I am an incorrigible forager.
There's nothing that pleases me quite as much as finding something on my daily walks with the dog and bringing it home as chuffed as a prehistoric hunter returning to the cave with a haunch of deer over his shoulder. Honestly, I am like a child. I collect feathers, firewood and fruit, if I lived near the sea...
And isn't it so lovely to be taking steps, however small, to do that which our ancestors have done since those first hunter/gatherers? To take nature's bounty and store it for the winter.
This year there were the cherries.
The fat, fleshy cherries on the tree that someone planted in memory of a loved one.
And the tiny so-sweet wild cherries that I popped into my mouth, crush with my tongue and savoured.
All of which were harvested and turned into jam and pies and, best of all cherry vodka, brandy and liquer.
And there are walnuts.
Many, many walnuts.
Lying in the wet grass like jewels.
Which makes my daily walks with the dog a pleasurable treasure hunt.
Which means that my kitchen now smells like my grandmother's spare bedroom in which apples were stored under the bed all winter long, and that makes me feel comforted.
And there is apple cause in jars and in the freezer.
And The Ragazza and I have eaten our body weights in apple crumble and pies.
And last weekend I found a bush heavy with shiny, red rosehips, hanging like jewels.
Which was a very opportune discovery because I have spent the last three days in bed battling some horrid bugs and am acutely aware that it's just the start of a long winter of such onslaughts.
So this evening I'll be out there happily filling the pockets of my jacket with rosehips until the dog becomes bored. And then I'll be making rosehip syrup. It's ridiculously easy and so satisfying. And since rosehips contain five times more vitamin C than oranges and the syrup is smooth and tangy and packed with goodness it may, just may, help me to fight the winter's office bugs.
Here's my first jar of rosehip syrup, made last autumn.
How I make it...
200 gms of rosehips, washed, 'topped and tailed', blitzed in a food processor to chop them into small pieces and put in a pan with 300 mls of water.
Bring to the boil and leave to stand for 20 minutes
Sieve to remove the syrup which is poured into a jug
Then put the chopped rosehips back in the pan with another 300 mls of water and bring it to the boil, leave to stand, sieve etc
Repeat that step twice more
Then add 200 gms of sugar to the syrup and bring back to the boil
Pour into sterilized jar
Keep in a cool, dark place and once opened refrigerate and use within a few days
Can be used as a refreshing drink diluted to taste with mineral water.
A perfect early morning boost for this hunter/gatherer.