• 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.

Leek and bacon pasta bake

The one, the only, original recipe I have ever made up.

1 tbsp olive oil

2 leeks, cleaned and sliced

4oz (110g) smoked back bacon, rinded and chopped

small can or jar of black pitted olives

8oz (220g) pasta

2oz (55g) cheddar cheese

1oz (30g) mozzarella cheese (or you can just put 3oz (85g) cheddar or mozzarella if you prefer)

for the roux:

1 1/2 oz (40g) butter

1 oz (30g) flour

3/4 pt (15ml) milk

salt and pepper to taste

Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 4 (180C, 350F).

Put on a large pan of water and bring it to the boil. Cook the pasta for a little over 10 minutes until it’s just cooked. Drain and keep warm. 

While that’s cooking, heat the olive oil in a frying pan and fry the leeks and bacon gently for about 10 minutes until soft.

To make the roux, melt the butter in a small saucepan and then stir in the flour, mixing thoroughly until it’s smoothly blended. Then over a low heat, gradually add the milk a little at a time, stirring continuously so that you don’t get any lumps. Wait until it thickens up again before adding any more milk. When all the milk is in, keep stirring until it just starts to bubble: by this stage it shouldn’t be too thick, about the consistency of double cream (if it’s too thick, add more milk). Add some salt and a grind or two of pepper to taste.

Combine the pasta and the leek and bacon mixture in a baking dish, and slice the olives into it. Then pour over the roux, stir well and season to taste. Grate the cheese over the top, pop it in the oven and bake for about half an hour or until the cheese is brown and bubbling. Serve with a green salad or leafy veg.

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