First Fruits



Earlier this week, we had a late spring storm, of the sort that is not at all unusual for Colorado. In fact, my family’s rule of thumb is that you’re a fool if you put anything in the ground before Mother’s Day. So we’re pretty much right on schedule. But I planted my early spring veggies in containers more than a month ago. I hoped for the best— the radishes and spinach had been thriving, but it would not be the first time (and probably won’t be the last time) I saw a promising start fail to materialize. Especially with spring veggies, I have a touch of Darwinism about me. I sow, I hope, I move on.

I did nothing to protect the veggies from the weather, but I started to worry about that position when the snow started to get serious. I was lucky. Warmer temps have returned, and my spring veggies are none the worse for the cold.


After weeks of too busy, I finally had an evening without plans. I seized it to make myself dinner. I tried a recipe last spring for buttered leeks and radishes that I liked, and happened to have some past-their-prime leeks in the refrigerator. It’s a mild pleasant dish that goes well with chicken or fish. I thawed some chicken breasts to grill in lime juice.


French breakfast radishes

I harvested the radishes. I’m not a huge recipe follower, so I followed the broad outlines. Instead of olive oil and fresh parsley, I used a couple of cubes of chopped parsley from last year’s community garden that I froze in an ice tray and vegetable oil. Instead of scallions, I used diced sweet onion, and instead of chicken broth and salt, I used some vegetable bouillon (I call it that, but it’s the brine I drained off zucchini relish I made and froze last fall. I’ve used it all winter as a base for soups) and skipped the extra salt.


I made a salad of the radish greens and threw in baby spinach and some kale that has been overwintering next to my balcony window. I dressed the salad with a basic balsamic vinaigrette that I put together with the dregs of Dijon mustard mixed with some olive oil, minced garlic and balsamic vinegar.

There was such a satisfaction in making a meal like this. I love the thoughtful combination of ingredients, finding ways to use the whole food. It happens on an entirely different plane than I’ve been spending the rest of my life. It’s what’s been missing in the crazy stretch I’ve been weathering.



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