If you’ve ever been curious about what goes on behind the scenes here at The Crafty Kit Company, in our series Meet the team we’re chatting to our lovely colleagues to learn more about the work they do, as well as sharing their favourite craft tips and recipes. This week we spoke with our Production Supervisor and all-round miracle worker Helle!
Helle is a keen forager (whose recipe for wild garlic pesto we featured in this blog post), and this week she’s shared her delicious recipe for a Nordic Nettle Dip - read on to learn more!
Have you always lived in Scotland?
I lived in Aarhus, Denmark, until I was 18, when I came to London to improve my English. I was working in a hotel and only meant to stay for 6 months, but got caught by London (as people do!) and ended up staying for a few years. I went back to Denmark to study, and was planning to apply for Marine Biology at university, but found that I was missing London, and wanted to go back!
I ended up applying for a degree in Hotel Management in London instead, and as part of my course I had to do a year’s work placement. I hadn’t seen the rest of the country, and so applied to work in Edinburgh - while I was there I met the man who’s now my husband, and the rest is history!
When did you move to East Lothian?
We lived in Edinburgh for a good few years, but found ourselves getting tired of the noise of city life (along with the fact that our upstairs neighbours kept flooding our flat...one time the ceilings even caved in!). We were on holiday on the Isle of Skye, reading the newspaper one rainy day, when we spotted an advert for a beautiful house near Gifford, and decided we had to have it! Luckily we managed to buy it, and moved here in 2002.
When did you join The Crafty Kit Company, and what do you do here?
I joined The Crafty Kit Company exactly a year ago. I knew of the company as my daughter had attended a craft workshop run by Jo, where she made a name plaque that hung on her bedroom door for years. I saw a job advert for the role of Production Supervisor, and when I read the company’s Core Values on the website I thought ‘that sounds like a place where I really want to work!’. I applied, and was thrilled to get it!
As Production Supervisor it’s my job to make sure that everyone receives the right order at the right time, to look after the team, and to order components and all the supplies that we need - generally to keep everything running smoothly!
What do you enjoy doing when you’re not in the workshop?
Foraging! My grandparents had a very traditional Danish farm, and were pretty much self-sufficient. Growing up I spent a lot of time there, and my grandmother was always growing or picking things, and cooking. My other grandmother would also take me and my brother on long walks (I think she was trying to exhaust us so that we didn’t have enough energy left to be naughty or misbehave!), and we would pick rose hips, apples, and wild plums with her.
I didn’t really think about foraging at all until we moved to East Lothian. We began to grow our own organic vegetables and keep sheep, and were almost self-sufficient, too! My husband became fascinated with mushrooms, and studied with Edinburgh Botanic Gardens to become a mycologist.
Although we’re no longer self-sufficient (after our children came along), we spend a lot of time in the countryside, and I’m just fascinated by plants and flowers. I used to be the head chef of a catering company (my colleagues would call me ‘the queen of canapes’!), and love cooking with wild ingredients - I must get that from my granny!
I also love interior design, flower arranging, and trying to make a home feel beautiful, and hygge. Hygge means different things to different people, but for me it’s about creating an atmosphere, and about the small things; trying to do things mindfully, and enjoying the process.
I still love walking, particularly in the Lammermuir Hills, and would love to do more. I was given a paddle board for Christmas, a wetsuit for my birthday, and we’ve just bought canoes, so I suppose I’d say water sports now, too!
Which are your favourite crafts?
Paper-cutting, and willow-weaving! I’ve also enjoyed taxidermy, too.
Which is your favourite kit from The Crafty Kit Company?
It has to be the Needle Felt Owl Family! The little owls are just so cute, and they remind me of the barn owls and tawny owls that we have around our home - I just love listening to them.
Which craft would you most like to try next?
I’d love to try pottery, particularly porcelain, but I know that needs a great deal of time and expertise - it would be a dream to have a ‘she-shed’ one day, with a kiln, and a pottery wheel!
Helle’s top tips for foraging for nettles
Although we all have childhood memories of nasty nettle stings, this spiky and much-maligned plant has been used in cuisine and medicine for centuries, and offers many health benefits, too. It’s rich in iron, potassium, and vitamins A and C, as well as many trace minerals such as boron, which helps support bone density.
When foraging for nettles, it’s a good idea to wear marigolds, and if you do find yourself getting stung, remember that if you crush nettle leaves and rub their juice into your skin, the histamine blockers it contains will help to counteract the sting!
Try to gather nettles away from roads and traffic pollution, or any spots that might have contaminated soil, and always pick leaves from the top of the plant, before they go to seed. (Although the seeds are good for you too, and can be harvested later in the year!)
When you’ve gathered your nettle harvest, rinse them clean in a large sink, using tongs or a wooden spoon to move them. Once they have been cleaned, blanching them in boiling water will remove their sting.
Helle’s Nordic Nettle Dip is a delicious way to enjoy nettles, and would be fantastic for a picnic on a warm summer’s day, served with flatbread or pita bread.
How to make Helle’s Nordic Nettle Dip
- 50g nettle leaves (alternatively you can use wild garlic here, instead of nettles)
- ¼ clove garlic, crushed
- 50g Parmesan cheese
- 1 spring onion, chopped
- 1 tbsp crème fraîche
- natural yoghurt
- fresh lemon juice, to taste
- salt and freshly-ground pepper
Step 1: remove nettle leaves from their stems, rinse under clean water, and blanche for a few minutes in boiling water, until soft.
Step 2: drain and chop the leaves, before blending them, either in a food processor or using a hand blender.
Step 3: add the remaining ingredients, except for the yoghurt and seasoning, and blend until smooth.
Step 4: stir in the yoghurt, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Leave to chill in the fridge for at least half an hour before serving. Enjoy!
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