I've been thinking for a while about writing a post for each month, highlighting the foods and flowers in season and suggesting recipes to take advantage of the local harvest. April seems a perfect month to start. In Animal, Vegetable Miracle: A Year of Food Life, Barbara Kingsolver writes:
"April is the cruelest month, T.S. Eliot wrote, by which I think he meant (among other things) that springtime makes people crazy. We expect too much, the world burgeons with promises it can't keep, all passion is really a setup, and we're doomed to get our hearts broken yet again. I agree, and would further add: Who cares? Every spring I go out there anyway, around the bend, unconditionally. I'm a soul on ice flung out on rock in the sun, where the needles that pierced me begin to melt all as one.
... Come the end of dark days, I am more than joyful, I'm nuts." (1)
Kingsolver's book describes a year in the life of her family eating only food produced on their Virginia farm or in their own neighborhood. It is a back to the earth, good food journal with a light touch of humor; an excellent read. It all begins in April:
"We kept postponing our start date until the garden looked more hospitable, but if we meant to do this for a whole year, we would have to do this sooner or later. We had harvested and eaten asparagus now, twice. That was our starting gun: ready, set ... ready?"(2)
Here in Massachusetts, April is one of my favorite months. The forsythia and the daffodils burst into bloom and the woods are a symphony of light greens and all shades of pink and red as the trees pop their buds. Tourists flock here for the "fall colors"; I prefer the spring ones.
Fresh flowers from our yard replace the andromeda and rose hips at the center of our table and the farm stands begin to offer their first local produce of the season. The selection is limited, mostly spring dug parsnips and greenhouse grown spinach so far. But the fields are being tilled, the rhubarb plants are growing every day, and the greenhouses are full of seedlings..... It won't be long until the selection is awesome. Meanwhile time to roast some parsnips in this year's maple syrup and revisit some favorite recipes:
Chana Masala (Spicy Chickpeas and Spinach)
Chicken Breasts Stuffed with Spinach, Goat Cheese and Mushrooms
Cod with Roasted Veggies (heavy on the parsnips, served on a bed of spinach)
Roasted Red Bliss Potatoes with parsnips
1 Animal, Vegetable Miracle: A Year of Food Life, page 43
2 Animal, Vegetable Miracle: A Year of Food Life, page 32