Any plans this weekend? We're staying around the farm (quelle surprise!) and I'm hoping to take advantage of the break in this freaky hot and humid February weather (the daffodils are already blooming!) to start in on all the kitchen garden fall clean up and bed prep that I never actually do in the fall. The good thing about these too warm temps is that all the cold tolerant greens I decided on a whim to direct seed in the garden two weeks ago have already sprouted.
The few dozen broccoli seedlings, cilantro, and 96 plugs of lettuce (seven cold tolerant varieties) in flats under fluorescent lights in the mudroom are also doing well (no need for fancy grow lights; $10 two-bulb fluorescent shop fixtures from the home improvement store work great), but I have no place ready in the garden to put them yet. At least the ground isn't frozen solid like it usually is when I decide it's finally time to pull up all the dead tomato plants. Who knows, I might even turn the compost pile.
Tonight we're having lamb burgers with raw milk sharp cheddar and dijon mustard, and tomorrow I'm planning to slow roast a couple of lamb shoulders in the oven with lots of fresh rosemary from the two plants I've miraculously kept alive on a kitchen windowsill for years, served with rice (we love this organic rice so much we buy the long grain white and the short grain brown by the case and keep it in the freezer) and a freshly picked kale salad tossed with dried cranberries and pecorino romano and dressed with lemon juice and olive oil.
I'm also hoping to finally get around to mixing up a sourdough starter to replace the one I accidentally killed a couple of months ago. After 22 years of baking bread and acquiring a small mountain of bread books (some of which still feel overwhelming when I flip through them), I always go back to where I started, with my bread baking hero's easy to understand, now classic book when I need to make a new levain starter, or when I just want a little bread baking inspiration. (It was such a thrill to talk to him on the phone for nearly an hour last summer!)
I use the levain to make everything from Basil's simple and delicious pain au levain (page 189) to homemade pizza. Years ago I tried the San Francisco sourdough recipe (page 212) and with one bite was instantly transported back to the Bay Area where I grew up. I've been meaning to make it again ever since. The rye sourdough starter is also wonderful for making rye breads, but lately instead of trying to keep two starters alive I've just been using the levain to make my sourdough ryes. No complaints yet.
Since spring has apparently already sprung, there are several cleaning and decluttering projects in the house I'd also like to start (and finish) tackling, but that's a never ending, never very exciting year round list, at least around here. What's much more likely to happen is that I'll blow off the cleaning, close my eyes to the mess, and take a nice long walk with the dogs. It's a simple matter of priorities. Good food and time with the animals win out every time.