Foraging Feed

Foraging for mushrooms

I love a good autumnal forage. At this time of the year, there's sloes to be found. I've found crab apples, elderberries and rose hips too in past. But my most exciting thing to forage for is, without a doubt, mushrooms. I think it's the challenge of mushroom hunting. I'm not very good at it and can't identify much, but the most common ones. But there is something gleeful about finding them. 

20151024_171046They are so expensive in the shops, so finding them is such a treat...especially when they are fried with garlic and a bit of butter. Mmmmm!!

It was mainly chanterelles that we found. But there are also three ceps somewhere in the depths of the basket.

I think we are going to try to dry some of them and see how that would be nice to have a stash to eat later this year when they are all gone. 


Chestnuts roasting...

This week I've spent quite a bit of time in the forest forging and managed to gather an enormous bag of chestnuts. I've been perusing The River Cottage Handbook on Preserves quite a lot lately (I've recently made spicy crab apple jelly from it and also beetroot relish) and spotted a recipe to make chestnut jam. Last year, I made creme de maron (vanilla and chocolate flavours)...but it doesn't keep well, so it was quite exciting to see a way to keep chestnut to enjoy off-season throughout the year. So my plan is to make a batch of the jam.



Now the last time I did anything with chestnuts, it was a real faff. Scoring, boiling and then roasting the chestnuts and then double peeling them when they are still hot...ouch, my fingers did hurt. It's worth it, but you do need to dedicate a decent amount of time to it. So this year, I thought I'd have a search online and see if there were any hints or tips for best ways of shelling them. I found a few articles which said you need to score half way around their middles (the round part of the chestnut)...and then roast them and they should open up like a clam. 

I gave it a go this morning and about half did actually pop out like a clam...I think I have some fine-tuning to do, as I think I might need to boil them for a few minutes before they go in the oven as I think the ones that didn't pop open might be due to them being too dry. So a few test runs are needed, but I'm quite please with the initial results. I'm having to roast in batches it does give me a  chance do some testing of the best method. 

I'm hoping I get to make the jam today and then, I might make some creme de maron and try glacing some of them...

Blackberry harvest

20150725_174233On Friday, there was no doubt that this was a "thank goodness it's Friday and nearly the weekend" day. It has been a tough week, starting from the previous Friday and I was really looking forward to a bit of down time. I actually had a few days off work, but unfortunately that doesn't mean a lot and results in cramming six days worth of work into three. There was also some drama/disaster/sad news to deal with and all the fall out from this.

Suffice to say, I was really looking forward to a relaxed weekend. Saturday morning was spent marketing. I do love wandering around markets and looking at all the fresh seasonal produce. I must admit I secret compare the veggies to my own home grown's only natural. I had some serious cauliflower envy, I can tell you. i'm lucky to get them before they bolt, let alone get anything of decent size. I think I saw some of the biggest cauliflowers I've ever seen on Saturday!!!

20150725_173921Anyhow, the afternoon was a great opportunity for a walk and a blackberry pick. We ended up with about 1 pretty much full carrier bag full of them.  I love blackberries. I can't help but remember back to foraging with my gran and grandpa with my little sister in tow. And I certainly re-employed my old picking habits - one for me and a few for the bag. Mmmmmmm, they were lovely. This first batch will become a crumble, but I want to go back and get a load to make into jam or maybe a jelly.