Saturday, 16 June 2012

Kitchen Witchery




The most basic form of alchemy is cooking.  I like that.

 
I am an enthusiastic, if slightly lackadaisical forager and my little ones are showing all signs of being so too.  They recognise lavender, calendula, chamomile, elderflower, sloes, rose hips and blackberries a mile off and woe betide mama if she dares not stop at each and every natural treasure trove we pass by.  I should really invest in some sturdy blackberrying baskets so that I have safe carriage for our hauls rather than getting home with half of it squashed or having jumped ship as we cycle over bumps and humps.

I think I have Celtic roots, I feel as if I do, some of this foraging alchemical instinct seems familiar in an innate time honoured way and what little I know of various ancestors tends to agree.  The Celts were nature folk and their knowledge of the Earths bounty and power extensive.  So as I try to gather in folklore - folk knowledge if you will, of hedgerow remedies and recipes where they've been banished from our culture, perhaps from my direct lineage since the Romans menaced Britain, I also want to pass this knowledge directly on to my children.  I want to empower them and chance that the flame of folk knowledge may start burning brighter with each successive generation of our family.  In that way I am recovering this knowledge alongside them, I like that too.

Not only is it about our roots it is about resourcefulness, local resilience and harmony with the earth.  There is nothing more satisfying than tasting food or taking potions we've grown or gathered ourselves.  Harmony and delight ripple through with each bite and spoonful.  It is also about rejecting multi-national, mass produced unethical food and medicine.  It's about empowering myself and my family, about showing them the alternative.  My Aunt once told me the reason she followed homoeopathy is so that she could be directly in control of her families health not some GP and system she barely knew or trusted.  She sent me my first bottle of Bach Flower Remedy when I was 16, then a box of green tea and my treasured Holistic Herbal the following Christmas ... the rest is history, that is the seed my fascination grew from.



So this weeks alchemical delights .... litres and litres of elderflower cordial, the only bottles I have left to decant to are empty gin and vodka bottles ... guess I won't be giving those out in the playground!  A pleasing sepia moment worthy of drinking in as I reached, jumped for and picked these fragrant heads with my small girl, my friend Lorraine and her mother under sunny skies in the country park on Thursday.  Three generations of women foraging.  Happy.

I remember the little bottles of cordial my friend Laura's mum used to make and distribute between friends in the playground when I was small and how I figured it was really rather clever to be able to make this oneself.  Now I know the secret and carry the torch, loving the smiles that the gift of a bottle elicits from those I love.


And I think I might have fallen belatedly in love with Mr Fearnley-Wittingstalls particular brand of alchemy too! This take on tabulleh needed no tinkering with, he obviously did enough of that himself. The recipe is perfect and though I didn't grow the bulgar wheat or gather spices myself, the result was as delightful as if I had, because the alchemy worked. Even Gaia wolfed it down.



This year I will be able to harvest the roots of my Valerian plant for the first time in the autumn.  It's a mighty impressive plant and for something that is reputed for smelling and tasting so vile as medicine and tea the blooms above ground smell like fairy cakes! Then there's the tansy romping away and oh I can't wait to make a Tansy cake ... this is something else I remember from childhood, my friend Olivia's mum used to bake this floral delight ...

... all these women who have had interests themselves in natures bounty, little did I know it at the time that their interests would influence me so greatly ... then again we are but reflections of our loved ones are we not?

One of my deepest hopes is that Gaia and Zander will be taken by the path of nature and will enjoy these skills, this knowledge, this journey as much as I am.  And one day I hope they try to encourage their little ones onto the same path, return to our collective roots.

Blessings and light x x x

10 comments:

  1. This is so beautiful! I had promised a similar post to Calamity Jane at her blog Apronstringz....but haven't got my act together and I would like to nominate this post instead - how would you feel if I asked her to guest post this? It's really really beautiful :-) X

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  2. Thank you Motherfunker, if you really think other people would like to read this then yes by all means let her use it, I'd be more than happy to share. Much love and happy sunday. x x x

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    1. I think her readers would LOVE it! You have a beautiful gift for language. I pm'd her and linked to this post xxx

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  3. I love the simplicity of this blog, but with so much valuable information. Thank you for visiting and leading me to your site. XOXO

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    1. The pleasure was all mine, thank you for your lovely words Susan and your own brand of inspiration :) x x x

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  4. Lovely post Rose, and beautiful photos. Luke's really interested on foraging too. We,ve been looking at foraging books together recently, but haven't seemed to have the chance to get out and about to look for anything. You've definitely inspired me to do that. The elderflower cordial sounds lovely. Kelly xx

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    1. Glad to have inspired you Kelly and thank you for reading. Sometimes the thought of a big bowl of sticky cordial stewing on the side is a lot in the chaos of motherhood but the results are always well worth it! Happy foraging x x x

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  5. I'm glad the elderflower cordial legacy continues :) It seems to be impossible to find clean elderflower in London! The smell of it stewing always makes me think of childhood summers. xxx

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    1. Laura Jones is that you?! :) I always remember the little bottles that your Mum passed on :) I am so lucky, we have oodles of clean elderflower here. Does your mum still make it? I hope my kids remember the smell and the assostiation with summer just like you do. x x I could always send you some if you fancied .... x

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  6. Yes it is :D My mum still makes it sometimes, there's a tree on her allotment... I think I should go home and make some with her and then I can steal it!! xxx

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