Monday, May 14, 2007

foraging for food

May in Scotland sees the hungry gap in the self sufficient calender - stored root vegetables are past their best and the peas and beans of June are not yet here. Unless you are going to survive on asparagus, rhubarb and baby salad leaves you are going to have to look outside the vegetable patch for sustenance.

As I've mentioned before we are much more gardeners for fun than gardeners for self sufficiency but I love the idea of foraging for food. Over the years I have tried to convince the family of the joys of pignuts and gorse buds. Over the years I have failed. There is a lot of digging and picking involved for very little and to be honest, if we were trying to live on it we would be dead.

However - nettles are a different story. We have a lot of nettles, we have an awful lot of nettles, and ten minutes picking gives us enough in the basket to make cream of nettle (mint and parsley) soup. A soup the children will actually eat. Mind you it is hardly self sufficient as it involves a deal of cream and a good chicken stock (and we don't kill our chickens).

As I took my lunch outside to photograph yesterday everyone was (quite justifiably) laughing hysterically. Euan thinks this blogging thing has got out of hand if I, a very greedy person, is putting aesthetics before eating.


Sew Recycled! said...

It can get out of hand, I will admit to that. So many times I have made a nice meal, think 'oh that will look great on the blog!' and then realise just how silly, why would anyone want to see my lunch! Mind you that nettle soup does look good, I have never had it befor and we do have a lot on the allotment!

Elizabethd said...

I can remember eating nettle soup during the war...and dandelion salaad also! It looks very good.

Raindrops said...

Soup looks lovely. Never eaten nettle soup but I do like a good homemade soup. Tricia

The Country Craft Angel said...

By co-incidence I was thinking about nettle soup only the other day and wondering about it. My lot are far too fussy but I'd like to try it sometime.

Lovely blog yesterday BTW-good to see the youngsters.

warm wishes

Posie Rosie said...

Sounds and looks delicious, just catching up. Loved the photos of the house. I am always looking for things the children will eat...would love to grow asparagus but have been put off by the complicated process of preparing a bed.

Jane said...

My elder daughter is a fussy eater - and soups are usually a non-starter. However, she likes mint so our nettle soup is extra-minty, just for her.

Our youngest loves it as nettle soup featured in her history classes in P1 - Early People and so on.


Inthemud said...

Looks good! Never tried it myself! Does it sting!

WesterWitch/Headmistress said...

Nettles are supposed to be very good for the eyes and skin . . . nettle tea is disgusting - well I thought so.

Alice said...

Pish to Euan! I think that the soup looks admirably wholesome and tasty in that lovely bowl. I am sure that our courgette and brie soup in blue pottery would have looked very towny next to it. I aspire to nettle soup and other foraged food but for the moment will stick to elderflowers, sloes and brambles. My son thinks that cabbage is the work of the Devil so I am not sure that nettle soup and dandelion salad are the way forward.
Incidentally, Yarg cheese is wrapped in nettles collected by Cornish schoolchildren. Is there a commercial opportunity in nettles for you?

DevonLife said...

i love your blog Jane but will NOT be joining you in Nettle soup - although we have acres of the blinking things growing like triffids in every corner of the farm. "Watch out for the nettles" is like a golfer's FORE when guests tramp around the fields

Jane said...

Mud - no it doesn't sting - well it does when you pick it, but as soon as it hits the heat all the stingy bits wilt.
Westerwitch - I haven't tasted nettle tea - in a soup it is a bit spinachy and I can't imagine spinach tea being very tasty either.
Alice- goodness they must have hardy children in Cornwall. I have tasted the cheese though and it was excellent.
Devon - I think that nettles sting more if they see you before you see them - a strong grip and they don't sting as much - must be the origin of the phrase "grasping the nettle". I wear surgical gloves to pick.

Pondside said...

I loved the photos - basket to bowl. I remember having Nettle Soup in Germany and I though it was good. I can't quite imagine nettle salad, which my friends ate.

Marie said...

I read an interesting article in Country Living about foraging for wild food recently. I've never tried nettle soup, but it does look tasty.

Yes, photographing everyday items does result in some strange comments at home! Still, your blog is lovely and always interesting to read.


weirdbunny said...

Nettle soup, well done. There was a receipe for it in one of the organic gardening magazines that the woodcutters sister lent me last month. Unfortunately she too the mag back before I tried the receipe out. All I remember was you were only to pick the tips of young nettles - love Julia x

P.s A cat ripped opend the front of the wire on the quail coup, and killed them all. We know it was a cat, as she left a section of her black and white fur on the wire. Let's just say the woodcutter is not a happy bunny at the moment.