Contribution to NFS London Community Cooks resource
Connecting our eating to the seasons is an act of collaboration with the earth, foraging is an act of close attention and deep learning:
January, the month of frost and the return of the sun.
Make a warm winter salad with beetroot and delicate hairy bittercress which thrives on the bare soil over winter. Add young white goats cheese and sunflower seeds, dress with oil and dandelion vinegar.
February brings Candlemas and the first stirrings of spring.
Pick gorse flowers just after sunrise. Steep in sweetened milk and make a rich yellow custard to pair with the season’s first deep pink rhubarb. Take your time laying the rhubarb, piece by piece on the custard, photograph it, breathe deeply to fix it in your mind, then devour it.
March is Women’s History Month and brings Venus’ own blossom, sweet violet.
Blend violet petals with the most local honey you can find and raw butter for a magickal elixir that comforts heartache and grief. Dream of the bees collecting nectar from the same violets. Spread thickly on oat and pistachio muffins.
April, when the buds start to open, brings alexanders, burdock, fat hen, young hawthorn tips and mallow leaves, as well as forest floors carpeted in wild garlic.
Make a simple potato soup base. At the last moment blend with heaps of wild garlic. Put it in a flask and take it on an adventure. Eat in a woodland or sat beside a tree.
May, Beltane – the festival of fertility and the peak of spring flourishing.
Pick nettle tips. Don’t wear gloves, just pinch them between finger tips just below the leaf and enjoy the tingle. Blanch and puree, mix with 00 flour to make a soft pasta dough. Cut, cook and serve with river trout or ricotta, roasted beetroot and wild watercress.
June gives us the Summer Solstice and the first summer fruits.
Harvest elderflowers for a cordial to drizzle over wild strawberries. Sprinkle with hawthorn, red clover and meadowsweet flowers and serve with thick farmyard cream.
July’s Meadow Moon is a time of abundance and fertility under the hot summer sun.
Seek out goosegrass (cleavers) and wild thyme and use them in place of spinach to make a wild spanakopita. Pick mushrooms, sautée and serve atop a mound of dandelion leaves and chickweed.
August opens with Lammas Eve, the Grain Harvest.
Seek out locally ground wholemeal flour to make soda bread packed with hedgerow herb garlic mustard. Top with seasonal grilled mackerel and raw sea buckthorn berries. Swim in the sea.
September, the summer fades and the Feast of the Ingathering is a moment to give thanks for the fruits of the earth and the joy of sharing them
Pick aromatic pineapple weed and make a syrup to drizzle over ice cream. Eat while standing bare foot in the grass alongside someone you love.
October – pick anything that’s left before Halloween comes and the season turns!
Pickle and preserve bullace, crab apple, rowan berries, quince, bilberries, blackberries – they will carry you through the winter. Pack sloes in salt, for an umeboshi style preserve that to pep things up in next year’s hungry gap.
November’s frost moon is a sign of the shift in full winter.
Bake pumpkin bread to toast and top with sauteed wild mushrooms with wild garlic bulbs. Eat in bed.
December’s winter solstice is a time for renewal.
Pick seaweed as the tide goes out under a full moon – pepper dulse, sea lettuce or laver and fry it up with brussel sprouts and butter. Look forward to a new year.