• 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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Leek and potato soup

I have to acknowledge a debt here, as this recipe has been adapted and embellished over the years from the original by the wonderful and ever reliable Delia Smith. It makes a good panful – enough to feed four adults generously. If you want to freeze some too, double the quantities.

4 large leeks, well washed and sliced

4 medium potatoes, diced

50g (2oz) butter

850ml (1 1/2 pts) chicken or vegetable stock

275ml (10fl oz) milk

salt and plenty of black pepper

Melt the butter in a saucepan and add the leeks and potatoes. Season well with salt and plenty of freshly-ground black pepper. Stir thoroughly to make sure the vegetables are well coated with butter, then cover the pan and sweat the vegetables over a gentle heat for about 15 minutes.

Add the stock and the milk and bring up to simmering point. Put the lid back on and cook on a gentle heat for another 20 minutes – it should be just blupping, not boiling, at this point, so keep an eye on it to make sure it doesn’t overheat. Allow to cool a little, then whizz roughly in a blender to soup consistency. 

Return to the saucepan just before serving and heat through. Swirl in a splash of cream and sprinkle with chopped chives before serving.   

If you want to add bacon to this, fry it up at the same time as the potatoes and leeks – you’ll need about 150g (6oz). 


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