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Tag Archives: blackberry winter

Crocus Pocus

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Spring has an undeniable magic: a warm breath of wind on what should be a chilly morning; a thread of scent, spicy and sweet–winter honeysuckle, perhaps–that’s gone before you’re sure it was there; buds that swell into being seemingly overnight.

Spring, much like hope, springs eternal

All this magical blooming and bursting and bubbling up of new life has side effects, of course: every swathe of green grass (more violently green in those patches that the dog favored last fall) sprouts a bumper crop of bodies–singles, couples, families–intent on exposing winter-white and waxen limbs to the rays of the young sun while lolling on bright quilts and tartan throws (that icon of spontaneous picnickery plucked from the trunk of the family truckster). These ground covers are regarded as talismans imbued with miraculous powers to protect the lollers from the simultaneous dangers of rampant sunburn, grass allergies, and rising damp that precedes a a sore throat and sniffles by about 24 hours after having engaged in the perilous practice of casting off clothing (a.k.a. “spring-fling”) too early in the season.

(With apologies to poet William Stevenson, “Back and side go bare, go bare, both foot and hand go cold…”)

In a nutshell? Enjoy the magic of spring from the safety of your socks, shoes, and sweaters–at least until the frost melts and the oak leaves are as big as squirrels’ ears, phenologically speaking. Or, in post-modern terms, plant your non-genetically modified heirloom ‘taters when the girls at the schoolbus stop shed their Uggs for flip-flops…

Farmer’s Market

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Haven’t blogged lately; have been traveling to other locales and checking out their locavore action. More on that topic later.

As a family (parents, siblings, in-laws and offspring), we generally get together every Saturday night and have dinner. Last night was no exception, except that dinner came almost entirely from the WNC Farmer’s Market. The menu included new white potatoes boiled in their thin little jackets, fresh sweet corn (could be sweet, fresh corn, but it actually was sweet corn as opposed to field corn), fresh cabbage, and (of course) my mother’s corn bread.

A perfect spring meal. The potatoes were fork-tender and moist, almost the consistency of firm custard. A sprinkle of salt is all they needed to achieve potato nirvana, at least in my book.

We’re mostly a corn-OFF-the-cob family, so we sliced into slabs of fresh corn, watching them topple away from the cob in perfect yellow sheets. Once you’ve cut off the kernels, then you scrape the cob with the edge of the knife, releasing the milky corn-hearts to pile up on top of the corn already on your plate. A little salt, a little fresh lime juice squeezed over it–fresh corn heaven!

(Sidebar: Years ago, I was on the Copper Canyon train near Creel, Mexico, and encountered elotes vendors for the first time. They were carrying 5-gallon buckets out of which they dipped and sold paper cups full of freshly-cooked corn mixed with salt, lime juice, butter, and some variety of red pepper sprinkled on top.  It was SO good, even though I’m not a fan of butter on corn, believe it or not, that I could have probably eaten a whole 5-gallon bucket full of of the stuff. Ever since that day, I’ve been cutting my corn off the cob and adding salt and lime. S&L is also really good on baked sweet potatoes, especially since I don’t like butter on them, either.)

After dinner, we had a fresh cantaloupe for dessert. Does it get any better than that? The only flaw was that we’re still experiencing a few dregs of blackberry winter, so it was damp and chilly rather than feeling like spring. Oh, well. At least it TASTED like spring!

Farmer's Market

Posted on

Haven’t blogged lately; have been traveling to other locales and checking out their locavore action. More on that topic later.

As a family (parents, siblings, in-laws and offspring), we generally get together every Saturday night and have dinner. Last night was no exception, except that dinner came almost entirely from the WNC Farmer’s Market. The menu included new white potatoes boiled in their thin little jackets, fresh sweet corn (could be sweet, fresh corn, but it actually was sweet corn as opposed to field corn), fresh cabbage, and (of course) my mother’s corn bread.

A perfect spring meal. The potatoes were fork-tender and moist, almost the consistency of firm custard. A sprinkle of salt is all they needed to achieve potato nirvana, at least in my book.

We’re mostly a corn-OFF-the-cob family, so we sliced into slabs of fresh corn, watching them topple away from the cob in perfect yellow sheets. Once you’ve cut off the kernels, then you scrape the cob with the edge of the knife, releasing the milky corn-hearts to pile up on top of the corn already on your plate. A little salt, a little fresh lime juice squeezed over it–fresh corn heaven!

(Sidebar: Years ago, I was on the Copper Canyon train near Creel, Mexico, and encountered elotes vendors for the first time. They were carrying 5-gallon buckets out of which they dipped and sold paper cups full of freshly-cooked corn mixed with salt, lime juice, butter, and some variety of red pepper sprinkled on top.  It was SO good, even though I’m not a fan of butter on corn, believe it or not, that I could have probably eaten a whole 5-gallon bucket full of of the stuff. Ever since that day, I’ve been cutting my corn off the cob and adding salt and lime. S&L is also really good on baked sweet potatoes, especially since I don’t like butter on them, either.)

After dinner, we had a fresh cantaloupe for dessert. Does it get any better than that? The only flaw was that we’re still experiencing a few dregs of blackberry winter, so it was damp and chilly rather than feeling like spring. Oh, well. At least it TASTED like spring!

The Weather Outside Is…

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I have heard fantastic rumors about places that have predictable weather. Places where whatever the local meteorologist says is true. Friends in San Diego say it’s usually sunny, in the 70’s, and the marine layer rolls in every afternoon. Oh.

Friends on the Outer Banks tell me they believe their weather man. Sunny? Check. Stormy? Check. They can plan their day–and their wardrobe–on the weathery swirls and dots they see behind the smiling man or woman who points them out on the map.

This has never happened in Western North Carolina. It’s spring now, but it’s really “dogwood winter,” which is an old term that refers to spells of warm weather in late spring when the dogwoods (and everything else) flower out, then the cold comes back and freezes their buds off. (Sidebar: we can probably also look forward to a “blackberry winter” in early summer: the blackberries bloom, then we potentially lose them to the cold.) 

“Snain” fell from the sky yesterday–a lumpy mix of snow and rain that always manages to sneak down the  back of your neck because you’ve given up wearing a scarf since it’s technically spring. There’s a freeze warning in effect for the next couple of nights, and the Hendersonville apple crop is probably shivering right down to its roots.

This puts me in mind of two odd memories: the first is an old Donald Duck comic book, in which Donald wanted to raise a crop of prize apples for the Duckburg Fair. Unfortunately, his apple tree was just across the fence from his lucky, lazy cousin Gladstone Gander’s tree, so everything Donald did benefited Gladstone. Donald finally got so mad he threatened to “chop down the apple tree, make a boat, and sail away to Madagascar!” That phrase has become part of the shorthand in which my family speaks, and means that you’re so frustrated you’re out of control.  

Second odd memory: Dr. Seuss’ “Bartholomew and the Oobleck”, in which the King of Did wanted something different to come down from the sky (he was tired of rain and snow, etc.). He set his magicians to workon the project, and they invented oobleck for him:

“Won’t look like rain. Won’t look like snow. Won’t look like fog. That’s all we know.

We just can’t tell you any more. We’ve never made oobleck before.

We go now to our secret cave on Mystic Mountain Neeka-tave. There, all night long, we’ll work for you.  And you’ll have oobleck when we’re through!”

Much more exciting than the “snain” I saw, but far less perilous, even if you’re not a Perilous Poozer of Pampelmousse Pass…

Thanks, Donald Duck and Dr. Seuss, for brightening a snainy day in Asheville!