Market goodies. I do dearly love the farmers’ market.

With apologies, of course, to Andy Williams. Christmas is wonderful, too, but Lord help me, how I DO love spring. Not least because of all the food-related bonuses it brings. Gardening, strawberries, salad greens, fresh asparagus, grilling out, draft beer and a cheese-and-sausage plate at the ballpark…

…and farmers’ markets!

Which I love as much as I love spring. Or maybe it’s because I love spring.  More likely, it’s because I love to eat. And a trip to the farmers’ market means there’s some good eating to be done, either there, or when you get home, or over the course of the next several days.

I made my first market of the year back last month, when we’d gone to Hot Springs for a weekend. Had some time to kill, and our hotel was just down the street, so I walked down. Saw some old friends, bought herbs, and oh my God, there were the first strawberries of the season! I grabbed some. Back to the hotel, stashed them in the fridge, set the herbs on the desk. One of our traveling companions came in, was checking out the herbs, and wanted to go. So we went back. I bought honey that time.

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Herald of spring

April 4, 2017

Spring in a soup bowl. Because a dessert dish just won’t cut it.

Saturday morning, I got up and betook myself to Memphis to the Farmers’ Market, because their market opens April 1, and ours doesn’t open until May 1, and I wanted asparagus.

Personally, I do not believe a two-hour round trip is excessive to purchase fresh, local asparagus. Particularly not when you can get local strawberries, as well, on April Fools Day, which is early for local berries. But what better way to have a Sunday springtime dinner than with fresh asparagus and strawberry shortcake?

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Feeling all fruity

March 12, 2017

Fresh pineapple in between the yogurt and the granola.

I think it’s my fault it snowed.

Y’see, how it was, was, I was feeling all springy and such, and I indulged in fruit. Lots of fruit the past week or 10 days. Strawberries, blueberries, pineapple, pears, watermelon. I even toyed with the idea of adding some small watermelons and some canteloupes to my garden plan.

And Mother Nature said, “Uh, uh, no you don’t! Don’t you even start thinking about spring and such!” And that bitch dumped four inches of snow on us yesterday afternoon and last night. On the very day, in fact, that I was supposed to go to Lowe’s and pick up my order of bagged compost, fence stuff, and other assorted garden-y things.

Pffth. I just hope it didn’t get the early peaches.

Anyway. I’m enjoying fruit, whatever the weather is. I made yogurt the other day, and granola, and I’ve had that with both pineapple and with strawberries. Good breakfast fare, that; it’ll stay with you for a while.

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Strawberry shortcake with creme fraiche on top. Kill me now.

Strawberry shortcake with creme fraiche on top. Kill me now.

This time of year, the strawberry shortcake is just canonical. And there are as many ways to make it as there are cooks who do.

When I was growing up, we generally tended toward the sponge-cake-you-bought-at-the-grocery style of shortcake. You know, the ones with a hollowed-out top you put the berries in.  My former mother-in-law made a killer angel food cake, and was a devotee of using that as a base for berries. More traditional shortcake makers use a sugar-cookie-type cake, or a pie crust dusted with sugar and baked in flat wafers or strips, or something along the order of a sweetened biscuit.

You can even take a page from the esteemed Bulldog Drive In in Bald Knob, and put your strawberries over soft-serve ice cream, with shortbread wafers, whipped topping and peanuts.

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Strawberries!

May 10, 2016

Strawberry jam. Thirty half-pints' worth, waiting for biscuits.

Strawberry jam. Thirty half-pints’ worth, waiting for biscuits.

I do love a strawberry.  I love a strawberry shortcake, strawberries and creme fraiche, strawberries in yogurt, strawberry pie, strawberry cake, strawberries with sour cream and brown sugar.

And it’s strawberry season here in Arkansas, and strawberries are having an exceptional year. Big, sweet, plentiful.

So today I made strawberry jam.

Friend Kate was visiting, and she’s awfully fond of strawberry jam. We’d talked about making some last year, and just didn’t do it (and berries weren’t too good last year, anyway). We determined we wouldn’t let this year’s season get away.

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Road trip goodies

April 26, 2016

Arkansas' best dessert. Definitely worth a road trip.

Arkansas’ best dessert. Definitely worth a road trip.

What do you do to keep a trip from Little Rock whose primary reason, a business meeting, gets cancelled, from being an overall waste of time?

You spend the night with a good friend, who doesn’t mind that you’re drugged out on sinus meds and can’t stay awake (may be a Good Thing the meeting was cancelled!), and you take advantage of the trip to score big in the Road Food category.

Tonight's road-trip dinner -- asparagus, proscuitto, shrimp scampi. Strawberries not shown.

Tonight’s road-trip dinner — asparagus, proscuitto, shrimp scampi. Strawberries not shown.

Still enjoying the bountiful asparagus I’ve been dining on since the weekend, I had planned to take some with me to Kate’s house for our dinner. Just for good measure, I stopped by and picked up proscuitto in which to wrap it to roast. Then, on the way down, I celebrated spring by stopping off at the Bulldog Cafe in Bald Knob to have strawberry shortcake.

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Easter perfection

March 27, 2016

What does this Easter dinner lack, to make it perfect?

What does this Easter dinner lack, to make it perfect?

 

Just this. God is a better pastry chef than I'll ever be.

Just this. God is a better pastry chef than I’ll ever be.

Or maybe this. Key lime pie. Take me to the islands.

Or maybe this. Key lime pie. Take me to the islands.

Some years, the stars align to make a perfectly glorious Easter. This was one such year.

Spectacularly gorgeous weather (windows open, breeze blowing, sun shining). Kids all spic and span, shined up and dressed up for church (even if two of them were in Jackson, Miss., with two-thirds of my grandchildren. Bacon, sausage and pancakes for Easter breakfast at church after the early service, and a marvelous Easter dinner that didn’t leave me exhausted, because I did most everything the night before.

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