By this time we are experiencing an “awakening” of all which has been resting during the long, harsh winter months. Suddenly bushes and trees begin to flower and plants seem to magically emerge from the cold, damp earth. Now is the time we can start to enjoy fresh produce from our gardens and local farm markets. My grandmother loved to write stories about her experiences and this one comes to mind every year around this time. She wrote, “In the spring on Sundays we always went for a walk in the woods to look for the first wildflowers. And one day, there they would be, the little lavender-blue hepaticas, peeping out from under the fallen leaves. And we would know, spring has come again. God's in his heaven, all is right with the world!”
As much as she loved taking walks in the woods to find wildflowers, my grandmother loved to cook her comfort foods with fresh fruits and vegetables. Now is the time of year we can start enjoying fresh produce from our gardens and local farm markets. Living in Northeastern United States we can now enjoy garden lettuce. What could be better than a garden salad made with the delicate leaves of fresh picked red and green lettuce leaves? Or a slice of homemade Crusty French Bread spread with strawberry or raspberry preserves? Soon we will see fresh asparagus, broccoli, strawberries and raspberries cropping up.
I'd like to share two of my grandmother's easy recipes which could be a complete meal. Her Bacon Dressing for Salads and Crusty French Bread would be a delicious, light meal for your family this time of year. The bread can be served with butter for dinner and spread with preserves for dessert! Enjoy!
Bacon Dressing For Salads
Take about 4 strips of bacon and cut into 1/4” pieces. Fry until pale brown. Take bacon out of pan. To the bacon fat add ¼ cup vinegar, ½ cup water, pinch salt, sprinkle black pepper and 2 to 3 tablespoons sugar. (according to taste) Bring to a boil and then take the pan off of the burner. You may need to add more vinegar or water. (this is according to taste) Add the bacon and cool to room temperature. This is delicious on garden lettuce, endive or potato salad. You can add whatever you would like to the salad. We usually keep it simple with thinly sliced red onion, and cherry tomatoes.
Crusty French Bread
6 cups sifted flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1 ½ teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons melted butter
1 package yeast
2 cups very warm water
Dissolve yeast in very warm water. Stir in 3 cups flour and the sugar, salt and melted butter. Beat until real smooth. Slowly add the rest of the flour. Knead until smooth. Put into a greased bowl, cover and let rise until double in bulk. Punch down and let rise again. Put the dough on the table and knead. Cut into 2 even pieces. Roll out each piece into a 9” x 12” rectangle. Then roll each up like a jelly roll, tucking the ends under. Grease cookie sheet and sprinkle with corn meal. Place the loaves on the cookie sheet. Slash top of loaves crosswise with a knife 1/2” deep and 2” apart. Let rise until double. Brush top with egg white mixed with 2 teaspoons water. Put a pan of water on bottom shelf of the oven while baking. Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes. Bake until golden brown and sounds hollow when tapped.
Carrie J. Gamble is the publisher of Grandmother's Cookbook by Elizabeth Rose von Hohen. It is a collection of her grandmother's comfort food recipes made with love and her treasured memories. For more details about the cookbook and its wildflower watercolors visit: http://www.grandmotherscookbook.com. The perfect gift for Mother's Day, Weddings and Birthdays.
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