As much as I mark the seasons by temperature, I measure them by food. Summer is peaches and tomatoes fresh from the vine; winter, nourishing soups and sweetly roasted root vegetables. At this time of year – when winter leaks into spring and summer is just a figment of my imagination – I don’t want to look at another parsnip and can’t wait for strawberries eaten straight from the field.
The older I get, the more I appreciate the simple art of assembly: no complicated recipes – who has the time or the energy? But still, I love to eat, and sometimes a new twist on an old staple is enough to keep me interested and well-fed until nature presents me with her new menu.
Frequently this winter, I’d turn the day upside down: dinner in the morning, breakfast at night. Sometimes, when I can’t sleep, all my body wants is a nice toasted piece of wheat bread, so this seemed to make sense. Top leftover roasted veggies with a poached egg or two, and supper couldn’t be simpler.
So the meat moves to the morning: a thick slice of whole grain artisan bread, spread with whipped chive cream cheese (so much more affordable than goat cheese and just as addictive), topped with warmed leftover salmon. Avocado enhances the experience. An invention this winter, this delicacy still makes me stop and pay uncharacteristically close attention with every bite I take, a meditation for the mouth.
Still another stumbled-upon treasure: overripe Harry & David pears – practically a crime – rescued, peeled, cored and chopped, thrown into a saucepan with a couple of handfuls of cheery red cranberries, cooked down and finished with a swirl of maple syrup. Sublime on hot, crispy French toast on a snowy Sunday morning; equally as divine mid-week with the leftover toast, re-toasted, and cushioned with a layer of peanut butter. Quick, delicious – what more can you ask at 6 a.m.?
Summer lies dead ahead, with uncharted delicacies waiting to be explored. Making the most of each season’s bounty not only stretches the food – it can stretch the imagination.