Saturday, April 7, 2012

Magpie April 2012

March may have come in like a lion, full of ice and snow, but it has gone out like a lamb. A couple of weeks of unseasonably warm and dry weather has pulled the snow off the landscape, exposing beaten down brown grasses, opening up the creeks and tempting the aspen to begin budding out. Here among the ponderosa along the creek, the crows have returned, circling through the trees, cawing up a racket, letting their presence be known. White-tail deer, with their coats shaggy from the winter nest down at night in the piles of pine needles I rake for compost. I call the deer, “my kinetic lawn ornaments and ace gardening shears”. As they move through the yard they nibble almost every plant in sight, saving me the trouble of having to prune or clip.

Out on the prairie, birds are returning in droves. Meadowlarks, redwing black birds and blue birds are back. Canada geese strut the fields in romantic pairings, honking up a storm, and the beautiful calls of the sandhill cranes fill the early mornings and evenings. I call this the noisy time of year! The snowbirds have returned and they lift my winter-weary spirit. Oh, you thought the term “snowbirds” only applied to senior citizens who travel to Arizona and Texas with their travel trailers for the winter?  Ah, but the birds are my neighbors as well, and I am glad to see both bird and human return.
Here in northern Wyoming, April is often when I expect the biggest snow storms. So I haven’t put away my snow shovel just yet. There is still ice along the creek, and only a blush of green at the edge of meadows. Not much is going on in the garden; the big green leaves of rhubarb are just starting to poke through the litter.
One of the earliest herbs you can plant is cilantro. Cilantro is a wonderful detox herb, and is good in lots of soups, salads and more. I find in my garden that as soon as the weather really heats up – mid June around here - the cilantro tends to go to seed. That is okay because cilantro seed is coriander, which is used in lots of Mexican and Indian dishes. Let the seeds dry on the plant, then clip the whole thing and put up side down in a paper bag. You can clean the seeds off the plant later on some rainy day when you have to stay inside. Grind them in your coffee grinder after they are good and dry.

I use a trinity of herbs, coriander, cumin and cayenne in lots of dishes. Here is a great recipe that uses all three, plus the fresh cilantro.

                                  QUINOA, ( pronounced keen-waw )  SALAD

¼ cup olive oil         1 tablespoon chopped garlic            1 teaspoon each of cumin & coriander
3 cups water             1 red bell pepper, finely sliced         ¼  teaspoon cayenne
2 cups quinoa          ½ cup lime juice                                  1 bunch of fresh cilantro chopped
1 bay leaf                  1 teaspoon salt
2 carrots, grated
In a heavy skillet, lightly toast the quinoa in the olive oil on medium heat, stirring often until the grain begins to pop and crackle. Add the water and bay leaf and cover. Simmer on low about 20 minutes until all the water has been absorbed. Transfer to a bowl, cool, and add rest of ingredients. Mix everything together well and chill. Delicious!


1 comment:

  1. Now that the weather is getting warmer I am switching from soups to salad and this one sounds tasty!