A Recipe For Spring

Fancy Crepes with Berries in Grand Marnier Syrup

It’s a good time of the year to try something refreshing

By John-Bryan Hopkins

My weeks always begin with a phone call from my Grandmother, “Nanny.” After asking how things are generally her conversation always leads to the weather and her garden. She always mentions the moon phase, what she’s tending in the garden, and the rain she is expecting “any day now.”
I made the mistake of asking recently “how do you know?” She answered instantly, “’cause spring is here, at least that’s what The Old Farmer’s Almanac says.”
Oh yeah, I thought, Nanny’s gardening “Bible,” of course, silly me. Bless her heart, a child of the depression she has never forgotten what “fresh” really means.
A trusted source since 1792, The Almanac has supplied readers with information “useful, with a pleasant degree of humor.”
It is known for its 80 percent–accurate weather forecasts for the United States and Canada. According to The Almanac spring brings the “cool nights and warm afternoons that are the best time to plant gardens and enjoy the spoils of one’s labors.”
In my case I enjoy the spoils of others labors. Farmers markets and farm stands fill the weekend landscapes all around.  But what to do with these spoils. Look no more. Consider this my “share” of the month: The Old Farmer’s Almanac Garden-Fresh Cookbook.
The Garden-Fresh Cookbook is the resource for turning garden-fresh ingredients into kitchen-delicious menus, meals, and treats. Gardening and the timeless tradition of sharing a wholesome meal with family and friends is at the root of this collection.
It’s recipes include bountiful treats such as Butternut Squash Soup; Shrimp, Arugula, and Chicory Salad; Frijoles Rio Grande; Caraway and Tarragon Potatoes; Fresh Tomato Cake With Cream Cheese Frosting; Apple Spiced Cheesecake; Ginger Peach Pie; and many more seasonal creations! There are also great suggestions, useful tips, and handy guides guaranteed to help you make healthy and delicious meals.
I found that the “extras” in the book were a pleasant surprise. It offers handy resource sections for both beginners and green thumbs, loaded with helpful information and step-by-step instructions on how to get the most out of your edible gardens. There are instructions for a kitchen herb garden, a beginner’s vegetable garden, an edible flower garden and a berry garden.
It is said that “sharing is the best condiment.”  I hope you find this as pleasant and useful a book as I have.
And yes, Nanny has a brand new copy in her kitchen just in time for Spring.
NOTE: This crepe recipe was just so easy, I had to share it.  Try whatever fruits and preserves you find this spring and summer.
Blackberries and blueberries are right around the corners. Followed by strawberries, pears, peaches, etc.
Let the weeks ahead “season” your plates and enjoy.

Fancy Crepes with Berries in Grand Marnier Syrup

Fruit Filling (make 3 hours ahead of serving)
1 pint strawberries, hulled and cut in half
1/2 pint blackberries
1/2 pint blueberries
1/2 pint raspberries
1 cup sugar
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
1/2 cup Grand Marnier or other orange liqueur
Crepes (make at least 1 hour ahead)
3/4 cup all purpose flour
1 tbsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt
2 eggs
1 cup milk
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tbsp Grand Marnier or other
orange liqueur
Whipped Cream
(make 1 hour ahead)
2 cups heavy cream
3 tbsp confectioner’s sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract


For fruit filling: Combine the berries in a large bowl and set aside. In a small saucepan, bring the sugar and 1 cup of water to a boil. Stir in the lemon juice, orange juice, and Grand Marnier. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside for 5 minuted to cool. Pour the syrup over the berries, then store in the refrigerator.
For crepes: In a blender or food processor, combine all of the ingredients except the butter and blend until smooth, stopping occasionally to scrape down the sides of the container. Cover and chill the batter (for at least 1 hour; it will keep up to 3 days). In a 6-inch skillet or crepe pan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add 3 tablespoons of batter and quickly tilt the skillet in all directions until the batter covers the bottom. Cook for 1 minute, or until the crepe shakes loose easily from the skillet. With a spatula, flip the crepe and cook it for about 30 seconds on the other side. Repeat the procedure with the remaining batter, adding more butter if necessary. Stack the crepes between sheets of wax paper and cover with a clean dish towel until ready to serve, or store in a heavy-duty plastic bag for up to 3 days in the refrigerator or up to 4 months in the freezer.
For whipped cream: Beat the cream until it is foamy. Gradually add the sugar and vanilla, beating until soft peaks foam, then set aside.

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