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Apr 3, 2014 10:45 AM

What's for dinner #289 - Spring Poems Edition! [Through April 7, 2014]

To quote Rilke, "Spring has returned. The earth is like a child that knows poems."

That's about how I feel on this gorgeous day, as I walk in our garden and see all the lovely little blooms remembering to push their way upwards. This morning, my husband reported the first daffodil, and there it is with it's sunny face pressed to the sky.

No matter that the weather will turn cold and rainy for us tomorrow; spring is on its way, and for now, that is more than enough!

What's for dinner in your house?

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  1. Daffodillies! I must buy several bunches this weekend. :-)

    I will have the remaining steak and spinach from last night.

    Tonight is my start to the weekend, as I have taken Friday off (doing my taxes) and am now taking a half day on Monday morning to have a plumber replace my leaking kitchen faucet. So a 3-1/2 day weekend! (Although I'll have to get up early on Monday anyway.)

    1. I was walking in to work this morning and spotted the overachieving daffodils standing tall and all bright and shiny among the other yet-to-bloom, gray drab plants which brought a nice smile to my face. It's another easy dinner night for me. I was hoping April would bring back the spirit but I'll keep waiting. It's scrambled eggs and bacon for me tonight. Almond butter for dessert because it seems that every night the jar creeps out :) The farmer's market opens Sunday so perhaps that's where I'll find my spirit.

      19 Replies
      1. re: fldhkybnva

        I spied the tulips attempting to bust through the ground today. Made me so happy.

        1. re: sunangelmb

          Tulips are my favorite flower, I love when they bloom.

          1. re: fldhkybnva

            After daffodils lilacs are my favorite.

          2. re: sunangelmb

            Lilacs for me - a little later in the season, but I just love the way they smell, and no artificial fragrance comes close.

            1. re: annomy

              I love lilacs too. I have some amazing scented Chinese peonies that would knock your socks off, as well as some viburnum, which makes the lilacs seem stingy with their scent. You can get drunk on. It.

              1. re: roxlet

                I planted a viburnum last year in a redeveloped part of the garden. It's doing so well in almost total shade and will be fantastic in a couple of years when it's got some height.

                Which is more than can be said for my long established bay tree which is looking very sickly, with yellowing leaves - it was a struggle to find any good green ones for cooking yesterday.

                1. re: Harters

                  I wonder if a bay would survive here. I do have a wonderful fig tree...

                  1. re: Harters

                    What kind of viburnum? I have a very shady NYC "back space." You can't even call it a yard, really. But we do have a volunteer redbud tree that's managed to survive almost seven years, though it's not yet clear if it made it through this past brutal winter. We definitely lost the hydrangeas, though, so maybe I'll try viburnum in their place.

            2. re: fldhkybnva

              It is nice to see the farmers market come alive in spring. I got wonderful lettuce and artichokes last week - headed back tomorrow for more.

              1. re: tcamp

                Portland's big market goes almost all year, and I've made a point of going all winter. Mostly it's just roots, hearty greens like kale, and storage crops such as apples. How excellent it is now to see spinach, baby turnips, and bok choi. It's very exciting to see!

                1. re: tcamp

                  I fear the pickings will be slim but hopefully I'll find some treasures. I know at least I will walk away with my favorite black bean salsa and half sour pickles.

                  1. re: fldhkybnva

                    Look at it this way: a bad day at the farmers market beats a good day at the office.

                  2. re: tcamp

                    I cant wait! I noticed the tree in front of my house was popping its buds today - I am so tired of apples, carrots and potatoes - some spring greens sound perfect

                  3. re: fldhkybnva

                    You have daffodils already! lucky. My crocuses have come up though, so at least there's some sign of life.

                    1. re: gini

                      For me, crocus finished weeks back. I only grow miniature daffodils, like February Gold and Tete-a-tete. They've finished in the last week. But, in full flower, pulmonaria, anemone, forget-me-not, Kerria japonica - and that's just what I can see while sitting at the computer.

                        1. re: roxlet

                          Keeping this to a food theme, I've just returned from the garden centre. I'd had every intention of buying a crab apple - lovely dark foliage, pink flowers in spring, deep red fruits in autumn which would have satisfied both the birds and my desire to make crab apple jelly. Disappointingly, the red fruited ones all seem to be quite spreading - probably not too practical in my smallish garden, without serious regular pruning. I'll be back to Googling "trees for small gardens" to what I can use.

                          1. re: Harters

                            Sometimes what is said to be a dwarf tree turns out not to be. We've had some experience with both apricot and apple trees that have taken over their designated location. My dream was to have an espaliered fruit tree, but I don't think that's going to happen...

                            1. re: roxlet

                              Near to us, one of the big historic old houses, open to the public, has a walled kitchen garden. It includes a path lined on both sides with espaliered apples. It's fantastic when they've fruit on them.

                              My garden is quite large by British standards but that means it's generally tiny by American plot size. I've said that, if ever we win the lottery (unlikely as we don't do the lottery) I want a big garden. One big enough to have a woodland area. Actually, what I quite like is the idea of developing a small orchard but having shrubs and the like to make it more woodland-like. The thought of just being able to sit under the trees and pick a fruit to eat - just fab. Maybe a relative will win big and throw us a couple of million.

                  4. You will probably be getting the torrents of rain we are having today. Quite gloomy outlook for the next few days. (And quite a muddy dog in the near future.)

                    Tonight is cleaning up some pantry and freezer items, so Nigella's tomato curry with coconut rice. A salad if I feel like it ... and wine of course :)

                    I've made a list of the major items on the shelves and in the freezer in the hope of using them up and limiting my shopping for the next few weeks.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: gourmanda

                      I did the same recently and am loving using what I have, not spending too much at the store and keeping it simple.

                    2. I need to talk about dried porcinis again. Sorry.

                      I looked at TJ's and didn't find the dried wild mushrooms, and Food Lion didn't seem to have any dried mushrooms at all. I'll try Whole Foods and/or The Fresh Market on the way home, but I'm not sanguine.

                      If I can't find them for a price I'm willing to pay, what can I do instead? The recipe I'm making wants the mushrooms and 1/4 cup of the soaking liquid.

                      23 Replies
                      1. re: Kontxesi

                        Would you consider dried morels? Not that they're cheap by any means, but perhaps cheaper than porcini?

                        It won't be quite the same flavor you're looking for...

                        1. re: linguafood

                          ALL of the dried mushrooms were ridiculously expensive. I'm almost wondering if they had them labeled wrong? $11.99-$13.99 for a half ounce is ridiculous.

                          1. re: Kontxesi

                            I agree that it is ridiculous, but dried mushrooms are expensive. Ain't no way around it, I'm 'fraid.

                            1. re: Kontxesi

                              Label is correct, I once bought half ounce morels for $14

                              1. re: Kontxesi

                                Did you try They sell them in larger quantities, but perhaps you could share them with someone.

                                1. re: roxlet

                                  Yes, I buy all of my dried mushrooms (and vanilla beans and other expensive spices) through Amazon or Ebay sellers. You have to buy a larger quantity, but the price per ounce is MUCH more palatable (maybe $2 per ounce if you buy the lower grade "pieces," more like $4 per ounce if you choose the highest grade slices). Dried mushrooms last a LONG time, so no worries about not using them before they go off.

                            2. re: Kontxesi

                              Kontxesi, do you have a store like Big Lots or Ocean State Job Lot near you? They often carry various types of dried mushrooms.

                              Or - your alternative - unless you need them for tonight:


                                  1. re: Kontxesi

                                    Do you have Costco? They sell large mixed dried mushrooms in a large plastic jar - very reasonably priced.

                                1. re: Kontxesi

                                  I do not know your comfort price and this will obviously not help you for dinner tonight, but might one of these options be helpful for the future? Either the mushrooms or the mushroom powder?


                                  1. re: gourmanda

                                    That's a much more reasonable price. Kroger wanted $12.99 for a half ounce....

                                    1. re: Kontxesi

                                      What?!!? I'd ask about that. Here at Ralphs (Our Kroger store,) they are $3.99 for a one ounce package.

                                      1. re: Kontxesi

                                        Yikes! That's terrible. FWIW, I have ordered from that company many times and have been please with whatever product I ordered.

                                      1. re: ChrisOfStumptown

                                        I use dry shiitake as a sub for porcini in some recipes. Not the same flavour but it does add depth to dishes.

                                        1. re: Frizzle

                                          Or fresh hen of the woods/maitake? They are super-strong in flavor (at least to me), very woody and shroomy for a fresh mushroom. Not super-cheap, but likely cheaper than what you'd pay for a minuscule amount of dried whatever shroom.

                                          If you're going for the super-shroomy flavor, that is....

                                      2. re: Kontxesi

                                        $6.99 for an ounce at Whole Foods. Much more reasonable! I needed them for something I'm making tomorrow, or I would have tried one of the online options suggested. I'll definitely save those for next time!

                                        1. re: Kontxesi

                                          Check this out on ebay:

                                          I know that many on CH buy their vanilla beans from ebay. BTW, I believe my husband gets ours from Amazon. We keep them in a tight-lidded container, and they last forever.

                                          1. re: roxlet

                                            >>>I know that many on CH buy their vanilla beans from ebay.<<<

                                            Please do not take this the wrong way, roxlet, but I have found vanilla beans to be very different from mushrooms.

                                          1. re: Kontxesi

                                            You might try for dried mushrooms. I've never bought their mushrooms, but have several times gotten herbs & spices, including dried chili peppers. Quality & price have always been outstanding. Free shipping does end up taking around a week, though, so it's not for when you discover you're out of something that you need for dinner.

                                          2. It's Thursday, so you know what that means: mapo tofu, dry-fried green beans, smacked cuke salad, garlic eggplant, cumin beef, Sichuan-style fish, stir-fried bok choy, spicy chicken.... the list goes on. Sadly not forever, as we're "only" 10 chile heads so far. But maybe we'll have a few late signups, who knows.

                                            We'll likely have whomever wants to come over after dinner for a few drinks, as we do most every week.