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spring

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How to freeze asparagus

Asparagus is one of the first official signs of spring and a promise that more homegrown produce is right on its heels. All winter long we wait for those green spears to show in the garden, but just like that, warm weather hits and the season is over. If you’re getting into June and you still have an abundance of asparagus in the ground, don’t fret. Freezing it means you’ll have asparagus spears available for the whole year to come. 1. Go homegrown Only bother freezing locally grown asparagus while it’s in season for your area. Asparagus that has been shipped from other states, or even internationally, will almost always be less tender and have less flavor — not a good place to start. 2. Size matters The spears you select for freezing should be at least as thick as a pencil. Thinner spears don’t hold up very well in…

Thunderstorm? Here’s why you should skip washing those dishes

Every grade school kid knows to seek shelter during a thunderstorm, but did you know that washing dishes or taking a shower can be dangerous during a storm? It turns out that lightning can still shock you through the pipes in your house. According to John Jensenius, a lightening safety specialist for the National Weather Service, during a storm, you need to stay away from anything that conducts electricity. That includes both wires and plumbing. “Certainly showers would be dangerous. It would be dangerous to be washing your hands or washing dishes,” Jensenius said. “Just avoid those any time you hear thunder.” Anything that plugs into a wall is also dangerous. That means avoid using dishwashers and washing machines, too. If you have plastic pipes in your home, you’re still at risk. Impurities in tap water can also conduct electricity. “Water can conduct electricity as well,” Jensenius said. “We see that on the outside…

How to freeze rhubarb for use all year long

Rhubarb. It’s the stuff spring dessert dreams are made of. It’s one of the first veggies to appear in the spring, bringing its bright pink color and wonderfully tart taste to compotes, cakes, pies, and crumbles. But just like that, fresh rhubarb bolts when the summer heat turns up, leaving us longing for more. The solution? Freezing it, of course! If you’re lucky to have extra rhubarb — or just didn’t get around to baking as much as you would have liked this spring — it’s worth noting that rhubarb freezes very well and will stay good for up to a year. The easiest way to freeze rhubarb is to cut cleaned stalks into 1-inch pieces, then lay them flat on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Freeze about 3 to 4 hours or until firm. Then, transfer to freezer bags and label. You can use frozen rhubarb the…

Boozy Margarita cupcakes are a perfect, festive treat

Margarita cupcakes. What could be more perfect for spring and summer (and of course Cinco de Mayo!)? You’ll find all kinds of reasons to make these fun, tequila-infused cupcakes. I mean, who doesn’t love a little spiked dessert? This recipe makes a deliciously moist cake with a light lime and tequila flavor — just like your favorite drink to sip during the summer months. They’re topped with thick and creamy buttercream that’s infused with more delicious lime and tequila flavor. You can have lots of fun decorating them, too. I used green sprinkles and a tiny lime wedge, but you top them with more lime zest, a section of paper straw, a drink umbrella, or a candied lime wedge. You might even go crazy for a party and top with an upended mini bottle of tequila. As for the tequila in these Margarita cupcakes, I usually stick with one that’s…

Where to find Cinco de Mayo margarita specials and more

Cinco de Mayo commemorates Mexico’s victory over French forces at the Battle of Puebla during the Franco-Mexican War on May 5, 1862. The holiday is a fairly minor one in Mexican culture (it’s not a federal holiday, so banks, offices and stores go about business as usual), but in the United States, Cinco de Mayo has evolved to commemorate Mexican heritage and culture — especially in areas with large Mexican-American populations. Cinco de Mayo falls on a Sunday in 2019, so get ready for restaurant deals lasting all weekend long. If you’re looking for a spot to join in on the fiesta, check out these deals and events for Cinco de Mayo 2019: And check back soon. We’ll update as more restaurants release their Cinco specials. Bahama Breeze Pretend you’re in the tropics at this island-themed chain. Bahama Breeze is celebrating Cinco de Mayo with a weeklong “Fiesta Like There’s…

What’s in season in May? A guide to spring produce

The list of in season fruits and vegetables starts to lengthen in May as weather turns warmer for even the northernmost states. Citrus is on its way out, along with cool weather crops, but most of the country can now enjoy spring icons like asparagus and rhubarb. Southern and western states start to welcome summer produce like berries and cherries. Asparagus We really only get good asparagus for about two months of the year, so enjoy it all the time now, while you can. Try this asparagus tart with strawberry salsa for the ultimate spring brunch. Or go back to the basics with 4 ways to cook asparagus. Cabbage Cabbage comes back in season this month. This hearty vegetable can handle frost, but not heat. So even if we get a late-season frost, the cabbage crop still stays strong, but cabbage heads (which are mostly water) will expand and split…

Springtime pea tabouli salad

Spring salads can be so so good! Think of yourself eating whole, fresh ingredients and feeling happy, healthy, and full. This springy Mediterranean-inspired dish will deliver on all three. Springtime pea tabouli salad is filling thanks to the high-fiber peas and protein-packed quinoa (about 8 grams of protein per 1 cup cooked quinoa). It’s also loaded with tons of vitamins and minerals thanks to a bounty of beautiful spring herbs. Bring this main or side dish to the next family gathering or potluck. It’s vegan so everyone can enjoy it care-free. It’s also absent of easily-spoiled ingredients, so pea tabouli salad does well sitting out at picnics for extended periods of time. SPRINGTIME PEA TABOULI SALAD Ingredients 1 cup dry quinoa (will make about 3 cups cooked) 1/4 tsp salt 2 cups water 1 cup snow peas, sliced 1 cup snap peas, sliced 1 bunch parsley, chopped ~10 springs mint,…

Why do we eat chocolate bunnies on Easter?

It’s hard to imagine what a chocolate rabbit has to do with anything in the religious realm. I mean, we’re not complaining — It’s a deliciously adorable Easter treat enjoyed by millions across the globe. But it’s just that, well, how did a milk chocolate mammal become the unofficial symbol of Christianity’s spring holiday? According to Time, the origins of Easter can be traced back to the pagans who celebrated Eostre, the goddess of fertility. Of course, reproduction is what rabbits do best, so it’s fitting that Eostre’s animal symbol was a bunny. Fast forward to the eighteenth century. Christian holidays had long since taken favor over pagan holidays, but some of the symbols and imagery were reappropriated. Part of the tradition of the Easter holiday in Germany included the folklore of an egg-laying rabbit named “Osterhase” or “Oschter Haws.” As Germans immigrated to the United States in the 1700s, so too…

Thick or thin? The skinny on asparagus size

‘Tis the season for asparagus. And whether we get it from the grocer or our garden, it would be hard not to notice the size difference in asparagus stalks. So which is better, thick or thin? For a while “thin was in.” Skinny stalks were thought to be more tender and were even marketed as “gourmet.” Thicker stalks were passed over at the market because they were thought of as woody and tough. (Admit it. You assumed this, too.) But larger doesn’t actually mean tougher, and our association of “young” and “tender,” when it comes to asparagus, is incorrect. In fact, according to Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences, young asparagus puts a lot of energy into producing spears that can stand upright, so the younger plant is more likely to have more crude fiber per square inch. Whereas, if thick asparagus got a reputation as woody, it’s because home cooks…

Creamy asparagus, mushroom casserole

This creamy asparagus and mushroom casserole is the picture of spring side dishes. It uses up loads of that delicious, just-from-the-garden asparagus, fresh mushrooms, and leftover hard-boiled eggs. (Confession: My eggs had pretty pastel spots from getting dyed just days before, but this dish is a great way to make sure they don’t go to waste!) I’m a big fan of this casserole because it delivers such a big serving of vegetables, but it’s also so flavorful, I would eat it as a meal. The smoked paprika brings a lot of flavor to the white sauce, so take a few taste samples as you simmer the sauce and add more to your liking. Creamy asparagus, mushroom casserole Ingredients 2 bunches asparagus 8 ounces sliced mushrooms, with dirt brushed off 2 1/2 tbsp butter + 1/2 tbsp butter 1/4 cup onion, finely copped 2 tsp Dijon mustard 2 1/2 ounces shredded…