By Clotilde Hryshko
[Clotilde began chronicling her Vermont farm last week. Here she brings some of her earliest crops into the kitchen, and it sounds wonderful. -mb]
Last Sunday it spit snow until mid-afternoon. I spent some of that time finishing my onion transplanting, going inside twice for more layers. Before heading in I planted two Ann Magnolia trees I had received that morning for Mother’s Day. But the evening meal was mine to make because the previous week I had been unable to find the time to cook a proper birthday dinner for Jim. I had made wontons stuffed with a pea-shallot filling that would be served in a garlic-lemon broth and a fun appetizer of jalapeño poppers, and I was rounding out the offerings with a farm version of spring rolls.
We were expecting a cold week with several nights of frost. I picked all the asparagus I could, snapping off anything above the ground (these would be lost otherwise); I sautéed them in sesame oil. Other fillings for the rolls were rice, pan-fried tofu, cashews, carrots, and pickled ginger. I had cilantro to make a dipping sauce with. I had extra seedlings of Thai and lime basil that I snipped to also contribute. The last farm contribution was the “wrapper” – large spinach leaves. I picked 20 of our largest spinach leaves, washed them, and left them whole for people to then add their filling to and roll. It was the hit of the evening. The best part was how our children enjoyed the process of making their own and talking about it – which basil they preferred, with or without ginger, how the first asparagus amazes, and of course delight at the treat of white rice.
Three frosts later, one a hard freeze, and it is Sunday again. Today was our classic May weather – sunny but cool due to a sustained 20-mph wind. Jim spent 5 hours prepping beds for me to use this week. I had various tasks; this time of year watering in the greenhouses can make you feel unproductive, but I was satisfied with most.
We were both wind-weary by the end of the day, from conditions that seem to desiccate bodies inside and out. I knew that we would be finishing our day late and had taken some of last year’s strawberries out of the freezer earlier; I’d also made the sugar syrup for ice cream.
Dinner was something I could put together while the girls showered. The main course was the berries and warm whole-grain biscuits; we had our small bowls of protein as a side. It was a quick meal that was the perfect antidote to dust and wind; we felt hydrated by the end.
Our youngest complained initially about the meal, but it was really a complaint that she hadn’t seen us much that day. She was better when she used her biscuit to make an ice cream sandwich and drank her strawberries as a smoothie. After dinner we covered this year’s strawberry plants, blossoming now, to protect from yet another frost tonight. A necessary step, so we can recreate this meal another time.
(Photo by Marya Merriam)