Tuesday, April 8, 2014
spring has sprung!
My oldest sister was born on April Fool’s Day so we were all well versed in silly trickery and jokes on her special day, not particularly at her, but at us all. Coming from a family with endless siblings, we entertained ourselves well and constantly with pranks and jokes abundantly present at most times. The boys were the worst. Whether a brother, cousin or uncle, they had a tendency toward the gross fetes with a wicked twinkle emanating from the eyes and flowing outward. A frog down the back of a tee shirt or rubber snake shenanigans…. The girls expressed sweeter mischievousness in the forms of hiding a favored bra or locking the bedroom window so you couldn’t crawl back in come dawn. Even so we always loved the beginning of April. Walking the hood most evenings with my mom, we love looking at all the Easter yards overflowing with pastel colored flowering trees and bulbs. Pink camellias, tulips, lilac scented breezes and the promise of the pool opening soon, spring is hard core here with summer just around the corner. Since we are in a drought officially in California water conservation is a big topic. Nonetheless it is still a good idea to get that summer garden in along with an efficient drip system to keep it going. Relaxing as it is to stand outside come dusk and check out your babies while watering them with a garden hose, it uses a lot more water than is needed. As I sit here penning this missive on March 14, the gardener guy on PBS is telling me it is ok to put my tomatoes in. Seems early but these are strange weather days indeed. Farmer’s market tables are literally bowing under luscious piles of asparagus, leeks, spring garlic, potatoes, amazingly sweet, oh so dainty spring onions and so much more. We are picking greens from our gardens and sautéing them with the garlic or adding them to protein shakes like there is no tomorrow. After a long winter of broccoli and cauliflower, moving into asparagus season is almost illegal in the pleasure gained from a simple steam and crack of sea salt or sizzled on a hot grill drizzled with lemon oil. Carrots are crazy in season now as well. In conversations where carrots are mentioned, visions of those bizarre orange baby thumbs prolific in the grocery likely come up. Not a good representation of this amazing taproot family boasting parsley, fennel, dill and cumin among kin. Gently excavating your home grown carrot from loamy earth, devouring warm from the sun can be a religious experience. Next best is purchasing at your farmers’ markets with perky chartreuse fringe intact plainly displaying degree of freshness. Recognizably comfortable orange inside and out, carrots also come in purple, white, yellow and red with shades bordering on fluorescent dazzling eyes as well as sweetly captivating tongues. Reunite relatives by slicing carrots thin, tossing with toasted, ground cumin seed, olive oil and lemon completed by showering with finely chopped parsley and crumbled feta. Jazz up crudités by grilling slices of variously hued carrots, spring onions, asparagus and peas napped with tarragon and chive vinaigrette or a yummy homemade hummus dip. Have I mentioned carrot cake frosted with honey-vanilla cream cheese icing? Perfectly healthy treat! The local hills have all greened up with wildflowers abundant and showy along the trails and in the canyons beckoning road weary travelers to enjoy the magnificence and peace our ridges have to offer in the simple joy of a walk. Happy Spring! Carrot Ginger Soup 5 carrots, chopped 1 onion, chopped 1 clove garlic, chopped 2 tablespoons olive oil 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, chopped 4 cups stock 2 tablespoons rice vinegar ½ cup crème fraiche Salt and pepper to taste Sauté carrots, onion and garlic in olive oil in tall soup pot for 5 minutes. Add stock and vinegar and simmer until carrots are tender. Puree and season with salt and pepper. Garnish w/ crème fraiche. Makes 6 cups.