Food: It’s time for a real celebration of the spring season
I knew there was a reason why I live in Wisconsin. That was evident to me the other day as I stepped out onto my deck amid a flood of warm sunshine. Birds were calling all around me, and in the air was the pervasive aroma of some blooming vegetation, sweet and wafting on a tender breeze.
Doesn’t seem so long ago that I was pulling the covers over my head and scrunching deeper into the blankets, reluctant to face yet another day of cold. I believe those days are in the past, though. Now I crack my windows open and lay still with my hands behind my head, listening intently to the sweet sounds coming through the screens. It starts with the warbling giggles of the robins followed by the melodious chirpings of the finches. Eventually, it crescendos to a full birdy orchestra, with a multitude of species chiming in, creating the most beautiful music in the world.
I love my drive to work, too. Many people find fall to be a favorite time of year, but to me the colors of spring are just as magnificent. Along the roadways, the sumacs are blooming in snowy white mounds and the cream blooms of the chokecherries are dotted among the lime green of the maples and the soft sage of the poplar leaves. I revel in the tiny flowers poking through the litter on the forest floor. They are delicate pink and yellow and so perfect, as if sculpted in porcelain.
And I love the babies. One of my favorite sights on my drive is a field of cows that are just having their calves. Sometimes these little ones lay in a group dozing, but many times I see them cavorting with each other, bumping heads or playing tag. Further down the road is a mare with a jet black foal. I slow down for that one. Its mane is a tousle of gossamer fuzz and its little tail switches playfully while it gallops in spurts around the field. Soon, little fawns will appear with their spotted coats and it won’t be long before the baby squirrels, rabbits and raccoons will come out of their snug nests to explore the world.
Another favorite pastime is spending time in my garden. I have planted a few seeds so far and greenhouse visits are end results in enjoyable road trips. Looking over the plants at these places, smelling blossoms and deciding which specimens to include in my garden puts me in a dazed reverie. I’m looking forward to planting the tomato seedlings I started a few weeks ago and soon I will have the ingredients for the perfect salad.
I am in awe of all this glory, but there is one group of delicate blossoms that I consider a little more spectacular than the rest. The cluster that has emerged on my Evans Bali cherry trees has me totally enchanted. I planted these specimens three years ago with dreams of glistening, red jewels hanging plump and juicy from leafy branches. Last year, things looked promising until an April freeze resulted in a fruitless year. But that’s not going to be the case this year. I’m confident I will realize a crop, if only a handful. But it’s a start.
It doesn’t seem possible that Memorial Day is upon us; seems like we’ve lost a month of spring with the lingering winter weather we had. But that’s all behind us now and I’m planning on a grill out this weekend because I’m hungry for ribs. Since cherries are some of my favorite food, I’m always looking for recipes to use them in and last year I came across a Cherry BBQ Glaze that works perfect with ribs or chicken and included it for this week.
You can be sure while sitting on my deck enjoying the tantalizing aromas wafting from my grill that I will also be reveling in the glory around me, and especially the delicate blossoms on my Bali Evans tree. Their beauty takes my breath away. See, I KNEW there was a reason why I live in Wisconsin.
Cherry BBQ Glaze
- 2 Tbs. butter
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 3/4 cup cherry preserves (8 ounces)
- 1/8-1/4 cup chipotle chile in adobo, minced and seeded
- 1/4 cup ketchup
- 1/4 cup cider vinegar
Melt the butter in a small saucepan. Add the onion and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about five to six minutes. Add the remaining ingredients and cook over medium heat, stirring until bubbling, about five more minutes. Move the mixture to a food processor and blend until smooth.
Transfer to a bowl and let cool before you use it. The glaze can be refrigerated for up to two weeks.