Garlic!!

The bare ground along the banks of the river on one of my regular cycle routes has suddenly sprouted green!

Everywhere there is Wild Garlic coming through.  You won’t smell it yet, you will have to wait until it flowers for that, but if you want to use it now (and are sure you can identify it and not mix it up with Lily of the Valley) then grab it by the handful!!

I picked some on my way home the other evening and we had fish pie with galic mash for tea.  Garlic Mash its very easy to do, just boil your potatoes as usual, mash with butter and a big handful of roughly chopped wild garlic leaves.  Delicious!

 

Spring!!

Well having had to wait until mid April last year, I was very pleased to see signs of spring and edible plants coming to life!

I saw my first snowdrops last week and another bunch today (don’t eat snowdrops!) but as the herald of the changing season they are unmistakble.

This morning there was a single sheltered dandelion in flower and a quick search revealed a few brave plants coming up with new leaves, I also checked out y favourite patch of sorrel for a couple of tasty leaves. Not quite enough for a salad, but enough for a promise!

Fat Hen / Good King Henry

Great names, aren’t they?  They are the names of two common ‘weeds’ that belong to the Goosefoot family (beacuse their leaves are the shape of goose feet of course!).  They start appearing all over previously cultivated land as crops are cleared over the summer.  The leaves can be picked for eating raw or eating as a ‘spinichy’ vegetable

Blackberries

For reasons unknown blackerries have arrived really really early.  You would not normally expect to be picking until the beginning of September and they have been around more than a week already.  Those that we are not eating straight away, I am packing into any and every available container and squirrelling them away in my freezer for puddings, pies, crumbles and other delicious puddings throughout the winter.  However I do think that this year I may take the plunge into wine making and with blackberries so plentiful (and with loads still to ripen on the bushes) that would be a good start.

The easiest pudding I know is blackberry crumble and you make it like this – half fill an oven proof dish with blackberries, sprinkle over some sugar (usually less than a spoonful).  Make up some crumble (diffuclt to say how mcuh I don’t know how big your dish is, but try this) Rub 3oz hard margarine or butter into 6oz flour, then add 3oz sugar and a handful of oats.  Pour over the blackberries and cook in the oven for about 20 mins at about 180 C.

Bilberries

Out in the Peak District this weekend I had plenty of opportnuity to pick bilberries.  I simply couldn’t resist, I spent quite a lot of the walk, stopping, picking, eating, running to catch up, sharing and then would have to start the whole process over again because we would then come to another patch!

One of the things I love about bilberries is that like early evening stars, you can’t see them at all at first, but as soon as you spot one, you can see another and then another and very soon you have a whole handful!

If you are able to pick enough so that its worth taking some home (with a large patch and patient companions this really is not too difficult provided you don’t eat them as fast as you pull them off the bushes!) you could do any variety of things with them – add them to a summer pudding, add them to apples for a pie or tart, mix them into muffins (as you would with their near relative the blueberry).  However, my favourite, which I did a couple of years ago for a wild / free food party was cook them with some (horrid, left in the back of the drinks cabinet cos no-one could drink it) Apple Schnaps until they were just a thick liquid and then strain and swirl through home made yoghurt for a most luxurious pudding ever!