• 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.

Cauliflower goulash

A bit of a mish-mash this one, as it uses far more veggies than a goulash normally would – but it works, trust me.

1 1/2 lb (750g) chuck steak, cut into large chunks

1 tbsp olive oil

2 small onions, or one large

1 clove garlic, finely chopped

1 tbsp plain flour

1 level dessertspoonful paprika (more if you like things spicy)

1 14oz (400g) tin tomatoes

10 fl oz (275ml) hot water mixed with 1 tsp tomato puree

half a medium cauliflower, broken up into sprigs

8oz (225g) potatoes

8oz (225g) swede

salt and pepper

5 fl oz (150ml) soured cream

Preheat the oven to gas mark 1 (140C, 275F).

Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed casserole until it’s very hot, and cook the cubes of chuck steak until they’re nicely browned on all sides. Remove with a slotted spoon and transfer to a bowl.

Turn down the heat a bit and cook the onions for about 5 minutes until softened. Add the garlic, and return the meat to the casserole.

Now stir in the flour and paprika and give everything a good stir. Cook for a minute or so, then stir in the tin of tomatoes and the water/tomato puree mix. Bring it up to simmering point, stirring at the same time, and then add the veg. Season with salt and pepper, and cover with a tight-fitting lid before transferring it to the oven. Cook for 2 1/2 hours, by which time the meat should be lovely and tender and the vegetables are infused with its juices. 

Just before serving, stir in the soured cream so it makes a swirl on the top and serve with rice. 

 

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