• 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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Bludgeoning a perfectly good flavour to death

Domestic goddess rating: 0% (murdered some PSB this evening, am racked with guilt) Five-a-day: 4/5 Food miles: about 40

On the menu: porridge and juice (breakfast); beef and vegetable soup (lunch); fillet steak, potatoes and PSB disaster (supper)

You know what? I should have known better.

I’ve always had a bit of a sniffy thing about serving side vegetables that have been mucked about with. That is, with sauces, extra flavourings… whatever. I don’t mind baked leeks – they’re lovely, in fact. And cooking in butter I can just about cope with. But mostly I just like my veggies plain – steamed and undressed.

But – in the way that you do – I decided I was being prejudiced and unreasonable, so I thought I’d have a go at a recipe I’ve spotted a few times now. It’s a rare recipe with purple sprouting broccoli as its main ingredient, and lots of people mention it, so I figured it was worth a try.

How wrong can you be. Cooking PSB with anchovies sounds kind of intriguing, doesn’t it? Unfortunately, you don’t realise until it’s on your plate that the powerful, salty taste of the anchovies batters every last vestige of flavour from the PSB and leaves no survivors. What’s more, that lovely crunchy texture well-cooked PSB has? Well with this recipe, it’s reduced to a shapeless sludge (and I followed it to the letter – honest). No texture, no flavour but salt, and a post-industrial browny-purple colour to boot. Can you imagine anything more horrible? I do wonder if these so-called chefs actually taste the stuff they ask us to cook sometimes.

Please – if you ever see anything combining the lovely subtlety of PSB with anchovies, don’t touch that recipe. It really, really doesn’t work. I promise. I’ve tasted it, and only just lived to tell the tale.


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