This morning as I walked, a breeze stirred the trees and a soft pitter-patter of beech nuts started to fall around me. The path was quickly covered with a crunching carpet of little triangular brown nuts – it’s a mast year! That’s when all the trees in the forest have a quiet word with each other, and get together to produce a bumper crop of fruit, nuts and seeds. Apparently it occurs every 5 years or so, and it’s happening now.
I know from reading my foraging books, that beech mast and acorns fall into the ‘useful in times of famine’ category - but free food falling on your head is hard to ignore, right? So in the spirit of scientific enquiry, I scooped up a couple of pocketfuls and headed on my way. A quick spot of research suggested that peeling and toasting the nuts was the way to go. Now, normally I would do this at home, (honest boss - if you’re reading), but my current kitchen-less state rules that out. (As far as I know it is not possible to toast nuts in a microwave). Also – my ongoing foraging adventures are something that I am trying to develop as potential learning activities for the museum. Coincidentally, the main obstacle to this is our lack of suitable kitchen facilities. In previous years I have run ‘Pick It, Cook It, Eat It’ sessions, using produce from the gardens. Unfortunately, our lottery funded redevelopment plans mean that the building (with kitchen space) I was using, has been commandeered for a five year temporary entrance and shop facility.
Little did I know - inspiration was about to strike. At lunch time as I stood in the staffroom waiting for the kettle to boil, my eyes alighted on this beauty…
..overlooked and never plugged in, or used for the entire time I’ve been here. A quick clean, and there you have it - my very own, good as new, you beaut, mobile kitchen facility!
Verdict: If I was running the ‘End of the World Survival Cocktail Bar and Grill’, I would definitely be serving these as a delicious, (but hideously overpriced) beer snack. Nothing at all wrong with them conceptually, or in the taste dept; just an enormous amount of fiddle-faddling around for not much end result - (more Heston Blumenthal than Ray Mears).
BUT – totally worth it for potentially solving my ‘lack of foraging kitchen’ dilemma.Yay!!! The nettle omelettes are on me!