Friday, 24 April 2015

On St George's Day, I Explored my Little Corner of England

I had a half day off at work today, and set off for home on foot on a fine, bright, sunny afternoon. On an impulse, instead of cutting across it as I usually do, I turned right and to explore for the first time one of the two woodlands within the hospital grounds. This one is known as the Long Shapely Belt. I followed the path  along the edge of the hospital, with trees on either side, and two pretty ponds on the left.

At the end of the wooded area there path led to a gap in the trees, and continued out of the hospital across a large, right yellow field of rapeseed with the bright yellow flowers in full bloom.

Straight ahead in the distance I could see the tower of the Melbourne Road flats close to my house, so checking my route with google maps on my phone (satellite view) I strode off along the path.

At the end of the path, my way was blocked by a row of trees, so after checking the google satnav again, I decided to turn left. After a bit there was a gap in the trees, with a path going through it and a signpost helpfully confirming that this it was a public footpath, so I carried on.

After a bit I arrived at a lovely farmhouse which was the same one I usually walk by on the road, but from this vantage point I could see that it was a rather fine building, which I had not previously realised.

Looking around for a way through I was fortunate to encounter someone who pointed me in the right direction, over the stile and across more fields.

And so I eventually got home along a route roughly parallel to my usual one, but more or less entirely across open countryside. It took rather longer than usual because I had to check my position and took a few wrong turns, but I think it is probably a feasible alternative route for my regular commute on foot.

Two days previously, I had on another impulse gathered dandelion leaves on my way home with thoughts of using them for salad, perhaps a salade de pissenlits au lardons. I knew that it was best to get the small young leaves, before the flowers appeared, but I wasn't sure if these would be suitable, and indeed they were a bit bitter, but I did wonder if they would be good stir fried.

A little online research confirmed that this would probably be fine, so for dinner this evening, for our dinner on St George's Day,  I stir fried our English dandelion leaves in cold pressed extra virgin English rapeseed oil with garlic, as an accompaniment for grilled English lamb cutlets. To drink we had an excellent Saling Gold from our local Round Tower brewery.

We also had on the side some aubergine dips made by Sabra, which, as I discovered by chance, was the name of the princess that St George rescued from the dragon. A most enjoyable meal.

This is the first time I've eaten dandelion leaves. They have a nice texture and are rather bitter, but I quite like that. They are an excellent alternative to kangkong which is quite difficult to find in England, and I'm sure they are good fried with sambal belacan, or cooked in coconut milk. In fact, it appears that they they're eaten in Indonesia, where they are known as randa tapak. I think I'll be doing a bit more foraging.

No comments: