• 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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Tuscan kale and bean stew

A hearty, vegetarian stew that tastes far better than it looks!

1 lb (500g) cavolo nero (black kale), or you can use green kale, savoy cabbage, or even chard

3 tbsp olive oil

1 leek, sliced

1 tsp tomato purée

1lb (500g) potatoes, roughly diced

2 bay leaves

4 sprigs fresh thyme, or 1/2 tsp dried thyme

1 1/2 pts (800ml) stock

salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat the olive oil in a heavy-based pan and cook the leek gently for about 10 minutes, until soft. While that’s cooking, roughly shred the cavolo nero and dice up the potatoes. Then add them to the leeks along with the tomato purée, bay leaves and thyme. Add the stock and simmer, covered, for half an hour until the vegetables are tender.

Add the beans to the mixture and stir well, then season: this needs more salt than you think, so taste it to make sure it’s right, and grind over plenty of pepper, too. Cook for a further five minutes and serve with rice or fresh, crusty bread to mop up the juices.


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