Homemade Strawberry Vinegar and a Spinach Salad with Feta & Pine Nuts

A salad a day is de rigueur around here now that summer has arrived, which means I have to daily face my nemesis: washing greens.

As far as kitchen tasks go, I’d rather shuck corn, peel potatoes, heck, even dice an onion over washing lettuce. I’m not entirely sure why I despise it so much, but the years of salad duty – garde manger – in professional kitchens certainly didn’t spark any affection for the job, and nor did growing my own greens fan any flames.

In one particular restaurant, I was yelled at if the lettuce was gritty. Understandably. But I was also yelled at for taking too long if I took the time required to wash the greens thoroughly (a minimum of three times, if you were wondering). I couldn’t win.

Now baby spinach and beautiful red oak leaf lettuce are growing in my garden. The rain pounds down around them, splashing droplets of soil onto the undersides of their leaves and I see a summer of lettuce washing stretching ahead of me.

Making vinaigrette for my daily salads, however, is a task I do enjoy.

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Salute Spring! Strawberry Salad with Strawberry Poppy Seed Dressing

Join us as we Salute Spring with this series featuring the finest fruits and vegetables of the season. Written by Cheri of Kitchen Simplicity.

Strawberries. The name alone makes my mouth start to water. When they’re in season they can be as sweet as candy. Except so much better.

Here in Norway, they’re one of the first fruits to show up in the produce aisle (even before rhubarb!) when spring rolls around, a sure sign that summer is on it’s way.

I have an early childhood memory of stumbling upon some wild strawberries on the top of a hill. They were so teeny tiny but I remember them being the best strawberries I had ever tasted. I’m sure in the mind of a four year old discovering wild strawberries and picking them on your own automatically qualifies them as tasting The Best!

That’s why this year I’m planning on taking my son strawberry picking. We live in an apartment and therefore don’t have a garden and I would love for him to experience the wonder of picking and eating something for himself.

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Four Variations on Maple Vinaigrette and A Sugaring Off Vlog

Late March means one thing in Québec: sugaring off season. The chilly nights and warm afternoons cause sap to surge up from the roots of the maple trees and race to fill the branches with life. All across the province, the healthy trees are tapped and a portion of the sap is extracted as it makes its journey upward.

You won’t find me pining for summer’s sandy beaches or pool parties during these early spring months; I relish sugaring off season, as you can probably tell. Due to the enthusiastic response to my recent post, A Sugaring Off Story, I decided to bring my Flip along on another recent outing to the family sugar bush and give you one more glimpse of Eastern Canada’s ‘fifth season’.

The short video follows our family’s most enthusiastic little worker, five-year-old Noah, on his third annual visit to the sugar bush. I couldn’t be happier that he is learning the process of gathering a beloved natural resource; truly this is food culture in the making.

For context and more description of how the process takes place, please read  A Sugaring Off Story. Now hit the jump for the vlog and a handful of salad dressing recipes featuring maple syrup.

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