31/10/2012

Healthy Halloween Potent Pom Potion


 This is going to be a very quick post to say Happy Halloween, if you are  still celebrating it.


When I first came to Italy,  Halloween wasn't a big deal here. However,  We always celebrated it when my kids were younger and invited their friends over to join in the fun. Italian kids usually only dress-up at Carnival.  I think I enjoyed it more than them; preparing pumpkins, costumes, trick or treating with the neighbours, cooking horrific food and designing menus etc etc. Since then Halloween has gradually been adopted in Italy, but more in a commercial sense. You can buy sweets, decorations and outfits  in the shops, but not many people actually create anything.

I remember as a kid in  north-west UK I loved trick or treating, although we hadn't even seen a pumpkin in those days. My Dad actually carved a lantern out of a turnip for me, no mean feat, turnips are pretty hard.

Potent Pomegranate Potion

5/6 pomegranates
5/6 oranges (blood oranges if possible)
2 spoons of elderberry tincture (or 1 glass blueberry juice if not possible)
Sparkling water (optional)

Squeeze the fruit to get as much juice as possible (save some pomegranate seeds to put in the bottom of the glasses). Add some elderberry tincture. I made it a while ago following the instructions @ deeprootsathome.com. Mix in a large jug. If you make it for Halloween you could make a frozen hand. I used a washed surgical glove and froze some watered down juice for 24 hours. If you prefer a longer drink  top it up with sparkling water.
The frozen hand looked great, but I had to break it to fit it into the jug. The floating fingers were  rather creepy, but didn't last very long.
This  juice drink is packed full of vitamins and antioxidants, tastes good, not to mention it's an  immune booster.




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30/10/2012

Pomegranate Liqueur


 Here the pomegranates are just about at their peak. Everyday they are  redder and  a  little more swollen . If they are not collected in the next few days they will start bursting open or dropping to the ground.


A few days ago, while walking my dog I was contemplating when I should pick them. It was a lovely sunny day.  While walking I came upon this basket of mushrooms/funghi.  I heard a rustling noise and looked up to see the mushroom forager who was reaching for some high up pomegranates along the banking at  the side of the road.
"Signora, Vuole due melagrani?"  he called to me.
( Lady, Would you like a couple of pomegranates?)
"Certo! Molto gentile. Sta attento!" I responded.
 (Ofcourse, that's very kind. Be careful!)
He did look like he may slip at any  moment.





These are the pomegranates that he gave to me.

An unexpected gift that answered my question about when I should collect the pomegranates.
I went out later with a bag to collect some more.
The day after it rained. And also for  the next two days.





I  received another unexpected gift this week from a neighbour. A jar of local "acacia" honey, a jar of caramelised figs and plum jam.


I love making and giving gifts, but I also appreciate receiving them, especially the unexpected  type of gifts mentioned in this post.

Harvest or/and make something and give it to someone  soon. It will make their day and yours
too,  guaranteed.


  

Here's the recipe I used to prepare the pomegranate liqueur infusion. I think it originates from Puglia. There are many different versions of the recipe. There is no right or wrong way, it all depends on your personal taste. Some people prefer more or less alcoholic, some dryer or sweeter, etc.
There are recipes that just use the juice others state that the seeds should be dried under the sun for a few days. (It's too humid here now but I do think using whole fruit with stones or seeds improves the flavour and adds depth).  I have adapted the recipe to suit my own ideas.

Pomegranate Liqueur

500/600g of pomegranate seeds 
(5-7 pomegranates)
1 litre 90° alcohol
half cinnamon stick
half orange rind (dried a little)
1200ml filtered water
250g sugar


Cut the pomegranates in half.  Loosen the edges a little and bang on the uncut side with a wooden spoon . You can see a great, short video of how @
 www.theburlapbag.com/2012/03/de-seed-a-pomegranate-in-under-a-minute/








Add the seeds and juice to the alcohol  in a sealable sterilised jar. Add the cinnamon and orange peel.
Place in a cool dark place and agitate every now and then.

After one month strain. Melt the sugar in the water, allow to cool and add to the infusion. Leave for at least another month and then filter again if necessary and bottle.
If you can't buy 90° alcohol you could use 2 litres of vodka or gin and no water and put all the ingredients together at the beginning. Shake every day until the sugar dissolves.



Enjoy and gift...


Pomegranate Liqueur on Punk  
Domestics

26/10/2012

Pomegranate Red & Foliage (Punica Granatum)




 


As I am trying to improve my photographic skills,  with these photos I'm participating in the Nuture Photography Challenge - this week's theme is  "Red & Foliage". (I'm rather nervous as I've never participated in a photography challenge before). The hosts liveandloveoutloud.com and bumblesandlight.com do say that all levels are welcome. I'm hoping to pick up a few tips along the way.

 I'm  intending to infuse a pomegranate liqueur with the pomegranates,   plucked yesterday from a local wild bush.
I'll post soon with the recipe I'm following..........


22/10/2012

Chicory Greens with Pancetta (Cichorium intybus)

It's being a beautiful Autumn here. After some (not many) heavy downpours a while ago the weather has become very warm and sunny again. Everything seems to be growing again and the fields and meadows are extremely green. Yesterday, while walking I spotted lots of edible fresh young leaves sprouting and even quite a few flowers. There was mallow, lemon balm, false nettle, nettles, dandelions, chicory, different mints, comfrey,  violet and dock to name only a few. I picked a large bag of mixed greens, well actually chicory with a few mixed leaves thrown in.


 Chicory leaves look and taste very similar to dandelions. Infact I've just recently learned to tell them apart without the presence of the tell-tale yellow dandelion flower. If you look closely the leaves are a different shape, and chicory has hairs  underneath the midrib, but as chicory gets older the leaves   become more and more like dandelions, until the arrival of the lovely blue flowers.
However, I've decided it doesn't really matter, as both types of leaves work in the same type of recipes and if they are mixed that's fine aswell.






Dandelion leaves on the left, chicory on the right.


When the leaves are young they are really tasty in salads, but older leaves need to be cooked. Many Italians really like the bitter taste of these leaves. My husband loves a salad of just young chicory or dandelion leaves  with some raw onion rings, salt, olive oil and lots of balsamic vinegar. I prefer just a few leaves mixed with blander salad leaves.
Dandelion and Chicory roots, dried and ground, can be used to make a coffee substitute in an emergency, but I would rather drink tea if that was the only option!





Everyone can recognise the yellow dandelion, but do you know what chicory flowers look like?
Until I became interested in wild plants, I actually thought they were cornflowers. When chicory looks like this it's too late to eat the leaves, unless they grow again in the autumn.



                                  



















These photos of flowering chicory were taken in July.
It was very hot and the photos were taken very early
 in the morning.
They were a  beautiful, vibrant colour just after day-break, but quickly faded and after only a couple of hours disappeared until the following morning.





This is what I did with my bag of chicory;

Chicory Mixed Greens with Pancetta

500g young, mixed greens
      (Chicory/Dandelion/Swiss Chard)
150g pancetta/bacon (cubes or chopped)
2 cloves garlic (peeled)
Extra Virgin Olive Oil


Wash and trim the greens carefully.                                                                                                       
Boil for 5 minutes in a large pan of salted water. If they seem to bitter change the water.
Drain and squeeze out excess water.
In a frying pan sautè the garlic in a couple of tablespoons of oil.
(I leave it whole and remove later. Don't let it burn).
Add the pancetta and sautè for a couple of minutes.
Add the greens and sautè. Add more oil if necessary.
Serve hot with a generous splash of balsamic vinegar.


 Erbazzone with chicory 

450/500g of ready made pastry.
( I used pasta brisée-2x 230g) but you can use anything or make your own)
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
60g grated parmesan cheese
100g ricotta
3 shallots(chopped)
500g mixed greens
 Follow the instructions as above with onions instead of garlic.You can add bacon/pancetta aswell, but I didn't.
After boiling chop the greens finely and mix with the  onions and cheese. If the mixture is too wet, heat a little to dry out. Lay out the pastry oven tray lined with greaseproof paper. Press down the greens and lay out the other pastry sheet on the top. Here it's up to you what shape you decide to use or how to decorate or close the pie. I add a little olive oil and press down the edges. Prick/ stab all over. Brush with a little milk and cook in a preheated oven 190°C for 25 minutes or until golden.
Eat hot or cold.


Chicory Greens with Pancetta/ Erbazzone  on  
Punk Domestics

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wildcraft wednesday @mindbodyandsoleonline.com



11/10/2012

Rosehip Collection -25+ Things to do with Rosehips

It's time to collect rosehips. I remember, not too long ago, doing a search for rosehip recipes and finding only a few traditional recipes (syrup/tea/jam etc). I've recently been saving "pins" at "pinterest" and I'm surprised and inspired by all the recipes that are popping up. If you don't know pinterest it's an excellent place to store, organise and share images from bookmarked pages on the web. It's a very inspiring place to visit, but be warned it's also a very dangerous time consumer and completely addictive. The phrase; "Stop pinning and start making" should  be remembered!
One of the reasons I started blogging was to find a place to store all the things I'm discovering. I hope and intend to start making some of these recipes soon. Hope you find some inspiration for your rosehips. Please let me know if you have any other ideas.


 Tips on Harvesting Rosehips
@


 Rosehip Tea
 
@


Rosehip Chutney
Recipe: Rose Hip Chutney 
@


 Rosehip Simple Syrup
 
@


Rosehip and Apple Jelly
Rosehips in our garden
@


Rosehip Jelly
@



Rosehip Jam
@


Rosehip Vinegar
Post image for Rosehip Vinegar
@
eatweeds.co.uk


Rosehip Hangover Cure
 
@


Rosehip Spread
@


Rosehip Muffins
 
@



Spiced Rosehip Olive Oil Cake

@
delightfuldelicacies.blogspot.com



Rosehip Ripple Ice-cream


 Rosehip Truffles
 @


Rosehip Raisin Bread
 @


Chocolate Syrup with Rosehips and Elderberries
 
@
methowvalleyherbs.com


Rosehip Leather@
berrybluetoes.blogspot.com


Hedgerow Dog Biscuits
@



Rosehip Ginger beer
 
 @



Rosehip Tipple 
@



Rosehip Soup
@
blogs.sweden.se



Rosehip Face Mask@



Rosehip Face,Neck and Decollete Oil
 
@
wildcraftvita.blogspot.com



 Rosehip Wreath
 IMG_0270
@
 lampshadelady.typepad.com



 Rosehip Beads
 
@
 wildcraftvita.blogspot.com


Rosehip Heart
IMG_7985
 @
carrotsandkids.com



Thankyou to those featured for your inspiration and lovely photos (well, I'm trying to improve my photographic skills). Let me know if you find yourself on this list and you would rather not.  If you have any other ideas please share them. If you'd like a button, help yourself.


http://wildcraftvita.blogspot.it/2012/10/rosehip-collection-25-things-to-do-with.html