Horse Chestnut Washing Liquid

Being a responsible being means thinking about what we can do to reduce our dependence on the systems which try to contain and control us. We are surrounded by a toxic soup of chemicals. Almost every product we use to clean our bodies and homes is filled with unmentionable poisons which have long term effects on our health, and on nature. As we wash these chemicals down the drain we wash away our natural barriers and turn our homes into sanitised, dead spaces. As the toxins flow away they flow into our water system, taking their deleterious effects to the rivers and seas, poisoning them and the life within them. What we have sacrificed for the idea of “cleanliness” is profound. We must find another way.

Horse chestnuts contain natural saponins and can be used to wash clothes.

The process is simple

Collect Horse chestnuts (5 or 6 will do, but they can be collected and dried in Autumn and used as needed)

Smash them up (I put them in a pillow case and attack with a rolling pin)

Pour on hot water

Leave overnight

Strain

Use as you would washing liquid

Free, natural, non-polluting and so satisfying, from the collecting to the smashing to the lovely foaminess of the saponins when you shake the jar.

Wild Garlic

Wild garlic season is coming to an end and I’m secretly quite glad. I’ve filled myself with it this year in every way imaginable, making green pancakes and vinegars, wild garlic pesto and hummus, soup, salad, sauteeing the leaves like spinach, gifting fragrant handfuls to family and friends, adding the leaves, buds and flowers to pizzas, stews, and sauces. I’ve been missing the abundance of three cornered leek I was so used to in Cork, but the mass of wild garlic here in Suffolk has (somewhat) made up for the loss of my old spring-oniony friend.

It feels good to have eaten my fill of a seasonal treat, the bitter sharpness of those waxy green leaves coursing through my cells cleaning out all the accumulated winter sluggishness, and waking the body up for new growth.

Wild garlic is known to have antibacterial, antibiotic, and antiviral properties, and also contains vitamins A and C, calcium, and iron. Tinctured in vodka, wild garlic is an old Russian folk remedy for cold sores, but the antiviral qualities would work just as well internally as a cold remedy, or even as an interesting springtime addition to a Bloody Mary.

I’m ready for the new growth now, looking forward to comfrey leaf fritters, elderflower cordial, and more new beginnings.

Wild Garlic and Wood Sorrel Hummus

A handful of wild garlic leaves (best picked before flowering)

A handful of wood sorrel

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Salt & Pepper

Lemon Juice

2 tins of butter beans, drained

Water

Add everything to a blender adjusting taste and texture with salt, pepper, olive oil, lemon juice, and water until you are happy.

Wild Garlic Pesto

Wild garlic leaves and buds (best picked before flowering)

Toasted pumpkin seeds

Toasted hazelnuts

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Salt

Lemon juice

Blend all ingredients together, adjusting to taste, adding more nuts or seeds if needed.

Savoury Wild Green Pancakes

There’s an abundance of wild green goodness in a little stack of these vibrant pancakes. They are really simple to make and taste all alive, delicious and nourishing to every cell.

The act of foraging for food is an exercise in mindfulness and nature connection in itself. I don’t think foraging can be done without a profound awareness of the natural world and the gifts it offers, because without this deep connection to nature then what are we actually doing? Well, we are engaging in the very human-centred act of ‘taking because we can’, and that is no way to foster or nurture any important relationship. So when we forage we must be present, respectful, aware of our (equal, not superior) place in nature, and intensely grateful for it.

To make these savoury pancakes I used a lot of freshly foraged wild greens, mostly few flowered leek (a variety of non-native wild leek considered to be an invasive species), some nettles, a little ground ivy, cleavers, dandelion, and chickweed. These can be made with any ratio really but the oniony flavour of the few flowered leek really adds to the savoury notes, and I would use ground ivy sparingly, because the flavour can be quite intense. I used organic wholemeal spelt flour, but really any flour will do, and if gram (chickpea) flour is used the egg can be omitted and the pancakes made vegan and grain-free.

Savoury Wild Green Pancakes

  • Half a basketful of edible wild greens
  • One free range egg
  • Water
  • Organic Wholemeal Spelt Flour
  • Salt and Pepper

Blend everything together, adding more water or flour as needed to make a yoghurt-like consistency.

Heat a little oil in a pan, fry spoonfuls of the batter until bubbles appear on the surface, then flip, fry on the other side until lightly golden (this will appear darker on the green of the pancakes). Keep warm in a low oven until all the batter is used. Delicious on their own with a little sea salt, or hummus, wild pesto, green salad….

Wild food and nature connection events coming soon.



Wild Green Soup (Spring)

Green soup was an integral part of childhood for me; in my memory and in my heart it will always hold nurturing, healing, and health-bestowing properties. When we were sick we had green soup, and it was far better than any commercial “medicine”; it was our medicine.

Nettle soup is a traditional spring tonic, replenishing much-needed nutrients from the long cold winter. My mother always put sorrel in to our green soup, which added its sour flavour, along with an abundance of vitamins and minerals.

My favourite wild spring green soup right now is a combination of three-cornered leek, dock, and potato. It is super smooth and completely delicious, with the added bonus of waking up the cells after the sleepy darker months. The sulphur-containing compounds in the three-cornered leek (Allium triquetrum) act as a digestive tonic and enliven the circulatory system. This soup really is a magical natural medicine.

Recipe – Wild Green Soup (Spring)

Ingredients:

  • 3 medium potatoes
  • 4 or 5 good handfuls of three-cornered leek
  • 3 or 4 dock leaves
  • Vegetable stock
  • Olive oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Method:

  • Chop the potatoes, fry them in a splash of olive oil for a few minutes.
  • Chop the lower half (the end without flowers) of the leeks, along with the dock leaves, and add to the pan, frying for a few minutes more.
  • Add stock to just cover the contents of the pan.
  • Simmer gently until the potatoes are almost soft.
  • Chop and add the remaining leeks to the pot (reserving the flowers).
  • Simmer until the potatoes are soft.
  • Blend until completely smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  • Serve sprinkled with some of the reserved flowers.

Obviously don’t pick and/or eat anything unless you are 100% sure of its identity, and that it is safe to eat. Follow good foraging practice, be aware of where you are picking and make sure anything picked is away from main roads or areas where pesticides may have been sprayed. You could make this recipe with shop-bought leeks if you really wanted to, or with spinach, rocket, or kale. Use intuition and common sense in all things, but particularly when cooking.

Allium triquetum

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