• 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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Swiss chard and pine nuts

I’m reliably informed that this is how Romans used to eat their leafy greens, but I wouldn’t like to vouch for that… You can use spinach or New Zealand spinach instead of the chard, too. The sweetness of the sultanas and the crunchiness of the pine nuts really sets off the chard beautifully.

2oz (55g) sultanas
2lbs (900g) swiss chard
2oz (55g) unsalted butter
2 tbsps olive oil
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
2oz (55g) pine nuts

Put the sultanas in a bowl with some warm water and leave to soak for about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, wash and trim the chard, and separate the leaves from the stems. Put the lot in a large saucepan and cook gently for about 10 minutes – you won’t need any extra water as there will be plenty in the leaves from washing them. Take off the heat, drain and pat dry with a teatowel.

Melt the butter in a pan with the oil, add the garlic and pine nuts, and fry for five minutes. Finally, add the chard and sultanas, tossing it all with a couple of forks so everything gets well covered in butter and oil. Salt to taste, and finally heat it all through for a couple of minutes, tossing gently with your forks while it’s doing so, and serve.


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