GROWING MY OWN…

It is now that time of year, when we are just coming out of the danger zone for frost which means it’s time to start planting to seeds and growing on some seedings!

I took a trip to my local greengrocer in Stirchley, and bought a few plants to get me started and some seeds.  I’ve had a lot of luck growing things in the past, and for me there is nothing more rewarding than cooking a meal from the produce you have grown yourself, not only is the flavour ten times fresher, I believe you can really taste all the love and care that has gone into nurturing these plants.

One of my favourite cooking experiences was creating a meal which consisted of the things we had grown ourselves with the addition of some free range chicken!

This year so far I have thyme, rosemary, sage, mint, parsley, basil, rocket, mustard, lettuce, tomatoes, leeks, radishes and peas. I still have a few more things to get some courgettes, green beans, and potatoes.

The first time I ever had a go a “growing my own” I was so surprised how easy it could be, putting a little seed into some soil and giving it a bit of water each day, and a few months later here I had all these wonderful ingredients to play with!  Over the years I’ve had a few pests, I remember how heartbroken I was one morning to discover my entire grow bag of basil had been demolished by one snail, overnight! But I’ve got a few tricks up my sleeve now thanks to my gardening guru, Granddad Sutor, unfortunately this is the first year I won’t have his expertise, but I think I can do him proud with the lessons he’s taught me!

Below is a few photos from previous years!

 

Leeks, Spring Onions, Cherry Tomatoes, Herbs, Jersey Royals

 

Lettuce, Chives, Tomatoes

 

Herbs

Greenhouse!!

 

FIRST BBQ OF THE YEAR..

 

…and hopefully not the last! I am very grateful for the lovely weather we have had over the last week, however I am not convinced it it going to last much longer so am making the most of it whilst I can!

For me there’s nothing better than cooking and eating outdoors in nature, any excuse to get out the BBQ, drink some nice cold beer and eat lots of yummy food!

I insisted on making everything (almost two hours in the kitchen missing the sun was worth it) beef burgers, sweet chilli sauages, cumin and mint lamb kebabs, paprika and chilli chicken kebabs, chilli and lime prawn skewers, herb garden salad, and mini jackets with spring onion and parsley sour cream!!

Let’s hope the weather keeps up for as long as possible!!

 

OLIVE AND THYME FOCCACIA

Feeling the urge to bake some bread as I often do, I came across a recipe for a focaccia that I thought I’d have a go at.  It’s based on a simple recipe for a basic white rustic loaf, so I knew I had the main ingredients I needed.

  • 500g strong white bread flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 1tsp fine salt
  • 7g sachet fast-action dried yeast
  • 2 tbsp of olive oil
  • handful of fresh thyme leaves (or dried if thats all you have)
  • 100g pitted olives

1. Sift flour and salt into a large bowl, then stir in the yeast. Make a well in the centre and add 300ml warm water and the oil and half the thyme. Mix until a dough forms, using a little more water if necessary.

2. Tip out onto a lightly floured surface and knead the dough for 5 minutes until smooth. Put into an oiled bowl, cover and leave to rise for 1 and a half hours.

3.Preheat oven 220fan/200/gas 7. Knock back the dough with a light punch and need in the olives. Shape the dough into a large circle then put on an oiled baking sheet to prove for a further 45 minutes.

4.Press fingertips into the dough all over, drizzle with olive oil and scatter over sea salt and the remaining thyme. Bake for 20-25mins until the bread is risen, golden and sounds hollow when tapped on the underside.  Cool on a rack before slicing!

It came out much better than I expect and was really yummy! It made a delicious bacon, mushroom and cherry tomato sandwich for breakfast today!

A QUICK VISIT TO LONDON TOWN!!

On the train on our way there!

After missing the train, and having to pay an extra £40 pounds for the ticket, my sister and I finally arrived in London just after 1pm!  As always my first port of call was Camden, a visit to London just isn’t complete without it, even though I only plan to go there for an hour or two, and always end up spending half my day there!  I love the atmosphere, the markets, the music, and I have noticed in more recent years I am just as excited about the food as the clothes! The array of street food in Camden never fails to amaze me; I am spoilt for choice, even the standard stalls of Chinese/Indian/Mexican etc offer pretty tasty meals for £4.

 I usually opt for something a little different, and found a temporary Turkish stall selling kebabs in a handmade wrap, made in the stall by a Turkish lady, who sat on a table next to a hotplate rolling them out on a stone between her legs, which were covered by a sheet and then covered in flour, she rolled and cooked continuously, quite bizarre, but extremely fresh!  £4.50 got you two barbecued chicken or lamb kebabs, in a wrap, made with Mint and Chilli, simple but heavenly! I accompanied this by an ice cold freshly squeezed orange juice! If you go to Camden, get one! I’ve not managed to find anywhere that gets them so fresh as well as ice cold! Possibly the most refreshing drink on the planet!

Eating my Turkish Kebab in Camden!

My favourite pub in Camden is the Lock Tavern, http://www.lock-tavern.com/ so we stopped for a quick cider; it is a pretty cool live music venue, with a garden and roof terrace, plus really great food! They were offering Sunday lunch, pork belly, lamb shank or chicken supreme for £10 which we drooled at and made a decision to go back there later for tea!

Quick one in the Lock Tavern

We headed out of Camden around 4pm heading for the London Dungeons, upon arrival we discovered it closed early on a Sunday, so we went for a nice walk along the Thames instead…I didn’t tell my sister at the time, but I was actually dragging her to walk past the infamous River Cafe! Probably my ultimate place to work!

After walking for quite some miles and watching the sunset over the Thames we jumped on the tube at Blackfriars and headed to Covent Garden.

Sunset on the Thames!

Wanting a bit of a rest, we jumped into the nearest pub, the Punch and Judy. We decided to eat here as we were here and running out of time, telling myself to put all my judgements aside about chain pubs, and that the food might actually be okay. We ordered a sharing platter of various items, plus some extra nachos and bread with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.  The platter arrived with two items less than it stated on the menu, the nachos came with sour cream which we had requested to be taken off and the bread was stale. We informed the food server who changed the nachos and explained to us that there was no houmous or tatziki and would I like BBQ sauce instead! I declined and we ate some of the obviously microwaved  food. I mean how hard is it to get something right if you just have to microwave it!!  Needless to say I will be sticking with my judgements about food in chain pubs..shame on you Taylor Walker pubs co!!

After deciding not to spend another penny in the place, we found a cool American style diner called Maxwell’s, I ordered a rocky road sundae and my sister had an ice cream milkshake! Followed by half price cocktails…silver lining!!! 🙂 http://www.maxwells.co.uk/

 

Coctails in Maxwells!