Autumn starts almost hesitantly in Scotland. You cannot base its arrival on the beginning of the school year, for that is in August. You must scrutinize leaves all around town, noting the faint appearance of reds in a few. I would say that it is an early Autumn here compared what I’m used to, but mostly, it is a short one. The trees never seem to coordinate with one another and as one is reaching the early stages of colour, the next will have shed its coat entirely. One sure indicator, however, is the blackberries. Once they have ripened, you’ll be sure to smell the sweet decaying leaves and moist earth as nature tucks itself in for the winter.
During a study break today, I noticed that rain stopped and the sun was shining! Remembering the almost ripe berries I walked past last weekend, I decided that it was time to get outside. While I was afraid that I would be a few days late I was actually a few days before peak, with plenty more berries to ripen. For the past 3 blackberry harvests since moving here, I have made blackberry pie. Its such a delicious treat that for us acknowledges the end of Summer, that its hard to deviate from the growing tradition. Still, I have been thinking about trying out making jams…and if I have time, you’ll see the results! [ETA: Here’s the jam I made]
I don’t have a decent shot of the blackberries on the vine since it was amazingly windy when my hands were clean enough to handle the camera. One thing I love about picking blackberries- or actually, playing! – anywhere in Scotland, is that there is no poison ivy to worry about. I always find myself cautious when thinking about stepping further into the bushes for a better reach, only to remember with relief that there’s no poison ivy in the whole country!
I also spotted some rose-hips that I hadn’t noticed when picking blackberries last year and have some ideas in the works for when they’re ripe!
One food that I think of without fail every fall, is acorns. In my parents’ house the whole front yard is carpeted in them and by the end of October, every step is accompanied by the dried crunching of the nuts underfoot. I have memories of my mom making acorn bread, and roast-acorn “coffee”…and when picking blackberries I found I was distracted by the desire to harvest acorns as well. Unfortunately, I can’t think of any oak trees in this town, let alone several. This weekend we’re planning on driving a bit north to check out some Historic Scotland sites, so I’ll keep my eyes open for a possible return trip later in the season.
While my mom is excellent at finding edibles in the U.S. (literally, the whole country- she’s well travelled) and she’s taught me basic PA foods, I’ve been timid about checking out Britain’s foods, since I can’t bring them to her for inspection. My fall stock-piling instincts are strong this week and I’ve decided to get more into it here. Playing around online I found some interesting websites for food in Britain.
Finally, an enthusiastic attempt at making vegetable kimchi which yielded mediocre pickled plants. I haven’t been able to get my hands on any bok choy locally, and decided to try out the recipe before I found it and wasted it. Instead, I used garden vegetables -broccoli, cucumber and cabbage…along with purchased carrots. I should have ground some of the chilli flakes up to give a deeper colour, and used more seasoning paste (ginger, garlic, oil, red pepper flakes, sesame seeds) and the end result, after fermenting for several days, just ended up tasting like ‘vinegary’ veggies that left a pleasing hot tingle on the lips. By the way, the cucumber turned out disgusting- too soft. For now, its not too bad eating it with some rice, and other flavours, but it is no where near as good as regular kimchi where I’m tempted to eat the whole jar at once!
Since I’ve started to include my non-textile based creations, I think I should probably change the blog tagline…So a change may be in the works!
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