Perfect Season is Here!

The upside to eating seasonally is that everything tastes so much better because its’ super-fresh.  And I swear seasonal food provides just the nutrition I need at that time of year.  But eating seasonally can also really suck when you’re tired of asparagus.

Over the past few weeks, getting me into the kitchen was much like trying to get me to the dentist.  (Actually, I don’t mind the dentist – I like the squeaky clean feeling of my teeth after a visit, but I digress.) So let’s say it was more like trying to get me to the gym.

I just wasn’t inspired.  There’s only so much Brussels sprouts, leeks and mushrooms one family can eat.  We ate a lot of pizza (not even homemade!) and mac and cheese, (also not homemade, gasp!)  My stomach turned at the sight of my once-beloved Granny Smith apples and the thought of putting one more strawberry in my mouth made me sick.

In short, I was ready for a seasonal shift.

Then, about a month ago bananas and cucumbers made an appearance at the farmers market.  The first inklings of the new season were beginning to show themselves.  In Southern California, it’s tough to actually determine when one season moves into another.  Our trees are almost perpetually green and the weather – comparatively – is perpetually warm.  The only way we know that winter is almost over when the chilly, foggy mornings give way to bright orange sunrises.  In fact, I’d say we only have three seasons: the rainy season (mid-November to late-March), the perfect season (April, May and Oct) and the hot season (June to September).

But this past weekend – whoa Nelly – the perfect season announced itself at the market with typical flair!  I was like a kid in a candy store.  It was Christmas morning.  I had hit the jackpot!  I found corn, cherries and blueberries!  Zucchini, arugula and basil found their way into my shopping bags.  And raspberries, fennel and fresh tomatoes inspired me.  I’ve often thought to myself that the feeling I get after visiting the farmers market at the beginning of the season must be the same feeling churchgoers have on Easter morning – light, vibrant and full of hope!

I couldn’t wait to get home and share my purchases with the family.  Madison literally pounced on me when she saw the bananas and screamed when she saw the corn.  I mean actually screamed.  Have you ever heard an eight-year girl scream at the top of her lungs for corn?  Believe me, it will bring tears to your eyes.  Joel rummaged through the bags and nodded approvingly at the blueberries and cherries while popping a strawberry into his mouth.  (Yes, we’re still eating strawberries…)

It helped that Saturday was a pretty warm day, so I decided to make one of my favorite summer salads that I lifted from the Whole Foods deli counter.  A few years ago my friend Melanie and I attended a summer concert at this amazing winery in Malibu and we stopped at Whole Foods to stock up on picnic supplies.  One of the salads we purchased was this corn and arugula salad.  The combination of sweet corn and peppery arugula – especially when served with grilled foods – is great.

For dessert I a made a simple blueberry sauce and poured it over homemade biscuits and vanilla ice cream.  This is hands down one of my favorite ways to eat blueberries for dessert.

I am sooo ready for Perfect Season!  This is the one time of year where I never get tired of cooking.  Really.  Seriously.

Corn and Arugula Salad, serves 4

2 cups chopped arugula
2 cobs of corn
½ medium red onion, chopped
2-3 tbsp olive oil

Steam the corn on the cob for about 4-5 minutes (until the corn is bright yellow).  Remove from the steamer and cool enough to handle.  Holding the cob on the end, run a knife along the side to remove the kernels from the cob.  If any of the kernels come off in section, crumble them lightly with your fingers to break them into little pieces.  Toss the corn, onion and arugula with the olive oil, salt and pepper and serve.

Simple Blueberry Syrup, serves 4

1 ½ cups fresh blueberries
1 tbsp water
3 tsp sugar

Combine all of the ingredients in a small saucepan over medium heat.  Stir occasionally until the blueberries begin to break down – about 8-10 minutes.  Remove from heat and allow to cool before serving.

4 comments on “Perfect Season is Here!

  1. Tracy
    May 3, 2011 at 9:24 am #

    I have a similar recipe (only I think the quantities are doubled or tripled!) for blueberry syrup. It was part of a recipe for sour cream blueberry pancakes, which are to die for on their own, but that syrup is delicious! It makes way too much for the pancakes but I keep the proportions so we can have lots for ice cream topping, or to stir into plain yogurt.

    Now I’m hungry. We’re just starting to see Spring here…I’ll be happy when our farmer’s markets reopen!

  2. Susan Weisberger
    May 3, 2011 at 7:36 pm #

    Okay Heather it was a good thing I had eaten dinner before I read this post. Our season is not upon us yet!
    Had I read this hungry …. well I can’t say what would have happened. I love your corn and arugula salad..

  3. Rufus' Food and Spirits Guide
    May 7, 2011 at 7:32 pm #

    Great recipes. I know what you mean. Winter sure can be long for a foodie.

  4. courtney
    May 30, 2011 at 10:59 am #

    i think my family recently asked me how much more brussels sprouts, mushrooms & leeks do they hafta eat?? and i’m not done- it’s still sorta chilly here and i wanna make the leek & mushroom tart one more time!! … when you were up here visiting you told me how to do the blueberry syrup (and over ice cream), i think it’s time…i mean, it’s almost JUNE- i’m making it with biscuits this time! it sounds sooo good!

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