Monday, 21 October 2013

Feet, foraging and chutney - what we did in September


Our Debbie with Mina Said-Allsopp

Mmm... Now that's an appetising title for a post, if ever I saw one. No, we weren't making feet-flavoured chutney, or anything untoward! All will be revealed as you read on...

We had a busy day, with no fewer than two guest speakers. First, the lovely Lynsey Howarth stepped up and shared her foot expertise with us - just to qualify that, Lynsey is a podiatrist, not a foot fetishist or anything (Lynsey is a friend of the Darling Roses, so hopefully I'm not being too cheeky there!) After Lynsey's talk, we had a bit of fun tracing round our feet, with and without footwear. Why? Try it yourself at home, the difference can be disturbing, if you need to lay off the stilletos, or maybe reassuring, if you're a committed sensible shoe wearer!

Then, we tripped off to fill our boots at our usual shared lunch table. And fittingly, our foodie enjoyment was only interrupted by the arrival of our second guest of the day, Mina Said-Allsopp, local foraging and wild food specialist. We all gathered in our cosy circle again to hear Mina tell us about her love of foraging, and most interestingly the many uses for her foraging finds - from delicious dishes and soul-restoring teas to the most gentle of beauty products. Mina was an absolutely fascinating speaker and her clear love of foraging really enthused us all about the subject. Mina will be joining us again in April, when we're planning to ditch the hall and go out on a foraging walk with her for the afternoon, so that is definitely one to clear the diary for. Mina also hosts a monthly pop-up restaurant / supper club where the lucky guests enjoy a wild food feast - I think there might be some takers for that one amongst our group! You can read more about Mina's work, including details of her wild walks, workshops and supper clubs, at msitu.co.uk

And there's more! We still had a shed load of chutney to make in our workshop, good grief... So we got cracking. The tables were absolutely groaning with produce, as many were generous with donations from gardens and allotments. I have to take the opportunity to thank my dad for the huge pile of tomatoes and onions he saved for me! We divided ourselves into little groups, chose our recipes from the four we'd prepared for and started frantically chopping, mixing and simmering away. As a first-time chutney maker (speaking personally) I never  imagined that the process would be so enjoyable. Cooking isn't usually a social experience for most of us, let's face it, so I think the whole novelty of putting our chutneys together as part of a team effort was a big part of the fun. It all got a bit heady in our little meeting hall - the vinegar fumes were powerful! But it was all worth it when we were clutching our 100% handmade little jars at the end. I think you'll see from the pictures that we had a very good day (check out our little beaming faces).

Jayne won the raffle! (And a bursary for Denman, the WI college - oooh!)

Please join us next time when, unbelievably, the time will have come for our first Annual Meeting (nothing too scary, we'll just be conducting a quickish review of the year) and we'll be having a very nice workshop making some cute Christmas decorations. Hope to see you then!

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