Cooking with the Seasons - Fresh Spring Cookingby Jane Georgini
Spring is the season of renewal. The time when the earth awakes from its winter sleep, flowers push up from the frozen ground to show off their new green shoots and spectacular colors, the earth warms from the sun's golden rays to wake animals and birds from hibernation to begin the cycle or rebirth. It is also time for us to do the same! We open our windows and welcome in the warm, sweet-smelling breezes that entice us to spend more time outside, gardening, socializing, and playing. All winter our energy was kept deep inside to keep us warm and centered. Now we need to move our energy upward and outward so we can begin our rebirth as well. Here are some ideas to help make the transition easier.
Accentuate foods that have an upward energy such as spouts, scallions, leeks, barley, and wheat. Use more often lighter cooking methods such as boiling, light sauteing, and steaming. Springtime is associated with the liver/gallbladder and the sour taste. Therefore, foods such as tempeh, sauerkraut, lighter pickles, lemon, vinegar, and pressed salads are especially helpful. Put your baking aside for now and create desserts that are lighter, such as kantens, puddings, and compotes.
Then as we move along into the hot summer months be sure to add to your meals more raw foods, such as salads and crudites. By this time we will be spending a lot more time outside, picnicking, going to the beach, vacationing, hiking, so time is of the essence in order to eat a well-balanced meal and yet have all this fun, too!
Combine some of our dishes like the Rice/Arame/Corn Salad recipe below where you have grain, sea vegetable, and vegetables in one dish. Be creative and the possibilities are endless. So let the birds chirping and the sweet smells of Spring spark your creativity to come up with new and tasty meals. If stuck, take a macrobiotic cooking class, sit back, and let us inspire you!
Pinto Bean Salad
- 2 cups dried pinto beans, soaked 6-8 hours
- 1 small onion, in large chunks
- 1 small carrot, in large chunks
- 1 stalk celery, in large chunks
- 2-inch piece kombu sea vegetable
- 2 bay leaves (optional)
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- 4 radishes with green tops
- 1/2 lb. snowpeas
- 1 bunch kale or broccoli rabe
- 1 bunch parsley
- 1/2 cup olive oil or sesame oil
- 1/2 cup brown rice vinegar
- 2 tablespoons umeboshi vinegar
- 2 tablespoons water
- 3 tablespoons fresh chopped dill
Place beans in pot with onion, carrot, celery, kombu, bay leaves, and enough water to cover by 1 inch. Bring to boil, reduce flame, cover, and cook for 45 minutes. Add sea salt and cook for another 25 minutes or until the beans are soft, but not mushy. Cut off tops of radishes and chop. Quarter radishes and remove the string from the snowpeas. Blanch snowpeas in boiling water for 30 seconds, drain, and cool. Cut kale in thin slices and blanch for 60 seconds, drain, and cool. When beans are done, remove large chunks of vegetables and drain beans. Add dressing to the hot beans and let cool for 15 to 20 minutes. Then add chopped parsley. radishes and tops, and snowpeas to beans, and toss.
- 2 cups cooked brown rice
- 1 cup cooked corn kernels
- 3/4 cup arame, cooked and diced
- Broccoli flowers, blanched
- Red onion, diced
- Carrots, grated
- Sunflower seeds, toasted
- 2 tablespoons sesame oil
- 1 tablespoon umeboshi vinegar or
- 2 umeboshi plums, mashed
- 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
This salad incorporates using leftover grains. The vegetables are prepared with little or no cooking - either raw or quickly boiled for 1 minute. Arame is soaked for 20 minutes and then cooked for 15 minutes or it can be a leftover arame (or even quicker would be dulse, simply soaked for 5 minutes, then diced). Combine rice, arame, blanched and raw vegetables, seeds, and umeboshi dressing to create a delicious, easy summer salad.
Lemon Amasake Pudding
- 1 quart amasake
- 4 tablespoons kuzu, diluted with a small amount of cold water
- Lemon juice, 2 tablespoons or to taste
- 1 tablespoon lemon zest
- Strawberry slices, for garnish
Heat amasake in a pot to just below a boil. Add the diluted kuzu to the pot, stirring constantly to avoid the kuzu from lumping. The mixture will turn cloudy as the kuzu is added and then clear and thicken with stirring. Add lemon juice and simmer for 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in lemon zest and garnish with strawberry slices.
Jane Georgini is a macrobiotic cooking teacher in Kensington, CT.