Technically tomorrow is the first day of spring in the southern hemisphere. And it couldn’t come soon enough – was it just me or was winter WAY to long this year!? I am usually a happy cooler weather person, enjoying the swing of the seasons and all they bring. For many years in my youth I was an even avid snow lover following the winters from southern to northern hemisphere barely seeing the sun for months on end. But that was another lifetime ago and now I relish the magic of the sun.
When I settled in Nelson over a decade ago I actually found the sunny winter days refreshing after the hot and intense summer. But it seems in recent years this is a thing of the past with countless days of grey wet weather in a row (especially clustered over the school holidays!). The warmer days of this past week with the blooming magnolia and blossoms in the garden I realise just how long winter has been. I am sure I am not the only one that experienced my mood reflecting the weather.
So I welcome spring with open arms and feel joy in the stimulation of the senses this season brings. I notice the days getting longer, and a softness in the air. The light feels brighter in the house like a happy filter has been applied. I can smell the earth of the garden reviving and coming alive ready for planting summer crops in the coming months. And I hear more bird song, in particular tui and bell bird in the trees surrounding. Spring is here.
It is the return of the welcome swallows that really tell me spring has arrived. Almost on cue they arrive on the winds to fix their nests under the eaves of our house. My children noticed them first this year, ‘Mum the birds are back, look they are fixing their nests’ (there is a swallow nest on both ends of the house). Closely followed by ‘Mum, where do they go over winter, and how do they know how to find our house again?’ Wow, what can I say – nature is more clever than we will ever know or comprehend. Although a little goggle search revealed they are most likely a different pair each year, but for now we will imagine it is the same pair returning to nest and raise a family in the eaves of our house each year. It makes a good story anyway 😉
Happiest springtime to you all!
This is a kind of ‘anything goes’ salad, with my current favourites pictured – red cabbage, fennel, kohlrabi, broad bean tips, apple and mint. The simple dressing is zinging with flavour, with the grilled orange adding a subtle smoky and bitter element that works well with the miso. Look out for Nelson-made Urban Hippie Miso, it is made with much love and care by Japanese couple, Mie & Takehito. We always have a few packets in the fridge for a quick broth or for adding to pesto and dressings. A little goes a long way!
red or green cabbage
1 orange, halved
juice of 1 lime or 1/2 lemon
1 tablespoon miso - I used Urban Hippy Miso
1 teaspoon local honey
4 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
toasted seeds to serve
- Make the dressing. Lightly brush a heavy-based skillet with oil and heat over a moderate heat. Place the orange halves cut side down and grill until golden and a little charred. Squeeze the orange juice into a jug and add the remaining ingredients. Mix well to dissolve the miso and honey. Check the flavour adding extra lime/lemon or honey if needed to reach the perfect balance of sweet, salty and sour.
- Harvest or gather a selection of seasonal produce - trim, peel and slice the produce thinly and arrange on a large platter or bowl. Drizzle with the dressing and scatter with toasted seeds to serve.