|scented clematis armandii - April 2015|
Let the rain kiss you
Let the rain beat upon your head with silver liquid drops
Let the rain sing you a lullaby
The rain makes still pools on the sidewalk
The rain makes running pools in the gutter
The rain plays a little sleep song on our roof at night
And I love the rain.
Langston Hughes, 1902-1967
Like Langston Hughes, I love the rain too. Of course, I am equally partial to a bit of sunshine too. Which is probably a good thing, since we seem to get both types of weather on the same day in England during April.
The picture is the view from my front door. A scented clematis armandii is running riot on the fence between my house and next door. It is glorious and a signal that spring has arrived and summer is on its way.
T.S. Elliot called April the "cruellest month", which probably resonates with all cooks in Britain since it is rather lean in terms of seasonal British produce. Stores of British fruit and vegetables are coming to an end and the new crops of vegetables are not up to maximum strength yet. Fortunately spring greens are beginning to appear, such as lettuce and watercress as well as spinach and broccoli, so it’s not all doom and gloom.
A few years ago, I discovered the happy accident of a whole load of wild leeks in my back garden, so I was able to forage close to home, making wild leek pesto and using the leaves and flowers in pasta dishes such as my spaghetti with wild leeks and roasted tomatoes.
If you would like some ideas of interesting things to do with wild shoots and leaves, I can thoroughly recommend a look at The Guardian's Readers' Recipe Swap for leafy inspiration, including my own nettle and hazelnut pesto, as well as ideas for a wild garlic soup from The James' Kitchen, and Carl Legge's nettle gnocchi
No doubt, we shall experience both sunshine and snow over the next few weeks, so as well as foraging for Spring greener, I shall be making delicious warming winter stews as well as satisfying soups. Bring it on!
vegetables, herbs and wild greens:
artichokes (Jerusalem), asparagus, basil, broccoli (purple sprouting), cabbages (various green varieties), carrots, cauliflower, chard, chicory, chives, dandelions, dill, endive, fat hen, greens (spring and winter), hop shoots, jersey royal new potatoes, kale, leeks, lettuces and salad leaves, meadowsweet, mint, morel mushrooms, nettles, onions, parsley, potatoes (main crop), radishes, rosemary, samphire, sea kale, sea spinach, sorrel, spinach, spring onions, watercress, wild chervil (aka cow parsley), wild garlic (ransoms), wild rocket
fruit and nuts:
bramley apples, rhubarb
meat and game:
beef, chicken, pork, rabbit, spring lamb, turkey, wood pigeon
fish and shellfish:
cockles, cod, coley, conger eel, crab (brown and cock), dab, dover sole, haddock, john dory, lemon sole, lobster, mackerel, mussels, oysters, pollack, prawns, salmon (wild), scallops, sea bass, sea trout, shrimp, whelks, whitebait