Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Spring, Redux.

I studied Latin for five years, and by God, I'm gonna use it when I can.  It comes in handy when a botanical or medical vocabulary is required.

So:  Spring, Redux.  Everybody knows that redux means brought forth again, led out again.  But is that passive voice appropriate for spring?  Does nature lead spring out again, as if spring were a newborn lamb?  Or does spring burst itself out?  I think the latter.  So:  Spring Reducit:  Spring leads itself out again. (Reduco is a third conjugation verb:  reduco, reducere, reduxi, reductum.  I admit I had to look it up).

Here's what spring is leading out around here lately.

A perennial spring tradition:  hard-boiled eggs colored by actual children.   I'm sorry I didn't get a shot of the children coloring the eggs.  I was cooking Easter dinner at the time.  More on that later.

Some of the children were more skillful than others at coloring eggs, but we all know that egg dyeing is more about the process than the result.

Spring, and the linked festivals of Passover and Easter, has also brought forth family, and with family, a return to some family routines.  Here I am giving Julia a French braid on Easter morning, a routine practiced many times with her and her sisters when they were living at home:

One member of the family who gathered with the rest of us on Easter is Lucia, our youngest daughter, who is currently studying at the University of the Balearic Islands in Palma de Mallorca, Spain.  She joined us via Skype after Easter dinner.

Here's Lucia, courtesy of Skype, and on the other end of the conversation, in the lower right hand corner, Emma Tattenbaum-Fine (Lucia's unofficially adopted sister), Leah and Julia.

Speaking of that Easter dinner, here's the menu:

Abundant appetizers contributed by the Tattenbaum-Fine family
Home-smoked turkey breast
Home-smoked salmon
Grilled zucchini
Spring vegetables with shallots and lemon
Nutted wild rice
Walnut torte with chocolate mousse

Here are a few of the recipes, and they're all redux, being oldies but goodies from many Easter dinners past:

Spring Vegetables with Shallots and Lemon 
Recipe at
Gourmet I April 1995
Yield: Serves 6
2 tablespoons olive oil
1tablespoon unsalted butter
4 shallots, cut crosswise into thin slices
1pound sugar snap peas, trimmed
1pound asparagus, trimmed and cut diagonally into r/z-inch slices
3 pounds fresh fava beans, shelled, blanched in boiling water 1minute, and outer skins removed, or 1pound frozen Fordhook lima beans, blanched and, if desired, skinned in same manner
two 3-inch strips lemon zest removed with a vegetable peeler and cut crosswise into julienne strips
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice.
In a large skillet, heat 1tablespoon oil and 1/2 tablespoon butter over moderately high heat until foam
subsides and saute shallots, stirring, until tender, about 2 minutes. With a slotted spoon transfer shallots to a bowl. In fat remaining in skillet, saute snap peas with salt to taste, stirring occasionally, until crisp-tender and add in shallots.
In skillet, heat remaining tablespoon oil and 1/2 tablespoon butter over moderately high heat until foam
subsides and saute asparagus with salt to taste, stirring occasionally, until crisp-tender. Add fava or lima beans and saute, stirring occasionally, 2 minutes. Add zest, lemon juice, snap peas and shallots, and salt and pepper to taste and saute, stirring, until just heated through.

Nutted Wild Rice
From the Silver Palate cookbook

NOTE- This recipe, as it appears in the Silver Palate, calls for raw wild rice cooked in
chicken broth. But the person who gave me the recipe said she just uses one box of Uncle
Ben's wild and long-grain rice instead, which makes it much easier. I tried the raw wild rice
way once and didn't think it was any better.
1 c raw wild rice (112 lb).
5-1/2 c defatted chicken stock or water
One box Uncle Ben's wild and long grain rice (that may not be the exact name, but it's the
one in the orange box), cooked according to package directions
1 c yellow raisins
1 c pecan halves
Grated rind of 1 large orange
1/4 c chopped fresh mint
4 scallions
1/4 c olive oil
1/3 c fresh orange juice
1 tsp salt (eliminate if using packaged rice)
freshly ground black pepper to taste (ditto)
1. If using wild rice, put in strainer and run under cold water; rinse thoroughly
2. Put rice in a medium-sized heavy saucepan. Add stock or water and bring to a rapid boil.
Adjust heat to a gentle simmer and cook uncovered 45 minutes. After 30 minutes,
check for doneness; rice should not be too soft. Place a thin towel inside a colander and
turn rice into the colander and drain. Transfer drained rice to a bowl.
OR-if using packaged rice, prepare according to package directions and proceed to step 3
3. Add remaining ingredients to rice and toss gently. Adjust seasonings to taste. Let
mixture stand for two hours to allow flavors to develop. Serve at room temperature.

Spring also led out some of the banners I constructed for my religious congregation, the Unitarian Society of Hartford.  This one's my favorite.

I constructed this one with the help of the Sunday School children.  Each child created an image of an egg-filled nest.  I sewed the blocks together, gave the banner some borders, and laid images of branches across it.

Then there are the banners I designed, at the request of our religious education director, for an Easter processional.  I made one of the six banners myself and parents constructed the other five.  These are still paraded up the center aisle on Easter every year, and I still feel a thrill of satisfaction when I see them.

A few are showing signs of wear.  Check out the nibbled holes on the tree on the top left, for example.  Maybe I can just call the holes an artistic statement.

What else is spring bringing out? The garden, for sure.

Grape hyacinths (muscari) with  forget-me-nots (myosotis)

Virginia Bluebells (Mertensia Virginica) are a spring ephemeral.
Bleeding Hearts (dicentra eximia).

These hellebores were given to me, so I don't know their official botanical name.
Brunnera Jack Frost.  What's lovelier, the flower or the leaf?

And how about this lovely little clump of corydalis bulbosa?  Or is it corydalis solida?  I'm not sure.  I dug them up on the banks of Trout Brook, where they grow in abundance.  But in the wild, they're not labeled.

Corydalis does have an English name:  fumitory.

But after putting in five years studying Latin, I'd rather go with the official botanical name.

1 comment:

  1. a particularly fantastic entry! it makes me very homesick/nostalgic for springs at home with the fam!