We have seen an abundance of berries and nuts in the hedgerows around us this autumn.
The blackberries have been particularly good, so we have been enjoying lashings of jam on our sourdough from The Grateful Bread in Hexham. The acorns are huge this year too – I have never seen anything like them! If the old ways are to be believed, that means we are in for a cold winter.
On the foraging theme, we had the most incredible nettle pasta the other day. The last of the autumn nettles gave some lovely green tips (if there are seeds on the nettles they have gone too far). Always a tricky one to pick, they don’t seem to bother our Jonny – who deliberately stings his lower back with them to help circulation. After a quick trip out, he came back with two handfuls, which were simply washed, blanched in simmering water then placed in ice water to stop them cooking and keep in as many nutrients as possible before being squeezed to get rid of the water. These were then whizzed in the blender and mixed with 200g of 00 flour and two eggs. We kneaded for 10 minutes, rested for two hours, then put the dough through the pasta machine to make tagliatelle. We ate the most amazing pasta simply tossed in fried sage butter – and topped with oodles of microplaned parmesan!
Finally on the free food theme, we have also dried a few herbs ready for the depths of winter – including some yarrow – and we’ll be dipping into the cupboard for those soon.
It may be harder to keep energy levels up in the winter, but a bit of daylight every day does help. See you out there!
Vicky Moffitt, of Vallum Farm on Hadrian’s Wall, shares the trials and tribulations of the Kitchen Garden which supplies produce to the farm’s weddings and events marquee, and Restaurant Pine. Vallum, Military Road, Newcastle, NE18 0LL, tel 01434 672 652, www.vallumfarm.co.uk