Tag Archives: survival

The Survival Series Part 14: Purslane

Surviving in the wild is not easy – not only do you have to weather yourself against the elements, but you also have to find a way to sustain your energy too!

This survival series looks at the many wild foods that you can come across on your travels, that you can safely forage and snack on when you need to.

This week I’m looking at the lovely green plant that is:

Purslane

A succulent plant that can be found in many countries, purslane is a very rich source of omega-3 fatty acids which strengthens the immune system.

You often find this delicious plant in driveways and footpaths but they also tend to crop up in all sorts of gardens, fields and roadsides.

With a distinctive thick and reddish stem, this plant is easily recognisable and what’s great is that you can eat the leaves, stems and flower buds!

It’s said that purslane “provides six times more vitamin E than spinach and seven times more beta carotene than carrots”.

Purslane can be snapped up and used in salads or sprinkled on top of any dish – it’s really tasty, trust me!

As with all foraged things, cross-reference any food before you pick it up and don’t forget to wash it thoroughly before consuming.

Happy foraging!

Movie to watch: The Evil Dead

(Lead image via Wikimedia Commons/TonRulkens)

The Survival Series Part Ten: Dandelions

Escapism can be such a release, but when combined with real world scenarios and food it can also be quite fun!

Inspired by my love for post-apocalyptic survival, wild food and adventure, part 10 of this series is focusing in on:

Dandelions

Often considered as one of those pesky weeds that hang about your garden, it may come as a wonder for some that you could actually reap the benefits of this plant if you tried eating it!

A rich source of minerals, vitamins and even antioxidants, the common yellow dandelion is bursting with healthy treats.

How to eat it I hear you ask? Well you could simply toss the young leaves into a salad for a great nutritional boost or even make fritters. It’s also a perfect addition to a wild herb risotto.

What’s great is that the entire plant is edible, the plant can be steamed, roasted, eaten raw or even ground into a powder and used as a coffee substitute. The flowers can also be used to make jellies or cordials.

Found in abundance, just make sure that your harvest dandelions in a place that isn’t sprayed with chemicals or on a roadside. Happy foraging!

Movie to watch: District 9

(Lead image via WikimediaCommons)

The Survival Series Part Eight: Pepper Dulse

If you’re a fan of foraging food and finding edible treats in the wild, this series is for you.

For those who’ve been following this blog for a while, they may have noticed that I have a love for zombies and post-apocalyptic scenarios and so, this is how the survival series was born!

This week I’m looking at more seaweeds. Presenting:

Pepper Dulse

Also known as Osmundea pinnatifida (if you’re being fancy), this very small seaweed can be tedious to harvest but perfect if you’re looking for a snack on-the-go.

The taste? Well, you guessed it, it’s salty and deliciously peppery, and can be a great addition to any salad to give it more of a kick.

The colour can vary from a dark purplish brown to a musty yellow and it’s mostly found on rocks on the upper to lower middle shore.

You need to be very careful to forage this particular seaweed sustainably, so only take a bits of it from a place at a time using a scissors.

Containing about 8% protein, pepper dulse is also high in fibre and low in fat with up to 32% concentrated sea minerals.

As good as it tastes though, I’d advise not eating too much of it because people do tend to get a bit queasy if they gobble it down!

Movie to watch: Dawn of the Dead

(Lead image via Akuppa John Wigham on Flickr)

The Survival Series Part Five: Wild Rock Samphire

Not all food has to have a price tag, some of the tastiest treats out there can be foraged for free!

Like many out there, I have a fascination with survival and dystopian futures, and I often wonder would I be able to survive in the wild if things started to go haywire.

This series aims to capture those feelings while also educating people about wild food. A little bit of knowledge, goes a long way. This week:

Rock Samphire

Found on shingle beaches, this green, perennial plant can be found adorning fleshy stems and wide yellowy flowers.

Great for those who simply want to grab and go, this plant can be found in abundance in coastal areas, particularly on rocks by the sea. Its season lasts from May until about September.

Mentioned by Shakespeare in King Lear, gathering samphire is not always easy, and one must take care when climbing rocks to reach it:

Half-way down
Hangs one that gathers samphire; dreadful trade”

The leaves, flowers and seeds are edible with salty and parsley flavours coming through, and its green body is rich in aromatic oils.

It’s simply delicious in stir-fries, steamed or as an addition to a simple salad, and though there are people who find it particularly pungent, I think that’s what makes it unique.

For those who have the time, it’s well worth taking a jar of it and pickling it.

As always, be mindful to only take what you need and to leave plenty for others and for the plant or animal to come back in abundance. When it comes to foraging, sustainable harvesting is key.

Happy foraging!

Movie to watch: Snowpiercer

(Lead image via WikimediaCommons)

The Survival Series Part Four: Pennywort

Foraging and finding food in the wild can be quite exciting and when you learn what to look out for it starts to become more than hobby and more like an addiction.

In this series I explore various wild foods, which could be helpful for you in any apocalyptic scenario (or simply if you’ve an interest in trying something new). This week:

Pennywort

Also known as Navelwort, this bright green bite of the wild can be found in many places across Ireland. A fleshy plant, it’s so named for its umbilicate (or navel-like) leaves.

Found on cliffs, stone walls and stony banks, it has quite a distinctive look and can be enjoyed simply by plucking off the leaves and popping them into your mouth.

450px-Roadside_Navel_Wort_-_geograph.org.uk_-_306225
(Image via WikimediaCommons/Geograph)

From June to September, you’ll see pennywort with large bell-shaped flowers that veer upward into a spiral.

According to Kerry folklore, the perennial plant was “known to be a cure for corns”, though I’ve yet to see proof of that!

This plant is perfect as an addition to any salad as it gives a juicy bite to the rest of the leaves.

It has a lovely texture and makes for a nice contrast against the softer plants.

Easy to snap up if you’re in a hurry, it’s no wonder that this little plant is also known as “bread and butter”. Happy foraging!

Movie to watch: The Road

(Lead image via WikimediaCommons/Geograph)

The Survival Series Part Two: Wild Garlic

Last week I started a new food series here on the blog focusing in on my fascination with survival (and coincidentally the ever-looming apocalypse).

Each week I’ll feature a wild food resource that can be found lurking where you least expect it.

See it as a guide for when things start to go down; if anything you’ll be prepared! This week:

Wild Garlic

T’is the season. Spring is truly here when wild garlic is in abundance.

It’s often remarked that wild garlic has been prized for many years in Ireland and I can see why.

These glorious tufts of green, fragrant leaves and flowers are filled with the most wonderful flavour.

Preferring more acidic soils, you’ll find the plant on the deciduous woodland floor where it grows like a carpet, spreading around trees and walkways.

What’s great is that the entire plant is edible, but unless you actually own the land where the plant is growing, it’s illegal to uproot the whole bulb (incidentally uprooting can prevent the plant from returning the next year so it’s better to be a sustainable forager!)

Ramsom_or_wild_garlic_-_geograph.org.uk_-_427580
(Image via WikimediaCommons/PhilipHalling)

Your best bet is to take leaves, from a few plants around the area and pop them into a foraging sack.

Be wary that there may be dogs who have had to the understandable urge to pee in the woods, so it’s safer not to clip the leaves that are just beside a pathway.

There are a few plants that look like wild garlic but are highly poisonous (I’m looking at you Lily of the Valley), but use your nose – the plant should smell distinctively like garlic and be very pungent. Don’t pick it if you’re unsure.

For those with a little bit more time on their hands and are not in a hurry to feed their camp or run away from zombies, why not try to blend up the wild garlic with Parmesan, rapeseed oil, lemon and pine nuts to make a delicious homemade pesto – perfect on crackers or on pasta.

As always, happy foraging!

Movie to watch: Contagion

(Lead image via WikimediaCommons/michaelclarke)

The Survival Series Part One: Wild Sea Spinach

It’s no secret that I absolutely love survival, post-apocalyptic, dystopian and zombie-related things, so when this idea sprung to mind, I got very excited.

In a new feature series, each week I’m going to highlight a certain wild food that you can eat, should you ever find yourself in an apocalyptic situation.

The chances are unlikely, but better to be safe than sorry! First up:

Sea Spinach/Sea Beets

Similar looking to garden spinach, this wild and edible plant has shiny, green leaves and a fleshy stem (see image).

Despite its similarity, it’s actually more strongly flavoured and has a wonderful hint of saltyness from the sea.

Surprisingly common, it can be found on dry shore, on sea walls or sometimes on canal banks.

The plant tends to make its first appearance in spring (though I’ve seen it throughout the year) and it’s very straightforward to cook.

A distant cousin of chard, for the best flavour, pick the leaves when they’re young and tender. The great thing is, the whole plant is edible.

Treat the sea spinach exactly like chard, kale or garden spinach but just cook it for a little bit longer as the leaves are tougher.

You can cook them whole or remove the stems but if you’re trying to keep moving away from zombies or the infected, I wouldn’t waste my time trimming!

Should you however find yourself with an abundance of ingredients and electricity, sea spinach goes very well with eggs (like in a frittata) or with fried potatoes.

All in all, I actually find sea spinach to be far superior to its garden version, and would happily eat it for days on end. It’s a wonderful plant and it’s worth giving a shot.

This is a coastal plant, so it wouldn’t be particularly helpful for those living in the midlands, but don’t worry, there are plenty of other wild foods that I plan to highlight.

Happy foraging!

Movie to watch: 28 Days Later

(Image via WikimediaCommons/Rmrony)

My fascination with food stems from survival – and video games

One of the most unusual reasons why I love food so much, apart from the pure joy of preparing it, is my fascination with survival.

I’m a geek at heart, and when it comes to gaming I love to immerse myself in a world where I have to fend for myself and survive in the wilderness (hat-tip Minecraft and Lost in Blue).

Food plays such an important part of our existence and sometimes I like to imagine what it would be like to have to come up with a food source and construct a make-shift shelter.

Could I survive? I’m not talking about running to a supermarket and raiding it clean, but what could I actually make from the most basic of ingredients, straight from the wild?

Despite what a lot of post-apocalyptic games and books lead you to believe, often times it’s not about what’s in store, but what’s in your backyard. And wild food can be just as delicious as anything found on shelves.

Growing up in Kerry I was spoiled for choice when it came to trying out nature’s finest and I would rarely give up the opportunity to try something that was on the doorstep.

Periwinkles, sea spinach, samphire, elderflower and wild garlic became regular features on my foraging adventures and I’d always wonder about what else the world had to offer.

I adored, and still do love putting on wellies and traipsing through fields – consulting my books on edible plants and get an even bigger kick creating something with them (elderflower is currently in season too!).

I can safely say that video gaming and post-apocalyptic literature contributed to my love of food.

Survival will always be one of the main reasons why I pursued my interests and I think that’s what’ll keep me going in years to come.

Consider what Ireland’s outdoors has to offer – you won’t be disappointed.