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Let me begin by telling you that I’m no veggie Purist, but I don’t buy meat to cook at home, even though I do order an occasional piece of fish or chicken if I’m in a restaurant. (If Johnson City could get a really good vegetarian restaurant I might even forgo that occasional piece of meat.) I get tired of ordering salads and burritos on the rare occasion that I go out to eat…those are things that I can easily prepare at home. Eating out is meant to be a treat, and a change of pace from the everydayness of my own cooking.
Michael and I attended ‘VEG FEST’ today in nearby Asheville, NC. This day-long celebration of all things vegan and vegetarian was held in a beautiful downtown park, was free to get in, and filled with vendors, all hawking anything you can think of that might possibly appeal to a vegetarian lifestyle. From Organic Clothing, to granola bars and smoothies, from bumper stickers to animal rights activists, it was a smorgasbord of stuff for folks both young and old: we all had one thing in common…we were there for the food.
Ah, the food! We ate our first-ever Vietnamese sandwiches, called Banh Mi, with a side order of fresh spring rolls, each hand-wrapped by a cute Vietnamese girl. With peanut or Sriachi sauces for dipping, this made for a delicious and different ‘veg head’meal.
Later we watched cooking demonstrations…
…made by some famous chef I’d never heard of. But he did cook Broccoli-Raab. Have you had it before?
All that celebrating of vegetarian foods made me grateful that I live in a place where I have access to all that and more. It also made me aware of how much I really love eating FRESH foods. After we returned home from the festival, while Michael walked down the street to water our plot at the community garden, I decided to take some pictures of some of the freshest food available- in my own backyard. I’ve learned first-hand that it’s positively cheaper and far more environmentally-friendly to eat a veg diet than a meat-based one. We won’t even go into the health pros and cons because that’s not what the point of this post is all about. It’s more about the celebration of fresh vegetables and fruits at this time of year, after a long winter of butternut squash, canned goods and root crops. Because our spring has been fairly cool, the things I’m growing in my tiny greenhouse are still continuing to keep us supplied with all the lettuces, spinach, cilantro and spring onions we can eat this spring, with enough to share too. This picture was taken today, May 15th…
We’re also enjoying the gift of eggs from my friend’s hens…eggs that have been few and far between during the winter months, are now filling cartons faster than she can use them up. I’m taking the advice of another friend to chop fresh lettuce and spinach or arugula finely, cook an egg over-easy style in olive or coconut oil, and serve it on top of the chopped greens. The yolk is soft enough to make a ‘sauce’ for the whole thing. Just look at how these bright yellow yokes stand up in the pan…her happy hens are fed a healthy, organic diet that reveals itself in those ‘circles of sunshine’.
As I walked around taking pictures of my own backyard bounty and counting my blessings in the process, I realized how big the chard has gotten. Just as spinach and lettuce begin the end of their short cool-season lives, the chard jumps at the chance to continue giving us fresh greens for supper… PS that little plant on the bottom right is a volunteer calendula from last year. You can use the blossoms to make a soothing salve. I wonder if I can eat the leaves???
Of course, we all enjoy dessert and spring has brought with it…strawberries! This has been our best year ever for these sweeties and I believe it’s probably because I took the time last summer to pot up runners and then in the fall replaced older plants with the new younger ones. Or maybe it’s because I have my own hive of bees this spring and they’ve been busy doing what they do best. Maybe both. Regardless, this is but a small bit of the berry bounty…
And isn’t that convenient that Mother Nature provided us with the perfect combination of spinach and strawberries at the exact same time so that I can make the best salad on the planet? Here’s the recipe: you’re welcome.
Spinach Strawberry Salad
- 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
- 1 tablespoon poppy seeds
- 1/2 cup white sugar
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1/4 cup distilled white vinegar
- 1/4 teaspoon paprika
- 1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tablespoon minced onion
- 10 ounces fresh spinach – rinsed, dried and torn into bite-size pieces
- 1 quart strawberries – cleaned, hulled and sliced
- 1/4 cup almonds, blanched and slivered
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the sesame seeds, poppy seeds, sugar, olive oil, vinegar, paprika, Worcestershire sauce and onion. Cover, and chill for one hour.
- In a large bowl, combine the spinach, strawberries and almonds. Pour dressing over salad, and toss. Refrigerate 10 to 15 minutes before serving.
Printed From Allrecipes.com 5/15/2016
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