The Circus Gardener's Kitchen

seasonal vegetarian cooking with a side helping of food politics

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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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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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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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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