• 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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Rhubarb cake

This is lovely served hot as a pudding, or cold as a yummy teatime cake.

3oz (75g) unsalted butter

9oz (250g) light brown soft sugar

10 fl oz (284ml) soured cream

2 medium eggs

3 tsps ground ginger

11oz (300g) self-raising flour

14oz (400g) rhubarb, with the leaves removed and the bottoms trimmed, then cut into chunks

100g caster sugar

Preheat the oven to gas mark 4 (180C).

Grease a round cake tin and line the base with greaseproof paper.

In a food mixer, cream the butter and sugar together. If it looks a bit dry, use a bit of the soured cream and beat again until it’s nice and smooth.

Beat in the remaining cream and the eggs, along with 2 tsps of the ginger. Remove from the food mixer and tip into a large bowl. Gently fold in the flour.

Now tip the whole thing into the cake tin and smooth over the top. Scatter the rhubarb chunks all over the top of the cake – they’ll cover it completely.

Bake for 1 1/2 hours – you can test whether the cake is done by sticking a skewer into the middle. If it comes out with cake mixture still sticking to it, the cake needs another ten minutes or so.

Leave the cake to cool in the tin for ten minutes, then get the tin off and transfer the cake to a cake rack to cool (this can be a bit tricky as with the rhubarb on top you can’t turn it upside down: just work the cake tin off as best you can). Once it’s not too hot to handle, you can lift it up and work off the greaseproof paper, too.

You can serve it just like this, but to make it really posh, make a glaze for the top, too. Gently heat the caster sugar with 3 fl oz (90ml) cold water and the remaining ginger, until the sugar has dissolved. Then bring to the boil and cook for five minutes – it’ll turn into a golden brown syrup. Simply spoon it over the top of the cake and let it cool.


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