The Circus Gardener's Kitchen

seasonal vegetarian recipes with a side helping of food politics

vegetarian

apple kringle

It is the fruit that inspired one of Britain’s greatest ever scientists, Isaac Newton, to formulate his “theory of gravitation”, and many of us would regard the apple as a quintessentially British fruit. A generation or two back it truly was, but over the past 40 years nearly two thirds of all UK apple orchards have been lost, and more and more traditional varieties of this fruit face extinction. Nowadays […]

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chard and Parmesan tart

Is it right – morally, never mind environmentally – that we fill our shopping trollies with asparagus from Peru or Mexico, green beans from Senegal or Kenya, mangetout from Zimbabwe and peas from Guatemala, when we know that these are countries that face problems of food shortages and poverty? Farms in these countries holding contracts with UK companies are high tech, commercialised operations that are required to produce food to […]

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pear with hazelnut and cinnamon crumble

In a few days time the European Parliament is expected to vote to accept proposals for reform of the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), which accounts for a staggering 40% of the EU’s entire annual budget. Amongst the many problems with the CAP is that for many years it has been, in effect, subsidising environmentally harmful activities such as intensive farming, chemical pollution and the draining of wetlands. By taxing […]

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artichoke and taleggio pizza fritta

This winter the Red Cross will begin to distribute food parcels to the poor in Britain for the first time since end of the Second World War. The number of food banks in Britain, and the demands placed upon them have escalated in the past couple of years as families struggle with the effects of benefit cuts, food and fuel inflation and wage cuts. Before the austerity programme of the […]

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leek, mushroom and tarragon filo tartlets

The French philosopher Pierre-Joseph Proudhon once famously declared, “all property is theft”. In the case of land ownership in the UK there is a substantial amount of truth in that proclamation. The concept of private land ownership in the UK can be traced back to the 13th century when King Henry III legalised the appropriation by the nobility of open fields, pastureland and other areas that previously had been deemed […]

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plum and cobnut frangipane tart

I went to Rome for the first time a few years ago, a beautiful city, vibrant, cultured and steeped in history. Of the many fond memories of my stay there, one is of walking along streets lined with lemon trees. It has got me into wondering why our streets here in the UK aren’t similarly lined with fruit trees. Apart from anything else it could provide a ready and free […]

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stuffed arancini with smoky tomato sauce

Around three quarters of the tomatoes that we consume in the UK are imported, mostly from Spain, Saudi Arabia and Morocco. Two years ago, an investigation by The Guardian newspaper revealed that migrant African workers picking Spanish tomatoes for export were being paid less than half the legal minimum wage and were living in atrocious conditions. The tomato pickers were not only charged “rent” for living in appalling squalor, they […]

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courgette, aubergine and tomato tart

With a demanding job and a lovely but large and sometimes noisy household, I really treasure the time I get to spend immersed in the tranquility of my allotment plot, the Circus Garden, a special place where I can de-stress and unwind. The gentle pace demanded of a simple task like weeding turns it into an almost meditative act on a warm afternoon. Sometimes while I am there in the […]

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gooseberry crumble and elderflower caramel ice cream

After two months writing this blog I’ve decided it’s time that I featured a recipe for a dessert, and I’m basing this one on a traditional allotment stalwart. Is there a fruit more quintessentially British than the gooseberry? It is perfectly suited to our temperate climate and, just a few generations back was so revered that “gooseberry shows” proliferated across the Midlands and North of England. But then the supermarkets […]

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potato, spinach and broad bean frittata

To me, there’s always a profound thrill in harvesting the first crop of potatoes on my allotment plot, the Circus Garden. You can never be sure what’s down there. It’s like digging for buried treasure. This year I’m growing eight different varieties of potato. That may sound somewhat excessive, and if I’m honest perhaps I did slightly overindulge myself at January’s National Potato Day at Garden Organic’s Ryton Gardens (these […]

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