You know what they say about New England; if you don’t like the weather, well, wait a few minutes. Where else can you enjoy four seasons in just a couple of days? April is particularly good at showing off unpredictable and changeable weather. It is also good at mud and sand.
You’d think that after a record-breaking mild winter, we wouldn’t have to cope with mud season. No such luck. Sand is everywhere, on the roads, in the driveway and coating the front yard. The backyard, on the other hand, is a soggy bog.
As far as I can figure, there are only two ways to deal with mud season. First, find some joy in the murk or second, get the heck out of northern New England. Since I’m not in the position to buy you all plane tickets, I’ll offer a few words of encouragement for finding some fun and thinking positive.
Start your day with a cup of very good coffee. April showers may bring May flowers but in the meantime gray skies can make you feel tired. The caffeine will give you a nice little jolt as will the delicious aroma and taste.
Dress in your favorite color or take it up a notch. Instead of yoga pants, wear those slimming jeans and your favorite sweater to the supermarket. Out to dinner? Trade in the slimming jeans for that great skirt you never wear. Looking fabulous might give you just the lift you need about now.
While you’re at it, maybe you’d like to try a new haircut or style. An updated look will make you feel gorgeous and confident. Unfortunately, with this one, you could find yourself on the wrong side of a double edged sword. If you hate the new do, then you will feel even more sullen and peevish than before.
Clean out a closet. Some people suggest a good spring cleaning from top to bottom will cheer you up. If cleaning is your thing, then go at it. If not, cleaning just one closet can be incredible satisfying. You can always tackle another closet tomorrow. Before you know it, you might have the whole house done.
Forget your cold weather favorites, move on and cook up some new recipes. Yes, we all like (make that love) a classi, even a not-so-classic, boeuf bourguignon or New England fish chowder but it’s time to put some spring in your menus. Perking up your menu with fresh herbs and lemon.
By all means, get out of the house. You can’t spend the entire month cooking and cleaning. Go for a long drive to some place interesting. Visit a museum or take in a show. Discover a terrific diner or a hole-in-the wall bakery with fantastic scones. Just make sure you wipe your feet before going back into the house.
Spend some time outdoors. Fresh air and exercise is a great way to fight off the doldrums. Dust off your bicycle and explore the Rail Trail or a new back road. The lake is too cold for swimming but you can go for a walk or maybe get out the kayak.
If that sounds too strenuous, laughter yoga might suit you. Yes, it’s been scientifically proven; laughter is a wonderful medicine. It will reduce stress as well as the doldrums. If you can’t find a laughter yoga class, start or join a ha ha club. How does it work? Simple, come together in a group, look each other in the eye and laugh.
Happy April and bon appétit!
4 tablespoons chopped fresh mint leaves
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon minced shallot or red onion
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
Extra virgin olive oil
2 1/2-3 pounds cod filets
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
1 onion, trimmed, cut in half lengthwise and then in thin wedges
About 1/2 cup pitted and quartered green and/or black olives
1/4 cup dry white wine
Make the herb salsa: Put the herbs, garlic, shallot, lemon zest and juice of 1/2 lemon in a bowl, season with salt and pepper and whisk to combine. Whisk in extra virgin olive oil to taste, 2-4 tablespoons. Reserve.
Can be made ahead, covered and refrigerated. Bring to room temperature before serving.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Lightly oil a large baking dish.
Sprinkle the fish with about 3/4 teaspoon each cumin and paprika and season with salt and pepper. Set aside while you prepare the onions and olives.
Heat a little olive oil in a skillet, add the onion, sprinkle with the remaining cumin and paprika, season with salt and pepper and sauté until the onion is translucent. Remove from the heat, add the olives and white wine and toss to combine. Evenly spread the onion and olives in the bottom of the prepared baking dish.
Arrange the fish in a single layer on top of the onion and olives and drizzle with the remaining lemon juice. Bake the fish at 400 degrees until cooked through, 10 to 15 minutes. Don’t overcook.
Transfer the cod to a serving platter or individual plates, top with olives and onions and serve with a spoonful of the herb salsa.
Why are there two kinds of olive oil in this recipe? Extra virgin is the highest quality and priciest of the olive oils. It also tastes wonderful. However, it’s delicate flavor is lost when heat is applied. So, use save yourself some money and use olive oil for cooking and extra virgin for salsas, vinaigrettes and drizzling on finished dishes.
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How do you stay cheery during the dull days of April? Or, maybe you live in a place where spring is filled with sunshine, daffodils and butterflies! Feel free to share!
Want more? I’ve got links to lots more to read, see & cook. © Susan W. Nye, 2016