Happy Samhain!

You will all undoubtedly be aware of the commerciality of halloween, the ghoulish plastic ‘scarefest’ that will likely go on to pollute the earth in a genuinely scary way. Halloween bares little resemblance to the original ancient festival of Samhain … Continue reading

Foraging Shaggy ink caps and recipe

We found shaggy ink caps today These are very common and you will have seen them before, luckily there are no identical lookalikes to be confused with. These specimens are quite small as people seem to enjoy kicking over the … Continue reading

Making new floors

One of the great many benefits of permaculure is that it saves you a lot of money along with the number one consideration of saving the planet. Which is particularly good when you dont have any money.  Necessity is the … Continue reading

Magical Elder

As I like to forage and share recipes, it occurs to me that I have used elder,  probably more than most other. The uses seem almost limitless. I have posts to share in the mushroom berry and flower foraging sections … Continue reading

magical light and making candles

It is diwali tonight as I type this, this is one of my favourite light festivals 🙂 The festival spiritually signifies the victory of light over darkness, knowledge over ignorance, good over evil, and hope over despair. It has many … Continue reading

Jews/Jelly ear and soup recipe

So my next lot of foraged mushrooms were Jews ear or Jelly ear. I was initially uncomfortable with using ‘Jews ear’ but it is a part of the interesting mythology and hedge lore of the elder. ‘Jews ear’ is a mistranslation from Judas’ ear. It is believed that Judas escariot hung imself from an elder tree. Gruesome hey?  Wether you call it jews ear, wood ear, jelly ear or something else (we like fairies baby ears -they outgrow them like teeth you know) the important part to remember is that it is the only fungus which looks like an ear, there are similar looking cup fungus but none look like an ear or are poisonous (according to my books and the foray Ive been on) It grows on dead elder.

I decided to dedicate a seperate post specifically to elder. Im sure there will be many more too, a quite magical and exceptionally useful tree.

Presumably the one on the left is a very young, just forming jelly/jews ear fungus, I think it’s too small to give much further consideration to, the photo on the right displays the shape very well.

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Picked and turned over you can see how this fungus has gotten it’s name. The ‘proper’ name is A. auricula-judae. It is found all year but most common in Autumn, good for ‘halloweeny’ jokes and treats with children.


 yummm youre thinking aren’t you?

Before you head for the hills, I will bet money that you have already unwittingly eaten this before, in anything containing mixed mushrooms. Especially mushroom soup.

They dry very well and will rehydrate back to their original size and texture. Interesting to note in China they are considered useful in treating cold and flu fevers and traditionally considered good for sore throats (much like elder berry recipes are) Interestingly proven to be effective in the general reduction of cholesterol levels. So the bacon and cream in the following recipe are optional (and also not vegetarian)

I had to use bought mushrooms as I am a new novice and have struggled to even find very much to identify, and what I have managed to find, and managed to identify at least the genus of, has rarely been edible. I have to say I’m not only interested in edibles. I’m truly a bit hooked and fascinated. Turns out I am not the only one having a hard time finding much to date, this year, so far.



I had a couple of cartons of the general white argarics you buy, argaricus bisporous to be specific,  some portobellos (the same but mature) chestnut mushrooms (the same but brown) and a good sized handful of my fairy ears 😉 Make sure the latter are well washed (they can be tricky)


1 large onion

3 small cloves of garlic

herb infused oil, dried basil

plenty of seasoning

play around with whatever flavours you like, a small amount of spice is good, but dont overdo it, the flavour is very easily overpowered

finely dice the onion and garlic and add to the slow cooker with some oil

chop the mushrooms thickly and the bigger portobellos into 8, thinly sliced my ears which were fresh, you can add them whole if dehydrated then fish them out and chop them before blending

add them to the pot covering in your herbs and flavourings as you go

I poured over about 2 cups of boiling water and a added a handful of yellow lentils


blend when cooked

season to taste

swirl on cream (optional)

add crispy bacon strips and crutons (optional)


Also makes a great pasta sauce! Enjoy!

Garden update

A little round up of what is still growing in the garden as we head into the colder half the year at the end of the harvest.

The ‘radiator’ idea seems to be working and we may well yet manage our first butternut 🙂

First time at butternut

I may have to pick them and find uses soon

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Some of the flowers that are picking out the blazing Autumn colours.

 few sunflowers left to collect seed from, calendula still blooming wonderful autumnal colour, as are the natrutiums, a few self seeds from summer/spring have taken and grown too. even a little pea 🙂

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The Russian vines leaves are dropping fast now


Tomatoes are still swelling on the vine

I will harvest any before the first frosts and use a heavily spiced traditional russian recipe for green tomatoes (or apples) for making chutney



some even ripening in the autumnal sunshine.


cabbages are doing great


I intend to make a ruby sauerkraut with some and sweet pickles too

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The medlars  are new trees and I am pleased they have fruited well enough for me to use something. I am starting to grow my own trees for the future.


 Medlar need to stay on the tree untill after the first frosts when they have been softened or spoiled slightly. You can pick them and leave them to ‘blet’ in the traditional way.

This means leaving them until they have just begun to rot slightly. It deepens and sweetens the flavour making them more useful and much more appetising.

I have never tried Medlar I shall update with how we get on.


Leeks are doing well too


honeysuckle hand and foot cream

This  is very simple, inexpensive, smells good and lasts well in the fridge. It is my own recipe and works for me.

You need:

candelilla wax (or beeswax that may smell different, not always pleasant)

Carrier oil, infused with honeysuckle from my garden

water, infused with rose or calendula is good. or green tea

you may want to check if you are using infused or essential oils that what you use will still be safe when mixed with other products; combinations of ingredients can change the properties.

If you use flowers they will need to be grown without chemicals!

I used olive oil which is heavy but my feet are extremely dry. I would use it again, for this purpose, in the past I have disliked it. You might prefer to use coconut or sweet almond oil

You will also need a blender, a stick one works too,  I tried both and preferred the attachment in my counter top one for making mayonnaise.


honey suckle has natural antibacterial properties and is good for sore throats too


1/2 cup infused/plain water at room temperature (or green tea)

4 tablespoons carrier oil

1 tablespoon candelilla wax

1 tablespoon of your favorite essential or infused oil

(This made a small jar for me, I found once or twice there was more water than needed I just tipped it off, maybe it had seperated a bit)


1. Add the oil and wax to a heatproof bowl


2. Set in a saucepan of water that reaches halfway up the side and heat on low just until the wax melts. Remove the mixture from the heat, and let it cool for one or two minutes only.

3. Pour the  water into your blender and turn it on high. Slowly add your wax mixture to the water. It will begin to thicken and become creamy and rich as you add the last drops.


Or use a stick blender in the bowl

4. Once well blended, add your drops of essential/infused oil and mix everything together very well.

5. Pour your new natural lotion into a small jar, using a plastic spatula to get the blender as clean as possible, cleaning off the rest with your hands (you don’t want to put wax down your kitchen sink)


Your new lotion will last up to six months in the refrigerator. You can experiment using different combinations of essential or infused oils, ideal for gifts


This one in the centre was calendula infused oil and calendula water

Homemade salt scrub

Another thing I notice as the weather turns colder, and the daylight ebs away is that my skin becomes much drier, and I like to take care of it with a salt scrub every now and then. I have very sensitive skin.

Very easy to do yourself and doesn’t cost the earth (like palm oil)

I use sea salt.

Maldon sea salt pyramids

Maldon salt crystals From the lovely ‘justinsomnia’ blog

Unrefined salt is in many ways much better for your health so I tend to only buy this, in fact it may be pretty scandalous how underated it is.

It is nothing like your refined salt manufactured largely for industry and added to our bought food products.

We have many well known sea salt producers right here and you will easily find something much more local than dead sea salt

You need aboout half a cup of your chosen carrier oil and a cup of seasalt


Sea salt scrub and honeysuckle moisturiser for hands and feet.

The salt will scrub away dead layers of skin and the oil moisturises.

I added some dried lemon balm to mine

Store in the fridge



Lemon balm from the garden

permaculture in community (a week in my life)

I  had a busy week and its taken me a while to even find the time to finish all my tasks and jobs and get back to blog about it Ill start with last Sunday, it is officially the start … Continue reading