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Thursday, March 22, 2012

Spring forward

Chamomile, Oregano, Cilantro and Thyme ready to be planted in the ground
This year I was determined to plant a "real" garden.  One that my grandfather would be proud of.  I am pretty sure that my grandfather gardened every day of his life.  If he wasn't actually in the garden, because of cold Michigan winters, then he was gardening in his mind.  Dreaming up what to plant next, how many beans, tomatoes and pea sprout starts to plant. Enough to share with his children and their children.

Enough of a bounty to have a nice little hobby for most of his almost 99 years of life.  My grandfather taught me to pick all the fruit, even the bruised ones, because, sometimes the other side was simply perfect.   He taught me patience and waiting until fruit or vegetables were ready, and by ready, I mean, they have their own internal time clock, not when I was ready.  He taught me to appreciate the fresh and crispness of a freshly picked vegetable that cannot be replaced with frozen or canned and he taught me to caretake the land in a gentle and ordinary way.  There is nothing unusual about having a garden and yet there is something profound in the ordinariness of tending one.

So this year, I planted three raised beds and am working on developing a nearby plot piece by piece.  One of my beds I planted seeds in just two weeks ago is already up. Soon I will have radishes, a few varieties of lettuces, garlic, and potatoes.  The other two beds just got planted this week. For me, it is nothing less than a miracle to see their little greens tipping up through the dirt.
my garden tended,
quiet thoughts of onions spring
simple alliums root
If you look closely you can see the bees buzzing on the Rosemary bush

Fresh new beds show off the French Radishes show their tiny green tops!
In spring, there is still a little winter lingering and I like to take advantage of the winter greens still in the market, like chicory, radicchio, endive and others to make a bitter winter salad.  I sometimes mix the olive oil with white balsamic or apple cider vinegar and fresh squeezed lemon juice and then add a tsp of sugar to cut the acid, salt and pepper to taste.  Like everything in life, its balance you are looking for.  Not too tart, not too oily.

Toss with your favorite winter salad greens, drizzle over thinly sliced oranges, or grapefruit while they are still in the market and add creamy avocado for a yummy winter citrus salad.  

Happy Spring!  Happy Cooking!

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