The time is ripe: Skye Gyngell reveals how to cook with the freshest English produce in the simplest ways

From tomatoes and lovage grown in the garden to salmon plucked from the river...

Clams with peas and fino sherry

Serves 4

Ham hock and flageolet bean soup

Serves 4-6

JD warns of more trouble in store for the high street

JD Sports Fashion added to the anxiety of retailers yesterday, warning it was "extremely cautious" about its outlook for the sector, despite posting a sharp jump in annual profits to nearly £80m.

Chilli: C'mon baby, light my fire

Spicing our food with chilli has become as British as salt and pepper. But what does our obsession with heat reveal about the national psyche? And can we ever get enough? Christopher Hirst feels the burn

Fennel, radish, pea and mozzarella salad

Serves 4

White bulb moment: Skye Gyngell cooks with fennel

Perfectly in season and versatile enough to roast or eat raw – it's no wonder fennel is finding its way into almost everything Skye feels like eating right now

Top tuber: Skye Gyngell cooks with Jerusalem artichoke

Whoever named Jerusalem artichokes was taking the rest of us for a ride – but you don't have to be in on the gag to enjoy their nutty sweetness, says Skye Gyngell

Are elephants scared of spice?

When the big mammals are crushing crops and violating villages, there’s only one humane way to get rid of them. Sue Corfield looks at the chilli’s role as a security pepper

Last Night's TV: The Spice Trail/ITV1<br />MasterChef/BBC1

I'm a bit in love with Kate Humble. More than a bit, in fact. She's just so... lovely- seeming. And so clever. And so good at what she does. Were she at school – instead, that is, of being on television – she would be head girl. Head girl of the BBC2 Academy for Gifted Pupils. Stephen Fry would be headmaster, of course. And Paxo the swot. Jeremy Clarkson, needless to say, would never have made it in.

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Nutmeg was once thought to cure the plague &ndash; but for European explorers, the journey to its source in Indonesia's Banda Islands was perilous. Today this remote archipelago is as intriguing as ever
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