• 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.

The darling buds of May

Domestic goddess rating: 0% (it’s my birthday ūüėÄ so a day off goddess-dom today) Five-a-day: 5/5 Food miles: none

On the menu: bacon sandwich, greek yoghurt and honey (all-Sally’s-favourite-things breakfast); half a tuna sandwich (post-breakfast recovery lunch); fillet steak, asparagus and pommes nicoise (very posh birthday tea from hubby – who’s a lucky girl then)

What a great day – just kicked back and took it easy. And my first asparagus of the year, too. It doesn’t get much better than this!

So – here we are then. I feel like I’m emerging out of a long dark tunnel into the light – summer is just around the corner and there’s a hint – just a hint – that such undreamt of gorgeousness as fresh peas and beans might be on the way, too.

We’re still not quite clear of the hungry gap – but we’ve crossed the worst bit and are in reach of the other side. It hasn’t been quite as bad as I feared: I developed a bit of a thing about cabbage (am now a true connoisseur – can now tell a savoy from a cavolo nero at a hundred paces), and the advent of purple sprouting broccoli and chard really meant it wasn’t that long an endurance test after all.

As I’ve said before, apples are sorely missed – dried ones just aren’t the same – and I’ve also slipped a bit over the issue of cucumbers. Both are down to Princess the Younger’s very particular tastes: she does like a bit of cucumber in her sandwiches, and I can’t always fob her off with salad leaves. But since my salad patch is excelling itself at the moment (of which more later) I might have more luck this month. We’ll see!

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Fruity fantasies

Domestic goddess rating: 50% (didn’t cook much but froze in swimming pool for an hour and a half so goddess¬†qualities still intact) Five-a-day: 4/5 Food miles:¬†none

On the menu: porridge and juice (fortifying breakfast for day spent writing against crazy deadline); cornish pasty (lunch at desk); baked potatoes, salad from the garden, and ham (supper)

On the whole I’ve been finding this seasonal eating malarky a breeze. You get to eat all sorts of interesting things, cooking has never been so much fun, and every meal is a surprise discovery.

The only sticking point so far¬†has been¬†fruit. What do¬†you do when there are no apples, no pears,¬†and not even a berry to sink your teeth into?¬†Rhubarb is delicious, admittedly, but a) you can’t munch on a stick of rhubarb on getting home from school and b) it takes a 15-minute drive to the farm shop to find any that’s not from Holland.

Princess the Younger, who is a bit of a fruit bat, has been howling for apples for¬†weeks now. Can you believe it – I’ve been refusing healthy snacks to a five-year-old. It’s the only thing we’ve really, really missed. And I mean really¬†missed. Whatever are we going to do until August?

Feeling crumbly

Domestic goddess rating: 20% (reflected glory from the pate at lunch, otherwise I took it easy today) Five-a-day: 4/5 Food miles: about 10

On the menu: Muesli¬†&¬†juice (breakfast);¬†country pate, toast and watercress (lunch); roast pork, mixed sprout tops and carrots (we really like this mix ’em up thing), roast potatoes, and apple crumble¬†(supper)

Crumble has to be one of my all-time favourite puddings. My grandma taught me to make it, and it’s one of the only dishes I can make without looking at a recipe first, so I’m kind of proud of my crumbling talents. I find classic apple crumble is best: but you can mix the apples with bananas (though you’ll pile on the food miles)¬†or¬†blackberries for more variety. Blackcurrant crumble works well too – but we’ve found you can’t mix blackcurrants with anything that’s not very sweet, so they don’t work with, say, apples.

Crumble is also easy to make from frozen supplies – we have four apple trees at the end of the garden and always freeze pack after pack of chopped apples every autumn (I have yet to master storing them… though I had a good try a couple of years back). We also still have several cartons of frozen blackcurrants in the freezer left over from summer, so I may have to remind myself of warmer times soon and dig them out too. Mmmm-hmmm – makes my mouth water just thinking about it.