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Photographs by Meadow Linn

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Eating Winter, Dreaming Spring


"Patience is a virtue" was an oft repeated phrase by the mother of a childhood friend. Neither my friend nor I had siblings to bug at home, so like sisters, we would tease, taunt, and annoy each other. When one of us would get antsy and whine that the other should hurry, inevitably one of us would hurl, "Patience is a virtue!" at the other. We didn't understand the expression; to us it meant "hang on" or "wait, I'm busy!"

If patience is indeed a virtue, I suppose I've not been very virtuous these past few weeks while waiting for the rains to subside. We are caught in that no man's land of neither winter nor spring. Although the calendar tells us that we are in spring, it feels too cold and wet to be the season of flowers and baby birds, yet there are too many blossoms on the trees to ignore that warmer weather is soon to approach.

Recently, I spent hours pouring over my seed catalogs, dog-earing pages and circling items to be purchased. It took an entire morning to finally place my order online. Seeds are like putting a pittance in the bank and hoping that eventually it will turn into something. I have practically been shaking with excitement while imagining the bounty of my vegetable garden this summer. I'm dreaming of juicy tomatoes, earthy golden beets, crisp carrots, and perfumed melons. Before the dirt is even warm enough to plant, I can already taste the colorful salads, ice cold watermelon, and vegetables hot off the grill. In this season of new beginnings, I find myself jumping ahead to the time of harvest, blatantly ignoring the treasures to be savored in these cold, wet transition months.

Looking out the window at the forlorn, bare branches of the fruit trees in my backyard, it's easy to forget that even now there are delicious fresh fruits and vegetables in season. Although in the past I've enjoyed an orange from time to time, citrus has not generally been my go-to fruit; however, this winter I've been discovering the amazing bounty of citrus available, all with beautiful and melodic names like mineola, tangelo, and pomelo. The names mandarin, tangerine, and clementine could be God's gift to poets. And what about grapefruit, ugli fruit, blood orange, or Buddha's hand? There are so many tart, sweet, and tangy fruits of various sizes, colors, and flavors to explore that I'm starting to think that being patient might not be quite as hard as I had thought. So, the next time my friend says, "Patience is a virtue", I'll yell back, "Hang on! I'm eating."



Waiting for Spring Salad
serves 4

Citrus and avocado are a delicious pairing. They enjoy each other's company and grow well in the same climate, so naturally they blend harmoniously on the plate as well. This salad is the perfect antidote to the when-will-springtime-come blues.

Salad:
1 7-ounce package arugula
1 bunch green onions, thinly sliced
2 large avocados, cut into chunks or slices
2 ruby red grapefruits, peeled and pith/skin removed

Dressing:
1 tsp. fresh lemon juice
1 tsp. balsamic vinegar
2 tbs. extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper

In a large salad bowl, combine the arugula and green onions. Toss with the avocado and grapefruit (to prepare the grapefruit, remove the peel completely, pull off the skin and pith from each individual section, and break the sweet juicy parts into chunks). For the dressing, whisk together the lemon juice, vinegar, oil, and salt and pepper. Drizzle over the salad and mix to combine. At first it may not seem like there is enough dressing, but it will combine with the juice from the grapefruit once the salad is tossed.