Springtime Palate: A Recipe for Eating
Days are growing, birds are returning, leaves are filling in empty spaces between branches, and here in beautiful Shasta County, California, we are beginning to harvest again. Eating locally and with the seasons has been a focus of mine for over a decade. Before our garden was put in, we joined a CSA Community Supported Agriculture which thrust us into local, seasonal eating and helped us begin to plan for what we wanted to grow in our future garden. The weekly produce box exposed us to produce and varieties we had never tried before, and because it was all grown locally, I knew I could grow it in my garden, too. I began to make a list of all the produce we enjoyed each season and gathered recipes we loved using them in (which you can explore here). Several years later, we now grow what we love to eat, and look forward to each season’s unique gifts.
Each region harvests at it’s own time, but as a general rule, most of what I’m sharing will apply to your neck of the woods at some point in the spring or early summer.
A Recipe for Eating in the Spring
- Buy food only grown/raised/cooked in your country, ideally within six hours of your home. The easiest way to do this is subscribing to your local CSA (find one here) , buying from Farmer's Markets, or growing some or all of your own food (start here).
- Think simple. When you are eating what is local and in season, you will notice how vibrant and flavorful everything is compared to imported foods. There is no need to disguise or enhance them. Peas straight from the pod are a wonderful and sweet springtime snack. Hard-boiled eggs (we boil a dozen at a time to use throughout the week) from a local farm are a protein-packed springtime staple, as chickens begin to lay more when the days are longer. Dairy animals have been freshened, making milk, cheese, and other dairy products plentiful. Find a local provider here or at your local farmer’s market. Leafy greens are abundant, so think kale chips, fresh green salads with crumbled, poached, or fried eggs to make it a meal, roasted asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower, coleslaw, carrot sticks with hummus…
- Let the in-season produce determine your menu plan. Follow the seasons. They’re your guide to eating the highest-quality, most delicious foods. Before menu-planning, I would check what I'd be getting in our CSA box that week and find recipes to use them in, or look at the list below and find recipes that incorporates at least one of those items per meal.
- Invite creativity into your kitchen. Food isn’t supposed to be overwhelming. From the very beginning of time, we ate what we could forage and farm. Today we have the luxury of living with plenty and the confusion of living with plenty. Clear your culinary head of clutter and look only at local offerings. What can you make from it? Need further inspiration? Read below:
- Gather resources to help guide and inspire you. My personal favorite resource that teaches you more how to pair and prepare foods, making you less dependent on actual recipes, is Julia Child's Kitchen Wisdom. I also use the All Recipes ingredient search and punch in the seasonal produce I want to find recipes for (see how many veggies you can use on one dish!). Follow some tasteful Instagrammers. My top three favorites are @food52 , @thefeedfeed , and @smittenkitchen . I have a list of links on my phone of "recipes to try" that I find from these resources. Sometimes I follow them precisely, other times I use them as a launching pad.
- In-season foods in the Spring at a glance. Here’s what to look for while shopping. Consider these lists as your building blocks for all of your meals. Many things can be eaten fresh and as-is, and you will find that you will be pulling less boxes of processed foods from the pantry and more tasty fresh foods from your fridge and fruit baskets, making snack time effortlessly more nourishing with no added prep-time:
- Collard and other greens
Animal Protein (find local sources here)
- Pasture-raised eggs
- Raw milk & dairy products
- Grass-fed beef
- Pasture-raised poultry
Remember you are learning as you go. Enjoy experimenting. Some meals will be a raging success. Others will need tweaking. Have grace for yourself in the process. Enjoy the process as much as the product. You are engaging in more than just getting food on the table. You are participating in a conscious, intentional lifestyle that greatly benefits you, those you feed, your local economy, and the earth. It takes less time than you think! These little-but-not-so-little choices are the stuff that changes the world for the better. You got this!