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4 May 2015

Blackberry leaf tea tastings

I’ve tried blackberry leaf tea twice now. Adele in Nozedar in The Hedgerow Handbook suggests that this is best made with fresh young leaves gathered in spring, so I took home some of the tender new growth I saw on my Downs walk yesterday and brewed them up that afternoon. And today I cycled to the wooded area near Kings Weston House to sit outside with a book and a sandwich. I’d brought a flask of hot mint tea with me, which I’d brewed from some mint leaves I’m growing at home, but it wasn’t very strong. So I thought why not add some blackberry leaves from my immediate surroundings. The tea has a pleasant ‘green’ taste and is said to have a soothing effect on a sore throat. You can also dry the leaves to make tea and I’ve read that you can ferment them as well, which causes them to exude a floral scent. I’m intrigued and want to try this!

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3 May 2015

Wild salad bowl

I went out on the Downs today – where I was in full sun one moment and under sprinklings of rain the next - and gathered a selection of wild edibles. I assembled these into a mini salad which I plan to add this evening to some locally grown leaves from The Severn Project. I’ll add a scattering of sunflower seeds and walnuts and a vinaigrette dressing, mmm! Here is the list of wild salad makings I collected: daisy leaves and petals, dandelion leaves and petals, violet leaves and flowers, very young plantain leaves, blackberry buds, yarrow leaves.

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2 May 2015

Starting off

I recently went on an inspiring urban foraging walk in the heart of Bristol. Despite considering myself a bit of a seasoned forager, marking each spring with bundles of wild garlic, the summer with the perfume of elderflowers and the autumn with the juicy tang of blackberries, I discovered that there is a lot more wild food all around us in the city than we might expect! This has set me off on a bit of a wild food kick and I thought it might be a fun challenge to see how many different foraged foods I can make use of in the kitchen during the Food Connections Festival. Last night I started off in a very, very local way by adding a few dandelion leaves from the garden to my fish stew. They added a delicious bitter bite that went really well with the fish (pollock) and other flavours in the stew (potatoes, garlic, onion, carrot, a handful of chopped spring greens and a splash of creamy milk). I used organic veg and washed everything down with a bottle of locally produced ale!

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1 May 2015

Foraged food challenge

I want to see how much wild food, foraged from right here in the city, I can make use of during the Food Connections Festival in Bristol, 1-9 May 2015.

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29 April 2015

Re-planting and insulating vegetable seedlings!

Over the first May bank holiday period and Bristol Food Connections Festival I will be out in the garden re-planting some of the vegetable seedlings that I planted a couple of weeks ago. Not many have germinated. I think that this is partly because I did not use seed compost, but multi-purpose, and also as it has been a bit colder than expected. Any tips welcome!
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17 May 2014

operation; flavour

My mum was cooking a lovely, sticky honey thai chicken for out friends, and i thought, what a brilliant opportunity to test out my skills on other people. I decided to make a starter and perhaps receive some feedback from them rather then just my parents and brother! I decided to get my flavour combination skills brain on and make spring rolls...with a twist! (although i actually ended up doing triangles!) i am ashamed to start off with saying that did not in fact, make the filo pastry, but this seems a big challenge to attempt. but perhaps I'll give it a shot in the not to distant future! Anyway, i did the usual, bean sprouts, carrot, sweet chilli sauce, spring onions and pepper. Then to spruce it up and give it a bit of "oomph" i added lime juice, paneer cheese and corriander. i ummed and ahed about perhaps adding a little ginger and garlic, but i was worried that it might not go with the cheese, or over power the original flavour of the traditional spring roll? what I am pleased to say about this starter is that they came out the oven crisp and flakey, and with a bit of hot chilli sauce to get the taste buds going, my family and friends loved them! I am also proud to say that the spring onions and peppers were local and the chicken my mum made was entirely free range!
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13 May 2014

Rubbish challenge: post-match analysis

This is my kitchen bin for the 11-day duration. And no, I don't shop in Tescos - I just find their bags to be a suitable place for putting my rubbish... The bin is a bit slimmer than usual, but there are still a couple of things that slipped through - a vacuum-packed cheese wrapper and a non-recyclable plastic chocolate tray. Also, someone caved-in to the cat and cracked-open a few plastic pouches. This is a valuable lesson for future challenges - you need buy-in from everyone in the house in order to succeed, and I'm not talking about the household pets... So, what's changed? I've remembered 3 times to take veg bags back to the greengrocers, I'm going to carry on getting my coffee ground to order (and sold to me in a paper bag), and I'll probably stick with looseleaf tea if I can find some which avoids the inner foil packaging. I think I've probably managed to instill the beginnings of some better habits over the course of 11 days of actively thinking about unnecessary food packaging, so I'm hopeful that this is something I'll continue to think about when I'm shopping.
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13 May 2014

growing herbs

I have various herbs growing in my garden, it is absolutely brilliant knowing that we don't need to stock up because its right in our back garden! And as always, a meal always tastes better with homegrown produce! Knowing there are no pesticides or preservatives on them makes it so much easier.
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12 May 2014

Shopping-the results

I did actually manage to do some buying and not just eating over the food connections period! This is the result of my food producers market purchases, tasty it was too!
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12 May 2014

Cooking for my family

we were having spaghetti Bolognese for dinner, so i decided to follow it up with a theme of italian! To start we had pesto, red pepper and mozzarella on grilled cibatta slices and then for desert we tiramasu, which is so quick and easy, i was very surprised!
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