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March 22


Saint of the day:
Saint Nicholas Owen

"little John"

Patron Saint of Illusionists

The Story of Saint Nicholas Owen

Nicholas was born at Oxford, England. He became a carpenter or builder and served the Jesuit priests in England for two decades by constructing hiding places for them in mansions throughout the country. He became a Jesuit lay brother in 1580, and was arrested in 1594 with Father John Gerard, and despite prolonged torture would not give the names of any of his Catholic colleagues; he was released on the payment of a ransom by a wealthy Catholic. Nicholas is believed responsible for Father Gerard's dramatic escape from the Tower of London in 1597. Nicholas was again arrested in 1606 with Father Henry Garnet, who he had served eighteen years, Father Oldcorne, and Father Oldcorne's servant, Brother Ralph Ashley, and imprisoned in the Tower of London. Nicholas was subjected to such vicious torture that he died of it on March 2nd. He was known as Little John and Little Michael and used the aliases of Andrews and Draper. He was canonized by Pope Paul VI in 1970 as one of the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales. His feast is March 22nd.









Tower of London, London, England (place of death)

Priest Holes at Harvington Hall, Worcestershire, England (hiding places)








Piccalilli (English Pickle)


Piccalilli is an old, favorite English pickle made with various vegetables and spices. It goes back a few hundred years to the late 17th century and was known as The Indian pickle; ie., vegetables pickled the Indian way. British piccalilli is used as an accompaniment to foods such as sausages, bacon, eggs, toast, cheese, and tomatoes. It is eaten as a relish with cold meats such as ham and brawn, and with a ploughman's lunch. It is usually expected to be offered over Christmas, as it brightens up cold turkey and other leftovers.

There is a whole lot of leeway with the vegetables that you can use in making your own piccalilli. Cauliflower and onions (or shallots) are a must though, in my opinion. Besides that, cucumbers are good, as are courgettes (zucchinis), green beans and capsicums (bell peppers).


In the below recipe, I’ve given you the total weight of vegetables to use, and the amount of cauliflower and shallots. The rest of the vegetables, I’ll leave to you to decide, although I’ve given suggestions. A good guide would be a small carrot, a small cucumber and a small courgette (zucchini), with a handful of green beans. Play with those amounts and the type of vegetables as you like. Stick to the cauliflower weight that I’ve given here though, as cauliflower is quite the main player here.


1kg (2.2 lb) vegetables, made up of

  • 400 g cauliflower

  • 8 shallots

  • 1 small cucumber

  • 1 small carrot

  • 1 small courgette (zucchini)

  • 10 green beans

Other Ingredients

  • 5 Tbsp coarse salt

  • 2 Tbsp plain flour

  • 2 tsp turmeric powder

  • 2 Tbsp mustard powder

  • 500 ml regular clear vinegar

  • 1 Tbsp mustard or vegetable oil

  • 1 tsp cumin seeds

  • 1 tsp black mustard seeds

  • 4 dried red chillies left whole (optional)

  • 3 Tbsp white sugar


Day 1

  • Cut up the cauliflower into little florets, see the images to get an idea of size, but about 2.5cm (1") is a good guide.

  • Peel and quarter the shallots.

  • Cut the cucumber, carrots and courgettes (zucchini) into thick julienne strips about 6cm (2 1/3") long.

  • Cut the beans into roughly the same length.

  • Place all the vegetables into a large glass bowl and sprinkle the salt all over. Stir to mix. Cover and leave to sit overnight or a minimum of 1 hour. Stir the vegetables up in that time, a handful of times if salting overnight.

Day 2

  • Rinse the vegetables thoroughly in cool water for about 1 minute. Leave to drain.

  • In a cup, mix the flour, turmeric and mustard powder with just enough vinegar to get a smooth paste. Set aside.

  • Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat and sauté the cumin, mustard seeds and chillies (if using) for about 20 seconds.

  • Add the turmeric paste and give it a good stir, then pour the rest of the vinegar in.

  • Tip all the vegetables into the saucepan and sprinkle the sugar all over. Increase the heat and stir everything together and bring to a simmer.

  • Then, lower the heat down, and cook for just 5 minutes.

  • Spoon into the warm sterilised jars and cover tightly. Let the piccalilli mature for at least 2 weeks, in a dark, cool place before eating. Once opened, store in the fridge. Unopened, they will keep for 6 months.

Optional Water Bath

  • Place your jars in a large saucepan or stockpot of simmering water. Make sure the water comes to halfway up the jars.

  • Cover, lower heat and leave to simmer for 10 minutes. The higher up above sea level you are, the longer you need to simmer your jars for. See above.

  • Turn the heat off and let the jars sit in the water for 5 minutes.

  • Carefully remove from the hot water and leave to cool completely on a tea towel, then store until you're ready to use it.


Prep and Total time do not include the salting of the vegetables. The times indicated are the actual hands on time.

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