Sea Buckthorn

stalks removed, still frozen

stalks removed, still frozen

Following my earlier report on the painfully thorny nature of Sea Buckthorn (known to Germans as Sanddorn), there’s the complete story.

We received a load of Sea Buckthorn in October, just when we had no time to process it. We wrapped it in cloth and froze it, after having been told that it freezes well and that the berries are much easier removed when frozen anyhow.

I finally removed the still frozen berries from the stalks today, defrosted them, extracted 1750 g of Marc de Sea Buckthorn, and made 12 jars of Sea Buckthorn jam. Very fruity, very delicious.

My Cider And I

cider-1Isn’t that exciting? After our extensive foraging for apples in local public spaces and orchards, I started our first ever cider – only on an experimental small amount for now.

Our cider, made from crushed apples foraged in Elthorne Waterside and Cranford Country Park, has been fermenting for 10 days now. I haven’t sampled it yet, but it certainly smells like the real thing, and has no mould!

I strained and bottled it yesterday, just one batch of 2.5 litres. This is now on its way to second fermentation to make the bubbles, assuming the bottle will not explode under the building pressure.

I keep it in the shower over the next week to be safe, but remove it temporarily while I take a shower. It’s the cider or me, shower-wise. We share a happy relationship, my cider and I, just not the shower.

Almonds

almonds-pMore foraging tales from W7: sweet almonds. Who would have thought that these grow in London?

The almonds are perfect, and if you never sampled fresh almonds, you should probably put it on your bucket list. Unlike the dried-out specimen from the supermarket shelf, the real thing has the aromatic oils still intact, thus exhibits the aroma of marzipan. Or rather, it reminds you that marzipan tastes of almonds (well, and a tiny little ton of sugar and a splash of rose water).

You might want to keep your eyes peeled for sweet almonds in your area, ‘coz I am not telling where “our” tree is, srsly not.

 

Ouch Ouch Sea Buckthorn

DSC_0832Here’s yet another episode or our 2015 foraging and preserving adventures: Sea Buckthorn, known to Germans as Sanddorn.

Our friend Julie was kind enough to sacrifice her skin and blood to forage a large bag of the bright orange, juicy and tasty berries down by the sea. Nature protects the berries with vicious long, thin and sharp thorns, so we are deeply grateful for Julie’s help.

Right now, the berries rest in the deep freezer. They freeze well and, once frozen, come off the branch much easier. As soon as we have time, later in the month, we will juice them and make Sea Buckthorn Jelly.

Vine Harvest

DSC_0694We were faster than the starlings this year and harvested 2 buckets of dark blue grapes from the vine on the front of our house yesterday. Those were then washed and picked off the stalks, juiced, filtered, and preserved as a rich fruit juice or light cordial in sterilized bottles.

4.5 litres in total, that’s not too bad for a north-facing wall in London, I should think. And it has quite a nice flavour, too.

Sloes Going Slow

DSC_0838We started our first batch of Sloe Gin yesterday. Never made it, never even sampled it, but given the abundance of Sloe in nearby meadows, and given how many of our local friends go all hmm-sloe-gin at the mention, we thought we’d give it a try.

We picked 1.2 kg of Sloe, sterilized a suitably sized vessel, washed and pricked the berries. We added 100 g of Sugar and a litre of Gin, and sealed the jar.

Now it sits in a quiet place and waits for Christmas.

India Cookbook

imWith fond memories on all the fantastic food I sampled in the Gujarat, India, and being boosted by the recent gift of The India Cookbook, we made our own India-style feast for two yesterday. From top left to bottom right:

Papaya with black onion seeds (we couldn’t get decent Mango at this time of the year),

Spicy Lentil soup (which turned out very hot but worked well with the milder parts of the meal),

Crispy Chilli Paneer (which could have been hotter but was lovely and crunchy),

Curried Tomatoes and Onions (which were absolutely spot-on),

Curried Aubergines with Yoghurt and Tamarind (which were lovely),

Mutton curry in yoghurt and spices (yummy and rich in aroma), and

Chapatis (which puffed up only half, then burst and released the steam, preventing the other half from puffing up. I should have held them down first, as was written in the book.

All in all, we were pleased, thought it tasted like the real thing, and the house certainly smelled fantastic.

Foragers At Work

IMG_20150918_123103-cNot bad for a 90 minute lunchtime foraging quickie: 2.5 kg deep red rose hips, a very large bag of apples and a bag of golden ripe pears, all courtesy of Elthorne Rough.

 

Super Spicy Squid Supper

Spicy Squid mealOne of the household favourites. We call it Salt and Pepper Squid, but it has come a long way since.

Cut the tubes into thick rings, toss in flour, then in lightly beaten egg white, then in a mix of capers, spring onions, parsley, crushed chilli, salt and pepper. Toss the tentacles in salted flour. Quickly shallow-fry in grape seed oil, drain well and serve with Sauce Vierge and a poached egg.

Dress with chilli oil and Balsamic vinegar.

The picture to the left shows a rather busy plate because I was over-indulging myself with Sauce Vierge and the amount of squid, but given that this meal is so very tasty, I didn’t mind the portion size. Below are a few somewhat nicer presentations from earlier occasions (some without Sauce Vierge).

 

Friday Night is Bretzel Night

DSC_0071Friday night is Bretzel night, and I already look forward to tonight’s meal of freshly made Steak Tartare (beef Tartare), fresh hot Bretzels and a crisp cucumber salad.

Followed by Crème Brulee and a glass of Bubbly.

This, my friends, is happiness.

OK, we do not have Bretzels and Tartare every Friday, but tonight, we do. Is it time yet?

I’m talking about real German Bretzeln, soft and savoury and fresh from the oven. Very moorish. Click here for the Bretzel recipe.

The perfect accomplishment to Steak Tartare, or to cheese, or just a knob of butter, or simply nothing.

Convalescence’s Menu

DSC_0010A brief interlude from my report under the covers at Charing Cross Hospital to report on this convalescence’s recovery menu in recovery from illness as well as recovery from the NHS’ uninspiring menu. All home-made and garden-fresh where possible.

Thursday:
Poultry Salad from chicken, chicory salad, apples and oranges.

Friday:
Pizza (served lukewarm for medial reasons), Pudim Flan.

Saturday:
Fresh real sourdough bread,
Hay-smoked Sirloin Steak with lemon thyme leaf potatoes, Swiss chard, Italian kale and caramelised onions (shown in picture).

Sunday:
Almond macarons,
Lightly hay-smoked fillet of Salmon with fresh pickles from courgettes and radish, piccalilli and a celeriac purée,
Orange chocolate ice cream.

That’s more like it!

Diet: Standard (Bulk)

image

While I hold residence here at Charing Cross hospitals, I am officially on Diet: Standard (Bulk).

That’s what the printout states, and I think it is a fair description of what is being offered and served.

What goes as salad consist of a small handful of shredded Iceberg lettuce, half a industrial tomato (red but hard and flavourless), a spoon full of the main ingredient (caned tuna, shredded chicken, etc) and two packs of salad cream. I spotted a sweet corn on one occasion, but maybe that was a case of cross-contamination from a different dish. A ploughman’s salad didn’t come with bread, but a side order of a mayonnaise-rich potato salad was available. The omelette, documented in the printout on the left, didn’t come with most of the requested side orders. The omelette itself was dreadful, dry and cooked to death. You would think they’d make an omelette fluffy and nice by stretching the egg with milk, but no.

At the time of this writing I am on nil by mouth. Not the worst thing to happen, I think.