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Posts from the ‘Opinion’ Category

Stinging Nettle Eating Pros Wanted

Stinging nettles are a pet hate for many. It conjures up images of tears, scratching, phlegm covered dock leaves and somehow my football always managed to find its way into the centre of a large stinging nettle patch.

So eating them is the last thing I would want to do with the pesty green leaves. But nettle eating is a great tradition down in Dorset, so much so that there is an annual competition to find out who is the Great Stinging Nettle Eating champion.

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What Do Pret Say?

Pret A Manger has recently celebrated record profits of £52.4 million (up 14%), leading to the creation of 550 new jobs across 44 new stores around the world, 24 of which will be in the UK, reported the Guardian.

A large part of the brands success has been the preverbal ethical stamp it blazes across its products. In time poor city environments people like to think they can do their bit for society whilst grabbing their lunch to go.

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Top three books to inspire you

Saving money is tough. That money hoarded back through a frugal lifestyle is often spent on time searching out the planet’s finest ingredients and preparing them to perfection.

Shopping a bit further than your local supermarket can become tiresome the temptation to revert back consumerism is great.

But we are on hand to provide a little inspiration through those dark times. Or rather, some very fabulous writers are. Here are three books to inspire you to keep your hands out of your pockets and in the dirt of the cabbage patch.

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Skipping and the law – Part III

A woman was convicted of handling stolen goods after she took discarded food from bins outside a Tesco supermarket

A woman was convicted of handling stolen goods after she took discarded food from bins outside a Tesco supermarket FlickrID:evilnick

Last week we looked in detail at the legal pitfalls that face would-be scavengers. Today we bring you one specific case – that of Sasha Hall, who last June was given a twelve month conditional discharge for handling stolen goods after she took and stored food from a bin outside a Tesco supermarket.

Sasha Hall, 21 at the time, saw that her local Tesco was throwing out thousands of pounds worth of chilled food following a power-cut, and decided to take some for herself and her family. A store manager reported her to the police, who found £215 worth of items in her fridge, including 100 packets of ham.

It would appear to be safe to say that Hall was not what we at Come Scavenge With Me would call a typical freegan, but all the same her case does serve to underline the importance of honesty in what you, as a ‘skipper’ do with the items you take from a bin. Read more

Making dandelion pesto…

I never knew you could actually eat dandelion leaves until recently. There are a load in my garden so following a simple recipe I decided to put these weeds to good use and make some pesto pasta.

First, all you need to do is go and pick some dandelions. Most people are unaware that all parts of the plant are edible and some have medical uses. The roots contain starch-like substances that help balance blood sugar levels and the flowers are more commonly known for their use in wine, but they can also make a tasty addition to salad.

I found myself foraging in my garden for this free food. Once I had two handfuls I started making my pesto. Here is the recipe I followed:

INGREDIENTS:

I roughly used about two handfuls of cleaned dandelion leaves (washed with cold water), about a cup of olive oil, a clove of garlic, 40g of pine nuts and a sprinkling of salt plus a heavy dose of Parmesan (you can never have too much cheese!).

METHOD:

I put about half of the dandelions in a food processor and added some olive oil then I mixed it all together for a few minutes. Next up I added the rest of the leaves until they were nicely chopped up. While my leaves were blending I grabbed some garlic and pine nuts and put them in the mix. I added Parmesan too until it was all smoothed together like a puree. At this stage it is good to taste what you are making, and then add more salt or oil to taste. You can tell when it is ready by the texture, it will look like pesto should.

Once it was ready, I cooked up some pasta and added some home grown tomatoes. The perfect dinner. The pesto tastes slightly lighter than a basil one and the dandelion have a slight sweetness to them. It is a very fresh and tasty meal. As for storage, it can be refrigerated in a jar for up to four days.  The best thing about this recipe is that it takes no time at all and hardly costs a thing!

‘Appy days…Foraging finds a new platform

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Foraging is officially at one with modern technology as an app has been launched to “inform and inspire” those who want to find out more.

It is called the Foragers Apprentice, released by chef David Beazley who works at the Ashburton Cookery school in Devon. It comes at a grand total of £1.99 – which works out cheaper than an extensive course.

The app is aimed at all kinds of foragers; the company themselves say “there is something for everyone” and it gives hints and tips on where to find the best grub, as well as offerings 25 recipes to eager readers. And these are good recipes too, stuff you would be keen to give a try. For example, blackberry ice cream, crab cakes and wild watercress soup.

There are a range of features on offer too, including a section that shows you what season to look for certain things and if there are any foraging hot-spots nearby. Finally, someone has mapped the best places to find wild food!

Those who are obsessed with all things culinary should download this app, you will be playing with it for hours.  Check out the website and a free demo here: http://www.foragersapp.com

Great British Menu showcases the best foraged foods

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The cooking served up on popular BBC show The Great British Menu 2012 has been exceptional.  One reason why is because it has showcased some of the best foraged ingredients in the UK.

This year’s theme ‘pushing the bounds of gastronomy’ has proven foraging to be at the forefront of food innovation.

One man who appreciates cutting-edge cuisine, and tends to grab ingredients from his very own doorstep is contestant Paul Foster. He was knocked out at the last hurdle after competing with Daniel Clifford for a place in the final.

During the contest Foster used mugwort, hogweed and ribwort plantain in his dishes. Mugwort is found in most parts of England. It grows on plants and the leaves are smooth and of a dark green colour.

The herb is said to have got its name because it was once used to flavour drinks. Some believe the name was actually derived from the word ‘mug’. Paul Foster has shared recipes in the past, one being a chilled mugwort tea. This involves heating sugar and water together to make light syrup, boiling it, removing the heat and adding the mugwort. Then you let it chill in the fridge and add yet more mugwort before leaving it to infuse for 12 hours.

Other contestants who have caught the foraging bug include Stephanie Moon who didn’t make it into the quarter finals of the North East heats. She has boasted in her personal blog of using dandy lions to brighten up salads. The female chef has been blogging about foraging for roughly four years now and believes that there is a lot of interest in wild food at the moment. Check out her recipes, they could give you some ideas of your own.

If The Great British Menu is anything to go by then foraging is set to be the big food trend of 2013!

Foraging courses and foodie festivals MAPPED

Don’t rest on your laurels this summer get foraging…and learn the tricks of the trade from the people with the know-how.

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There are a vast amount of courses out there for beginner foragers who want to get their hands dirty. Let Come Scavenge guide you through what the UK has to offer  –  with an interactive map to help you pick out the best spots.

Scotland is known for its beautiful landscape and there are plenty of places here to find edible plants and forage your way through The Highlands. On May 27 Paula and Robin Harford will host a day of food gathering around Edinburgh, you can prepare a wild food lunch afterwards at the Wedgwood Restaurant.

Another popular choice The Food Safari an exciting day of foraging for city-dwellers. You will learn about all free food around you in London with expert Nick Saltmarsh giving talks and a cookery workshop to end a perfect day of culinary goodness.

If that doesn’t tickle your fancy and you want a more adventurous experience then take a walk on the wild side through Galloway’s mountainous scene. Book through Galloway Wild Foods for a once in a lifetime course that takes you on a seven hour walk enjoying the foods that grow outdoors along the way. This one isn’t suitable for children and booking is ESSENTIAL. 

Last but by no means least the River Cottage courses are a great way to spend a weekend away.  The Seashore foraging course is particularly worthwhile. You join John Wright, foraging expert for a stroll along the beautiful coastline of the South West. Depending on the time of year you can find shellfish, swimming crabs and edible seaweeds. Then learn how to cook these up with the perfect seasoning.

The great thing about going with people who know what they are doing is you can ask lots of questions…

FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT FORAGING COURSES CHECK OUT THIS INTERACTIVE MAP BELOW  (CONTACT DETAILS AND WEBSITES INCLUDED):

http://batchgeo.com/map/55ea166d24f82ef06e53c508f29ba237

View Map of foraging courses and festivals across the U in a full screen map

Skipping and the law … Part II

A group of freegans check out the contents of a bin

A group of freegans check out the contents of a bin – but could they end up on the wrong side of the law? FlickrID:sam.kronick

Skipping, dumpster diving, scavenging. Call it what you will, the act of taking food (or any other item, for that matter) from a bin can land you in hot water if you aren’t careful. Last month we gave you an overview of the legal issues surrounding freeganism, and today we bring you a more in-depth analysis of the situation in the UK.

The legal term we’re dealing with here is called “theft by finding”. Broadly speaking, it concerns situations where someone picks up an object, believing it to have been discarded by its owner. The owner in question could be a large, multinational supermarket, or just another person who has dropped – intentionally or otherwise – something belonging to them. In the context of this blog, of course, we’re dealing with situations more similar to the former than the latter.

The two key issues in any case concerning theft by finding are those of abandonment and dishonesty. As we explained in the previous post, if an object has been truly abandoned, it is impossible to steal it. The problem here is that it is difficult for a defendant to base their defence on grounds of abandonment if they have made little or no attempt to contact the original owner in order to establish whether or not this is the case. Read more

TOP SPOTS FOR A FORAGING HOLIDAY

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There are some fantastic holiday spots for picking wild fruits and edible flowers, or even catching yourself some tasty seafood. Here is a selection of some of the best ones worth checking out this summer – especially if you are planning a staycation in the UK.

1. Stay Head Banks, North Yorkshire

This luscious land is known to grow crab apples, great for making some delicious juice. There is also blackthorn here, a shrub with dark and spiny branches. Its fruit is too astringent to eat out right but you can add it to spirits to make sloe gin.  Another great grab here is some wild garlic, you can tell it from its oniony smell (you can eat both the leaves and the flower).

2. Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire

Fishing is popular in this forest and you can catch yourself some dinner quite easily. The river and lake homes brown trout – the perfect family meal. Be warned though there are wild boar here (aggressive and potentially dangerous) keep well clear. If you don’t fancy the hard work of catching your tea then you can always go foraging by day and relax in one of the many hotels in the area during the evening.

3. Sicily, Italy

If you want to fly away from England then Sicily is the perfect place to sample some locally sourced food. It is known for its wild asparagus, a great place to find this is a valley beyond Ragusa Ibla. The vegetables grow waist high although they can be hard to find but once you do you are in for a treat. Snap off the ends, wash them and bake in a dish with olive oil for a truly Sicilian experience.

4. Wester-Ross and Sutherland, Scotland

Scotland is known for its abundance of flora and fauna so you will have an eventful trip away in the Highlands if you opt for a foraging holiday here. A week away could involve a trip to the famous Handa Island reserve to see nesting birds and a visit to the local area to identify wild plants and identify foragable food. Some packages for foraging holidays include a stay on a farm, where fish and seafood comes straight from the ocean.

5. West Cornwall

A company called The Fat Hen run very well respected weekend breaks that involve a lot of food. The ultimate experience is a gourmet weekend, you learn to cook, and savour delights of feasting on the freshest food. The package includes foraging with expert foodies and gathering seasonal produce including flowers, herbs, salads and vegetables. As well as fungi or berries – where do I sign up?