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Sat 27/01/2018
First market of 2018MORE

Sat 03/02/2018

What's in season?
What's in Season

Food writer, Mary Gwynn's January

Make it local – a new year’s resolution to keep through the year

New Year is here and it’s time for a few resolutions. To my mind, the secret to staying the course is to take something up rather than the opposite – be positive rather than negative. And if your commitment is to something as rewarding as a regular trip to your local market then it should be easy to stick with it all year through. With some planning and research, you’ll eat more healthily, food will taste better and you’ll save money by shopping locally with the seasons. Add to your feel-good factor the support you will be giving local businesses and producers and the whole thing makes perfect sense.

After the excesses of the Christmas period, budgets are tight and healthier menus are on everyone’s minds. So it’s time to go minimal in the kitchen and enjoy simple clean dishes that satisfy the senses. The brassica family neatly fits the bill. Kale, Savoy cabbage, sprouts and spring greens are all full of flavour now and don’t need to be boiled to death. Quite the opposite as they work perfectly in stir fries, hearty soups and curries, or just serve them simply shredded and steamed tossed with a little seasoning and a dash of cold pressed rapeseed oil. Mark Twain called cauliflower ‘cabbage with a college education’ and it certainly is a vegetable that deserves more than just a cheesy sauce. Try it in soups, fritters, or steamed then tossed in pan with olive oil, chopped anchovies and garlic with some chilli for a quick pasta sauce. Main crop potatoes, Jerusalem artichokes, parsnips, celeriac, swede and turnips provide the starch that keeps us going in the cold so mash them together, season well and serve with slow cooked meat dishes.

Fish fits perfectly into a healthier diet. Lemon sole, halibut, skate and turbot are all good now when the seas are cold. – try them simply cooked on a griddle with a little oil to prevent sticking and finish with a squeeze of lemon juice. Then sit back and appreciate great fish at its very best. Venison is plentiful and, with its lean flesh and high mineral content, is marvelous for those watching waistlines. Game merchants are increasingly specifying which breed of deer they are selling and as with beef, it helps to know which one you are eating. Fallow, roe, red deer or muntjac, all have their own particular characteristics. The feathered game season comes to a close around the end of the month so now is a good time to use wild duck or pheasant in a casserole or pie.

Early forced rhubarb is starting to appear – grown without light its bright pink colour, and delicate tender stems need less sugar and are wonderful in traditional crumbles, compotes and pies, it also goes well with rich flavoured meat and fish so serve a rhubarb sauce with grilled mackerel or spice it up with Chinese five spice and serve with slow cooked belly pork.

What's Cookin'

Order Mary's latest book, commissioned especially to celebrate the centenary of the WI.
WI Cookbook

celebrate the centenary of the WI
celebrate the centenary of the WI
celebrate the centenary of the WI
celebrate the centenary of the WI
celebrate the centenary of the WI

Read more from Mary Gwynn at:

Why buy seasonal food?