This month’s Degustabox has been a goody. I love the idea of combining one of my favourite foods: chorizo, and crisps. These lattice style crisps from Seabrooks Crisps have a spicy bite. This week the itsu crispy seaweed thins have made it into the lunchbox and they are really handy for adding a bit of variety and they are full of good things too. Rowntree’s Fruit Pastilles Infusions are a new twist on the traditional sweet with orange & grapefruit, raspberry & pomegranate and apple & elderflower flavours. Brookside Chocolates mix a smooth dark chocolate with blueberry: a perfect combination. Bahlsen Choco Leibniz have long been favourites of ours, but now they come in handy portion packs with two biscuits in each: again these are great for lunch boxes and picnics.
My normal breakfast is muesli, but I like to switch it around and try out different brands and flavours. Jordans Swiss Style Muesli has given me something new to try with its blend of crispy wheat flakes,creamy oats, juicy raisins and finely sliced almonds. Sarsons Balsamic Vinegar is perfect for summer salads and I find it goes well with strawberries. For a bit of added crunch and spice to your salad or ploughman’s, there’s Felix Gherkins which are handpicked in Sweden in late summer.
For a great start to the day I’ve been trying Cracker Drinks’ natural fruit drinks. They have some interesting blends with no added sugar or sweeteners. Another good way to breakfast is to have an ALO drink which includes the benefits of real aloe vera. Rejuvenation Water is an amino acid enriched spring water designed to help you deal with the rigours of modern life.Qcumber offers refreshing blend of natural cucumber and sparkling spring water. We’ve also been enjoying berrywhite organic with lovely flavours such as sparkling cranberry & guava or sparkling lemon and ginger.
A little luxury we are indulging in just now is the first of the fruits of our labour from the vegetable patch. Every year we try to grow a little more and this year we now have some crops ready for harvesting. The sweetness and freshness of peas handpicked from the garden is difficult to beat. Those peas that aren’t snacked upon by a hungry 9-year-old are harvested just a few minutes before they go in the pot. They need hardly any cooking and they taste fantastic.
This year, like last, our black currants seem to be doing well. We usually enjoy some Eton Mess or a homemade fruit pie or two from those. Raspberries aren’t due till later in the year (we have autumn fruiting ones) and it remains to be seen whether we get any fruits from our quince tree (had that for a few years now and nothing yet) or our apple tree (which went in last year).
Our potatoes are now ready to crop and I won’t buy any boilers or salad potatoes now for a few months. There’s something special about homegrown potatoes: you can taste the flavour and they are grown organically too. We have more potatoes planted in containers, but I staggered the planting so I am hoping that we can increase the season.
A few things have done less well this year and I’m not sure why. Our beetroots don’t look too happy and are certainly less impressive than Monty Don’s plants were on Gardeners’ World the other week. I’ve struggled a bit with beans this year, which is a bit of a surprise because that usually goes well. It might not be too late to try planting some more.
I didn’t do too well with cucumber seedlings, but I have bought some young plants to make up for it. Hopefully we’ll have a crop soon. Tomatoes are doing well and I haven’t planted quite as many as last year, which I hope will be a blessing.
Do you enjoy growing and eating some home-grown veg? How are you getting on with your garden this year?
From time to time I come across a nice place to eat or drink that I’d like to share with you. Every few months I’m planning to pop a handful of them together in a post so you can see some of the nice places there are to visit in or around Birmingham.
Cafe Reem is hidden away in Harborne. It’s not on the High Street, so you will have to seek it out on Grove Lane (around the back of Grove Park). There are lots of Mediterranean flavours on the menu and the influence is North African and the Middle East. So far I’ve been a few times for a mint tea and something sweet, but also for lunch – I can thoroughly recommend the falafel burger.
The other week I tried out Edgbaston Deli for lunch. This area of Edgbaston (Highfield Road) is becoming a bit of a eating and drinking hub these days with the Highfield pub and Simpsons in the neighbourhood. The Edgbaston Deli offers something a little bit different and I loved the Scandi vibe. We kept it simple for lunch with a fisherman’s (smoked salmon, cream cheese, dill and capers) sandwich on brown sour dough (there are a selection of artisan breads to choose from). I think I’d like to go back to sample the breakfast and maybe try the bar (probably not at the same time).