In Alberta we still have snow and minus Celsius weather in early March. Hope springs eternal that the season will come. I am waiting patiently for the thaw to come as within weeks I will harvest new batches of Rhubarb from my own garden and from neighbor's who don't care to use it. For me the first sight of a Rhubarb stub sets my mind in motion and shakes of the stubborn and relentless paleness of winter. I can start my herb beds and lay in some more organic matter. This spring I am adding another raised bed for salad items. I anticipate some activity in second year Raspberry bushes and can't wait to see how my 9 new apple trees will fare out. My potato patch will become active as will my edible flower patch. Smelling and seeing growth is exciting for me. Touching the dirt and manipulating the produce is a treat. The addition of a freshly picked item to a product may not mean much to the customer but they will experience that something different that plain little twist to an item. It could be something as simple as a piece of fresh dill masking a purple potato or sweet carrot greens chopped as a garnish or even the newly harvested poppy seeds strewn on bread rolls or mixed with roasted root vegetables. No nothing is more welcoming to the chef chilled by winter than that promise of spring. Apple blossoms can make me cry they hold such a secret reward. The touch and the feel of fresh fruits from my trees being turned into sweet desserts and savory relishes make my presentations as a chef simple and alluring. The touch of fresh cilantro or green onions fire my imagination. I have had this touch hundreds of times but for a chef the textile interaction with food especially garden products can bring with it revitalization of spirit and ideas. The toil of preparation is not a stranger to chefs. Most chefs are not afraid of long hard work. Growing or selecting fresh items removes the monotony of reliance of boxes and shrink-wrapped batches of mundane tasteless produce. I really believe that young chefs should grow something that they will pluck and use even if it is in a window box. I am fortunate that I can choose to be a chef grower in my own small way. The 100 mile diet works for me within reason. I have found sources from the most extraordinary leads where so and so can provide this or that fresh or organic item. Shopping local can be fun. I now know that there are three apiaries providing the nectar of the gods within my territory along with several growers of fresh produce and I have one extensive organic poultry and meat producer almost within sight of my yard. The conversation of spring for me remains the story of aromas and newness and thoughts of the promise of new dishes or added twists. Its snowing here just now in Jersey Lane in Alberta as I plan to welcome new growth and pleasant cooking. So pleasant cooking to all who choose to read this, and I wish new growth to all.
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3/6/13 at 12:38pm