red lettuce - italian kale - rainbow chard
Spring has indeed arrived, rain and humidity, frizzy hair and all. I really enjoy living in a place that I am able to experience every season. Chicago has sweet, lovely springs, hot, loud summers, comforting autumns, and dark, crisp winters. Although, this past winter was so deliciously mild, I didn't even need those hunter boots that I had been lusting over since last winter. Season changes are such a great thing, so inspiring and full of hope and a new sense of purpose. This will be the season! The theme of seasons is something that
I have I am learning to become comfortable with, and helps to give me peace in the midst of the difficult ones, and to stay humble and thankful in the abundant ones.
I have finally endeavored into the world of gardening. Last month during the warm spell, X went ahead and set up my first raised garden bed while I was away visiting my parents after my uncle's passing. It was a pleasant surprise, the idea of things growing and living helped me to digest the first wake and funeral that I have ever been to. At the same time, it was overwhelming. We have a pretty decent sized back yard for living in the city, and that's one of the reasons we have decided to stay in our humble little place. X brought a few started plants home to put in our raised beds, and not knowing anything at all about gardening I simply dug little holes and threw the baby plants in. haha. Long story short, the red lettuce is the only brave plant to have survived my ignorance of frosts and planting times. They sure are looking lovely despite my errors in planting them too soon. Anyone want to come over and help me eat these greens?!
After a few very long conversations with my dear and lovely friend, Ellen, who works at a gardening boutique (seriously, that is what you would call the place she works) about seeds and starting and what not, I was confident enough to actually put some seeds in the ground. So far I have planted two sorts of kale, dwarfed blue curled and italian lacinato, or "dinosour" kale in the raised bed with the lettuce. In the back planter I have the rainbow swiss chard and some purple wax beans. I just went out in the rain this evening after work and to my delight, my beans have sprouted and are so adorable. I have some peppermint growing in a very beautiful blue ceramic container, lavender by the roses and literally, BUSHES of cilantro. My friend Jack had a birthday celebration this weekend and I was so excited to bring him a gift of one of my cilantro plants. Can you tell I like green things? I have hopes of some eggplant, summer squashes and perhaps a load of other herbs, like basil, chervil, dill, and flowers like chamomile and marigolds, my upstairs neighbor wants to plant some sun flowers as well. The roses that my land lord fawns over are so luscious, she comes over at least twice a month to take care of them. Rose scented sugars, cupcakes, ice cream, the list could go on, and Im excited to get started.
Roses have never impressed me until I've anticipated their blooming. They are truly gorgeous, and smell so sweet. Funny how things change for me, things that a few years ago I had very little interest in now amazing and intrigue me. Maybe, just maybe I am growing up.
One of my favorite things about gardening is that it changes the way I think about ingredients. My favorite new herb is called Lemon Thyme. It's so delicious, almost buttery but lemony at the same time. A few weeks ago when Dearest Elise visited me here in Chicago we roasted a chicken with the thyme along with some rosemary and garlic, it was phenomenal. This weekend we had the pleasure of meeting with a great group of new friends (I am very excited to share my life with these people), have dinner and discuss faith. I wanted to make something sweet and special, and a galette seemed perfect. This was my first one :
Apple & Apricot Galette with Lemon Thyme.
3 Granny smith apples
2 tablespoons apricot preserves.
2 table spoons of butter
1 tablespoon of milk
Turbinado sugar for sprinkling on top.
* Preheat the oven to 350
1. Roll out your dough into a 12 inch circle, and
place it on a baking sheet.
2. Peel and thinly slice the apples
3. Mix in the preserves to coat the apples
4. Carefully arrange the apple/preserve mixture
. Start with a circle of apples leaving about a two inch border of dough,
and work your way in, laying apples along the way.
5. Dot butter over the entire galette
6. Fold over the excess dough.
7. Brush a bit of milk on the outsides
of the dough and then sprinkle
the sugar on top.
8. Pop it in the oven for about 40 minutes, or until the pastry
is golden and the juices are bubbly.
9. Top with the leaves of the Lemon Thyme
I really enjoyed the end result. The apricot preserves were tart but so so sweet and played up on the tartness of the granny smith apples. The lemon thyme added a little bit of a savory note, but still, because of the lemony scent accentuated the sweetness of the apples. A note about the turbinado sugar, it makes a difference, the course crystals are so beautiful and add a nice crunch. I will be making a lot more of these over the next season. Hanna's Galette looks amazing, I love balsamic and strawberries!
What spring produce are you excited to cook with?
Thanks for reading