisteria to bloom and cover the village in cascades of purple. It seems very slow to begin flowering here in the south west. London and the east seems to be awash with wisteria hysteria already. I know it will be worth the wait though.

Until then I'll enjoy my tiny posy of lily of the valley with a scent that defies its delicate size.

Kate  x

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Foraged woodland garlic

Before spring really got underway, I had been impatiently anticipating the appearance of woodland garlic, or ramsons. It is not something we have in Australia, but I had seen photos of beautiful and vast carpets of wild garlic in flower in woodland undergrowth. I couldn't wait to see, smell and pick it for myself. The day we moved into the cottage I could smell the subtle scent of garlic on the breeze. It wasn't hard to identify the fresh leaves of wild garlic shooting up from the sodden earth. I crouched down, plucked a leaf and crushed it between my fingers. It is unmistakeable. Our village is surrounded by it, in the woods, by the roadsides and on the banks of the brook. 

Although the leaves have been pushing up for well over a month now, the white flower heads are just beginning to open en masse. It won't be long before that woodland undergrowth is a sea of white.

Wild garlic is vibrant, lush and glossy, and such a welcome sight after the depths of winter. The most wonderful thing about wild garlic though, is that it is an abundant and delicious wild food, perfect for harvesting and using in everyday cooking. I am losing count of the ways I have been incorporating it in our meals. 

I've chopped the leaves up and stirred them through scrambled eggs. I've spiked mayonnaise with it for using in homemade sushi. We've used our food processor to turn pocketfuls of leaves into pesto. That pesto has served as a dip with crackers, has been spooned over jacket potatoes with sour cream, and been stirred through pea risotto. I am yet to have it on pizza or pasta, but I am sure it will happen soon enough. It is really very versatile. Imagination is the only limitation.

I am planning to make a few batches of pesto in the coming weeks. It freezes very well, and I'd like to have a supply of it to use in cooking come the autumn and next winter.

Wild Garlic Pesto

wild garlic leaves
toasted pine nuts
olive oil
parmesan cheese

Use a food processor to mix these ingredients in quantities to suit your taste and achieve your own desired consistency. Be sure that you are harvesting wild garlic though. The leaves are quite similar to those of lily of the valley- which is poisonous to humans.

Kate  x