I have decided that in order to appreciate spring, you’ve got to live someplace with a real winter. I remember reading food magazines in Marches and Aprils years ago and wondering if the only vegetarian recipes they’d ever offer in springtime would be baby vegetable sautés. Tiny carrots, radishes, new potatoes – get over it! Spring foods tasted pale, to me. I wanted to jump right into heady peaches and bursting-ripe tomatoes, dripping with that sweet anise tang of billowing basil leaves. The area I grew up in got its fair share of snow dumps in the colder months, but I didn’t truly understand total winter hibernation until I spent it in Bulgaria.

As soon as it got warm enough to leave the house without seven layers on, I spent as much time outside as possible. And I started foraging. Wild garlic, nettles, lemon balm, dandelions – spring gave way to a whole new taste, for me. Instead of underdeveloped flavors, I now associate spring with bright yet pungent, earthy greens. (And they go so well with new potatoes!) I’ll never regret the onset of summer fruit season, but a little part of me now sighs when I see the asparagus at the market start to get thicker, the green garlic reedier. Ah well, next spring will come with just as much relief.

Today I met up with a friend that I came to know when I visited Portland years ago. We ran into each other in January or so but haven’t seen much of each other, and our schedules finally collided today, to allow us a few minutes’ wander over to the farmers’ market for lunch. We got some dead-ripe strawberries, $3.50 a pint, and I squealed with delight when I saw… fiddleheads! A recently yuppified foraging treat, $12 a pound but I didn’t care, because I knew that their season is so short and I’ve been wanting to try them for so long. I snapped up a handful of them, along with a recipe for quiche that the vendors had printed out from the Interwebs.

I’ve been easing up on the dairy, lately, and it was a bit of a deep breath to use so much of it for one recipe, but… quiche. And fiddleheads! A couple of adjustments from the original recipe – I used half and half instead of milk (if I’m going to use that much dairy, I’m not going to screw around about it), I threw in the last couple of tablespoons of parmesan I had lying around, and although I used the cheddar that the recipe calls for, I suggest substituting half of that with something a little milder, such as Gruyère. Havarti? Yum. I also threw in some chives. Because a quiche needs chives.

This is also the first blog picture I’m posting with my new camera! I’m leaving it totally unedited, because it’s pretty darn good just the way it is. Also, it’s a wet spring day in Oregon and I’m going to go sit by the fire and eat some eggy fiddlehead pie. Spring has arrived in Portland, and it’s rainy, but golly gee whiz, look at those ferns.

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Fiddlehead Quiche
adapted from a recipe from recipeland.com
serves 6-8

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons sliced leeks
1 cup chopped fiddleheads
pinch salt
4 large eggs
1 cup half and half
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons grated parmesan
1 cup mild cheddar cheese (see notes above)
1 tablespoon chives
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
1 9″ pie crust, par-baked

Preheat to 350F. Heat olive oil in a pan over medium high heat and add leeks, fiddleheads, and a pinch of salt. Cook until softened and fragrant, 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, whisk together eggs and half and half. Add salt, cheeses, chives, and parsley. Remove fiddlehead mixture from the heat and add to egg mixture. Give it a stir and pour the whole shebang into the pie crust. Bake 40 minutes or until barely set in the center. Let rest at least 15 minutes before cutting and serving.

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