• 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.

Apple crumble

Grandma’s favourite… This is truly a simple pudding but it holds in its heart all that is good about England in winter.

for the crumble topping:

10 oz (280g) flour

5 oz (140g) butter, at room temperature

5 oz (140g) demerara sugar

for the filling:

about 3 large cooking apples

some sugar

about 5 cloves

1 tsp ground cinnamon 

Put the flour in a bowl, then add the butter – if you cut it up into small pieces first, it makes life easier. Then using your fingertips, pick up a good pinch of flour and butter and rub them  together between your fingers. Repeat until the mixture becomes finely combined, and is the texture of breadcrumbs. Then add the sugar and mix in thoroughly.

Peel and core the apples, and slice them thinly. Cook in a tiny splash of water for about 10-15 minutes, until they’re soft. Add some sugar if you need to sweeten it a little, but not too much – the crumble topping will add its own sweetness. Then add the cloves and cinnamon.

Lightly grease a dish and put in the apple mixture, then top with crumble – there should be a good inch or two (5cm for the metrically minded) of crumble on top. Bake in a moderate oven, gas mark 4 (180C, 350F) for 30 minutes, then whack up the heat to gas mark 7 (220C, 425F)  for the last 10 minutes to brown the top. Serve with cream, icecream or just on its own. Delicious. 

Alternative fillings:
Rhubarb: you’ll need four sticks of rhubarb, a teaspoon of ground ginger and a couple of dessertspoons of caster sugar. Simply chop the rhubarb roughly and put it in a pan with the sugar and ginger, then cook over a medium heat for about 10-15 minutes until the rhubarb has fallen apart a little, but not completely. Stir once or twice during cooking to make sure it doesn’t stick on the bottom of the pan.

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