Tuesday, 29 October 2013

My first foraging adventure

So after John Wright from River Cottage gave his talk on Thursday (see my blog post on it here), I was thoroughly inspired to forage. On Saturday, I ventured out near Woodstock, Oxfordshire, to see what I could find:

Most of these varieties I couldn't identify so I was losing hope of ever having dinner by foraging. When we were about to turn around and give up to the oncoming rain, I spotted a beautiful circle of field mushrooms up on the grassland:

There were dozens of them, and they were huge! Here's my total forage bunch of beauties: 

And here was my treat when I came home:

Puffballs and field mushrooms on toast. It really was an amazing find to spot those field mushrooms and it shows that going out for a few hours can provide you with a delicious dinner and all for free! I used John Wright's book on mushrooms as a guide so please please know what you're eating before you eat it.

This is the season to mushroom hunt, so grab your wellies and go and explore!

Happy foraging!

ZP x 

Friday, 25 October 2013

Foraging in the forest with John Wright from River Cottage

Yesterday evening I went to Nicholson's nursery in North Aston, near Oxford, where they had John Wright, the expert mushroom forager from Dorset to speak and advise about foraging. You might recognise him from being on the telly with Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall (yes, I had to google the spelling!) on the River Cottage programmes as well as on the radio and other media platforms:

The talk by John was fascinating and I'm even more enthusiastic about foraging the local land for my edible delights. I've had quite a few excursions in the woods finding food or pretty ferns (ferns are my favourite but unfortunately they are pretty much inedible). In the summer, I picked mussels off of Carne beach rocks near Portloe in Cornwall and cooked them with onions, tomatoes, and lemons on our fire. They were possibly the freshest, most succulent muscles I've ever had and they were free! We made sure to pick the big ones and leave the little ones to grow to preserve them.

In the Lake District in the late summer, just coming into mushroom season, my brother-in-law-to-be and I had a mushroom hunting competition on our walk around Buttermere, west of Derwent Water. We were not confident enough to take home and eat, it was rather a competition of who could find the most species. Here are a selection of what we found; if you can identify them then please, go ahead: 

Also, when I was out blackberry picking as they first came into season, we found this on a tree stump: 

After John's inspection, we have found out that the above is "chicken in the woods" and is very certainly edible, in fact something which my stepdad deemed "very filling", spoken from experience in his early wood foraging days. I wish we had picked it and eaten it but at the same time, this funghi was providing shelter and food for other animals so taking it would feel like we were sacrificing others, not to mention whether we are actually legally allowed to take it!

By the way, if you're wondering, I made blackberry, peach, plum and apple crumble with the blackberries we picked on the hedgerows. Crumble is simply flour and butter rubbed together with your fingertips until you form a breadcrumb-like texture then add sugar to the mixture and put on top of fruit and sugar in a bowl. Bake until it starts bubbling up the sides and it's golden and smells good:

Anyway, back to John Wright, here is the table of beautiful mushrooms he brought along after his foray in the New Forest: 

And here he is discussing all the varieties with us at the end (notice the bottle of red visibly diminished):

At the talk, we bought both John's books on mushrooms and also seaside foraging, both equally relevant for our future endeavours. After a jolly signature and a few glasses of red Pinot noir, we bundled back home to my Mother's Cotswold cottage in chatter full of Death Caps, explorations and Samphire. Let the foraging begin! 

Before I go, I have one more foody delight to share. Look at these prawns that I brought back from the covered market in Oxford: 

Although I've caught crayfish from the river Thame and taken them back for dinner, these were certainly the biggest and tastiest prawns we've ever eaten. However, catching the crayfish by hand and net rather than buying them was far more satisfying. The fishmonger said the jumbo prawns fly off the shelves when he gets them in. 

To cook, We simply boiled them quickly in water and then spritzed them with lemon juice. Nothing else needed. Not when it's so fresh (just like muscles we cooked on the beach). No sweet chili or mayonnaise, just the pure coral blushing beauty of it. A huge recommendation if you're at the covered market in Oxford this weekend. I understand they also sell them at the big fish shop in Botley (Oxford foodies will know where I mean!)

Happy foraging!

ZP x

Monday, 21 October 2013

Rose Theatre, London, Saturday 19th Oct

I was lucky enough to watch a small intimate play by Shakespeare in the Rose Theatre on Saturday evening. As you like it was performed in a short 70 minute length and it was followed by a walk back through London then home to Oxford. Here's the beautiful view of the city landscape in the late evening:

And St. Paul's:

Love to all on this rainy, miserable Monday!
ZP x

Friday, 18 October 2013

Pork shoulder, pesto, passata, potatoes and rocket

As promised, here's my dinner from this evening with my lovely neighbour.

Half sliced potato baked with rape seed oil, salt and pepper. Pan fried shoulder of pork then braised in passata and pesto. Served with rocket and lemon. Beautiful, healthy and so simple!

Enjoy the weekend!
ZP x

Hello again, blogging world!

Well hello bloggers/readers/beautiful people,

My blog is back! It's a representation of my cooking/poetry/all things arty. Please enjoy this new layout (the background is an image of my chopping board a few weeks ago) and relish in my easy, quick recipes that anyone can make. I'll also post some poetry from time to time when the words come to me. For now, I am off to plan dinner for this evening. I am cooking for my neighbour which is my new hobby that I love doing. Cooking for others is exactly what it is all about. I sometimes would rather cook for someone else than eat it myself. Dinner this evening is Italian pork shoulders:

I usually facebook/tweet/instagram my favourite mealtime and foodie pictures but now this blog can be my main hub of activity. You are welcome to follow me on any of my other social media platforms:




Make sure to check back for the recipe tonight: Italian pork shoulders. If you've got any suggestions then send them in!

Happy Friday everyone.

ZP x