Wednesday, 30 July 2014

How to Cook Wild Rabbit with Hunter Gather Cook - Vice Munchies

Monday, 5 May 2014

Rabbit Butchery and Banquet

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Friday, 28 March 2014

Yukhoe - Korean Venison Tartare 육회


This Korean version of steak tartare was originally made with horse meat and more recently with beef. For best results the meat needs to be absolutely as fresh as possible. At Hunter Gather Cook this dish is made with venison fillet within a couple of hours of it coming off the deer so we have the perfect opportunity to make the finest of dishes.


10 Wild Garlic Leaves
1 Bunch of Three Cornered Leek
16 Edible Wild Flowers to Garnish ( Dog Violet, Wild Garlic Flowers, Three Cornered Leek, Primrose, Cuckoo Flower)
4 Sorrel Leaves


1 pound / 450g Venison Fillet
2 Pears
4 small egg yolks or 4 quails eggs
2 tablespoon pine nuts

Seasoning Mixture:

4 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon clear honey
3 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds
2 tablespoon sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon freshly-ground black pepper
1 tsp chilli powder

Wild mies en plas

Firstly the Venison Fillet should be put in the freeze for 1 ½ to 2 hours, this hardens it up slightly making cutting it thinly a lot easier.

For the seasoning mixture add the soy, honey, sesame oil, sesame seed, pepper and chilli powder to a bowl. Next very finely chop the Wild Garlic and Three Cornered Leek and add to the bowl. Stir well to combine and set to one side.

Yukhoe seasoning mixture
Fill another bowl with a cup of water and add a teaspoon of salt to it. This will keep your pears from browning whilst preparing the rest of the dish. Peel and julien the pear cutting it into matchstick sized pieces and place in the bowl of salted water until ready to plate up.

Take the partially frozen venison fillet and slice it in the same way as the pears. You want lots of tiny matchsticks of venison. Add the sliced venison to the seasoning mixture and stir well.

Making sure the venison fillet is free of any fat and sinue
To plate up make a bed of the pear sticks, take a serving of the venison and seasoning and place on top of the pears making a small indent in the top of the venison. Carefully place the egg yolk on top of the venison. If using a quails egg the top should be cut off and the egg put in the same place ready to be poured over when served.

Garnish around the stack with whatever edible wild flowers you have found, the sorrel and serve!

Yukhoe - The finished article

Monday, 24 March 2014

Snugpak Jungle Hammock – Review

Working as I do in the middle of the woods and often spending several days out in the sticks, comfortable, lightweight, sleeping arrangements are quite important to me.

Last year I started using a hammock to save weight rather than lugging around a tent. The hammock I was using was basically a heavy weight, canvas, oversize job that was very nice and comfortable but only fractionally smaller and lighter packed down than the tent I used to use. I started checking out the some light weight versions using parachute material but was surprised to see the likes of hammocks by Hennessy coming in at over £120!

In instead opted for the Snugpak Jungle Hammock from at under 35 quid it was a steal and appeared to have many of the same materials and a similar set up including the integral mosquito net I wanted after being eaten alive last year.

Compared with the with the old hammock it was quite a different beast, weighing in at less than 800 grams and a full 1.2 kilos less, it packed down to a quarter of the size. At this point I was wondering how sturdy it could actually be being that lightweight, nonetheless I was looking forward the end of my working day and to trying out my new bed.

Setting it up was a pretty simple and quick affair or at least it would have been if I hadn’t had a few wild cocktails with dinner. For suspending the hammock you have two lengths of 550 paracord knotted at increments making it quick to get the right tension when tying it to the tree. The hammock itself had steel carabineers at each end so simply clipped up to the paracord secured to the tree. Setting the bug net was a little trickier than the actual hammock as you need to get the tension just so. Too little and the net will sag on to you when in the hammock and too tight and I’d imagine it may tear the net when you get it. Would suggest setting it up with a loose tension with your adjustment knot accessible once in the hammock. That way you can get in to the hammock then adjust the tension to perfection. If you don’t want to use the bug net you can simply flip the hammock over and use it without.

There was plenty of space in there when I got in, I’m 6”3 and I reckon it could comfortably fit someone a fair bit taller and heavier than me. On the technical specs it says that it can take 180 kilos, which would be a very hefty individual. It was really comfortable to with enough room to curl up. It was a pretty cold night and I woke to frost on the field just outside the wood. I was pretty chilly but I put that down to the quality of my sleeping bag rather than the hammock. I’d suggest on any cold night using a roll mat or extra sleeping bag to keep the cold off your back, however in the summer having a cooling breeze on your back can be pretty nice.

Overall I’d say the Jungle Hammock is a massive improvement on my previous one and I’d recommend it anyone wanting to travel lighter and stay comfortable. I’ll certainly be getting a lot more use out of it this year at Hunter Gather Cook . Happy Camping!

Fine Wild Food Feast - 22nd March

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Thursday, 20 March 2014

Pyro Piston - Ancient Technology, 21st Century Reliability


Fire Pistons have been around for thousands of years and have been used by many tribes in the Pacific Islands and South East Asia. Evidence suggests that tribes that used blowpipes as a weapon originally came up with the idea. Of course we in the West like to claim these things for ourselves and our first mention of this type of tool came in 1745 when Abbe Augustin Ruffo “invented” it.  Some time after that in the early 1800’s it was patented and remained an incredibly popular house hold fire lighting device until some bright spark, Gustaf Erik Pasch invented the safety match in the mid 1800’s. The fire piston is also said to be the inspiration for Rudolf Diesels creation of the Diesel Engine in 1892.

How it works:

The fire piston works by rapidly compressing gas around the tinder at the end of the plunger. If this is done correctly the gas will heat up sharply to around 260°C. This is enough to ignite the tinder, and transfer it to a larger set of tinder for fire lighting. This is best demonstrated by Dustin in the video below.

How to:

Step One: Get a little of the lubricant on your finger and smear it on the washer. Push the piston in and out a couple of times. If it’s well lubricated, the piston will spring back due the compression created.

Step Two: Take a little tinder and press it into the tinder cup ensuring it sits firmly within the cup and if not touching the washer. If it is not in properly it will interfere with the washer meaning you’ll loose much needed compression.

Step Three: Insert the piston into the piston body about 1cm. Place the piston on a solid surface. Strike downwards with force then quickly remove the piston to reveal the glowing ember.

Step Four: Transfer the ember to larger pieces of tinder and gently blow until you get flames.

Moving Forward:

Dustin James at Bushcraft Tools has bought this ancient design right up to date with the Pyro Piston. Dustin’s idea came from his work with the Shelter Box charity which provide emergency shelter, supplies and support for communities around the world hit by disaster and humanitarian crisis. He wanted to make a sure-fire way of creating fire time and time again in these areas.  After years of research, development and many incarnations of his creation we are left with probably the best fire piston on the market.

Pyro Piston Review:

The Pyro Piston comes with everything you need to get a burning ember to light your fire. The kit includes a 1 Pyro-Piston, Built-in 64mm Firesteel, Charcloth, Lubricant  and Spare rubber washers. It weighs in at 80g and is 117mm long by 22mm wide.

The clever thing about the Pyro Piston is the way everything is incorporated into its design. One end of the two piece piston unscrews to reveal a small area where the lubricant is kept, the opposite end has a similar sized water proof compartment for keeping tinder. If that wasn’t enough there is a fire steel cleverly placed in the centre of the piston which can be found by unscrewing the tinder cup. I love this bit of design, to have two ways of making a fire in one device essentially giving you twice the chance to light a fire in the wilderness.

I hear Dustin has some pretty sweet upgrades in development too so keep an eye on him!


Monday, 10 March 2014

The Great Hunter Gather Cook Tree House Kickstarter - Get Involved!

We want to build a 30ft Tree house HQ and off-grid kitchen where we run our Foraging, butchery & cookery courses...TO THE TREES!!
The aim of this project is to construct a 9.5m x 4.3m tree house perched 8 ft off the ground between two oak trees as our new off-grid HQ. The tree house itself will be split into two working areas, effectively doubling the workspace we have at the moment, whilst retaining the same footprint in the woods. Upstairs will be primarily used as a dining area with our big oak table for hosting banquets as well as house a wild cocktail bar and be somewhere to accommodate our lovely course attendees on HGC overnighters. We want our guests to be able look out through the leaves and across the forest floor, whilst supping on an Elderflower martini and tucking into a variety of foraged canapés that they have been working on throughout the day.

A sketch of the proposed Hunter Gather Cook Tree House HQ.
A sketch of the proposed Hunter Gather Cook Tree House HQ.
Downstairs will be a hive of culinary activity, before its hoisted upstairs for feasting! We are also building a fully functioning off-grid, wood fired kitchen which will have virtually every wood fired kitchen appliance you can think of, from open fire pits, underground ovens, clay ovens and hot & cold smokers, all of which have been central to our outdoor cookery over the years. Downstairs will also allow us to carry out our butchery courses under cover, from hanging deer from the rafters to jointing rabbits on our prep tables next to the kitchen unit.
There will be a huge amount of natural materials included in the build: oak & hazel banisters and railings, large chestnut support posts, even our tables will be hewn out of Oak from the wood. The aim is to try to make the tree house blend into its surrounding environment and become part of the wood itself using as many sustainable materials as possible.

HGC Starter: Pigeon Carpaccio with Elderberries & Wild Horseradish.
HGC Starter: Pigeon Carpaccio with Elderberries & Wild Horseradish.
When we say tree house, it won’t be in the traditional sense- there won’t be any walls, but we will be having a custom hunter green, pvc coated polyester canopy made especially for the tree house which will also have large clear panels to let in more light and look up at the trees housing our new HQ.

The existing Hunter Gather Cook HQ in amongst the bluebells.
The existing Hunter Gather Cook HQ in amongst the bluebells.
Hunter Gather Cook was established in March 2011 with the construction of the original HQ. Nick’s vision was to create a ‘Hunter-Gatherer’ school that blended a mixture of foraging, animal butchery, outdoor cookery techniques and elements of bushcraft with an emphasis in living comfortably in the great outdoors and creating high-end dishes using wild produce. Hunter Gather Cook runs a huge range of seasonal and specialist courses from deer in day and mushroom hunting to home brewing and wild cocktails- they received glowing reviews for their workshops at Wilderness Festival in 2013. Private courses, overnighters, stag & hen do’s and wild banquets are also a regular feature on the menu at Hunter Gather Cook, with the main aim of delivering truly unique adventures in Wild food. Nick and Hunter Gather Cook also work with Element, the biggest skatebrand in the world, and are actively involved with their advocate program teaching wilderness skills on skatecamps across Europe and consulting on all things wild.
Below is a short film showing a little bit about the ethos of Hunter Gather Cook, a few subtle notes on sustainable mushroom picking and the joys of food for free. Ladies & Gentlemen...this is what we do!
Nick Weston.
Nick began his outdoor education early, growing up as a somewhat feral child on Ashdown Forest in Sussex, with a background in Archaeology, cheffing, set design and bushcraft. In 2009, he decided to quit London after 5 years and build a tree house from recycled and natural materials deep in the Sussex countryside. The aim was to simplify his life and live off the land as a 21st Century hunter-gatherer. The book about his experience ‘The Tree house Diaries: How to live wild in the woods” was published in 2010 and his experience formed the foundation of what was to become Hunter Gather Cook, the finest foraging and cookery school in the UK.

The Book: High rise rustic living...
The Book: High rise rustic living...
Why Kickstarter?
We chose to use Kickstarter because we wanted real people to be directly involved in getting our Tree house HQ off the ground (!) and be part of the journey. For us, tree houses are a symbol of inspiration and adventure; they have the ability to transport us back to the days of our youth where anything seemed possible. Whether you had a hideaway in amongst the leaves as a child or not, we want to share this experience with you so you can see firsthand the tangible results of your support and passion to create a place to educate, inspire and celebrate our wonderful wild ingredients and the landscape that created them.

Wild food: Pan-fried saddle o'Rabbit with spring greens.
Wild food: Pan-fried saddle o'Rabbit with spring greens.
What will the money be used for?
Tier 1: £5000
Bespoke metal J-brackets constructed at our local forge- these will be the main attachments of the tree house to the oak trees. They are designed to be as low impact as possible causing minimal stress to the host trees. The main beams then slot into the j-brackets and because the structure is perched between the two oaks, the brackets will allow the trees to move and flex freely, again limiting the stress on the host trees.

Heavy Metal: Bespoke Treehouse J-brackets made from 1/2 inch thick steel.
Heavy Metal: Bespoke Treehouse J-brackets made from 1/2 inch thick steel.
Tree house frame, decking, railings and stairs:
Brand new timber will form the frame and decking as well as the stairs and railings. Natural materials including birch, hazel and oak will form the handrails and banisters that surround the upstairs of the tree house.
Chestnut support posts:
We will be outsourcing 14x15ft chestnut support posts which will stripped and raised to support the tree house frame the whole way around, they will also form the uprights of the railings. A nice, natural touch!
Tree house canopy:
The ‘roof’ of the tree house made from pvc coated polyester fabric, with 4 large clear ‘windows’ allowing for more light upstairs and a nice view of the host trees above. The fabric we have chosen is in hunter green to blend in better to the surrounding woodland and is much more durable than canvas. The canopy will be sheltering 1000’s of future Hunter-Gatherer’s for the next decade!
Having all the wood is one thing, we just need all the fixings to bolt, screw and secure everything together!
Kitchen Hardware:
The L-shaped kitchen unit will be constructed using natural materials from the wood. Our previous kitchen unit was made using a base of Sussex sandstone which we dug out from a nearby quarry, all of it will be constructed using the same materials and techniques, the hardware will consist of an Argentinian style adjustable grill for the fire pit and a custom built smoker to sit beside the new clay oven made from a 55 gallon steel drum.
Tier 2: IN EXCESS OF £5000
More than £5000? We'll be splitting extra funding between pimping the Hunter Gather Cook Tree house and developing a project we're working on called ROOST, which is aiming to unite the treehouses of the world.
Treehouse Extras:
  • A zipline.
  • Small crane/hoist for winching up goods into the trees.
  • Drop down canvas sides that fix to the canopy to enclose upstairs.
  • solar powered festoon lighting.
About Roost.

Wouldn't it be great if we could bring together the world's treehouses? From father and son end-of-the-garden hideaways to epic five star canopy retreats to indigenous tribal communities and artistic architects tree-top wonders.
This is Roost's mission: To get more people into trees
How? 1. By mapping, sharing and profiling the world's treehouses. 250+ roosts mapped. 
2. By curating education and tourism experiences and events in trees around the world
Why? To indulge our imaginations. To inspire more off-the-ground arboreal architects. To re-connect children and big children with nature. 
Roost? To rest or sleep on or as if on a perch.

So now you've what we want to do why not get behind us an donate at Hunter Gather Cook Tree House Kickstarter

Thanks for reading