May 232015
 

Liquid wild food preservesI will talk about wild food and foraging at the Llŷn Land and Sea Food Festival this Saturday and Sunday.

I thought it would be helpful for anyone attending those talks to have a guide to the sort of books that may help them identify and eat the wild food they find.

This is very much a personal list of books that are on my shelf, there are others which I am sure are excellent. I’ve not included detailed mushroom guides. I learnt to identify mushrooms with the back up of experienced funghi hunters here in the village and think this is an ideal way of learning. Use the internet to find your local mycologist or funghi foray to get you started.

The links are all to the UK Amazon site. The books are available elsewhere. I don’t make any money from these links. If you are keen to support me 😉 then please buy my book by clicking on The Permaculture Kitchen and buy a copy of my book- thanks.

The Guardian beginner’s guides

For quick introductions to some easy to find wild food, I wrote three pieces for The Guardian website you may find useful.

Recommended Books

The River Cottage Handbooks are an excellent resource with identification tips and recipes: No 2 – Preserves by the friendly Pam Corbin; and, by the knowledgable John Wright, No 5 – Edible Seashore and No 7 – Hedgerow. They are small enough to pop in your bag or pocket to take with you on walks.

Alys Fowler’s The Thrifty Forager is a modern guide with recipes which is delightfully unfussy. Her book Abundance is a great guide to preserving all manner of things. They are both books best used at home.

Roger Phillips’ Wild Food and  Richard Mabey’s Food for Free  are both classics. There is a mini Collins Gem version of Food for Free which is pocket-sized.

John Lewis-Stempel has written an excellent guide Foraging: The essential guide to free wild food. It’s not got pictures for identification, but the written information is excellent. John knows his stuff, he lived on only foraged food for a year and his book about that is fascinating.

There’s more from the Mabey family, this time David and Rose Mabey: Jams, Pickles and Chutneys. An old book that is a classic with lots of recipes, some of which I’ve not seen elsewhere.

Beryl Wood’s Let’s Preserve It is comprehensive and is ordered by ingredient.

And if you are into making booze with your finds, then Andy Hamilton’s Booze for Free is the place to go. For more detailed information, Buhner’s Sacred and Herbal Healing Beers is the book for you.

If you came to my talk, I hope you enjoyed it and you feel inspired to find out more.

 Posted by at 00:01
Apr 172014
 

Hop Shoot All you need is a few hop plants (humulus lupulus), some malt and sugar, water and the help of Andy Hamilton.

At the end of the summer, we had loads of the female flowers which are the hops on our plants. So we stripped them and dried them on a rack on top of the woodburner. I vacuum packed them to keep them fresh until I was ready to brew.

In the new year I got out my copy of Andy Hamilton’s Booze for Free and Buhner’s Sacred and Herbal Healing Beers. They are both excellent books that I highly recommend if you would like to use foraged produce to make alcoholic drinks. And who wouldn’t want to? 😉

Hop beer recipe

I diverged slightly from Andy’s recipe. This was partly intention and partly stupidity. I substituted some of the white granulated sugar for molasses sugar. This was to make a darker beer with a deeper taste. I also used 1.5kg of malt extract instead of 1kg. Next time I’ll read the can properly…  Andy was very helpful on Twitter because he helped me by recommending which type of malt extract to use. Cheers Andy.

Ingredients

13 litres water
1.5kg Cooper’s Amber Malt Extract
55g dried hops
500g granulated sugar
250g molasses sugar
5g ale yeast

This made 12 litres of beer.

Method

You’ll need a big saucepan, I used the maslin pan I make jam in.

Take 6 litres of the water and add the malt extract and sugars. Simmer for 30 minutes. Add the hops in a large muslin bag and simmer for another 30 minutes. Take out the hop bag and compost the hops. Your compost heap will love them. Tip the brew into a fermenting vessel and add the rest of the water and leave to cool to room temperature. I measured the specific gravity at 1060. This is higher than Andy’s recipe because of the extra 500g of malt extract.

Leave the liquid covered to cool until the next day and then add the yeast. Sprinkle in the ale yeast in and stir well. Cover and leave to ferment. I put my vessel on a seed propagator to maintain a 20°C+ temperature.

Leave to ferment until the specific gravity approaches 1000 and is steady. With mine, the SG settled at 1010. This gave me a beer of about 7% ABV (alcohol by volume).

Siphon the beer off the sediment into a barrel or beer bottles. Add 1tsp of sugar per litre of liquid to provide a secondary fermentation to give some fizz to the brew. Leave for 10 days to ferment and settle.
Hop Beer in GlassThis made a good dark beer with a grand malty taste with a touch of hop bitterness. It tasted a lot like Theakston’s Old Peculiar. That was easy 🙂

Watch out for more country beer recipes…

What’s your favourite beer?

 Posted by at 11:16

Wild garlic slaw recipe

 Foraging, Forest Garden, Permaculture, Recipes, Seasons, Spring, Vegetable  Comments Off on Wild garlic slaw recipe
Apr 112014
 

Wild garlic slawSpring is a joy not least because of the re-emergence of the wild garlic.

There’s lots of publicity in the UK at the moment about eating more vegetables. I’ve been having fun concocting meals where I replace the normal carbohydrate element (potatoes, pasta, rice etc) with tasty veg. In this recipe, I added a big hit of toasted seeds and nuts for added crunch, taste and nutrients.

Wild garlic slaw recipe

I served this slaw with a chicken & tomato sauté. It could easily be a great breakfast, healthy lunch or snack as well as an accompanying vegetable. I suggested to my son it could be a great Uni meal made in big quantity and used to dip into to save time for studying 😉

Ingredients

Vary these to suit what you have available and to suit your taste. I fancy this with some fresh ginger, chilli and coriander leaf next. You could use raw or confit garlic instead of the wild garlic. Other leaves such as chard, spinach or mustard would be nice too.

10 wild garlic leaves (use flowers too if they are there)
10 stems of Egyptian walking onion (or use the tops of spring onions or finely sliced red onion)
1 large carrot, cut into fine strips
2 or 3 big handfuls of shredded white cabbage
2 tbsp sesame seeds, toasted
45 ml sweet redcurrant vinegar (or use cider or rice vinegar and add a tsp of caster sugar)
135 ml of olive oil
125ml (1/2 cup) sunflower seeds, toasted
125ml (1/2 cup) blanched almonds, toasted and roughly chopped
Sea salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste

Method

Slice the wild garlic across into very fine strips. Chop the onion stems into small rounds of about 3mm.

Mix the carrot, white cabbage, wild garlic and onion together into a salad bowl.

Dressing bottleMix the vinegar and olive oil together and add some salt & pepper to taste. I use a recycled maple syrup container to do this. I’ve put markings on for my 1:3 vinegar to oil ratio on it. I can then shake it up to emulsify the dressing and squirt a controlled amount on  salads. I keep any left over in the fridge.

Pour enough dressing on the veg so they are well coated without being drowned. Give the ingredients a good toss. Have a taste and correct seasoning if you need to.

Sprinkle the seeds on the slaw and mix. Serve.

It’s as easy as that.

What’s your favourite seeds and nuts for slaws?

 

You might also like:Wild garlic mash, warm chickweed salad & seafood
Wild garlic and smoked salmon carbonara
Wild garlic and homemade ricotta pasta

 Posted by at 11:05
Mar 172014
 

The Permaculture Kitchen front & back cover
We have made lots of exciting progress on my book since my last post.

We’ve finished the design, layout and proofing of the book. The whole shebang went to Cambrian Printers in Aberystwyth on Friday to be printed. The pages have been printed, they now need to be cut to size, folded, stitched together and bound into the covers. Hopefully, it’ll finally be made up by this time next week. That’s very exciting for me (and for you I hope). I’ll do my best to get to the printers and take some pictures of the final stages if I can. It’ll take a little while after it’s bound for Amazon and others to have stock in their warehouses.

Book launch at the Edible Garden Show

We’ll be launching The Permaculture Kitchen at the Edible Garden Show at Alexandra Palace in North London on Saturday March 29th. I’ve been asked to do a talk and Q&A in the Expert’s Theatre from 15:10. I’ll be around the show before this and after to sign books at the Permaculture Magazine stand. Do come and say hello, it’d be great for me to see you there. Continue reading »

 Posted by at 11:13
Feb 222014
 

Finished bottle of currant champagneIf you want a fizz that tastes spectacular, this recipe is for you. In under a month you get the full bright fruity taste of currants with a mildly mouth puckering tart-tannin background. The aroma is the wonderful woodland smell of crushed currant leaves. All this surrounded with lively & youthful fizz. I’m delighted with this discovery.

In truth, I had a freezer full of a mix of red, black and white currants. And I needed the space. In the spring, we enjoy the taste of quickly made elderflower ‘champagne’, so I thought I could experiment and do a similar thing with the currants.

It worked. And some.

To find out how easy this is to make (and other fruit ‘champagnes’), please read on.
Continue reading »

 Posted by at 15:55
Feb 112014
 

Three-cornered leek deliveryThis box arrived courtesy of a very generous Lindsay on Twitter. Lindsay has a wonderful surfeit of these in Devon and needed an ID for it. She also wanted to be rid of some and so one thing led to another.

Allium triquetrum flowers

Allium triquetrum flowers by Kenpie WikiMedia Commons

It’s allium triquetrum or three-cornered leek (aka three-cornered garlic). It’s so called because of the cross-section of the leaf. Wild garlic (allium ursinum, ramsons) has a broader, flatter leaf and is only just poking out of the ground now. Like wild garlic, it has white flowers.

It’s a mediterranean plant which has naturalised in the south-west of England and prefers a moist but well-drained soil. It will spread by division and seeds extensively. It’s treated as a weed and invasive species in many places. It’s an offence to plant in the wild in England & Wales.

It tastes like a grassy leek or garlic with a lingering aftertaste. It’s not as pungent as garlic or as spicy as chives.

So I felt I had to come up with some culinary treatments for it. Read on for the details…
Continue reading »

 Posted by at 18:13
Feb 032014
 

The Permaculture Kitchen by Carl Legge CoverWell my first book is nearly printed. That’s the proper cover design above. Read on to find out whose hands they are 😉

I hope you like it and that loads of people find it useful.The Permaculture Kitchen shows you how to cook no faff, seasonal & sustainable food with what your garden or seasonal produce seller has available.

What is it about?

My approach is to help you start your meal planning thinking about the ingredients and time you have to hand first. I couple this with some foundation principles and basic techniques to help you cook loads of different variations of meals. So the recipes (there are lots) illustrate the principles and techniques. I’ve included loads of  ideas for variations of flavours, ingredients and methods. I also give you suggestions for how you can use leftovers to save you time and energy.

Close to publishing

It’s been a long process and the project has changed a lot since I started writing what was to be a black & white e-book. We’re now producing a 176-page book with colour pictures along with the e-versions of it.

We’re currently fine tuning the last bits of the design and I hope it’ll be published in April. If you’d like first-hand information about the book’s release and offers and events, please fill in the form at the end of this post.

Whose hands?

The Permaculture Kitchen Cover ShootI did the photoshoot for the book with Hayley in September. We spent two very full days at home while I cooked loads of the recipes from the book for Hayley to style & shoot.

We had loads of strawberries still around and Hayley & Debs created the evocative cover image in Debs’ hands.

Given all the work Debs does in the garden and with the animals, ‘Debs the Hand Model’ was unexpected for both of us 😉 It really does symbolise for me the ethos of the book: Love food, love people, love the planet.

The inside scoop for you

I’m very excited by this as you can imagine.

On the off-chance that you may be a little excited too, I’ve created a small form for you to fill in to get the most up to date information about the book’s progress and my events. I won’t give your information to anyone else, I promise.

 Posted by at 18:20
Jan 012014
 

image_2

When I saw on twitter that my Twitter chum Julia Moore had:

Decided adding culture to some of our freshly pressed apples would be one experiment too far

I was intrigued and showed her my Bouza bread beer experiment post. Despite my references to ‘vomit’, Julia changed her mind and took up the challenge.

I’m so pleased Julia did this and her guest post below charts her progress. A second post will show how she used the remains from the cider fermentation to make a cider barm bread.

Julia says:

I hope this little experiment encourages someone else to have an idea and then just have a go 🙂

Precisely the attitude I promote on this blog! To find out more, please read on… Continue reading »

 Posted by at 11:19
Nov 172013
 

Close up of posy in pottery jug

November Posy

The weather forecasters are promising a drop in temperatures and frosts next week. This will put an end to some of the flowers still soldiering on in the garden, giving their all. We are usually lucky here: we live on a peninsula and so we’re surrounded by the sea; our frosts are mostly light and often late.

I took the opportunity to keep the summer going just a little bit longer and brought some of those flowers into the house.

Tussie mussies

My mum taught me how to make tussie mussies when I was little and I have continued to make them. I make them as a ‘thank you’, for birthday and anniversary presents, to mark the birth of a baby or just because…

I tightly pack and bind flowers, herbs and foliage to give a posy which will delight the eyes and nose.

Collecting and arranging my bounty

I wandered round the garden and collected my bounty. I was amazed at the variety that was available. I always put a single flower in bud at the centre and found a romantic pale pink rose for this.

Posy overhead viewThen I picked the rest of the ingredients: four stems of each. I found mints, rosemary, lavender, thyme, periwinkle, pinks, lemon balm, oregano, Japanese parsley, winter honeysuckle, winter jasmine, camomile, mashua, creeping borage, Californian poppy, yarrow, brassica flowers and fennel. I’m sure I’ve forgotten some.

When the weather is warm I make the posy outside and often have bees land on the flowers I have picked. On this occasion it was too cold to stay still outside so I brought my goodies indoors.  I stripped the leaves from the bottom of the stems and then, starting with the rosebud, began tying in the stems. There is a symmetry to the posy as each group of stems are added in turn. Finally I put an outer layer of fennel stems to finish it off.

Usually when I make these posies, I am more discerning about what goes into them – a colour or scent theme or such like,  but this was to extend the summer and had a bit of everything in it.

Porth Llwyd Jug

Posy in pottery jug

I will change the water every day in the little jug it sits in. I love the jug, it’s gorgeous and a gift from Porth Llwyd Pottery from my friend Nina. The posy should last for 2-3 weeks by doing this and in this little corner of North Wales we will still have a little bit of summer.

What do you do to keep summer going in your house?

 Posted by at 19:06
Nov 042012
 

 

Blues and bays made into vinegar using kombucha

Once you know how to make your own vinegar you can experiment with different flavours. Last year I showed you how to make your own apple cider vinegar. This year, I experimented to see if I could use the same principles to make some blackberry and apple vinegar.

I’ve also got into using Kombucha. We make kombucha tea as a tasty and healthful drink. It’s also possible to use it to turn a sugary solution into acetic acid – vinegar. All you need is a kombucha ‘SCOBY’ (Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeasts).

If you’d like to find out how to do these, please read on… Continue reading »

 Posted by at 17:00
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