• 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.

Country paté

If you’ve got the time (and the pork) to do this, it’s really, really worth it. The sense of achievement is second to none – and so is the paté.

Quantities given are typical if you’ve just bought a whole pig to put in the freezer, like we did. Otherwise, just reduce all quantities accordingly.

Makes about 10 containers’ worth (about 7.5cm x 17.5cm – 3″x7″) of paté. It freezes well.

7 tablespoons butter

7 onions, chopped

about 2.3kg (5lbs) pork meat

1.6kg (3 1/2 lbs) pork fat

1.6 kg (3 1/2 lbs) pork liver (about one whole pig liver)

14 cloves garlic

2 1/2 tsps ground cloves

3 1/2 tsps ground allspice

2 1/2 tsps ground nutmet

14 eggs, beaten

14 tbsps brandy

salt

pepper

First, melt the butter in a pan and cook the onions gently for about 10 minutes, until they’re soft but not brown. Leave to cool.

Now for the gory bit. Take a hand mincer – you can get these in good cook shops. Go for a heavy-duty metal one, not a plastic one, or you’ll find it won’t cope. Chop the pork meat into big chunks, and do the same with the liver. Then feed the chunks through the mincer, mixing up meat and liver (if you do them separately, the pork meat will be fine but you’ll find the liver is difficult to mince, to say nothing of disgusting to look at. Mixing them up helps feed the liver through and makes the whole thing more pleasant for you!)

Now do the same thing with the pork fat. Finally, combine with the meat/liver mince as evenly as possible. If you need to divide the mixture up evenly between two bowls to cope with the quantity, now is the time to do it.

Now take the beaten eggs and add the brandy, garlic, spices and cooked onion. Pour the mixture into the minced meat and fat and stir very thoroughly to make sure it’s all well combined.

Add plenty of salt – aim to cover the surface of the mixing bowl. It’ll seem like it’s too much, but be brave. Then grind plenty of pepper over it and give it another good stir.

Heat up some oil in a pan and then take a small spoonful of the mixture and fry it up in a kind of mini-burger so it’s browned on both sides – this is so that you can taste it and make sure it’s well seasoned enough. It should be really delicious – if it’s bland, you haven’t added enough salt and/or pepper. Add some more and try again.

Once you’re happy with it, pre-heat the oven to gas mark 4 (180C, 350F) and start packing the meat mixture into your containers (we used disposable aluminium foil containers – they need to be able to go into the oven and then transfer to the freezer if you’re going to freeze a large quantity). Fill to just under the brim and smooth over the top with the back of a spoon.

Half-fill a roasting tin with water and stand the containers of  paté mixture in the water. Place in the oven and cook for about 1 1/2 hours, or until a skewer comes out of the paté clean. 

Put the containers aside to cool for an hour, then cover them loosely with foil and weight them down with something – we used tins of food from the larder! Then put them in the fridge for several hours or overnight.

The paté is best left to mellow for a day or so before eating to let the flavours really come out. It’ll then stay fresh for up to 5 days in the fridge.

You can turn it out of the container on to a plate to serve, though you may need to remove some fat from the surface. As a little variation, you can lay a couple of slices of bacon in a lattice pattern on the bottom of the containers before filling with paté mix – when you turn it out you’ll find the bacon patterns the top and makes for a nice finishing touch. 

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