salad days

We had our first salad of garden lettuces the other day, which was such a treat.  After months of "root cellar salad" and more recent salads made from sorrel and the leaves of the scorsonera root, we were able to enjoy soft, delicate lettuces once more.  

Almost everything we eat comes from our farm, which means that we've been waiting, with bated breath, for the asparagus, rhubarb, early greens, and perennial herbs like chives and parsley.  

Our larder is almost empty.  We've used up almost all our beans, almost all our corn, almost all our potatoes.  We've run out of the sauces and pestos we prepared last summer.  It's getting harder and harder to cook up a meal for eight or nine, and we're eating a lot of eggs.  So we're so thankful for these new green bursts of life that are popping up all over the garden, only to be whisked away to our kitchen!

And the last few weeks have been a culinary delight.  One of our new favorites is asparagus and rhubarb pizza.  Trust me, it's worth trying!  Simply cut fresh asparagus and rhubarb into small pieces (dice size), toss together in olive oil, salt, and pepper, and then place on pizza crust and top with grated mozzarella.  No sauce.  And what you get is an amazing flavor that's just indescribable.  I do believe this is the reason that the two vegetables appear at the same time, in the early spring garden.

But really, you can't go wrong with fresh young asparagus.  Raw, lightly steamed, tossed with scrambled eggs.   If you've got a little land, and plan on staying there at least five years, it's worth considering growing asparagus.  After the initial arduous work, you can look forward to harvesting this perennial vegetable for years to come with very little work.

Soon we'll be able to start harvesting kale, collard greens, bok choi, tat soi, and other greens.  These are going to be our mainstay for the next many months; I remember getting total collard green-fatigue by about mid-August!  It's so, so easy to leap ahead, to run right past theses first tastes of spring--to get caught up imagining the sturdy harvest baskets filled to overflowing, our backs aching, our minds racing with the question, "What to do with all these greens?!"  And all the zucchini, and tomatoes . . . how we dream of bushels of tomatoes, especially after the scant crop we had last year.  And tomatillos, and eggplants, and basil.  I look at the basil plants in the seed room, now growing up six, seven inches tall, and I picture being inundated with basil.  And the raspberries, blueberries, the peas and the beans . . . 

I remember the fatigue of late summer, when my muscles would protest:  "No more! This is too much.  I can't possibly harvest another leaf of kale, never mind eat it."  But now, at the very beginning of a new season, we are hoping and praying that this year's harvest will be that bountiful once again!  

In the end, the harvest will be what it will be.  We're doing our best, trying all sorts of new little experiments like companion planting to protect our plants from pests and to increase their yields, and we'll see what works and what doesn't.  In the end, it's just not in our hands.  In the end, we try to remember to savor each moment, to be present to that which we are actually experiencing, to revel in these first salad days.