Spring in the Kitchen

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My trips to the farmer’s market usually follow the same routine. I feel compelled to quickly browse through all the stands l before I decide to buy anything. If I already know what to expect at the market, then I usually have a list of vegetables or fruit in mind that I want to bring home. I almost always buy more than I really need, but I usually have plans to use all of it.

Saturday was my first time at the market this season and as usual it was hard to resist all of the new vegetables, many that I haven’t seen since last spring. I was pleasantly surprised at the different items that were already being harvested and stacked in bounteous piles at many market tables. In May it is easy to get excited about vegetables that I don’t think about a lot during the rest of the year — rhubarb, asparagus, green onions. I also brought home spinach, lettuce, and a bunch of fat red radishes.

We’ve eaten well this winter, lots of food from jars and our freezer, but we haven’t been complete strangers to lettuce, oranges, avocados and these foods that are clearly exotic during the Minnesota winter. I’ve been happy that we ate so much of what I preserved and that there are still full jars in the cupboard, but it is nice to have new fresh vegetables bringing the leafy and colorful world of spring into our kitchen. They taste greener and more refreshing than produce shipped from California.

Fresh produce really motivates me to pull out cookbooks that have been languishing on the shelves and collecting dust over the winter. I check the indexes and frantically flip through pages for inspiration as well as precise recipes. Right now I am perusing and plotting recipes for asparagus and rhubarb. These hardy stalks of spring seem to require special attention as they are not common in my kitchen any other time of year. Luckily they are the early ones and I have time to devote to them that I won’t be able to give to each vegetable when local produce is abundant in variety and quantity.

And so it has arrived, the season of life and growth. I eagerly and enthusiastically greet the flavors in my kitchen that have been nearly forgotten since last spring. I  can’t help it (but I’ll try not to repeat myself). Each year I rediscover these tastes as though they are completely new.

What flavors and recipes of spring have you tried recently?

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