Little round potato, like a period at the end of a sentence.

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I thought my final salad of Salad Month would be a crowning glory of a greens masterpiece, but in fact it turned out to be based on the humble potato.

March 31: Creamy Potato Salad with Lemon and Fresh Herbs

I planned Easter dinner for 8 people around half a bone-in ham I picked up at Joe’s Meat Shoppe on Friday.

At Philbrick’s, I perused the produce and liked the looks of these baby white potatoes. I thought I would roast them. But after purchasing the potatoes, I realized the oven would be in use warming the ham for a couple of hours before our mid-afternoon meal.

I also wanted some things to be “do ahead” so I could visit with family members coming from Cape Cod and Boston, Mass., and Waterville Valley, N.H.

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Other than ye humble potato, there was some nice green in the potato salad too – celery, scallions, parsley and a small amount of tarragon.

I used this recipe from Bon Appetit by way of  Epicurious.

I used baby white instead of new potatoes – both are lower in starch than big white potatoes and therefore hold together better when tossed with dressing. I used fresh tarragon instead of basil (because I had some in the fridge, and it goes with potatoes, mayo and vinegar) and the dill was dried instead of fresh, and I doubled the amount of celery and scallions in the recipe.

I think the key to this salad’s great flavor was the way the rice wine vinegar sharpens up ordinary mayo. The grated lemon peel is also a great addition.

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Three bunches of beautiful rainbow carrots were also on the menu.

I used this recipe, which is sort of a warm “salad” because of the vinaigrette: Balsamic Roasted Carrots.

I thought these carrots were a bit more flavorful and a bit less sweet than the common orange carrot, but I’m not sure I could confirm that with a blindfold tasting. I will definitely look for them again.

I will not try to grow them because we have terrible luck with carrots.

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The meal.

Delicious ham (with a bit of grainy mustard as a condiment), sweet and balsamic-savory carrots, haricots verts blanched then warmed in a pan with butter and celery salt just before serving, and of course the potato salad.

Reviews trended toward rave, but we did have a lot of wine too… and good family fellowship… and doesn’t that make everything taste better?

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Anna made the braided challah bread, a special centerpiece that was egg-rich and delicious. It was a happy Easter.

And so ends salad month. I did it. I made it through March. I didn’t skip a day. I got my greens. I learned a lot. And I got in the habit of eating better and writing daily.

I type this on Monday morning, April 1st. It is 44 degrees. Skies are clearing after nighttime rain. Chance of showers and high of 56 forecast for today. Yesterday was sunny and in the mid 50s. The snow has retreated to just a few white patches.

Looking back, I see that the first day of March was raining and snowing, with a high of 41 degrees. On March 1, sunrise was at 6:18 a.m. and sunset at 5:33 p.m., an 11 hour and 15 minute day.

Today the sunrise was at 6:23 a.m., sunset will be at 7:10 p.m., a day length of 12 hours and 47 minutes. We have gained one hour and 32 minutes of light in one month. Nice.

My salad-a-day challenge was not just for self-improvement and getting through my least favorite month in New England, it will count toward my repetitive project assignment for Food Writing class. I will be making something of it soon, in roughly 3,000 words.

I will be linking these Chloris Project posts to my amykane.net blog and writing more – about everything, or anything – there.

We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time. – T. S. Eliot

Eats shoots and sleeps

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Saturday late night pea shoot salad, with Easter prep in the background.

March 30: Butterleaf Lettuce Salad with Snap Peas, Pea Shoots, Raspberries and Chèvre

That’s daughter Anna in the background using up all my chickens’ eggs and baking a beautiful golden braided circular challah bread. Planning, cleaning and shopping for Easter gobbled up our day, but we squeezed in a salad nevertheless.

Ingredients purchased at Philbrick’s Fresh Market, and based around the idea I wanted more pea things in my salad life! Leftover lemon-dijon vinaigrette from Thursday’s salad. Chèvre (goat cheese) plus raspberries to decorate the top with flavor.

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Washed and drying – leaves of lettuce, crispy snap peas, and pea shoots.

The snap peas were so fresh and flavorful and snappy.

I don’t believe I have ever eaten pea shoots before.

How to eat and cook pea shoots

Their soft leaves, curly-cue tendrils and watery stems hold the promise of spring peas to come. But even better than that, they hold the flavor of them, too.

One of the reasons they’re so appealing to gardeners and farmers is that they offer the flavor of the pea, but can be harvested in a quarter of the time. And one of the reasons home cooks are taking to them (apart from their flavor) is because they’re rich in nutrients. But how do you cook with something that quite literally looks like a plant (more so than any other produce you may have)?

Turns out, you can very easily just swap them in for any soft, leafy green in a recipe. Much like watercress, the stems are edible — and the tendrils are just delicious.

And check it out, you can grow them indoors year-round!

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Happy Easter! Maple buds at 7:30 a.m.

Husband got home at midnight from recurrent training in Dallas. We went for a walk out back with our cups of coffee this morning.

It’s 8:30 a.m. Sunday morning as I’m blogging this, the house is clean, there are flowers, there is candy, and it’s time to gear up for church, guests, and mid-afternoon Easter dinner.

The year’s at the spring
And day’s at the morn;
Morning’s at seven;
The hillside’s dew-pearled;
The lark’s on the wing;
The snail’s on the thorn;
God’s in His heaven –
All’s right with the world!
– Robert Browning

Salad with a friend

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My friend Sharon came to my house last night, bearing ingredients, and she made the two of us a beautiful and delicious salad! This is my plate.

March 29: Grapefruit, Snow Pea and Feta Salad

If I had to choose just one word to describe this salad, it would be satisfying. No, super-satisfying. Such a variety of flavors – tart grapefruit, bitter arugula, buttery butterleaf lettuce, spring green snow peas, the cheesy tang of feta, sweet golden raisins, savory dressing. Such a variety of textures – crunchy toasted pumpkin seeds, melt-in-your-mouth avocado. And the ingredients complemented each other so nicely.

Sharon has graciously shared her recipe, which is her own invention…

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Salad ingredients:

Grapefruit, sectioned to remove pith and peel

Snow peas blanched to tender (1 minute in boiling water, then removed to bowl of ice water); ends removed and cut into lengthwise pieces

1/4 cup feta cheese, sprinkled (goat cheese may be substituted)

1/2 head of Boston Bibb lettuce

1 cup of arugula

Toasted pepita seeds, about 1/3 cup

* You can add avocado slices if you like them

Dressing Mix:

Juice from one grapefruit

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

1/2 cup olive oil

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1 garlic clove, minced

Honey, about 1 tablespoon

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Snow peas… so green and fresh and spring-signifying.

I haven’t had snow peas yet in salad month – which is almost over.

Sharon is a great cook and great friend. We have a lot in common because her husband is also an airline pilot and we both have two children and we live in the same town and we are both writers (now and then). She knew about my salad month challenge and offered to make a salad for me near my birthday in the middle of the month. We had to reschedule when my husband got sick.

So last night we got together at last and had good food and good conversation. And sea salt caramel ice cream with sugar cookies for dessert.

Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: “What! You too? I thought I was the only one.” – C.S. Lewis

(P.S. Sharon, I heard the first spring peepers tonight.)

Green on green salad

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March 28: Baby Kale with Roasted Broccolini, Parmesan Cheese and Lemon-Dijon-Roasted Garlic Vinaigrette

Leftover kale. Leftover vinaigrette with the scrumptious addition of roasted garlic. The oven-roasted baby broccoli is also what’s new with yesterday’s 4 p.m. salad. (When you’re alone, you can eat whenever you like.)

I had roasted cipollini onions the day before. I’m on board with this olive-oiling and oven-roasting of vegetables. Served warm on a bed of cold greens, not bad at all!

Also, thumbs up for “baby” versions of veggies and greens.

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So green.

I read 40 Tips to Maximize Garden Harvests while munching.

Also, I bought Sugar Ann Snap Peas yesterday.

There is one thing which gives radiance to everything. It is the idea of something around the corner. – G. K. Chesterton

In which I eat kale

brontosaurus

Mm, kale.

Kale is a member of the cabbage family. My friends sing its praises. But I’m not riding that kale bandwagon.

Some varieties can reach a height of six or seven feet; others are compact and symmetrical and of good quality for eating. Many, however, are coarse, possess an undesirable coloring, and are unappealing and indigestible.

And…

During World War II, the cultivation of kale in the U.K. was encouraged by the Dig for Victory campaign. The vegetable was easy to grow and provided important nutrients to supplement those missing from a normal diet because of rationing.

If you don’t eat your kale, you can’t have any pudding.

Kale has the center rib you must remove and, when served raw, it’s so thick and cabbagey-leafy-vegetably chewily flavorful it tastes a little too much (to me) like something an herbivore with big grinding molars and extra stomachs would eat.

I prefer it cooked in Provincetown Kale Soup with linguica sausage.

There’s even a kale named “dinosaur.”

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But… baby kale is a revelation.

It’s tender and nice and more like lettuce or spinach or young garden greens and therefore accessible to those of us who are not (yet?) mega hardcore greens eaters. And, bingo, it’s just as good for you.

This is the first time I have eaten pre-adult kale.

March 27: Baby Kale Salad with Roasted Cipollini Onions and Lemon-Dijon Dressing

Because it’s almost Easter, there are lots of little onions – pearl, for example – for sale at the grocery stores. I saw these while buying kale and remembered I liked them.

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Cipollini onions are the sweetest and most awesome onions I have ever tasted.

The Kitchn captures it…

We’ve been seeing more and more of these little guys recently and we couldn’t be happier. Cipollini onions (pronounced chip-oh-lee-knee) were once a rare treat only to be found at fancy restaurants and the occasional gourmet market. We’re glad they’re finally getting their due attention…Now what exactly are they?

Their name literally means “little onion” in Italian, and indeed they are! Cipollinis are about the size of a golf ball with a slightly flattened appearance. They’re thin-skinned and have translucent white flesh with more residual sugar than your average yellow or white onion.

Which makes them incredible for roasting or caramelizing. Roasted whole in the oven or cooked in a little butter on the stove top, cipollinis become soft and practically melt in your mouth. Those residual sugars caramelize and concentrate, leaving behind none of the astringent raw onion flavor.

Peel the thin outer layer (best to boil for one minute to make that skin easier to remove), toss them with a little olive oil and sea salt, roast in a 400˚ oven for about 25 minutes, turning a few times for even browning, until they are soft and caramelized to perfect roasty sweetness.

Here is a decent recipe, with beautiful photos. My onions didn’t need as long to cook as their recipe called for. White On Rice blog: Roasted Cipollini Onions.

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Vinaigrette was 1/4 cup lemon juice, 3/4 cup olive oil, 2 tablespoons dijon mustard, and some pepper. After tasting, I added a half teaspoon or so of honey to sweeten it just a little.

I did what I do a lot – Google the ingredients I think I want to use and glance through three or four recipes to get the gist of it.

Lemons are such a kitchen staple, considering they don’t grow anywhere near most kitchens. If I ever live someplace warm again, I will have a lemon tree in my backyard or in a pot on the porch.

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I sprinkled some parmesan cheese and some Maldon sea salt (of course) on my kale and caramelized onion salad. Then I took it outside and sat in a plastic chair in 50˚ sunshine and ate it while watching the chickens scratch around in the muddy woods.

Lunch moment. Relaxed contentment, surprising deliciousness. A taking in.

 It’s good to be just plain happy, it’s a little better to know that you’re happy; but to understand that you’re happy and to know why and how and still be happy, be happy in the being and the knowing, well that is beyond happiness, that is bliss. – Henry Miller

Rinse. Spin. Repeat.

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Every kind of vegetable in this salad has already been in a salad in the last three or four days.

One of my Salad Month challenges has been that I want to try different salads but I am making salad for one, two or a few people (except for this Easter Sunday) and the things I want to put on salad are often bundled in sizes that serve more than one person. Such as a 1 lb bag of carrots.

I wonder if anyone has ever eaten a 1 lb bag of carrots all at once.

March 26: Repeat Salad with New Vinaigrette

I raided the refrigerator and came up with curly leaf lettuce, radishes, carrots, and an apple. I snipped some mint from the window pot. It was a salad for one at lunchtime.

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I made a vinaigrette with 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar, 1 tablespoon of olive oil, and a half teaspoon of maple syrup. I got the idea for this vinaigrette from the apples in the salad. I decided to add a little seasonally appropriate maple sweetness. It’s the Full Sap Moon tonight. (It’s also known as the Worm Moon, but I’m not that adventurous.)

This will be, for me, a major take-away from Salad Month: once you have a general sense of appropriate oil and acid proportions, vinaigrettes are easy and fun and fast and endlessly variable and can be made with lots of different ingredients and are way better than the bottled stuff.

I had a hard-boiled egg with this salad too, laid by my Easter Egger chicken Ella Fitzgerald. She lays the fewest eggs, but they are special when they arrive.

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Make salad. Eat salad. Write about making and eating salad. Repeat.

Salad Month. I’m half sick of it and half feeling a weird compulsion to continue right through April as well. Or what if I ate salad every day for a year! There are so many salads I still want to try.

It’s so human to get carried away with things, isn’t it?

I’ve been looking forward to garden season. Here is a chart of plant times for my area, from almanac.com.

plant times

Peas are right around the corner! I need a bale of straw for my chickens… so maybe I’ll pick up a pack of early peas at the Agway too.

Cure for an obsession: get another one. – Mason Cooley

Flatbread’s salad

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Look at this pretty salad!

Okay, I confess – I didn’t make it. The day got away from me and we decided to just eat out at the new Flatbread’s in Hampton last night. John and I shared a flatbread and a salad.

March 25: Flatbread’s Signature Organic Salad with Mesclun and Sweet Leaf Lettuces, Celery and Carrots, Toasted Sesame Seeds, Maine Sea Kelp, Raspberry Vinaigrette, and Heart Song Farm Goat Cheese

I was most interested to try the seaweed part of this. (It’s the dark green on top.) I had a seaweed salad earlier in the month and didn’t love it – a local friend who read on Facebook about my Salad Month and seaweed tasting recommended this salad for a better seaweed experience.

I liked it! The seaweed was green and faintly salty tasting. It didn’t stand out as strange and different. The whole salad was a nice mix of nourishing food and I would order it again.

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A bluebird visited us today.

And when you crush an apple with your teeth, say to it in your heart:
Your seeds shall live in my body,
And the buds of your tomorrow shall blossom in my heart,
And your fragrance shall be my breath,
And together we shall rejoice through all the seasons.
– Kahlil Gibran