The Colorful Season Unfolds
By Chef Stephanie Michalak, Turner Farm Culinary Manager
As the days grow longer and the winter seems to have jumped straight to summer, we begin to see the landscape’s palate get rapidly more colorful. Flowers have bloomed, bushes have resurged, and the deciduous trees have mostly shed their blossoms to show off their new, bold leaves. For me, the speed of the changing seasons matches the chaos of most kitchens (and lives). We yearn for the moment to sink our teeth in the first perfect strawberry of the season, and we may relish that first bite bursting with juicy, rapacious joy, but quickly we find ourselves midway through the summer and elbow deep in zucchini.
Initially, the shift from winter through summer takes a little longer in kitchens focused on using seasonal and local food. We plan most menus and recipes ahead of time, dreaming of the following weeks and months. We hope, and may even pray, that weather will bring our farmer friends fortune so that we can embrace as many beautiful products as soon as they are available. We wait patiently for the bold colors and flavors of spring and summer to bring us a revitalized sense of variety that we tend to miss dearly during the winter. We can’t rush this process.
Being present while crafting dishes is easy when you are holding an inspiring ingredient in your hands, but when you’re trying to get ahead of your work and preemptively planning, many ideas may float through your head. It can be daunting to decide how to coax the most flavor out of everything. Honestly, the magic really happens once you get your hands on brilliant, vivacious products. You can really acknowledge the time, energy, and life that has gone into something and presents itself before you here and now. For me, this have happened frequently on the farm as of late with the reemergence of radishes, asparagus, and green garlic—creating brighter, bolder dishes as the season unfolds.
On these warm nights, we dream of spending more time outside with loved ones. Perhaps you have dinners, cookouts, parties, cocktails, or other celebrations planned with them. If you’re the one cooking, or even just eating, remember to savor the moment, company, and food around you. This time of the year always flies by us faster than the gentle summer breeze.