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Picture the scene, the whole family are out foraging for holly. We climbed over barbed wire fences and through boggy ground all because my family likes a sprig of holly in their front room! We only picked a few stems each in order to leave plenty for the birds, and remember that holly berries are poisonous.

Foraging for holly with the Moon family!

Foraging for holly with the Moon family!

It was a real Christmas moment; Aunty Steph, as I am referred to, got the family foraging for fun! Unfortunately the day ended a little earlier than expected with one of my nieces standing on the frozen layer of ice on a water trough and the ice cracking. You can guess what happened next…freezing cold water drenched the inside of her wellies, so much so that she could pour the icy water out of her boots!

So when the nephews had me running down the field with a pretend machine gun, I thought, well this is what kids should be doing at Christmas! It was great to spend time with the kids and it definitely wore me out!

Why not try our fondue recipe, it warms up even the coldest of toes! The great news is that you can use up bits of cheese from Christmas – whichever proves to be the least favourite!

Fondue recipe served with crusty bread

Steph x

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Dear Wild Cooks,

A few months ago I was out and about foraging away at Rudding Park when I bumped into some of the lady golfers on the 18 hole Hawtree Course. The ladies pointed me in the right direction to two amazing sloe bushes and as a token of my appreciation, I vowed to give them a bottle of my home made sloe gin for their Christmas party.

Rudding Park Lady Golfers at their Christmas Party

Rudding Park Lady Golfers at their Christmas Party

These amazing sloe bushes were packed to the max with burstingly fruity sloe berries! If you have not made your sloe gin yet there are some left on the black thorn trees but not many! They say sloe gin is best made after the first frost, well now you can squeeze the berries in your hands because they are so ripe! Please see my recipe for sloe gin.

Chef Richard Fiddler handing out the sloe gin!

Chef Richard Fiddler handing out the sloe gin!

I am afraid that all the recent snow is not good news for the golfers, but hopefully my sloe gin will put a smile on our Lady Captain’s face and the girls up at the Rudding Park Golf Club.

Despite the weather, we have happy lady golfers!

Despite the weather, we have happy lady golfers!

Steph x

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My dear Wild Cooks, sometimes we are wild in one way (Hedgerow tastic) and sometimes we are wild in another (madness!) – this is definitely the other!

Viking Madness!

Viking Madness!

So when visiting the World Travel Market in London, why not wear a Viking hat and blow a Viking horn on the Welcome to Yorkshire stand? It seemed like a good idea at the time and I even got to stamp a Viking coin, all care of the Jorvik Viking Centre in York. We had “Vikings on Tour” on the Welcome to Yorkshire Stand!

Steph blowing her Viking horn!

Steph blowing her Viking horn!

So it got me thinking, what would a Viking eat? Would all the ingredients be foraged and how would they cook it? Would you believe it, Vikings were very diverse in their eating habits and popular ingredients included:

Gulls Eggs – now protected
Herons – do not even think about it!
Seaweeds – this is ok folks so fill your boots!
Nuts and berries – we know some are safer than others, but always check what you are eating
Horsemeat – ohh!
Dried Herring -yum
Roach and Pike- a bit bony!

Afterwards I thought to myself, why not make a dish fit for a Viking? So here is a typical offering back in the day, Honey and Apple Wild Boar One Pot.

Wild Cook at the Jorvik Viking Centre

Wild Cook at the Jorvik Viking Centre

After all this madness I think a relaxing lunch at Clocktower is much more my style!

Steph

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These berries can be picked and gathered from Rowan Trees (also known as Mountain Ash) in early September. Many recipes for this jelly use ½ apples and ½ rowan berries. However, the further north you go the tendency is to use a greater percentage of rowan.

If you are lucky the apples can be gathered from the roadside where they are free!  Please take care when foraging on a roadside as pesticides may have been applied to crops and fields that are within your foraging range. Do not peel or core them, but chop them roughly and put them in a pan with the rowan berries. The more rowan you use the deeper the colour and the tarter the taste is.

rowan berries and apples in the pan

Rowan berries and apples in a pan

Cover the fruit with water, bring to the boil and simmer gently for 2 hours or until soft.

Strain through a jelly bag or an old pillow case and allow to drip overnight but do not squeeze as this will make the jelly cloudy. We hung our fruit from a stool in the kitchen, oh and make sure the bowl underneath the sack is large enough to catch all the juice!

straining the cooked berries

Straining the cooked berries in a sack

Measure the volume of the resulting juice, re heat it in a pan, and then add 1 pound of sugar for every pint of juice. Continue to heat gently until all the sugar dissolves, and then bring to a fierce boil for approximately 30 minutes.

Bringing the liquid back to the boil

Bringing the liquid back to the boil

To test for setting, add a small amount of the liquid to a saucer and allow to cool. The less ripe the apples were the higher the pectin content and the more likely the jelly is to set well.

the jelly setting test

The jelly setting test!

If your liquid does not set, bring it back to the boil for a little longer and try the setting test again.

Once you are happy with your liquid, pour it into small jars which have been warmed (but not roasted) in the oven. Leave on the side in the jars and hopefully you can enjoy this delicious jelly the following day!

Jelly in the warmed jars

Jelly in the warmed jars

Wild Cook Peter

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