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Monday 21 December 2020

Sea Buckthorn

 A wonderfully helpful plant to find at this time of year when a lot of other berries have disappeared.

Bright orange, said to be the colour or mermaids blood, it springs up in prickly bushes around a lot of our coastline. To such an extent that its classed as invasive and is often removed.

However the berries are high in vitamins, particularly vitamin c, minerals and trace elements. It's got a great reputation for lowering blood pressure and as a skin emollient. Its incredibly bitter and sharp to taste straight off the bush, though I love that, but can be made into syrups and jams or mixed with other ingredients to make a delicious compote. Be careful of the thorns, but enjoy the flavour.

Thursday 19 November 2020

Dried seaweed - palmira palmata

 In Northern Ireland we've been brought up eating a particular type of seaweed called Dulse ( in Belfast we pronounce it dulice). One of the red seaweed it's got a gorgeous salty irony taste and is a great reminder of my youth when my grandfather and I would gather lots of it and dry it out in the hedge around the hut.

These days I often usually just dry it, grate it and use it as an additive in food dishes, particularly stews and soups in which it gives a meaty salty taste.. 

So I gathered quite a bit, theres a lot more there than you think!

I then dried it out in the oven

Then ground it down, not to powder but more fine chunks. This little bag about 5 inches square is all thats left after the drying ! This will keep for a long time and can be added to any dishes that need a little extra kick of something different.


Sunday 4 October 2020

Native oysters

 I've been spending more time along the coast again, doing a little beachcombing and seeing what the sea casts up and it's fun to find new things as the tide ebbs. This time I found a couple of native oysters. 

Now I'm not that keen on these as a food source, I'll eat them if I have to but much prefer the Pacific oysters that wash up on the beach from time to time, but even then I'd rather have clams or mussels.. nonetheless it shows the bounty of the seashore if you spend the time just looking. 

Sunday 16 August 2020


 I was out for a dander near the coast recently and found some soapwort. Now this one is a little different than the one I've seen before so I'm assuming it's a garden escapee. Nonetheless it was quite prolific and pretty to look at

Same leaf configuration I've seen before but the petals are a little different, however I took some back to see if it had saponins that could lather in soft water..

I crushed the leaves, gave it a little rub between my hands and it lathered up very well.. A handy find.

Sunday 2 August 2020

Bit of a sea Forage

Its been quite a while since I've been out along the coast looking for edibles so I recently got the chance to go out along the Ulster shore line in search of a meal

Gorgeous part of the world with lots of potential for sea foraging.

Selection of the finds after about 30 minutes, 

Purging them in clean salt water to get rid of the sand, the catch included, mussels, cockles, clams, scallops and whelks.

And steamed then garlic butter added,it was delicious. 

Monday 25 May 2020

Natural right angled handled walking sticks

Every now and again mother nature gives you a gift. I often cut sticks to make walking sticks, staffs, wading poles etc and I'm always on the look out for something special. And today I cut two rather special sticks, as they both have perfectly naturally formed right angle handles.. rarer than hens teeth. I'm really pleased with these and they'll make lovely walking sticks after they're seasoned.

Thursday 30 April 2020

Modifying a utility knife into a fillet knife

Sometimes you just need a filtering blade that's a little smaller than the normal 6 inch blade, for smaller fish and for removing ribs I like a 4.5 inch blade, so not being able to buy one like that I thought I'd modify a knife to make one.

I bought a couple of rockingham forge utility knives  these are great for the price, but I decided to modify one so that it is slimmer and more flexible.

I ground the spine down and curved the tip up to enable me to work round the bones more easily.
The bonus was it also made the knife much more flexible.

Now to catch the fish !!

Monday 13 April 2020

Logan's Homemade pasta.

My multi talented son (well, he takes after his Dad) was a little concerned about everybody during this pandemic when he heard how everyone was buying as much pasta as they could , so he figured he'd show you all how to make it at home from a few simple ingredients..

Firstly, what you'll need is some flour, salt an egg or two depending on how much you want to make and a little oil.

Put two cups of flour on the counter and add the egg, a little salt and just enough oil to bring it all together into a dough.

Knead it till it forms into a non sticky dough, add some flour to the counter top and your hands to stop it sticking.

Let the dough rest in the fridge for an hour or so.

Once rested roll it out into thin layers

Cut it into thin strips and separate into plastic bags, these will stay fresh in the fridge for 3 or 4 days

It will cook quickly, 2 mins or so, then add some garlic, mozzarella, cheddar, a few herbs and a drizzle of oil and there you have a meal fit for a king..Enjoy!

Wednesday 1 April 2020

Mink tracks

This lockdown due to the coronavirus seems to be taking its toll on a lot of people, I know its difficult not getting out the way we used to but hopefully it wont be like this for long. We are allowed out for exercise each day and theres a little creek not too far from me and I saw mink tracks on the riverbank, first time I've ever seen them in this area thought they are prevalent in other places I've been too  but it's nice to know our furry friends still go about their daily business oblivious to what's happening to us.

Monday 16 March 2020

Coronavirus - what are we not being told?

In 2009 there was a flu pandemic and nearly 600 000 people died globally as a result.

Did you know that ? Probably not, because there was no panic, no closing schools or cities down in fact I have no recollection of it being mentioned at all. To the date of this article there has been less that 4000 global deaths of coronavirus and yet the world is in complete and total meltdown. Virtually every person I talk to, even the most rational people, are saying something isn't right with this, is it a distraction or something more sinister?, the only thing we can say is there is definitely something we are not being told.

Sunday 8 March 2020

Coronavirus - purify water to drink with sodium hypochlorite

Most household bleaches contain sodium hypochlorite, this can be used to purify drinking water in an emergency situation. Although we are unlikely to face any problems with water shortages with the coronavirus outbreak it does no harm to have the information at hand just in case. Buy basic household bleach, no additives like fragrances or any other chemicals, usually the bargain brand ones are the best to use. Make sure if using rain water or ground water that it is properly filtered first, then use the table below to add the correct amount of chemical to make it safe to drink. Remember this should not be used for the long term and only if you can't get to boil the water instead.

If you do get the chance to boil water instead of using bleach to purify it, you can make it more pleasant to drink afterwards by adding 1/4 tsp salt per litre and shaking vigorously.

Thursday 27 February 2020

A day in the Mournes

It was one of those days when a little snow had fallen, but the sky became clear and blue and tou know you've just got to spend it as high up as you can. The Mourne mountains are really just hills, but to us, they are mountains that reach to the heavens and are beautiful beyond compare.

Wednesday 19 February 2020

A few new pike lures

I bought some pike lure blanks from a certain chinese online seller and have to admit, I was quite impressed by them. I'll colour them simply using aerosol paints as I dont have an air brush but I dont think the pike will mind too much. Just made a start, I'll post more pics when I get a few painted up.

Sunday 9 February 2020

Candlesnuff fungus

This little fellow is often overlooked when out in the woods, yet it is quite common if you take the time to look around. It tends to grow on rotten wood and is small in size with white tops and a black base.

In theory this fungus is edible as it has no poisons or toxins in it however it is so small and tough in texture that it really is not worth the bother. The main thing I find interesting about this fungus is that it is bioluminescent, it emits light, however this is usually so faint that it cant be seen with the human eye, but it can be picked up with light intensifiers.

Saturday 25 January 2020

How to roast beech nuts

Every few years or so we get a mast year , a year when nuts are in profusion. Most people know about hazelnuts and walnuts and acorns but few ever bother with beech nuts or mast as they are sometimes called. It is understandable as they can be fiddly to prepare  but if you take the time you can end up with a delicious snack that tastes just a little different than other nuts.

The first thing you have to do (after the husk is removed) is to peel off the tough skin that coats the nuts, this is fiddly, but it is worth it so persevere.

Next step is to roast the inner nut in a shallow pan, the inner skin that coats the nut (similar to a peanut) can be left on as its roasting as it often falls off in the process. Keep roasting until the steam evaporates and the nuts start to gently brown.

Once roasted you can rub them gently in a cloth to remove and skin that is left, then put them in a container with a little salt, they taste wonderful and have a distinctive taste to other nuts that is quite delicious, if stored salted, in a jar, they will keep for a considerable time. Enjoy.


Saturday 18 January 2020

Rustic 3 leg stool

I found, as you often tend to, a log washed up along the bank of a small stream. Instead of using it for firewood as would normally happen I decided to try and make something useful out of it

I cut a couple of rounds from it and one longish length the idea being to make some stools.

The rounds made lovely little seats easily capable of holding an adults weight though they do have a tendency to split over time, I will split the longer piece and make long stools that will be more stable.

And after a few coats of linseed oil, they are practical, pretty and easy to make.


Sunday 5 January 2020

Sea Buckthorn

One of those nice and nasty little sea bushes we find all around the coasts these days, it's got wonderful little berries but they're a nightmare to get at leaving behind scratched and bleeding arms.

Normally you can find lots of these berries, often called sea berries, on these bushes but the ones I came across where rather sparse, none the less it always worth a nibble for the really sour astringent taste you get from them which I really like , as long ad you can get past the initial plasticy taste!
They have been used in the past to feed to horses, been used as a herbal medicine and often used in proprietary brands of cosmetics. They are also often found when most other berries have long gone.

Messy when picked you often have to lick the juice off your hands but if gathered in quantities can be made into pies , jams and juice drinks. They also contain trace amounts of vitamin B12 which is rarely found in plants.