The spell of winter is fading and we are being blessed with warmer and longer days. I eagerly await these changes, the signs that spring is finally on its way.
While spring blossoms are one of the obvious signs of spring, we can’t overlook the majesty of a wattle landscape in full bloom. These glorious natives, and my personal favourites, are in bloom from late winter, and are a much welcomed relief from the bleak shades of grey and the dull monotony of evergreens and pines. The garden is instantly transformed from bleak to bright, and with it, my mood is lifted, I feel restored.
The wattles are closely followed by the blossoming cherries, peaches, and apricots, tiny leaves begin to bud, and what once looked dead is suddenly resurrected. The sun also begins to shift. Each morning I track its journey across the sky as it progressively rises ever eastward, bathing my kitchen in glorious light. These are changes that I openly celebrate. I find the winters here long, and being an old weatherboard home without insulation or modern and efficient windows and heating, it can be quite brutal. Once winter begins, I hold my breath waiting for it to end.
Now the blossoms and the light have returned, I can breathe again.
To celebrate these much welcomed changes, I love to bring the blossoms inside. They don’t last long at all, so you have to be quick to enjoy their delicate petals and fragrance. I like to fill a vase with tall cuttings to place on the table, and have also taken to filling a basket with the blossoms and placing it in various spots in the home. It adds a temporary splash of colour and beauty to any room.
The garden is also responding to the growing light and warmer days. While it will be some time yet before we are harvesting much more than winter turnips and silverbeet, the herbs are becoming plentiful and tender with the fresh flush of new leaves. An abundance of herbs is begging to be used in that uniquely piquant sauce, salsa verde. I love capers and gherkins, so always double up on those ingredients, but really the stars of the show were the mint, coriander and parsley cut fresh from the garden. It paired beautifully with the slow cooked shoulder of lamb I prepared on Father’s Day.
I have also been playing with sourdough in the kitchen. I can not profess to have had much success with sourdough in the past. I have made numerous starters that are vigorous and heady with that delicious yeasty scent, but have not yet managed a decent loaf. At times I have achieved a glorious crust, but a dense and gluey crumb, and at others, a beautiful open crumb, but a disappointing and anaemic crust. I will continue to try, but in the meantime am forever grateful for yeast, and the local bakery!
Despite my many sourdough failures, what I have recently discovered is that you can use your sourdough starter to make everything from crackers to pastry, and that is where I have happily found my place in the sourdough kitchen. The crackers were amazing, and easy, and did not demand the 2 or 3 days of carefully strategised steps required to make a loaf of bread. I have a couple of sourdough pastries ready to go in the freezer, and will need to make another batch of crackers as they just don’t last long enough. I am now looking forward to trying crumpets and fruit loaves.
I love being in the kitchen, which has received a mini makeover in the form of some new curtains my Mum sewed up from a long forgotten piece of fabric in her stash. It is a slightly folky print that suits this kitchen perfectly. I think a kitchen should invite you in, invite you to cook and to create. I have always loved being in the kitchen, but at times lose my spark and just yearn for something different. I have needed the heaviness of winter to be over, and now wholeheartedly welcome in spring and its promise of greens and berries, new potatoes and sweet, crisp carrots, fresh from the garden and markets. There is nothing so uplifting as those first new potatoes, or those first plump spears of asparagus poking up through the soil. Suddenly the spark returns, and I want to get back into the kitchen, cooking up good things for my family.
But a change of season often has that affect. It entices one to explore and create. I look forward to that, and hope you are too.