Tuesday, February 5, 2013

February Veggies and Recipes

Frosty Rose
Winter Wonder

Midwinter and Time for Love

We passed mid-winter on Candlemas (AKA Groundhog Day) February 2, and days in the northern hemisphere are getting noticeably longer. Though there’s still time for some quiet wintery introspection, there’s no shortage of celebrations this month. Lunar (Chinese) New Year this Sunday, February 10 is followed by Mardi Gras on the 12th and Valentine’s Day on the 14th. And then (in the US) comes Presidents’ Day on 18th. And of course (again in the US) there was the Superbowl last weekend. Are these many February party-ops coincidental? Or are they the result of a collective cabin fever that everyone experiences at this time of year, inspiring us to get active, connect with others, and get a little crazy before we go a little crazy?

Bright Red Rose Hips against blue sky
Neighbor's Rose Garden
February in coastal California is mild compared with most other places in the country, rarely below freezing. Still, it’s the time of year when local veggies seem like “more of same,” and not in great variety. Leeks and (dried/stored) onions make good soup, chili, and gravy bases. The brassicas, like cauliflower, broccoli, kale, and cabbage, are bountiful provided that weather stays cool. Like last month, root veggies like carrots, beets, potatoes, and parsnips, as well as winter greens like chard and collards are reliably available. Enjoy the very last of the fresh persimmons (now fully ripe) and stored pumpkins and cranberries. Winter squash, apples, and pears are available from storage through next month. Citrus continues to grace the grocery shelves despite last month’s freeze, so do get creative with oranges, tangerines, lemons, and limes: try them in salads, sweets, drinks, sauces, or combined with winter veggies.

Two Bare Trees Entwined
Winter World
Dungeness crab is still in season, and I plan to finally master a crabcake recipe this month. If you’re adventurous, it’s a great time to harvest and steam your own mussels from the open ocean coastline. Mussels are typically off-limits for noncommercial harvesters from May 1 – October 31 throughout California due to high domoic acid concentrations. Cooler ocean temperatures make harvesting your own in winter safe.

You might want to start planning your 2013 garden this month. It’s getting harder to avoid genetically engineered seeds (GMOs). Here’s a guide to avoiding GMO seeds, and a list of safe seed companies by state. I’m going with Renee’s, right up the road from me as well as on the safe list. You can also pick up some 20% off flower seeds from her until Valentine's day.

Enjoy the last full month of winter and do reach out and party a bit if you’re so inclined.

Bright Purple Violet
First Edible Flower of the Year
February Fruits and Veggies

Forsythia Branch starting to Bloom
Harbinger of Spring
Wild Mushrooms
Pumpkin (stored)
Turnips & Rutabaga
Apples (stored)
Pears (stored)

Favorite and New February Recipes

Large Pink Camillia Blossom
Winter Cheer: First of Many Camillias
Roasted Chickpea Appetizer
Kale 3 Ways courtesy of Green Tea & Chocolate
Chocolate Chip Hazelnut Linzer Heart Cookies courtesy of Tate’s Bake Shop
Bananas Foster courtesy Brennan’s Restaurant
Hurricane Cocktail courtesy of Emeril
Chen Pi = Dried Tangerine Peel: make now to enjoy later

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