Tuesday 23 January 2024

Celebrating Winters Little Marvels.......

.........Snowdrops Galanthus usually have the stage to themselves,

but this year they are sharing a platform with other Spring plants who are also well through the ground.

Snowdrops bravely face whatever weather is thrown at them, be it cold winds, rain, frost or being completely covered in snow. 

The striking whiteness of their flowers together with the finely etched vivid green markings are delightful features found on most of the 19 species of snowdrops. I think that I can safely say that those of us who live in this northern hemisphere eagerly look forward to the Snowdrops arrival, particular now, when the celestial sphere is near its lowest point for us.

Deep sleeps the Winter,

Cold, Wet, and grey;

Surely all the world is dead;

Spring is far away.

Wait! the world shall waken;

it is not dead, for lo,

The Fair maids of February

Stand in the snow! 

Cicely Mary Barker

These attractive Bohemian Waxwings - Bombycilla garrulus have been delighting us for the past few days. A very large flock of them have been feasting on the glut of hawthorn berries found on the land surrounding our home. Word of these lovely birds arrival appeared to travel quickly and an influx of "twitchers" turned up armed with long lenses. 
Rather like the Short-eared Owls that recently arrived here in large numbers from Scandinavia, more Waxwings than usual have also travelled here seeking food. 

Wednesday 17 January 2024

Chestnut Soup

Sometimes luck favours you - that's exactly how I felt when I spotted a pile of sweet roasted chestnuts left over from Christmas. Foil packed with a best before date of 2025, and ready to go. We love chestnut soup, but roasting the nuts and peeling them is a very time consuming messy job.  

I know that I have shown this recipe from my book "Wild Food" by Roger Phillips before. However, several of you mentioned that you had never eaten sweet chestnuts, so I am encouraging you to give the soup a try. I have looked carefully at the small print on the back of one of my packets, and amazingly they were packed in China! However, they are excellent. Apparently Chinese chestnuts - Castanea mollissima are slightly different from the European ones, they are smaller and  sweeter. China send their exports around the world, so these must be available to you too.

Chestnut Soup - serves 4
450g chestnuts
500ml milk
250ml veg stock
freshly ground black pepper & teaspoon of nutmeg
pinch of sea salt
2 large onions finely chopped & a clove of garlic cooked in olive or rapeseed oil
toasted pine nuts & parsley to serve

Roast the chestnuts if not using the ready prepared ones. 


Cook onions and garlic in oil until soft, add the milk, stock, and spices, then gently heat them all up. Before boiling point turn the heat right down and let them infuse. Add the chestnuts and cook them all gently, but don't boil. When the chestnuts are soft purée the mixture with a stick blender. 

This is a very tasty, nourishing, elegant soup with a velvety texture. Serve topped with toasted pine nuts, parsley, and some good crusty bread.  

Another "nutty" recipe coming soon.