Moments like these could be so important

  • Why precious moments like these are so important for your wellbeing
  • The benefits of being slow
  • This wild, free food can lower your blood pressure, relieve kidney problems and improve your digestion

The weather was lovely on Sunday.

I decided to take my daily coronavirus constitutional…

Formerly known as “walking the dog”.

Off I went into the countryside near our home where I was captivated by a familiar scent.

Wild garlic! Loads of the stuff!

There was a massive patch of this wonderful plant growing wild and I was inspired to do a bit of impromptu foraging.

You can eat the leaves and the flowers of wild garlic and, at the moment, they’re at their best because they are relatively young.

So if you fancy getting your hands on a super-healthy natural ingredient for free, now’s the time to get out and look.

You don’t need to go into deepest countryside, it can grow in hedgerows, parks, gardens and pockets of wilderness in towns and cities.

If you don’t know what it looks like, give “wild garlic” a quick google and check it out. You’ll see that it has tiny white flowers and bright green leaves.

It’s a fantastic medicinal food because it’s antifungal, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, antimicrobial, and antioxidant. Great for lowering blood pressure and improving your heart health.

Anyway, I grabbed a load of it, brought it back home, then whizzed it up with oil into a homemade pesto.

We ate it with some fish and salad on Sunday afternoon with a bottle of white wine and it was wonderful.

I think it was all the sweeter-tasting because we managed to find some joy in the middle of this pandemic lockdown nightmare.

It was almost as if the world was still as it was a few months ago…

Like nothing had happened.

It was just a relaxing, sunny, spring Sunday at home with my wife and family, enjoying good food and company.

And while I don’t advocate sticking your head in the sand and ignoring all news, I do recommend that you find maybe a day or two where you forget the rest of the world. Just to give your mind and soul a break.

Find a day, if you can, when you turn off the electronic media and make something great to eat.

Because while things are rough right now, life can still be good. That is, if you are able to focus on “the moment”.

By that I mean those small pleasures you get from a walk… from looking at a wonderful plant… from making something to eat or drink, taking time and care over it.

Or just carrying out a task with all your attention on it.

The benefits of being slow

I wrote to you last year about “the slow movement”, which is all about focussing your attention on tasks, carrying them out slowly but surely, taking pleasure in the process.

One example I mentioned was the Japanese tea ceremony, in which the relatively simple act of making green matcha tea is carried out in ritualistic fashion, using very precise steps in the right order.

With “slow” activities, it’s less about the result…

More about the process.It’s about finding pleasure in what’s right in front of you, not trying to grapple with the multiple chattering voices in your head. When you focus on the small details of a simple task, all the worries, nagging doubts and anxieties about past and future will melt away, if only for an hour or so.

This sprung to mind a few weeks ago when I watched a documentary about the artist Bill Drummond, who has been travelling around the world performing simple tasks for strangers, like baking a cake or making soup.

In one project, he made a bed from scratch – completely by hand.

No electric tools, no pre-engineered pieces, no nails or screws. It was all about using metal tools to chip, chisel, saw and plane, then locking the bits of wood into the slots.

There was something wonderful about the old-fashioned process of putting together something by hand using natural materials and ancient processes.

But if you’re absolutely hopeless at DIY you could do the same painting, drawing, planting some seeds or foraging some wild food…

Let’s take wild garlic, which I picked last weekend.

As I say, it’s ideal to pick right now and you can use it just like any herb or green vegetable. Chop it up and either add raw to salads or cook in soups and stews. It’s pretty nice added to omelettes, too.

For me, it makes great pesto (just use it as you would use basil). As a result, you get a lovely strong, garlicky sauce in a vibrant green which you can make a big bowl of, then add to pretty much most of your dishes, for instance, fish, salad and pasta.

Or if you cannot find wild garlic what about this…

This wild plant can relieve kidney problems and improve your digestion

As I was wandering with the dog, the dandelions were looking really good, dazzling me with their yellow petals.

They’re packed with vitamins A, B, C, and D, as well as iron, potassium and zinc. In folk medicine they’re used to relieve liver and kidney problems as well as digestive complaints.

Another great benefit is that they are rich in calcium which helps strengthen your bones. In fact, a cup of dandelion greens contains around 100mg of calcium.

They also contain antioxidants like vitamin C and luteolin, which can help protect your bones as you get older.

Once you pick your dandelions and very carefully wash them, you can add the petals to risottos and stews, or make herbal tea.

Or combine them with some wild garlic for a big nutritional punch!

Hopefully the weekend weather will be good enough for you to get out and find something to forage, or at the very least soak up some sun and get that vitamin D production going.