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Time - a very precious commodity

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Latest post from MARKSVEGPLOT – a blog about food and gardening in England”

These days people seem to be perpetually busy – juggling the often conflicting requirements of work, family and leisure. For me, the best thing about Retirement is that where work always used to get in the way, I now have the precious luxury of Time. Time to do stuff that makes me happy, without artificial deadlines. I love my garden and the beautiful fruit and veg that comes out of it. These lovely “Harlequin” carrots make me happy. Not only do they look good, but they also taste amazing. Homegrown carrots are completely different to shop-bought ones!

Of course, even gardens come with responsibilities and deadlines: if you don’t sow your seeds at the right time, you won’t get your harvest, and if you omit to water your plants they will die.

These days as well as having time to tend my garden, I also have time to cook and to make bread, without feeling rushed. This is one of my sourdough loaves (the Raisin and Fennel-seed variant), which takes 36 hours to make – and it’s worth every minute.

Another interest of mine is foraging, an alternative name for harvesting wild food. Yesterday I harvested a few Cherry Plums from a place I know not far from Fleet. Most of the plums were still hard and green, (I plan to go back for more of them in a month or so) but I still managed to find enough to make into a batch of Plum Sauce, which I served with the duck-breasts I cooked for dinner. I drove 6 miles in each direction to get a mere 360 grams of plums, but it was worth it!

Since I have plenty of time to do so, I often go out looking for mushrooms (maybe 3 times a week, if the weather allows). This is mostly so that I can photograph them, but if I find anything that I know is edible and good to eat I usually bring it home. This is a Yellow Swamp Brittlegill (Russula claroflava), which is quite common in our area. It grows in damp areas under Birch trees.

Many of the Russula family are inedible or mildly poisonous, and it wasn’t until someone mentioned it on a Facebook Group that I researched the edibility of this one, only to find that it is considered very tasty indeed. Apparently, when cooked it has a sort of sweet toffee / caramel flavour. I’ll be trying this when I next find some! The researching of fungi is another thing that takes time; I enjoy it, and it keeps me agreeably occupied.

There has been a lot of discussion recently about doctors prescribing doses of “The Outdoors”, reminding us of the therapeutic benefits of engaging with Nature at first hand. Two hours a week walking in fields, woods or moorland is supposedly enough to preserve our mental wellbeing. I think I may have been overdosing!

To read more articles like this, on Gardening and Gastronomy, please visit * *

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