April is the Cruellest Month

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In high school I could diagram sentences, spell well, write fine, if not eloquently,  and liked Shakespeare’s works – at least somewhat.  So it seemed that majoring in English at CC was a gimme – especially since there was no Applied Life Management major offered.

But then I took “Twentieth Century Lit” my sophomore year of college.  And we had to read Gerard Manley Hopkins and Richard Wilbur and Ezra Pound and Archibald MacLeish and Louis MacNeice and Dylan Thomas  and T.S. Eliot….and more.  Even looking at these poets’ works now, 55 years later, my eyes glaze over and my brain goes foggy.

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The Waste Land by T.S. Eliot – from Modern American & Modern British Poetry, Copyright 1955

Glancing (blurry-eyed) over pages of these poems,  I find it fascinating that out of the 64 poets whose works were included in our book, only 10 were women – and my class was asked to read only 2 of them

Plus, I must note that those early 20th century male poets seemed primarily interested in women and death.  But spring – and April –  get a fair amount of notice.

Gerard Manley Hopkins: “That Nature is a Heraclitean Fire and of the Comfort of the Resurrection”-  whew – which continues

Cloud-puffball, torn tufts, tossed pillows flaunt forth, then chevy on the air-built thoroughfare: heaven roysterers, in gay-gangs they throng; they glitter in marches.

Robinson Jeffers poem “Shine, Perishing Republic” (note: I’m not making a political statement; I’m just stating the title that Jeffers gave it.

I sadly smiling remember that the flower fades to make fruit, the fruit rots to make earth.
Out of the mother; and through the spring exultances, ripeness and decadence. and home to the mother.

Dylan Thomas
The force that through the green fuse drives the flower
Drives my green age; that blasts the roots of trees

Is my destroyer.

I mostly liked e.e. cummings.  Here is his wonderfully timely and slightly-salacious, alternative vision of this season:

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And now back to April and cruelty.  In Andy’s Corner Andy doesn’t find April cruel at all.  But spring is a rough time of the year for gardeners and for cooks.  Winter crops are getting tired and spring/summer crops are mostly yet to come.  I’m busy perusing seed catalogs online.  Since all of our gardening is done in galvanized water troughs, I’ve been searching for summer squash seeds that are bush-like and work in containers.  So far I’ve ordered Bush Yellow Scallop, Astia zucchini, apparently a well-bred French variety (and being “well bred” is SO important), and Cube of Butter (yum! a natural for me).

In my walk through our garden area just now, about the only green growing use-able thing I saw was mint.

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So with dreams of summer and hot days and warm nights and an abundance of summer squash, I’ve paired my home-grown mint with squash in three do-it-right-now recipes.  After all, squash in the stores seems to be decent pretty much all of the time, if you pick and choose carefully.  Look for little shiny ones.

Somewhat related – and a fascinating read – is this recent NYTimes article which we just put in Food for Thought.  It’s shocking how much of our produce is imported.

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Zucchini and Mint Salad with Fennel and Romano

Super Simple Zucchini and Mint Salad with Fennel and Romano

If you don’t intend to serve the salad right away, dice the squash, instead of shaving it, so it won’t get so watery.  Adapted from Northern California chef Daniel Patterson

  • 3 zucchini or other summer squash, diced or shaved.
  • 1/2 c mint leaves, slivered
  • 1 small head of fennel, cored and thinly shaved
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1/2 c of aged pecorino Romano, shaved

Using a vegetable peeler or mandoline, thinly shave the zucchini lengthwise, discarding the inner seedy part.  I like the strips to be about 2″ long, so I do about half the length of a zucchini at a time.  Toss the zucchini with the mint, pecorino Romano, fennel, lemon juice, and olive oil.  Season with salt and pepper.  Serve immediately.

Recipe brought to you by BigLittleMeals.com and Andy and Ann.

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Zucchini and Mint Turkey Burgers - with Sumac Sauce

This is one of our favorite new recipes.  It can be done ahead of time by briefly frying the patties and then popping them back in the oven to finish cooking just before serving.  The delicious sauce can be used as a salad dressing or vegetable dip, if you have some left over. These are not the kind of burgers I think of being served in buns….but you might try.  Recipe adapted from Jerusalem by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi

For the burgers:

  • 1 lb ground turkey (dark meat is best)
  • 1 large zucchini, coarsely grated – a scant 2 c
  • 3 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 egg
  • 2 T chopped mint
  • 2 T chopped cilantro
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne
  • 3 T olive oil for searing (or sunflower oil)

Sour Cream and Sumac Sauce:

  • 1/2 c sour cream
  • 2/3 c yogurt
  • 1 T lemon juice
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 T olive oil
  • 1T sumac (optional – but adds a lot)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper

Make the sour cream and sumac sauce by combining all the ingredients in a small bowl and stirring well.  Serve at room temperature.

If you are serving immediately, preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

In a large bowl, combine all the  ingredients, except the oil.  Mix it well with your hand and then shape into about 18 burgers, each weighing about 1 1/2 oz.

Heat the oil over medium high heat, then sear the patties in batches on both sides.  Each batch will take about 4 minutes total.  They should be golden brown but not cooked through.

Now you have two choices: if you’re about ready to eat, transfer them to a baking sheet and put them in the pre-heated oven for about 7 minutes or until they’re cooked through.  Serve immediately – or let them cool to room temperature.

If you are fixing them ahead of time, let the fried patties sit at room temperature – or refrigerate if you’re not eating them for several hours.  When you are ready to eat, heat your oven to 425 degrees and roast the turkey burgers for about 10 minutes (assuming they’ve not been chilled.  Refrigerated turkey burgers will require about 15-20 minutes for them to cook through).

Recipe brought to you by BigLittleMeals.com and Andy and Ann.
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Perfect for a quick breakfast, lunch, or dinner – Zucchini and Mint Frittata with Green Peas

Zucchini and Mint Frittata with Green Peas

  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1/3 c onion, diced
  • 1/2 medium summer squash, diced (about 1/3 c – in about 1/2″ dice)
  • 1/4 tsp dried oregano – or paprika
  • 1/3 c frozen peas, run under hot water to quickly defrost
  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten and seasoned with 1/4 tsp salt and 1/8 tsp pepper
  • 1 oz (a scant 1/4 c) crumbled feta cheese
  • 1/3 c grated parmesan cheese
  • 2 T chopped mint

Turn the oven broiler on.

Heat the olive oil in a 6″ oven-proof skillet over medium heat.  Add the onion, squash and oregano and cook and stir until both are soft but not squishy (several minutes).  Add the peas and cook another minute or so.  Spread the mixture so it evenly covers the bottom of the pan and then carefully pour in the eggs and scatter the feta over the top.  Give it all a stir.

Turn the heat down to low and allow the frittata to cook for about 5 minutes.

When there is just a little unset egg on the top of the frittata, sprinkle the parmesan cheese over the entire frittata and put the frittata under the broiler (about 6″ from heat), watching carefully, for approximately 2 minutes – or until the edges have started to brown nicely and the center is set and the cheese melted.  Scatter the mint over the top and serve.  The frittata will be good at room temperature and will keep several days in the fridge.  If re-warming, the oven is preferred to the microwave.

Recipe brought to you by BigLittleMeals.com and Andy and Ann.

4 Comments

  1. Rebecca Shieber says:

    Well, yum. I still don’t get TS Eliot, and I’m pretty good with poetry. Edna St. Vincent Millay has the best poem about April, although fairly depressing!

    Spring
    BY EDNA ST. VINCENT MILLAY
    To what purpose, April, do you return again?
    Beauty is not enough.
    You can no longer quiet me with the redness
    Of little leaves opening stickily.
    I know what I know.
    The sun is hot on my neck as I observe
    The spikes of the crocus.
    The smell of the earth is good.
    It is apparent that there is no death.
    But what does that signify?
    Not only under ground are the brains of men
    Eaten by maggots.
    Life in itself
    Is nothing,
    An empty cup, a flight of uncarpeted stairs.
    It is not enough that yearly, down this hill,
    April
    Comes like an idiot, babbling and strewing flowers.

    Like

  2. g2-687029bbb8ccbba9867442195ca0e054 says:

    If Edna was writing that poem today, she would be dressed like a goth, and the first line would be “April, what’s up with you?”

    Like

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