Up and about early today and we're visiting an old Victorian terraced house not 5 minutes away from the busy Fiveways roundabout and Broad Street in the party area of Birmingham.
It belongs to the neighbours of my friend The Earl of Edgbaston and he's invited me down to look at their wonderful chickens.
The gardens are all on a steep slope up to large Oak trees, but there's a good selection of veg and fruit trees apparent in all the adjoining property.
You can see the Chicken Run hidden under the trees at the top end of the garden.
There's 4 of them. Lily, Ruby, Fred & One-eyed Jack and their owners the Mon Trapp family feed them on a diet of grain and Tesco's Spring Cabbage which gives a subtle green tinge on the shell.
Their eggs have a deep sunshine yellow yolk and are delicious.
It's great down on the plot at the moment with new spuds (Arran Pilot) in abundance, Hispi Cabbage, Brocolli, Broad Beans, French Beans, Onions (only a few though) Garlic, Lettuce, Rocket, Carrots (from Choff's containers) and Courgettes all presenting themselves ready for the dinner plate.
Delicious fresh from the ground to the plate in less than an hour!
My mate Choff has come up trumps again with another treasure.
It's a collapsable frame that is like a mini gazebo that is ideal for covering my Sweetcorn from the birds. With the addition of some netting it's a perfect solution and I can walk in to weed.
I found the remains of a pigeon on the plot the other day and nearby this ring. I did a search on the internet and found the RPRA site with a section to report found rings.
Obviously there's an anxious pigeon fancier awaiting the return of a prize racer. But, alas, he met an untimely end on No87 in Birmingham. There were only feathers remainig so something, a fox I presume from the size of the paw prints, had a good dinner that night!
And finally, thanks to my fellow judges and all the entrants on Saturday night's Talent Contest. It was a very interesting evening, even if our choices differed wildly from the eventual winners!
This weeks recipe is a variation on something I saw on TV the other night and has a wonderful fresh taste for warm summer evenings.
1 large shallot, peeled, finely chopped
1 large garlic clove, peeled, finely chopped
1 medium cucumber, peeled, cut in half lengthways, seeds scooped out using a teaspoon and discarded, flesh sliced into half-moons
large pinch freshly ground nutmeg
sea salt flakes and freshly ground white pepper
220g/½lb fresh peas or blanched & shelled broad beans (or a mix of the 2) 200ml/7fl oz fresh chicken stock
1 cos lettuce, core removed, leaves separated, core and leaves chopped
Handful fresh Rocket leaves
2 tbsp crème fraîche
2 handfuls cooked
1. Heat the butter in a pan over a low to medium heat. When the butter is foaming, add the chopped shallot and garlic and fry for 8-10 minutes, stirring regularly, or until softened but not coloured.
2. Add the sliced cucumber and nutmeg and season, to taste, with salt and freshly ground white pepper. Stir well and continue to fry the mixture for 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally, until soft and translucent.
3. Add the peas/broad beans and stock to the pan and bring the mixture to a simmer. Cover the pan with a lid and cook gently for 6-8 minutes, adding a little more stock as necessary to prevent the mixture from drying out, until the peas are tender. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside to cool slightly.
4. When the mixture has cooled, transfer it to a food processor and blend to a smooth purée. Set aside to cool further.
5. When the mixture has cooled, add the chopped lettuce leaves and stalk and blend again until smooth.
6. Pass the mixture through a fine sieve into a large bowl. Whisk in the crème
fraîche until well combined, then chill in the fridge until cold.
7. To serve, ladle the English garden soup into shallow serving bowls. Garnish with the cooked prawns, if using.