• 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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Root veg casserole

A really hearty winter stew.

3tbsps oil

140g sliced leeks

450g mixed winter veg, cut up into biggish chunks – I used swede, turnip and parsnip but you can mix up just about anything that’s in season

150ml medium dry cider

1 tin black-eye beans

2 cloves garlic

1 bay leaf

1tsp dried mixed herbs

1 tin tomatoes

2tsps cornflour

Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 4 (180C, 350F) if you’re cooking this right away, though this is another dish you can do on the oven timer.

Heat the oil and fry the onions and diced vegetables gently for about 10 minutes until they’re softened and a little brown around the edges.

Add the beans, cider, tomatoes, garlic and herbs, mix well and bring to the boil. Meanwhile dissolve the cornflour in 2 tbsps cold water. Add the cornflour mix to the casserole, season with salt and pepper, and stir well.

Put the lid on and bake in the oven for 1 hour. Serve with piping hot mashed or baked maincrop potatoes. 


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