Spring into good eating!

Spring arrived this weekend while we were at the Highland County Maple Festival. It actually showed up precisely at 7:04am (EST) on Saturday, the 20th of March. Along with it came a few lambs, some daffodils and rain. Any other time I would lament having this much rain, but I do not begrudge the spring showers the important job they must do – and that is make my food grow!

I am fond of all the seasons and don’t really have a favorite weather-wise, but I absolutely LOVE spring for all the good eats that pop up from the rich, dark earth. After a winter of starchy root vegetables, I love a big plate of Spring Eats. I am a fan of fresh, local foods – especially produce – and eagerly await the last week of April/first week of May to make my first of many, many weekly trips to the local farms. During the spring and summer and even fall months, my dinner table is almost always topped with the bountiful harvest courtesy of area produce stands.

First up are spinach and spring onions which lend themselves nicely to several of my favorite Japanese dishes (Horenso no Goma-ae, for example). Next come the strawberries and peas. Yum! The strawberries rarely make it into any type of dish and are usually consumed immediately upon picking – a few right there in the field – although I did make a Really Good Strawberry Sorbet with a some last summer.

I also pick pounds and pounds of May peas as well as a bunch of crispy sugar snaps. Once home I like to lightly steam the sugar snaps and toss them with a little butter for dinner. Then I shell the May peas for blanching and freezing, once again finding myself nibbling on the little green sweeties.

Soon, the Hampton Roads chapter of Buy Fresh Buy Local buylocalhamptonroads.org/ will begin to distribute their Spring Food Guide!  I can barely wait to see what other Spring Eats this area has to offer.  Find a chapter of Buy Fresh Buy Local near you - buylocalpa.org/

And, be sure and try these delicious recipes:  

Horenso no Goma-ae
• 1lb. fresh spinach, rinsed well
• 4T toasted sesame seeds
• 1T sugar
• 1.5T soy sauce
• 3T dashi

-Parboil spinach in ample, lightly salted water until just tender. Immediately rinse in cold water and let soak for ten minutes.
-Grind sesame seeds in mortar and pestle until half ground. Mix with dressing ingredients.
-Drain spinach and squeeze out excess water. Cut into 1” lengths, mix with dressing and enjoy!

A Good Cooker’s Really Good Strawberry Sorbet
• 1.5lbs strawberries washed, dried, topped and quartered
• 8 oz (by weight) honey
• 1 cup moscato wine
• 3/4 cup water

-Mix honey and wine and pour over strawberries in large jar or other airtight container ensuring berries are submerged.
-Stand at room temperature 6 hours.
-Pour into flat-bottomed 2qt dish and freeze until solid.
-Chop into chunks and puree in food processor. Slowly add 3/4 cup water until mixture is smooth and frothy.
-Return to dish and store in freezer 1-2 hours or freeze in ice cream maker.

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