• 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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Scrunched-up paper pie

Yeah, well, the name was made up by two small children, but it did look just like it was made of paper so I can see where they’re coming from. I love filo pastry – you just buy it ready-made and your bog-standard food instantly turns into cordon bleu cuisine. Magic.

about 8 sheets filo pastry

olive oil

2 medium parsnips, peeled and cut into large chunks

1/2 swede, peeled and cut into large chunks

1 onion, chopped

6oz (170g) mushrooms, wiped and chopped

8oz (225g) ham, roughly chopped

3 eggs

1 tbsp flour

1oz (30g) butter

3 1/2oz (100g) feta cheese

Preheat the oven to gas mark 4 (180C, 350F).

Steam the parsnip and swede chunks until cooked – about 15-20 minutes. While they’re cooking, heat some olive oil in a frying pan and cook the onions until soft – about 5 minutes. Then add the mushrooms and cook for a further five minutes.

Meanwhile, beat the eggs and mix in the flour. Add the butter and feta cheese, and mash with a fork until you have a creamy mixture about the texture of mashed potato. Add salt and pepper.

Put the root veg and the onion/mushroom mix in a bowl together, and add the ham. Stir it all up well, then add in the egg-and-cheese mixture. Give it a good swish round and make sure everything’s well mixed up.

Then find yourself a deep-ish pie dish and a pastry brush, and brush the dish lightly with olive oil. Lay the sheets of pastry one at a time so that about a third of each sheet is draped over the outside of the dish – the rest of the sheet should lie across the bottom of the pie dish. Lightly brush each sheet with olive oil as you go so that they stick to each other. When you have the dish lined, with plenty of pastry falling over the edges to the outside, fill with the veg, ham and eggs mix and smooth flat.

Finally, fold the ends of the filo pastry back over the top of the mix and again, brush olive oil lightly over each sheet before folding the next so that they stick together. They should more or less meet in the middle (don’t worry if they overlap, or if there’s a bit of a gap).

Then get one last sheet of filo pastry and cut it into strips about 1″ (2cm) wide. Scrunch them up into balls and pop them in a line down the middle of the pie, then brush them very lightly with oil.  Bake in the oven for about 30 minutes or until the top of the pie is a nice honey brown colour. Keep an eye on it in the last few minutes to make sure the top doesn’t catch. Serve with a nice crunchy green leafy veg.


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