Spring has sprung to gladden mom

Potato and Greens Casserole (Photo provided — Yvona Fast)

Sunday is Mother’s Day. And at long last, it looks like spring has finally arrived in our mountains. Our crocuses and blue scillas are in full bloom. Daffodils, hyacinths, tulips and other flowers will follow soon.

The second Sunday of May has been set aside to honor Mom for more than a century, It is the day we express our appreciation for Mom’s unconditional love and daily sacrifice. Since the beginning of the 20th century, the custom of an annual Mom’s Day has taken root throughout the world.

In the United States, the day honoring moms was largely the work of Anna Marie Jarvis (1864 – 1948). She campaigned almost 10 years for a national day to express respect and admiration for our Moms, tirelessly writing letters to politicians, businessmen and religious leaders. Yet Anna never married or had children.

Anna envisioned the day as a simple, holy commemoration of “truth, purity and broad charity of mother love … a day of sentiment, not profit.” It was a day to celebrate the one who gave you life and was the central force in a child’s world. Anna’s own mother, however, saw it as a day to recognize the many ways mothers and women improve and support their communities.

Today, Mother’s Day is a day to honor Mom’s strength, wisdom, and grace. It is a day for flowers, cards, gifts, and candy. It is the most popular day of the year for Americans to dine out.

Yet mothers have always appreciated simple gifts. A survey by Discover Card found that most mothers preferred homemade gifts to store-bought – although only 1/5th of Mom’s Day gifts were homemade.

A hug, a kiss and a little something extra can show Mom you love her on her special day! Write her a love letter. Help her in her endeavors. Show your admiration. Remind her how much you love her.

Spring has come late to the Adirondacks and few flowers are up yet, but you can find crocuses and daffodils. It’s mud season, but there are places to take a quiet walk with Mom to enjoy spring. Foraging season and gardening time have finally begun in the North Woods. Maybe Mom would like some help in the garden, or a walk to search for wild edibles.

From breakfast in bed to a fancy dinner, many give Mom a day off from making meals for her family. Eat, drink, and be merry! Instead of taking Mom to a crowded, noisy restaurant, prepare a treasured family favorite. Everyone can work together. Children can learn recipes that have been handed down through generations from grandmas! Create a more relaxed atmosphere and make a special home cooked meal for Mom while she relaxes.

What is your Mom’s favorite meal? Here are a couple of our family favorites.

Potato and Greens Casserole

You can use any greens — from parsley and chives to fresh picked dandelions, or spinach, arugula, chard. Tougher greens like kale may need to be steamed first.

Ingredients:

greens (3 cups, coarsely chopped)

1 teaspoon butter

2 onions

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 or 3 large potatoes

2 cups Queso Fresco cheese (or other crumbly white cheese)

3 eggs

1/4 teaspoon salt

Dash pepper

1/3 cup sour cream

1/4 cup milk

Directions:

Clean greens and chop coarsely. Set aside.

Melt butter in skillet. Peel and dice the onions, add, sprinkle with salt, cover, and cook over low heat until caramelized, stirring occasionally. This takes 10 to 20 minutes.

Cook whole potatoes in boiling water just 12 to 13 minutes (you don’t want them completely soft). Drain. Peel potatoes under cool water (the skins should come right off). Then slice 1/4″ thick. Set aside. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

To assemble:

Butter casserole dish lightly or spray with cooking spray. Layer potato slices on the bottom. Top with half of the onions; crumble on a half cup of cheese. Then top with half of the greens, then a layer of potatoes, the rest of the cheese, remaining greens and the remaining onions. Layer the remaining potatoes on top.

In bowl, beat eggs with salt and pepper. Beat in sour cream and milk. Spread/pour on top of casserole.

Bake at 350 degrees about 40 to 50 minutes.

Serve with salad of fresh tossed greens.

Serves 3 to 4.

Asparagus Wraps

These are simple to make, so kids can help.

Our asparagus isn’t up yet, but will be soon. There’s lots of asparagus at the supermarket however.

Ingredients:

12 to 18 Asparagus spears

1 red pepper, optional

1 bunch scallions, green parts, optional

6 slices Deli ham (thin sliced)

6 American cheese slices

Directions:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Wash the asparagus. Break off the tough white ends, using only the tender green spears.

Prepare pepper and scallions, if using. Wash pepper; quarter; remove seeds; then cut lengthwise into thin strips. Rinse scallions; cut off the greens, leaving the white parts for another use.

If you have an asparagus steamer, or can stand the spears up and cook them. If not, a wide skillet or saucepan will do. Bring water to a boil over high heat; add asparagus, and cook until just crisp-tender – 2 to 5 minutes. Cooking time will depend on thickness and freshness of spears. Drain and set aside. You may want to save the water for using in soup later.

Spray a large, shallow baking dish with cooking spray. To assemble, place one ham slice on board or plate; top with half a slice of American cheese. Place two or three asparagus spears one or two green scallions strands and a strip of red pepper on top of the ham; Roll up so the tips of asparagus are showing, and place in the dish, seam-side down in a single layer. Do the same with the rest of the asparagus, ham and cheese. If you wish, you can sprinkle a little additional grated cheese on top before shoving in the oven.

Bake in preheated 425 degres degrees oven just until the cheese melts. Serve with crusty French bread and a light soup or salad.

Makes 6 rolls. Serves 2 to 3.

Strawberries with Maple Cream

Simply delicious. Best made a little later in the season, when fragrant, flavorful, freshly-picked local berries are abundant.

Ingredients:

1 pint berries

1/2 cup sour cream

1/2 cup plain yogurt

2 to 3 Tablespoons maple syrup

Directions:

Rinse berries under running water. Then, pinch off the top leaves. Halve or quarter or slice (depending on size of berries) and divide among 2 bowls.

In a cup or mug, combine sour cream, yogurt and maple syrup. Stir with a fork or whisk until blended. Taste; add more syrup if you like it a bit sweeter. Pour over berries.

Options: You can also make this with all yogurt or all sour cream, and use other berries like raspberries or blueberries, or a combination of berries.

Serves 2 to 3.

Author of the award-winning cookbook Garden Gourmet: Fresh & Fabulous Meals from your Garden, CSA or Farmers’ Market, Yvona Fast lives in Lake Clear and has two passions: cooking and writing.

She can be reached at www.wordsaremyworld.com or on Facebook as Author Yvona Fast.

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