Do you know, it now takes me almost a week to write a single blog post? I started this on Monday, finished it on Tuesday, and it has taken until today to upload, edit and drop in the photos. How did I used to find time to write every single evening? Oh, I remember – it was BT — Before Twins!
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Sunday dawned bright and frosty last weekend, and the winter sunshine drew us out for a pre-lunch ramble. We wrapped the boys up in their snuggly snow suits, hats and mittens, and joined the world and his dog, it seemed, in making the most of the morning.
January is a notoriously poor month for foragers. The shelves of Mother Nature’s metaphorical larder are typically bare – the branches stripped of anything remotely edible by the birds and squirrels over previous months, and the rare splashes of colour usually signifying something deadly lurking in the hedgerows. But, being an addict, I couldn’t help but stuff a couple of freezer bags in my pocket – just in case.
And I’m so pleased I did! The proliferous bushes of sloes still lurking just beyond my reach outside the wee hoose had led me to suspect that our mild winter might have left us some gifts still to claim. And as we walked up the hill towards the canal bridge, I was delighted to spot a small handful of rosehips in the hedge. I took this as an indication, and left Dapper to manoeuvre the pushchair along the lanes whilst I cut our usual route across the fields – fields I have previously seen shine ruby red with hips and haws.
The result was just over 1lb1/2 of juicy rosehips – and I left plenty behind for another lucky forager to find. And that marvellous sense of satisfaction all foragers feel when returning home carrying a freebie!
I returned home along our usual cross-field path, much of which had been turned into muddy bog by the recent rainfall. After nearly losing my welly once too often, I pressed a fallen branch into service as a makeshift staff, which made the going a little easier. Halfway across the third field I spotted these little beauties floating in the floods.
Windfall apples! And so many of them! I smugly reached into my pocket for the second freezer bag only to find… No bag! It must have fallen out somewhere as I twisted and turned and bent to free my wellies from the mud! No forager can carry on in good conscience having littered the countryside with plastic, so I dutifully turned back and navigated back through the bog in search of my bag.
I found it, back at the road, more-or-less where I had found that first small cluster of hips. The journey back across the fields seemed somewhat shorter the second time around, and as the windfalls were all floating in the admittedly muddy water, they took mere moments to scoop into my bag. In next to no time I was home, with 4lbs of windfall apples in hand!
Those 4lbs of apples and 1lb1/2 of rosehips are now bottled up into 6 jars of apple and rosehip jelly and 500ml of rosehip oil, made in the slow cooker as per MIAMI’s instructions here. I have read that it is particularly good for treating nappy rash, so will be using it in place of lavender and tea tree next time I make up a batch of baby wipe solution. The jelly is delicious with cheese (excellent with brie, it seems) and would be lovely with meats too. It’s quite sweet, but very tasty! Next time I make it I might try adding some sliced chilli or strips of lemon zest to the strained juice, for a bit of added zing!
On a connected note, my big project for 2014 – aside from raising twins – is this:
If all goes to plan this will soon become my vegetable patch! I have a compost bin chock full of lovely compost to use, once I’ve managed to clear the plot and set up some raised beds. The gardener is going to help me with that much at least. Wish me luck with the rest!
Gratuitous baby shot to part on.