Thursday, 30 May 2013

Swish and dine......

I've been having a major clear out recently mainly of clothes but also of 'material things' that seem to clutter our space and our lives.
I have two wardrobes in my room and both were full to almost breaking with clothes, it really was quite ridiculous, so sort out I did. Anything that hadn't been worn in two years was dumped into a pile...that pile really did become quite a mountain. How many little black dresses does a girl need?
I'm rather embarrassed to say I found eight!!
Once I started the whole process became really quite enjoyable and liberating, la lala lala la, out and out and out..oh yes out with so much stuff....I have whittled my wardrobe needs down to cool is that!
Then I moved onto my drawers and baskets......more things to go....I'm loving this.......

The bug spread to the children's rooms where the floor had become an extension to the wardrobe....The Floordrobe!! My new rule is, if it doesn't fit in then you either have to rid yourself of something to make room or give it away.

Eight bin liners full later I am faced with the 'what to do'? with it issue....I could take the stuff to the charity store and often I do, but on this occasion I figured that so much 'stuff' warranted a party....(any excuse with me). So I invited a whole crowd of like-minded friends over and we had a 'Swish'. A Swish is  clothing exchange. You bring along things that you don't want and take stuff that you do.
In real Wyld woman style we had a 'pot luck' supper too where everyone brought something tasty to share. We had a real gourmet feast (I wouldn't expect anything else from these lovely friends). Quiche, salads, wild garlic pizza, jacketed potatoes and a selection of hearty puds all homemade, all delicious!

Once nourished on the inside we set to exchange. There is a definite order of respect and no smashing and grabbing as I once experienced at a jumble sale (never again). People generally have someone in mind for an item and if that person doesn't like it it's offered to all. It works really well. I had to keep the children back (no easy task). The little lady snuck in and demanded her checkered dress back at one point (the one she's never yet worn) and small boy yelled 'Don't sell my clothes' (he hasn't grasped the concept of the swish yet)! Even my visiting niece seemed to think I was giving away something of hers (I ask you, how embarrassing?!).

 I got rid of six bags of my unwanted items and reclaimed a few of my own items that when push came to shove I realised I actually quite like really (do hope that I wear them now).
I also gained a very pretty 'Whistles' skirt, very 'me' ....really lovely, shall be sporting that one should we have a Summer this year!
My friends left with their cars full...haha what a sight!!!
But what a wonderful evening, swishing at its best and a great social time too......

Sunday, 19 May 2013

Feasty foraging

Spring is finally upon us in all her glory. It only seemed like yesterday that I looked with despair from the windows at the bare trees waiting to be dressed for the season several weeks behind schedule, and today I go out to observe how nature has rapidly graced the scene with a blanket of lush green and coloured sprinkles. Somehow this new scene seems very familiar, it's as if it has always been there.

With everything rapidly sprouting it is hard for us keen foragers not to notice the sudden influx of free food readily available in our surroundings, I talked about the wild garlic that I have been enthusiastically gathering for the past month. That is still out there in abundance where I am, although sadly not for all of you, I am told. The pungent flavour has now spread from the leaves to the flowers, still delicious though and the flowers themselves now add beauty of a different kind to salads so still worth looking out for.

This week we decided to take a walk and see what else is out there. Every year I try and learn a few more things that can be added to the table in some way or other. My children are growing up to be so knowledgeable about these things, I love it! It was only on Friday this week that Small boy suddenly yelled out whilst we were driving 'There's Jack by the Hedge'! Jack in the Hedge is also known as Garlic Mustard, it has a slightly garlicky/peppery taste, great to add to mixed salads.

So salad hunting we did go and this is what we found.....please step this way.........

Ground Elder - This is all over my garden and is most gardeners worst nightmare. I haven't given it a try as yet but it's supposed to be a great 'spinach like' alternative.

Dandelions - also know as 'Piss a bed'....quite funny I think as dandelions are a diuretic. The young leaves and flowers can be added to salads or I've made many a quiche using them.

Cleavers - also known as 'Sticky Willy', these are the plants that stick to you and later in the season their annoying little seed balls stick to your pets and are rather time consuming to remove! They taste a little like pea shoots.
                     Jack by the hedge - This is the Garlic/mustard tasting plant I referred to earlier.

Such a treat was experienced by all on this walk (I do so love being at one with nature), we are so fortunate to live so close to such beautiful animals and creatures. We stood and starred for quite sometime. The animals knew we were there but the distance between us made them feel secure enough to continue basking in the sunshine!
A lovely bed of wild garlic!
Snacking on the way.......
Small boy is always on the look out for skulls and interesting treasures....
Beauty in the woods
Check out these Jelly Ears....gathered for tea....
Tad ah!! Mixed wild salad with a dash of lemon juice and a pinch of Himalayan pink salt, fried jelly ears, roasted butternut squash and carrot and beetroot salad with cous cous, oooh and a blob of mayo......delicious!!

Thursday, 2 May 2013

If you go down to the woods today........


Actually DO, the smell is divine.

For those of you who don't know about this wonderful plant, it is in fact 'Wild garlic' and it is growing in abundance in woodlands now.
I didn't photograph the garlic growing so I shall have to describe it. The leaves are about 25cm long, soft, smooth and shiny and tapered to a point. Later in their season they develop starry white flowers. Identifying these delicious plants is simple, go with your nose, it's all in the scent!

Medicinal uses:- 

Wild garlic has all the same medicinal uses as cultivated varieties , (i.e. it's an insecticide, has antioxidant properties, and boosts the immune system (isn't it incredible how nature provides everything we need in season)), with wild garlic you use the leaves instead of the bulb of the plant (although the bulbs can be used, they are just very small).

Culinary uses:-

With a little creativity, wild garlic can be used in a variety of dishes. Try putting it into soups, lasagne's, Spanish omelette's, salads and my favourite......pesto!
 * I got rather carried away when I last made pesto and added dandilion, cleavers and stinging nettles too, all good and all FREE!!

'Wild garlic pesto'

A large handful of wild garlic
A cup of  pine nuts (if you don't have these try experimenting with other nuts and seeds, I used sunflower seeds and they were perfect!).
Olive oil
Lemon juice
A pinch of Himalayan rock salt
1 cup of grated cheese

You have to experiment with the quantities, I rarely measure out anything so can't be specific. Pop all your ingredients into a food processor and whizz until the desired consistency and then serve on pasta or sandwiched between two floured tortilla's and grilled (now that was delicious!!).