Wild garlic …

The fasting month is over and the balcony garden is more or less on its own foot now, so I am quite eager to go out and do some summer foraging on my own. From the brief ‘recceing’ that I had done while running some errands on foot, I have already identified some stuff that I am keen to lay my hands on before it is too late. After all, foraging for wild food is all about timing. You need to be there at the right season and at the right time to forage for the edibles that you covet. Having missed many foraging opportunities in spring, I wanted to make sure that I would make up for it in summer! Errr … and in autumn, too, of course!😉

But first, let me share about wild garlic … also known as bear’s garlic in French and German or ramson in the United Kingdom.

As I mentioned in an old post on wild garlic, it was the mum who introduced me to the wild garlic plants that were growing in their copse. And ever since I got to know about their wild existence, each year without fail I would pick some to bring home for us to be able to enjoy these early spring delicacies.

Hmmm … maybe picking ‘some’ might not be quite the correct word  to use.

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Picking a paper bag full … enough to fill three colanders would be a more accurate description! hehehe …😀

Well … since the parents do not live near us, it makes sense to pick as much as I can whenever I have the chance to do so. Especially since these are seasonal delicacies and they have only a very short season and neither the parents nor their neighbours seem interested in these spring edibles growing in their copse.

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Wild garlic greens covering the slope leading to the stream in the copse below the parents’ home.

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And there were even more of them growing on the opposite side of the small stream. Basically, the stretch along the stream is a wild garlic haven.

However, as most of them were growing on a slope, it was literally a back-breaking endeavour having to bend down while at times maintaining one’s balance on the slope in order to pick them.

But they were free and available … and would have wilted and died away if nobody picked them (only to grow in even greater quantity the following year) … so, it was my sacred duty to help control their growth and not to throw away free food for the taking!😀

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The same slope when the wild garlic plants were in full blooms two years ago.

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Unfortunately, I missed this blooming spectacle last year and again this year. There were not that many open blooms when I visited the parents in April and early May. And by the time I visited the parents again in early June … their blooming season was already over.

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All that was left were just these seed pods. But as I had learnt just earlier this year from a video on wild foraging that these pods could also be used in cooking …

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… so I was more than happy to pick these, too! I used them to flavour my pasta dishes and vegetable stir-fries. Crushing them before putting into the mix helped to release their flavour. Kept in the fridge these seed pods seem to last for weeks.

By the way, this year I am happy to have discovered a small patch of wild garlic growing not too far away from home. However, as it was just a very small patch and as it was growing next to a small road, I decided to leave the patch alone. Nonetheless, I could not resist the temptation to pick more of them when I saw a sizeable patch during our annual trip up the mountains to pay the lovely narcissus a visit!

So what did I do with my big stash of wild garlic leaves?

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Well … the main bulk of the wild garlic leaves, together with fresh bay leaves (which I also ‘foraged’ at the parents😉 ) became pesto sauce.

I stored the uncooked pesto sauce in small plastic containers in the freezer so that I only need to take out one small container at a time for cooking, thus leaving the rest untouched in the freezer. Done this way, they keep for a long time … providing me with wild garlic pesto throughout the year until I am able to make a fresh batch at the next wild garlic season.

Previously, I used the pesto only for preparing our pasta meals. But this year … I decided to be a bit more adventurous.

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I also used it as the basic spread on ready made flatbread instead of the usual tomato sauce to make what the hubby called mini pizza …

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.. as well as to make wild garlic breads.

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And I also made wild garlic pinwheels using store bought pastry base for making croissants. This quickly became one of my favourite ways of using the wild garlic pesto as it is not only easy to make but it also tastes so yummy. The buttery taste of the croissant pastry goes very well with the wild garlic pesto.

I also tried using the pastry base for making apple tart and this turned out more like biscuits … which the hubby seemed to prefer, especially after these ‘biscuits’ had cooled down. He claims that they are very addictive!:-)

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Apart from pesto, the wild garlic leaves also make quite a tasty soup. There are several recipes on wild garlic soup to choose from the Internet and of course, I chose the easiest to do using ingredients that were already available. The dainty white flowers of the wild garlic made a nice garnish as they are also edible.

And as for the rest of the fresh leaves, I just chopped them and …

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… added them into vegetable stir fries.

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… into soup noddles.

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… into fried rice.

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.. and also into vegetable fritters!

Nothing fancy, I know … but they fed our tummies, and I really enjoyed eating them knowing that I had picked them in the wild. These wild food is like gifts from heaven. Life cannot be any simpler and more satisfying.

Other entries on wild garlic:

 

Eid Mubarak …

Alhamdullilah … like several million other Muslims who live in this part of the hemisphere, I have survived my first fasting during those two months of the year with the longest days. Indeed, the days were long … but we were so fortunate in Lausanne that the start of fasting was accompanied by frequent rains and cool weather.  By the time the weather had decided to turn for the worst (for the fasting … but definitely for the better for my babies on the balcony!) we were already nearing the end of Ramadan.

It is with sadness and much reluctance that I let the blessed month go on its way … but … inshaaAllah, I hope to welcome it again next year.

In the meantime …

Hari Raya 2016

For my non-Malay speakers … the pantun or quatrain loosely translates …

Flowers that beautiful and bright,
Being look in Eid-ul-Fitr,
Speech being sent as personal substitute,
Memento not forget at heart.

… by one of the free online translation services! hehehe …😀

Oh well … I did not want to have to think too hard about how it translates into English … but I am sure that you get the gist of its meaning, no?😉

 

 

Balcony garden … in late June …

It is the end of June and the beginning of summer … and the sunny weather is finally here to stay … horrayyy!!!

So my balcony garden is finally starting to shape up and is looking a lot like … a balcony garden! hehehe …😀

Even though I started my gardening act on the late side this year … not until nearly mid April as I had been away for several months … I am happy that my balcony potager is making good progress. No doubt, it is lagging behind other potager gardens … but with good weather I am pretty sure that it will soon catch up. In fact, we have already started to eat produce from our small potager!

I am actually quite pleased with myself because … despite the lateness in starting my gardening season this year and the fear that my plants might not have enough time to produce any edibles, I persevered in growing everything from either seeds or cuttings rather than trying to jumpstart my potager by buying potted plants and vegetable seedlings from the garden centre. It was tempting to do so … but, then, I have hundreds of packets of seeds to sow. So sensibility won.

As for those plants that I do not have the seeds or cuttings, there is always the small private garden centre at my disposal at  … errr … the parents’! hehehe …😀

The mum was very kind to let me have cuttings of some of the herbs at her potager (as several of mine died while I was absent) for me to try to grow … and she even offered to share several of the seedlings that she had been sowing. In fact, she even helped to sow some nasturtium seeds for me when I told her that I would have liked to have some but that I had never been very successful at sowing the seeds. Awww … so sweet of her, no?

Okay, here are a few shots of my balcony potager, still a work in progress …

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Looking out the balcony door from the living room … at my pride and joy …

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… as it stretches right up to the kitchen door.  There is already a lot of plants growing on our balcony, I know … but … errr … I still have several more to squeeze into the lot!😀

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To maximise space usage this gardening season, I decided to use the mini greenhouse frame as shelving for small pots and those that require some shade from the hot glare of the summer sun.

So for my golden sweet peas which used to claim this frame for themselves every gardening season …

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… I staked bamboo poles into the container and then tied raffia strings loosely all over them for the sweet peas to cling to. The bamboo frame has survived being batted by strong winds … so far … and hopefully it will continue to do so because …

Golden sweet peas

… I adore looking at the lovely sweet pea flowers … and I enjoy eating these golden sweet mangetout peas even more!

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I also use the railing brackets to put rectangular planters to grow more plants, mostly herbs and edible flowers such as pot marigolds, nasturtiums, lavender, oregano, chives, etc.

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These beauties which I salvaged from an abandoned area below us before they started the building construction project will join the rest of the edible flowers on the railing. From just a few cuttings these violas tricolour have now occupied the whole rectangular planter and have not stopped flowering since early this year. For some people they might be just weed … but I love their exuberance and robustness. I do not have to water them much and yet, if I feel like it I can eat them! Yup, they are not only pretty to look at but they are edible, too. My kind of flowers!:-)

And, as usual, this gardening season, I am growing several new plants that I have never grown before. But more about them in  future posts.