29 March 2010

The Colors of Spring

It has officially been spring for over a week now, and the daytime temperatures have responded in kind by warming up ever so sneakily here in southern California.  Not only has the weather generally become pleasant with steadily clear skies, sunshine, and t-shirt-appropriate temperatures, the vegetation looks so colorful and the earth itself just, well, vibrant.  A short, coastal drive revealed green hillsides tinted with yellow wildflowers, and the ocean was a surprisingly bright and not-as-murky blue.  To top it all off, it smells like fresh jasmine everywhere, although I'm sure that is due largely to this town's apparent preference for that particular flower.  In any case, spring is definitely here and is making itself known for all to see.

Now, I'm not the most sentimental person when it comes to transitioning between seasons.  It could very well be that I am just very accustomed to a seeming lack of seasonality around here; from what I can recall from being a lifelong resident of this geographical region, shifts in temperature trends as the year progresses have for the most part remained quite subtle (until late summer, with insufferable heat bearing down upon us) and no one seems to notice when the trees have gone bare until long after it's happened (we don't get those magnificent color changes that are present in northern California).  That said, when I do notice that spring has rolled around, I typically do not suffer allergy problems and I enjoy not necessarily having to bundle up to go for a run in the morning and that my feet won't freeze in my favorite flip flops.  I acknowledge that spring is, in fact, a good thing.

But what I tend to appreciate most about any change in season--including the arrival of spring--is the seasonal produce.  Farmers' markets, produce sections of groceries, and even backyard gardens are awash with nature's colorful, edible delights.  For example, I just harvested this lovely rainbow chard from the backyard:

In particular, I enjoy the abundance of all things green: asparagus, leafy greens, scallions, avocados, etc., all at their peak and readily available practically everywhere.  Here is some of what I have been able to savor so far about spring's tasty bounty:

Roasted asparagus.  I cut it up the stalks and tossed them in the tiniest bit of oil, then sprinkled them with salt and black pepper before baking.  I squeezed fresh lemon juice over after it all cooked.  The asparagus was perfect in a bowl with smoky black beans and brown rice.

Spicy, garlicky braised kale.  Kale is always plentiful, not just in spring.  But it's one of my absolute favorite leafy greens and it goes along with the green theme, so here it is.  I roughly chopped the kale and braised it in a small amount of vegetable broth, along with sliced garlic and red pepper flakes, until the greens were tender.  I ate it alongside some leftover asparagus and steamed brown rice.

Veganlicious, Blogalicious' Avocado Chocolate Mousse.  I know, this is most definitely not green, but hey, there's avocado in it (which is green without the cocoa) and it was so decadent and easy to make that I just had to mention it.  I didn't add the dates called for in the recipe (my food processor and dates haven't been getting along lately) and added a bit of almond extract.  Rich and delicious.  Thanks for sharing the fabulous recipe, Laura Jill!

I am eager to take advantage of all of the great fruits and vegetables this season has to offer.  Happy spring, all!

5 comments:

  1. I used to get really excited over the changes in seasonal scenery, but the past couple of years I've gotten even more excited over the produce that each season brings! Yum- eating the seasons. :)

    I've yet to try avocado fudge, mousse, or any other dessert uses, but I think I need to soon!

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  2. Hi Tiffany! Great post, and YUM to the asparagus. Have you ever tried white asparagus? I'm obsessed with it--it's a little more mild flavored than the green, and it doesn't have that *ahem* side effect. ;)

    I'm SO glad you enjoyed the mousse! Now I want to make it again....

    LJ

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  3. Spring is my favorite season! I love when the trees start to bud and the farmer's market re-opens. And I love asparagus and artichokes!

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  4. Spring is my favorite season! I love when the trees start to bud and the farmer's market re-opens. And I love asparagus and artichokes!

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  5. I used to get really excited over the changes in seasonal scenery, but the past couple of years I've gotten even more excited over the produce that each season brings! Yum- eating the seasons. :)

    I've yet to try avocado fudge, mousse, or any other dessert uses, but I think I need to soon!

    ReplyDelete

Thanks for reading! Your comments are always welcome and appreciated. :)