Monday, 16 May 2011

Foraging For Wild Garlic

Thank you all so much for reading my last post and leaving such lovely and kind comments :) You made my heart warm and fuzzy with all of your supportive and encouraging words.  You have all boosted my dwindling confidence and I am starting to believe that I can and will make my dream a reality. I am so grateful for each and everyone of you darling friends who read my blog and support me, from the bottom of my heart, I love you all

For years I have been reading about wild garlic and its many culinary uses with wide eyed glee, wishing and hoping to one day happen upon some and fill my tummy with the fragrant leaves and flowers. A month or so ago I found a cluster of three cornered leeks which have a strong onion flavour and were very delicious eaten straight from the tundra or chopped into salads, but alas it wasn't wild garlic. Well thanks to Nathan my dream of foraging wild garlic has now come true! 

A little while ago a show aired on BBC2 called One Man And His Campervan about a chap named Martin Dorey, who is a campervan lover and a passionate foodie, who journeyed around Britain in his 1970s classic campervan meeting local foraging experts along the way. In one of the episodes Martin visited Hampshire and in particular the New Forest where he met a local forager Gary Eveleigh who took him on a foraging adventure. I actually missed the entire series, but Nathan saw it and he told me all about as he knows Gary.
A few weeks later Gary popped into the pub for a drink and Nathan got chatting with him about how I am obsessed with food, especially free food from the wonderful shop that never closes; nature! Nathan asked if he knew of any good spots for foraging wild garlic and Gary discreetly advised a location a few miles away that is always teeming with it. 

Last weekend Nathan, Brooke, Poppy, Monty and I embarked on a wild garlic adventure. If only I didn't have a stuffy hayfever nose I would have joined Nathan and Brooke in being able to smell it before we saw it. 


As we approached the masses of white flowers  we were in shock and awe that as far as our eyes could see the ground was scattered with the delicate pure white flowers and the deep green broad leaves that are so delicious. I have an itsy bitsy little trug (with the intention of filling only half of the trug so as not to be greedy) that I meant to take with us. However in my excitement I forgot the tiny trug and the only receptacle other than the camera bag that we had were unused and very clean poopy bags! It seemed terribly wrong to use the bags for foraging,  but I could not entertain the thought of going home empty handed so they had to do.





Brooke captured me having a moment with my beloved! I didn't know that she was pointing the camera at me so there I was inhaling the intoxicating scent whilst looking ridiculously in love with the plant! It is too amusing to keep to myself, you all need to see what a food and nature geek I truly am!


Poppy sampling the wild garlic


Two of the happiest dogs alive




A New Forest Pony grazing






A beautiful and very well camouflaged frog which Nathan cleverly spotted









A wild garlic leaf sprouting through a remnant of autumn 

This is a still from a video so it is not the best quality, but Poppy's face and little paws are lovely, so I just couldn't resist


Speaking of the video, I was trying to capture stills from it, but it was taking forever and a thought crossed my mind. Perhaps I could play it here, but I was hesitant about it as it seems far more embarrassing than photographs for some reason, but at the same time, I would love to hear all of your voices, so I thought I should just give it a go.

We (read Nathan!) had to cut it into two and rotate it as it the filming switched between portrait and landscape. Therefore the quality has diminished, but at least you won't have to tilt your head side to side to watch it!




As we walked back to the main road, Brooke and I hopped into the river as we were in flip flops and we encouraged the pooches to follow. Monty with his teeny little Shih Tzu legs an in with sheer abandon and was having an incredible time. Poppy however was not enjoying the water at all, she immediately ran out of the river and looked horrified that we would suggest such a ghastly thing for her to do!

This is now one of our favourite places to walk and we will be going back this week, I cannot wait!

Happy Monday sweetpeas
Love Morwenna
xoxo


Monday, 9 May 2011

Milford-On-Sea Food Week - Morwenna's Bakery

Oops I am sorry for the delay, my intention was to post a day after my previous post, but I have had issues with RAW images, Blogger and the fact that I don't really like to talk about myself and any alleged achievements without feeling dreadfully uncomfortable. However I am here now without the technical glitches and trying my best to tell you about my bake sales without squirming from shyness!

The week before Easter my village hosted its third food week and for the second time I was involved in the festivities. Firstly my in-laws pub, The Gun Inn held a few daily specials for their amazing local crab which is caught at dawn, then cooked and served for lunch! An fantastic whisky tasting evening with Scottish nibbles such as haggis palmiers and shortbread that I made for them. A bake sale by yours truly and they were also kind enough to feature another special that was for no other reason than to promote my bakery (I am still blushing at the thought!). With every tea, coffee and hot chocolate that they sold during the week (which was rather a lot!) there was a pixie sized portion of my chocolate brownie individually wrapped on the saucer for the customer to try. So when it came to cake fest halfway through the week it was quite a novelty for some customers to recognise my name and brownies from the pixie portions!

Cake Fest  featured locally made cakes from the WI and five different cake makers as well as a chocolatier, preserve maker and a local potter who had the marvellous idea of allowing children to make their very own clay pot for a tiny fee. It was so sweet seeing beaming children emerging from the potters wheel with gorgeous little pots that were perhaps a smidgen wonky, but entirely lovely. There was also a gluten free bread making and cake decorating class for children, so it was a day out for all the family.

The night before ended late and the morning of the event started early, but that was fine as it meant I was fully prepared and it kept my mind busy, instead of freaking out at the thought of selling my wares with professional bakers who were all far more experienced than me. I felt so sick and dizzy with nerves that my hands were not co-operating when tying the zillions of lengths of bakers twine around the bags. Nathan helped me schlep everything to the church hall as there was so much to take. Upon arrival in the hall it became evident that I had been allocated half a table which really wasn't enough for my sweet treats and any confidence I did have hit the floor as thoughts of "oh well they obviously know that I am total amateur who only deserves half a table". However a few minutes later I was given an entire table all to myself as three local bakers hadn't turned up. I started to feel a little better as during my set-up almost all of the other bakers and sellers came over to ooh and ahh at my decorations and cakes.

Nathan had to leave for work just before the doors were opened at 10am, it was then that my legs felt as though they were about to buckle beneath me. So I did my best to feel as though I belonged in a room full of professionals and miraculously I served a blueberry almond slice to my first and the very first customer of Cake Fest!

Nathan is such a sweet supporter of my little bakery and he wanted me to have a banner for all to see on my table. Last year Nathan secretly asked our amazingly talented friend Dawn to illustrate some pretty emblems for my bakery. So all my paperwork and promotional items feature a sweet mixing bowl, a slice of cake, bees and hearts and they all remind me of my darling hubs and dear friend which is priceless :)


The banner was secured via clamps, which worked a treat until numerous pushchairs were driven with abandon into it and I never managed to keep it taught for more than a few minutes until the next yummy mummy and her pushchair careered into it yet again!

My silly expression in this photo wasn't staged, I really did look this surprised and thrilled whenever I sold anything!



You may remember all of the vintage china that we collected for our wedding last year? Well we decided to keep all of it with the pie in the sky dream that one day it would be used in my bakery cafe to serve cake and tea. If that dream ever becomes a reality, this is where a few pieces of pretty china had their debut for Morwenna's Bakery




My cutie pie sister Brooke and I. As she is a professional photographer she volunteered her services to the Food Week committee to photograph Cake Fest and events at The Gun Inn. Basically she was my personal photographer which was rather fun and she also covered for me when I needed to take a natural break!


There is something you should know about me...I am an avid apron collector and wearer! I am wearing an old Cath Kidston favourite and Brooke is wearing a Jessie Steele apron (As worn by Charlotte in Sex And The City 2) that I bought in Anthropologie (I LOVE that shop, I am so happy that there is now one in Regent St) in Boston whilst on honeymoon. I fell in love with the design so much that I also bought the matching shopper bag and oven mitts from a cupcake shop in Falmouth, Cape Cod!

Amongst some of the customers who recognised my name from The Food Week programme and from The Gun Inn I had a very sweet lady who brought a tear to me eye from her words of kindness. She gave a gasp of recognition as she asked if I was the baker behind the Mother's Day cupcakes at The Gun. I replied that yes it was I, wondering why she was was asking and hoping it was not  a complaint. She took my hand in hers and said that her grown-up daughters had forgotten it was Mother's Day so to cheer herself up she took a walk in Keyhaven and went to The Gun for a cup of tea where she saw that there were some beautiful cupcakes (her words, not mine!) that had a sticker on the bag saying "Happy Mother's Day, With Love From Morwenna's Bakery xxx". She said this made her feel loved and cheered up after her daughters had forgotten her and that she never expected a vanilla cupcake to make her feel so happy! She was so thrilled that she could say thank you to me in person. She really made my day :)


During the day I saw the Vicar who conducted our wedding service and his wife sit down right in front of my table for a soup served by the WI (very nice it was too, as I had some for my lunch!). After they had finished their lunch they came over to have a chat and they very sweetly bought some of my cakes.



There were tables and chairs laid out for everyone to enjoy cake and a cup of cha 


The day was a hustle and bustle of wonderfulness and I didn't want it to end. By 3pm the crowd was lessening and the doors were being closed. I had almost sold out, there were just a handful left that had our name on it for our very own afternoon tea! As I began to pack away the cake stands, I took a peek into my Emma Bridgewater tin that served as my till and gasped as I saw all of the beautiful pennies staring back at me. At the end of my first ever bake sale amongst other bakers I started to feel as though I may actually belong in this world and instead of feeling dizzy from nerves I started to feel giddy from happiness.

The day after I had a bake sale at The Gun Inn and contrary to last years sale which I had in the garden, the weather this year was rather grey and grotty so we opted for indoors in the main ba




My lovely Mother In-Law who is my chief taster and champions me at every opportunity. Jacqueline is a fantastically successful businesswoman, and she is always conjuring up marvellous ideas and ways of enhancing my little bakery. She is an inspiration and I am so lucky to have her support.





My number one fans!



At 6pm almost everything had sold out and it was all over for another day. Until the day after when I did it all again! Food Week was a fantastic opportunity for me and my humble little bakery and I am looking forward being involved with next years Food Week.
I had so much fun and the pennies I made were very rewarding (even though I would actually do it all for free, although I am not sure how long I would be able to do that for!) so I will also be hosting lots more bake sales during the summer at The Gun, and I cannot wait!

Thank you so much for wading through this rather large post!

Happy Monday sweetpeas
Lots of love
Morwenna
xoxo

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