“Whats that structure there?” so came the innocent question from the Reuters news journalist.
“A bench.” I said. What else could it be?
The last week has been full on. Monday to Tuesday I was visited by an extremely talented photographer, Greg Funnell (www.gregfunnell.com) and then Wednesday- Thursday, a young adventure called Kevin who is planning to cycle and sail around the world next year (www.becauseitisthere.co.uk) each were treated to the delights of treehouse living from pheasant to squirrel and even a taste of the somewhat elusive Cauliflower fungus. Friday was left aside for a visit from Reuters News and weirdly, as I later found out, the chairman of Reuters happens to be my next door neighbour and lives the other side of my wood. That would explain the big house and perfectly manicured gardens…
Mr. Greg Funnell kicking back after a meal of pan fried pheasant.
Last Sunday, I was invited to have a stall at Parham Foraging and Autumn Countryside day. Taking most of my props from the treehouse, I set up and spent the day talking to the my fellow Sussex dwellers about my life in the woods. Much interest and some epic questioning left me exhausted. I did learn a cunning way to remove pheasant breasts with minimum effort form one young chap. It involves standing on the wings and pulling the pheasants feet slowly yet forcefully. When exercised in the presence of Greg, I didn’t expect the pheasant to end up in to pieces…but, it worked a dream…good work fella: great tip!
As I begin my last week in the treehouse, before immersing myself in a month of book writing, I have a heavy bout of melancholy weighing me down. On the one hand I am slightly looking forward to the ease of normal life, and on the other worried about leaving the home I have built for myself and the glorious, simple yet tranquil bubble I have been living in for the last 6 months.
So for the final recipe from treeland (not that there have been all that many…most are set aside to grace the pages of “The Treehouse diaries”), I thought I would hit you with this little beauty.
I have covered the cauliflower fungus before, but this time I decided to play around with it a bit more. Heading back to the spot where I found them last year, I was rewarded with 3 this time, all on tip-top form. Cauliflowers are always found at the base of big, old Scot’s pine trees, and because they look like no other fungus you would ever find in Britain: It is a safe and reliable source of wild fungi.
Cauliflower cheese and Sorrel verde.
Other than pickling it, the only other use for the vegetable is cauliflower cheese. I myself have never been keen on the canned fart essence of the vegetable, but the mushroom version smells spectacular.
The sorrel verde is a play on salsa verde and incorporates the punchy sorrel leave instead of mint, basil and parsley.
A handful of sorrel leaves (finely chopped)
Zest of half a lemon (finely chopped)
3 tbsp of olive oil
1 tsp of Dijon mustard
1 tsp of cider vinegar
Salt & pepper to taste
Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix thoroughly, allow to sit for at least 30 minutes to let flavours mingle and make friends.
Cut the cauliflower fungus in to 1cm thick slices (they have the tendancy to fall apart but to your best!) fry in butter for 3 to 5 mins on each side. I plated mine up and sprinkled parmesan over it, as that was all I had, but I would recommend a good mature cheddar.
Drizzle the sorrel verde over the top with a teaspoon and try not to scoff without delay!
One thing I always knew was that the treehouse wouldn't be finished till I left, there is always a little tweak or improvement that can be done...the hops hanging from the rafters are the latest rustic addition.My final week will no doubt be spent alone, contemplating what I have learnt from my little experience and embracing the onslought of winter rather than despising it (something that talk a couple of weeks to get to grips with). My last night, October 31st, coincides with Halloween…what better place to have a knees up with all those that have helped me along the way and tell a few ghost stories around a roaring fire.
Just as well really, my diary has finally run out of pages!