Tuesday, 30 November 2010

BUSH COOKING: Dandelion Fritters

Ease of Bush Cooking: Very easy and quick to cook, these are a wonderful snack if you have the batter ingredients available while in the bush. Dandelions are very nutritious. Checkout my dandelion information page.
Servings: 1-2
Kit Required:
Pot for Mixing
1 Small bag of Dandelion Flower Heads
1 Egg
1 Cup of Milk
1 Cup of Flour
Drizzle of Olive Oil
Drizzle of Honey or Syrup (optional)
Gather the dandelion flowers in the sunshine while the flowers are open. Wash through to remove any bugs.
Mix 1 egg, 1 cup of milk and 1 cup of flour in a pot, this is your fritter batter. Heat the olive oil on the pan over a medium heat. Take one of the flowers and hold it by the greens at the base of the flower petals. Dip the petals into the batter and twirl until the flower is covered. Drop it into the pan, flower side down. Continue dipping and dropping flowers, checking the first ones every once in a while to see if they are brown. When they’ve lightly browned, flip them over and brown them on the other side. When they’re brown on both sides remove them from the pan and drain the excess oil.
Add honey or syrup, jam, or powdered sugar if you like it sweet! . For savory fritters try dipping them in mustard or adding some savory herbs to the batter.

BUSH COOKING: Simply Dandelions

Ease of Bush Cooking: Very Easy. Cooked in 10 mins and extremely nutritious. One of the best bush greens out there! See my Dandelion information page.
Servings: 1-2
Kit Required:
Dandelions (small bag full)
Knob of Butter
Salt & Pepper
Harvest the dandelion in early spring, when the greens are at there best, and before they have flowered. Grab the dandelion by the leaves, and with a knife, dig out the root, pulling up the entire plant, shaking off any excess dirt. Collect a good bag size of dandelions.
Clean any excess dirt or grass, then place in a pot of warm water. Bring to a boil and leave it on a rolling boil for 5 mins. Drain off the water to remove their bitterness, then repeat again with fresh water for another boil until the dandelions are soft.
Serve hot with a knob of butter and season with salt and pepper.

Monday, 29 November 2010

FORAGING FOOD: Dandelion - Lion's Tooth

According to the USDA, dandelion greens rank fourth in green leafy vegetables for overall nutritional value. They rank third among the foods richest in vitamin A, surpassed only by cod liver oil and beef liver.
The dandelion is a perennial, herbaceous plant with long, lance-shaped leaves. They're so deeply toothed, they gave the plant its name in Old French: Dent-de-lion means lion's tooth in Old French.
The leaves are 3 to 12" long, and 1/2 to 2-1/2" wide, always growing in a basal rosette. Unlike most other seeds, dandelions can germinate without long periods of dormancy.

Dandelion's are a great natural food that is available most of the year. There are no poisonous look-alikes. Other very similar species, such as chicory and wild lettuce only resemble dandelions in the early spring. All these edibles also exude a white milky sap when injured, but chicory and wild lettuce leaves have some hair, at least on the underside of the midrib.
Greens: Dandelion leaves are at their best when they've just emerged. Collect dandelion leaves in early spring, when they're the tastiest, before the flowers appear. Harvest again in late Autumn. After a frost, their protective bitterness disappears. Dandelions growing in rich, moist soil. The broadest leaves and largest roots, are the best. Select the youngest individuals, and avoid all plants with flowers. Some people eat the greens from spring to Autumn, when they're very bitter. Others boil out the summer bitterness (and water-soluble vitamins) out in two changes of water. It is all a matter of preference. Dandelion greens are wonderful in salads, saut├łed or steamed. They taste like chicory and endive.

Root: The taproot is edible all year, but is best from late Autumn to early spring. Use it as a cooked vegetable, especially in soups. Although not as tasty as many other wild root vegetables, It's not bad. Pre-boiling and changing the water, or long, slow simmering mellows this root. Sweet vegetables best complement dandelion roots. Sauteing the roots in olive oil also improves them, creating a robust flavour.
Flower: The flower heads can be eaten too, a great way is to fritter them with batter.
Health: The leaves are more nutritious than anything you can buy. They're higher in beta-carotene than carrots. The iron and calcium content is phenomenal, greater than spinach. You also get vitamins B-1, B-2, B-5, B-6, B-12, C, E, P, and D, biotin, inositol, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, and zinc. The root contains the sugar inulin.
Medicinal: Dandelions are also good for the bladder, spleen, pancreas, stomach and intestines. It's recommended for stressed-out, internally sluggish, and sedentary people. The leaf's white, milky sap removes warts, moles, pimples, calluses, and sores, and soothes bee stings and blisters.

Harvest Calendar

Cooking with Dandelions:
Great Recipes - External Links:

Friday, 26 November 2010


There are many different types of nuts to be gathered and eaten in the U.K. These include sweet chestnuts, walnuts, hazelnuts, Acorns and Pine nuts. Nuts are usually ready for collecting around September and October.

Sweet Chestnuts:
Roast sweet chestnuts on an open fire (however, you can also cook them in the oven). Gathering sweet chestnuts is relatively simple, however it’s important to be able to distinguish them from horse chestnuts, or conkers, which are slightly different. Horse chestnuts are usually larger than sweet chestnuts, and taste very bitter. What’s more, horse chestnuts are poisonous.
Sweet chestnuts are smaller than horse chestnuts, and have lots of very prickly spikes on their outer shells (many more spikes than the horse chestnut). You can further identify a sweet chestnut by opening up the outer shell. It will reveal up to three sweet nuts, whereas opening up a horse chestnut will just reveal one. Once you have gathered your sweet chestnuts you can roast them on the open fire, or toast them under the grill or in a wok, for a tasty wintry feast.

Hazelnuts are often found in countryside hedgerows. Once you have gathered your hazelnuts, you will need to store them in a cool, dry place for up to six weeks prior to shelling them. This allows them to dry and become edible. To crack the nuts after they have dried requires a great deal of patience. You should aim to break the nuts open with a nut cracker, however you may find you resort to using a hammer before the day is out.

Pine Nuts:
The pine nut is widely available in the U.K. Simply heat over an open fire on a flat surface (pan), which will open the husk of the cone, shake occasionally to release the seed from the husk, then eat the roasted nut seeds. Pine nuts may be eaten raw but are usually roasted or toasted. As with most nuts, toasting brings out more flavour. Especially good in salads and an essential ingredient in Pesto, or as an added ingredient in many savoury and sweet recipes: the flavour and texture goes very well with meats, cheese, vegetables and fruit. Pine nuts are an excellent source of protein (about 31g of protein per 100g of nuts), more than any other common nut. European varieties have more protein than American varieties. Collect pine needles make a lovely Pine Needle Tea too!

The acorn, or oak nut, is the nut of the oaks. . Acorns vary from 1–6 cm long and 0.8–4 cm broad. Acorns take between about 6 or 24 months (depending on the species) to mature. Acorns are nutritious and plentiful. Percentages vary from species to species, but all acorns contain large amounts of protein, carbohydrates and fats, as well as the minerals calcium, phosphorus and potassium, and the vitamin niacin. Total food energy in an acorn also varies by species, but all compare well with other wild foods and with other nuts. Unfortunately, acorns taste bitter. This is because they contain tannin, a bitter substance in oaks which is used to tan leather. These can be removed by boiling in water, and changing the water a few more times. Repeat this process until all of the bitter taste is removed. Acons are great to make coffee with or use as a flavouring in bread or cakes.

Beech Nuts:
Found in the small burrs that drop from tree in autumn. They are small, triangular, and edible, with a bitter taste. Found in pairs inside a cup with four prickly brown sides, they change from green to brown as they ripen. Roasting makes them easier to peel after which they are rubbed and sieved to get rid of the small hairs. After salting and drying, the beech nuts can be eaten whole or ground down to be added to bread dough. The oil obtained from beechnuts can be used for cooking and as a salad dressing.

Walnuts are rarely found in the UK these days, but you will find pockets of walnut trees in more rural areas. Walnuts are ready to be picked in late autumn, and are wet, when fresh. Unlike hazelnuts, walnuts require shelling before they are dried, although you can also eat them when wet, as an unusual delicacy.

Thursday, 25 November 2010

BUSH COOKING: Bush Nut Bread

Ease of Bush Cooking: Very Easy. Mix, Need the Dough, Slap it in front of the fire. Simple.
Servings: 4
Kit Required:
Mixing bowl
Wooden spatula to mix ingredients
Something to crush the nuts
Flat surface to place the bread on
1LB of Strong White Bread Flour
4 Level Tea Spoons of Baking Powder
1/2 cup of Water
125g of Mixed Crushed Nuts & Raisins
Keep about 2 table spoons of flour to one side (in case too much water is added when mixing, you can add some flour to dry out the mix later!) Mix all the dry ingredients in a mixin
g bowl, then add the water until a thick dough is formed, making sure the dough is not too sticky, but holds together in one large mass.
Shape into either a flat circle or oval, by passing from one hand to the next, until the dough is about 1 to 2 inches thick.
Place on a cooking surface that can be positioned in front of an open fire at an angle of approx. 45 degrees (either a clean log, thick hard wood surface, or a metal tray of some sort). Bake slowly for about 45 mins until the crust has risen slightly. The Dough in the centre is getting finished when there is a hollow ring to the bread when tapped. Adjust the distance of the bread, if it seams to be getting too brown before the centre is done. Flip over the loaf and bake the underside for about 15-20 mins, making sure the heat has penetrated fully. The aim is to get the bread slightly browned, while making sure the centre is fully baked through.

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

BUSH COOKING: Eels in Bruet (Soup)

Ease of Bush Cooking: Easy. This is a simple application of throwing ingredients togethe
r. But I would recommend the dish for a 1-2 day local camp, as the eel requires keeping fresh. (unless of course you catch it yourself!) Wine is required, but you could prepare the bread stock before you leave.
This is a well seasoned 15th century fish soup that is very tasty and rustic. Served with some of my 'Nut Bush Bread'.
Kit Required:
Pot to boil soup
Knife to chop
Bowl to mix and serve
Serving: 2
1 lb eel, cut into small pieces
1 cup onion, minced
1 cup water/broth
2 slices bread
1 cup white wine
2 Tbsp parsley
1/2 - 3/4 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ginger
Put bread and wine in a bowl and mix/mush with a fork until all the bread is broken up and the wine is milky colored. Strain out bread and put into a pot with water/broth and fish. Add remaining ingredients and simmer until eel has cooked. Serve hot.

BUSH COOKING: Fried Eels with Creamed Potatoes

Ease of Bush Cooking: Medium.

When in the Bush, the tricky bit of this dishes preparation is the dipping of eel in beaten egg, then rolling around in bread crumbs. If you have an egg carry case, and are clever with your kit for the juggling around of food, this dish could be for you. I would recommend the dish for a 1-2 day local camp, as the eel requires keeping fresh. (unless of course you catch it yourself!)
This is a 19th century Danish dish which is quite rich in butter and fishiness! Yum!

Servings: 1-2

Kit Required:
Frying pan
Pot to boil

Knife to chop
Cup for egg
serving plate

1 Lb of Eels
1 Egg
Bread Crumbs (1 slice)
1 large Potato
1 & 1/2 table spoon of Flour
3 knobs of Butter
1/2 a cup of milk
Pinch of Salt
1/2 a tea spoon of Sugar
1 level table spoon of fresh parsley

Skin and clean the eels carefully, cut into 3-inch pieces, sprinkle with salt and leave for an hour. Rinse and dry thoroughly, dip in beaten egg, roll in bread crumbs and fry in plenty of butter. Serve with the browned butter and creamed potatoes.
Creamed Potatoes: Melt a tablespoonful of butter, add 1 1/2 tablespoons flour and a little milk. Stir over a low flame until thickened; season with salt and a little sugar. Cut boiled potatoes in small pieces and add to this sauce. Serve garnished with chopped parsley and butter.
When Danish anglers meet to have fried eel, they try to eat so many that the backbones form a ring around each plate.
From "Danish Cookery" by Suzanne, Andr. Fred.

Fire Steel - Re-Handled with Acrylic Fire Effect

An old 'Light My Fire' fire steel, re-handled with an acrylic fire effect block and brighter orange paracord. The shaping of the acrylic was achieved easily with a cheap 3inch blade. No other tools were required other than the first chop with a junior hacksaw, and some fine sand paper to finish off.
The material is lovely to work with, with no grains to worry about, unlike wood which can sometimes be tricky in certain directions of carving.
Acrylic Block.
The original plain handle of the fire steel.
The finished handle.

Monday, 22 November 2010

Day Trip to Peveril Castle - Castleton, Peak District - Oct 2005

Peveril Castle
Castleton, Derbyshire, England.
O.S Map Location on Bing.com
The imposing ruins of Peveril Castle stand high above the pretty village of Castleton in the heart of Derbyshire's Peak District. Mentioned in the Domesday survey, Perevil Castle is one of England's earliest Norman fortresses. The keep was built by Henry II in 1176. In the background is the massive summit of Mam Tor (Mother Hill), an impossing Iron Age Hillfort.
Practising May Day Dancers in Castleton.
Model of Ancient Peveril Norman Castle
Peveril Castle Keep.
View behind the Castle leading into the Peaks.
Stream through Castleton.

Thursday, 18 November 2010

Little Abington - Nov 2010

A 'Bushcrafters Of Cambridgeshire' meet.
A two day Autumn Weekend Meet at Little Abington Scout Camp, by 'The Bushcrafters of Cambridgeshire'.
The main events were bread making on an open fire, and fire starting lessons by WhittlerKev using potassium pangamate & Sugar. (see my Youtube video of it in action!)
YouTube Video of the Weekends Action.
Autumn Leaf Fall
Setup by WolfCrafter
Setup by Redwood Bushcraft
Setup by R.Lewis
Setup by Ricky Amos
The Communal Area
Cooking Around Camp
Night time Warmth In The Communal Camp
German Peppered Sausage Night Time Snack
Around The Site Of Little Abington
Wild Nature Of Little Abington
Bread Making On An Open Fire
Attended by BCUK members: WolfCrafter, Redwood Bushcraft, WhittlerKev, BadgeringTim, Ricky Amos & R.Lewis.