surviving in art residence

December 5, 2017

Hey! I want to talk about my second expedition to Moscow’s suburban woodland.
Gridchinhall Gallery and Art Residence is 30 km outside Moscow, in a peaceful and
picturesque place on the banks of Istra river. I got an invitation to come here from Sergey
Gridchin, the founder of the gallery, while I was mounting my overglaze painting project for the
SKCG Agency. I set off immediately after the project was done.
There is beautiful forest with a bog just 2 km from the gallery.

 Gridchinhall is indicated on the right side of the map. left side is the forest and Maslovskoye bog.

 me starving

 

Sergey provided me everything I needed—bicycle, camera, and some botanical guides. My first time in the forest, I picked some berries, which grow here plentifully—red currant, wild strawberry, raspberry, blueberry, stoneberry, and some herbs that I enjoy for the entire vegetation season—nettle and wood sorrel.

 wood sorrel

stoneberry

red currant

 

The next day we made a trip to the nearest villages. In the yard of Sergey’s house in Zhukovka
village we found some wild champignons. Then we set off towards a village called Ubory on the
bank of Moskva river; here we found a lot of butterburs, which are not very widespread plants.
Earlier I had picked butterbur only in a place outside Saint Petersburg. Its thick stalk has a
specific taste and is suitable for marinating in spring and early summer. Sergey knows the local
flora very well. Thanks to him, I learned about many new herbs and plants.

 

wild champignons

butterbur

sorrel

 

Two days later we were in the bog; it was the first time in my life, I suppose. The bog here is a
floating moss mat on a pond and its layer is thick enough for walking. This is an absolutely
amazing world, as the plants that grow here differ from those in forest. On the moss mat, there
were plenty of bog cranberries. They were not ripe yet. Somewhere on the isles of dry land, we
found bushes of bog bilberry, and fragrant Labrador tea. On our way home
through the forest, I picked some edible mushrooms: puffballs, Russula, porcino, suede bolete,
stubby-stalk and even big, delicious parasol mushrooms.

view to the bog

 the pond in the middle of the bog

bog cranberries

bog bilberry

wild mint

 Sergey

 me foraging

puffballs, Russula, porcino, suede bolete, stubby-stalk  parasol mushrooms

 

I used nettle to make homemade green spaghetti. I will write the recipe below; it is very simple and tastes great. I also cooked pasta with nettle spaghetti and wild mushrooms. The parasol mushrooms I cooked separately, to enjoy their rich taste. For dessert, I cooked jelly with wild mint and berries—raspberries, red currant, blueberry, stoneberry, red elderberry, bird cherry, and shadbush fruits. I used wood sorrel and horseradish I found outside the gallery to prepare dip. I make this dip very often and it’s worth a whole post.

Now let’s see how to make homemade nettle spaghetti.
You’d better wear a thick pair of gloves before you start. Once the nettles have been washed, pick the leaves off the stalk. You will need nettle leaves weighing about two or three hundred grams. Then put them into boiling water for 5 minutes.  Drain leaves in a colander. Blend them in a food processor with 1 raw egg, pinch of salt and a  tablespoon of seed oil, add some water if needed. In an enamel bowl put 2 glasses of flour and mix the nettle mixture into the flour. Knead the pasta dough until it’s smooth. Add some more flour if the dough is too wet. Then let it rest for 30-40 minutes. Don’t forget to cover it while resting. Knead it one more time and roll out the dough into a thin layer. I usually cut it in thin stripes and dry on a fresh air under the sunlight. Dried nettle spaghetti can be stored for a long time - so you will be able to enjoy nettle flavour even during  winter time.

 

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