Friday, March 30, 2012

Spring, sprung and unsprung

Here in Maine we had an extremely mild winter, not much snow to speak of. Occasional storms of 4" to 6" but sunny warmer than usual days along with rain kept the snowpack to a minimum in my town. Spring officially started on March 20th and voila! This week we have clouds, high winds, and two days of snow. Yet today it is nearly all melted again. VERY unusual and my husband and I along with some other farmers/growers are concerned about what the strange winter will mean for our already short growing season here in Maine. I have heard comments ranging from there will be no impact right up to "pack away the seeds til next year. The lack of snow means lack of groundwater and its going to be a bad growing year." I think it will most likely be a little harder than usual but it all falls under the "wait and see" category, doesn't it? One day at a time and let go, let God. That's all I can do for now.

This is premium time for ASPARAGUS and if you love asparagus or have never tried it and are thinking about it, now is the time. It is in season from late February to June here in the U.S. and April is the prime month for harvesting. This is the time to try new recipes (bacon wrapped asparagus spears, anyone?) or classic dishes (asparagus with hollandaise) that star the tasty young great stalks. If you have tried asparagus before and weren't a huge fan, try WHITE ASPARAGUS. These stalks are protected from the sun while they grow so they mature white, more tender and much sweeter than the classic green stalks. If the white creeps you out, as it does my 12 year old daughter, look for the gorgeous purple varieties that are sweeter than green but not as tender as white. Here's one of my favorite ways to do asparagus right now:

Oven Roasted Spring Veggies
1 to 2 bunches fresh asparagus, tough part of stalks cut off or snapped off and tender tops cut to 2" pieces
1 large yellow bell pepper, seeded and cut into strips
1 pound small red potatoes, scrubbed and cut into quarters
1 pound pre-washed bagged baby carrots
1 large RED onion
1 head garlic (yes, head!) all cloves peeled and left whole
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400*. Toss all veggies together in a large mixing bowl with the EVOO. Spread out in a single layer on one or two cookie sheets depending on the size of the sheets you have. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and roast in the oven for 35-40 minutes until potatoes are tender and slightly browned and all other veggies are lightly caramelized. 

This is an excellent dinner main course with some pita crisps and hummus alongside OR as a side dish to your family's favorite meaty main dish!

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