Sunday, 29 April 2012

Review - Jasmín Chinese Restaurant, Clarkston



A few weeks ago I posted a review on Cathay Cuisine Chinese takeaway in Newton Mearns. This was a fairly new takeaway that had opened not too far from home that we ordered from instead of our usual takeaway, the Jasmín Restaurant in Clarkston. The meal was alright but tonight we made the decision to get back to what we know.


When it comes to Chinese starters, I could happily work my way through the menu. Prawn toast, spare ribs, dim sum, satay skewers, as well as a huge choice of soups...they're all delicious! Given the choice, I think my favourite has to be pancake or spring rolls and I love the way that every Chinese chef has their own recipe and twists to these classic starters.


The Jasmín has a fantastically varied menu offering both tradition Cantonese and Mandarin food, plus an exciting Thai menu as well. Last night we decided to order Thai, starting with Thai spring rolls.
Wonderful little filo parcels packed with a fantastic mix of oriental flavours, served with a fiery yet sweet dipping sauce. Once I cut into the crispy spring roll, I was met by a combination of cabbage, carrots, sweetcorn, rice noodles, ginger, lemongrass & chili oil. The fresh flavours all worked well together, perfectly balanced with just the right amount of spice.
I have to say, these spring rolls are some of the best that I have tasted.

We followed our tasty starter with Thai beef with black pepper sauce & fried rice.

I would love to know where Jasmín get their beef because it's always deliciously tender. Our meal had plenty of thinly sliced slivers of beef served in a rich and savoury pepper sauce. The sauce had a nice heat from just the right mount of cracked black pepper, sometimes I prefer this heat over the more obvious chili heat that is often associated with spicy food. Plenty of spring onion, green peppers, baby sweetcorn, carrots, onion and something that looks like avocado (I'd be happy for more information on this mystery Chinese vegetable), all make up the rest of the sauce.





The traditional accompaniments of fried rice and noodles are always done well at The Jasmín. I love the smoky flavour that they manage to get into the egg-fried rice, as well as the subtle introduction of sesame oil that helps give the rice a lovely finish. In fact, I could quite easily enjoy a bowl of fried rice all by itself.


We have had lots of different dishes off of the huge menu at The Jasmín and have yet to be disappointed. It doesn't matter what we order, each dish has its own unique flavours. With good sized portions and a well priced menu, plus the fact that they always seem to give free prawn crackers with every order, I can recommend The Jasmín Restaurant in Clarkston for your next takeaway.


For those of you who prefer a sit-in meal over a takeaway, The Jasmín also has a restaurant attached. We've never eaten in, but if the quality is as good as the takeaway then I'm sure you won't be disappointed.

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Viva Espańa (courtesy of EasyCook Magazine)

In recent times, there has been an increase in the popularity of Spanish cuisine. Nation chain La Tasca have been serving up tapas for many years whilst bars and restaurants have been adapting menus to accommodate the tastes of Spain.

In the coming weeks M&S will be launching "Espańa", the first range of Spanish main courses on the high street. They have raided the Spanish larder to create a range of meals packed full of the flavours of Spain. From olives and hams, to vinegars and sherries, all the ingredients used are authentic.

Try one of their classic Paellas or go for the Chicken with Patatas Bravas & Garlic Aioli. The Piquillo Pepper & Tomato Bread is the ideal accompaniment to olives, slice chorizo and roasted peppers for a speedy Spanish starter. The meals will be available in the larger store M&S stores nationwide with prices starting from £1.99 per dish.

I normally find Spanish inspired ready meals to taste of too much tomato and far too much poor quality paprika. I'll be interested to see if M&S can apply the same high quality to this new range that they do to their existing ready meals, if so they might be onto a winner.

Buen Provecho

Sunday, 22 April 2012

Healthy Start to the Day - Banana & Cranberry Smoothie

They say that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but I have never been a big breakfast eater. Give me a decent cup of coffee and that's me set up until lunchtime. On the other hand, Nicola cannot function without having breakfast before she starts the day.

On a visit to see our friends, Paul and Alison & their gorgeous girls, Alison prepared a delicious fruit smoothie that may have changed my views on breakfast. I couldn't believe that a recipe with so few ingredients could be so tasty as well as being able to be filling enough to see me through to lunch. Ever since our trip to West Yorkshire, Nicola has been constantly asking me when I was going to make her a smoothie.

Banana & Cranberry Smoothie courtesy of Alison Wilson

Ingredients (serves 4)

  • 125g porridge oats
  • 150g natural yogurt
  • 150ml semi-skimmed milk
  • 1tbsp clear honey
  • 1 banana, peeled & sliced
  • 450ml cranberry juice
Method




  1. Mix the milk, yogurt, honey and oats in a bowl, soak the oats in the mix for at least 15 minutes.
  2. Pour into a food processor, add the chopped banana before blending until smooth, gradually adding the cranberry juice.
  3. Chill in the fridge for 30 minutes before serving.

This smoothie is so easy to prepare so I expect that I'll be making it often, I might even do a little experimenting with different fruit, kiwi fruit, strawberries and blueberries will be next in the blender!

 

So after almost 39 years I'm beginning to look at breakfast in a completely different way. Smoothies are the future, I've tasted it! I would be interested to hear about your favourite smoothie flavours, get in touch and let me know.

Saturday, 21 April 2012

Saturday Night Takeaway - CC's Wood Fired Pizzas

So Nicola had another girly day out in Glasgow today, this time with her sister Lisa. After having a late lunch at Cafe Rouge, Nicola wasn't in the mood for a full meal tonight. Cue big smiles for Gerry as I could order takeaway!

I've previously posted a couple of favourable reviews on CC's Wood Fired Pizza on Clarkston Road and as I thought that I might be getting a whole pizza to myself, then my choice of takeaway was easy!

Business seems to be booming for the guys at CC's, I popped in just before 7pm to find the small waiting area already packed. I arrived at just the right time as the poor chap that ordered just after me was advised that there was a half hour wait for his order, of course some things are worth waiting for and the customer paid his bill and took a seat alongside the other hungry customers.

Tonight I ordered a 12" Parma ham pizza, but as Nicola was likely to want a slice or two, I decided to have some pepperoni added as well. (pepperoni is her favourite pizza topping)

When my pizza was ready and removed from the traditional wood fired oven, I was asked if I would like some rocket leaves scattered over the top of the pizza. Parma ham and rocket are perfect partners, so I took them up on their kind offer.

As I drove home with the fresh aromas of my pizza filling the enclosed space in the car, I hoped that Nicola wasn't too hungry because if the pizza tasted as good as it smelt, then I really didn't want to share MY pizza.

I've had three or four pizzas from CC's now and they have all been delicious! Tonight's offering was no different, the based was light and crispy, covered with a rich tomato and herb sauce, fresh mozzarella, pepperoni, Parma ham and fresh rocket leaves.

The balance was almost perfect, the salty Parma ham and spicy pepperoni cuts through the sweet flavours of the mozzarella and tomatoes, whilst the peppery rocket brings some texture to the party. However, if I were to make a slight criticism of tonight's pizza it would be that the strong flavours of the pepperoni were too overpowering for the rocket to do its job, but please remember that the addition of the pepperoni was at my request. I'm sure that the rocket would have been worked well with the Parma ham on its own so I'll just have to try another time and let you know.

The other downside of adding pepperoni to my pizza tonight meant that Nicola managed to eat more pizza than I've ever seen her eat before. I know it's good to share but she ate three slices! So much for Nicola not being that hungry.

Thursday, 19 April 2012

National Garlic Day

Today is National Garlic Day! This makes me laugh a little because I use garlic almost every day, why do I need a commemorative day to celebrate everything that is great about the Allium sativum?

Garlic Bread, Garlic Mushrooms, Garlic infused olive oils..... I could go on but I would be here all day.

Although maybe I'm being unfair by suggesting that garlic doesn't need a national day, after all garlic is probably an ingredient that we eat both consciously and unconsciously in all manner of everyday foods and flavourings.
The noble garlic bulb has help influence they way we cook at home. Answer me this, who doesn't have garlic as an ingredient in everything from Italian, Chinese, Indian, through to even the most standard British dishes like cottage pie, or a slow cooked roast?

Thinking about it, I love garlic! My favourite is probably smoked garlic bulbs. If you ever see smoked garlic in your local deli or farmers market, then pay the extra 50p and take a couple of bulbs home with you.

What's your favourite use of garlic? Do you prefer the subtle back flavours that garlic can bring to a dish, or is it the big punch of garlic that drives you wild?

Either way, garlic will always be my friend.

Monday, 16 April 2012

Recipe - Good-for-you Green Curry with Prawns


I don't know about you, but sometimes rather than put a new untried dish on the dinner table, I find it easier to rely on some of my easy pleasers. Before I put together my shopping list this weekend, I asked Nicola to have a look through my recent copies of Olive Magazine to see if there were any recipes that she wanted me to bring to the table.
As a result, tonight we had a very light Green Curry with prawns.

Ingredients (serves 2)
  • 2cm piece fresh ginger, roughly chopped
  • 1 large clove garlic, roughly chopped
  • 1 shallot, diced
  • 1 green chili, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 2 cardamom pods, split and seeds crushed
  • 100 ml chicken stock
  • 165ml half fat coconut milk
  • Handful fresh coriander, finely chopped
  • Small bunch fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
  • 200g large raw peeled prawns
Method
  1. Create a paste by putting the ginger, garlic, chili, shallot, cumin, coriander and cardamon seeds into a food processor and whizzing together. Add a little water if you need to bring everything together.
  2. Heat 1tbsp groundnut oil in a pan and fry the curry paste for about 5 minutes until you can smell the garlic, ginger and spices.
  3. Add the chicken stock and coconut milk and simmer for 10 minutes before adding the chopped herbs and the prawns.
  4. Bring back to boil, then reduce heat and simmer for a further few minutes until the prawns are pink and cooked through.
Serve with steamed basmati rice and warm naan bread.

I made the curry paste last night and kept overnight in the fridge, this saved me some time tonight which allowed me have dinner prepared and on the table in just 15 minutes. The resulting dish tasted very good, the mix of chicken stock and coconut milk creating a very light velvety sauce. Quick, tasty and at less than 150 calories per serving, (not including rice), this is a meal that I will be adding to the list of regular easy cook recipes.

Maybe I should get Nicola to pick from my magazines more often!

Friday, 13 April 2012

First Steps to Professionalism?

Woohoo! I'm so excited, Gerry's Kitchen's business cards arrived today.
This means that from now, if I leave a business card in a restaurant, cafe or takeaway, then there will be a review on here over the next day or two.
I wonder who will be the first to receive my calling card?

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Review - Piccolo Mondo, Glasgow

So the Easter weekend has come and gone. Over the last few days, me and Nicola have barely stopped long enough for a cup of tea. We've spent hours in the garden, tidying and planting, we've been out watching live music by local Glasgow band, Full Tonne Kid. We've visited Culzean Castle and Nardini's in Largs for ice-cream. However the highlight of the weekend was definitely drinks and dinner on Friday evening.

After a few drinks at Grill on the Corner in Glasgow, we made our way down to Piccolo Mondo on Argyle Street for our booking. I'll say at this point that we have been going to Piccolo Mondo for many years now, always returning for the high quality food and the excellent service.
Although we had not been to Piccolo Mondo for at least a year, we were welcomed back like old friends. After being shown to our table, we had a look over the various menus before deciding to order from the Celebration Menu, which is possibly the best value you will find this side of Tuscany.
Starting with our aperitifs, Nicola enjoyed a Bellini whilst I savoured my limoncello cocktail, before our order was taken.
The celebration menu includes aperitifs, three courses, a bottle of wine, coffees and a liqueur each for a staggering price of only £55 per couple. This value coupled with high levels of service ensure that Piccolo Mondo is always busy. Check out their website for other offers and deals for different times of the week.
We ordered a bottle of Trebbiano, one of our favourite Italian white wines, which arrived alongside some iced water and a basket of fresh baked olive focaccia. As we sat in comfortable surroundings, enjoying the ambience of a quickly filling restaurant, our starters were promptly delivered to our table.

Nicola had ordered a Trio of Deep-fried Mushroom, Onion Rings and Mozzarella cubes, whilst I ordered the Mediterranean Antipasti. I eagerly tucked into my selection of buffalo mozzarella, roasted red pepper, courgettes, aubergine, mushroom and balsamic onions served on a slice of toasted focaccia and topped with dressed rocket leaves and chives. Nicola was chuffed to bits with her well presented stack of crispy coated home made onion rings, and crispy garlic mushrooms. The deep-fried mozzarella cubes were perfectly cooked with a crisp shell but melting soft cheese oozing out when cut open. The dressed salad that accompanied Nicola's starter was a perfect balance of sweet and sharp, consisting of watercress, carrot strips, cubed sweet red pepper and a sharp lemony dressing. Both courses were just the right size and polished off in no time.


Once the starters were cleared away, we were given a short break before our main course was brought to the table. Nicola had taken a little risk in ordering her main, linguine with prawns in a creamy tomato sauce. Normally thick creamy sauces or acidic tomato based sauces aren't her first choice, as well as the fact that there is always the risk that a seafood dish can be overpowered by the fishy flavours. Quite the opposite can be said about the plate of food that was put in front of Nicola. Three types of prawns including tiger, king and Atlantic served in a light tomato and cream sauce with a tiny kick of fresh chili, all on a bed of perfectly cooked linguine. I fully expected that I would be helping her to finish the pasta however my assistance wasn't needed.
Maybe just as well as I had ordered the fillet of salmon Nizzarda. Poached fillet of Scottish salmon in a white wine sauce, topped with prawns, broad beans, red peppers and fresh herbs in a creamy sauce. This was served with roast potatoes and roasted seasonal root vegetables. The salmon was cooked perfectly, with thick flakes of fish breaking away at the touch of a fork, whilst the balance of flavours in the cream sauce were a perfect accompaniment to the huge piece of salmon on my plate.
As we finished off our wine, we scanned the dessert menu. Normally I am strictly a two course person but as the meal so far had been awash with light fresh flavours, I still had room for something sweet and sticky, which was why I picked the sticky toffee pudding as my guilty pleasure. Nicola chose the classic Italian dessert tiramisu, something that I don't make at home.

Presentation is a huge part of serving any food, and restaurants do a great job of making desserts look like little works of art. Nicola had popped off to powder her nose when our waiter brought these two gorgeous looking desserts to the table, had she been any longer than a minute or two then I was helping myself to both puddings!
The sticky toffee pudding was deliciously light, whilst the caramel saucy drizzled around and over the top was very creamy, and super sweet. A great balance!
Nicola's tiramisu was a perfect mix of sponge, cream, mascarpone, and coffee liqueur, dusted with shavings of dark chocolate. Once again Nicola disappointed me by managing to finish her dessert on her own!
So three courses down, we spent the next fifteen minutes savouring a chilled glass of Sambuca before finishing off with our coffees.
As I mentioned earlier, all of this was just £55. The quality of food was as high as ever and the service from the attentive staff made sure that your glasses were never empty or that you sat with empty plates in front of you for any longer than necessary. (which is one of my pet hates).
With all round value like this available every day of the week, is it any surprise that Piccolo Mondo has been voted top restaurant on Top Table by its diners? Not to me.
If you've never been to Piccolo Mondo, make sure you add it onto your list of places to visit this year. You will become a regular before you know it. We'll be back again, only this time we won't be waiting a year between visits!

Monday, 9 April 2012

Bank Holiday Monday, Largs & Nardini's


For as long as I can remember, bank holiday weekends would, more often than not, involve a trip to Largs. As a kid I remember standing in the Asda Car Park in Coatbridge with my parents, waiting to climb on board one of the many coaches heading off to various destinations across Scotland. Largs, Ayr, Irvine, Saltcoats, Portabello and Helensburgh were just a few of the far away places that we could end up. (all of these seaside are within approx 50miles of Coatbridge but seemed so much further when I was a child)
The town of Largs sits on the Firth of Clyde about 33 miles from Glasgow. Visitors have a collection of gift shops, cafes and amusement arcades to keep them busy. There is a ferry link to the Isle of Cumbrae, while the paddle steamer Waverley stops at the pier during cruises, and there is a regular rail link to Glasgow.
Of course, when I think of Largs, I find myself thinking of Nardini's Ice Cream Parlour. The name Nardini has been synonymous with Largs since 1935, serving up old fashioned Italian ice-cream from the art-deco building on the seafront. Sadly, the restaurant closed in 2004 amid rumours of family bickering and mismanagement. However in 2009 Nardini's re-opened under the new ownership of Lanarkshire ice-cream mogul, David Equi. Having purchased the Nardini name, trademark, and recipes, as well as investing over £2 million into the revamping of the B-listed building, David was hoping to put the name Nardini back on the Largs map. Judging by the almost constant flow of people through the doors, I think the rescue mission has been a huge success.
Nicola and myself had set of today with Largs and Nardini's set fully in our sights. We had previously been to Culzean Castle for some sightseeing and a picnic, before working our way across Ayrshire to get an ice-cream. Arriving at Nardini's just before 3pm, we were seated just before a wave of tourist turned up resulting in a short queue out of the door. After a quick look at the menu, we each placed our order with our efficient waitress before sitting back to enjoy the art-deco surroundings.
After a short wait, my Hot Chunky Caramel Fudge sundae & Nicola's Tasty Toffee Tablet sundae arrived. I which they could have stayed with us longer but unfortunately due to the fact that they were both so delicious, they were finished far too quickly.
My sundae consisted of 2 scoops of creamy vanilla ice-cream, a scoop of toffee ice-cream, hot caramel fudge sauce, fudge pieces, fresh whipped cream, topped with wafers and more fudge pieces. Nicola's sundae was similar but was scattered with sweet tablet (and fudge) and drizzled with a toffee sauce. The presentation of both sundaes was excellent, and although the restaurant was busy, the service was very good. The cost of the two sundaes was just over £14, which may seem a little steep compared to the cost of a couple of 99's, but as a one-off or special treat, a visit to Nardini's is an experience that you and the kids will remember for a while. (or at least until the next bank holiday weekend)

Sunday, 8 April 2012

Recipe - Self Saucing Lemon Pudding

Happy Easter! I love Sunday roast dinners, especially roast lamb, so today as it's Easter Sunday I served up roast shoulder of lamb with roasted vegetables. Lamb is traditionally served at Easter although in actual fact the serving of lamb goes back to the first Passover of the Jewish people when the sacrificial lamb was roasted and eaten, with unleavened bread and bitter herbs in the hope that the angel of God would pass over their homes and bring no harm. As Hebrews converted to Christianity, they naturally brought along their old traditions. The Christians often refer to Jesus as the lamb of God, thus the traditions emerged.
After our delicious roast lamb, I wanted to serve up a light pudding. This self-saucing lemon pudding is an easy recipe to prepare which tastes light and delicious.
Ingredients
  • 50g butter
  • 200g caster sugar
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 100ml lemon juice
  • 50g plain flour
  • 3 eggs, separated
  • 250ml milk
Method


  1. Add the butter, sugar and lemon zest into a large bowl. Whisk together until pale and fluffy. Add the lemon juice, egg yolks, flour and milk one at a time whilst still whisking. You should end up with a fairly wet cake batter.
  2. In a separate bowl which the egg white until at the firm peak stage. Add to the cake batter and fold in. Pour the mixture into a buttered ovenproof dish.
  3. Place in preheated oven 180C and bake for 45-50 minutes, or until the top is golden brown. Dust with icing sugar before serving.
The resulting pudding should have a light lemony flavoured sponge with a thick lemon curd sauce underneath which can be served with custard, ice-cream or pouring cream. Either way, it will taste delicious and because it's so easy to prepare, you'll be making it on a regular basis.

Saturday, 7 April 2012

Who Gives a Fork?


Last night Nicola & myself were out for dinner at Piccolo Mondo in Glasgow, where we had another fantastic evening and I will be posting a review in the next day or two.
As we were leaving, my eye was drawn to a collection tray on the counter containing little silver fork pin badges for sale.
'Who Gives A Fork?' is a drive of events and fundraisers organised by the Glasgow Restaurant Association and it's partners to raise £100,000 towards the work of Maggie's Cancer Caring Centres in Glasgow, as well as raising awareness to the invaluable help and advice Maggie's offer to anyone who needs to to use their services.
For more information on the great work that Maggie's does across the UK, click here.

Friday, 6 April 2012

Foodie Apps

The increased usage of mobile devises, over the last few years, as a means to access the Internet has changes the way that we find information. Before the rise of the Internet, cookery books and magazines were the obvious starting point of you were looking to prepare a tasty meal, however new technology has been embraced by a number of companies and individuals in order to present a much more interactive approach to working in the kitchen.
As a subscriber to Olive magazine (in old fashioned print), I also get the BBC Good Food magazine app for free. The digital version of the long running magazine is a fantastic way to read the magazine, packed with the usual mix of recipes, tips and ideas, articles and adverts, but with various interactive features including video demonstrations and direct links to advertised product websites.
There are a huge number of free apps available to download, where you can pick up loads of recipe ideas at the touch of a button. Epicurious, and AllRecipes are two great apps worth downloading. Both have thousands of recipes available plus more being added on a daily basis, as well as reviews from other amateur cooks who have previously tried the recipes out.
My inspiration for writing this post today was the new Morrison's Magazine app which has been launched in the last couple of weeks. The West Yorkshire supermarket group are the first of 'the big 4' to target the online users in this new digital way.
The 38 page online magazine, which coincides with a redesign of the traditional printed in-store magazine, debuts with an interview with Aldo Zilli. There are loads of seasonal recipes plus plenty of engaging content, lots of food news as well as some big prize competition. The recipes are laid out on interactive cards or played put on short on board videos, the iPad version brings a bit of fun into the kitchen. The supermarket hope to target a different type of customer and by using the technology available to them, their iPad version of the magazine is a powerful tool in bridging the gap between buyer and seller. As more advertisers jump on board, with links to their own sites and social media pages, Morrison's have established themselves firmly in the digital age.

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Seasonal Vegetables - Asparagus

April 23rd sees the arrival of the British Asparagus Season and I can't wait! Like most fruit and veg nowadays, asparagus is available throughout the year in most supermarkets, however I always look forward to the fairly short season (which runs through until Midsummer in July) when the fresh, crisp asparagus is plentiful and affordable.

At this time of year you will notice that spring menus start to feature asparagus inspired starters. From a simple poached egg with griddled asparagus soldiers to a more complicated asparagus & Serrano ham and Manchego quiche, there are endless ways that you can use the asparagus spears.

One of my favourite flavour combinations is in a simple starter that never fails to impress.

Ingredients

  • 16 spears baby asparagus
  • 4 slice Parma ham
  • 150g Feta, cut into 4 long strips

Method


  1. Prepare the asparagus by bending the stalk until it snaps. It will snap at a point where the spear is freshest. Blanche the spears in boiling water for 60 seconds, drain and refresh in iced water to preserve the colour and crunch.
  2. Dry the spears on some kitchen paper then set into 4 bundles of four spears.
  3. Lay the slices of Parma ham out on a piece of cling film, layer a bundle of asparagus on top of each before topping with a slice of the Feta. Roll the ham around to secure the Feta and asparagus. The tops and tails should be sticking out the top and bottom.
  4. If you want to get fancy, Blanche the dark outside from a spring onion, slice into long ribbons and tie each of the bundles with a bow, otherwise use a cocktail stick to keep them together in the oven.
  5. Place the bundles onto a baking tray and place into a preheated oven 180C for about 12-15 minutes.

To serve, place two bundles onto a side plate with some dressed salad leaves. Drizzle with a good balsamic glaze. I use a chocolate balsamic that works really well with the strong flavours of the Feta and Parma ham.

Strangely enough when we think of asparagus in the UK, we think of the green variety. However across Europe when they talk about asparagus, they are specifically thinking of the white variety whilst green asparagus will be specified by the local language term. Compared to the latter, the locally cultivate so-called "white gold" or "edible ivory" and often referred to as 'the royal vegetable', is less bitter than the green variety and much more tender. In the UK, you are much more likely to see pre-cooked white asparagus in jars or tins. Next time in the supermarket or deli, pick up a jar and try it in a salad or use the white blanched stalks as a sandwich filling with ham and mustard.

Make the most of the short season and get more asparagus into your food at home. If you're struggling for ideas, Click here for more recipes.

 

Sunday, 1 April 2012

The Good Life - Surbiton meets Clarkston

For those of you old enough to remember, The Good Life was a sitcom that aired in the mid 1970's. Tom Good, upon reaching his 40th birthday and fed up with his regular working life, decides to give up his job and with the help of his wife Barbara adopts a sustainable, self-sufficient lifestyle.

Maybe Tom's actions were a little drastic but as the cost of everyday groceries continue to rise, almost on a weekly basis, perhaps The Good Life isn't such a crazy idea?

So over the weekend me and Nicola spent some time getting the garden tidied up, before heading out to the local garden centres to see what fruit and vegetables we might be able to buy and grow. However as for The Good Life, I draw the line at keeping livestock.

Tomatoes, courgettes, aubergines, peppers, chillies, potatoes and strawberries have made the list so far. My greenhouse is built, the potatoes and strawberries have been planted and tomorrow after work I'll get the other vegetables settles into their new home.

I already have a small herb garden growing with oregano, mint, lemon thyme and regular thyme, and I will be adding coriander, basil, flat leaf parsley and chives.

Hopefully all of my plants take to their new surrounds and produce plenty of fresh fruit, herbs and vegetable over the coming months. I like the idea of being able to cook tasty dishes with the fruits (and veg) of my labours.

I'll keep you up to date on the progress of my garden project, let me know if you grow any of your own fruit and vegetable too. I'd be interested to hear how you've gotten on with your own efforts, as well as any suggestion on anything else that I could be introducing to my own garden.