i love to collect things… i always thought i’m dependent on few things only. but truth is: it gives me a huge kick to know that i’ve got more things than i need. this holds true for household things, like candle sticks (that i sort of collect), napkins, vases, cookbooks, plates and maybe undies – and not in a dirty sado-maso way. i simply like the lace… that was clear, right?
and what holds true for tangible things holds true for short-lived things, equally. like: i love to go out (which in our region results in going into the woods) and come back with a basket full of things (well, technically not things, but herbs, plants, edible stuff, pretty stones, shells… you get it). it always used to be like that. my auntie irma taught me how to find parsley piert and what to do with it (tea, e.g.). she showed me where to find chestnut and beechnut, and how to peel the latter. i learned to tell apart the real, wild cherries from false ones, that are toxic. and i used to be able to tell the names of an impressive list of wild flowers and herbs at the age of, say, 6 or 7. i was never much of a walker (in fact, i quite despised it and would rather set myself on fire than to go on a walk…) – but whenever there was some gathering involved i was happy as a ladybug. the minutes became hours when i was bowed over some forest ground, looking for the youngest, most tender wild garlic / ramsons, or for the best spot to find black chanterelles (mostly directly in our backyard). i used to bring home my pickings with a spring in my step and a proud face, flushed from the clean, fresh air and hours of walking.
we then took to preparing the food. sometimes, it involved canning or jamming (like with blueberries, raspberries, or red currants). sometimes, it involved preserving the goods in oil (like the ramsons paste that i made only last week). and sometimes, when i was lucky, it meant that i got to eat the precious treasures right away. the sweet and sour forest strawberries tasted so delicious, i can still remember it.
all these memories came back when we went to gather ramsons, dandelions (leaves and buds, that taste amazing; we used them here) and sorrel last week. something i haven’t done in too long, for sure. it was pure bliss and it gives you a inexplicable peace of mind.
dandelion & sorrel salad with tomato
1 bunch dandelion, leaves
1 bunch sorrel, leaves
2 tomatoes, skinned, deseeded and finely chopped
1 lemon, zest and juice
1 tsp. ramsons paste (or 1/2 garlic clove, minced and squeezed with a knife)
1 tsp. kelpamare (or other vegetable seasoning or a pinch of good vegetable broth)
1 tsp. acacia honey
1 knife point garlic-chili paste (since i don’t have this at hand but my mom does, i’d probably use more harissa)
and / or 1 drop harissa (the dressing shouldn’t be spicy, so don’t add too much, it’s just for the ‘depth’)
1 tsp. maldon sea salt
2 tbsp. olive oil
wash the salad leaves, and chop them into 2cm wide pieces, roughly. quickly blanch the tomato in hot water, cool it under the running water and then peel the skin off. cut into quarters, deseed and then dice, finely. put aside. in a bowl, prepare the dressing: combine the lemon zest and juice, olive oil, honey, ramsons paste or garlic, kelpamare or other vegetable seasoning, pinch of chili paste and harissa and season with salt. put the dandelion and sorrel in a bowl, top with the tomatoes and pour the dressing over everything.
ps: this is only the best salad dressing you’ll ever have. and you’ve never heard me say this. but i only ever love salad with this dressing.
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