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What to do with leftover ham roast from Easter? Almost a moot point: practically anything you want! Diced in omelets, fried and chopped on a bed of sautéed asparagus, in stratas and frittatas, Benedicts, stuffed in chiles with cheese and herbs… the options are endless. This recipe, however, is born of fond memories and an unexpected treat at the farmer’s market.

Sometimes it’s easy to get lost in the archive of cookbooks we have amassed over eight decades. Before our move from Tennessee, the family treasure trove of culinary literature took up the better part of a thirty-by-twenty-foot room… on tall shelves and in stacked boxes!

Spring is an exciting time for a lover of green things. I can't decry winter's panoply of strange roots and fanciful squashes--by the time the weather gets cold, I'm ready for hearty preparations and "hibernation" food.

I remember when my biggest financial worry was having to put gas in my car. My parents bought me a 2001 Ford Focus for my 16th birthday. I'm pretty sure a Ford Focus isn't even remotely a cool car, but I loved it beyond reckoning. Of course, as an oddball 16-year old growing up in suburbia, I would have been happy with any car. It was the embodiment of freedom.

Our farmer’s market has been well-stocked with a spring treat we have never encountered before: flowering tops from over-wintering brassicas.


Clockwise from top left: red ball cabbage, Brussels sprouts, broccoli rabe, lacinato kale

For the past couple years, I've been making laminated pastry doughs almost once a week. A "laminated dough" is anything that gets butter folded and rolled into it--think puff pastry, croissant dough, and Danish dough. I distinctly remember the first time I made croissants. It was a decidedly amateur attempt, and one that briefly set the oven on fire on Christmas morning.

Champiñones al ajillo. I first had this dish in high school, made by the hands of my first love, Carla, from Madrid. Nothing fancy… really approachable for any cook, no matter their experience level--mine was certainly negligible at the time, confined mostly to caramelizing onions and crafting oddball omelets.

Spring always seems to be a time of transition. We move from hibernation and stasis into expansiveness and rapid-fire change. At least, that's always how it seems to work in my own life. I enjoy the hunkering down of winter. It gives me time to take stock, do some planning, and pull out the sewing machine for a creative burst or two.