St George’s day, 450 years of Shakespeare and the start of the British Asparagus Season

I was on my own yesterday for St George’s Day (Well me and Drake the Cat should I say),  So I wasn’t sure wether I was going to do something Patriotic or not? I should though! ( I thought to myself), being English! 

   Last year I made a Hearty Beef Pie dish but I couldn’t possibly attempt to eat that all to oneself and I believe most of my friends were busy doing something or other.
  It was wonderful to see also the fact that we were celebrating 450 Years of William Shakespeare! I actually felt rather guilty that I had hardly read any of his work and shock Horror…never seen a play. I did feel quite disappointed in myself and began to scour through “Kindle” to see what I could buy and to my astonishment, some of his most famous work was free! Brilliant! I would have preferred a “real book”  of course! but this was convenient for me. 

   Earlier that morning I had already made some homemade Wild Garlic and Fennel seed bread along with some Pesto, just to start using up the vast amount I already had of Wild Garlic in the fridge. So I had a rather nice looking loaf which would be ready to slice by lunchtime.  Whilst pottering about at this time I was listening to BBC Radio Leicester, Rupal Rajani was on and asking people what makes us predominately “English”? or rather, what springs to mind when you think of the English? It then came to me, what my dish would be for St George’s day.  A Ploughman’s Lunch, with a couple of Modern ingredients added for my taste.  I then imagined Shakespeare ripping some bread and Cheese apart with a big Glug of Ale. I’m not sure wether he would have liked the ingredients of Bread, Chutney and cheese (The basics of a Ploughman’s).  But I do know that since the first mention of this dish in “Pierce the Ploughman’s Creed” (c.1394) of Bread, Cheese and Ale it is still a great Lunch for any Worker now. Something so simple yet hearty and stable.  Shame our Patriot St George couldn’t have experienced it back then after Slaying the Dragon! 
  Here’s my version of this great Pub Lunch that I had in My Kitchen diner instead.

My Ploughman’s Lunch with Homemade Wild Garlic and Fennel Seed Bread:

Bread Ingredients:

–  500g of Crusty Wholemeal bread mix consisted of Wholemeal flour, Chickpea Flour and the Dry yeast. (I used this because it needed using up and I wanted Wholemeal flour for this, not White Flour) 
–  A big Handful of Wild Garlic leaves finely chopped.
–  340 ml of lukewarm water.
–  Salt and Pepper.
–  Sprinkle of Fennel Seeds for on top of loaf.

This is the first time I have used a Packet Bread mix and I was pleasantly surprised.  I still had to knead the dough and do all I would have anyway so that still made it fun.  Here is the process to the packet instructions.

Here as you can see I have Kneaded the dough and placed in a greased Loaf tin, covered with a wet Tea Towel and placed in my airing cupboard for 15 mins.

 After 15 Mins I took out the dough, folded and kneaded it again with the Wild Garlic in and let it rise for another 30 mins in the airing cupboard.

 Placed the Fennel Seeds on top and into a preheated oven at 220c for approx 30-40 minutes.


As you can see regarding the rest of my Lunch, it consisted of Boiling an English Egg, blanching some English Asparagus, placing some lovely English Ham onto the plate. Popping my Local Tomato Chutney into a Ramekin.  Chopping My English Spring Onion, Slicing my English Cheese, picking my Home grown Salad leaves and Pouring My English Ale! … I think you get the Gist now! 

Going, (Growing) strong so far…

I am just so thrilled with how our Kitchen Garden is coming along.  We haven’t even started on the main plot yet either!  I am trying so many new vegetables this year, I can’t stop! I fear at this rate, I may need a new Freezer as I am going to have to freeze so much down for over winter! 
  The added bonus this year aswell is that luckily for my Partner and I, at Christmas just gone, we received a lovely gift from my Parents which was a beautiful all singing and dancing “Kilner”  preserving kit. We were very lucky to receive such a gift so I will be going preserving mad over this year. I can’t wait.  I am literally thinking of all the fun I am going to have with green ketchups, Chutneys, sauces… It will be homemade gifts all year round galore… Be prepared friends and family! 
  Anyway, back to my seedlings… Here is what is happening.  As you can see also now, is that outside, things are starting to grow.  
  The plan is that my Partner needs to dig the main plot out, cover and for the first time, hopefully, we will be trying a raised plot. So in the meantime, whatever I can set seeds in, I will. I am using any container, bag, or pot nameable! Even mushroom containers and plastic trays which tomatoes come in.  Oh and please excuse the weeds just yet, Im going to be using the dandelions,(All will be revealed soon)… then my partner can take them away as I still can’t with my bad back.

I must point out also that there are also Aubergines and chillies growing…but in the bathroom, yes! As it is much warmer in there.  
  Next to sow are the lovely selection of beetroot that I have, I am dying to create recipes with those! So many different colours, stripes and shapes.  Garlic is being planted today or tomorrow.  I also have some red spring onions to sow and some lovely Alpine strawberries which come red and cream so I will try those in hanging baskets.  Watch out for those in my dessert recipes and Ice cream. 


Its been a month now since all my little seeds have been sown.  I have sown a little bit more in-between.  I think Ive possibly sown some more tomatoes, herbs, Chillies and Aubergines.
So I best show you how the Porch is looking now! 

I am pretty pleased with the outcome so far.  Some haven’t come up yet as you can see but theres still time. It is still up and down with the weather and a few days ago, there was frost overnight.  This weekend is going to pick up, so hopefully we will see some more Life then?  Ha! I sound like a weather girl! 

Anyway, before I end this post…Good news was that I also had my first picking of some salad I am growing. They were only baby leaves but so so sweet with a hint of pepper so just really lifted my salad that day.

Kitchen Garden Time!

The Sun definitely had his Hat on Yesterday here in Leicestershire .  So I took the opportunity to restart my Kitchen Garden and start sowing some seeds for this year. 
  It’s so exciting at this time of year when you know that you can start doing this.  I always start with the easiest of all planting first and the seeds which I know I use a lot of , which are of course my herbs! Of which I have started with the basic Parsley, Sweet Basil, Oregano and Coriander.  I then will move on to the more unusual herbs which are yet to come. Some Herbs that I grew last year and I didn’t get round to using them which was pretty silly of me!  I won’t mention what they are just yet, I’ll surprise you instead.
 I must mention that of course the pictures aren’t going to be very great at this stage. But for all you “Grow your own” fanatics out there, and beginners, it will be interesting.
  Another thing I may add is that I don’t have a Greenhouse yet, so they are in my porch.  Don’t laugh! It Gets lovely and warm in the afternoon in there. By the end of March/April it will be like a Jungle in there and I constantly have to go back and forth between my porch and conservatory to see which has the most warmth and light!

  I also love to grow Vegetables of which I will only use for their baby shoots such as Peas…I Love them in Cooking! I have a recipe coming up soon in which I use them. Look out for it and tell me what you think? Love these shoots with Fish and Seafood. My oh my! I am salivating! 

I also am going to dabble a bit this year in more baby shoots of salad leaves for that more subtle, gentle taste for my dishes.  But I am trying a new approach to this, in the way how Im going to grow them, so we shall see? 
 Finally what I managed to sow, which I use ALOT of in my cooking, which end up going in the freezer and aren’t half as good then,… are Bean sprouts! I am hoping I can just snip away as I please for my Noodle soups and Stir Fry dishes.

As you can see here on the left, the required growing technique for Bean sprouts are on Kitchen Towel.  I suppose a bit like when in primary School and we all had to grow Cress in cotton wool, remember? 

  Next to sow on the list will be more veg seeds for baby shoots, salad leaves, chillies and I need to buy some tomato seeds this year. So if you know of anyone giving them away or swapping? Let me know?  Also Please ask me any questions if you’re thinking of starting this as a new thing? You can also follow me on other Links on my right side Bar. which I hope to Fill in my Pinterest very soon.  It IS on my list to do! And also Pop in your email for regular updates of ChezJ9.

Get growing with those Green fingers! 

Ciao till the next Kitchen Garden Post! 

J9 x


British Tomato week 20th May-26th May 2013

To Kick start British Tomato week this week May 20th-26th 2013

 ( Even though it is Thursday!), 
 I have decided that I just had to show you how MY Little ones are getting along! 

I am Very proud of them, as, when We moved to a new house last year, I had to leave my Greenhouse thus being so old.   It would have just crumbled away.  However,  I have to say, My porch in this house is doing a remarkable job so far!  Some are almost ready to go into Growbags as you can see.  The Problem is our lovely Spring weather at the moment! Its hailing here currently.  Snowing in some parts of the UK I hear today!

Now even though I am writing this piece towards the end of the British Tomato week, it is in fact the very beginning of the great British tomato.  The vast abundance of harvesting tends to come throughout the summer months.  Mine I am guessing around August? But I maybe wrong there.  We shall see?! 🙂
Lets just enjoy this beautiful Fruit… (or Vegetable as some would argue over) and enjoy from now on, up until October.  I cannot wait to use mine for recipes (excited)! 
I must add aswell, my laptop is doing CRAZY things today…so I am sorry If it is a bit mish mashed in areas?!