April


“Sweet April! many a thought
Is wedded unto thee, as hearts are wed;
Nor shall they fail, till, to its autumn brought,
Life’s golden fruit is shed.”

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow – excerpt from An April Day

I’m not going to go into a deep analysis here as this isn’t a poetry blog but I thought it was extremely apt for this year.  To me, Henry’s poem expresses joy and happiness amongst other things.  The sort of warmth that comes from being close to loved ones, cares forgotten, bathed in gentle dreamy warm sunshine, sitting in a field with a picnic listening to the birds and watching the world go by as spring envelops everything.  April is that time of year when everything is starting to blossom, the first signs of spring have already appeared and even the weather can’t put a dampener on things.

April brings Easter holidays, the Grand National, and, if you’re feeling energetic, the London Marathon.  This year, 2011, also brings us the Royal Wedding on April 29th when Prince William marries Kate Middleton in Westminster Abbey.

This is a month of celebration, for spring, religious and patriotic reasons.

Vegetables : April brings us fresh Carrots, Asparagus, Rocket, Spinach, and Spring Onions in the shops.  Look out for Purple Broccoli and this month also sees the start of the Jersey Royal Potatoes (for three months) which are great boiled or steamed.  You may also start to find Wild Garlic (late spring through summer).  It can be added to salads, used for flavour in mash or steamed as a vegetable.  If you ever get a chance to walk in a garlic wood, do so, the aroma is marvellous.

Fish : This is the last month for quality Herring, Sardines, Crab, Cockles and Oysters.  Lemon Sole is still good for a couple of months, and you should be able to obtain quality John Dory.  Perhaps the main thing to look for from now on is wild Salmon.  Langoustines (which my spell checker believes should be spelt lustiness) are good now for several months.

Game : April is still closed season for most game, you can still find Hare, Rabbit, Venison, Pigeon and Quail. Wood Pigeon is best from here on till the end of the year.

Meat : If spring is nice and early, then you’ve a possibility of seeing lamb available at your local butchers, otherwise you’ll have to wait until May.

Ideas : I’m thinking traditional tea parties and buffets, but aim to keep them light.

  • Ham, cheese, tuna & sweetcorn or beef & onion sandwiches on fresh bread rolls
  • Rocket, spinach, spring onion and boiled egg salad with dressing
  • Jam & Cream with Scones or Crumpets
  • Freshly baked biscuits, cakes or muffins
  • Iced Lemonade with a slice of lemon and lime
  • Ginger Beer
  • Plenty of ale for the lads
  • and a glass of white wine for the ladies

You’ve plenty of scope this month for baking but the main treats for Easter this year for us will be traditional fare.

  • Hot cross Buns
  • Simnel cake
  • Victoria Sponge
  • Rhubarb Crumble

They will probably be presented after a dinner of finely sliced honey roast ham or baked salmon parcels, jersey royal potatoes, steamed broccoli, carrots and cauliflower served with a dab of garlic chive butter (softened butter, blended with chopped chives & wild garlic, rolled in paper, re-chilled, sliced then frozen ready for use).

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