Blackberries & Winter Plans

Scrap Kitchen 21- Bramble soup, online courses and purple cauliflower

Leo new moon is out of the way, I can feel the growth of plans and plants alike.

This past week the apprentices and I were left to tend the farm. It was a lot of long days, hectic harvests and I really can’t see myself doing anything else. Farming might just be the one.

While my mind starts straying to future farming endeavours, I am still deciding on my plans for next year; be it a city farm somewhere in the states, staying in the mountains or heading back to London to start working on making my own farm (or anything else that comes up). I keep postponing the big think but I guess soon planning might have to take precedence.

In the meantime, I have been looking into courses for online learning, ways to keep pumping information into my brain. The winter months are fast approaching and those seem like the best time (farming-wise) to learn new skills. At least they are a moment where you might be able to have a bit more downtime. Three have caught my eye. I am super excited for the new course from Climate in Colour about Food security vs sovereignty. This course explores the inherent inequalities within our global food system and how to turn the theories of sovereignty and security into praxis. Another course is about the Astrology of Adulting from a formerly local astrologer Whitney Will. As I enter into my 27th year (not for a few months though) several transits are headed straight for me, including the fabled Saturn return, so maybe learning a little more about them would be good. The final one is on Spice Rack Medicine from Milk and Honey Herbs, which offers an insight into traditional herbalism, medicine making and how to harvest and preserve herbs. All this to say, it’s going to be a busy winter, no matter what I do.

This week’s tarot card is the King of Swords, the wielder of truth, clarity and authority. When speaking with conviction, people seem to want to hear what you have to say. Ask yourself: how can I use logic to navigate? Where is there power in what I have to say coming from? How can I change minds? How can I stay open to change?

As you may have guessed from the above image, the dedicant plant of this week is blackberries. Who hasn’t spent days looking for the sweet, fox-piss-free morsels around their local parks? Honestly quite a lot of people, better check my privilege on that one. But as foraging goes, blackberries are often the entry point, the gateway drug as it were. Found from around now until mid-September blackberries are a staple of the beginning of autumn. Boy how fast that has come around. They herald the foraging season referred to as “berries, hips and haws”, quite literally one of my favourite phrases and a wonderful time to collect local edibles.

When foraging for this slightly-tart sometimes-sweet berry try to collect those that are above waist height. At least in cities, that is. This is because foxes (and dogs) have a habit of peeing on the bushes and while washing is great it can only do so much. Leaving a good proportion of the berries also takes care of the local herbivore population, from birds to bunnies. Of the berries you do collect I found this surprisingly appetising recipe for soup, an old classic of apple and blackberry crumble and my favourite experimental liqueur. I would also suggest sprinkling them on salads and substituting out apples for Crabapples (as discussed last week).

Last year I tried unsuccessfully to collect and sprout not only local blackberry seeds but also some from raspberries I found growing wild. No luck at all! They seem perfectly good at growing with no help, but the moment I give them good soil, 6 weeks striation and then adequate warmth; nothing. When I settle on a place of residence be sure I will be trying to grow them yet again. In the meantime, here is a handy guide, let me know if you have any better luck.

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For seasonal eating, we’ve had a flush of cauliflower come in on the farm. The variety we have been growing is purple due to anthocyanin, a compound also found in blood oranges, wine and purple cabbage. “Normal” cauliflower often have to be blanched to get their distinctive white colouring, otherwise, they would be an off-yellow colour. Still delicious, but not up to ridiculous supermarket standards. By growing purple cauliflower we not only remove the blanching step and save time but they also look jazzy doing it. We have been using this purple cauli in a variety of ways, from pizza base, to vegan wings, to steaks with harrisa, all of which don’t seem to staunch the flow.

We have also been getting grapes coming in from the greenhouse, just as they come into season for all. Popping a couple of bunches in the freezer to serve as ice cubes has been a delight. You can even combine cauliflower and grapes in a roast. Aside from eating them off the vine, I have been looking at making sorbet, this bomb-ass tart and various other desserts.

While I have spent a lot of this week’s newsletter looking forward, to autumn and even winter, the podcast for this week looks back. As part of a miniseries for Farmerama Radio, Landed explores the relationship of Scotland’s Highlands and Islands to colonialism. Both surviving it and then enacting it. This episode focuses on lost communal living and the indigenous wisdom that is being revived while making space for a new generation of land workers.

Thanks to everyone for reading this, for your comments, emails, likes and otherwise. I would also always appreciate a share on social media (whatever platform you may use). Getting this out every week is a lot of fun, and your responses make that much better. In other news, I am currently working on a really exciting project with a publisher, on something short, sweet and weedy, I can’t wait to tell you more about it.

Until then, stay scrappy


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Image credit: Ulvi Safari, Annie Spratt, Monika Grabkowska and Irene Kredenets

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