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Dreaming of spring

February 16, 2008 - Kathie Evanoff
It’s still a couple of months before we can even begin to get into the vegetable garden, but I plan on being ready when that day comes.

I’m already dreaming of fresh homegrown lettuce, spinach, kale and other vegetables. It’s never too soon to prepare and I have several seed packets waiting in the wings. I have always enjoyed starting seeds early and then moving them to the garden as soon as possible. It not only gives the garden a bit of a head start, but it helps ward off the symptoms of cabin fever at the end of winter when we begin to think that spring will never come.

If fish, fruit and nuts are superfoods, then spinach is a power food. It is chock full of nutrients and the darker the leaves, the better. Spinach is loaded with calcium, iron and vitamin A. My husband, the veggie-hater, has even eaten spinach, unknowingly in his salads because I always toss in a few raw leaves among the lettuce. He doesn’t know the difference and since the greens are simply a vehicle for his favorite dressing, it all goes down without incident.

Spinach is also very easy to grow and although it is tastiest in cooler weather, you can plant every couple of weeks throughout the season and harvest the tender, young leaves before they have time to bolt from the summer heat. But what I like best about growing spinach is that I can plant seeds in mid-August and the plants, although wilted and ugly-looking all winter, will bounce back in early spring and provide me with fresh spinach well before my neighbors even think about their own harvest.

Thursday morning I went to a Master Gardener meeting in Cortland at the Agricultural Complex and prepared myself for the temptations of stacks of doughnuts. I made sure to get a good breakfast. I won’t bore you here with a photo because it was the same breakfast I’ve had all week – shredded whole wheat cereal with bananas, walnuts and fat-free milk. I knew it would keep me going until lunch and help me resist the doughnuts. Instead, I had a cup of tea and enjoyed the meeting without the extra sugar rush.

By lunchtime; however, I was hungry and several of us met at the Top Notch Dinner in Cortland to discuss the upcoming state Master Conference in October. I’m on the program committee for that event and am helping with the scheduling of educational workshops and obtaining instructors and speakers. But first, I needed fuel to carry me through the afternoon. I was delighted to see many healthy offerings on their menu and ordered a grilled turkey wrap with a side of applesauce. It was excellent. I also had water with lemon.

There was no time for an afternoon snack, and I wasn’t really hungry for one, but by the time I got home, I was more than ready for dinner. I was late getting home, having stopped at the gym for my weekly nutrition class and weigh-in. My husband made his own dinner and pulled one of the turkey burgers that I made last weekend out of the freezer for me. I pulled together a quick sandwich with grilled onions, peppers and mushrooms from my leftover stir-fry of a few days ago. I hate to see food go to waste.

Friday morning was the same breakfast, and once again, I will spare you the photo. On this day, I had a class in preparing presentations for public speaking for the Master Gardener speaker’s bureau. I have a few speaking engagements planned for the next couple of months and wanted to brush up on the concept of researching and presenting programs. It was a lot crammed into a half-day class, so I packed a lunch because I was informed there wouldn’t be time to go out. To use up some leftover salmon, I packed what I had along with a salad of spinach leaves, chopped onion, celery, grape tomatoes, carrots and low-fat Italian dressing. I put the whole lot into a half pita and took along some whole wheat crackers, the fig and hazelnut spread I mentioned a couple days ago, an orange and a baggie of celery and carrots. I must have been hungry when I packed my lunch because I didn’t eat everything here. I grabbed a diet Coke out of the vending machine, but really should have gone for the water instead. I’m trying to cut back on diet pop.

Friday I was home early enough and was able to stay out of the fridge throughout the afternoon, but later in the day, I was really getting hungry. It was Avon night and I knew I would be eating later, but I wasn’t sure I could hold off that long. My husband ordered pizza for himself, so I had one four-inch square, making sure to take off the pepperoni.

Later at my neighbor’s, I had a mild Italian sausage sandwich with peppers and onions, about a half-ounce of barbecue potato chips and one sugar cookie. I also had tea. I went over on my discretionary calories, but wasn’t concerned because most days I am well under.


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Seeds waiting to be planted