Warmer weather means fresher food

Spring is my favorite time of year. I love everything about it. I love the clean smell of the rain, I love feeling the spring sunshine again, and I love seeing the first spring flowers peeking up through the snow. This spring, as the saying goes, has "come in like a lion," and I thought the snow would never end. But it seems it finally has, and summer is quick approaching. I've been itching to really get my hands dirty in the new community garden and start eating fresh food again. Spring brings with it asparagus, lettuces, herbs and other greens. The fresh, bright flavors are so refreshing after all those heavy winter foods. So here is my list of spring-inspired books to add those spring-like flavors back into your days.

Herbs are the best way to add that bright springy taste to any recipe. Some of my favorites for culinary use are those in the mint family (lamiaceae). Tasty and easy to grow, mint, basil, rosemary, lavender, sage and thyme all fall into this category. Try adding any of these herbs to homemade or store-bought lemonade, let sit overnight, and you've got a warm-weather drink that is sophisticated enough for the grown-ups but still fun for the kids. Most herbs are pretty easy to grow; I reccomend starting a window box of herbs so you always have something fresh on hand to add to your cooking for that extra something.

Here are a few books to get you started:

The Herb Society of America's Essential Guide to Growing and Cooking with Herbs

The Beginner's Guide to Edible Herbs: 26 Herbs Everyone Should Grow & Enjoy

Don't fret, even if you don't have a green thumb you can still usually find most herbs at the grocery store or farmer's market. Most local farmer's markets have now opened, and the amazing variety of seasonal foods you can find is sometimes astounding. If you've found spring asparagus, you've hit gold. It's at its peak for a very short time in early spring, so snatch it up if you come across it. The classic paring for fresh asparagus is, of course, eggs, and what says spring more than farm fresh eggs? People seem to be keeping backyard hens more than ever. A trend I fully encourage. Unfortunately, I can't keep chickens in my neighborhood, so I'll have to live vicarousley through everyone that can.

The baby chicks will be hatching soon at Anythink Wright Farms, and if like me you dream of raising your own, The Fresh Egg Cookbook by Jennifer Trainer Thompson is not only chock full of great egg recipes but also advice and amusing anecdotes on keeping chickens. In keeping with our theme, try the recipe for roasted asparagus with poached eggs and miso butter. Yum! Eating seasonally and locally is a big trend among both the green crowd and the health concious. Why not hop on board?

Here are a few more titles for your spring inspiration:

EatingWell in Season: The Farmers' Market Cookbook

Colorado Organic: Cooking Seasonally, Eating Locally

The Organic Fruit and Vegetable Gardener's Year: A Seasonal Guide to Growing What You Eat

 Know of a hidden gem of a farmer's market or have a tip on protecting your spring seedlings?  Please share with us your best spring tips and recipes.


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