The Circus Gardener's Kitchen

seasonal vegetarian cooking with a side helping of food politics

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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winter squash and bean chilli with guacamole

Cargill may not mean a great deal to most of us. But it should. Just as Monsanto has a growing stranglehold over the seeds and chemicals used for growing our food, so Cargill looms large at the other end of the global food business conveyor belt. As the company boasted in a corporate brochure a few years back: ‘We are the flour in your bread, the wheat in your noodles, […]

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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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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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spicy cauliflower samosas

One of the many problems of the 365 day, out-of-season provision of fruit and vegetables by our supermarkets is that it has led to many of us losing our understanding and appreciation of truly seasonal produce. The result is that we have lots of bland and inferior produce flown from halfway across the world to sate our apparent demand for courgettes in March or green beans in December instead of […]

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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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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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