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Tuesday, March 13, 2012

A Spring in My Step

I am so happy.  We have "sprung" forward and spring is on the air.  Yesterday my impossibly expensive gardening service arrived to do a spring clean up.  We are now raked, mulched and ready for the arrival of daffodils.  It's amazing how a little hint of lovely weather can completely change my outlook on just about everything.

But first a word about my gardening service.  I am from Los Angeles, land of gardeners.  There are zillions of them and they are all reasonably priced.  They take pride in doing a good job.  When I was growing up, Kenny took care of our house.  When I became a grown up, we hired a gardener to take care of our house and he would still be our gardener if we hadn't moved to the land of gardening services.  In Los Angeles, I had a relationship with my gardener.  That's just how it was.

In Pittsburgh, there are gardening services.  They garden in the summer months and then hope for lots of snow in the winter so they can switch into snow removal mode for the winter.  It's not that I don't have a relationship with the owner of the service, because I do.  And it's not that they don't do a spectacular job with the gardening, because they do.  My house is beautiful, thanks in large part to their efforts.   (When the tulips come up along the walkway I'll post a picture.  People knock on my door to tell me how beautiful they are.)  But they charge a bloody fortune for the privilege.  I hate to think what yesterday's clean up and mulch cost me.  I hope not to be home when the bill arrives in the mail and Ted opens it.

Yes, we could do it all ourselves.  But here's the thing.  We do not have green thumbs in this house.  Getting a houseplant to thrive is an accomplishment.  We are also just not that organized.  I'm afraid that we would have to hack our way through the overgrown grass and weeds with a machete before Ted would get around to mowing the lawn.  I'm not being mean.  It's just a fact.

I suspect that as Ted is reading this he is wishing I would refrain from mentioning him in my posts.  Hey, I write this blog everyday.  I need material.

Now where was I?  Spring.  That's right.

So, now that it's getting a little warmer, it's time to break out some lighter recipes.  Maybe use some different veggies instead of the winter staples like carrots and potatoes.

This salmon dish showcases the delicious spring onions that are just showing up in grocery stores.  They're sweet and just scream spring.  The addition of the yellow tomatoes, which were surprisingly easy to find too, adds a nice brightness to this dish.

It's too bad it's not quite warm enough to have dinner in my newly mulched backyard.  If I'm going to pay through the nose for mulch, we might as well enjoy it.

Recipe:  Pan-Roasted Salmon with Fresh Onion and Fennel Salad
(Martha Stewart Living,  March 2012)


1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
4 skinless salmon fillets
1 cup very thinly shaves fennel (from one bulb)
1 cup pea shoots or mache
1 fresh white onion, very thinly shaved to 1/2-1/3 cup)
1/4 cup cilantro leaves, plus cilantro sprigs for garnish
1 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar, or white wine vinegar and a pinch of sugar
Coarse salt
2 medium golden tomatoes


Preheat the oven to 350.  Heat a large ovenproof skillet over high heat.  Add 1 tablespoon oil, and swirl to coat pan.  Add salmon, skinned side up, and sear until [golden, about 3 minutes.  Flip salmon, and transfer to the oven.  Roast 5 minutes (for medium).

Toss together fennel, pea shoots, onion, cilantro leaves, vinegar, and remaining 3 tablespoons olive oil; season with salt.

Slice tomatoes, and arrange on 4 plates.  Season with salt, and top with salmon.  To serve, top with salad, and drizzle with oil.  Season with salt and garnish with cilantro sprigs.

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