Nettle Smoothies – a mouth tingling sensation!
Last Thursday was Spring Equinox – yes, the days are finally getting longer! To celebrate, Emily joined me at the OC for a long weekend of Ostara-inspired adventures. It was a good opportunity for some downtime from the real world in exchange for some uptime with friends, dogs, nature and nourishment. Creativity, cooking, foraging, rambling, mood padding and even a little bit of goat herding came into play (and some goat cheese, for that matter). Eggs were dyed, intentions were made, rice was cubed, cocktails were mixed, food was consumed and a long list of learning moments were jotted down. Here were some of the highlights…
Lemon Barley Water
I usually leave my grain-based beverages to beer and whisky but lemon barley water proves that grains have their place in non-alcoholic beverages, too. We seemed to constantly have a pitcher of this on the go (the “Cadillac” of lemon barley waters, Emily called it, as I was using bergamot lemons and Sicilian honey). Consequentially, I know have a lot of leftover cooked barley to use. Any suggestions?
Rave Coffee and Burlap
Early on in Emily’s visit, we took a little trip to Rave Coffee to stock up on beans. It ended up being a nice little visit with the staff who are always fun to talk to. This time they treated us to some Jasmin tea and hooked us up with some super Ethiopian Yirgacheffe beans (perfect for iced coffee). I also acquired two burlap sacks for food photography and decoration purposes. Both the burlap and the beans featured throughout the weekend in more ways that I had anticipated. For example….
Coffee Ice Cream
Made with Ethiopian Yirgacheffe beans from Rave Coffee, uber rich cream and egg yolks from The Organic Farm Shop, and the coffee ice cream recipe from David Lebovitz’s The Perfect Scoop.
Nettle all of the things
Nettle smoothies, nettle spanakopita, nettle pizza, nettle farinata… our hands were tingling by the end of the weekend but we really enjoyed experimenting with nettles as a substitute for spinach. We’re not convinced by nettle tea, though. It tasted like pond water.
Farinata, aka socca, aka chickpea flour pancakes. I’ve been trying to get these right for the last couple of weeks and I think I finally nailed it. And bonus: just like pizza, farinata is also tasty topped with nettles and mushrooms!
Vietnamese Spring Rolls
Emily’s first Vietnamese summer roll! Raw vegetables, herbs and toasted salted peanuts rolled in rice paper and dipped in a sweet lime dipping sauce. All kinds of good things happening here.
Almond Milk and Almond Pulp Crackers
Emily is a huge fan of almond milk so I showed her how to make your own using soaked almonds and a blender. This resurrected the eternal question of what to do with the leftover almond pulp. I decided to try turning them into almond pulp crackers and the results were pretty excellent! The perfect delivery device for equinox cheese!
The evolution of the Orchard Cottage bar (tentatively named “OC Backward”) continues with coffee martinis, both vegan and non-vegan versions (more inspiration from Rave Coffee and DIY almond milk). Emily made her seasonal “Pimmily” and I played around with Dark & Stormies (conclusion: the future of Dark & Stormies is ginger syrup).
I’ve become kind of obsessed with these Dutch Babies (they are like sweet, dessert versions of Yorkshire puddings). Part of my obsession is my inconsistency in being able to make them. Sometimes they rise to the occasion, other times they flop. This equinox I did some experimenting. My conclusion: the only times my Dutch Babies have failed is when I’ve made them after dinner, and after many glasses of wine. The lesson: “Don’t Drink & Dutch Baby”.
Beer in Frome
And speaking of drinking, it’s worth pointing out a few new beer finds that Emily and I discovered on a semi-impromptu road trip to Frome in Somerset. Our destination was The Griffin Pub, home to Milk Street Brewery‘s range of beers. We were drawn to their Elderfizz, but having tasted all of their beers (poured with immense generosity by their wonderful bartender Ellen), I decided the Elderfizz was my least favourite of the bunch. The “Zig Zag” dark chocolate stout was incredible, but I think “The Usual” topped my list.
And speaking of “The Usual”, it’s back to life as usual here at the OC. But not the same kind of “usual” as it was before. Equinox has left me pretty excited about all of the ideas, plans and seeds we sowed over the weekend. If all goes well there will be tomatoes in my future, amongst other things. I’m motivated, and with Beltane just over the horizon, I’m intent on cultivating as much awesomeness as possible so that there will be TONS of reasons to celebrate when this next rung in the wheel of the year comes around.