How to feel alive, destress and get connected to the earth. Go foraging and hunt in her green glades.
Any interaction with nature makes me happy, and non other than discovering the free alive foods that are in our fields, gardens, hedgerows, forests and mountains. And I love sharing this passion with my children who are getting good now at foraging themselves. So the first recipe of the season I deliver to you is Wild Garlic Butter that is fantastic smeared over succulent steak, sessional vedge, fish or pushing up into the skin of a roasting chicken, what ever you do the taste is delicious.
The Ramsden (wild garlic) that I have picked come from the banks of Loch Earn on the way to Comrie from Lochearnhead. Along the roadsides and all the way down to the shore and stretching up into the forests, this verdant carpet of green moves across the terrain like a battalion of soldiers. White flowers emerge at the top a sphere dappled with six pointed petal flower heads, two star tetrahedrons interconnecting making a merkaba the name means chariot and the flavour for sure will take you on a memorable journey!
30g/1oz wild garlic leaves
140g/5oz generous 1/2 cup butter
Grated Zest of 1 lemon
Salt and Pepper
1 Wash and finely chop the garlic leaves, then using a knife to fold and mash the garlic into the butter with the lemon zest. Season with salt and pepper to your taste. Roll the butter between two pieces of greaseproof making a pipe shape and then place in the fridge to harden up.
Whats left in the cupboard? I find it often lends itself to some of the most creative dishes with a good twist on taste. And today the mix of the below ingredients delivered a surprisingly good culinary nutty delight.
This Risotto made a perfect dish after a hearty walk up above the snow line to see an old sheiling settlement in Glen Lochay called Allt Dhuin Croisg. Highly recommended walk.
Recipe Serves: 4
You will need 4 courgettes
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 large garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
2-3 tbsp olive oil, plus extra to drizzle
A squeeze of lemon juice
Small glug of white wine vinegar
550-600ml vegetable/chicken stock
200g risotto rice (Carnaroli or Arborio)
100ml dry white wine
200g wild mushrooms, cleaned and halved or sliced if large
2-3 tbsp freshly grated Parmesan
1. Heat the oven to 200°C/ gas mark 6.
2. Halve the courgettes lengthways and score the flesh in a criss-cross pattern. Arrange the cut side up on the tray. Season lightly and scatter over the garlic slices. Drizzle with olive oil and squeeze over a little lemon juice. Bake for 30-40 minutes until the courgettes are soft. Let them cool slightly, then roughly chop the flesh.
3. For the risotto, bring the stock to a simmer in a pan. Heat another medium saucepan and add a tablespoon of olive oil. Stir in the rice and cook, stirring, for a minute. Pour in the wine and small glut of white wine vinegar and let it bubble to reduce down until the pan is quite dry. Gradually add the stock, a ladleful at a time, stirring frequently. Let the rice absorb most of the stock in the pan before adding another ladleful.
4. When the rice is al dente, stir in the chopped courgettes and turn off the heat. Leave the risotto to stand for a few minutes.
5. Meanwhile, heat a wide frying pan and add one to two tablespoons of olive oil. Tip in the mushrooms, season and toss over a high heat for three to four minutes until they are golden brown and any moisture released has been cooked off. Add the mushrooms to the risotto, along with a little more boiling stock if you prefer a ‘wet risotto’. Stir in most of the Parmesan and adjust the seasoning.
6. Divide the risotto among warm plates and sprinkle over the remaining Parmesan and drizzle a little olive oil mixed with a few drops of truffle oil over each dish and serve with crusty bread.
The pure white circle represents, completeness and inner contentedness.
Happiness is an attitude we are born with, and when we first start making judgements and lose our innocence, we also lose this quality of happiness and we begin to seek it outside ourselves. Happiness is not the same as enjoyment. We can do many things we enjoy but they do not make us happy. Most people will continue to search for something else they enjoy, others will give up in belief that happiness lies somewhere or sometimes that in now out of reach. An adult will think that happiness was left behind in childhood, while the child can't wait to grow up so that they can be in control. It is never found until we find out that it is an attitude that lies within.
Happiness is, indeed, inherent in a child, but is lost as soon as innocence is lost.. When we first make judgements, we get caught in a role of competitiveness, never being good enough as we are. The qualities that can be obscured in a child that is still happy are that it is happy to be itself, with no need to be better, it can be honest with where it is at, it has simple trust, and can be proud of each little achievement. When it doesn,t judge, it has no need to blame others for its failures and hurts. Unlike many adults, if a child falls off its bike it doesn't immediately blame someone, or think that God struck it down, or that it is a karmic debt from several lifetimes ago etc. These judgements come with a loss of simplicity, and take away our ability to feel contented within ourselves.
Snow drop will restore the innocence that has been lost, and with it the simple happiness that comes from within, so that we do not have to seek it elsewhere. This does not mean that we no longer seek to enjoy ourselves. Enjoyment is a separate issue from happiness. When we are happy, we can also enjoy ourselves more fully, because that joy is not burdened by the need to bring happiness. If we are not happy within, we cannot bear rejection, because we have become dependant on outside love to replace that what is missing within. It is not enough to deal with the hurts of rejections. Many people spend a lifetime trying to do that, and it is never complete, until the happiness is found within that will make those rejections less important.
This is our next most important lesson on our spiritual path. We cannot grow further without encompassing the energy called happiness. To do this, we need to realise that it is attitude, not something that can be found outside, that it depends on innocence, and that we once had it, but have lost it. Snowdrop will restore the qualities of innocence and happiness, and thus make us immune to outside rejections. Its signature is the pure white flower, growing out of the harsh winter before any other flower, signifying new life, hope and pureness of a new born child, untainted as yet by the illusions of the world.
From the works of Peter Aziz Spiritual Allies from the plant kingdom.
Hunting season and I returned home to find two Partridge hanging on my front door. Oh what to do with them. So being winter a pie seemed fitting. I left the Partridge to hang another two weeks much to my 3 children embaressment and uneasy feeling of opening and closing the front door. Asking me each day more sternly, 'please mum', move those birds its really embarrassing NOW!
Friends, family, fire, and wine we celebrated and relished the taste. Its flavour and texture not unlike chicken yet with that rich wild game taste. Thank you for the gift both from friend and nature.
Portion size 6
1-1/2 tsp (7 mL) salt
3/4 tsp (4 mL) pepper
4 bay leaves
8 slices of streaky bacon
4 oz (113 g) ceps or chanterels
1 large onions, diced
2 carrots, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
3 sprigs fresh thyme
4 foraged crunched Juniper berries
2 cardamon pods
1½ glass's (125 mL) dry white wine
1-1/2 cups (375 mL) garden chopped leeks.
1/4 cup (60 mL) all-purpose flour
2 egg yolks
Sprinkle partridges inside and out with half of the salt and all of the pepper. Lay bay leaf over breast of each; wrap each with 2 strips bacon. (Use 2 bay leaves and 4 bacon for each pheasant.) Spread onions, carrots and celery in greased roasting pan; place birds, breast side up, on top. Roast in 450°F (230°C) oven until juices run clear when thigh is pierced and leg joints are loose, 30 to 40 minutes for partridges. Let cool enough to handle. Reserving bones, skin and bacon, strip meat off birds; slice and set aside.
Remove stems from mushrooms; slice caps thinly and set aside. In large saucepan, combine mushroom stems, roasted vegetables, thyme, cloves, reserved bones, skin and bacon and 4 cups (1 L) water; set aside. Add wine to roasting pan and bring to boil, scraping up any brown bits; pour into saucepan and bring to boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 1-1/2 hours. Strain into clean saucepan; skim off fat, reserving 2 tbsp (25 mL). Boil over high heat until reduced to 1-1/2 cups (375 mL).
Savoury Pastry: Meanwhile combine all-purpose plain flour, salt, nutmeg and pepper. Cut in butter until in small chunks. Rub between hands until it becomes like breadcrumbs. Add a desert spoon or two of cold water and combine with a knife. Dust your surface with flour, gather the mixture into a ball without over working it fold it into itself 2-4 times and role out
Divide in half; form into balls and role into discs. Wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes or until chilled.
In a saucepan, heat reserved fat over medium heat; fry leeks, stirring often, until softened, 5 to 6 minutes. Sprinkle with flour; fry, stirring, for 1 minute. Stir in reduced stock and bring to boil, stirring constantly. Add mushroom caps; boil for 2 minutes. Let cool slightly. Whisk in egg yolks. Stir in partridge meat. On lightly floured surface, roll out 1 of the pastry discs and fit into 10-inch (25 cm) pie plate; pour in filling. Roll out remaining pastry; place over filling. Trim and crimp edge; brush top lightly with milk, for a golden look, cut out shapes from pastry scraps or cook with feet sticking out for a very authentic look!
Cut vent holes in top.
Bake in bottom third of 425°F (220°C) oven for 15 minutes; reduce heat to 375°F (190°C) and bake until golden and filling is bubbling, about 30 minutes.
In the Hedgerow of Wester Auchraw Croft I inherited the great Rugosa Roses know as the mother of all Rose hips! It is the gift barer of vitamin C. Diluted with about five parts cold water, it makes a delicious cordial drink, which kids love. It's also an indulgent alternative to maple syrup on ice cream, waffles and pancakes.
RECIPE: ROSE HIP SYRUP
1 Kilo of Rose hips washed and chopped
1 Kilo of caster sugar
You will also need a jelly bag (cotton cloth or muslin and a sieve).
Fill a pan with 2 Liters of water and bring it to the boil throw in the chopped rose hips and bring it back to the boil again then just let it stand for 30 mins to infuse.
Strain the mixture through a jelly bag or alternatively line a sieve in muslin set over a large bowl. Leave suspended allowing all the juices to run through.
Put the pulp back in the pan with another litre of water and repeat as before. Discard the pulp and combine the juices. Simmer until the volume has reduced by half then boil rapidly for five minutes. Let is cool and pour into warmed sterilised jars or bottles. Voila!
Its all been done before so why bother! Yet I have not done it myself and being an armchair spectator just does not cut the mustard!
RECIPE: ACORN BURGERS.
Makes 10 burgers
5 good hand full's of acorns, shelled and skinned.
1 tin of red kidney beans or beans of choice.
4 cloves of garlic.
4 tsp of cumin seeds
Good bunch of chopped parsley
1 tsp of paprika.
1 tsp of finely grated horseradish
Bread rolls of choice
Pepper & salt to taste
Root horseradish grated finely.
A dash of Balsamic vinegar.
Small squeeze of lemon juice.
The fun begins...find a great oak on your own or with family and friends. The acorns are laying under all the golden Autumn leaves so just scrape them back and like stars they appear.
When you get back home pour your gathered acorns into a baking tray and heat the acorns enough in a warm oven 50 degrees so its enough heat and release the skins from the acorns flesh. Ouch!
Then place the acorns in a muslin cloth and wash under hot water to remove any residue tannins once the water runs clear you are done.
Liquidise the acorns but keep rough for texture and a nutty bite, place in bowl. Same with red kidney beans but i went smooth. Place this and all the other ingrediants into a bowl and mix until quite stiff tasting as you go.
Shape the mix into round burgers and fry or cook both sides with a little oil.
Butter your bun and layer it with burger, garden greens, horseradish relish, accompanied with carrot, parsnip and potato crisps!
November, our first frost has hit deep. Perfecting the timing as the sub zero breath of nature helped split the skins of the astringent sloe. Its been a Sparse year for the sloe however i have picked enough today to share through the festive season with family and friends in front of the fire. (leaning to make fire presently with natures tool box only).
SLOE GIN. Less a recipe than a simple procedure.
Collect a few handfuls of sloes (500g, say), wash and weigh them, then prick each one with a skewer or a thorn from the bush itself.
Place the sloes into a sterilised wine bottle or Kilner jar until it's half-full, then add caster sugar equal to half the weight of the sloes. Top up with gin (no point wasting a premium brand here), pop in a stopper, give the bottle a good shake and leave somewhere cool and dark. Shake once a week for six to eight weeks and it's ready. Ready for Christmas and New-Year
A word of warning, though: not for nothing did the grand old dame of British food writing, Dorothy Hartley, dub sloe gin the original mother's ruin.
Exploring life in the country, foraging free foods from field hedgerow and garden to plate.
Luxury B&B lochearnhead in the loch lomand & trossachs National Park