Seasonal Scene: Asparagus

Our dear aunt Barb moved to Indiana, and said I could have her asparagus plant. The old me wouldn’t get half as excited about this as the new, green stuff lovin’ me, and I couldn’t wait until I could go dig it up and transplant it to our land. You would have thought it was Christmas- Luke was willing to help, so all nine of us got in the van and went to Barb’s to get Gus. Luke dug it out perfectly, leaving no cut root behind. Then, we drove home to put it in, just up the treeline from Barbie and Ruby, my rhubarb plants from Diana. I’m accumulating such wonderful living things, and I love that many of the veggies we have on our table will have a benefactor.
Someday I’ll remember to get a picture of Gus, but seeing as how we will probably not even harvest asparagus (or rhubarb) until the year after next, I figure I have plenty of time to come up with good asparagus recipes and finish this post.

Seasonal Scene: Strawberries

On the way home from Mt. Gilead the other day, I stopped at a farm market to see what they had, and came away with our first quart of local strawberries. I don’t know how local, though, since I have it on good authority that Crum’s (our berry patch in this county) won’t be having enough for U-pick until next week. But, it was heartening to finally be in (somebody’s) strawberry season. A couple days later, I went over to Waterford to check out Owl Creek Produce Auction, after reading an article about it in a magazine. What a fun place! It was storming pretty bad, so I didn’t linger to watch the actual auction, only scooped up their last quart of strawberries and headed home.
There are many things I like to do with strawberries- served on shortcake, over ice cream, and cooked into freezer jam. Then there is strawberry-rhubarb crisp and strawberry pie, with or without rhubarb. Strawberry muffins, too.
What did we do with our first berries of this growing season? Ate every blessed one whole.

Seasonal Scene- Spinach

I’m in love.
There is something intoxicating about being able to walk out to the garden and pick salad greens for dinner. This week is the first I can do this, and the spinach in particular I have coming up in abundance. Here are some of the many ways I like to eat spinach:
‘green’ smoothie- spinach, strawberries, banana, yogurt
in salads
I’m going to try a copycat recipe for Olive Garden’s Zuppa Toscana this coming weekend- the recipe calls for kale, but I believe spinach will be a dynamite stand-in.

Seasonal Scene: Rhubarb

So begins a series here on Consider It Done where I talk about each fruit and vegetable I harvest or receive this growing season, and what I do with it. Posts may look sloppy; I plan to go back and insert recipes and future thoughts whenever the need arises.

Here I am with the firstfruits of the Ohio season- rhubarb stalks from my buddy Diana. She gave me two rhubarb plants, and Luke put them in over at the new house, but these aren’t from them (they shouldn’t be harvested this year). She has lots more rhubarb at her house, and tells me I can have all I want. So that is rhubarbhow we have our first farmer’s market offerings! I doubt I will sell them whole, but put them into baked goods. There are a few recipes sitting on the counter I will try this week- already made strawberry rhubarb tarts, but this would not be seasonally accurate, as nobody I know has strawberries yet. Made rhubarb cookies today- very good. Will have rhubarb coffee cake tomorrow morning for breakfast- I can see this made into muffins and selling well. Then there’s strawberry rhubarb jam, and I want to work out a kind of rhubarb marmalade (is this compote?) to go on my homemade English muffins- I think that could go over big. 5/11- made Oatmeal Rhubarb cookies that I could not stay out of. Mmmm! The rhubarb tastes like tart apple in many of these recipes.

Me and my rhuby babies, celebrating Mother’s Day. Don’t you love my Children’s Churchmade corsage? Courtesy Little S and N.

Fresh Rhubarb Pie (from Betty Crocker)

8 inch
Pastry for 8 inch two crust pie
1 to 1 1/4 Cups sugar
1/4 Cup all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoos grated orange peel, if desired
3 Cups cut up fresh rhubarb (1/2 inch pieces)
1 Tablespoon butter

9 inch pie
Pastry for 9 inch two crust pie
1 1/3 to 1 2/3 Cups sugar
1/3 Cup flour
1/2 teaspoon grated orange peel, if desired
4 Cups cut up fresh rhubarb (1/2 inch pieces)
2 Tablespoons butter

Heat oven to 425 degrees F. Prepare pastry. Stir together sugar, flour, orangepeel. Turn half the rhubarb into pastry lined pie pan. sprinkle with half the sugar mixture. Repeat withremaining rhubarb and sugar mixture; dot with butter. Cover with top crust which has slits cut in it; seal and flute. Sprinkle with sugar. Cover edge with a 2-3 inch wide strip of aluminum foil to prevent excessive browning; remove the last 15 minutes of baking.
Bake 40-50 minutes or until crust is brown and juices bubble up through slits in crust.

Variation
Rhubarb-Strawberry: Substitute sliced strawberries for half the rhubarb and use the lesser amount of sugar.

Cream Cheese Rhubarb Muffins (the only thing so far that I would let my kids eat on a regular basis)
3 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup honey
2 eggs
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 t. vanilla
1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
1 cup diced fresh rhubarb
cinnamon sugar
In mixer, cream first five ingredients well. In a separate bowl, mix dry ingredients and rhubarb. Add to creamed mixture, beating only until moistened. Spoon into muffin cups and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar. Bake at 375 degrees 18-20 minutes.

Let The Sunshine In

It comes every year.
The first sunny, warm days of the spring season, when it is all you can do not to get out and enjoy it. When it is all you can do to remember sunscreen.
Ahem.
Nah, I’m not really too badly burnt. I wore sunscreen on my face today and yesterday, and the shoulders and the rest really did need a little color. My run to the river and back is just the right amount of time on the pavement to get red, but not too red. But then our time in the garden beds kinda overcooked things. I can’t wait to count the number of red noses and rosy shoulders in the church service tomorrow.
We tucked potatoes, peas, beets, carrots, spinach, and leaf lettuce in their beds today. Boy, do I feel empowered! Now is the part requiring discipline (watering) and patience (“No, don’t dig it up to see how it’s doing!”) I’m so happy to be at this point, where the garden can take seeds and the sun and rain can do their job. Planting things indoors went okay, but we’re still uncertain about the future of our tomato and pepper plants. Too soon to transplant, though we may try to do so and cover them at night with plastic. This is a test. This is only a test. Or so I keep telling myself to prevent becoming emotionally involved. But you should see me when I have put the tomatoes and peppers out for some real light- I’m checking on my babies more times than an NICU nurse! Then, today I go into town and forget all about their little green bodies blistering in the sun (“Oh, dear ones, let’s get you some shade and a cool drink!”). Here’s hoping they rally.