Sunday, 15 August 2010, A Letter from Pimlico

A very wet and dismal morning to start off with but the sun is trying to break through 08:34, having a good tidy up today on the balcony harvesting the last cuttings from the salad trays and sowing more, I know I should have done the sowing a couple of weeks ago but, I have not been all that well and Maureen put her foot down.

We have been doing some testing of recipes in the kitchen though, pickling Okra, and making some Lorne sausage (square sliced sausage) as well as some compound (flavoured) butter, in particular a snail butter for one of my indulgences, escargots (snails), for the recipes go to MyDish.

And today we shall be making some blueberry jam as well as cooking a small chicken (Fresh Thyme Roasted Chicken, Spetses Style) the recipe will follow as well as being published on MyDish.

On the Balcony Garden Today, we sowed some Mixed Spicy Salad Leaves and Mixed Rocket, quite easy to do when using Mr. Fothergill’s seed mats. We also sowed some mixed Radish and for their shoots some Pea, Dwarf Sweetgreen (Mangetout), we also transplanted the Lavender plant to a larger pot and replanted our kitchen windowsill basil and got rid of those bothersome herb pots they were too small and with no drainage they were either too dry or too wet. Tidied up the peppers, tomatoes and the other herb-pots.

The Tumbling Tom Red tomatoes have just given us 2 nice cherry size tomatoes and it looks like there are going to be many more, the Black Russian Tomato plant and the 2 Moneymaker plants are showing promise, the Black Russian tomatoes are a very dark shiny green and look very juicy a bit to go though but we are looking forward to them.

News from the food industry is that the British food industry is steeling itself for a massive jump in food inflation in the wake of soaring animal feed prices, a shortage of silage and poor harvest. It is predicted that food prices could be at least 10% higher by early 2011.

Marks and Spencer’s has become the first supermarket to stock British-grown Mangetout. The new crop of British peas, grown in the Cotswolds, will be on sale until the end of August.

Can you imagine eating squirrel I have eaten many weird and wonderful things in my travels including pickled bears paws in Finland but imagine eating squirrel meat, well a Budgens store in North London has started stocking squirrel meat! Squirrel supposedly tastes similar to a rabbit and is high in protein and low in fat, not for me I think.

Here is another case for can we really trust our supermarkets; Tesco has been caught misleading customers with their fresh bread ads. The ad stated ‘fresh bread baked from scratch. Using 100% British flour. So every single loaf is genuinely British…born and bread’. However, it turns out this is subject to availability, in selected stores only and British flour is only used in products baked from scratch in store.

15 food companies have signed up to feature HRH The Prince of Wales’s new Countryside Fund logo on selected packaging to demonstrate their support for Britain’s most vulnerable farmers and rural communities. Look for it on Waitrose and Asda milk, Bird’s Eye frozen peas, Hovis bread, Marks and Spencer beef and Morrisons’ lamb.

Seasonal foods at their best to look out for this month:
Vegetables: Artichoke, Aubergine, Beetroot, Broad Beans, Broccoli, Carrots, Chillies,  Courgettes, Cucumber, Fennel, French Beans, Garlic, Kohlrabi, Lettuces And Salad Leaves, Mangetout, Marrow, Onions, Peas, Peppers, Potatoes (Maincrop), Radishes, Rocket, Runner Beans, Sweetcorn And Watercress.
Fruit: Apricots, Bilberries, Blackberries, Blueberries, Damsons, Figs, Greengages, Loganberries, Peaches, Plums, Raspberries, Redcurrants, Strawberries, Tomatoes, And Whitecurrants.
Herbs: Basil, Chives, Mint, Oregano, Parsley (Curly), Parsley (Flat-Leaf), Rosemary, Sage, Sorrel, Tarragon And Thyme.
Meat: Beef, Chicken, Lamb, Pork, Rabbit, And Wood Pigeon.
Fish: Cod, Crab, Dover Sole, Grey Mullet, Haddock, Halibut, Herring, John Dory, Lemon Sole, Lobster, Mackerel, Monkfish, Pilchard, Plaice, Pollack, Prawns, Salmon, Sardines, Scallops, Sea Bass, Sea Bream, Shrimp, Squid And Turbot.

Fresh Thyme Roasted Chicken, Spetses Style

The down-to-earth flavours of lemon juice, fresh thyme leaves, sea salt, freshly cracked pepper and garlic season this chicken to perfection, perfect on a hot summer’s day with an easy Greek salad.

Serves / Makes: 6 servings

Prep-Time: 10 minutes

Cook-Time: 2 to 2 ½ hours

You Will Need;

2.25 kilo, free range whole chicken, rinsed

2 medium sized lemons cut in half and squeezed, keep the lemon skins

1 good, handful of fresh thyme

2 to 3 pinches sea salt, we use sea salt flakes

Freshly cracked black pepper, a generous pinch or two

6 cloves of garlic

1 medium onion, peeled and quartered


Carefully rinse the chicken with cold water and dry off with paper towels, rub the lemon juice all over the entire chicken then place the lemon halves inside the cavity of chicken.

Take ¾ of the thyme sprigs and remove the thyme leaves from stems by holding the top of the sprig and stripping the leaves downward sprinkle the thyme leaves all over the bird.

Now sprinkle the sea salt, freshly cracked pepper all over the chicken, to taste. Place the remaining thyme (including stems) inside the cavity of the chicken along with the garlic and onion.

Roast in the centre of a pre-heated oven, 190°C / 375°F / gas mark 5, for 20 minutes per pound (450 grams) plus 10-20 minutes extra, this will be 1 hour and 50 minutes to 2 hours for a 5 pound (2.25 kilo) bird. Baste three times during the cooking time.

For the final 15 minutes of cooking, increase the heat to 220°C / 425°F / gas mark 7, to give the skin that final golden crispiness. When it is cooked, remove it from the oven and cover it with foil and leave to rest for 30 minutes before serving.

Serve and Enjoy!

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