Food for Free

Scarlet Elf Cups

Remember the Richard Mabey book, ‘Food for Free’? All about what you could do with stuff from the fields and hedgerows? I’ve just checked, and gosh, it was first published in 1972. I’ve still got my copy somewhere. I bet it’s a first edition, and probably in good condition. I enjoyed reading it, but foraging was never my thing. Apart from bilberrying on the moors as a child, and later taking advantage of blackberries hanging too high for passing mongrels or drunks to pee on, I prefer to know where my food comes from, even if it’s ASDA, and that it actually is what I think it is. Sorry, all you free spirits…

However, on one of my gardening courses, The Sustainable Garden, there is at least one person who’s made of sterner stuff. The image above is of scarlet elf cups that she foraged.

They’re nice and distinctive, and safe to eat, which is good. The only thing they can be confused with is ruby elf cups, which are nice and distinctive, safe to eat, and only a true expert can tell them apart.

Our fantastic gardener spends time helping in a charity garden, and having foraged these elf cups she cleaned them up – don’t they look lovely? As though they’d been enamelled…

Cleaned-up scarlet elf cups

And then she made lunch for the other volunteers that day – mushroom bolognaise with black bean spaghetti…

Mushroom bolognaise with black bean spaghetti

Doesn’t that look tasty? I might quibble a bit at the ‘mushroom’ label, but fungus bolognaise doesn’t have quite the same ring to it, does it? So I won’t quibble.

So, well done, that girl, and well done to the volunteers who enjoyed it.

And a surprising well done, too, to the mail order plant company J. Parker. Our gardener told us last term that they are supporting the charity garden, Manchester Mind, and have physically turned an unused part of the plot into a lovely sensory garden, providing the labour, the bits and pieces and the plants. Isn’t that wonderful?

I think it deserves a pat on the back and quick skim through their catalogue!

Term starts again next week, and I think I have just one more vacation blog entry to come.

Thanks for reading!

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