Tuesday, May 30, 2006

First Harvest

Ah....Memorial Day Weekend. A weekend of parades that honor our veterans and the sacrifices they have made for our country. A weekend for barbecues and gatherings with friends and family. A weekend that signals the beginning of the summer.

This weekend, MBH and I went to Philadelphia for the wedding of one of my best friends. It was nice to get away together and spend a weekend in a hotel that offered room service twenty-four hours a day and cable television. Our room had a huge bed covered with a plush down comforter and more pillows than I have ever seen on a bed. We also celebrated MBH's forty-third birthday by going out to dinner on Saturday night to The Capital Grille, a very well regarded steak house. We both had very good steaks, done perfectly at medium-rare and tender enough to cut with a fork, but I was a bit disappointed with the augratin potatoes and the creme brulee. Neither was awful but considering how good the steak was, I would have hoped for better. The wedding was very nice. The reception was held at the Braddock's Tavern and the food was quite good, especially the chateaubriand both MBH and I had for our entree. All in all, a very nice get-away for us.

But the best part of the weekend was coming home to find my garden had bloomed while we were away, especially my lettuce, greens, and spinach. It has been such a cold and wet spring, I had begun to give up hope of having a harvest before the heat of summer caused them to bolt. But, despite a pretty warm weekend, the lettuce and greens had grown to the perfect height to pick my first bowl of salad of the season. I love to use tender early summer greens to make a classic Midwestern salad with a warm sweet bacon dressing. It was the perfect compliment with the pork chops I served for dinner tonight and the perfect way to end a nice summer weekend.

Salad Greens with Warm Bacon Dressing

Large bowl of young lettuce, mesclun or baby spinach (or a mixture of all three)
3 slices bacon
3 Tablespoons of sugar
3 Tablespoons of cider vinegar
1/2 cup chopped red onion (optional)
1/2 cup chopped hard boiled egg (optional)

Wash and dry the salad greens. Place in a large heatproof bowl and set aside. Cut up bacon into small pieces and brown in a saute pan (don't use a non-stick pan, you want little bits of bacon to cling to the bottom). Turn down heat and add the vinegar to the pan, stirring with a wooden spoon to deglaze the pan. Add the sugar and stir until thickened slightly. Remove from heat and pour over the salad greens. Add onions if desired and gently toss the greens until they are slightly wilted. Sprinkle hard boiled eggs on top and serve immediately.