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Wednesday 28 March 2012

Bush Food - Farmers Cheese

Davy has been giving off saying we don't put enough recipes on the blog and I sort of agree, food is one of the 4 essential elements after all. So we are going to do a series on bush food. The theme will be that the recipes will be tradtional mountain man/pioneer recipes or they will incorporate a wild ingredient somewhere or just be plain simple campfire cooking, we will spread them out over the year.

I remember reading about this method of making cheese in a book on mountain men many years ago in which it said they often used goats or buffalo milk and I wondered how they actually got to milk a buffalo?
because of this I sort of neglected the idea until I saw Tam Wendel on Bushcraft on Fire doing it and I thought I'd better give it a go!

so essential ingredients are

(that's it! although it's a bland cheese so I flavoured mine with wild garlic and black pepper)

put the milk in the pan and heat it till it's nearly boiling (but don't let it boil!)

Take it off the heat and add about 50ml of vinegar to every 2 quarts of milk, stir it as it separates

Strain it through one of Cody Lundin's bandanas

after half an hour you have a ball of lovely soft spreading cheese, if you want a firm cheese then there's one more step after adding any flavours

the most complimentary flavours I find are wild garlic or tri-corn garlic and freshly ground black pepper
mix it well into the cheese

press the cheese into a mold or a bowl , cover with the bandana and add a weight on top to compress it and refrigerate for 2 hours, and there you have it, home made Bushcrafters Wild Garlic and Black Pepper Cheese. Goes lovely on crackers or just as a snack..if  this is pioneer food, then I like it!

Saturday 24 March 2012

The Rooks have hatched!

It's a little early this year but I've been watching the local rooks for quite a few weeks, nest building and mating, it's a wonderful spectacle. The intricacies of our avian friends always fascinate me..

High up in the limes the nests are precariously perched and it's hard to see whats going on but persistence pays off and today the corvids sent me a little gift

evidience that the little ones have hatched, it's as if they're trying to tell me that they've successfully become a mom and dad!

you can even see the evidence of the yolk sac and where the little one has pecked out of the shell. Again sometimes the smallest things give me the greateast satisfaction.

Tuesday 20 March 2012

How to boil an egg without water!

Davy and I were out recently and I'd brought some eggs laid by my hens, nothing nicer than a fresh boiled egg, but if you have no pot to boil the egg in,how do you do it?

Place your egg ( I like white bantam eggs) in a grapefruit size ball of sphagnum moss

set the package directly in the fire!!
Allow a good 10 minutes for a hard boil, a little less if you like a soft egg

Take the egg from the moss, and enjoy ! As easy as that!

Saturday 17 March 2012

Dave Canterbury's 5 C's of survivability

There isn't much in this world that you get for nothing especially in Bushcraft and Survival when every weekend warrior under the sun is trying to set up a group that charges people money just to show them basic outdoor tasks, over here in Northern Ireland there are at least 7 groups that I can think of off the top of my head that will charge you money to tell you you can eat dandelions or light cotton balls with a ferro rod..I find it crass that people can betray their passion for profit. However this cannot be said of Dave Canterbury, the co presenter with Cody Lundin of that magnificent program Dual Survival.

At a time when most survival personalities (including Ray Mears) have taken the path most travelled towards corporate avarice he still continues to provide for nothing. Probably now one of the foremost survival experts on the planet he continues to post videos on you tube for those people who cannot be at his classes, he teaches the masses for nothing! I have unparalleled respect for the man! He also travels throughout his home country arranging to meet people for impromptu teaching sessions and even uses his own property to set up scenarios FOR FREE to those who are willing to appear on his Survival Adventure Network channel. The man goes above and beyond and his integrity stands head and shoulders above other glory seekers. Probably the most significant idea he has every produced is his Five C's of Survivability which if followed sensibly should see the survivor easily accomplish a successful venture in the woods, study them,remember them, they just might save your life..

The 5 C's of survivability

1. Cutting tool
2. Combustion device
3. Container (preferably metal)
4. Cover
5. Cordage

All references, credits and copyrights to Dave Canterbury, Dual Survival, the Survival Adventure Network Channel and the 5 C's of survivability belong to Dave Canterbury and the Pathfinder School llc..

Long May He Reign!

Wednesday 14 March 2012

Three Cornered Garlic

We were out recently and came across this nice wee find, It's called three cornered garlic (also called three cornered leek, angled onion, onion weed ,wild onion and triangular stalked Garlic)

from a distance they look like spanish bluebells but closer inspection (and taste) puts that idea to rights.
They are said to have a taste somewhere between garlic and leek, but I don't find that at all, I think they are more like a cross between garlic and scallion, not as strong tasting as wild garlic and with a nice onion after kick, all parts of the plant are edible

you can see why it gets the name 3 cornered by the stem profile. A good wild edible to find, it is actually a mediterranean plant introduced in the late nineteenth century and now wildly can be invasive so don't worry about taking and eating as much of this non native plant as you want!

Sunday 11 March 2012

Making Birch Bark Oil

Most bushcrafters worth their salt know how to make birch bark oil (also called birch bark tar), it's got plenty of good uses including insect repellant and leather preserver etc, so here's a quick tutorial for those who have never made it...

first find some nice dead birch logs and strip the bark of it, you should know it's ready when the bark peels off very easily

Roll up the birch bark and put it in a tin, you will need a LOT of birch bark to get even a small amount of oil

Bury a tin in the ground to capture the oil and set the tin with the birch bark in it on top, the birch bark tin should have a small hole in it to allow the oil to run out and into the buried container

Put the lid on the tin containing the birch bark, set the tin on top of the buried container so the little hole in the birch bark tin is directly over the buried one, Light a fire on top of the tin !!!!

once the fire has died down,scrape the ashes from around the tin and allow to cool before you remove it

Admire the black gold in the little container you had buried

and transferred to a little jar for future use. You can see that the birch bark in this country doesn't produce a lot of oil but it's nice to know we can make it if we have to. It's not something we use very often but I thought some of you out there might want to try it for yourselves!

Thursday 8 March 2012

Jupiters Beard

Not only is the wild garlic showing but a quick trip to the coast yesterday showed up the first blossoms of this years Red Valerian, there are not many plants that draw me in so much as this one..

The young leaves are edible (I'm sure I've mentioned this before) and the root was said to have a calming effect on the nerves when served as a tea although to be honest I think that's more with common valerian than red

the symbolism behind Red Valerian is that it is given as a peace offering between friends who have quarrelled

beautiful, edible, remarkable!

Wednesday 7 March 2012

Tasty Toasty

The wild garlic started showing it's head above ground about 3 weeks ago but it's only now that it's a decent size to pick and as y'all know it's my favourite wild edible and the first taste each year is very special to me,just like that of birch sap which is also running well just now. Anyway I picked a couple of wild ingredients and mixed them with some other stuff for lunch

Wild Garlic, jelly ear, mature cheddar, red peppers and pork sausage..mouth is watering already

all chopped up and put on a grinder slice (extra heavy on the garlic and mushroom!)

and lightly toasted under the grill

it really is the food of the gods!!!

Sunday 4 March 2012

Primitive Arrows

We have a show and tell with the girl guides coming up very soon so we thought about making some items we could show them rather than the usual kuksa and spoon that every one seems to do, so we decided to make some primitive arrows

Hazel shafts cut and ready to process

The easiest way to take the bark off was by using sharp pieces of flint, the bark came off extremely easily

I then heated the shafts over the fire so I could straighten them

Once straightened I cut notches for the heads and the strings

I fitted the fletchings, left to right are pheasant, swan and hooded crow feathers, the pheasant and swan were simply tied on with sinew but the crow feathers were tacked on with pine pitch

Then I put the heads on, top one is flint fixed with pine pitch, then an antler broadhead fitted with sinew and lastly a bone head fitted again with pitch

and completed...