• 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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Kale and hearty

Domestic goddess rating: 90% Five-a-day: 4/5 Food miles: about 10

On the menu: Toast & juice (breakfast); cornish pasty (lunch); Tuscan kale & bean stew and rice (supper)

Back to experimenting with some new recipes today, and because I wanted to find some more interesting things to do with kale I decided to have a go at a variation on Tuscan bean stew.

You can find loads of different versions of Tuscan bean soup/stew/casserole, but I discovered one that involved kale at Times Online. They have it as a soup, but if you adjust the quantities a bit you end up with a really tasty stew. It looked awful in the pot – kind of sludgy, brown and green, that wintery look you get to food at this time of year sometimes – but, to my surprise, tasted excellent. Just don’t serve it at a dinner party.

My only problem was that if you don’t grow your own, kale is really hard to come by – especially the Cavolo Nero (black kale) the Times recommends. I think this might look a lot better with it, too. Since my grocer, the supermarket and the normally excellent local farm shop had.. ahem… “run out”, I had to resort to Savoy cabbage, which didn’t look that different but lacks the chutzpah of kale. When I can find some, I also have a little idea that this particular recipe would benefit from adding some pork too, for a really gutsy winter feast. I’ll post it when I get round to trying it.


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