August 27, 2013

How the local forests look after us

When I took our dog for his walk this morning I noticed that the first blackberries are ripe and later I found one of the last patches with ripe blue berries.
my pickings this morning


another few weeks and these are ready for picking: Elderberries

In the west of Ireland as a kid August meant you could have a very healthy snack by picking fresh blackberries along the road side, and if you knew the right spots add some fresh hazelnuts to your diet, too. No where else have I ever seen such masses of blackberry bushes.

So seeing some bushes in the forests made me a little homesick for my childhood summer adventures.

I find it strange that those gifts of mother nature are ignored by most people. As these are not only free, you can also be pretty sure they are not sprayed or otherwise contaminated unless of course they are growing on an old dump site. In Europe they scare you off in most countries with the chances of catching Echinococcus multilocularis. But if you boil your fruits that will not be a problem as the eggs die with temperatures above 60C/140F. And also I read a couple of articles lately that say it is actually easier to win the lotto than acquire tapeworms from any berries in the woods. But there is quite a chance that your not-dewormed-much-beloved pet will pass it on to you!

In northern and mid Europe I have found the following berries in nature (I know there are many more, but these are the ones I have used for many years and feel save to recommend):

Early summer you will find wild strawberries. They are absolutely tiny and you will be picking a long time with most likely a sore back by the end of the day before you have enough for even one glass of jam. BUT they are so intense in taste!

some late blueberries

Mid July is usually the best time to find blue berries. Unfortunately it is also high season for horse flies, so picking them between 8am and 9pm on dry days comes with a high price. The early bird will pick the blue berries unharmed!
Mid August the season for blackberries and raspberries starts.
End of August you will find elderberries. Also very yummy are the elderflowers in spring. This spring I made syrup, lemonade and jelly of the flowers. All 3 of these are a culinary delight.

My pickings I cleaned and froze for now. Once I have a little more time I want to make jam.

August 13, 2013

Iced PB-Banana Bites

These are very simple to make and kids love them. Well not just kids.... We made them for my sons Birthday party.
Slice 2 Bananas in about 3-4mm thick slices. Take a little spoon or spatula and add a wee scoop of peanut butter on half of them, top them with other half and put in freezer for at least 45 min. in the mean time melt choc of your liking roughly 150-200gr. I made them with a lactose free milk choc and some 85% dark chocolate. Once your freezing time is up, get your little sandwiches out and dip them in the melted choc. I used two forks for this job and that worked pretty well. Then stick them back into freezer and try to freeze them for a few hours (or start picking away, if you are anything like me).