Wednesday, January 27, 2010

From the freezer with love

Kelowna cannot decide if it is winter or spring. For the last couple of weeks I have been waking up to frost, then just after breakfast, biking in the warm, above zero sunlight. And although it is not quite warm enough to ditch my mittens, it looks, feels, and sounds (birds singing as if in Snow Whites cottage) more like April than January. So long as the weather stays this way, and doesnt pull a prankster drastic freeze come Feb, I will be content to revel in the fact that things might be turning green a little sooner (I am knocking on wood here, folks--this is far to blissful a thought to jinx).

I love spring; it is by far my favorite season; it rejuvenates me. Spring brings sunshine and warmth and tulips and skirts and shoes that dont require socks. Theres little lambs and the chickens start laying eggs again. Let's not forget, too, rhubarb and peas and fava beans and the first crop of rapini. I am trying really hard not to get excited too early here, it is after all, still January and there is not a bud in sight yet, but I feel like clicking my heels and saying so-long to winter-- bring on the April showers and May flowers.

In celebration mode, I pulled a bag of peas out of my freezer that I shelled last June (the seasons were late to change last year), a habit I am trying to get into before it is time to refill it again. Even though my freezer is a right buffet of chocies, there are still many wonderful wintery veg at the farmers market that my fridge is jsut as full of fresh local goods. So I compromised and made a meal that was as much a mixture of the two seasons as the weather outside. It was a sort of non-committal, dont- get- your- hopes- up -dish- that was both tuck in wintery warmth and fresh spring. And with all the bags of peas still in my freezer, I will be able to keep celebrating even if January decides to be winter again.

Sage and Pea Barley with Roasted Sunchokes, Turnips and Hazelnut Pesto
The pesto was another freezer gift, frozen in icecube trays for easy use. The toasty buttery hazelnuts and fresh parsely flavour were brilliant with both the sweet peas and earthy roots. The sage made the whole thing warmer--perfect because it may be sunny, but its sure not warm yet. Serves two.

Gently soften in a pan:
1 shallot, thinly sliced
1 clove garlic, crushed
Add in, cover with water and simmer for twenty to thirty minutes
2/3 cup pot barley

Meanwhile, roast on a parchment lined sheet at 375F:
1/2-1 cup sunchokes, halved if large
1/2-1 cup turnips, cut in wedges
drizzle of olive oil
salt and pepper

When the barley is cooked, drain off most excess water, leaving about two tablespoons, and stir in:
2 cups frozen peas, defrosted
1 1/2 tsp dried sage

Heat through, combine with roasted roots and top with a big glob of hazelnut pesto (just follow your favorite basil pesto recipe, substituting parsely for the basil and hazelnuts for the pines). Think spring.

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