Spring Bounty & Bliss

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And Snap Peas & Sorrow

This weekend, I helped with a memorial event for Dave Ullin, a man who has been called the island saint, Bainbridge’s Thoreau, and the caretaker of Eagle Harbor, among other things. The Senior Center was packed with long time islanders and people from Dave’s past, and story telling was the main event. Amazing images from Dave’s life covered the walls and flowed above our heads on a big screen. In a smaller room, video interviews with Dave ran in a continuous loop.

Among my favorite Dave quotes is this, read by his niece, “I believe that working together in gardens bridges gaps in human relations by humbling the human ego out of the way through direct contact with, and subconscious absorption of, the sacred workings of nature. A garden can grow humans of care and respect which then influences that perception toward the whole. A little gentle guidance to inspire being with nature mindfully, quickens the perception.”

But Wait, There’s More

If you want to see some, here’s a short teaser that will give you the flavor of this one-of-a-kind (and very kind) person:

One With The Work

If that piques your interest, you may want to watch this longer documentary about Dave:

Against The Tide

or this one:

Saving the Yeomalt Cabin

And read some Dave stories…




Making Community Connections

Looking over the crowd, I was struck by how many different community groups Dave overlapped with, especially since he was not an outgoing person and preferred to do whatever work came to hand rather than anything that might seem frivolous. He did enjoy both practical and philosophical conversations about many things, from gardening and mending socks to defending personal freedoms and making sure no one was ever left out in anything he was involved with.

As we listened to Dave stories and music performed by loving friends, we also ate. Among the most popular nosh was a big burlap sack of local snap peas, plump and sweet. I saw peas on nearly every plate that passed among the tables filling the hall. I think all of us who ate them thought about Dave and his love for growing things and especially for fresh vegetables.

Kitchen Bliss And Peas

The first local peas do indeed deserve our full attention. Tender and crisp, their slight earthiness balances the sweetness that allows raw peas to mingle as readily with fruity as with spicy dressings. As spring slides into summer, one of my favorite dishes involves both the first ripe strawberries and those succulent snap peas. My Marshall strawberries are ripening daily, their juicy sweetness enhanced by their floral perfume. Both main ingredients get to shine in this simple salad that I’m making every day while both are simply perfect.

Sweet Pea & Strawberry Salad

1 cup sugar snap peas in pods
1 teaspoon avocado or safflower oil
1 teaspoon fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon maple syrup
2 green onions, thinly sliced on the diagonal
1 cup halved ripe strawberries with any juice
pinch of sea salt
2 cups ribbon-chopped Romaine lettuce (chiffonade)

Top and tail intact pea pods, pull off the strings and slice thickly, set aside. In a serving bowl, whisk together the oil, lime juice, and maple syrup. Add green onions, sliced snap peas, and strawberries, sprinkle with salt and toss gently to coat. Divide lettuce between two plates, top with pea mixture and serve immediately. Serves 2.

Or Try Peas With Sweet Cherries

As spring meets summer, incoming ripe cherries meet the green wave of garden peas. The combo may sound unlikely but it’s totally delicious; crisp, crunchy and alive with complex flavor notes. Raw cabbage adds to the crunch factor, though a few minutes rest in the dressing pre- “cooks” it a bit. I usually serve this salad with thick slices of whole grain sourdough toast or oatmeal bread slathered with soft goat cheese.

Snap Pea & Sweet Cherry Salad

2 cups (about 16) snap peas in the pod
1/2 cup chopped pitted Rainier or any cherries
1 cup very thinly sliced green cabbage
1/4 cup finely chopped Walla Walla Sweet onion
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 tablespoon minced mint
1 teaspoon avocado oil or hazelnut oil
1/2 organic lemon, juiced, rind grated

Top and tail intact pea pods, pull off the strings and slice thinly on the diagonal. In a serving bowl, combine peas, cherries, cabbage, chopped onion, and 1/4 teaspoon salt with the mint and oil. Stir in 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest and 1 teaspoon lemon juice. Let stand 10 minutes then adjust salt and lemon juice to taste. Let stand another few minutes, then serve when it’s just right. Serves 2.

Tart Cherries Too

Tart pie cherries are fun to cook with, crossing sweet/savory barriers with panache. Here, they partner with fresh snap peas in a robust entree salad with a mouth-tingling raw ginger dressing. If you don’t eat chicken, use slim strips of extra firm tofu and let them marinate for up to half an hour to absorb the zippy dressing.

Chicken Salad With Snap Peas & Tart Cherries

1 cup chopped cooked chicken OR thinly sliced tofu
1 cup chopped snap peas in the pod
1/2 cup chopped, pitted tart cherries
1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion strips
4 French Breakfast radishes (or any), thinly sliced
1/4 cup chopped cilantro OR parsley
2 tablespoons minced basil
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
Ginger & Garlic Dressing (see below)

Combine all ingredients, tossing gently with a few tablespoons dressing, let stand 10 minutes. Adjust dressing to taste and serve. Serves 2-3.

Ginger & Garlic Dressing

1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1 tablespoon chopped fresh ginger root
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 organic lemon, juiced, rind grated
1/4 cup avocado oil or safflower oil
1 teaspoon maple syrup
1/4 teaspoon sea salt

In a food processor, combine vinegar, ginger and garlic and 1 teaspoon lemon zest and grind to a fine paste. Add oil slowly, then season to taste with lemon juice (start with 2 teaspoons), maple syrup, and salt. Makes about 1/3 cup.

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One Response to Spring Bounty & Bliss

  1. Mahalo from Maui, Ann, for sharing a bit of Dave Ulin’s memorial service. I was blessed to know Dave, work with him call him Friend.

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