Winter shivers by in her coat of glass, spilling silver from her pockets as she goes. Frost clings to the mornings, glittering in the rising sun. Yet even now spring waits in the wings, ready with a prompt.
If not for the vagaries of fashion we would still be using alexanders today, but it was replaced in the daily kitchen by celery, much as fat hen was replaced by its cousin spinach.
Locavore spoke to Kerry Bowness about her love of nature, harvesting sustainably, and the treasure hunt that is foraging.
Even the most eco-friendly products tend to come in plastic bottles or similar. As is so often the case, the forest can supply a solution.
Mushroom season is a fickle mistress. Traditionally things are winding down by November, but fungi are not sticklers for tradition.
The autumn kitchen is a busy one; filled with pans of bubbling fruit, trays of drying fungi, and boxes of curing walnuts.
Usually October and November are the months for wild chestnuts, but regardless of timing they are often tiny malformed things with little actual flesh. Sometimes you do come across a good crop, more often later in the season when the seed has had time to fully develop, although the squirrels also know this.
Chicken-of-the-woods (Laetiporus sulphureus) is a startling fungus. Often bright yellow, and rather alien in appearance, it grows mostly on the trunks of oak trees, though sometimes on poplar or yew. It is a parasitic fungus, and eventually causes the rot and death of its host.
At the back of the house there is a room that originally would have been the ‘summer kitchen’. It would have had a sink, a dirt floor, a fire or oven, little else. It would have been used for cooking in the hot, dry summer months as a way of keeping the main house cool.
The giant puffball is a true beauty. In the meadows and on the hillsides in high hazy summer, they pop up in ones, twos, threes, sometimes in vast numbers. Coming across a ring of these fantastical mushrooms in a field, or spotting them from afar on the other side of a valley, is exciting and a little otherworldly.