The Joy of Spinach

We returned home from a long journey back from Europe to a sight that had me dancing around the garden: baby spinach. We’ve had a very wet and not terribly warm Spring in the Pacific Northwest so I feared the worst for my first foray in the garden.  But alas, I returned home last night to all sorts of new budding and greenery.  On a quick survey of the property I noted the newly green leaves on the Japanese Maple by the entrance, full buds covering the Wisteria wrapped around the porch, hummingbirds buzzing by the nearly ready to bloom Honeysuckle, and a comforting burst of life in the cherry pink Azaleas I had transplanted to a new location before leaving. While I enjoy the decorative improvements, what really floored me, was the garden.  Ending a 2-week trip via an 11 hour flight from London and an overnight in Seattle since we missed the last ferry island bound -- when we arrived back home around 5pm on Tuesday, we had nothing fresh to speak of in the house.  Imagine my excitement walking into the garden come instant supermarket.  The peas and fava beans were growing full speed ahead, the strawberries adorned with white flowers, and bits of wispy carrot tops had emerged by the shoots of scallions and greens of Chioggia beets.  But the salad bed was flourishing.  While the chard would need a few more weeks, the spinach (which I had evidently been too generous in sowing) was ready to be thinned, which meant fresh baby spinach for us, and dinner.

Baby Spinach, Oregonzola Blue, and Candied Walnut Salad
Baby Spinach, Oregonzola Blue, and Candied Walnut Salad

I got to work thinning out the spinach starts and returned to the kitchen with a full plate of tender leaves.  After cooking up a panful of spiced candy walnuts (cayenne is key), I peeled open the Rogue Creamery Oregonzola Blue stashed away in the fridge, thinly sliced a red onion and a pear, whipped up my homemade balsamic vinaigrette, and enjoyed our first farm to table meal of the season.  It was just the homecoming I needed to get motivated for a second round of planting this week.  More on that soon... and ducks.  We are contemplating adding a few more animals to the Lawlor clan for fresh eggs.  Ducks or chickens, or both?  Fresh duck egg omelette with smoked salmon and homegrown arugula sounds good to me.  I wonder if they will coexist peacefully with the pair of geese who’ve taken to our pond...