IMAGE Book Club: Read an excerpt from "The Housekeeper's Diary 2023" by Frances Brennan

IMAGE Book Club: Read an excerpt from “The Housekeeper’s Diary 2023” by Frances Brennan

A book specially prepared to ensure domestic bliss in 2023, newly released general housekeeper By Frances Brennan Provides space to organize your days, weeks, and months, while inspiring you to transform your home with tips on cleaning, gardening, cooking, and all other aspects of home management.

Packed full of simple ideas and tasks that will make your day better and brighter, below we have an excerpt on all about foraging and will give you a nice little taste of the conversation tone and practical advice this book is packed with.

Please enjoy a synopsis on “Food at Your Doorstep” by Frances Brennan.


Have you ever tried to forage for food? You may have done it without even realizing it. Picking blackberries, field mushrooms, pink roses and even seaweed – all this is foraging. It may surprise you to know that Ireland is rich in plants and berries that are safe to eat and tasty. And you will be more satisfied because you chose it yourself! But before you drift away and run outside, always make sure what you pick is edible. A little research will take you to any number of experts who can direct you. There is a very useful website called www.eattheweeds.com, which explains how to spot and deal with many edible wild plants.

So, what can you eat?

dandelion leaves

I had a friend who was forever picking up big clumps of dandelion leaves in the summer. She thought she must have had a great passion for them, until she revealed that they were for her pet rabbits! However, dandelion leaves are edible and easy to spot, with that bright yellow flower. A little nibble will reveal that it tastes a bit like a rocket. If its flavor is too strong for you, mix it with different types of lettuce. Don’t forget to wash it first! Dogs love to “use” dandelions…

curly dock leaves

We used to use them as children to relieve nettle stings. A sheet placed on the stain immediately reduced itching. They are actually very nice in power. They have a slight lemony flavour. It’s a bit like turnip in that it needs to be “massed” – with a squeeze of lemon juice – to soften the texture. If you mix it with something like catnip, it will be delicious. And speaking of catnip, you will know it simply by the taste, which is similar to the local variety. And you’ll be able to smell it too! The leaves are narrow and pointed and the flowers are purple.

Nettle plant

I used to meet a man on my walks wandering along the bushes, a plastic bag in my hand, chopping the tops of all my nettles. When I asked him what he was doing, he replied that he was pinching the most tender part of the plant to make nettle soup. Without gloves! He was an expert, but I always recommend wearing gloves, because nettle stings. Once exposed to hot water, its bite is neutralized, so it makes a great addition to soup, rather than spinach, for example. Use tongs to insert them into the broth so they don’t get stinging.

sorrel wood

I can clearly remember eating this as a kid and really enjoying that sharp taste. We’d find it on summer picnics in the woods and we’d nibble it away. It looks like a clover, but the leaves are looser and more rounded than that of the plant. You can try using it in pesto to get the most out of that flavor—just replace some or all of the basil leaves with sorrel, and mix it with olive oil, pine nuts, Parmesan or pecorino cheese. Wild garlic is another easy-to-find plant that really smells like garlic.

berries

Another favorite of ours when we were kids was these blueberry-like berries that grow on small, low bushes in the Dublin Mountains. The Irish often call them fraughans or fraocháns and they used to grow everywhere, before pine forests took over. I read somewhere that Ireland had a very profitable export business in fruit, and we had a lot. It’s hard to find these days, but it’s still found in small patches. They look like blueberries, but are softer and more flavorful. Try using them in place of blueberries, although you may need to add sugar to taste.

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