Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Be Nice To Nettles Week

The sooner I get music in my car for my daily trek to work the better because the radio is starting to annoy me. I must be getting really old and fogeyish when even Radio 4 gets on my nerves. It bothers and irks me every single morning.

Take today’s offerings:

The deplorable state of the housing market That's hardly a cheery start to the working day when you work in that very field yourself. But I did surprise myself when I became exasperated enraged at a 'spokesperson' using the word ‘exasperate’ when he meant ‘exacerbate’. Little wonder the industry is in turmoil when that is the best we can do.

Then there was this:

Apparently there is a new film being made of Brideshead Revisited. This was last seen on our screens as a television series in 1981. I don’t know what I was getting up to back then but it certainly wasn’t watching that. I was well aware of the fuss surrounding it, for who couldn’t be. I just read the book. It's not one of his best.

So Radio 4 takes the screenwriter Jeremy Brock to meet with Sir John Mortimer the man responsible for the original adaptation. Aaargh! It was cringey. Mortimer is obviously mightily miffed at the film being made at all and kept saying in his querulous little old man's voice,

Just read the book.

No need for a film.

There had better be homosexuality and religion.

And teddy bears.

And why don't you write something original?

Like Rumpole.

Obviously a change of tune from when he took the gig back in the late seventies. Brock talked to Mortimer in the tones of a concerned and friendly geriatrician and reassured him that the film was replete with homosexual teddy bears. But the whole thing was just awful. I didn’t know who I wanted to shake the hardest – the Radio 4 production team or Sir John.

The only thing that was worth listening to was this story on the use of nettles. Zoë and D were out here the other week gathering nettle shoots for soup that D said was very yummy indeed. Apparently they can also be used as a substitute for spinach. I love spinach so I’d better hurry up as the nettle harvesting season is nearly over.

And would you believe that nettles can also be turned into a linen like cloth? I’d like to see and wear that. It’s not very common as hardly anyone is manufacturing it.I wonder if you can make cloth out of dockens. If so then the farmer who has the ground next to us could become a very wealthy man indeed.

Here’s a recipe for Nettle Soup. I must try it myself before nettles become all tough and hairy like a le…. No! I cannot say that. Ganching would kill me.


½ carrier bag full of nettles, tops or young leaves
55g butter
1 large or 2 medium onions, finely sliced
1 large carrot, chopped (optional)
2 celery sticks, chopped (optional)
1 large garlic clove, crushed (optional)
1 litre good chicken, fish or vegetable stock
a pinch of freshly grated nutmeg (optional)
3 tablespoons cooked rice or 3 rice cakes
2 tablespoons thick cream or crème fraiche
salt and freshly ground black pepper

To Garnish:
A little extra cream or crème fraiche
A small bunch of chives, chopped
A few sprigs of wild chervil or parsley, chopped


Pick over the nettles and wash them thoroughly. Discard only the tougher stalks, as the soup will be liquidised. Melt the butter in a large pan and sweat the onion, plus the carrot, celery and garlic if using, until soft but not brown. Add the stock and pile in the nettles. Bring to the boil and simmer for 5-10 minutes, until the nettles are tender. Season with salt and pepper, and with nutmeg if you wish. Puree the soup in a liquidiser with the cooked rice or rice cakes (you will probably have to do this in 2 batches). Return to a clean pan, stir in the cream and reheat, but do not let it boil. Check the seasoning, then serve, garnishing each bowl with a swirl of cream and a generous sprinkling of chopped herbs.

To serve cold:
An alternative is to serve this soup cold. After liquidising and adding the cream, pour the soup into a bowl and leave to cool, then transfer to the fridge for a couple of hours before serving. For accelerated cooling, fill a large basin or saucepan with ice cubes and water and place the bowl of soup in the iced water. Stir to chill, adding more ice cubes if the first batch melts. Stir well just before serving and ladle the soup out into bowls. Garnish each with a swirl of cream and a sprinkling of chopped chives and wild chervil.

Serves 6

Recipe found on this dear old Radio 4 site


Mudflapgypsy said...

Nettles are like spinach but fer jaysus sake only try the very young leaves and shoots. I can only imagine trying the old leaves. Yow.

Getting angry at radio 4, well, i suppose some stuff on it leaves me cold and I switch over, oops - make that switch off.

Bridesmaid recarpeted was "caigh" first time round.

Nelly said...

Is 'caigh' pronounce 'keek' or 'cack'? Does it have added phlegm-clearing ach-iness at the tail-end?

ganching said...

I wouldn't have killed you I would just have thought what a pity a good post was spoilt by a boring, unoriginal cliche and that Nelly must be playing to the unreconstructed gallery again.

I also found the housing market report a bit anxiety inducing. It seems to be a lose-lose situation for everyone. Prices go down but first time buyers still can't get on the ladder because of the shortage of mortgages available.

Mudflapgypsy said...

Definitley with a clearing the throat sound.

Where are these unreconstructed types then?

Nelly said...

They're everywhere. And they're going to proliferate now that Boris is in charge of London.

Ronni said...

My friend Sheila and I made nettle beer when we were in high school. Her mother didn't realize it was alcoholic until the caps started popping off the bottles because we put two raisins in each bottle instead of one. She wouldn't let us drink any of it. Seemed such a waste, after all the nettle-gathering we went through to make it.