what's in season: november

borage (or starflower)
It isn't very seasonal (since it's origins are Mediterranean) but my garden is awash with borage at the moment, that beautiful blue flower of which John Gerard, the sixteenth century botanist and herbalist wrote:

The leaves and floures of Borrage put into wine make men and women glad and merry, driving away all sadnesse, dulnesse, and melancholy, as Dioscorides and Pliny affirme. Syrrup made of the floures of Borrage comforteth the heart, purgeth melancholy, and quieteth the phrenticke or lunaticke person.
The Herball, or General Historie of Plantes (1597)

I might not be a frenetic or lunatic sort of person but I have to confess that 2013 has been a year when I could do with something to comfort my heart and purge melancholy. But enough of my self-pity; at least there is good food and the sky hasn't quite fallen in on my head!

Sadly, my favourite tender vegetable crops are disappearing as the first frosts appear in November, but it is not all doom and gloom. This is a good month for hardier vegetables such as cabbage, cauliflower, carrots, leeks, parsnips, potatoes and sprouts as well as traditional British fruits such as apples and pears. And keep an eye out for my favourite quinces. Not only do they taste good (in cakes and crumbles or as an accompaniment to game, lamb and pork), but uncooked, their fragrance will actually imbue your house with enticing fruit aromas.

Now is the time to start searching out game, the season of which is now in full swing. Actually sourcing game should actually be easier for us city dwellers, since supermarkets such as Budgens and Marks+Spencers have started selling it; (as a result of a change in the law. Hurrah!) Although while I may be looking for partridge, pheasant and pigeon, I think I may have to draw a line at squirrel! Remember that wild game in particular is low in fat and high in protein. If you're feeling squeamish about fluffy animals being killed in the wild, well in many cases, for example with herds of deer, the herd needs to be kept to a particular size to maintain the health of all the deer. It's a case of culling to be kind. So why not benefit for this, rather than letting it go to waste? Besides, it tastes good too.

This is the time of year that I start making my favourite winter warming soups - mushroomceleriac and blue cheese, and pumpkin. A hearty beef and ale stew or a soothing but spicy curry won't go amiss either.

And before I forget, the last Sunday before Advent is "Stir-up Sunday" - the traditional time to make your Christmas mincemeat, pudding and Christmas cake. This year, it is on 24th November and there is a good mincemeat recipe from 2011 or one from 2012. . 

vegetables, herbs and wild greens:
artichokes (globe), artichokes (Jerusalem)beetroot, borlotti beans (for podding), broccoli (calabrese), Brussels sprouts, Brussels tops, cabbages (various green varieties, red and white), cardoons, carrots, cauliflowerceleriac, celery, chard, chicory, endive, greens (spring and winter), leeks, lettuce, nettles, onions, oyster mushrooms, parsnips, potatoes, pumpkins (and squashes), salsify, swede, turnips, watercress, wood blewits

fruit and nuts:
apples, chestnuts, cranberries, hazelnuts, medlars, pears, quinces, raspberries, rosehips, sloes, walnuts

meat and game:
beefchicken, goose (wild), grouse, hare, mallard, mutton, partridge, pheasant, pork, rabbit, turkey, wood pigeon

fish and shellfish:

cockles, cod, crab (brown and hen), hake, herring, lobster, mackerel, mussels, oysters (native and rock), prawns, scallops, sea bass, shrimp, sprats, squid, whiting

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