Strawberries, Ramps and Scapes... Oh My!
"Spring is nature's way of saying 'Let's party!'" - Robin Williams

Spring is here. There is no denying it. The birds are singing, flowers blooming everywhere, and I'm sneezing every two seconds... Ahhh.... Spring.

Spring breathes new life into the world, and is a time for new beginnings. Our new beginning just so happens to have come along at the end of this Spring. A home to call our own. We've had some frustrations, and our home is just beyond our grasp, so our fingers are crossed so hard they're almost twisted in hopes this thing goes through!

Now that more produce is growing and ripening, I've been able to get my creativity on with lots of new, Spring related recipes! I always try to lighten up my meals once Spring and the warmer weather hits. A lot of people love a good Summer barbecue, but I would take a hard pass on it if it's above 75 degrees outside. It's just such heavy food! It's food I prefer to save for late Autumn, when it's chilly outside, and I want a full belly that can lead to a nice, cozy nap.

Strawberry picking season just started, and as our yearly tradition, my cousin and I headed to a local farm to do a U-Pick with the kids in tow. Her two kids are some of the best, most precise berry pickers I've seen. I'm not even being biased! It's a blast going every year for strawberries, blueberries, red and black raspberries and blackberries. I walked away with a 6 pound bucket of strawberries, and about 1/3 of that her 3 year old picked himself. I was impressed. Let me tell you something about fresh-picked, local strawberries. They are out of this world. The smell is overwhelmingly sweet, and some areas of the patch even smelled like my Aunt's famous strawberry jello salad. It smells like Smucker's here (minus the coffee smell since they put it in the soil around the campus), and it brings back some great memories of working there when I first graduated college. 

Now, one person can't eat 6 pounds of strawberries on their own before they go bad (it's very tempting though..), so I will wash, dry and then freeze 2/3 of my spoils to save for later in the year. It lets you have a taste or Spring in the middle of Winter. Ohio Winters are sometimes very harsh and gloomy, so some strawberries can definitely brighten up anyone's mood. Some different ways to enjoy your strawberries would be to roast them and put on top of ice cream, drizzle with balsamic vinegar (my favorite is a spicy blood orange balsamic from a local shop), or make a dressing. If you don't have a recipe of your own, never fear, I have one for you right here!

Spring Strawberry Vinaigrette

  • 1/4 cup Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1/4 cup White Wine Vinegar
  • 1/4 cup oil (I used my new favorite, algae oil, but olive works just fine!)
  • 1/4 cup Water
  • 4 small strawberries
  • 1/2 Lime or Lemon and it's zest
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Blend all of these together in a food processor, blender, or using an immersion blender (one of my best investments). The strawberries help emulsify the dressing, and keep it from separating to the annoying extent that a normal vinaigrette will.

It will make 1 1/2 cups of dressing. A standard serving size of dressing is 2 tablespoons. The approximate macros for 2 tablespoons of dressing is:

4.5g of Fat, 2g of Carbs, 0g of Protein, about 50 calories.

Ramps and garlic scapes are another two favorites that appear in the Spring. Ramps come and go here extremely quickly, and are a favorite in the North-East Ohio area. There's even a festival that's held every year for these amazing little plants, and you can smell the garlicky scent from at least a mile away (no joke)! Ramps and garlic scapes add so much flavor with just a little bit, they are small but mighty. One of my favorite things to do is make pesto out of them. A little parsley to bulk it up, olive oil, salt, pepper and either ramps or scapes. Voila! You're done! I wouldn't recommend putting basil in it, like a traditional pesto, because you won't be able to taste it. Ramps and scapes are very much the lead in this musical of flavors; they hog the spotlight and refuse to share, so it's better to save the basil for it's own day.

Oh! We can't leave out the scrumptious, glorious, invasive weed: garlic mustard! You've probably seen it in your yard, on a hiking trail, EVERYWHERE! A lot of the park systems host invasive species clean-ups, and this is one that you definitely want to cash in on. It's great in salads, and like ramps and scapes, it makes an delicious pesto. My favorite way to use it is in a simple sour cream dip (garlic mustard, celery seed, salt, pepper, sour cream or greek yogurt.. let it sit over night and ta-da, you're done!). Spring is only the beginning for the wonderful options you can find in the farmers markets, your own gardens, or the super markets.