The Circus Gardener's Kitchen

seasonal vegetarian recipes with a side helping of food politics

Tag Archive for ‘supermarkets’

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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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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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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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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garlic, porcini and pistachio sausages

Although today has been beautifully sunny and warm, it is tomorrow that will mark the official start of summer. It will also mark the close of one of the coldest springs on record. The low temperatures throughout March, April and May have delayed early vegetable harvesting in vegetable gardens and allotment plots everywhere, including mine, the Circus Garden. So in this week’s post I am presenting another of my recipes […]

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herb and mozzarella fritters

In this blog I write about the food that I grow organically and what I cook with it. I had anticipated that by this week I might be writing about broad beans or even peas, but the vagaries of the British weather have delayed the first harvest of these early allotment vegetables. So instead I’m going to write about another group of plants that are currently doing rather well on […]

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asparagus with poached egg, mint and Parmesan

I cannot adequately convey the frisson of joy I feel when I first see asparagus shoots emerging on my allotment plot, the Circus Garden. To me it’s a signal that summer is truly on its way. And of course, you simply cannot beat the taste of freshly picked and steamed asparagus – sweet, succulent and slightly grassy. On a good day I can cut the asparagus, leap on my bike, […]

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