Autumn Elders

Now, I tend to get excited about the elder trees in late spring, when their dusty, creamy flowers promise oodles of flavour to add to gin, vodka or cordial to name but a few. I have to admit that I didn’t even know that the berries were anything special, or even edible. I was brought up to be wary of berries that you weren’t 100% sure about, and although I loved eating sloes in front of school friends who were convinced that they were poisonous (along with pulling the flowers off dead nettles and chasing some of my more gullible class-mates), my knowledge of autumn’s berries didn’t extend much further than that.


Continue reading “Autumn Elders”

We went a-foraging


Autumn is my favourite season. I know I’ve said that before, and I’ve said it about other seasons. But autumn is absolutely my favourite. It’s the time when you can see nature at work around you, busy with the last push of productivity before winter sets in. It’s a great time to get out and nick gather or forage the wonderful goodies that nature puts out there for us. It seems that, for most people, foraging doesn’t really go beyond picking a few blackberries out of the hedges by the footpaths. But if you spent most of your childhood Octobers being dragged around the hedges looking for sloes and crab apples, you’ll be aware of how much more is out there. And I’m sure I only know a fraction of what’s available for the hard-core forager. Continue reading “We went a-foraging”

My Muesli


I have two breakfast seasons: the first, from roughly late September until late March, is the porridge season; the second, is the muesli season. (Or perhaps the muesli season comes first, and the porridge second. Chicken, egg, chicken, egg.) Of course it had to be Muesli, I am, after all, in the land that invented it. It was “invented” (as far as that term can be applied to roughly mixing a list of ingredients) just over a hundred years ago, as a healthy meal for his patients, by Dr Bircher-Benner, a physician who had ideas that fruit and vegetables that hadn’t been cooked to within an inch of their lives were good for you. Continue reading “My Muesli”

Plums, the second.


So, 4lb 12 oz mirabelle plums down, 7lb 12oz  *insert species here* plums to go. (I’m not good on my plum species classification. We didn’t cover that at school…) They were that beautiful, well, plum, purple, flesh somewhere between yellow and green. But I’d had enough of jam-making for one week, so I had to find another option.

One of the things that I associate with autumn (albeit later autumn than this, normally straight after the first frost,) is Sloe Gin. Continue reading “Plums, the second.”

Plums, the first.


There’s nothing like the smell of cooking plums to get that lovely warm autumnal feeling going. Even if the weather is giving me doubts about the season (it’s not) I’d be pretty sure where I was just from that smell. The taste and smell of plums completely absolutely encapsulates the feeling of my favourite season.
So I was extremely happy when I spent the night after the latest (and last) wedding of the year at the house of some friends who live considerably more rurally than I do, and discovered that they have both a plum tree and a mirabelle plum tree producing more fruit than they could use. (Well, what could I do, it was only my duty…) Continue reading “Plums, the first.”