I know it’s hard to believe but the 52.34 feet of snow has melted; trees are budding…kind of, and the beginning of gardening, fishing, and foraging seasons is upon us. So what is a guy (or lady to be politically correct) to do? EAT.
Spring is my second favorite season of the year right behind the number one season…hunting. The coming of spring means that every state will be stocking tens of thousands of trout into trout parks, streams, and ponds. It means that department stores will be inundated with gardening supplies and I will inevitably be spending too much money on gardening supplies (I am already at twenty dollars and haven’t gotten a single seed). It means that wild fiddle heads will be emerging and maple sap will be flowing. It is the renewal of live in the desolate times we refer to as winter in New England.
So let’s talk a little about what this all means. Start with the fact that with a little bit of effort and a few weeks you will be sitting down to some of the best food you have had in months. Trout fishing is pretty easy in stocked parks. You go out with a twenty dollar Walmart fishing rod, a handful of worms from the garden (or plucked off of the track after a good rain), a couple of hooks, and a split-shot sinker and you have the makings of a great foundation for your coming of spring meal. If trout is not your thing, try taking a quick trip to the coast and jumping onto a charter boat for cod, striped bass, or tuna if you have the money. And if you have the money for that, I would suggest that you bring me too because I really want to go! While you’re there on the coast look into grabbing yourself a shellfish license and digging up some fresh clams!
If seafood isn’t really your thing please stop reading and consult a specialist…just kidding. I myself am not the biggest fan of seafood. I eat it from time to time, but only when I catch it. Anyway, give foraging a shot. Right now is a bit early but soon enough fiddleheads (baby ferns…just google it) should be pushing through the dense pine needle carpets. Pick a few dozen of those bad boys, or ladies, sauté them in butter and finish with a squeeze of lemon juice and a pinch of salt and pepper. You’re in for a magical experience. Wild spring onions are beginning to emerge as well. They look like tall, skinny shoots but when you pick them they have a small onion bulb similar to a commercial green onion. Pick a bunch, clean off the dirt and enjoy as a wildly sourced, sustainable substitute to onions in your recipes. This time of year is also when my absolute favorite sweet treat is being made…MAPLE SYRUP!!! Made from the sap of a maple tree, maple syrup is the product of the first flowing, sugar laden, and godly nectars of a maple tree. At a ratio of forty gallons of sap to one gallon of syrup, the stuff is very expensive but worth every single cent. If you want to try your hand at it sometime, take a look at tapmytree.com (I don’t endorse them it’s just the only site I know) and get one of their maple starting kits. There are a few other sources of forgeable food to be found right now, you just have to know what it is that you are looking for. As the weather gets warmer wild foods will become more and more abundant.
For those of you not interested in taking advantage of the bounty off nature I would suggest gardening. Starting your own salad garden is fairly inexpensive, a very healthy habit, and is a fun hobby that can distract you from grueling summer tasks. I would suggest starting out with a “patio mix” or a group of plants easily grown in planters on a porch or patio. Tomatoes, basil, a lettuce mix and some cucumbers will work, if you’re feeling really feisty. Start tomatoes and basil inside four to six weeks before you plan on placing them in their planters. Once it’s warm enough, transplant them into their new homes and on the same day start your lettuce and cucumbers in their own respective planters. Give them a month or so to grow and start budding and a few weeks past that to begin fruiting. Then enjoy them in a lovely salad dressed in olive oil and lemon juice. Just remember to give everything a good washing before you eat it or you may end up with some extra protein in the form of slugs or tomato worms…I am speaking from experience here folks.
Spring is a wonderful time full of new growth and great food. Get outside, try something new, and most of all have fun!
P.S. Seriously though, if you’re going tuna fishing, BRING ME TOO!