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The Waki Way .co.uk - Living full-time in a motor home

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LIVING IN A MOTOR HOME: FAQ's

We always seem to get asked the same questions about living somewhat off grid in a motor home, to which the answers seem to spark a dozen more questions! So (to give our voices a rest!) here's the answers to our most frequently asked questions...

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Wild Garlic

Allium ursinum - Other names: Ramsons, Wood/Bear Garlic

Season: March - May

So I know I’ve not posted any foraging recipes this year, until now that is. I admit it, I’m much softer than my ancestors but who could blame me for not venturing into the bitter cold and wet to gather scarce greens for dinner when I can order boxes of sumptuous organic veggies to the van door online instead!?

I decided to make up for the silence with a mega post about a mighty plant – Wild Garlic. We blooming love garlic with (almost) every meal, so it’s understandable that we’re also madly in love with Ramsons and that I’d find plenty of uses this time to share with you! Good job you can’t smell us huh? ;)

 

How we benefit

Wild Garlic has many of the same benefits as cultivated garlic such as strengthening the heart and lowering blood pressure, though slightly lower in potency. It also boasts the same antibacterial

 

The stinky (but delicious!) blooms of Wild GarlicThe stinky (but delicious!) blooms of Wild GarlicWhere do you find it?

Wild Garlic likes rich damp soils so is usually found alongside bluebells in a well established woodland or near the shelter of stone walls in an old garden or cemetery, but don't let that put you off. It’s often a surprising find, a discovery made with your nose before your eyes when, on an amble through budding/newly leafed trees and spring blooms, instead of a breath of crisp fresh air your nostrils are filled with the unmistakeable pungent aroma of garlic! There’ll likely be a whole sea of it, it’s prolific once it gets growing, of ribbed lance-shaped leaves followed later by pretty white flowers. The size of the leaves varies depending on the plant and where they are in the season, but are generally between a few inches to nearly a foot long. While the whole plant is edible and the flowers do look spectacular atop your salad, think of the bees who are in more need of them than you at this time of year. If you’re willing to dig (and have the permission to do so) you are rewarded with a small edible bulb, and perhaps more familiar to us when thinking of garlic. The bulbs can be preserved in oil or vinegar and again might look the part, though each bulb collected is one less plant to offer up the delicious leaves next year so perhaps just stick to collecting the leaves.

Like with most plants they’re better when young and tender, the older they get the tougher they’ll be and more likely to be a bit knarly having been nibbled by other woodland guests before you.

 Ramsons' poisonous look-alike Lily of the Valley - DON'T EAT THIS ONE!Ramsons' poisonous look-alike Lily of the Valley - DON'T EAT THIS ONE!

There are sinister lookalikes that share the woodland floor with the Ramson, most notably the highly poisonous Lily of the Valley. Lords and Ladies (Arum maculatum) is also doing it’s thing in spring and young leaves might look similar to the untrained eye, so take care when gathering. The garlic odour is the real key in safe identification here, if a bruised leaf doesn’t smell like garlic then leave it be, and perhaps go wash your hands.

 

Preparation & recipes:

Where do we start when there are so many options?

I started simple as always and shredded the leaves along with fresh parsley, coriander, and the first sprigs of lettuce from the kitchen garden pots and enjoyed a highly nutritious spring salad, with attitude I might add! The strong flavours went especially well alongside some lean sliced venison steak and a few home made chips for a healthy(ish!) light dinner. Needless to say with the strong garlic flavour you can leave off the sliced onion, so no tears either! I’m a terrible mess when cutting onions but Ryan says he’ll disown me if I start wearing goggles… :D

My salad - with attitude!My salad - with attitude!Next we dusted off the BBQ to cook up some burgers and, since I was too lazy to be prepared enough to make a batch of soft rolls in time for dinner, I decided to pop them into simple bannock baps instead. Bannock is actually becoming a firm favourite of ours over soft rolls, and I really like the time saved by not needing to pre-rise and bake the bread for hours before hand. Adding some chopped leaves into the dough before shaping them gave the bread a lovely subtle hint of onion akin to chives. Check out our recipe for Bannock here for the ridiculously easy method. If you haven’t had a burger in bannock yet what exactly are you doing with your camp fire?

Chopped Ramsons & bannock bread dough (flour, salt, water, mix...)Chopped Ramsons & bannock bread dough (flour, salt, water, mix...)

Wild Garlic Bannock Bread - makes a damned decent burger bap!Wild Garlic Bannock Bread - makes a damned decent burger bap!The bread experiment gave me another idea and I mixed some with softened butter to make a zingy garlic butter. Spread over wholemeal toast, Waitrose organic seed-and-oat-crusted wholemeal muffins on this occasion since they were what I had on hand, they made a delicious garlic bread to help scoop up dollops of veggie-lasagna. Mixed with bread the flavour seems somewhat toned down into a more subtle hint of onion, so if you’re a true garlic lover like us you might want to add a little actual garlic (dried or freshly grated) to bump up the mixture. It also freezes well so scoop some into moulds for fun and tasty butter portions for your BBQ’d sweetcorn later in the year!

Chopped Ramsons & butter softening in the sun for easy mixing...Chopped Ramsons & butter softening in the sun for easy mixing...

My star shaped wild garlic butter - because why not?My star shaped wild garlic butter - because why not?

Waitrose organic wholemeal seeded muffins, begging to be toasted...Waitrose organic wholemeal seeded muffins, begging to be toasted...

...the muffins buttered and transformed into zingy garlic bread....the muffins buttered and transformed into zingy garlic bread.Similarly it works nicely mixed with mayonnaise as a delightful fresh dip. We love it with red meats but it’s also great on the end of a dunked cucumber or carrot stick…

Tasty fresh Wild Garlic mayo/dipTasty fresh Wild Garlic mayo/dip

Wild Garlic leaves make a great stuffing - you'll have to make do with the 'before' photo though, sorry!Wild Garlic leaves make a great stuffing - you'll have to make do with the 'before' photo though, sorry!With clearly far too much garlic on hand I even crammed a few leaves into the cavity of our roast chicken (also works with whole fish!) alongside the traditional sage and onion stuffing, with a tasty result – it was so tasty in fact I served up and had eaten it before remembering to take another photo of it, oops!

Wild Garlic pesto packs a punch!Wild Garlic pesto packs a punch!I wanted to try some as a pesto, and since I’ve not yet replaced my broken pestle, I cheated and bought some ready made! I suppose I could have attempted it in my mini-processor but the crushing action is apparently a very important factor, and, well come-on I already admitted I was lazy! It was very tasty, though I’m not exactly the best judge of pesto and it’s many uses. We used it added to baked chicken, new potatoes, and a spectacular green crumb-coating for some baked salmon. If you fancy making some yourself the trusty folks at River Cottage have a popular recipe: https://www.rivercottage.net/recipes/wild-garlic-pesto or if you’re as lazy as me take a wander around your local farmers markets or buy some online!

 Baked salmon with green crumb coating. It might not look much here I admit, but it was tasty!Baked salmon with green crumb coating. It might not look much here I admit, but it was tasty!

So what do you think? Have you tried Wild Garlic? Feeling inspired to try? We'd love to hear from you, share your experiences in the comments below!

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About us:

My name is Sarah and in 2011 my husband Ryan and I decided to buy and re-fit an old motor home - we named it Waki and now live in it full time in the UK!

We live neither on or off-grid, rather somewhere in between, and are not the first and I dare say not the last to choose this way of life... read more>> 

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