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Spring Hopes

The calendar can play tricks on those of us who live in northern climes.  The astronomical landmark of the equinox on March 20th only teases us into believing that spring has begun here in the temperately tenuous Upper Midwest of Wisconsin. The equinox usually brings a sloppy, melting mess when snows mix with rain to wash away the road salts and aging snow piles. 

But, it’s a hopeful slush that the thaw of winter is virtually over. Then, there’s that turning point, never quite sure on exactly what day, when the sun is warm instead of just bright. It’s that first day when the medium weight winter jacket suddenly is too toasty. It’s the hints of green shoots poking through the mud and the buds slowly pushing off the tree branches that frame the colors of the crocuses and daffodils.

It is the reappearance of farmers’ markets that truly signals the resurgence of the growing season. A farmers’ market in Wisconsin in late April will not yield a vast array of crops but it is the hope of what is to come. Even at this first market, I hauled away a heavy load including potatoes, eggs, cheeses, and the last of the sweet, winter spinach grown under the shelter of hoop houses. 

I’m excited to resurrect The Deliberate Pickle blog after a long winter’s nap.  From the beginning of this growing season to long past the first frost in the fall, I will be posting about how the craft and finesse of cooking and eating solo can benefit from frequent trips to farmers’ markets, farm stands, and varied fresh food purveyors.

The abundance of farmers’ markets may seem intimidating to those of us who prepare meals for one, but they are truly one of the most ideal places to shop for one and learn about food.  The just picked crops you will find, which vary throughout the growing season, are ultra-fresh. Alternately, vegetables and fruits purchased at a large grocery store  are generally trucked in from 1,000 miles away or further.  

Farmers’ market purchases will, therefore, last longer when you take them home. The concern that may arise when preparing food for one about wasting food or purchasing too much can be lessened. Ask the grower you are buying from how to store your purchase since they will have the best advice. 

The “farm to table” goal is no longer a new one to American chefs. It has extended to prepared food makers because the flavors are fresh and often unique.  It can also become an attainable goal for those of us who eat many of our meals solo. We can become sidewalk foragers and seek out the joys of everything from new spring asparagus to the vine ripened tomato or melon that is in season later this summer.  Sidewalk foraging can even land you at a new tasty food cart or that bakery you’ve been wanting to try. Winter is over. Time for flavor adventures!