Spring arrived on March 21st. It was a Sunday and I spent the day in JFK Hospital in Atlantis, Florida. The window from my mother’s room looked out to the interior roof of the hospital. My window to the outdoors was the “default” cable TV channel – the one you got when you turned on the TV — with a camera ever trained on the hospital’s entry road. From there palm trees basked in the Florida sunshine. My mother died two says later. So spring’s entry this year for me was a bit of a blur.
It seems altogether fitting that following the death of my mother comes a time to focus again on renewal. So, though I have come late to spring this year, in some ways I approach it with greater appreciation. (Spring, for me, has always included a bit of melancholy. I have never escaped the feeling that implicit in birth is death. That Spring is part of a larger cycle that includes Winter.)
Which brings me to my season’s first visit to Maple Acres Farm. Maple Acres is a working farm located on the edge of northwest Philadelphia in Plymouth Meeting. To the best of my knowledge, it is the closest working farm to the city. Certainly urban farm stands now bring local fare to city-dwellers’ “backyards.” But that’s no substitute for going to the source.
As weather around here has been unseasonably warm in recent weeks, we arrived at Maple Acres with anticipation of Spring’s early bounty. Fields of freshly plowed earth and rows of black and white plastic surrounded the “commercial core” of the farm. But by noon, the last of the day’s just picked asparagus – the first crop of the year and only ready for picking – had already sold out. Our consolation was first of the season lilacs and the last of the daffodils – half price at $1 a bunch. Flats of pansies and herbs lined counters soon to be filled with tomatoes, corn, peppers and eggplant. Regiments of potted geraniums and hydrangeas stood at attention. In the distance a red tractor churned an untilled section. In a few weeks lettuces, real spring onions, spinach and dandelion greens will be available, but not today. By late June you will be able to “rent” a pair of scissors and cut your way through fields of asters and zinnias. We are at the edge of an avalanche of spring and summer produce. Waiting a bit longer only builds the anticipation.
From At Home’s Foods by Season
Cooking that’s sensitive to seasonal changes is a way of staying connected to your particular place in the world. Of course, culinary seasons are relative to where you live: Spring begins earlier in Savannah than it does in Duluth, and in many regions, late September is very different from early November, though they’re both considered fall. Given the year-round availability of food in your local supermarket, it takes some thought to cook seasonally.
Here’s a list of spring produce:
Sugar snap peas
Wild mushrooms (porcinis and morels)
Coming to the At Home blog
Beginning later this week I will lead you through my planning and preparation for a small special dinner at home that Christina and I are planning for Sunday, April 25th.
Mother’s Day At Home Special
As blog readers know, At Home by Steve Poses: A Caterer’s Guide to Cooking & Entertaining is dedicated to my mother. My mother gave to me the gift of appreciating entertaining at home. At Home is the perfect gift from sons and daughters and husbands and significant others to mothers. And, in a special way, it is also a perfect Mother’s Day “gift” from mothers to children as a way of passing along their own legacy of entertaining at home. Look for details about a special Mother’s Day offer for At Home.
Don’t Try This At Home…Behind the Scenes of Frog Commissary Catering
Spring marks a busy time for Frog Commissary Catering — my catering company. An annual catering highlight is The Franklin Institute’s Awards Dinner at the end of this month — this year honoring Bill Gates, among others. Check-out what’s involved in serving a sit-down dinner for 800 in a science museum not built for serving dinners for 800. Also, see behind the scenes at catering for the Dad Vail Regatta and the opening of the sensational Cleopatra exhibit at The Franklin Institute.
The first lilacs and the last daffodils.
Thank you for visiting.
Your Home Entertaining Coach