Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Wild Sag Aloo and woodland walks *Pic heavy*

Wild strawberries in flower at the woods
 I love this time of year! It's as if summer's come early at the moment and the wild flowers have come on so well. We've had a few lovely strolls in the last couple of weeks and each time you can see a difference in the plants.
Yellow Archangel 

Dandelion seedhead

Woodland raspberries forming


Wood sorrel
 Wood sorrel is quite a distinctive little plant and the leaves taste just like apple peel. Take a look at the leaves and remember them ... you'll see them again, lower down this post :~)
Woodland lane

Ramsons patch lit up by the sun
 Ramsons are wonderful. You can see the way this patch was lit up by the sun ... it almost seemed to glow and "show" itself to us. As if that wasn't enough, the scent of garlic all around told us where to look.
Ramsons flowers
 The leaves of the ramsons can be shredded and added to food for a delicious garlicky taste which is pleasantly strong. The flowers can be eaten raw in salads and have a much stronger, sharper taste with a hint of honey. 
Ramsons flowers and leaves

Wild queen bee
Crabapples forming ... they'll be headed for my preserving pan in the autumn :~)

Bluebell wood

Albino bluebell

Wood sorrel "weeds" at the allotment
  Oh the irony! Remember the photo I said to look at further up this post? Well, the lovely man who had one of our allotment plots before us said the "weeds" above were some sort of clover and it came in on a load of soil he had delivered. He could never get rid of it and we've been pulling it up for years now ... it finally dawned on A the other day that it's wood sorrel! It has the same distinctive apple peel taste and everything!
Fat hen
 Today I finally gathered fat hen which has been on my "to do" list for several years now. It grows in abundance at the allotment and we know it's organic from there took advantage of it in between hoeing this morning. I'd always stress that, before you gather wild food, you should be completely sure of what you're collecting with the aid of a good identification book. If you can find someone to show you what you're looking for that's even better! 

To help you along the way, I've tried to show fat hen quite clearly in the pictures. Above, you can see the grey-green colouring and the slight silvery sheen that the leaves have.  
Fat hen side view

Fat hen seed head
 The seed head of fat hen, shown above, is quite obvious at this time of year. The plant is related to quinoa (amaranth) and you can see the similarity.
Broad bean rows

Baby slow worm at the allotment

Gooseberries swelling



Allotment raspberries forming


Medlars forming

Fat hen bunch for lunch
 We gathered a bunch of fat hen from the allotment and then scooted up to the woods to gather some fresh ramsons. On the wander through the trees we found an abundance of pignuts and dug just a few, leaving the rest untouched.

Pignut flower

Today's foraging basket: Left - Ramsons, right - fat hen, front - pignuts

Gathered fat hen

Gathered ramsons leaves

Shredded ramsons
 We arrived back home just before lunchtime so washed and shredded the ramsons leaves and fat hen, boiled some spuds, sliced some onions and created wild sag aloo which is probably even better than the original version :~)
Wild sag aloo ingredients (plus onions which were already cooking!)

Wild sag aloo
 Wild Sag Aloo

Floury potatoes, peeled (if you want to) and cut into pieces
Onions, halved and sliced
Fat hen, leaves taken off the stalk and shredded
Ramsons leaves, shredded
Curry powder to taste (I used vindaloo, enough to taste good but not be overpowering)
Black onion seeds (optional)

Bring the potatoes to the boil and simmer until softened but not falling apart. In a separate pan, gently fry the onions. When soft, add the curry powder and black onion seeds. Stir and warm the spices through. Add the ramsons, fat hen, potatoes and a little salt. Stir though, adding a little water if needed until everything is warmed through and coated with green leaves and spices. Serve. 
Wild sag aloo

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