Category Archives: Audio and Video

Andy Hamilton Wild Booze

Wild Booze

Writer and forager Andy Hamilton talks about Wild Booze in this BBC Food Programme on Radio 4 and leads a journey hunting for plants to make incredible drinks, and encourages us to looks again at the wild world all around us.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b044bckf

Andy Hamilton is a keen forager and maker of wild booze. See more about him on his website The Other Andy Hamilton. His book Booze for Free is brilliant and full of simple (and mainly alcoholic) recipes to try.

One of his alcohol free  recipes which I do make often is a sticky willy tonic.. recipe on Forage Kent blog

P1020984Pic from Forage Kent blog

Inspired by Andy’s walks? Try making your own wild drinks with recipes from the BBC Food website: Elderflower cordial, Sloe Gin & Greengage Smash.

Or have a look at the book page for some book suggestions on brewing with herbs and foraged goodies.

oyster

Reconsider the Oyster!

The Food Programme on Radio 4 often has some fascinating food stories and interviews. There are over 400 episodes are available on iplayer and worth having a look through the archive.

This weeks programme which was all about oysters.. as a vegetarian allergic to all seafood I almost switched off.. but it was fascinating and I highly recommend having a listen. Summary of the programme is below and click on the picture to go to BBC iplayer. Enjoy!

Reconsider the Oyster!

oyster

Listen in pop-out player

Oysters are receiving renewed attention around the world, with new ideas for producing more, and eating more. Dan Saladino finds out what’s driving this oyster enthusiasm.

As Drew Smith, author of Oyster: A World History explains, “the oyster is older than us, they’re older than grass, they go back into pre-history and it’s quite mind boggling how we’ve forgotten we really survive on this planet because of oysters”.

From discoveries of middens (piles of oyster shells left by our ancesters) through to tales of the Victorian Britain’s enoromous appetite for the oyster, Dan hears the evidence of why we used to have a much more intimate relationship with the bivalve.

Overfishing, disease and parasites turned something that was abundant into a rarity a century ago, but now people around the world are making an effort to bring the oyster back into mainstream.

In Denmark, where there still is an abundance of oysters in their waters, a national park along the Wadden Sea, on the north west coast of Denmark has started to encourage people to wade in the water and gather as many oysters as they can carry and eat. It’s hoped the experience will help people understand the oyster more and also fight to protect the environment it lives in.

Meanwhile on the British Isles the oyster is seeing interest from brewers and shellfish farmers alike, all convinced we need to reconsider how delicious and import the animal has been in our food culture.

In New York, the most ambitious oyster mission of all is underway, the “billion oyster project”, an effort to return the oyster to New York City’s harbour, once a breeding ground for trillions of oysters.

Listen to the programme and hear why these efforts are underway, and why a gold speckled jar of marmite could be the oysters’ best friend.

Produced and presented by Dan Saladino.

 

paul stamets

Mushrooms can save the world

Paul Stamets is a real mushroom expert and regularly features in news articles, films, documentaries and interviews.  In this TED talk he talks about why he believes that mushrooms can save our lives, restore our ecosystems and transform other worlds.

The focus of Stamets’ research is the Northwest’s native fungal genome, mycelium, but along the way he has filed 22 patents for mushroom-related technologies, including pesticidal fungi that trick insects into eating them, and mushrooms that can break down the neurotoxins used in nerve gas.

There are cosmic implications as well. Stamets believes we could terraform other worlds in our galaxy by sowing a mix of fungal spores and other seeds to create an ecological footprint on a new planet.

Grab a cuppa and watch this.. I guarantee it will make you look at mushrooms in a new light!

For more info on Paul Stamets see his website Fungi Perfecti   

For those of you on twitter he tweets as @PaulStamets

aconite

Poison garden and dangerous plants

Several old monasteries and castles have medicinal or poison gardens and one of the most famous is at Alnwick Castle better known as the location for Hogwarts in the Harry Potter films.

Poison Garden is a fantastic website from John Robertson the former Poison Garden Warden at Alnwick. It includes a vast amount of information, much of it gleaned while he was researching plants to be planted in the garden there.

Whilst many wild plants and flowers are edible some are extremely poisonous. Aconite in the picture above is also known as monkshood and is very toxic – it has very pretty purple flowers and is commonly found in gardens – the picture above was taken in a council car park!

Aconite is used in herbal medicine in many parts of the world and widely used in  homeopathy but never, ever try and make your own medicine from the fresh plant.

The Poison Garden website has an excellent A to Z of poisonous plants as well as many short videos like the one above with key identification points, folklore and uses of some of the plants.

Many poisonous plants have a great deal of folklore or old stories attached and if you would like to find out more about that sort of thing I highly recommend Dangerous Garden: The Quest for Plants to Change Our Lives. David Stuart has crafted a fascinating and engaging read full of  stories of poisonings, plague, medicines, mass hysteria and a wonderful insight into the role poisons play in our lives. Click on the image below and it will take you to the book on Amazon – however, I quite understand many peoples have issues with Amazon and prefer to shop elsewhere. If so, have a look at Alibris UK which is like Amazon but nicer and full of independent booksellers.

Meadowsweet flowers on railway embankmant

Meadowsweet – cordial and medicine

Meadowsweet is a common flower which grows to about 4 feet high and has very distinctive fluffy cream flowers.  The latin name is Filipendula ulmaria or may be in older books as Spiraea ulmaria. It is usually found in wet or boggy ground in places like edges of fields,  grass verges, canal or riverbanks or railway embankments.

The scent of flowers is a bit like honey with a hint of marzipan. The leaves have tiny leaves between the larger ones and when scrunched up give off a smell a bit like old fashioned antiseptic.

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In traditional herbalism meadowsweet has a wide range of uses for digestive troubles, headaches and pain and can be used as a tea – just add a teaspoon of dried or fresh flowers to a cup of hot water and leave to brew for about 5 minutes. Meadowsweet contains salicylic acid which is what aspirin was originally synthesised from.

However if you are pregnant, asthmatic, taking warfarin or have a known allergy to aspiring then it is best avoided.

Napiers Herbalists page on meadowsweet says :-

As with all medicines, this one isn’t always going to be suitable for everyone; people with known allergy or intolerance in relation to aspirin should be cautious when trying this herb as should those suffering from asthma. Salicylic acid also helps to reduce platelet activity in the blood, which is good news in terms of avoiding heart attacks and strokes, but to be avoided if taking drugs such as warfarin or heparin and for the few days immediately prior to any kind of surgery. It should also be avoided in pregnancy.

You would have to take a lot of Meadowsweet to amount to the equivalent of a tablet; on the other hand, due to its soothing, anti-inflammatory effects it is a gentle but powerful medicine and works without the caustic side-effects of its pharmaceutical cousin.

In this short video Monica Wilde of Napiers the Herbalists talks about  how to identify meadowsweet and its historic and medicinal uses.

In this next video Monica shows you how to make Meadowsweet Cordial. Use about 250g of sugar and 1 litre of water for 30-40 heads of open flowers.

Monica also has an excellent wild food and medicine blog Wilde in the Woods with loads of useful recipes, great photos and clear instructions. She also tweets as @monicawilde.