The Circus Gardener's Kitchen

seasonal vegetarian recipes with a side helping of food politics

gluten free

carrot, cashew and coriander fritters

Originating from Afghanistan the carrot was originally grown for its leaves and seeds rather than for its root. Back then carrots were either purple or yellow in colour. The orange carrot didn’t appear until the 17th century, in the Netherlands, where it was bred as a tribute to William of Orange (who later became William III of England) – an early example, one might say, of politics interfering with food. […]

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Thai pumpkin and coconut soup

Pesticides have been developed specifically to help prevent our crops being attacked, so are they necessarily a bad thing? Well, yes they are. Pesticides are designed with one purpose in mind: to kill. They are poisonous. That is why there are legally prescribed “safe” levels for their human consumption. The use of pesticides in agriculture is a recent one, in relative terms, which means that, despite a growing body of […]

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golden beetroot, saffron and fennel soup

There is a very simple philosophy underpinning the organic approach to gardening – feed the soil. Plants need soil, along with sunlight and water, to synthesize the amino acids on which all we humans ultimately depend. Take away any one of these three elements and that process cannot take place. Organic growers use sources such as compost and rotted horse manure to replace nutrients and enrich the soil in which […]

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beetroot, chickpea and bean burgers

A crisis is looming. We have a world population that is rapidly approaching plague proportions and we have a finite amount of land upon which to produce enough food for that population to eat. There are some, including our current Environment Secretary Owen Paterson, who enthusiastically advocate the use of genetically modified (GM) crops to help meet this challenge. The argument is that GM crops will give us improved yields […]

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scallopini soup with garlic and mint

There’s been some good news recently for those of us concerned about the prospect of genetically modified (GM) crops entering our food chain. The global chemical giant and leading GM proponent Monsanto has announced that it is withdrawing several applications to grow genetically modified crops in the EU. These relate to genetically modified soya beans, corn and sugar beet. This decision may not necessarily be a victory for anti GM […]

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calabrese pakora

Before we start cooking I’d like to draw your attention to a recent, apparently minor, item of news that in all likelihood escaped your attention. A leading British researcher, Dr Helen Thompson has just quit her post with the government’s Food and Environment Research Agency (FERA) in order to take up a post with the global giant chemical company Syngenta. Why is this significant? Well, in a previous blog I […]

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vegetarian salade niçoise

A family friend keeps a variety of free range poultry, and the catalyst for this recipe came when she recently gave us a dozen fresh quail eggs. Aside from the eggs, maple syrup, olives, capers and lemon, the other ingredients in this dish came from my allotment plot, the Circus Garden. In getting to my kitchen they travelled just one mile in my bicycle basket. Had I instead purchased these […]

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summer fruits creme brulee

Growing and cooking in harmony with the seasons, as I am trying to do, is based upon the fundamental recognition that no crop has a year-long life cycle. Of course, a wander up and down the fruit and vegetable aisles in our local supermarkets would suggest completely the opposite. There, fruit such as strawberries, raspberries and blueberries appear to be in magical, perpetual supply, despite the reality of their relatively […]

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green chickpea hummus

Earlier this year, as an experiment, I sprouted some dried chickpeas and planted them on my allotment plot, the Circus Garden. Traditionally, chickpeas are used in Middle Eastern, Indian and North African cooking. Around three quarters of the world’s supply of this highly nutritious, protein-rich food is grown in India and Pakistan, so I didn’t harbour great hopes for my own crop here on the outskirts of Worcester in the […]

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