Early spring vegetables are a real treat when cooking in the kitchen this time of year

May is a month of renewal and refreshment. The trees have fresh-budded leaves, the grass is a lush green, the sun warms our skin and the smell of freshly turned soil lifts our spirits.

At our house, we enjoy going out to the garden to snap off some fresh asparagus, cut a few stalks of rhubarb or clip some baby dill leaves or winter onion cuttings.

Our asparagus patch, started by the Cowan family, is decades old and has satisfied many taste buds each spring. There is something gratifying about eating food grown in your own yard. The long row produces so many spears that we always are happy to share with our family, friends and neighbours. Loaded with antioxidants and fibre, this vegetable is a must.

Asparagus skillet meal

Fresh steamed, sautéed or roasted asparagus is an amazing side dish or appetizer, but when the crop is prolific, it is always fun to mix up this flavour with other foods.

This stir fry dish is tasty, simple and filling, served over a bed of rice. The colours are amazing.

Now that the weather is warmer, it is nice to let the oven take a rest and let the stovetop do the work. Side with a spoonful of pickled beets, if desired.

  • 1 c. Catalina salad dressing, store bought or homemade 250 mL
  • 1/2 c. soy sauce 125 mL
  • 2 tbsp. honey 30 mL
  • generous dash of garlic powder, or a minced small garlic clove
  • 4 chicken breasts cut into thin strips 4
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 carrots sliced into small thin fingers 2
  • 10 to 15 asparagus spears
  • 1 small red pepper, cut into thin strips 1
  • 1 small yellow pepper, cut into thin strips 1
  • 1/2 red or yellow onion, sliced 1/2
  • 4 large fresh mushrooms, sliced 4
  • 1 tbsp. chopped fresh dill greens (optional) 15 mL
  • chopped winter onion greens if available (optional)
  • cooked rice

Mix the dressing, soy sauce, honey, garlic and desired salt and pepper in a large skillet, over medium heat. Once heated, add the chicken and cook for approximately three to five minutes.

Add the vegetables and dill, and stir fry for an additional five minutes or until the vegetables are tender.

Spoon over rice and top with chopped green or winter onions, if desired.

You can substitute in other vegetables of equivalent quantities.

Serves four large appetites, six small.

Source: adapted from www.kraftcanada.com

Strawberry rhubarb sauce

We know that spring is here when rhubarb pokes up through the earth. The red stalks transform into the most amazing food offerings. This sweet and sour combination brings life to a slice of angel food cake, a bowl of yogurt or over a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

  • 2 1/2 c. chopped fresh or frozen rhubarb (1 inch pieces) 625 mL
  • 1/2 c. water 125 mL
  • 1/2 c. sugar 125 mL
  • 2 tbsp. grated lemon zest 30 mL
  • 1/4 tsp. salt 1 mL
  • 1 1/2 c. sliced fresh or frozen unsweetened strawberries 375 mL
  • 2 tbsp. lemon juice 30 mL

Prepare an angel food cake for this dessert.

Then, in a saucepan, combine rhubarb, water, sugar, lemon zest and salt; bring to a boil.

Reduce heat. Cook, uncovered, over medium heat until rhubarb is soft, about 10-15 minutes. Add a bit more water if the sauce is becoming too thick.

Remove from the heat and let stand for five minutes.

Stir in strawberries and lemon juice.

Cool and serve.

Store any remaining sauce in the refrigerator. Makes about four cups (one litre). Serve over angel food topped with whipped cream.

Rhubarb squares

These squares are great warm for a dessert or cool as a coffee break snack.

  • 1 c. flour 250 mL
  • 1/3 c. icing sugar 80 mL
  • 1/3 c. cold butter 80 mL
  • 1 c. sugar 250 mL
  • 1/4 c. flour 60 mL
  • dash salt for flavour
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten 2
  • 1 tsp. vanilla 5 mL
  • 3 c. finely chopped fresh or frozen rhubarb 750 mL

Preheat the oven to 350 C (180 F).

In a small bowl, combine flour and confectioners’ sugar. Then cut in the butter until mixture resembles crumbs. Press into a greased nine-by-nine inch (22 by 22 cm) baking dish. Bake for 12 minutes.

For the filling, combine the first five ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Stir in rhubarb and pour over the warm crust.

Bake for 35-40 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean. Serve warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream if desired or cooled. Store in the refrigerator. Yield 16 squares.

Notes: Many of us freeze rhubarb in cut pieces to use all year. If you are using frozen rhubarb, to make this square, measure the rhubarb while still frozen, thaw completely then gently drain out any additional liquid. Do not press.

You can also double this recipe and bake in a 10-by-15 inch (25 x 38 cm) pan at the same temperature. Just check the baking time by checking the batter with a toothpick as the timing may be slightly adjusted. Source: www.tasteofhome.com

Seeded oatmeal chocolate chip cookies

It would not be spring if we did not have to fill lunches for the field or cookie jars for that evening bite after a long day.

The flax, hemp and nuts make these oatmeal cookies sustainable and somewhat nutritious with a few hits of protein and omega 3. When the cookie jar is full of homemade treats, everyone seems more content.

Enjoy with a hot drink or a cool lemonade.

  • 1 c. butter, softened 250 mL
  • 1 c. brown sugar, packed 250 mL
  • 1/2 c. white sugar 125 mL
  • 2 eggs 2
  • 1 tsp. vanilla 5 mL
  • 2 c. flour 500 mL
  • 1 tsp. each baking soda and powder 5 mL
  • 1/2 tsp. salt 2 mL
  • 1 c. oatmeal 250 mL
  • 1/2 c. ground flax seed 125 mL
  • 1/4 c. hemp seeds 60 mL
  • 1 1/2 c. chopped nuts such as walnuts, almonds or pecans 375 mL
  • 1 c. chocolate chips 250 mL

Preheat the oven to 350 F (180 C)

Cream together the butter and sugars until smooth. Beat in the eggs one at a time and then add the vanilla. In a separate bowl combine the flour, oatmeal, ground flaxseed, hemp seed, baking soda, baking powder and salt.

Add to the creamed mixture until just blended.

Stir in the nuts and chocolate chips.

Form into balls and place on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes.

Yields about two dozen cookies.

Jodie Mirosovsky is a home economist from Rosetown, Sask., and a member of Team Resources. Contact: team@producer.com.

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