Monday, April 5, 2010

Where is Spring?

Oh, there it is. I was wondering and a little worried. After the warmest Easter weekend I can remember (nearly 30C), I was concerned that this would be another one of those Winter into Summer years. I hate it when that happens. I'm not much of a fan of Summer to begin with, but more than that, I like Spring. I like wearing jackets. I like the slightly cool breezes. I like the bit of damp in the air and the ground as we start waking our gardens up. Instead we were out this weekend in t-shirts and shorts, and the garden had begun to wake up without us. Heck, we had the window open all night twice over the weekend. In early April!

With regards to the garden, most of the straw mulch is off the veg bed now. The garlic is looking good, the strawberries have survived quite nicely, and the parsley and chives are greening up. Still waiting to see if the mint seeded itself last year or not. I hope so. The raspberries had buds on the stems on Friday. By Sunday they had full leaves. We cut them back and will do some weeding and mulching to encourage the runners to grow strong. I even planted some radishes, pak choi and peas. I still need to sow some lettuce seeds.

I don't think I mentioned the latest chapter in trying to buy quality meat. We began going to a local butcher. One that has been around for a long time and seems to have a respectable name. Got some lunch meat and such and it all seemed okay. Then I got some kielbossa one day. A few days later it smelled a bit off. So I tossed it. Last week we went in, having decided to get all of our meat from a proper butcher rather than the grocery store (I was getting tired of buying rancid meat - ironic as you'll see in a moment). We bought a bunch of meat and ordered our Easter ham. In particular I bought a $20 free range organic chicken. It was a splurge, but it was also huge and would feed us several meals. That was late Monday. On Wednesday afternoon I opened the bag and was greeted by a wall of stink that nearly knocked me over. There was no guessing as to whether or not the chicken was a little off. It was full on rotten, complete with the stench of ammonia wafting out of the packaging along with the stink of the rotting carcass. The meat was slimy and it was disgusting. Less than 2 days (in a cold fridge) after purchase. I was quite disappointed. We called the store and they agreed to refund our money. If it hadn't been so close to Easter I may have canceled our ham.

I kind of wish I had. I ordered a 5lb bone in ham. I got (after they finally found it), a 5lb bone in ham steak. Um, how on earth do I glaze that? I gave it back and bought a boneless Black Forest ham from the case. And wouldn't you know it, it was slimy when I opened it. It didn't smell off, but let me just say that if it weren't for the fact that it was Easter Sunday we would have been eating out.

Needless to say we are not going back to that butcher. It should not be this hard to buy quality fresh meat.

I did try a new glaze this weekend, though (what, you thought I was going to talk food and NOT talk about a recipe?) I reduced some Coke with some Dijon mustard and a little allspice and lemon zest. I basted the ham as it cooked and finished it with a sprinkle of dark brown sugar. It had a very nice crust when it came out of the oven. It would have been really good on a decent ham.

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