Suddenly the snow melted, and we no longer light a fire every morning. Instead we're skipping naps left and right to play at the park after school, to plant peas, to drive to Eastham to get an ice cream. Sixty degrees and sunny feels like a birth right. It feels owed, exhilarating. 

It also makes me feel like cleaning. As the weather warmed up I went through every drawer, every shelf, every closet. In the process, I found a lot of interesting and not particularly useful things (seven pairs of goggles, anyone?!). I also found an old polaroid camera—a minolta instant pro I haven't used since Sally was a baby, a camera I love. I stopped using it because getting film was expensive, then impossible, then possible again but not quite the same, and then better but wildly expensive, and so I finally stopped shelling out. Somehow, though, I did so without using up my last two boxes of expired film. I found them, along with the camera, in a box tucked away on my office shelves last week. We used up an entire box in an hour, and it felt like a spending spree, something akin to emptying a bank account or eating chocolate cake with reckless abandon. It felt good. 

We've had the same attitude toward meals recently. Since Nora was born, I've been meal planning. Because of the season, most of these meals have centered heavily on things like grains and beans and potatoes and kale. And frankly, I am sick of grains and beans and potatoes. I am even sick of kale! I want mint and tomatoes and cucumbers and eggplants. And so this week, we cheated. I went to the grocery store and bought tangelos and eggplants and the fixings for a spiced chickpea salad from Jerusalem and a cilantro-avocado salad from Smitten Kitchen. (Holy shit good.) The tomatoes were grown in a hothouse in Maine, but I suspect had they been from Mexico, I would have bought them anyway. We needed some spring.

The last winter farmers' market is this Saturday, and I fully intend to hit it up, bags and baskets and (wintery) shopping list in tow. But I am glad it is the last one. The Orleans summer market opens May 9, and the Wellfleet Market opens with a plant sale May 20th. The Shack opened last night, P.J.'s opens today, and the Flying Fish will have pastries and coffee starting Saturday. We're almost there.


You could wait until the cucumbers and tomatoes and radishes and cilantro start showing up at the markets or pouring out of your garden to make this. In all likelihood, it will taste better then. But you could also go ahead and make it now. It's been a long winter, friends. I am not in a position to judge.

This recipe is adapted from Jerusalem by Sami Tamimi and Yotam Ottolenghi. It serves 2 in my house, though is says it serves 4. Maybe that's as a side dish?

1 small cucumber (about 1/3 lb)
2 large tomatoes (about 3/4 lb)
a handful of romaine lettuce, chopped
1/2 red onion, finely diced
1 red pepper, diced
1/2 bunch cilantro, leaves and stems, finely chopped
a handful of parsley, finely chopped
8 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 and 1/2 tablespoons balsamic or red wine vinegar
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 and 1/2 teaspoons ground allspice
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 cup cooked chickpeas
1/2 large or 1 small eggplant, diced
Greek yogurt or sour cream, for serving
sea salt and freshly cracked pepper to taste

Toss together the cucumber, tomatoes, romaine, red onion, red pepper, cilantro, and parsley in a serving bowl. In a jar, combine 5 tablespoons olive oil with the lemon juice, vinegar, garlic, and sugar. Shake well and season with salt and pepper to taste. Pour over the salad and toss gently.

Warm up the remaining olive oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Meanwhile, combine the spices in a wide, shallow bowl and mix well. Add the eggplant and chickpeas and stir to coat. Add the whole mixture, beans, eggplant, spices and all to the pan and cook, stirring frequently, until the eggplant is tender.

To serve, put a scoop of salad and a scoop of eggplant mixture side by side in a salad bowl. Top with a dollop of sour cream or yogurt and dig in. Pita bread makes a nice accompaniment.


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All text, photographs, and other original material copyright 2008-2010 by Elspeth Hay unless otherwise noted.