Bristly oxtongue tempura, cooked over open fire.
Bristly oxtongue is often treated as a weed. The spiny tongue-shaped leaves look and feel like sandpaper, but when young they are juicy and milky, with a soft bitter flavor.
Ingredients for the tempura batter
Dip bristly oxtongue leaves into batter.
Drop into hot vegetable oil.
Fry til golden brown all over.
#campfirecooking #wildcooking #wildfoods #wildfoodlove #foraging #stanmerpark #brighton
#forage #foraging #stanmerpark #wildfood #rewildyourlife #wildfoodisdelicious #wildfoodlove #wildfoods #wildcooking #campfirecooking
Just make sure it's not the giant kind!
#forage #foraging #wildfood #stanmerpark #wildtime #rewildyourlife
#fire #foraging #experiment #wildcooking #reconnect #fornature #schoolofthewild #wilderness #rewildyourlife #brighton
Lighting the fire for the eating the food part of our foraging class.
Using dried cleavers, silver birch bark, and dry nettle stalks for tinder.
The fire lights at the first attempt using one of our Fire in a Tin kits. No matches or lighter needed.
Get your Fire in a Tin kit here
#firestarter #campfire #bushcraft #lightmyfire
Making fire is an essential camp and survival skill
When you're out in the wilderness, being able to make fire - along with making a shelter, drinking water, and finding food - is a key survival skill. Even if you're just out camping in the woods for the weekend, you need to eat, and you might want to boil water, keep warm and tell stories round something.
But do you have the skills and the know-how to make a fire? Did you bring what you need to make it? Matches can get wet or run out. A lighter needs fuel and can be hard to use if it's windy. A fire steel or a fire striker are both good options.
Then you'll need to gather dry wood, kindling to get it started, and tinder that'll catch an ember and help get your fire started.
Chances are that there are natural tinders and ignition extenders within sight that'll help you light a fire.
Have a look around at what's growing nearby. Dry, fluffy material - dead thistle heads, old man's beard, dried animal poo, cedar bark, dry grass - can all make good tinder.
Here's the lowdown on some of my favourites:
Pictures from today's foraging and wild food cooking masterclass led by Robert Fallon.
The fire lit, the sun was shining. We learned to make nettle pesto, wild pigeon medallions, chestnut flour pancakes and elderflower amber.
So much delicious wild food and learning packed into a morning.
Despite the sting and the trickiness of picking them, I love stinging nettles. Especially nettle tea which is tasty and energising.
We made nettle tea on Sunday which prompted me to write this post.
Nettles have been used for hundreds of years to treat all sorts of ailments, and will strengthen and support your whole body.
Nettles are one of the most nutrient dense wild foods you can find. In fact they're a superfood.
Nettles are high in calcium, chromium, magnesium, zinc, iron, selenium, potassium, trace minerals, protein and many vitamins including A and C...
Eating nettles or drinking nettle tea makes your hair shinier and your skin clearer, nourishes the blood, clears the mucous membranes and reduces inflammation - forager Robin Harford describes the feeling he gets from drinking nettle tea as like being moisturised from the inside out.
Basically nettle is all round very good for us. Here's just 30 of the benefits of nettles...
Pictures from our most recent event: A Day in the Woods with Fire, Conversation and a few Exercises
Spending time in the woods round a fire, sharing food and meaningful conversations with lovely people, and practising skills to feel more connected, aware and alive.
I'm still feeling the benefits.
What's not to like? Fire, great people, relaxed atmosphere, awareness building, spending time in a wood, shared food and discovering a new skill to make smoke 'not get in your eyes.'
What a lovely day with lovely people in a lovely place. Thanks everyone for being so present and so mellow.
Todd Walker is an experienced writer on wilderness survival skills and outdoor self-reliance. I don't agree with all of the 'prepper' stuff that he's into, but Todd's tips on survival in the wild are really excellent. Here's 19 of his useful lessons:
It was a beautiful sunny Sunday in Stanmer Park, Brighton. Perfect for our latest event, A Forager's Feast with Wild Spring Greens, led by Robert Fallon of Wild Nature.
We started by going out to forage for nettles, one of nature's superfoods. On the way to the nettle patch, we tasted Blackthorn flowers, and thistle stalks (remove the spikes first), and were warned about ragweed and hemlock.
Back at our outdoors kitchen, we prepared, and ate:
Pictures from the day below!
Since I was a child, Silver Birch has always been one of my favourite trees.
The wispy branches, and ghostly white bark always draw my attention in the woods.
Something about silver birch makes me feel safe. Perhaps because I can always tell it apart from other trees.
It has uses too.
The white peeling bark is great for lighting fires, and the buds and twigs have tons of medicinal uses:
I've just set up my dream course as part of School of the Wild - the project I decided to really 'go for' after doing The Journey at Embercombe in the summer of 2015.
At the end of The Journey, I pledged to stand up for what I believe, and this is it: The Nature Connection course.
The aim of this course is to experience a deeper, more participatory relationship with nature, learn new skills, and discover new ways of seeing yourself and the world.
The idea is that because it's local, and because it's weekly, we'll all go on a bit of a journey and the relationships and the connections - to the participants, and to the trees, animals, birds and plants - will continue beyond the course.
I've set this up because I truly believe that our separation from nature's health sustaining, nonverbal wisdom is responsible for the world's environmental problems, and many of the emotional and health issues that we suffer from.
If we can get the connection with nature back, we'll become better stewards of the planet, and of ourselves.
We are part of nature after all.
Fire Making Masterclass
The Fire is Within You
Sunday February 14th, 2016
I've done this fire class a few times, and learn something new every time, including the fire bending trick that keeps smoke out of your eyes. Thanks as always to Robert Fallon for leading it, and everyone who came along.
"See you outside the gate at 8.30," says Robert. He means in the morning, and I'll have to get up at 7am, on a Sunday... Sigh. I book the car, pack a few fire making kits (just in case), swapping out the small, mingey King Alfred cakes for larger ones.
Come the morning though, it's a beautiful day. Sunny and lush. And I get to the gate about 8.40am, just before Robert. Unfortunately it's locked.
Robert arrives a few minutes later in his 4x4, with girlfriend Lara. We stand around scratching our heads, trying to come up with another way in. I can see he's brought a ton of kit for this session.
Luckily a park ranger arrives and kindly lets us in.
Fire lit, and kettle on.
We unpack near the site. Robert's brought a wheelbarrow. It still takes about 7 trips. Water. Cooking utensils. Pots. Cutting boards. Tea and coffee. Tables. A lot more than for our fire making classes.
I put the fire grill together. "Can you get the fire going too?", says Robert. Ok, I think, already sweating in the heat. Cotton wool, matches, some thin dry sticks and bigger bits of wood. Everything's so dry, it lights pretty easily.
Fire lit, I head off down to the big House to greet the guests. We're expecting ten. Most of the participants are already waiting. Isobel's there. And Pip. Simon. A different Robert arrives smiling on his bike. Branwen pops out of a car. Sunny, Liz, Tatiana too. Andrew is running late.
We walk back together, via a path in the woods. Up at the site, Robert and Lara have worked wonders and everything is set up, with flowers on the tables. And water boiling on the fire.
Everything's set up for this wild food cooking masterclass
We start in a circle. Everyone says their name and their foraging experience, which ranges from complete beginners to a few who've done quite a bit. I lead a short meditation. The sound of the birds. The feel of feet on the ground, and air on skin. It's a way to arrive.
We're going to begin by making nettle pesto. First, we need to collect the nettles. They're a British superfood - the young shoots are best, and there's a good spot to find some nearby. "Grasp them firmly from underneath, show them who's boss," instructs Robert, "and you won't get stung."
We try... and we all get stung. A little bit.
We all get a little bit stung picking nettles
Luckily there's some dock leaves around, and Robert shows us how to get the juice out of them. It works surprisingly well.
We gather the nettles in baskets.
Back at the site, we stand round the tables Robert has set up. First job is to chop the beetroot as it takes the longest to cook.
Next: steep the nettles in hot water to remove the sting. It only takes a few minutes.
Then strain, and keep the juice - it makes an amazing tea, and we all have a taste.
Outdoors cooking class
We're going to make a wild food feast. Robert explains what to do at each step. The sun is shining as we work on the meal at our own stations round the table. It takes about an hour or so, and when we're done with the prep, the cooking is surprisingly quick - and then we eat... it's delicious!
Can't wait to try it!
A Forager's Feast
The full menu is nettle pesto, wild pigeon medallions, beetroot chips, followed by elderflower fritters. Here's the method and recipes for all the wild food we prepared, cooked and ate:
Get 2 or 3 beetroot each. (Shop bought, not wild)
Chop coarsely, then par boil in a saucepan of water over the fire.
Fry in hot oil on the fire til done.
Dry the nettles in a tea towel
Steep freshly picked nettles in hot water for a few minutes.
Strain and dry the nettles in a tea towel
Chop finely, and put in a bowl
Add garlic, nuts, Parmesan - all finely chopped
Drizzle oil, lemon juice, and salt to taste
Pound until you get your preferred consistency.
Wild pigeon medallions
(The pigeons were bought from a local ranger.)
Give thanks to the pigeon for it's life.
Lay it out on table
Open the breast, and peel off skin.
Make an incision along it's chest and carefully cut the breasts off
Check liver to see if the bird is diseased in any way. If there are spots, pitted skin, discolouration - you'll need to discard the whole bird.
If all is okay, wash the breasts, then
Cut them into smaller medallion size pieces
Fry in big hot skillet over the fire - it only takes a few minutes.
Carefully slice open the pigeon
Pick young fresh elderflower flowers straight from the tree.
Fresh elderflowers, straight off the tree
Baste in batter ( flour and water)
Drop head down into frying pan
Leave for a few minutes
When golden pull out
Add honey or icing sugar
Eat - delicious
Drop in batter, then fry over the fire. Delicious!
“This is your new sun,” says Alistair in appropriately hushed tones as he hands us each a lit candle. We take one and sit down, quietly reflecting on what we just experienced.
We’re sitting in the dark surrounded by trees, on wild land between Brighton and the South Downs. There’s a stillness in the air. In the distance, an owl hoots then a horse neighs, reminding us we're not alone out here. It’s December 21st, a few days before Christmas, and we’re coming to the end of School of the Wild’s ‘embodied’ winter solstice ritual.
The ritual is a silent reflection on the year that’s ending, and gathering of thoughts and intentions for the year ahead. Alistair’s devised it for this the longest night of the year. It's the Winter Solstice. Or it will be at 4.49 in the morning to be exact.
It’s about 8pm now, and it’s been properly dark for hours. The earlier driving rain is gone, the wind has died to nothing, and the moon is breaking through. We probably won’t stay out til the early hours, probably another hour or two.
Our solstice fire is a celebration of this turning point in the seasons. A marker that says our lives are part of a larger cycle, that’s always moving, always renewing. A profound way to tune into the magic and beauty of the season.
[To continue reading, click the read more link]
Damper bread was the traditional bread of Australian bush men, traditionally baked in the coals of a fire. It's very easy to make, and is great camp fire food.
Here's a version using hazelnuts mixed into the flour, shown to us by Jonathon Huet at our Wild Food and Medicine class.
Damper bread is delicious dipped in wild berry syrup, or simply buttered.
Third to Half Cup Flour
Quarter to Third Cup Water
Glug of Oil
Cooking time: 15 minutes
Serves 2 people
(multiply quantities for more people)
1. If you can, forage for hazelnuts, else use shop bought
2. Get fire going
3. Heat oil in large skillet over fire
4. Roughly crush hazelnuts in a bowl
5. Mix hazelnuts into the flour
6. Slowly add water to the flour and bring it together with your hands to make a dough
7. Form patties and drop them into the hot oil
8. Cook both sides until golden brown, ensuring the middle is cooked through
Author & Curator
Nigel Berman is the founder of School of the Wild.