Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Hello Spring?

I will be the first to admit that I am that annoying person who loves the cold, the snow and the ice. I love a crackling fire in the hearth and some apr├Ęs ski type tucker. I love chopping wood (although it's not something I do often or am even good at). To snuggle up in the flannel sheets at night, reading a great travel yarn while the cold, groaning wind rattles the window pane is about as delicious a moment as I could hope for. 

But....enough already okay?

Today was the first day of spring and when I looked out of my window this morning it was snowing sideways. When I walked my daughters to school I was intermittently pelted with dagger like snow flurries or buffeted with artic gusts. Last year at this time (with a quick reference to this very blog), I was outside barbecuing in a t-shirt.

I suppose I should be happy that this spring is more reminiscent of the springs I remember as a child. Maybe global warming has lost this round. A good thing, I suspect. However, I really want to barbecue something. I'm not the die-hard fanatic that stands in a winter gale, collar up, straining through the blizzard to flip burgers. It simply defeats the purpose of outdoor cooking...at least to me. However, I have a perfectly good cast iron grill pan, that along with a good gas stove and a powerful extractor fan, provides about as close a proximity to summer grilling as I can create indoors (without setting off too many smoke detectors).

Braving a biting cold on this first day of spring, I ventured out to pick up a couple of small pork chops from the butcher shop. Along with those, I grabbed some off season summer veg from my local green grocer (Courage Foods). As much as I like to eat seasonally, I am actually pretty impressed with what one can get in the winter that was grown locally in green houses. Sure, the produce is not the sun drenched glories of summer, but for a few extra pennies, when you need that fix, it sure beat something that was flown half way around the world from Argentina or California. Local produce can cheat too. So, here I was in late March with bell peppers, zucchini and vine tomatoes. To temper all these smoky, quadrilage-kissed things, I figured a simple free-flowing risotto hit the spot - no cheese or butter, but olive oil, garlic and lemon; a truly clean and summery risotto. The risotto drank up a simple stock made from dried mushrooms, thyme, bay and shallot. I finished the vegetables with a bit of  strong olive oil, maldon salt and probably more red wine vinegar than is sensible. I have to say red wine vinegar is in the special top flavours for me, along with bay leaf, Dijon mustard, Pugliese chillies, Noilly Prat and a few others.  Anyway, that assertive red wine 'twang' was just what I was looking for. A crumble of good French chevre certainly didn't hurt the veg. 

As the family and I noshed on this simple supper it flooded us with memories of last summer's grilled chops and smoky veg. I longed for that lazy bottle of beer in the backyard under the maple tree or the sound of kids splashing through their own DIY backyard sprinkler swamp. Bring it on.  I'm done with winter. 

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