Winter is here.

Today I woke in Dun Laoire  to a bright sunny but chilly morning. An early morning run,  the sun lighting  up the yellow and Bronze leaves and sparkling on Dublin Bay, poetic pinks and blues of the early morning sky.

I’m out again in the afternoon another walk, this time in woods and by river suck in county Galway, low sun through the trees and on the water, flocks of ducks and waders, Blewits and Cloudy Agarics under the trees, I’ll serve these with cous-cous and veggies and a handful of Stellaria with it’s tiny white flowers.

In the fields shaded from the sun patches of fog and frost linger all day, on way home something catches my eye and I jump the wall to investigate, my curiosity is rewarded with a large patch of Horse Mushrooms. November 23,2014 003

My fleece top makes an instant “basket” to carry home the booty.

November 23,2014 007 November 23,2014 009

Meanwhile I am busy introducing my Wild  Beech Leaf Liqueur to the best outlets and will have stocks in Galway, Dublin, Limerick, Cork, Tullamore, Portlaoise  and of course Birr shortly. Thank you all for inquiries and your patience. tasting at Egan’s wine shop Portlaoise Friday November 28th.

November, what to forage.

November brings shorter days and cooler temperatures.But the light and colours of November are special, getting out to the woods and wild can be very rewarding with our visiting birds and surprise finds in hedgerows.

Now is the time to go searching for Rose hips which shine from the hedges. Sloes are ready for picking also and there may be some Spanish or sweet Chestnuts still around.

Fields, lawn and verges can yield Sorrel and even some Vetch or wild Marjoram.It’s also a good time to dig up roots of Dandelion, chop and dry for dandelion coffee, I picked up a pack in a shop today, 100grams for 3.19 euro, that’s 31.90 euro per kilo! it was made in Germany and packed in England, why not make your own.november mushrooms

Veg and flower gardens, especially my untidy one, have Corn salad, Chickweed and Hairy bitter cress.

Walls and stony places can yield Navelworth and House Leek.

Watercress  is a good November forage if you have a clean source.

 Woods are full of beautiful and varied fungi, admire them all and maybe you will encounter some Hedgehog, Blewits, Puffballs , Chanterelles or Cloudy agarics.Be sensible when collecting new species and identifying, when in any doubt ask a knowledgeable person and with some, such as Blewits and Cloudy agaric try just a little first time as some people suffer gastric upset.

Grab you coat hat and gloves, Kids of all ages enjoy, kick up the leaves while you’re out and make the most of the daylight.

For a different kind of forage, with two or three adults a word on “fashion” try wearing earthy colours, browns and greens, forget the deodorant, aftershave or perfume, go quietly.Why? well if you go quietly and blend in to your surrounding you have a much better chance of spotting wild life, a kingfisher on a river, a flock of tiny coal tits feeding, a deer .Just sit quietly for even ten mins sipping that warming drink and watching.

On a  recent foray while standing at the edge of a puddle a mouse popped out of the grass at our feet and plunged into the water, swam across the puddle, hauled itself up the bank and sat at a safe distance watching us.A memorable encounter for me and maybe for the mouse too.

In September we came across two male goats engaged in battle,smashing and crashing their headgear together, exhausting themselves in an effort to impress the ladies.

 

 

November forage, Roundwood house, laois

Hannah and Lucy discovering wild foods at Roundwood house,

Hannah and Lucy discovering wild foods at Roundwood house,

November first, you might think it too late in year to go foraging.
Not so, on Saturday a group of guests and I gathered for a wild food talk, forage and dinner.
The talk focused mainly on mushroom hunting, how to forage safely and sustainably and how to include and inform children, also the benefits of mushrooms, not just in our diet.
The walk, in grassland, garden and under magnificent trees yielded 5 different edible mushrooms and plenty not for the pot, but beautiful in themselves.
We also collected fresh greens and some berries then headed back to the warmth of the fire to enjoy a sip of my Damson Vodka and relax before dinner.
Dinner was sublime, one delicious course followed another, with our wild finds combined with best of local produce.
The mood was relaxed, old friends and new sharing a special meal.Our two chefs, Paddy and Ted joined us for a well deserved desert. A nightcap sip of my Beech Leaf Liqueur rounded off the evening beautifully.

Thank you to Mama nature for her beauty and bounty.
Thank you to everyone for a great day and to Hannah,Paddy, Amilee and Lucy for the welcome at Roundwood.

 

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