Spring at Last! September 2010

Spring has to be enjoyed for the sheer abundance of life springing forth.
The blossoms are out, the birds are singing, the sun is even shining on occasion! It makes you feel that little bit better about life and that summer is actually on its way at long last.
The long winter rain this year has been hard on veggie growers and the wash out of potato crops and leeks has bought procces up but I am sure that with just a few days of sun this will help immensely.
I am ready for the change of season for sure and am looking forward to some of my favorites in the garden to appear.

Snow Peas-mine have produced a few little babies from those wonderfully delicate white flowers and the mass of curly hair. I have them in a pot and they are totally happy. Watch out for snails though-they love those tender curly tendrils that are great in salads at this time of year
Asparagus-popping their little feathery heads up the asparagus season is happening! Such a great vegetable that is all about itself, why do stuff to it when you just don't have to! Steamed, stir fried, just with butter or hollandaise...yummy . I enjoy a good asparagus dip too which I make from offcuts that are a bit woody for tender eating. Steam it very briefly, churn it in the food processor with toasted pistachios, some roasted garlic and lemon juice and you have a fine spread that also works well on fish when grilled.
Peas-much like snow peas they are super sweet so need very little attention.
Sprouts like brocollini start being really coming int o their own taste wise. They are so good for you but easily ruined by over cooking. Chinese cabbages with nickeling stems and a firmer body to them are very much the same as brocolllini but can be a little more bitter. Try them with Italian dishes for a similar taste to brocollini and more bitter veg such as kale.
New Potatoes start appearing too and there is nothing like that firm little oval to roast or boil. We have always had a tradition in my family home of having new potatoes that were sent to us from my grandfather's vegetable patch in Christchurch as a Chinese dish called new potato and lettuce. It comprises of stir fried finely cut belly pork or bacon, fermented brown soy beans and soy marinated and then stir fried and cooked with new potatoes and a little water till softened. We then take spoonfuls and eat them out of fresh crunchy lettuce leaves. Its a reminder of the coming summer season for me every time.

Besides the veggie garden spring also means spring lamb for us in New Zealand. Real spring lamb is very tender and lightly colored. It is much more mild in flavor so is a nice intro to the season when matched with these more delicate flavors mentioned above. Not cheap, it is worth the outlay for a real old fashioned lamb roast with all the trimmings.
Spring also sees the arrival of the long awaited white bait and scallop season in New Zealand. Both are so very New Zealand they are celebrated with festivals and a real welling of joy for the traditional ways of the everyday New Zealander who once would have been right there with their whitebait net out or diving for scallops.
The year for scallops last year was pretty poor and this year hasn't been that much better so far but I cant help think that this perhaps is punishment for all those years of pillaging on mass. There will certainly come a point where there will just be no 'new season' anything from the sea.
Not being a massive fan of either I am happy to live without but I have to say if I did just happen to have a good old fashioned white bait fritter handed to me on a piece of fresh Vogel's bread with butter and a squeeze of lemon, I wont say no.






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