spring

spring has sprung

Ah spring………….the weather may be crazy all over the place but spring you are definitely here.

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The grass is racing away, the days are noticeably longer and daylight saving starts this coming weekend.

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It is such a hopeful time of the year, as I walk under pink and white branches laden with blossom in the orchard.

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I am dreaming of the fruit I will pick. This is before the reality of summer droughts,  Nor’West winds  and pecking birds, but for now everything seems possible.

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You can palpably feel the energy outside. The first of the season asparagus are recklessly poking their heads up, and the shaggy heads of the Van Sion narcissus are blooming their hearts out in the orchard.

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Every time I go and pick some Rosemary it is a buzz with bees covering the blue flowers.

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The mint looks like a mini forest of fresh green stalks.

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So for today it’s all about the wonders of spring down here at Dry Paddocks I hope elsewhere  in the southern hemisphere you are enjoying spring too.

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spring colour

While the spring bulbs are dazzling us  and the  blossom is ethereal and elegant against the sky, this is a plain jane  time of the year for the vegetable garden. It is pretty bare and well a bit boring……well mine is.  The winter veg have mostly finished and its too early for new spring seedlings.
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I think that is why I swoop so enthusiastically into the rhubarb patch gathering up large armfuls because the red stems are just so colourful  and tender at this time of year. It is my favourite breakfast fruit dish in spring.
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I know a lot of people don’t like using rhubarb because they think you need large quantities of sugar to sweeten it, and as we all know we should be limiting our sugar intake. But, shock horror,  I don’t use sugar with rhubarb, I cook it just with fresh squeezed orange juice.
I fill a baking dish with rhubarb cut into about 6cm lengths bake it in the oven with the zested rind and juice from 2 oranges,  until it is just soft but not falling apart. I often add frozen raspberries after it comes out of the oven, from our summer harvest which adds more intense rich ruby colour to the dish.
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Guaranteed to make you smile while you  are eating your favourite cereal in the morning. I make this a lot for guests at this time of year
and it has converted many a non rhubarb eater. Try it love to hear what you think.

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My other colourful stalwart at the moment is purple sprouting broccoli. A little lemon zest, some garlic and olive oil,  a quick sauté in a pan and it’s ready. The colour is wonderful and the little florets are just as pretty as flowers in the kitchen.
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What is in your vegetable gardens that is giving pleasure at the moment? Do tell I need some inspiration.

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in a spring mood celebrating green

This is one of the most beautiful times of year.

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The new fresh spring growth is soft and hazy, as you walk or drive around, there is a luminous quality to the light and landscape colour.

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The variations in one colour……green……..are far more in nature than you ever see on a paint chart.

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The vines are morphing from brown lines marching across the land into a soft fuzzy green.

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We value green here………. we know it can disappear in the blink of an eye , and its because this time is so ephemeral, that it is so enticing.

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Today is a bit of a homage to spring green.

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As Kermit said ‘its good to be green.’

While I was sorting all this greenness I remembered a recipe that I make often at this time of year because it can be loaded with lots of green things. Whether it is fresh herbs, grated courgettes, or now, as it’s Asparagus season grated fresh asparagus, perfect  flavours for this time of year.

These  ricotta cakes can be shaped  into little flattened cakes and pan fried  or I cooked these in mini muffin pans, they are perfect party food this size, or lunch fare teamed with a green salad.

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Ricotta Cakes

400 grams ricotta
125 grams grated parmesan
1/4 tspn salt
grated zest of a lemon
2 Tbspn chopped mint
4 Tbspn flour

In a bowl combine all of the above ingredients and mix well to combine.
If pan frying shape into  balls flatten slightly and roll in approximately 4 Tbspns of flour to coat .Pan fry in olive oil until golden brown on each side.
Or, spray mini muffin tins with non stick spray and pat mixture into pans.
Cook for approximately 20 minutes in a 180 degree oven. Cool slightly then gently remove.

Different herbs can be used in the mixture and cakes can be topped with pesto.

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a little tulip mania

Spring has been changeable, as is it’s want……………………………………………………………………………………..
it was warm and settled……………then cold and frosty………………………………….. followed by wild and windy.
We are bracing for another barrelling wind tonight.
So I have been  in the garden tulip picking before their petals are lost to all four corners.

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A little tulip mania…………………………. I hope you enjoy it.

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 If you don’t like tulips exit now. But as Mae West  said ‘too much of a good thing is wonderful’.

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These are parrot tulips, quirky, not to everyone’s taste.

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 They are a little twisted with fringed edges and markings as though a painter has randomly brushed broad strokes across the petals.

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They don’t last long but that is part of their charm, you enjoy them while they are here.

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