for the second time

asparagus salad

The first time I made an asparagus salad, it was with walnuts and dates and pecorino cheese. My friend Jackie was over, and we were trying a new recipe.

And because Jackie’s always been a good sport about trying new things, including but not limited to kale chips, roasted broccoli, blackened salmon (which sadly, I have yet to post here because although it was perfection! I didn’t get any good pictures), sole amandine, cookies, cakes, even hummus scooped straight out of the container, slathered on wheat crackers from Trader Joe’s, it might not seem so significant to tell you she loved that salad. But we both did. Looking back, I have no idea what else we ate that day, but the asparagus salad? That I remember perfectly, especially how much I looked forward to eating it for the few days it lasted after.

fresh asparagus

Even remembering it now makes me want to run out for some dates and pecornio, so that’s why the next thing I have to say is so strange: despite how much we both loved that salad and despite its starring role in the meal we ate that day, the next time I made an asparagus salad wasn’t until almost a year later—last week, in fact, when I brought home that bunch of fresh asparagus from the farmers’ market.

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oh, spring

may lilacs

All week, you have been fascinating me with your comments on the giveaway post (where there’s still time to enter!), as you’ve shared who inspires you to cook and/or some teachable kitchen moments you’ve experienced. With the inspiration answers especially, I find myself mentally nodding my head with you, because it’s so true that I get pulled towards cooking via a myriad of sources—my family, other food bloggers, magazines, commercials, TV, something random someone says in the middle of the afternoon. And I think all these things are good to think about, especially so we can remember them on those days when we’re not so eager to cook.

But the inspiration for today’s recipes is something I hadn’t really thought about before, something that several of you said strikes you the same way: this beautiful time of year we call spring.

Oh, spring.

I have been marveling at spring this year: the buds on branches, the evening thunderstorms, the colorful flowers everywhere you turn. And, as it is with some of the best things in life, just when I think I can’t possibly appreciate it anymore than I already do, spring goes and surprises me again.

Untitled

Like last weekend. I had decided to make a quick stop at a local French market that people seem to love on Yelp. I went in with $20 in my purse and a hunger for nothing special, and I came out, in 15 minutes no less, with two boxes of green beans, a pound of asparagus, two bags of mixed greens and a bunch of tall and red fresh rhubarb, for a grand total of $8.50.

Spring! Oh, Spring!

rhubarb on table

This might be a good time to recall that CSA I participated in last summer, which while I loved (and if you have a bigger household, it is really worth looking into), I also struggled with its sheer quantity of vegetables (organic! beautiful! but just too much for one person). That’s why this year’s plan is to shop at more farmers’ markets, to buy locally and seasonally but just less.

If Saturday was any indication, I’d say this plan is going to go very well.

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The Biggest Giveaway Yet!

**This giveaway has ended, and the three winners have been contacted! Congratulations to all who won and big thanks to all who shared your inspirations!***

money

I have met some of the most generous people and companies since starting this blog, and that’s never been more true than today, when two of them are donating prizes in this post, including a $100 gift certificate!

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Step One: Roast a Chicken

roast chicken

Step One: Roast a chicken. Use the easiest method known to man—simply drying, trussing, salting, then cooking for an hour, no big deal, barely a blip in your day. Get so excited about this process that you have your picture taken with the bird. (Tell yourself that’s not weird at all.)

Step Two: Share the chicken with a friend for dinner, and share the recipe with everyone you know on your blog. Talk about it, Tweet about it, brag about it over and over again. (Tell yourself that’s not weird at all either.)

3 chickens to roast

Step Three: Because of the serendipity of timing and Twitter and blog connections, have your friend Jacqui over to do the whole thing over again. Times three. Find her at the front door carrying a bag full of snacks and groceries, ready to cook, and thank your lucky stars you know her. (And that she’s someone who gets the excitement of roasting a chicken completely.)

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the reasons why (fish cooked in brown butter)

sole amandine

I tend to keep mental lists of reasons I like things. Is that weird?

It’s true of avocados—loaded with good fat, make creamy smoothies, taste absolutely perfect smashed and salted on toast, were just $3-and-something for four at Trader Joe’s yesterday. It’s also true of places—Boston has those historic streets, the North End filled with great food, a beautiful autumn; Colorado doesn’t only offer 300 days of sunshine but is also surrounded by those incredible, breathtaking, larger-than-life mountains.

And of course it’s true of people, like my mom, whom we’re celebrating today. My mom’s list is filled with things like: makes me laugh, is a killer cook, knows just how you should and shouldn’t plant tomatoes each year. She can quote random phrases in Hebrew, knows facts about old theologians, listens to her favorite preachers while she gets ready every morning.

Though I struggle to be 100% honest and blunt with most people, Mom is one person with whom it’s easier. I’m probably sometimes TOO honest with her, in fact. Over her 27 years of motherhood, in which she has born the brunt of my harshest words and most untactful responses, I have been much more free because I know, probably as one of the most sure things I do know, that she loves me. She prayed for me for two years before she had me. She has prayed for me in all the years since she did.

And, as it was with antiquing and gardening and cooking and planning things far, far in advance, she has paved the way for me towards new interests, including something as simple as eating one of her and my dad’s favorite foods: fish.

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what does not last, what does (chocolate spelt cookies)

chocolate spelt cookies

When you really get down to it, almost everything in life is temporary. Your car, your clothes, your schedule, your location, your age, your experiences, the conversation you’ll have on the phone tonight, the meal you’ll eat for dinner, the way you’ll put your gym shoes on and take them off again. These moments keep coming, quickly, passing through our fingers like shifting sand, and then are gone, replaced by something else, something which will also end.

chocolate cookies

Mentally, I know this. I know this. So I hate when I catch myself pushing, striving, demanding whatever temporary something seems very important in its moment, sacrificing faith, hope and love for the getting and grasping of that something Right Now. I hate that. Because while of course we need temporary places to live and temporary things to eat and temporary activities to pursue—that is not all we need. That is not most what we need. That is not what should govern my Everything Else. And I need to be reminded of this.

cookies

So that’s a good thing about food, you know? Food is extremely, necessarily temporal. The meals I made when I started this blog almost two years ago? Gone. The cookies I have posted (and posted! and posted! and am posting again today!)? Gone. The panini I made Saturday, the mango smoothie I blended Monday, the giant salad I thought I’d never finish at my work desk the other day? Every bit of it all: eaten and used and, gone.

Even today’s chocolate spelt cookies, riddled with chopped dark chocolate and topped by drizzled icing: all but three of them, already gone.

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