m is for mango
Is anyone else loving this year's mountain of mango bounty? The peak of their season, typically in May, is the perfect time of year to get your fill on mangoes. While there are hundreds of varieties, here in Minnesota we typically only are exposed to maybe three or four.
When selecting mangoes, you'll want to pick by smell and feel. The fruit should smell pleasant and fragrant, with a bit of give to the skin. Ideal firmness will resemble that of a peach.
The possibilities for Mangoes are endless: Whether served over fish, or alongside other seafood, cheese, chicken, ice cream, or soup -OR- added to salsas, chutneys, or smoothies, you won't quickly run out of ways to use your mangoes.
They also offer an incredible snack just eaten plain.
I've come up with a simple mango topping/dip recipe to try below. I've been eating it over salad greens, crackers, porridge, just about anything I can find...
fresh mango mélange
1 mango, diced
2 tablespoons red onion, minced
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
1 tablespoon smoked, ground almonds*
3 tablespoons cotija, crumbled
1/2 cup cucumber, seeds removed, small dice
*omit or replace with plain almonds or another type of nut
Combine all ingredients in a bowl and salt/pepper to taste. You also have the option of drizzling in olive oil.
If you look back to the first picture, I chose to use this recipe over a salad of mixed greens with thinly sliced cauliflower. But more importantly, what will you use this recipe over? I'd love to hear from you. Share a comment below, or maybe you're favorite mango recipe that makes May such a special month for you as well.
And for a few other ideas this spring/summer, don't forget to check out the other recipes in my recipe vault.
my gardening journey
My love of food started at a young age, but I didn't start gardening until middle school when my mother felt I needed to take up a new hobby. She said having a garden to tend to daily would keep me busy and distract me from reading too many novels - I had become something of a book nerd spending much of my down time reading every book I could get my hands on, which were mostly romance novels.
Every year was the same: Grandma Dots instructed where to plant each seed while mum measured each row to precision using measuring tape and two wooden steaks. I would break up the soil and plant each seed and seedling as instructed. Together, the three of us planted each year, rows of corn, tomatoes, strawberries, green beans, peas, onions, potatoes, and cucumbers. The garden continued to expand in size until I decided there wouldn't be a garden worth tending. You see, for two years straight, the cows got out of the pasture and trampled through my garden, stomping on my lovely, ruby red tomatoes while eating all the corn. Each time it happened at the end of summer when I was ready for harvest. But instead, I watch it being devoured and abused by cattle.
It was years later when, after college, I left the city life to work on Riverbend Farm for Greg Reynolds in Delano, MN. Thirty acres of land needing constant attention was challenging, but certainly rewarding. I learned about food on an even deeper level; not something that can be learned in a classroom. Using my hands and body, I learned about the labour of love with each food grown, from digging potatoes through patches of thorns to moving irrigation lines to quench the thirst of the crops. It wasn't all about the labour either. At the end of each shift, I'd bring home produce and make some of the most amazing meals from the foods I had grown. Rapini pesto, potato dauphinois, beet zucchini bread, panzanella salad, strawberry rhubarb open lattice pie, were just a few.
As all good things, things must come to an end, however, I left Delano and went on a three-month trip to South America, mostly Brazil, and accidentally got an apartment in the Uptown neighborhood of Chicago. Well, it wasn't exactly accidental, but I had no intention of moving to Chicago: A big snow storm hit the city the day after I landed from São Paulo and all transportation was shut down, thus planting a seed for what-if-I-lived-here thoughts. Nearly three years went by before I had my first bit of yard space to once again tend to crops. I salvaged pallets to build myself a raised garden bed. It was absolutely brilliant! Simple design that only required me to purchase nails to hold it together (there's a facebook picture out there somewhere...). It was a bountiful year, and I had such joy getting my hands in soil again. Sadly, there was only one year of backyard gardening before I would move to a location without a place to garden...
Fast forward to today, three years later, and I've returned to Minnesota. I once again (finally) have a lovely garden plot to satiate my appetite for freshly-grown foods. This year, I'm growing pansies, nasturtiums, a variety of herbs and lettuce greens, French leeks, and various varietals of radish. Who knows if I'll stop there - it has been so long - but I will for now. Then again, there's always another garden plot nearby.