Archive for the ‘wild foods’ Category

elderflower turkish delight
Just when you think you have tried all the good elderflower recipes – we have elderflower champagne, elderflower cordial and elderflower  fritters here every year, along comes another one. And it’s a winner: elderflower delight.

I’ve made Turkish delight before, but without success, either it didn’t set, or set into hard rubber.  But this one is just right, and I shall use it as the base for other flavours… but when elderflowers are in season, and you have an abundance of champagne, eaten more fritters than you ought to, and have a year’s supply of cordial,  what can you do.  The recipe is from the river cottage hedgerow handbook, and they have helpfully put it on their website too

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blackberry vinegar

blackberry vinegar
It has been – still is a bumper year for blackberries this year.

We have had blackberry and apple crumbles, made apple and blackberry jelly, blackberry cordial, made and drank lots of blackberry and raspberry smoothies, started blackberry and apple gin, and have a lot in the freezer.

Freezer space being a bit limited, and still lots of harvest going in, I have looked to other things to make with this bounty – and came across blackberry vinegar:

blackberry vinegar

450g (1lb) blackberries

600ml (1 pint) white or cider vinegar

450g (1lb) white sugar

Mix the blackberries and vinegar together. Cover and leave somewhere cool and not too light, for four days, stirring every day.

Strain and measure the resulting liquid into a pan, and add 450g of sugar for every 600ml of vinegar.

Heat gently to dissolve the sugar then bring to the boil.  Bottle in sterilised bottles with non metal tops.

Use as a dressing, or dipping vinegar, or as a sauce with many sweet and savoury dishes. I am also told that diluted with hot water to make a ‘cold cure’

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slapton sands in the morning

It feels in a way as though summer is already drawing to a close, and so even more important to grab the sunny days. Himself woke me this morning announcing it was a lovely day and we should breakfast on the beach. I dragged myself out of bed muttering that the tide was wrong and our beach would be covered, but we could head to Slapton sands instead, and himself could also indulge in his summer hobby of fishing-not-catching. And so the rod was slung into the car and off we went.

And it was beautiful.

He fished:
col fishing slapton
We breakfasted:
hot choc marshmallows
yep that is hot chocolate and marshmallows and grated chocolate no less.

Then in a break from the normal routine, himself did some actual catching

And here it is, recorded for posterity, his first fish. A bigun. He asked me what he should do – this actual catching of fish being a novel thing, and I told him to cloche it, (I really should stop mixing up cosh and cloche… ) unhook it and bung his feathers back in the sea quick – as there were three of us and only one fish. This he dutifully did, and the landing of this fish was noticed as the beach filled suddenly with other hopefuls casting out, including a kayaker and a Labrador dog fetching sticks… I’m not convinced the dog owners were really helping…. Despite this, he still reeled in more, and for once returned home with our bounty, and had fresh mackerel for lunch.

Simple pleasures.

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hazelnutsIt’s been a bumper year for hazelnuts, I get bombarded just walking down the green lane to check the animals and birds, and I am gathering a bowlful like this every day at the moment.

So what to do with them?  Thankfully they can sit in their shells quite happily, for months, no extra pressure on the freezers.  Just as well or they would have to stay on the lane floor.

We like to crack them open, roast them briefly until deliciously crispy and crunchy – and they are very scoffable at that stage, but even better  is to mix them into cookies:

hazelnut and chocolate chip cookies


45g bar of black chocolate

3 oz butter

2 oz sugar

4 oz self raising flour

Shell the hazelnuts, until you have about half a mug full. Put them on a tray and roast them at the top of a warm-hot oven until crunchy (10 minutes or so). This can be done in advance and stored in an air tight jar. Chop the chocolate into lumps, about the same size as the nuts. Blend  the butter sugar and flour  until it forms a ball. Now knead the nuts and chocolate into the ball of dough. If you have just roasted the nuts, the heat will start to melt the dough, so work quickly.

Roll walnut size balls and place on a greased baking tray, spread apart. Bake at the top of an the oven at about 150C. They are done when they have spread out and are slightly browned. Transfer to a rack to cool down.

makes about 12

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elderflower fritters

I know ‘up North’ The elderflowers are probably only just out, but here they are over. It was a fantastic year for elderflowers, but it was later than usual, but the conditions obviously suited the elder trees as the flowers were bigger and more plentiful than ever.

We rapidly made and froze our yearly supply of cordial, made far more elderflower champagne than usual – but it seemed so perfect to have lots of chilled drink on hand whilst it was so hot, and nothing quenches the thirst like elderflower champagne ( my version being a soft drink), and we had elderflower fritters.

But alas, apart from the stash in the freezer saved for that winter festival thingy, we are down to the last bottle of champagne.

I think the seasonality of it makes it all the more special, and we shall relish the last.

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This week has been gloriously hot and sunny.  I say glorious – I mean in a factor 40, hat wearing, fair skinned, avoiding the midday sun, good for barbecues but not ideal for the garden sort of way.  Watering has taken forever and we have had to plant out the last of the plants in the evening so the poor things didn’t have to take the full blast of the sun.

But it has been enjoyable too, with social gatherings around the barbecue, and evenings sat outside after the sun has gone down still enjoying the atmosphere. What I wish I spent more time doing is sitting in the shade of our pergola.  The clematis has smothered the southern side and is marching to take over the rest – which is great since I worried we had killed it when we put the pergola up and had to cut the clemmie back hard only last year.
in the shade of the pergola
Inside is a delight – sitting on a lounger amongst the hardy geraniums and granny’s bonnets, with bumble bees busily working their way around, and the flowers of the clematis glowing with the sunlight that I am shielded from.  I promised myself the next spell of good weather I will spent more time lurking in there!

And it must be summer because the elderflowers are out – I have started my first batch of elderflower champagne, ordered a lot of citric acid for cordial futures and we had our first elderflower fritters of the season,

Rain promised over the next few days – which the garden desperately needs, so no summer shade for me for a while.

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runner beans




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