Hannah here: When an email from Fore Adventure popped into my inbox inviting me to one of their foraged, seasonal feats, my interest was piqued immediately. I clicked through to the blog and delved into their wonderful Dorset world of coasteering and sea kayaking and feasting. I reckon I lost a whole morning wistfully losing myself in their blog. Seasonal celebrations! Feasts with friends! Foraging! Forest school! Cool font! Top photography! So so so many big ticks from us. Rach, one of the Fore Adventure team, and I, have since been emailing back and forth and the more I discover about this amazing organisation on the rural Dorset coast, the more I love them. We hope to work with the team in the future, and we're starting by introducing a new monthly column about foraging and cooking. This was one of our dreams when we started the blog so we are thrilled that Rach is up for becoming a Seeds and Stitches contributor and giving us a delicious seasonal, often foraged, feast once a month. This is one of the brilliant contributors I have lined up for whilst Davina is on maternity leave (no baby news as yet!). Thank you SO much Rach, and we cant wait to hear more from you!
The Good Stuff
There are some things that just make us feel good inside. You know the one, that kind of fuzzy, inner glow type feeling? There’s a good smorgasbord of things that get us in to that somewhat zen state with getting outside being one of those sure fire recipes for smiley happy people. With winter knocking on our door there is something even more satisfying about breaking out of your four walls- it must be the rosy cheeks, muddy wellington boots and windswept hair that makes you look like you went through a bush (whether you did or not).
That’s the good stuff.
And us at Fore/adventure are all about that sort of good stuff; being out of those doors, whether on the sea or in the woods (we’re not fussy).
We get up to a whole heap of adventures on our coastal patch but one of our die-hard loves is for foraging- making that connection between our environment and our plate. Not just because we think its good to understand our environment, or because we reckon it might be better for our bodies but because we love gathering around a table with our mates and eating our hearts content.
Foraging is a natural treasure hunt- with the treasure being wild food, found using a pair of keen eyes and perhaps a little handbook. You city folk might be counting yourself out of this microadventure, but foraging is for the urban and rural human. Promise! We’ve got a recipe and challenge for you to prove it...
The Stinging Nettle. Don’t be alarmed.
This guy, although he can be precarious, is more useful than his sting lets on. And as they go, this is an easy forage- the stinging nettle seems to be one of the first thing us Brits learn to identify (perhaps because of fear of pain alongside its prolific presence).
Nettles’s grow indiscriminately, and you will find them whether your home patch is one of rolling hills or rising concrete heights. Packed full of vitamin C, these things are good for us and you can do more with them than the go-to nettle soup. The prime time to get picking them is in spring/summer but for now you are still good to go on the nettle patches that were cut back and that have had a second fresh growth.
Sure, stinging nettles are named so for a reason. The easiest way then to gather your haul is using some scissors and pretty thick gloves (picking the top, freshest leaves only). If however you fancy a more grizzled challenge that might impress those you gather to share in your bounty, there is an art to picking without being stung…
Combatting the direction of the tiny hairs that cover the nettle and that harbour the stinging potion, the trick is to move your fingers upwards, grabbing the stem below the young leaves at the top (Kudos to you if you give it a go!).*
And now to the kitchen. Here’s a little recipe for nettle pesto…
- 6 packed cups of raw and washed stinging nettles
- ¾ of a cup of parmesan or other hard and similar cheese
- The juice of ½ a lemon
- ½ a cup of toasted pine nuts
- A couple of cloves of garlic
- A glug of olive oil
- Salt and pepper
(Note- pesto comes from a word meaning ‘pound’ so we always reckon its best to make this using a mortar and pestle but if you don’t have one, you can use your blender)
- Boil your nettles for ½ minutes, then cool them off by dumping them in a bowl of ice water, before draining and squeezing out as much moisture as you can using a tea towel or something similar
- Pound your toasted pine nuts in the mortar and pestle, adding in the garlic and doing more of the same
- Chuck in your cheese, nettles and lemon juice and mash until its pretty well broken down
- Add as much olive oil as you fancy until it reaches the consistency you are after (less for a paste, more for a sauce)
There you have it. It’s good to remember too that a leaf, like an apple, as it is exposed to air will discolour- you can combat this by adding a layer of olive oil on top of the paste in whatever jar you keep it in. We reckon you want to have it eaten up within a couple of days (shouldn’t be too hard).
Yep. Getting outside, getting to know your environment, getting that little bit muddy and that little bit rosy cheeked is the good stuff. If you fancy an adventure and a trip to the coast, for yourself or your little humans, then come say hello. From foraging to feasting, bushcraft to fishing, wild camping to retreats, kayaking to coasteering- we live life through adventure. Nice to meet you.
*There is a way to forage that is not so good for the environment- that includes taking more than you need, picking rare things, and the issue of permission. You can have a trawl through the web to find out good/bad ways to get wild feasting
P.S To learn a bit more about Rachel, head over the the very very lovely Circle of Pine Trees blog
P.P.S Top 2 images are by photographer Justin Glynn, courtesy of Fore/Adventure. Remaining images are courtesy of Rach from Fore Adventure.