In my opinion nothing tastes nicer on a fine spring evening than a plate of fabulous pan fried wild foraged fritters.
A bit of a mouthful you might say.
But what if I added, fritter’s made of nettle, goose grass and gorse flower with violet honey?
Would that tickle your taste buds? Oh and washed down with some cold Sancerre.
A meal fit for a king I hope you agree.
Because that’s the plan for this evenings supper.
But first to gather the ingredients.
I wake early.
Best pick while the morning dew is still on the leaves.
‘We are going foraging’ I tell the yellow bicycle, busily gathering up some bags and bowl.
She doesn’t reply. She is just a bicycle after all.
We head out the door.
Sometimes I forget my bicycles are not human.
I do see the yellow bicycle as my sort of magic carpet though.
And this morning as I sit on the saddle and say ” take me foraging” I see no differently.
Away we go.
There is a designated cycle path along the road where I live which is truly wonderful. I can pedal along quite safely on the busy dual carriageway looking to the sea on my left and the fields of gorse to my right.
I often see racing cyclists still using the dual carriage way and cycling two abreast , causing motorists to become irritated.
But maybe they are unaware of the cycle path.
Maybe because, mostly they have their heads down between the handle bars for a good view of tarmacadam and they just don’t see these lovely paths built for their and my benefit.
We get up the hill in first gear (the yellow bicycle has three) which I am proud of as we don’t always make it and turn left at the roundabout onto a single lane road, then right onto an even smaller road , a road with no white line in the centre. A wiggly windy ‘my kind’ of road with a few hill’s and little traffic.
One of the hills proves too steep, which I am happy about, because when I get off to walk I notice a carpet of violets on a sunny bank.
I take out a bowl and start to pick. Now normally I never forage along a roadside, but violet’s of such quality are hard to come by, plus no car has passed me since I turned onto this road and the grassy bank is high and away from the tarmac.
Within minutes I have gathered enough and still there is an endless supply left for the small honey bee that has become my companion (though he appears more interested in a nearby dandelion). At the bottom of the next hill I hear the sound of running water.
A small stream is disappearing under a stone bridge.
I stop to look over the bridge and notice a locked farm gate with a pedestrian gate at the side. It’s one of those gates which open half way to let you half way through and then when you shut it, it lets you through the rest of the way.
All very well for a person but not made to fit a bicycle.
So its off with the baskets and I lift the heavy yellow ticklish bike and do a sort of hip wiggling manoeuvre and we’re through.
The lane way we are on now is muddy and tree lined and runs along side the stream. The noise of car’s on the disant dual carriage way fades and the noise of bird song and the running of water takes over. The sun is glinting on leaves and throwing long shadows across our path.
Its a gentle calm place and I would have been happy to stay on it forever and just keep slowly pedalling but soon we come to a second gate and here the lane ends and opens out into a large field. This time the gate proved too high for me to lift the yellow bike over so I parked her among a nice bunch of cheery celandine, went through alone and headed off on foot. Looking back I could see the yellow bike blinking nervously in the sunlight behind the gate, trying to be brave. I may seem cruel as I know her imagination can run amok and she begins to see all sort’s of monsters and other faerie like thing’s (even though I repeatedly tell her that tree monster’s and dragon’s just don’t exist). ‘Ring your bell if your worried’ I call to her, checking first to make sure there are no other humans within earshot(I wouldn’t like to be thought of as odd) I spy a beautiful clump of nettles!
Nettles have incredibly endless health giving properties,
I would lose count if I were to list them all. So instead please read below.
There is an art to picking nettles by bare hand.
It is not for the faint hearted and you will not be seen to be a wimp if you resort to gloves or a plastic bag with your hand in it.
The trick is in the method and you have to be confident.
Firstly, where you pick from the plant will depend on what you are making.
I use the tip i.e. the top three young leaves for tissane’s, soups and colcannon.
I use the larger leaves from further down the stem for whole leaf tempura.
Once you have decided which you are going for just grasp it very firmly and with a squeezing action between your thumb and first finger.
If you do this firmly enough I promise it won’t sting and just mind you don’t brush off any other nettles.
Behind the nettles I spy some juicy goose grass. Goose grass also has amazing health giving properties but again don’t take my word for it . http://www.herbalextractsplus.com/goose-grass.html.
Now goose grass is easy to pick but for the tastiest parts just pick the top inch or so as lower than that it becomes stringy.
I sigh blissfully and stoop to smell them.
I’m humming happily to myself now , doing what I love best, being near to the ground and nature.
The sun is higher now and I hurry along to pick my final ingredient.
Gorse flower’s! Why am I not surprised to learn that the health benefit of this sunny yellow flower, smelling of coconut, might take the form in the lifting of one’s spirits.
I start to pick a happy bowl and again I am surprised by more ladybirds. Joyful little one’s, munching away at the aphid’s.
Soon I have a bowlful.
I make a fuss of the yellow bicycle and promise as a reward that we will cycle back by the garden centre and see has the Cherry blossom begun to bloom yet.
Back along the muddy path we go to the end of the lane.
I undo the basket once again and lift the yellow bike over the gate (it seem’s easier this time)
Refastening the basket I inhale the heady scent of violets and gorse blossom.
We sail around the corner, ignoring a small dog that shoots out of a gate and snaps at our wheels.
We are going so fast now he hasn’t a hope in catching us .
And then we slow down….
WOW…….. we sigh…..and reverently, slowly, gently, push forward to take a closer look .
There she is….
festooned in a thousand snow flower’s….
The faerie princess of all tree’s,
Magnificent in her white frothy dress.
I know what the yellow bicycle is wishing for.
I gently wheel her until she is standing under the white cherry blossoms.
We head home after our long day to make what we had planned.
Our delicious nettle , goose grass , and gorse flower fritter’s with violet honey and here is how we made them…..
For the fritters take……
I handful of nettles(ouch).
I handful of goose grass.
I handful of gorse flowers.
One egg(from a golden goose if you can find one ,otherwise a hen’s egg will do)
I cup self raising flower.
1/2 tsp of tumeric.
pinch sea salt.
I cup of chilled sparkling water.
Oil for frying.
One female goat (optional)
Method…. Steam the nettles and goose grass until soft and well wilted allow to cool then chop into inch size pieces.
Mix together the flour , turmeric and salt in a bowl.
Add egg(golden or plain) and water to flour mixture and whisk briskly until smooth,
Add cooled steamed nettles and goose grass and fold in.
Fold in raw gorse flower’s.
Heat oil in a pan.
Add spoonfuls of mixture and flatten slightly.
Cook on one side and when well brown turn and cook on other side.
Add a piece of goats cheese and let melt if lucky (goats can be found lurking around foraging area’s but maybe hard to catch and milk) please don’t feel you are cheating if you buy some goats cheese on your way home.
Place browned and crispy fritters on plate and serve with small dollop of violet honey.
To make violet honey…. pour honey into small jar and add violets.
Your feast should look something like this.
I would like to take this opportunity to say I cannot be held responsible for anyone who picks the wrong plant, gets badly stung by nettles, bee’s or wasp’s or gets butted in the behind by an irate goat. 🙂 Enjoy your meal.