• In season now: May

    New this month: Asparagus! The food of gods... and carrots are back.

    Still in season from last month: cauliflower, chard, green cabbage, salad leaves, main-crop potatoes (from store), salad leaves, sea kale, spring greens, rhubarb

    Goodbye till next year to: Purple sprouting broccoli (sniff, sniff), leeks, stored parsnips, forced rhubarb

  • What I’m doing here

    This all started when I picked the first strawberries from my new allotment.

    I'd never been so enraptured or so excited by food. It was a shock to find that anything could taste so good.

    So what - I'd never had strawberries before?

    No - all the strawberries I'd had were shop-bought, like as not flown in from intensive growers in Spain or Chile, and eaten in winter when strawberries should be a distant summer memory.

    It revolutionised my thinking about the fresh food we eat every day. I started to wonder if you got the same amazing taste from all types of food grown and eaten in season. And then I decided to do something about it.

    The Year of Eating Seasonally is my little experiment to find out what it's really like not to have it all. The only fruit and veg I and my family are going to eat in 2008 will be what's growing in the ground at the time (or, in winter, what I can get out of store).

    I want to find out if the hungry gap is really as hungry as everyone says it is: whether you're really eating nothing but cabbage all winter; and whether you miss strawberries in December.

    Along the way I hope I'll save a few tons of carbon being released into the atmosphere on my behalf, as I won't be requiring those French beans flown from Chile, thanks very much. And I hope I'll be rediscovering what food can really taste like.

    If you have any comments, please feel free to post them anywhere you like - or you can email me at sallywhite@hotmail.com.

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All things curly

Domestic goddess rating: 50% (feeling lazy today) Five-a-day: 3/5 Food miles: about 40

On the menu: Muesli and juice (breakfast); cheese sandwiches (lunch); pies from the local butchers, potatoes and curly kale (supper)

Curly kale is one of those things which people feel as if they ought to be eating but haven’t the faintest how. We struggled with it too when we first tried it – it’s got quite a strong flavour and is tough as old leather if you pick the wrong bits to cook.

The secret is to choose the palest, youngest leaves. If you’re growing your own, you can pinch out the very youngest leaves about now and eat them, while at the same time encouraging your plants to produce lots of succulent new shoots over the next few months. These really young leaves and shoots are what curly kale is all about – they’re quite different from the brutish outer leaves (which are only fit for rabbits if you ask me). Steam for 5 minutes, then dab with butter and a grind of pepper, and you really have a dish fit for a king (or queen, or princess – yes the kids do eat it too, though they still find its flavour takes a bit of getting used to).

I have yet to find a recipe that actually uses curly kale, but I’m still looking. I might have an experiment with some of the cabbage recipes – something tells me frying it up with bacon lardons and shallots would be good. Watch this space. 


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