from BARDO

The stars are in our belly; the Milky Way our umbilicus.

Is it a consolation that the stuff of which we’re made

is star-stuff too?

– That wherever you go you can never fully disappear –

dispersal only: carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen.

Tree, rain, coal, glow-worm, horse, gnat, rock.

Roselle Angwin

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

spring plants & wild garlic recipes

...the river pools in swirls of froth and brandy
soft black soil and frogs creaking like doors
and see here wild duck
sliding amongst marsh marigold and frogspawn 
(from River Suite

In Simon's little pond now the marsh marigold (kingcups) are flowering, along with spikes of irises and flag irises. New tadpoles wriggle in the pondweed. Frogs and toads laid swathes and swathes of frogspawn right on the margins of the pond, so that when the water receded in the recent sun the spawn was left dry. I've scooped a little of it back into the water each time I've passed.

The stitchwort's out. The miniature wild daffs are in full flower amongst the periwinkles – a pleasing combination of complementary colours and shapes.

Yesterday, getting the campervan's gas looked at ready for the trip north (pleased to discover I have a very efficient gas heater installed!), the pussy-willow 'flowers' on the sallow tree behind where I park it were laden with bumblebees. 

Any time now, I guess, we'll be picking up our colony of Cornish black bees for our 'new' top bar hive. They're strongly resistant to viruses, hence our choice (and my attachment to bees from my native land). Better learn something about bees fast, I guess...

All our purple sprouting broccoli and kale seeds have germinated. As usual, TM has sown with enthusiasm – another takeover bid from the cabbage-family on the veg plots...

We've gathered so much wild garlic I'm going to attempt to freeze it, cut up as I do the herbs. The house is scented with spring.

With garlic and young nettles so prolific now, I've been adding them and wild sorrel leaves to everything I make – I'm told my breath can fell a man in a different room (the secret, of course, is to pump any man close by with as much garlic as I'm eating). However, my cardiovascular and immune systems are liking it, so I've no intention of stopping.

Here, below, I offer you free, gratis and for nothing two wild garlic recipes, should you live near any harvestable sources. (I see the Guardian last weekend also ran a load of wild garlic and nettle recipes - intend to try the gnocchi; home-made gnocchi was a speciality of my Italian ex.)

All fresh herbs and plants are better gathered in the morning, once the dew has dried off, and preferably in early sun – their alkaloids are stronger (this is more releavnt to medicinal herbs however).

Vegan 'Pesto':
Take a good handful or two of wild garlic
One handful of young nettle tops
A small handful of wild sorrel (optional)
Good pinch of parsley

Blanch the nettles leaves just for a minute or two (I steam them)
Put into a whizzer a good slosh or three of olive oil
The chopped garlic and nettle leaves
Pine nuts (tbsp or 2); roasted hazelnuts (small handful) – or one or the other
Add the parsley, and sorrel if using it

Whizz and season to taste.

Whether or not you're using sorrel, you might want to add something tart. I grate in some lemon zest and the juice of half a lemon.

Use on pasta, with baked potatoes, on oatcakes, with nut-roast, veggie sausages etc. The oil means it'll keep a few days. Last night I cooked the Irish dish colcannon, which uses mashed potatoes (our own), with chopped raw onion and in our case the last of our kale. I dolloped the pesto on top.

If you're veggie (or not) instead of vegan, I do have to say that the pesto's much tastier with cheese, I seem to remember. (Be aware though veggies that the traditional parmesan or pecorino almost always uses animal rennet – maybe in bigger towns you might track down some that doesn't, or I believe you can order it online.)

Here's my kidney bean, cashew and wild garlic dip:

1 tin of drained and rinsed kidney beans (or a handful or two dried, soaked and cooked)
cupful of cashew nuts
handful or two of wild garlic
slosh of olive oil
soy sauce
few dashes of tabasco
half tsp or more of smoked paprika (optional)
squeeze tomato purée (optional)

Whizz together. Good with crudités, toast, oatcakes.

Happy eating.


  1. Help, I'm hungry! Mouthwatering recipes, Roselle; shall look forward to trying versions of both. Our wild garlic still not up – very cold here at the moment – but some nettles, of course. I love making pesto from any old greens, not always basil, and being a squirrel in a previous incarnation, I'll try any mixture of nuts. Pine-nuts, cashews and walnuts or pecans work well, but shall try hazelnuts. It is so difficult to forego cheese – only a sliver/day – but oddly enough, pesto I prefer without.
    I do like the way you mix everything here: a thoroughly nourishing diet for body and soul.
    Thanks as always.
    Miriam xxx

  2. Thank you, Miriam - pecans would be good, I think... xx


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