Tagwild food

3BT – puppy love, unusual blooms, kitty love, John love

1. I’m pawed, I’m licked, I’m nibbled all over. He can’t decide whether to eat his lunch or play with me so runs back and forth between both options until I’m tired. When I get back home, Lily thinks I smell very interesting and I’m grateful for her comparative calmness.

Later on, they play together in the garden. We watch over them like proud mums as they jump about with their helicopter tails.

2. I can smell garlic on the way up the hill but it’s only after leaving the meadow that I spot the former stream bed covered in wilting leaves. I decide to collect some more seed pods but without a basket, have to carry them in a bunch by their stems. I feel like I’m carrying a bouquet designed in the atomic era.

3. In turn, both of the cats visit my knee and I close my eyes to fully appreciate how they feel, sound and smell.

4. I’m so glad when I get a text just before midnight to say he’s on the train, the last train. Just over three hours later, I wake up suddenly and so do the cats and the dog. I hear keys in the door, a shuffling, a quiet unmistakeable cough. Lily’s tail starts banging on the bed – she knows who it is too.

3BT – finally finished, look closer, soapy spheres

1. The joy of a job finally finished – the last of our veg beds dug over and ready for seedlings. Years of ambivalence left them compacted and weed clogged so it’s been a chore to clear them out but I know that from here on in – next year and the years after that – it’ll be easier.

(1b. There are a couple of plants in the bed and the remnants of daffodils. I transplant what I can but one of the plants falls apart on the way. I salvage its blood red blooms.)

2. John explains that the wild food walk last weekend has changed how he looks at grassland – he no longer sees “just green” but the huge variety of different plants growing in a small area. We look around and spot sorrel, lady’s smock & purple thistles amongst the grass, clover & buttercups at our feet. Across the beck, the bank is full of flowering ramsons & chickweed, a cloud of white flowers giving way to late bluebell wilting up the hill. Definitely not “just green”.

3. I blow bubbles from the balcony. The wind catches them and they float up and out over the gardens.

Wild Food Fun: Wild Food Foray with SlowFoodWYorks @ Bolton Abbey

On Sunday, we went on a Wild Food Foray just north of Bolton Abbey, North Yorks, organised by Slow Food West Yorkshire and led by medical herbalist & wild food expert Jesper Launder.

It was a glorious day – beautiful countryside and super sunny but with a lovely cooling breeze and a river for Lily to cool off in – and under Jesper’s tutelage, we got to try over a dozen different plants. We also did a spot of crayfishing in the river (catching nasty, invasive Signal crayfish), which was a lot of fun.

There was really too much information to take in during the day and I’ll probably only be confident identifying a few of the things we tried – but it still was an excellent day and a great introduction to the potential finds out there. I’d highly recommend going on such a walk and we’ll certainly go on more in different locations/seasons.

Some of the things we tried (in rough order of trying them):
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3BT – ongoing, accurate, I have a thing for divisors

1. Everyday something changes so every day the walk is different. Today, we taste wood-sorrel and investigate mole hills.

2. Finding this quote in the comments of a fluff article about women with depression: “the sadness that runs under the skin of things, like blood, beginning as a trickle and ending up as a haemorrhage, staining everything.” Wow. (The last paragraph of the otherwise meh article also hit home too.)

3. The 18 newly-filled plant pots can fit perfectly arranged 3×6 on the tray for carrying, and as equally perfectly 2×9 on the water-catching tray in the porch. Deliciously neat.

Wild Food Fun: Wood-Sorrel aka Oxalis

I spotted a little patch of wood-sorrel in the woods while out walking the dog the other day – at first I thought it was clover but then I noticed the flowers were very different and a quick swizz in my wild flowers book positively identified it was wood-sorrel.

People have apparently eaten wood-sorrel for thousands of years – as both a food and for medicinal purposes. As there only seemed to be a small patch of it, we didn’t want to take too much – enough for a full salad or whatever – but tried a few leaves each.

At first, it didn’t seem to have any flavour at all but it quickly built up. I’d make the mistake of having something strong flavoured (a lemon-flavoured Nufofen Meltlet) before I left the house so I didn’t get an accurate picture of it but it was a little bitter, quite green* with a slightly spicy/peppery after taste. John said he thought there was a hint of lemoniness – not the whole time but just when he first bit into the leaf. Other people have described it as sour and I thought this might fit with John’s lemoniness but he said that wasn’t the case – it was nice lemon without the offputting sour. Apparently the dried leaves of common wood-sorrel can make a lemony-tasting tea so John isn’t lying – I’ll have to try it again when I’ve not got fake lemon in my mouth already.

* Between ourselves, John & I often describe things as tasting “green” – for example, salad is sometimes too green tasting and the wild garlic pesto we made a few years ago using older/post-flower wild garlic leaves was far too green – but we’ve never been able to accurately describe what “green” is, other than it being a bit bitter. Anyway, reading about wood-sorrel & the Oxalis genus, I’ve ended up reading a lot about oxalic acid too and I wonder if this is what our “green” is. Oxalic acid is found in a lot of green leafy edibles from lettuce to spinach & broccoli but is toxic to humans if they eat too much of it – it’s highly concentrated in rhubarb leaves and is what makes them poisonous to us – but is said to be “generally of little or no consequence” to people with a normal balanced diet & regular kidney function. Oxalic acid apparently tastes a little sour, which isn’t a million miles from our “bit bitter” description.

Wild Food Fun: Cleavers/grassgoose/stickybud leaves

I tried some cleavers today – ie, grassgoose, Galium aparine, or more commonly around here, the stickybud plant.

Since the plants are young and sprightly at the moment, I tried the leaves, which don’t exact garner winning reviews from my wild food books – one calls them “too bitter” to bother with, another says they make “tolerable if stringy eating”. I thought they were … ok. Bitter, yes, but not much more so than rocket. I only like rocket about every fifth time I eat it though so it’s not exactly my favourite taste. It wasn’t off-putting enough that I wouldn’t try again (especially since I’ve read somewhere that people usually need to try a new flavour about ten times before they like it) but it’s not going to make it onto my favourite food list.

I’m interested in trying the buds steeped to make a hot drink later in the season…