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Bike seat cover and stinging nettles

March 28, 2012

Once again my brightly coloured bicycle seat cover has compelled yet another person to stop what they are doing in order to ask me where I got it (it’s something else from Sarah’s shop). As well as ensuring that I have a steady stream of compliments from passers by,  it’s a lovely, brightly coloured, useful and waterproof seat cover. Today’s commenter was Laura, originally from Canada, but now living in this neck of the woods (via San Francisco). She had a dog and a cup of herb tea with her. I think she’s pitched up in the right place here, especially given her culinary experience of Stinging Nettles (urtica dioca).

Laura said she had picked two carrier bags full of nettles and she’d plunged them into salted water and then rinsed them and stripped the leaves from the stems – which took ages –  and then (I think) cooked them. Or maybe she’s separated them into two piles and was going to cook them. Anyway, apparently they are delicious and can go in a spanakopita instead of spinach  – or with spinach – or be made into pesto. I was impressed. I’ve only ever tried nettle soup and I thought it was overrated.

I resolved to try this because a glut of something free is right up my street. Or so I thought. But actually I couldn’t bring myself to  harvest the nettles. They sting. Next time I see Laura I’ll ask about picking them.

So on the way home from school, fuelled by the idea of food for free from nature’s abundant harvest (and the fact that it was a beautiful and hot sunny day) Arlo and I decided to pick some young leaves of some wild garlic or ramsons (allium ursinum) from the shady woods. They are just beginning to carpet the ground here and they just right for picking  – if a little smelly. You have to watch that you don’t pick wild arum as well because they grow in the same places, but wild arum leaves are very shiny and arrow shaped (and poisonous). We picked a bunch of ramsons and set off for home. The idea was that we would wash them and shred them and lightly cook them in butter with salt and lots of pepper and use it as a pasta sauce. But Arlo had eaten pasta for lunch and you can have too much of a good thing. So the leaves are washed and in a bag in the fridge ready for tomorrow. Maybe there’ll be nettles by then too. Maybe not.

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