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Ring in the Spring

March 22, 2012

Whoa there Mother Nature. Let’s slow this thing down. I’m not even talking about the early thaw or the summer temperatures in March. But I’m not ready for the cold weather to end. I’m not.

I still have one pouch of last summer’s pesto in my freezer stored away for the cold dark winter months, which I guess are now a thing of the past. Next winter, in addition to Open That Bottle Night, I’ll probably need to work in some Open That Pesto Nights too. It’s a killer the way some things I put away to save become too precious to use. Blast.

Well, at least it’s not wasted. But there is more.

There are still warming bean dishes that are cooked and waiting in the freezer to be thawed and put to good use. I’ve got a red beans and rice, a Cuban black bean and a fiery dal makhni (that the kids won’t touch). My mom has already heard this confession, but I still have some meatballs I brought back from Providence, which are still in good shape, but were meant to be hearty winter fare.

And then there are the winter dishes that I wanted to make and never quite got around to cooking. All the ingredients are assembled for this dal curry dish I’ve had on the radar all season. I even bought the slow cooker so I could program an early morning bowl of hot oatmeal, yet that never happened even once.

Now instead of the stove serving as the hearth of the home, and the source of much needed humidity, it’s the thing that makes the house hot and damp. In theory it’s cool enough to open the windows, but we already have a lot of mosquitoes and I’ve yet to put in the screens (which are remarkably ineffective anyway).

I have very little tolerance for bugs, and even the thought of mosquitoes in the house can keep Mrs. Fussy up at night. So getting screens in will be a priority.

But even still, the one great benefit to winter is that it turns the entire garage into a bonus refrigerator. This is critically important when I want to do something like make chicken stock. Not only does it simmer on the stove for hours, but then it needs to be cooled down, and the refrigerator alone is ill equipped for the task.

There are a ton of chicken bones taking up valuable space in my freezer. I just made a fresh batch of chicken stock recently, so I’m not in need. But I’m hoping and praying for one or two cooler days soon. If we get them, I’m going to jump on the opportunity and cook up a storm.

At the very least I’ll make stock.

The dried beans can always be cooked in the slow cooker out in the garage and turned into a cold bean salad, as the weather gets warmer. Same thing goes for the lentils. And maybe I can turn some of those oats into granola.

Now here’s the kicker about spring in the northeast. Even though the winter weather is gone, the earth is still holding back on its bounty for weeks, and the good stuff is still months away, especially if you live in a family that doesn’t love onions in any form. So chives and ramps don’t exactly make it into our domestic celebration of spring.

The farmers markets are still sparse with the few remaining root vegetables that have made it through the winter months intact.

Actually, just yesterday, I had a delicious example of early spring seasonal cooking at All Good Bakers in their new DelSo home. It was Nick’s warm maple-chipotle fingerling potato & butternut squash hash with raw red cabbage and lime. I especially like the blending of the old storage ingredients with the new syrup. The dish had a lot of contrasts; The hot and cold, the sweet and spicy, the soft and hard, the smoky and refreshing. And it was fantastic in its color too.

The Chef’s Consortium has a similar story up now about the challenges of this time in the season. Maybe it becomes a little easier to deal with once you have some more winters under your belt. Although somehow, I now have five.

FIVE!

Have I really been here that long? Oh my. I am finally starting to get it though. Maybe by next winter I’ll be better at using up my winter bounty before spring. And next year, I’m totally trusting my instincts and getting those snow tires off the car. It kills me to still have them on. Absolutely kills me.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. Adine permalink
    March 22, 2012 11:27 am

    I have the same issue with my freezer pesto!
    As a matter of fact, I used only 1/2 of a snack bag in last nights pasta toss!
    Fresh spinach, portabellas, cannelinnis red roasted peppers!
    Now with the other 1/2 bag I am thinking minestrone soup this weekend
    That’s one snack sized bag down and about 1 dozen to go!

  2. March 22, 2012 12:57 pm

    I used to have the same problem when I made my own demiglace, took two days to make and boil down to the proper consistency that I never wanted to use too much of it. Then I discovered More Than Gourmet and their line of sauces http://www.morethangourmet.com , expensive yes, work NO. Adventures in Food carries it and so does Roma Imports in Latham and I think maybe the Meat House. Very good product, though 16 oz. of consentrate will cost $30+, you can also get single serving size.

    Here’s a question for your bloggers, I have Black Mission and Brown Turkey fig trees wintering in my garage BUT they’re starting to get leaves already. Should I take a chance and put them outside or wait a bit. I have four trees that produced 225+ fresh figs last year, I would hate to put them out and have a freak frost kill off the early growth as figs grow on the new growth. Any thoughts?

  3. RealFoodMom permalink
    March 22, 2012 4:22 pm

    Yup, I froze four quarts of September’s corn chowder that we wouldn’t touch until February. Still have 2 left. Fortunately, it’s delicious as a cold soup, too.

  4. March 23, 2012 10:37 am

    God yes. I was expecting another month or so of appropriate temperatures for my poor snow tires. It was 80 here yesterday, and they’re not happy about that.

  5. Kate H permalink
    March 23, 2012 8:35 pm

    ED – DON’T PUT THOSE TREES OUTSIDE!! If you have questions on whether it’s a good idea call your county’s cooperative extension and talk to a master gardener. They’ve got real life experience with all kinds of plants.

    I’ve got some diced summer squash, some butternut squash puree and some roasted tomatoes in the freezer. I always save some stuff for April but this year I’m already eating fresh spinach that I planted in the fall. I’d better hurry and eat what’s in the freezer soon.

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