Tag Archives: Foraging

The Ripening Hambrook Harvest

From Little Acorns....,Rocking Dog

From Little Acorns….

I escaped the kitchen and ALL that china for a brief while yesterday. I was surely succumbing to cabin fever or should that be soapy sud kitchen fever! Real Live Rocking Dog provides the perfect excuse to drop the tea towel and  get out on the Frome Valley walkways which hug our fortunate doorstep.

How lovely to walk in sunshine and have blue fluffy cloud skies as a gorgeous last day in July canopy. Along the walk there were burgeoning and ripening crops of sloes, bullace, elderberries and blackberries. I spied a particularly luscious crop of blackberries over a pennant stone wall. Alas, they were unattainable with the river a watery barrier. A host of birds and other wildlife will have a veritable feast with no humans able to access and pick this precarious crop. Other bird food is ripening ready for the colder less plentiful days of late autumn and winter. Haws, rosehip and holly will serve them well.

Family folklore suggests that my fathers maternal family may have been Huguenots. Have you ever witnessed how  many French folk behave on a beach, they are not sunbathing, they are not swimming .. they are foraging! They have pails and spades, nets and lines and going in search of lunch or to find bait to catch lunch! Mussels, whelks, coastal plants, shrimp and crab are simply not safe. I see ripening elderberries and think of their addition in a summer pudding, an apple pie or crumble, ice cube or stew. Sloes and bullace again are destined in my mind to immersion in vodka or gin. I love to use the bloated alcohol soaked berries in rocky road and in ice creams, sorbets and warming winter stews. Just maybe, yes maybe I indeed do have French foraging blood flowing in my veins!

I love the way the Italians celebrate and give thanks to every crop they harvest and every animal they hunt. There are ancient walled hilltop towns close to where we live in Umbria which annually celebrate the bread, the oil, the wine, the saffron, the wild boar, the sweet chestnut, and so on! In the spring we were treated to the most wonderful feast at the little village hall in “our” village. The valley was vibrantly yellow with Mimosa trees and so this tree was celebrated along with World Women’s Day. The men (with undoubtedly some help of the female kind in the background!) of the village cooked for the women. We sat down to plates of crostini followed by two pasta courses (one with a pork ragu sauce and the other a tomato sauce). Lamb, steak and locally produced sausages cooked on a wood fired brazier together with a delicious dressed salad came next. Finally a specially baked mimosa coloured iced cake was proudly bought out and served with Grappa. Throughout the meal we had bottles of very quaffable locally produced red wine and then it was time to dance. Bad dancing translates and is understood in whatever language you speak! The Macarena danced for the final time it was time to wearily and bloatedly stumble home. Each woman was presented with a branch of Mimosa as she left together with hugs and hearty “buona notte’s”. It was such a lovely multi generational community event and we couldn’t have been made to feel more welcome. We do not celebrate anything enough in this country and unfortunately unlike the Italians many British would not embrace a party encompassing all generations.

Back to walking along my favourite Hambrook walk (nicknamed “Mr Badger walk” because of an old sett along its route) the earth was littered with crops that hadn’t quite made it. Amongst the carpet of last years autumnal leaf fall there were conkers, beech masts and cobnuts lying like jewels. They had simply dropped before their time or had been slain by squirrels not willing to wait!

At the stile there was a solitary doe eyed cow with Bully the blooming big bull. I couldn’t help thinking “poor cow!” Perhaps she’ll have her very own harvest in the spring.

Very soon it was time to return to THAT china … but I felt so much better after a brief but wonderful nature filled sojourn.

 

Future Harvest,Rocking Dog

Future Harvest

Ditto!,Rocking Dog

Ditto!

Unattainable Harvest,Rocking Dog

Unattainable Harvest

Too Early....,Rocking Dog

Too Early….

...Too Late!,Rocking Dog

…Too Late!

One For The Pan,Rocking Dog

One For The Pan

Late Summer Harvest,Rocking Dog

Late Summer Harvest

Christmas Harvest,Rocking Dog

Christmas Harvest

Spring Harvest? Poor Cow,Rocking Dog

Spring Harvest? Poor Cow

Summer Makes Way For Autumn

Looks Like Cocoa Sprinkled Meringue, Rocking Dog

Looks Like Cocoa Sprinkled Meringue

Summer seems to be making way for autumn. With the mix of rain and warmth there is a plethora of fungi in the hood. I would dearly love to do some foraging with old Bear Grylls, wouldn’t we all! Knowing what mushrooms are safe to eat, and ones that shouldn’t under any circumstances  be tossed in a pan would be supremely useful. I did make a tart last week which incorporated fresh shop bought mushrooms, porcini and smoked bacon. A tart doesn’t need to be sloppily eggy!

Mushrooms abound in the field, on fallen trees and on leaf covered tracks. Yesterday morning I took Real Live Rocking Dog on our favourite daily trek and got quite a fright. I spied what I thought was a small skull perched on a dry stone wall. On closer inspection and after a poke of confirmation with my “Wicked” brolly, it turned out to be a very ugly fungi. Phew!

A little later along the walk I narrowly missed a squirrel jumping into my hair. I really must book a hair appointment! Nearing home a pair of deer on hearing my footsteps sprung across the path and in the brook a heron patiently waited for a passing fish. Most walks really aren’t this eventful.

At home we are fortunate to have a Horse Chestnut tree in the garden. I love the tree, the sticky buds, the candle like blossoms and now the conker harvest. Unfortunately the squirrels love the conker harvest too and there are sparse pickings for the lovely little boy next door. Sorry Noah.

This is the time of year I like to create a nature table. It reminds me of the one we used to have year round at school. Beech masts, Old Man’s Beard, rose hips, conkers, sweet chestnuts, haws, acorns and oak apples would invariably put in an appearance as autumn beckoned.

In Zara one or two garments sport embroidered harvests. I loved the appliqué but sadly not the style of the clothes. Boo hoo!

I smelt our neighbours’ wood smoke last night and I couldn’t resist lighting the wood burning stove, the first of the season. Real Live Rocking Dog was adoring the cosiness. He purred contentedly like a cat!

Happy Autumn!

Ugly Fungi!, Rocking Dog

Ugly Fungi!

Fantastical Fungi, Rocking Dog

Fantastical Fungi

Fungi In A Tart, Rocking Dog

Fungi In A Tart

Sweet Chestnut Bounty, Rocking Dog

Sweet Chestnut Bounty

Favourite Daily Trek, Rocking Dog

Favourite Daily Trek

Seed Heads, Rocking Dog

Seed Heads

Autumn's Harvest, Rocking Dog

Autumn’s Harvest

Zara's Harvest, Rocking Dog

Zara’s Harvest

Log Pile At The Kennel, Rocking Dog

Log Pile At The Kennel