Apples!

I bet you think I’m crazy and that apple picking was months ago, but as the trees lose their leaves, suddenly apples seem to appear out of no-where

Ben leaping for apples

This picture was taken November 2009 near Henley on Thames and yesterday I spotted two previously unseen apples trees on my canal-route commute which I have been doing since June.  The first one’s apples overhang a pond – so i can count that as inaccessible, but will keep a close eye on the ‘bank side’ of it next year.

The other however, like the one in the photo, is laden, I was on my way home in a hurry with full panniers, but it certainly bears investigate another day.

The apples in the picture, when reached, were crisp and juicy, looking like Golden Delicious, but actually tatsting delicious!

Sloes (of course)

At the weekend I was lucky enough to be invited to join a small gorup of conservation colunteers doing some hedge laying along the Trans Pennine Trail near Renishaw.  http://www.transpenninetrail.org.uk/ .  Most of the hedge was hawthorn, but there was some blackthorn amongst it.  So that it would forgive us for the horrdenous thorns, one of two of the bushes were laden with sloes.  I picked them as I went along and by the time I was finished had enough to take home for Sloe Gin.

Its the easist thing in the world to make, and you don’t even have to fret about not having enough cos some got eaten on the way home – (if you haven’t ever tasted a sloe, you should try!!).  Pop the sloes in the freezer over night – sloes needed about a bag full – possibly a lb or so.  Pop them into a large bottle or jar or a even flask, pour over somewheer between 4oz and 8oz sugar and then pour in a bottle (75cl) gin.  Shake it until sughar dissolved and then shake it every so often (at least twice a day) for at least 2 weeks.  Then put it away somewhere dark and forget about it for at least 3 months (year is better, but not usually possible!).  Strain it through fine muslim or net curtain.  Drink it gingerly – like the best ever cough mixture only so so much better!

Walnuts

We’ve bin to France.  Wild Food there is pretty much de riguer.  They even go so far as having boar – and yes, we actually did see some – 3 in fact.  They were in the distance, crossing the road at a trot, but my goodness they aren’t half big!

I wondered whether it was an urban myth that Pharmacists in France are obligied to identify any mushroom they are presented with, but no, this is true.  I didn’t get the chance to test this out, I didn’t see many mushrooms at all, but what I did see were walnuts (and chestnuts, but I saw them in England too).  Walnuts lying all over the place.  No one picks them cos they all have walnut trees in their garden, so there they are just lying around waiting for me to pick them up and lug them home.

Luckily I had room in my rucksack for the two carrier bags full of walnuts that we were able to pick in less than 10 mins from just a couple of trees.  It was recommended that I keep them until next year when they will be eminently more delicious than they are now, but not sure I can wait.  Maybe I’ll keep half!