How Does My Spring Garden Grow

The radishes are ready. I can’t tell you how excited I am about this. It’s the small things, I know.

You can hate radishes. That’s OK. I used to hate radishes too. They were either bitter or woody. Or just some sort of afterthought on a salad. Once you grow a vegetable, however, you are invested. I it is no longer the produce department reject. It is YOURS. You  coaxed a seed into a sprout into a radish. In May. When the only thing growing is the grass. The peonies aren’t even open yet.

And yet, there it is. A radish. Perfect in its red, white, and green.

Every year I get excited when I plant a vegetable, it grows, and  I can eat it. Some years, I’ve been so amazed, that I couldn’t bring myself to eat it. It was just so amazingly beautiful.

OK. I’m a vegetable geek. I blame it on 6 months of grey skies, snow, and rain.

Anyway, these little guys are delightful paired with a honeydew melon and cucumber salad.

The cucumbers aren’t mine and neither is the honeydew. The cucumbers are local, however. They are grown at Walker Farms in Edinboro. Honeydew won’t be around here for another couple of months. But the mint and basil are mine.

The recipe is pretty simple. Cut up melon (any kind), cucumber (peeled), and toss with basil and mint. Add radish, if you like. Squeeze some lemon juice on top. Salt and pepper to taste.

My garden currently has cucumbers, potatoes, zucchini, tomatoes, chard, arugula, kale, eggplant, and beets planted. It will be awhile before anything else is ready. Until then, I make do with whats available.

The recipe I’ve included today has been in my “to try” folder for several months. I finally remembered why I had Tater Tots in the freezer and pulled them out. Essentially, the tots are a shortcut to a thick potato pancake, which can be topped with all kinds of ingredients. I made one with salmon and caviar for my daughter. Mine had prosciutto, brie, mustard, and arugula. We could only eat half – consider that fair warning – but the leftovers worked well the next day for breakfast.

Once potatoes are in season, I’ll be adding a similar recipe (no tots, but sliced potatoes cooked until crisp) to the Meadballs menu for delivery in the fall. Until then … See you at the farm stands soon.


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Tater Tot Waffle with Salmon and Caviar
  1. This step is the same for either recipe: Heat an 8-inch waffle iron. Coat waffle iron with cooking spray. Spread 2 cups of the tots on it; sprinkle with salt. Close and cook on medium high until nearly crisp, about 5 minutes. Open the waffle iron and fill in any holes in the waffle with more tots, then close and cook until golden and crispy, 2 to 5 minutes.
  2. Cooking time will depend on heat of waffle iron.
  3. Place on a baking sheet in a 200-degree oven to keep warm.
  4. Repeat with the remaining tots.
  5. Salmon: Top each warm waffle with crème fraîche or sour cream, 3 slices smoked salmon, spoonful caviar, a few small sprigs of dill, capers and a squeeze of lemon juice. Surround with cucumber slices, salted. Repeat for each waffle.
  6. Prosciutto: In a small bowl, toss arugula with lemon juice. In a separate small bowl, mix together mayonnaise and mustard. Spread on top of waffle. Top with 1 ounce of cheese (tear it into 4 bits and divide equally on waffle top. Top with 3 slices of prosciutto. Return to waffle iron and press closed until cheese melts. Remove waffle from iron. Place on plate and top with 1/4 of arugula. Repeat for each waffle.
  7. Adapted from Food&WIne
Recipe Notes

You could, of course, add radishes to either one of these 😉

Adapted from

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Fridge Monster Spits out Cherries from Freezer

My excuse is I have a very small kitchen. That’s my excuse for just about everything. Like why when you open the fridge door does it look like a wall of food. The same with the pantry door.

My excuse is I can stand in the middle of my kitchen and touch the sink, stove, counter island, and fridge (but not the pantry).

But the truth is, if the kitchen was bigger, it would still be the same. I’d just have a bigger fridge with even more stuff in it. And a bigger pantry with more things in it.

My daughter opens the fridge door, stares at all the full shelves and declares there is nothing to eat.

Of course there’s nothing to eat because the fridge is full of fruits, vegetables, and condiments, like four kinds of mustard and a similar number of hot sauces. There are jars of green, and red curry pastes; red, and white miso; chili sauce, black bean sauce, hoisin sauce; ketchup, regular mustard, and pickle relish; red salsa, green salsa, guacamole; Worcestershire sauce, horseradish; and enough jams to host the queen’s birthday tea party.

There are multiple varieties of carrots, bok choy, Napa cabbage, lettuce, peppers, leeks, onions, cucumbers, a mango, oranges, lemons, limes, blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, and pineapple in there.

And, of course, there is butter, creamers, coconut milk, anchovies, preserved lemons, various bouillon, waters, and lots of homemade salad dressings in various quantities.

There is no milk.

I need to get some.

The pantry has no fewer than four types of rice noodles; five kinds of rice; various pastas too numerous to list; most kinds of flour; vinegars of various countries; every kind of food coloring; golden syrup, molasses, Karo; nuts, lots of nuts; baking chips of many flavors; brownie mixes; and half a bag of chips. And a bunch of other stuff that I have to use a flashlight to find.

My daughter likes to stand in front of the cupboard and shake her head in disgust.

She does not bake.

I have all of these things because I grew up in a house with two brothers. Food barely made it into the refrigerator before it disappeared. I baked because cookies lasted a nanosecond in our house.  I baked when I went to college because it was cheaper than going to the bakery. The same with cooking. By my sophomore year, I lived in an apartment. In Boston. It is not cheap to eat out in Boston. But Boston had great markets. I would take the T (public transport) to the North End and come home with bags (also on the T) filled with fresh vegetables, bread, and meats. And shove them into an apartment-sized refrigerator. Sometimes I had more than fit into the refrigerator, which meant I would go on a cooking binge. Of course, the freezer wasn’t very large either. But it only usually had ice and ice cream.

So, clearly I have a problem. This summer, when I start Meadballs as a dinner service, I will have to use a rented commercial kitchen. The concept is fresh seasonal foods. My pantry will need to be minimal, since space will be at a premium. That won’t be too difficult since the fresh vegetables will be the star, condiments will be in supporting roles.

There are times when you can turn take fresh fruits and preserve their natural flavors to use at other times of the year. This week I made some room in my freezer by pulling out a bag of frozen local sour cherries. Instead of something sweet, I turned them into an accompaniment to a pork loin roast that I had grilled. In my case, I roasted the cherries to concentrate the natural sugars, then adapted a recipe from Laurel in Philadelphia to create a conserve by adding them to a mixture of brown sugar, vinegar, miso, mustard, garlic, and port to kick dinner’s butt. Combined with roasted broccoli, this dinner was a great.

You don’t have to have sour cherries in the freezer to make this – all you need is some sour cherry preserves, which is in most grocery stores either with the jams and jellies or in the specialty food aisle.

This will turn grilled pork chops or chicken into a special dinner on a weeknight.

It will certainly be on my menu when the cherry season arrives.

Tastefully yours,


Print Recipe
Sour Cherry Sauce with Mustard and Miso
Course dinner
Cuisine American
Course dinner
Cuisine American
  1. Heat oil in a small saucepan. Add the shallot and garlic; cook over moderate heat, stirring, until softened, about 3 minutes. Add the jam, vinegar, miso, mustard, water, and Port. Bring to a simmer,k stirring until all of the water and Pork have been reduced and all you have is a thick jam - 3 to 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Cool. Stir in 
a a tablepoon water if too thick.

  2. Can be stored in the fridge for about a week.
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