Tag Archives: clamming

Foraging Food For Thought

Perfectly sunny, calm, dry weather and an especially super low tide happened simultaneously today. And it was at the ideal time– midday.

Because of this, Johnny and I went to the shore with hopes high for gathering razor clams (or scana mara, as they’re known in Irish) for this evenings supper and, fingers crossed, a little extra to put in the freezer.

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There are so many moments to cherish in a day like today. Whether breathing in the cracking fresh winter air or inhaling the aroma of garlic butter wafting from our freshly foraged supper. And the pure bliss of quiet time, both alone and with Johnny, on the beach!

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My intention when sitting down to write this was to wax on about how we humans find a joy that affects all the senses in the simplest of things, things that leave one full up with contentment that’s not purely motivated by a desire for material benefit. Something that fills one up physically, emotionally and spiritually whether or not there’s anything of matter to behold afterwards. Like how I feel after a visit to the shore on a day like today even when we return with buckets empty which happens more often than not. The pleasure comes from just being there and doing that, with and without whoever else is also there.

But now I have this niggly feeling which I’d like to say I’ve not had before except there’s a tinge of memory suggesting that might not be true. Two years ago my daughter and I decided not to eat meat and we were content with our choice to not consume chemical laden, poorly treated animals. As a family, we decided to no longer eat our own well cared for poultry and goats but we decided locally sourced seafood would be an exception. Clamming and fishing have always felt like myself at home with nature but now I’m questioning whether I might instead be trying to conquer nature.

We won’t waste our harvest nor will I deny myself the pleasure of the day’s delicious memories even with this moral dilemma unassumingly seeking my attention. For now, I’ll sleep on it.

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If you’re partial to shellfish and feel tempted to track down and sample razor clams then prepare to rejoice because they’re smooth and flavour-filled when properly prepared, disappointingly hard and rubbery when overcooked. They can be used as chowder ingredients and are excellent sauteed, baked or fried.

To prepare, rinse well to clean then immerse them in boiling water until the shells are detached–takes less than a minute. Immediately rinse with cold water or plunge into an ice bath to stop them cooking further. At this point, they’re not quite cooked through– ideally still a little translucent. Next, separate the clams from the shells then individually remove and dispose of the guts.  If needed, rinse again. They can now be patted dry then bagged and frozen or they can be prepped to suit immediate use.

Homefarm Happenings

I returned from my r & r holiday last evening feeling another r & r, refreshed and ready to go.  With unbelievable amounts of time spent sleeping, I also managed a couple sea swims, pool swims, spa time, late night chats, and a meeting or three over tea and/or food with girlfriends.  Feeling completely rejuvenated I am!

Today was a happy busy first day back home for me– happy to be busy doing some of my favourite things that support our desires to be creatively self-sustaining.

Instead of devoting an entire post to individual projects I’m going to summarize the latest going-ons here with a few pics.

We went clamming today at noon as there was a super low tide.  Johnny gathered razor clams while I got more mosaic treasure…can picture the mosaic in my mind’s eye now.  Afterwards, we both foraged for mussels.  We just finished a delicious dinner of our catch of the day sauteed with wild garlic leaves, mushrooms, and onions.

Before leaving on my trip, I had a sewing class for one of my daughters and two other young island girls to make Irish dancing skirts for a feis this coming weekend.  Running short on time during the class, I finished pressing the pleats of one of the skirts today before delivering it back to the little seamstress.  I’ll get a picture of the three wearing their entire outfits this weekend. I’m feeling very proud of the girls and am sure they’ll have much fun and success wearing them.

While I was away, Johnny surprised me by starting making our much needed larger window boxes as well as placing the tiles over the Stanley range heater in our dining room.  The children helped with the tiling.

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Five new baby goats have arrived in the last week.  I posted the first few to be born on my fb page on Mother’s Day (in March here).  These two are the newest set of twins who arrived a couple days ago.  Such cutie-cutesters and as cuddly to us as we want to be with them…like all animals, goats have their own personalities and aren’t always that fond of people’s attention and affection.IMG_20160309_184830

And with that, I wish a happy weekend to one and all, Melissa Xx

A Day of Gathering

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It was perfectly calm on both Inis Mor and across the bay in Connemara today. With storms dropping nearly 3 1/4″ of rainfall this month, the cloudless sky and calm seas were most welcome.  I thought about recording the morning bird song but decided to just relax and enjoy.

Johnny and I went clamming around midday but had no luck.  The gentle breeze was pushing the water towards the shore just enough that the tide line was never quite low enough.  Instead, I gathered shells to make a mosaic and he harvested mussels for dinner, a nice substitute for the razor clams.

A few years ago Johnny and the children made mosaics and one of their pieces of art has since dwelled in our garden.  Yesterday I noticed it’s even more beautiful because of moss growing in the furrows and that’s what inspired me to make another.  I also have a bucket of tile and sea glass to create mosaic with that we’ve all collected over many years.

Afterwards, I cut willow to make something artistic for the outside front wall of the house. Remember our autumn bird feeder wreath and the Christmas wreath?  They were both made from the same willow base which is now stored in the shed until next autumn.  I’m hoping to make a St. Brigid’s cross for the spring.  I say hoping because the willow may not be pliable enough to completely fold onto itself without snapping.  We’ll see.  If that doesn’t work, I have a plan B.  I’ll know more this week when I give it a try and will tell how it goes.  Here are some pictures of the St. Brigid’s cross I made for inside our house a week and half ago aside the fresh cut willow, and a chicken.
Of all the things we gathered today, we are feeling fortunate that rain was not one of them.  It was a much needed day of complete sunshine, the first we’ve had in months.  It really lifted our spirits to spend the entire day outside.
I hope wherever you are and whatever you’re doing, your day is going (or went) just wonderfully.
Good night and sweet dreams my friends!
Melissa Xx
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