May means new beginnings and a fresh harvest

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By: Rachel Shenk

Rachel Shenk/La Bonne Vie

Something about the month of May brings new hope. Is it the explosion of flowers and leaves? Is it the warm sun and heavy rain showers? Maybe it’s the near end of the school year with its ensuing new beginnings.

In any case, May seems to have changed the mood of most everyone I know. There’s talk of gardening, of outside activities, of travel. The cold and hard winter and months of hibernation seem a distant dream.

I am finally getting my spring legs. I’m back on my bike and walking and running in the woods and, this weekend, I am hoping to get my deck herb garden planted. To be able to once again smell the earth under foot and get it caught under the fingernails, that is the lure of the month of May.

This week, at the Goshen Farmers’ Market next door, I see asparagus, radishes, turnips, rhubarb and green onions joining the spinach and the greens. It makes me happy to finally see the first products of this year’s earth-human collaboration.

All of a sudden a new window of menus and food preparation opens up. It’s time to take full advantage of the season’s weekly offerings.

It’s good to be able to buy from the local farmers and know that I’m not paying for transportation of my food across the country. Local also means minimal storage time and less energy use for storage.

I can buy the food at the market and use it that day for mealtime. I know that it is fresh and therefore more healthy for me.

I sometimes hear people say, “I have a hard time doing that.” (Going to the market, making my own food, buying local, etc.) I think it is a matter of priorities and choices.

We can do all kinds of things if we set ourselves to the task. The one I’m working on right now is getting back into biking to work. It’s just a matter of changing my routine, and remembering to have it available so I can get on it and go.

So I’m doing just that. I bought asparagus. I chose the regular variety even though there were some beautiful Purple Passion asparagus. I bought some rhubarb and green onions and turnips and radishes.

I made the first rhubarb crunch of the season. I mixed the turnips in with other veggies to roast. I chopped the green onions for a salad. With the asparagus, I decided to make my own version of cream of asparagus soup, using some Swiss chard I also found at the market.

And, all of a sudden, my mood is changing also. Life seems limitless: there’s so much out there to see and explore, and so much still left to taste!

Cream of Asparagus Soup
Makes enough for 12.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup chopped onions
  • 3 leeks, washed and sliced
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • ½ tsp. pepper
  • 2 tsp. dried tarragon
  • 2 tbsp. canola oil
  • 2 pounds fresh asparagus
  • 4 cups water
  • ½ cup butter
  • ½ cup flour
  • 4 cups 1 percent milk
  • 4 cups Swiss chard, loosely packed
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. In a soup pot, sauté onions, leeks, salt, pepper and tarragon in oil until translucent, 5 to 10 minutes.
  2. While above mixture cooks, chop asparagus. Add chopped asparagus and water to the soup pot. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until the asparagus is tender. In another small saucepan, melt butter and whisk in flour, stirring a few minutes. Whisk in milk and stir until thickened. Add to the soup pot.
  3. Steam Swiss chard until tender. Add to the soup pot. Heat slowly until hot. Blend with handheld blender.

 

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