Life has been extremely busy here on the homestead. If you are following my facebook updates, you know I have been up to my ears (almost) in dirt. I have learned in these few short weeks, that spring is the busiest time of the year in the country. If you are in the North Country, you are trying to get your gardens, fruit/nut tree groves and berry patches started for the summer, while dodging rain storms, and on occasion even snow storms! Here at Thistlemoon Meadows, it is no exception. All of this while trying to settle into a new place. We have been spending as many sunny days as we can outdoors, and if there isn’t enough of those to do what we need to accomplish, we go out in the rain – and if you can believe it, the snow storm is actually a blessing from Mother Nature, as it allows us time to go indoors and take care of household needs. It has been several years since I have really enjoyed the dichotomies that make up spring and it has been amazing – when you are working with things that grow, it kind of all makes sense. Nature is amazing that way.
(The Culture Club (this is not how I normally have my “lab” set up. If you are culturing more than one kind of culture they need to sit a few feet apart from each other, but I asked them all to gather together for photo).
Our house is not a home unless I have set up my cultures, lovingly termed my “science lab” in the kitchen. On any given day I have sourdough starter, kefir, some kind of sour milk either viili or buttermilk, yogurt and sometimes cheese culturing. Plus I usually have various kinds of grains and legumes soaking and fermenting. It is this life sustaining and nourishing foods that get our bodies through all the hard work that comes with setting up and maintaining a homestead. And our chickens haven’t even arrived yet!
So to celebrate spring in all her glory, on one warm and beautiful day, we decided to have our first barbecue of the season. We had been to the local market earlier in the day and picked up a prized local wildfood – fiddlehead ferns. These ferns can only be harvested for about 2 weeks in the early spring, in Northern climes, like New England, and Canada. Fiddleheads are harvested early in the season before the frond has opened and reached its full height – they are named fiddleheads as they bear resemblance to the curled ornamentation on the end of a stringed instrument, such as a fiddle. Since I am a fiddlehead, it seemed like a food I should try. It is not suggested that you eat fiddleheads raw, as they have a bitterness to them before cooked, that can lead to stomach upset. I was told they taste a bit like asparagus, so I decided to just toss them with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper and cook them on the grill, on top of foil – kind of like broiled asparagus, which is my favorite way to prepare it. Although truth be told, if asparagus ceased to exist, I wouldn’t miss it.
For this meal I wanted to cook everything on the grill. Steak is best when grilled, and we had also gotten a beautiful skirt steak from a local farm. I lightly drizzled olive oil on it, and then dressed it up with fresh herbs – cilantro, thyme and basil.
To accompany this meal, I decided to make poutine on the grill, sans gravy, which I guess really makes this potatoes and cheese curds – but it was light and perfect with this menu. I cooked both white potatoes and sweet potatoes on the grill in foil packets for about 40 minutes. For the last 15 minutes,I opened the packets so the potatoes could brown, and then put the cheese curds on top, turned off the grill and closed the grill lid for about 5 minutes.
(Spring Foods Dinner)
It was a wonderful evening outside listening to the night sounds – frogs, birds and eventually even a guitar and…you guessed it, a fiddle.