• 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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Things I wouldn’t be without in the kitchen #2

Domestic goddess rating: 10% (lazy slob today, just reached for the freezer) Five-a-day: 3/5 Food miles: none

On the menu: Porridge – ran out of everything else (breakfast); pasta and pesto (lunch); re-heated Tuscan bean stew and rice (supper)

Once again, saved by the freezer. I don’t know what they did before these useful gadgets got invented. Along with the oven timer, it’s my favourite thing in the kitchen.

We’ve got two, in fact, one big one and one small one. It’s essential if you want to buy locally-sourced meat in bulk, like we did in January – you can’t exactly get through a whole lamb in the time it takes to go off in the fridge. Actually our freezer looks like the inside of an abattoir at the moment, as we have not only the best part of a lamb in it, but also half a pig. With a bit of luck all that meat will last us well into summer though.

Then there’s the veg. If you grow your own, you inevitably have a glut at some stage. Some of it can be stored in sacks or trays in dark, cool places, like potatoes, apples and root veg. But most summer veg won’t last long unless you preserve it: and unless you’re a serious pickle fan, that means freezing. There’s a long debate about whether or not to blanch, of which no doubt I will have more to say come the summer, but the basic principle means you can dip into your supplies of frozen summer fruit and veg well into winter too.

And last but not least, there’s the leftovers. I don’t know about you but I’m rubbish at judging portions. Ask me for a portion of spaghetti, and I’ll give you three, plus some left over for the chickens. You can’t freeze spaghetti, of course, but you can freeze pasta sauces, stews, and even some whole dishes like shepherd’s pie and the like. And if you have a busy family, that’s a godsend – on nights like tonight, when we’re all rushing about all over the place, you just reach for the freezer and pull out whatever you fancy. It takes five minutes to reheat – ten minutes if you put some rice with it – and bingo, a home-cooked supper that’s healthy (and was seasonal when you cooked it, too). No processed meals-for-one in this house.


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