There’s a spring in my step
This is a post about spring. I go the idea while running in glorious sunshine on Saturday morning. Since when, the grey clouds have returned and the rain is falling like, well, rain. Only, as showbiz people say, with feeling.
But it is already noticeably warmer – my run involved me wearing shorts and a t-shirt, not shorts, t-shirt, sweatshirt, jogging trousers, woolly hat and gloves as it has previously in the year.
While I was (very) slowly pounding the pavement and the muddy country lanes, I thought it best, as March is here (depending when you read this) and March is quasi officially the start of spring (March 14 apparently, so my girlfriend said yesterday, and what she says goes), to get everyone out of their SAD hangovers and thinking positive about the year ahead.
Spring is obviously when the earth starts being properly bountiful again, nature’s regular recession (topical!). While the spring has seen slow growth so far, there can be confidence that MN’s (Mother Nature’s) larder will again become stocked with goodies fairly soon.
And it’s great – new lamb will star appearing and who can resist a bit of dead baby sheep? Though I never have and probably never will like mint sauce. Probably worth a post in its own right a bit later on in the season.
But it is the veg that I’m looking forward to. And there are some great South West staples coming through soon – especially new potatoes and cauliflower.
Cauliflowers remind me of taking a walk along a Cornish beach with a friend. She unexpectedly-ish invited herself down to Plymouth from London last year. In February. Not the best month to see the region at its best but I persevered. We rode the Camel Trail from Wadebridge to Padstow, a lovely picturesque cycle/walkway even at that time of year. When we got to Padstow we went for a walk along the beach just outside the town, behind which were loads of cauliflower fields. I remember them vividly because they absolutely stank – the crop had recently been harvested for market and the leftover detritus was rotting up nicely. Quite a pong.
What this year will bring is debatable. farmers are having a hard time because of the poor winters, meaning crops are being decimated and prices are rising in the supermarkets – not that the farmer sees much of the increased price.
While I quite like blumenkohl, as our German brothers and sisters call them, I’m never sure how betst to do them. I have been to too many average restaurants where they have been blanched into oblivion and/or coated in a cheese sauce that raises a gag reflex. I’d love to hear some of your great recipes to rescue this fine British staple.
Spring also sees the return of my favourite British vegetable – spinach. Briskly sidestepping any Popeye clichés, it is brilliant, melt in your mouth soft leaves with a slightly sweet taste that makes you wonder if you are actually eating a vegetable at all. And incredibly versatile. Omelettes, pizza topping, sod it, straight up on its own with a pinch of seasoning, it’s flamin’ georgeous.
I could go on – the asparagus starts to appear, ditto baby carrots, my beloved leeks etc.
I’m hoping also that we are not to far from the start of the Cornish Early potatoes. These little soft beauts are grown in West Cornwall and harvested in three short weeks from April. The problem is, the farmers rely on a mild winter to plant them in December. And we ain’t had a mild winter folks.