• 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.

Beef casserole

Lovely warming beef stew that’ll only set you back a fiver – shin of beef is a really cheap cut of meat yet tastes absolutely delicious slow-cooked like this.

1lb (450g) shin of beef

1 tbsp olive oil

2 onions

2 small parsnips

small swede

2 bay leaves

seasoned plain flour (about 2 tbsps flour mixed with a grate or two of pepper and a sprinkling of sea salt)

1 glass red wine

1 beef stock cube

Cut the beef into large chunks and coat in the seasoned flour. Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed casserole dish and fry the beef in it on quite a high heat until it’s browned on all sides.

Remove from the casserole and keep warm. Peel the onions and cut them in half, and then cut each half into quarters. Fry in the remaining oil in the casserole for about 5-10 minutes until softened. While you’re doing that, peel and roughly chop the parsnips and swede.

Put the beef back in the casserole, pour in the glass of wine and heat to boiling point. Cook at a fast boil for five minutes. Then turn the heat down and put in the vegetables, add the bayleaves and top it up with water until the ingredients are just covered. Crumble the stock cube over the top and stir to mix in.

Put a foil cover over the casserole, and then put a close-fitting lid on top of that. Put it in a slow oven for three hours on gas mark 1 (130C, 265F) – this is a great one for putting together in the morning and popping in the oven (or slow-cooker) on a timer. Serve with steamy baked potatoes or mash and some leafy green veg. 

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