The world outside is waking up early


Linda Conway Eriksson - Contributing Columnist



Weather has always held a certain fascination for mankind. I’ve lived in several states. In a number of those places, I’ve heard the phrase “If you don’t like the weather in (fill in the blank), wait a minute.”

Supposedly first said to describe the unseasonable swings between bitter cold, snow and gray skies and several days with sun and spring like temperatures in the New England area, the phrase has spread across the country. And it fits just about everywhere.

I’ll admit to watching the weather closely in the newspaper, on the Internet via Doppler radar, plus spending a little time with The Weather Channel most days. And I’ve noticed that we’ve had a milder than usual winter season in central Ohio so far. But at the beginning of last week as I walked to the door of the building where I spend five days every week at my “day job,” I was surprised to see clusters of daffodil shoots about an inch high all along the walk to the door. Two days later, some of them were three inches tall.

We have quite a show of daffodils around our building in the spring, thanks to the gardening talents of Brian Burley, who maintains the building (you may remember Brian as my go-to Guru of the Smoker Grill). But one just doesn’t expect to see them pushing out of the ground in such profusion by Valentine’s Day.

What are the odds they will be harmed by the next inevitable blast of winter weather? Actually, chances are slim. We will have more bone chilling weather before it gets warm and stays that way, but bulbs are hardy by nature. They’ve been made more so by hybridization. The overnight cold can lay daffodils flat on the ground, but when the temperature rises a little during the day, they’ll pop right back.

I’ve been asked if flower bulbs are edible. Supposedly, some are but please consult an extension agent or another expert before you take that first bite. Some bulbs are toxic.

Although they don’t have anything to do with bulbs, there are spring edibles arriving at markets in the area right now. The first rhubarb is coming in — not local just yet, but good nonetheless. This is a way to make use of it that I’d never tried until I found a similar recipe. Rhubarb is good for you and really delicious served in a wide variety of ways.

SPICED BRAISED RHUBARB

1 1/2 pounds rhubarb, trimmed and cut into 2 inch slices

1 cup fresh orange juice

1/4 cup honey

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

8 pods green cardamom (or equivalent ground)

2 whole star anise

1 vanilla bean split lengthwise, seeds scraped and reserved

1 half inch piece ginger, peeled and sliced crosswise

Yogurt, vanilla ice cream or pound cake for serving

Heat oven to 400 degrees.

In a 9 by 13 inch baking dish, mix together rhubarb, orange juice, honey, salt, cardamom, star anise, vanilla bean and seeds and ginger.

Bake, stirring occasionally, until rhubarb is tender (14-16 minutes). Allow to cool to room temperature.

Serve over yogurt, ice cream or sliced pound cake, or have about half a cup in a small bowl with a little heavy cream.

Makes about 2 1/2 cups.

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Linda Conway Eriksson

Contributing Columnist

Linda Conway Eriksson can be reached at lindaconwayeriksson@gmail.com.

Linda Conway Eriksson can be reached at lindaconwayeriksson@gmail.com.