what's in season: december

winter cherry tomatoes!
How did it get so late so soon?
Its night before its afternoon.
December is here before its June.
My goodness how the time has flewn.
How did it get so late so soon?

Dr Seuss, 1904-1991

You may be wondering why I am illustrating this seasonal December post with a photograph of cherry tomatoes. What have tomatoes got to do with December in England? Nothing usually. However, I found these tiny little tomatoes when I was clearing away some garden debris destined for the compost heap. As I saw the flashes of red through the mound of branches and leaves, I thought they might be some kind of berry and decided to pull them out to feed the birds. Except they turned out to be cherry tomatoes. I didn’t even know I was growing these cherry tomatoes, which I managed to save from the first frosts of winter. I love these kinds of surprises, especially in the dying days of November.

It has been another mild year and a very wet one too, though we have had our first frost in London. As usual, as the weather gets colder and damper, I crave winter warming soups, packed with flavour such as celeriac and Stilton, a rich mushroom, Jerusalem artichoke or spicy parsnip soup. A beef and ale stew is always welcome with lashings of winter vegetables, whether mashed potato and lashings of buttered greens, or a monster mash of swede and carrots.

So think of tasty stews and casseroles, delicious roasts and divine vegetables, from root vegetables such as parsnips and swede to leafy greens such as Brussels sprouts and celeriac, not forgetting my favourite, "king of all cabbages" - the glorious Savoy.

Of course, we will also be gearing up for the festive season, so it’s time to think of party food and nibbles, though I tend to go for tapas or mezze. I also love my chorizo and nutella crostini and anything on a stick – honey mustard sausages and cherry tomatoes stuffed with pesto and mozzarella (in suitably festive colours!) Or what about fabulous beef and beetroot patties, mini burger sliders or smoked salmon
pâté on little biscuits.?

You may want to think about how to deal with Christmas leftovers, and while I am not very fond of turkey, a brilliant way of using up the carcass and leftover roast imeat is making a fabulously spicy Thai tom yum soup with a chilli sauce – nam prik pao.

There are also lots of lovely things to bake this month – mince pies (especially if you have made your own mincemeat), as well as yeasted dough cakes such as stollen.

I shall also be breaking out the damson gin - cheers!

vegetables, herbs and wild greens:
artichokes (Jerusalem), beetroot, broccoli (purple sprouting), Brussels sprouts, Brussels tops, cabbages (various green varieties, red and white), cardoons, carrots, cauliflower, celeriac, celery, chard, chicory, endive, greens (spring and winter), kale, leeks, onions, parsnips, potatoes, pumpkins (and squashes), swede, turnips

fruit and nuts:
apples, chestnuts, hazelnuts, pears, rhubarb (forced)

meat and game:
beef, chicken, duck (wild), goose (farmed and wild), grouse, hare, mallard, mutton, partridge, pheasant, pork, turkey, venison, wood pigeon

fish and shellfish:
cod, crab (brown and hen), hake, herring, mussels, oysters (native and rock), sea bass, shrimp, sprats, whiting


Karen S Booth said...

I love your seasonal posts Rachel and I notice my neighbour has some cherry tomatoes just clinging on still! Inspiring and very festive, lovely post! Karen

Janice said...

Lots of lovely ideas here for the festive season.

Marmaduke Scarlet said...

Karen thank you so much. I really appreciate the compliment. I have to say the tomatoes on a white background for some reason made me think of Father Christmas or maybe Ruldolph's nose!

Marmaduke Scarlet said...

Janice, thank you and I do hope so. And while December for us is all about Christmas, I hope it shows that seasonal fruit and veg in December doesn't have to be boring. Although part of me has to confess that I can't wait for spring!