We were all set to have a big leafy salad piled on top of a pork cutlet for lunch today. But a stop at our local garden nursery this morning to pick up some vegetable plants changed our plans. The nice owner, Li-fan Huang, cultivates big fat shiitake mushrooms, an even “more perfect” accompaniment to the pork. So we grabbed a bag, sautéed the fungi along with the cutlets, and served them together with a little soy pan sauce and some sliced chives. Mmmm—meat on meat.

 

We were away over the weekend, so we met at the garden first thing this morning to water and check on everything. The radishes have gone a little berserk. It’s not the tap roots that have—they’re in various swollen stages, some ready to pull (which we did). It’s the leafy green radish tops that are out of control (the soil’s too rich). Problem? No problem. We just thinned the rows, pulling out the more vigorous tops. At the studio, we trimmed off the radishes (to nibble), washed the greens in cool water, and sautéed them in olive oil with a pinch of red pepper flakes and salt. For lunch we served the incredibly green-tasting radish greens at room temperature with a poached chicken cutlet, and a mayonnaise doctored with lemon and chopped fresh herbs.

 

We stopped by our garden this morning to pick a few spinach leaves for lunch, and the bag practically filled itself. Nothing like having a garden. When it gives, it’s like living in the song “Big Rock Candy Mountain”… where the hens lay soft-boiled eggs. Oh, come to think of it, what a good idea. So for lunch today, it’s steamed spinach and poached eggs drizzled with really good extra-virgin olive oil and seasoned with s & p.

 

We pulled the first few radishes from our garden yesterday afternoon. That felt like a mini triumph, not so much for us, but for the tiny seeds that grew into peppery scarlet beauties. We chomped them right then and there—after rinsing off the dirt with the garden hose. Then we cut lettuces and arugula for lunch today. This morning we dressed the greens in a garlicky vinaigrette and piled them on top of braised lamb (from yesterday’s shanks) and corn tortillas. We ate them with gusto (so messy, so good!). Maybe tomorrow we’ll be able to show you our radishes.

 

 

On Saturday, we were sporting flip flops. On Sunday, we were caught off guard. It was freezing and we should have donned our thermal socks and gloves. Today, though, we got it just right. We’re wearing vests under cardigans while lunching on oven-broasted baby lamb shanks and onions with buttery braised spring onions. Now we’re off to the garden to plant our six-inch tall tomato plants. By the time the fruits will be ready to pick, we’ll be complaining about the heat and bugs. Go figure.

Not to toot our own horns, but we had a lovely mention in the Weekend WSJ. In an interview for her new book, Bittersweet (Knopf, 2016),  Stephanie Danler says, “The books I cook from over and over again are: the series of Canal House books Christopher Hirsheimer does with Melissa Hamilton. If I’m going somewhere for the summer, I bring their summer volume with me. When I’m traveling for the holidays, I bring the holiday one. They did the cookbook “Canal House Cooks Every Day,” too.”

For the whole interview http://on.wsj.com/1TUbC2W. Thank you so much, Stephanie. Can’t wait to read your book. It sounds delicious.

 

Pulled out a container of last summer’s pesto from the freezer, along with some big sheets of pasta tucked away for just such a moment. Stirred some softened butter, chopped mint, minced scallions, and salt and pepper into fresh ricotta. The pesto’s lively green color didn’t survive the deep freeze, but its pungent flavor did. So today’s lunch is a harbinger of summer. Time to plant our basil. Cook something delicious for yourselves this weekend, dear friends.

 

Today’s lunch is a deconstructed BLT salad with avocado and asparagus, dressed with an emulsion of grated Pecorino Romano and really good olive oil—we gilded the lily!

 

We had all the makings for gazpacho—a big tin of plum tomatoes, a few fat red peppers, spring Vidalia onions. So that was on the menu for today’s Canal House lunch. However, one of us (she who shall remain nameless) got a little heavy handed with the raw onions and by the time each of us had polished off half bowls of the soup, the tummies protested. Now we are eating buttered Ryvita with Bobolink’s cave-ripened cheddar and trying to figure out what to do with the pot of soup that is left. Any ideas, dear friends?

 

Often one of us gets a taste for something and of course the other couldn’t be happier than to go along for the ride. This morning the market offered some very good-looking cod fillets and the freezer section had a nice “fresh” load of frozen crinkle cut French fries. No one has ever turned their nose up at fish n’ chips, at least not around here. But the pièce de résistance was to serve them with tonnato sauce (a tuna and caper seasoned mayonnaise)—fish on fish. We’re hooked!

 

We’ve been waiting for this day since we readied the soil in our garden plots and sewed the tiny seeds. That was six weeks ago while the air was still cold and raw. This morning was windy but warm when we grabbed our scissors and Henry the studio dog and walked down the towpath to the garden to clip the first tender lettuce and arugula leaves. Salad days have finally arrived. So today’s lunch is cold chicken and its gelée with asparagus vinaigrette crowned with our very own spring mix.

 

If we make a picnic lunch, surely warm sunny weather will come. We’re trying it out. But in the meantime, we are eating our plum sauce lacquered spareribs and potato salad, inside by the window, hoping to see the clouds clear out and the sun break through. Soonest, please!

 

We started out this morning thinking we’d have a big serving of fat asparagus with just a couple of ribbons of pappardelle for lunch. Then our appetites got the best of us as we tossed the pasta in a sauce of heavy cream, butter, grated pecorino, and lemon zest. Buono appetito!

 

We had a late lunch of cheese toast sprinkled with chile de árbol. What made them even better was the fact that the delicious bread was from Crossroads Bakeshop and the cave-aged cheddar from Bobolink Dairy—two of our favorite local makers. Our lips are still stinging from those chiles.

 

Local asparagus have arrived. Amen. And plump English peas, though not local, are showing up at the farmers’ market as well. As cool early spring eases into warmer weather, we are still on a cooking cusp between two seasons. Today’s lunch for example: we braised sweet asparagus and peas in butter and olive oil with bitter radicchio leaves (our go-to winter lettuce), a little lemon zest, and some salt and pepper. This is our delicious, bitter-sweet story for the day.

 

Mondays are good days for leftovers, especially when there is something delicious from the weekend that needs to get polished off. We stepped up to the task and had bowls of mussel-scallion stew with warm crunchy bread slathered with butter for lunch today. An auspicious way to start the week.

 

We met at the garden this morning to dig in another trench of potatoes, thin our radishes, and give the beds a little drink. We brought paper cups of hot coffee to help us wake up. But the warm breeze and the sight of an eagle swooping through the trees roused every one of our senses. We always feel bad thinning sprouts, deciding which little vigorous guys get to fully mature. But topping our avocado, olive oil, and salt and pepper sandwiches with the radish sprouts makes us feel much better. Waste not want not.
 

A tin of sardines makes a fine lunch for two, especially when you have a loaf of good bread, some Irish butter and extra-virgin olive oil, a lemon, cracked black pepper, and fresh chives on hand. Oh, and enough rosé to fill two thimble-size glasses.

 

 

We played hooky from the studio today to work from the screened-in summer porch at CH’s house. MH brought a double-smoked kielbasa for lunch and we cooked it with thick slices of sweet onion, some sturdy escarole, and a splash of chicken broth until the onions were soft and “starchy” (that’s how CH describes sweet onions when they release their sugars and thicken the braising juices). We worked, then ate lunch, then went back to work, never leaving  the porch. All the while, the sounds of the wind blowing through the trees and the calls of the song birds kept us humming along.

 

 

We hit a couple of out-of-town farmers’  markets over the weekend, gathering up staples for the week. So nice to have a hunk of good dark bread, a big wedge of Shropshire Blue, and some sliced prosciutto cotto on hand. We can’t wait to get outside on this gorgeous day to plant our potatoes in the garden. So it’s a quick ploughman’s lunch, Canal House style, then off to dig in our spuds.

 

 

There’s hope. We found green-stemmed Vidalia onions and big, fat starchy English peas at the market this morning—harbingers of spring. Joy. So we poached them, then mounted salted Irish butter into the braising juices to make a delicate sauce to spoon over the vernal deliciousness. Cook something delicious for yourselves this weekend, dear friends.

 

 

 

Today we made a big salad in our biggest wooden salad bowl for us then another one in a smaller bowl for our nice neighbor downstairs at Modern Love (just because): velvety spinach leaves with hard-boiled eggs, bacon, blanched haricots verts, scallions, avocados, tomato wedges, house-made croutons, and lots of chives all tossed with a red wine vinaigrette. The sun is shining, a cool breeze is blowing. Our tummies are full. Everything’s all good in the neighborhood.

 

 

We had a big bunch of flat-leaf parsley, a handful of arugula, and some nice-looking fat scallions in our fridge’s vegetable bin. Been craving greens. We must be in need of a good old-fashioned spring tonic. A salad?Yes, tossed with a sharp vinaigrette—a perfect foil for Eliza’s lamb merguez sausage from Jamison Farm. We’re feeling better already.

 

We met at the studio and made this quick, but delicious, bacon and arugula sandwich for today’s lunch. This afternoon we are both off in different directions to accomplish our separate tasks. But of course we needed a little sustenance before heading out. Don’t forget to eat lunch today, dear friends.

 

April really is the cruelest month, this year anyway. All winter, no snow (save for that little blizzard that blew through in January). This weekend, as everything is abloom, came the cold wet shnee. The garden is trying its best to sprout. Even the local supermarket’s bins are showing no signs of spring. So, we continue to cook from a winter larder—with onions and potatoes. And for today’s lunch with salt pork and a fine piece of cod, we made a warm chowder, enriched with butter and milk.

 

This rainy day called for a good hot lunch. So we braised a little cumin-rubbed “cushion” pork roast (part of the shoulder) with onions and apples, and stewed some collard greens with green beans. There was a torrential downpour outside as everything simmered away in the kitchen. The aromas wafted out into the studio and we grew hungrier and hungrier. Man, it tasted good.

 

Just as we were getting our spring on—planting seeds in our garden plots, eating lunch al fresco, ironing our cotton dresses and polishing our sandals—gale force winds blew winter temperatures right back into our river valley yesterday. We are keeping ourselves nourished and warm on this rainy raw day with bowls of hot broth and open-faced sandwiches of olive-oil-fried toast with sautéed baby kale and garlic topped with a poached egg. Stay cozy, dear friends. Spring is teasing us as she always does.

 

A quick lunch of tuna, hard-boiled egg with a dab of mayonnaise, and avocado with olive oil and a squeeze of lemon to dress it up. Then we are off to weed our garden plots before the rain comes tomorrow. We are already dreaming of sliced fat beefsteak tomatoes and fried zucchini blossoms, but there is a world to do before we tie the napkins around our necks. Don’t quite know why but it brings to mind a verse of Edna St. Vincent Millay’s beautiful poem, Portrait by a Neighbor

She digs in her garden

With a shovel and a spoon,

She weeds her lazy lettuce

By the light of the moon.

 

 

 

 

 

We’re still eating the fat, creamy Ayocote Blanco beans left over from Easter Sunday. Today we served them with spicy Italian sausage and onions stewed in olive oil along with some chopped fresh mint (to catch the spring vibe). Hopefully we’ll take a walk on this pretty day. We took two plots in the Frenchtown Community Garden so we have been dreaming and planning what we’ll plant and how we’ll plant it—tomato trellises, bamboo bean teepees, melon mounds, rows and rows, and on and on. Much better than decorating a house! Sneak outside yourselves, dear friends, and breathe a little fresh air. The work will still be there when you get back.

 

One of our favorite springtime meals is scrambled eggs and poached local asparagus bathed in melted butter. We had a carton of eggs and a couple of bunches of asparagus leftover from Easter. The eggs are local, the asparagus are not (they flew in from California). What the heck? It’s officially spring so that’s what we’re having for lunch today.

 

Yesterday, prompted by Easter, we welcomed in spring and rebirth with a big gathering of friends around an outdoor feast. Spit-roasted whole lambs, little artichokes braised in olive oil and mint, tender white beans, asparagus vinaigrette,  cases of rosé, and Easter desserts. So today was the finest leftover lunch imaginable, we ate the whole meal all over again (sans the rosé).