• 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.

Always in season #2

Domestic goddess rating: 0% (am beginning to think goddess status may be beyond me, unless you count my undisputed reign – in my house anyway – as gardening goddess) Five-a-day: 4/5 Food miles: none

On the menu: toast, marmalade and juice (breakfast); cornish pasty from the garage (lunch); roast free range chicken, home-grown PSB and potatoes (supper cooked by hubby, grown by me (apart from the chook)

I’ve been finding out about the esoteric subject of watercress just lately. It’s one of those things that has a slightly exotic reputation – visions of streams bubbling merrily through pristine pastures, that kind of thing. Most of us think it’s well beyond us to grow our own.

In fact, it turns out, the watercress you see in bubbling streams and the like will probably give you a nasty parasite called liver fluke which kind of eats you from the inside out (well, I think I’m overstating it there, but I don’t think it’s very pleasant). So in fact you’re better off growing your own in a pot where you have control over the water supply and can guarantee there are no cows or sheep pooing in the water, or water snails delivering liver fluke grubs onto the leaves of your plants. Apparently one solution is to drill holes in the bottom of a children’s rigid paddling pool, fill it with a sand-and-topsoil mixture, and place it under a drainpipe through which rainwater dribbles from your roof. That way the water runs in one side and out the other – simulating stream conditions – but you don’t have to worry about the local livestock. Hmm… must try it some time. The simpler way is just to grow it in a big pot sat in a deep tray of water and change the water completely every couple of days – though that sounds like a lot of work to me.

Anyway, I digress. The other point about watercress is, it’s an evergreen, more or less, which means it can be picked all year round. So for our purposes, it’s another thing you can rely on to always be in season (the others I’ve discovered so far have been mushrooms and salad leaves, but I’m sure there’s more – just need to find it).

Strictly speaking you should only eat cooked watercress leaves in the winter – they’re tougher and the flavour more peppery at that time of year so don’t do so well in salads. But I reckon you could probably get away with it. And since I love watercress (and it’s outrageously good for you) I’m just happy I can eat it whenever I want.

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