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Seasonal Treats


YKL
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Well now that it's finally starting to warm up here in the UK, it means that the prospect of spring and summer vegetables is so much closer. And so a thought occurred to me over the weekend as I was enjoying my Jersey Royals - the principle of eating with the seasons is a well known foundation for good eating and cooking, but what foods are the most eagerly anticipated year to year for everyone?

I'm such a glutton that I have a number - including the aforementioned Jerseys, but what about fresh asparagus (not too long now), summer strawberries, Indian alphonse mangoes and even that first home made mince pie - which shows Xmas is not far away.

Apologies if this is an old topic for egullet - I did try and search for it but didn't find anything specific.

Cheers

Yin

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Hi Yin, yes, we too can't wait for the first English asparagus - usually some spindly sprue first of all to whet the appetite before the thicker jumbo stuff from Norfolk or Evesham becomes available. These days more often than not, we'll either simply steam, or else oven roast or sometimes cook over the charcoal grill, then season with the best single-estate extra virgin olive oil and (very important) a good crush of Malden sea salt, a grind of coarse black pepper. (Come to think of it, Richard, our local greengrocer has some mighty good Spanish asparagus around now for us to enjoy while we're waiting).

What else? Baby broad beans, but only when picked and eaten direct from my mother-in-law's garden, at which point they are so tender and delicious that they are best enjoyed raw, or only slightly cooked, sautéed in a little bacon fat. As for soft fruits, we enjoy going to the Manstree Fruit Farm across the river from us where we'll enjoy throughout summer the most intensely flavoured strawberries and raspberries, perfect for making summer pudding. Sometimes we pick our own, but more often than not I ring them in advance to ensure there is plenty available, picked by the Boyce family that morning.

Another vanishing seasonal delicacy we eagerly look forward to is Exe salmon. We live on the banks of a broad tidal estuary that was once the source of vast amounts of wild Atlantic salmon. Today, only a handful of fisherman remain, and the season has been limited to the briefest period: about mid-June to the end of August (it used to start on Feb 14, but has been restricted in order to try and let stocks replenish as the salmon swim upriver to spawn). Exe salmon is caught by fishermen using seine nets: one man stays on the muddy foreshore holding an end of the long net weighted at the bottom, cork floats on the top. The other rows maybe 2/3 across the narrow channel at low tide, allowing the net to feed out, drifts and waits, then rows around to shore in a big loop (pleasure craft have to take evasive action often in the restricted waters so as not to foul the nets). Once back on the squelching, deep mud, and wearing chest high waders, he leaves the boat and gradually the two men approach each other, gathering in the net carefully, slowly, painstakingly. More often than not their efforts are in vain, but with luck there will be a glistening Exe salmon, sometimes even two or more, thrashing and entwined in the net!

This king of fish is quite different to salmon caught elsewhere, even other wild salmon. The flesh is very pale but still pink, and very lean (unlike fattier farmed salmon); it has an intense, earthy flavour that some don't like but which we adore. Like the English summer, it is a brief seasonal delight that comes all too rarely. But for us, Exe salmon is the taste of summer.

Marc

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Fresh sweet corn is only worthwhile during season. The stuff just hasn't figured out how to travel well yet... and I probably won't trust it when the eggheads that work down the hall from me figure out how to make it travel well.

But, when you lug your turkey frier and a bunch of water to the field and gorge yourself with your buddies... ahh, that's good living.

Rhubarb also seems to lose something in the translation, but I've never been a fan of rhubarb with the same girth as a quarter, or larger.

I always attempt to have the ratio of my intelligence to weight ratio be greater than one. But, I am from the midwest. I am sure you can now understand my life's conundrum.

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Fresh sweet corn is only worthwhile during season. 

Ahhh yes!

Also morels. :wub:

"A good dinner is of great importance to good talk. One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well." Virginia Woolf

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From my West Coast roots, strawberries from Ventura County, the overripe ones only available on the stand picked that morning...

From my East coast experience, Silver Queen white corn.

Silver Queen white corn ROCKS!!! :rolleyes:

fresh picked sweet tomatoes, sprinkled with salt and slurped up!!!

Thats GOOD living!!! :raz:

"look real nice...............wrapped up twice"

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Spring lamb rubbed generously with the chopped tender tips of herbs from the kitchen garden. First eggs of the season beaten with cream and chives. Fresh peppermint tea...Spring certainly is the beginning of heaven! :rolleyes:

Shelley: Would you like some pie?

Gordon: MASSIVE, MASSIVE QUANTITIES AND A GLASS OF WATER, SWEETHEART. MY SOCKS ARE ON FIRE.

Twin Peaks

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From my West Coast roots, strawberries from Ventura County, the overripe ones only available on the stand picked that morning...

From my East coast experience, Silver Queen white corn.

BBQ -

You're killing me. We've shared the transcontinental voyage, it would seem. Born and bred Venturan, lived most of my life since then in less temperate climes (New England, Chicago and, soon, the Upper Peninsula of Michigan).

Put a call through to my aunt and uncle, who have dozens of avocado trees in the front and back yards alone, and satsuma plums; how to get the things I feasted on as a kid to us in "da U.P."

Never had Silver Queen white corn, to my knowledge. Where can I get it?

Paul

-Paul

 

Remplis ton verre vuide; Vuide ton verre plein. Je ne puis suffrir dans ta main...un verre ni vuide ni plein. ~ Rabelais

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fresh picked sweet tomatoes, sprinkled with salt and slurped up!!!

Heirloom varieties at the Farmer's Market, picked that morning!

We always make BLT's with the first ones purchased.

Dave Valentin

Retired Explosive Detection K9 Handler

"So, what if we've got it all backwards?" asks my son.

"Got what backwards?" I ask.

"What if chicken tastes like rattlesnake?" My son, the Einstein of the family.

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Fresh sweet corn is only worthwhile during season.  The stuff just hasn't figured out how to travel well yet... and I probably won't trust it when the eggheads that work down the hall from me figure out how to make it travel well.

But, when you lug your turkey frier and a bunch of water to the field and gorge yourself with your buddies... ahh, that's good living.

Oh man, I remember sweetcorn from my teenage years when we lived in the Midwest briefly: Ohio sweetcorn, purchased by the baker's dozen from roadside stalls just picked. How we'd enjoy that corn only lightly cooked, piping hot so that it burns your fingers and roof of the mouth, slathered in good sweet butter, lots of salt and plenty of black pepper. One of my greatest food memories on earth, and totally, impossibly, irrefutably, eternally not available in Britain...

But to lug a turkey frier into the fields and enjoy that sweetcorn within minutes of being picked! I can only imagine how good that must be!!! How do you fire up the turkey frier? Can't quite picture what this portable beautiful beast is like? Have you got a pic you can post?

Only thing that comes close to matching this in concept is catching mackerel off a hand line with feathers -- seeing that quick, darting, shimmering flash of silver, sometimes two or three flashes since the line has six hooks-and-feathers, pulling the wriggling fish into the boat. Unhook, clean, then straight into the frying pan...Mackerel that fresh is the greatest fish in the world. And they are running right now. Will try and catch some this weekend...

Marc

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From my West Coast roots, strawberries from Ventura County, the overripe ones only available on the stand picked that morning...

From my East coast experience, Silver Queen white corn.

BBQ -

You're killing me. We've shared the transcontinental voyage, it would seem. Born and bred Venturan, lived most of my life since then in less temperate climes (New England, Chicago and, soon, the Upper Peninsula of Michigan).

Put a call through to my aunt and uncle, who have dozens of avocado trees in the front and back yards alone, and satsuma plums; how to get the things I feasted on as a kid to us in "da U.P."

Never had Silver Queen white corn, to my knowledge. Where can I get it?

Paul

Paul, Silver Queen is grown in MD and VA, but around here the "best" comes from the eastern shore of MD.

I grew up in the proverbial armpit of Ventura County, Oxnard, on the southside, later moving to Camarillo. Nothing but strawberries (and lemons) between. A few years ago, I told some East coast friends that the best strawberries come for the stand and hand carried some back to prove it. I now get a whole flat shipped Federal Express from my mom every year :biggrin: Next delivery on Thursday. :biggrin::biggrin:

Oh yes avacados, the "rich" people planted them on their land as an investment back in the 70s. Blows me away, though, that they cost the same there as they do here.

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BBQ, my mom used to work for Martin V. Smith, who probably now owns half of Oxnard, if he's still alive. My step dad and I would fly out of Camarillo airport - he was an old navy pilot. Man, memories - I used to haunt those fields between Ventura, Camarillo and Oxnard all the time as a kid. Nothing better. I'd hike to Two Trees and eat fresh from the field.

When my aunt and uncle bought their property, I think it was worth about $11,000, which he got on the V.A. bill. The man is a fiend for growing and he lost more avocados in ripe-drop than I will probably buy in a lifetime. We were in free avocados as kids. Ah, youth!

Cheers, mate, from a fellow Ventura Count-ian...

Paul

-Paul

 

Remplis ton verre vuide; Vuide ton verre plein. Je ne puis suffrir dans ta main...un verre ni vuide ni plein. ~ Rabelais

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Blackberries, right off the prickly bush. One for my mouth, one for my bucket. One for my mouth, one for my bucket. The ones in the bucket (that make it all the home) getting made into a cobbler that night.

Haven't gotten to do that in a while, though. Growing up in N. GA, it was an annual thing in July, but here in SE TX, no luck. The ones I can get at Whole Foods are ok for my cereal, but they just don't hold a candle to the ones I gather while dodging brambles.

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ditto everything mentioned,

I like the sentiment - especially now I've googled and know what silver queen white corn, muscadines and scuppernongs are! (scuppernongs might be my new favourite word!)

But the main reason for this additional post is to correct the most glaring omission for an annual treat - BIRTHDAY CAKE!! Stephanie Plum would never forgive me.

And also those chinese glutinous rice dumplings my mother used to make, the filling was either lentils and belly pork and wind dried sausage, or peanuts - all covered in glutinous rice, wrapped in bamboo leaves and tied with string and then boiled to cook. Incredibly labour intensive (for my Mum) but so yummy for me! Don't know what the transliteration name is - I know them as "Jung" or "Gor Jung". Have some vague recollection that they may be to do with the dragon boat festival?

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ditto everything mentioned, plus raspberries, muscat grapes imported from Italy in the fall, the tiny champagne grapes,

I'm total agreement with this statement, but replace muscat grapes with New York concord grapes in the fall.

What about ramps? They're like the groundhog - one of the first signs of spring. :smile:

"Some people see a sheet of seaweed and want to be wrapped in it. I want to see it around a piece of fish."-- William Grimes

"People are bastard-coated bastards, with bastard filling." - Dr. Cox on Scrubs

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Strawberries, tomatoes, raspberries (our new house has a stand in the side yard!), tender little lettuces, peaches, and blueberries.

Heather, I expect you to share!!!

I could probably even be talked into buying you lunch at Giuseppe's.

If someone writes a book about restaurants and nobody reads it, will it produce a 10 page thread?

Joe W

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And also those chinese glutinous rice dumplings my mother used to make, the filling was either lentils and belly pork and wind dried sausage, or peanuts - all covered in glutinous rice, wrapped in bamboo leaves and tied with string and then boiled to cook.  Incredibly labour intensive (for my Mum) but so yummy for me!  Don't know what the transliteration name is - I know them as "Jung" or "Gor Jung".  Have some vague recollection that they may be to do with the dragon boat festival?

YKL,

Are these the same as zong zi? Yum.

"A good dinner is of great importance to good talk. One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well." Virginia Woolf

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Strawberries, tomatoes, raspberries (our new house has a stand in the side yard!), tender little lettuces, peaches, and blueberries.

Heather, I expect you to share!!!

I could probably even be talked into buying you lunch at Giuseppe's.

You're on! Do you know how to make jam?

Heather Johnson

In Good Thyme

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