• 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.

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Lancashire hotpot

This is a real traditional winter warmer, and uses up lots of maincrop potatoes!

 900g (2lb) neck or shoulder of lamb, chopped into bite-sized pieces

olive oil

350g (12oz) onions, chopped roughly

a knob of butter

1 tbsp flour

570ml (1 pt) hot water mixed with 1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce

1 bay leaf

1/2 tsp dried thyme

900g (2lbs) potatoes, sliced (not too thinly)

salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to gas mark 3 (170C, 325F)

Heat the oil in a frying pan and brown the lamb chunks a few at a time. Remove them and put them in a thick-bottomed casserole dish.

Melt the knob of butter in the same pan, and fry the onions for 10 minutes until they’re starting to brown at the edges (you’ll find the meat’s juices turn them a bit brown too). Then stir in the flour until thoroughly mixed in, and add the hot water and Worcestershire sauce gradually, stirring so that it forms a smooth sauce. Season with salt and pepper and cook over the heat until it starts simmering.

Pour the onions and liquid over the meat in the casserole dish, add the bay leaf and thyme, and then arrange the potato slices on top in overlapping layers. Season them with salt and pepper.

Cover with a lid, then cook for 2 hours. Remove the lid after an hour to make sure the potatoes go really brown and crisp on top. If you can’t get them to brown well enough, dot them with butter and finish off under a hot grill. Or just whack the oven up to gas mark 7 (220C, 425F) for the last 15 minutes’ cooking time.


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