“Well thats a sure sign of spring” the woman uttered as, unloading my basket, I handed her a fistful of slender bright pink rhubarb stalks. And its true, rhubarb is perhaps the one thing that emphatically signals the transition into the spring growing season. That, and possibly fiddlehead ferns, the elusive (once wild grown only, now cultivated) foretellers of spring’s arrival in New England. So in fact, my clutch of rhubarb really did warrant the elated, if not somewhat surprised response from the woman at the market.
Rhubarb, I have found, is also one of those items a bit like cilantro, either loved or hated. I fall unequivocally into the yes, can’t get enough rhubarb camp. In sweet or savory (see my rye berry salad with pickled rhubarb here) its equally austere and unique with a flavor that can’t really be nailed down but you know it when you taste it. Eyes closed, I would always know its was rhubarb. continue reading
I noticed this morning that the dogwood has flowered. Tiny dark, muddy pink flowers, more hull than petal. And in another week or so the tree will be a swath of most delicate light pink across a greening background. The lilac is starting too. A few more warm afternoons and they should be ready for cutting. I cant wait to fill the house with vessels full. I am caught up in the tactile world of spring. Each day the landscape shifts perceptibly before me as leaves burst forth and flowers spring open. One day seems to bleed into the next with no clear end or beginning. Just a continuous unfurling the days vacillating between blissfully warmth and raw wetness and nights which are still decidedly cool, cold even.But, gone is the fierceness of winter. The tempestuous winds have died away and the acuminous cold no longer strikes you when you step outside. On morning walks over the fields and through city streets alike, it is still chilly. The dark coldness of night having settled in the wee hours and continuing to lingers into the mornings. Admittedly thought this hasn’t stopped me from opening the windows before going to bed. There is something peaceful about drifting off to sleep wrapped up in heavy layers of blankets with the cold on my cheeks and a symphony of peepers call out over the night. It is something I relish with childlike delight.
In the mornings I make my way to the kitchen wrapped in woolen jumper, toes tucked warmly into slippers. I fill the kettle and place it on the stove, light the burner, watching as its great blue flame leaps up against the shivery morning. I often wrap myself in an additional shawl while waiting for the kettle, knowing these layers will be shed before afternoons arrival. But still, the added layers and warmth of hot tea are a necessity. So to is a warming breakfast. But, it feels to late in the season for hearty bowls of squash porridge and to early for light sweet fruit. Not that any is readily available just yet anyway.
I often eat a bowl of miso soup for breakfast this time of year. I love its earthy salty broth and the addition of a few cubes are tofu make for a wholesome beginning. But there are days I crave something equally as satisfying with a bit less broth and a little hint of sweet. For those days, I have been making up big batches of pistachio granola and topping it with spicy poached pears.Alone, or with a dollop of thick natural yogurt beneath, this breakfast seems to straddle the gap of cold mornings and warmer days just perfectly. The granola gets a richness from the olive oil and the most delightful crunchy clusters form around the pistachios as it bakes. The baking of the oats and honey have a magic of their own. They perfume the mornings wrapping the house in a kind of warm spell and chasing away the last of the nights chill.
Pistachio Granola with Honey Poached Pears
for the granola
- 1 cup oats
- 1/2 cups oat bran
- 1/3 raw shelled pistachios
- 1/4 hemp seeds
- 1/4 sesame seeds
- 2 tbsp honey
- 2 tbsp sweet extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 tsp garam marsala
- 1/4 tsp freshly grated cinnamon
- 1/8 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
- pinch of salt
- preheat oven to 410 degrees
- spread all the dry ingredients on a large parchment lined baking sheet.
- Drizzled with the honey and olive oil and toss well to combine
- spread in a thin even covering on the baking sheet and bake for 10/12 minutes or until golden – being carefull not to burn.
- remove from the oven and let it cool so the granola becomes crunchy
for the pears
- 1 bosc pear- pealed, cored and cut in half
- 2 cup water
- 1/2 tsp whole cloves
- 1/4 tsp fennel seeds
- 1.5 tbs honey
- add spices, honey and water to a small sauce pan
- bring liquid to a boil
- drop in pear halves, reduce to rapid simmer, cover & cook about 15 min or until pears are tender.
- at this point remove the pears – continue to reduce the poaching liquid until it becomes a syrup like consistency if desired or simply discard. this may take up to 30 mins. The syrup is lovely drizzled over the granola and pear but not necessary
spoon a small amount of natural yogurt into a bowl and place warm pear on top. Then sprinkle generously with granola