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Fri June 3, 2011
Our growing season in Kansas is brief and violent. One month we have nothing but lettuce and radishes poking up through the snow and the next we are leaving giant baby-sized zucchini on the neighbor’s porch under cover of night. Eating seasonally in this area is challenging, since for eight months we have nothing at all and for four months we have too much of everything. Summer in Kansas is a tomato-basil-cucumber-pepper avalanche. It’s fantastic for salsa lovers.
Spring is a little slower. We get lettuces first, and they are so exciting when they first come up. If you don’t plant a little staggered, however, you will be eating lettuce every day like a ruminant. Last year my husband planted an exciting patch of lettuce, arugula, and spinach. It came up all at once, a lawn of greens. Unfortunately, nobody in my house eats green vegetables except for me, so I was mowing down that salad all by myself. I felt guilty if I didn’t at least make an effort. This year, we went away for a week, the lettuce all bolted, and we didn’t eat salad at all. My guys didn’t miss it one bit.
Asparagus is happening now, too. We get ours from Walnut Grove Gardens, and it comes in all purpley-green and crisp. Asparagus is a member of the lily family, and takes three years to establish itself before it can be harvested. It’s a pretty remarkable vegetable that can grow up to ten inches in 24 hours. I like it steamed or roasted, with butter and lemon or olive oil, garlic, and parmesan cheese. It also tastes great with a buttery sauce made with orange zest and tarragon. Even though it comes in strong and fast, asparagus season is fairly short, only a few weeks. Eat it every day until you are sick of it, then wait until spring…you’ll have a chance to miss it and you’ll love it again.
That’s the beauty of eating seasonally- you get a chance to wait for what you want, eat it when it tastes best, and then long for it for another year before you can enjoy it again. I don’t’ know about you, but I’m ready for strawberries next.