April 2019 Almanac
April is a procession of wonder.
Flowering redbud. Rising asparagus. Row after row of tulips and daffodils.
When the earliest strawberries arrive, childhood memories of roadside stands and pick-your-own patches follow. The first time your grandma took you strawberry picking, you’d never seen berries so plump or vivid. Two, three, four buckets later, you’re back in the car, eyes twinkling, belly full of fruit made sweeter because you picked it.
Easter conjures memories of Sunday hats and wicker baskets, and a grade-school field trip to a house down the street from the church. There, a classmate’s yard is dotted with dozens of colorful eggs — some painted, some plastic, all filled with candy — but all hearts are set on the coveted silver one, a super-sized treasure found in the low branches of a climbing tree when the sun hits the foil just right.
Maybe next year.
Or perhaps the true magic is discovering what you aren’t trying to find, like the robin’s nest in one of the hanging baskets.
In my early 20s (read, coin laundry days), on a visit home for Easter, my folks planted a basketful of plastic eggs in the backyard, each one filled with quarters.
Sometimes the great surprise is the wonder that grows with age.
Scope It Out
According to National Geographic, one of the top sky-watching events of the year will occur on Tuesday, April 23. On this dreamy spring morning, at dawn, watch as the waning gibbous moon approaches brilliant Jupiter as if they were forbidden lovers. Use binoculars if you’ve got them.
The Last Frost
The Old Farmer’s Almanac speculates that a full moon in April brings frost. Cue the Full Pink Moon on Good Friday, April 19. While it’s not actually pink, Algonquin tribes likely named this month’s full moon for the wild ground phlox that blooms with the arrival of spring.
Consider it a signal that it’s time to plan your summer garden.
Plant now, and enjoy fresh tomatoes and cukes right off the vine.
My younger brother has single-handedly cleared a tray of deviled eggs at more than one Easter supper. That’s why I was particularly stunned when he told me that he was adapting a vegan diet. No more deviled eggs? Well, not exactly. But when he told me about Thug Kitchen, a vegan cookbook peppered with language that would make our granny’s draw drop, I understood. Inside: a recipe for deviled chick-pea bites. Although we can’t print that here without heavy-handed edits, check out this equally scrumptious vegan recipe from Whole Foods Market: tender roasted baby potatoes topped with spicy yolk-free filling. Brother approved.
12 baby potatoes (about 1 1/4 pounds)
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup vegan mayonnaise
1/3 cup drained silken tofu
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
1 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Cut each potato in half crosswise. In a large bowl, toss potatoes with oil and place cut-side down on the prepared baking sheet. Roast until tender when pierced with a knife, about 30 minutes. Let cool.
Using a melon baller, scoop out center of each potato half. Combine potato flesh, mayonnaise, tofu, mustard, paprika, turmeric, salt and pepper in a food processor and pulse just until smooth. Scoop filling into potato halves. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes (and up to 2 days) before serving.
(Want to take this deviled egg alternative to the next level? Sprinkle with finely chopped fresh parsley before serving.)
If Spring came but once in a century, instead of once a year, or burst forth with the sound of an earthquake, and not in silence, what wonder and expectation there would be in all hearts to behold the miraculous change! — Henry Wadsworth Longfellow