eco-eating al fresco

Once again, my fellow Minnesotans, we have paid our dues. The driveway has been shoveled and salted many times over. Our quadriceps are strong from high-stepping through snow. Your garden missed you. Does anyone love spring as much as a Minnesotan with a good antihistamine? 

            

In the Bosnian town of Zenica, they celebrate spring’s arrival with Cimburijada, “The Festival of Scrambled Eggs.” In the Minnesotan town of Eden Prairie, we celebrate many things, but especially spring, with brunch.

            

The best way to host this season’s brunches in an even more celebratory way is simple: keep it spring “green.” Let’s talk about three ways to spread your eco-friendly love during the best meal of the day.

 

SUSTAINABLE PRACTICES

            The happiest meals are low-waste. While a host’s temptation to bring out disposable cutlery is understandable, stay strong for Mother Earth. Do you have that friend who is always insistent on staying late to help clean up? Take them up on their offer (and keep them close). Use your grandma’s teacups, risk your stemware. Cloth napkins are easier on the environment and add a touch of elegance. It’s fun to feel fancy and your guests will feel special – a worthwhile investment.

            Buying local produce – more on that in a moment – often means your food won’t come wrapped in excessive plastic. When shopping for your menu ingredients, consider bringing reusable bags. We always hear about their eco-friendliness, but never about how they’re so much sturdier. Let’s have a moment of silence for all of the eggs lost in the Lunds & Byerlys parking lot.           

 

EATING IN SEASON     

            Not only does eating local and in-season produce support our local farmers, it does right by the environment, too. The more local your produce, the fewer miles it travels, saving fossil fuel. The more recently harvested your food, the more nutrient-dense it will be. 

April’s garden hero in Minnesota is mint. As an omelet accent or a tea latte star, mint is a crowd-pleaser. Come May, your garden’s strawberries will begin to arrive. From pancake toppers to a stand-alone side, you know what to do with these. But if this is a big kid brunch: strawberry mimosas.

This is the season that keeps on giving. In May and June, we’ll see local peas, asparagus, parsnips, spinach, radishes, and rhubarb. 

 

BRING THE OUTSIDE IN (OR THE OTHER WAY AROUND)

            Brunch décor is our open door to upcycling. A clean spaghetti sauce jar with the label removed full of native wildflowers looks eerily like a rustic mason jar full of fresh florists’ flowers. Rabbit-free Easter decorations become springtime accents when arranged in the dining room. For your existing potted plants, your table runner is where they meet for their call to arms.

            If you have a suitable deck, patio, or friendly neighbor with either one on your invitation list, check the weather forecast. A partly cloudy mid-60-degree day in Minnesota during spring is more beautiful than any dining room in the world.

 

 

(recipe sidebar)

Strawberry Mimosas

Ingredients

7 cups sliced fresh strawberries (about 2 quarts)

3 cups orange juice

Two bottles of chilled champagne

Fresh strawberries for garnish

Directions

Place half of the strawberries and orange juice in a blender; cover and process until smooth. Transfer to a pitcher. Repeat with remaining strawberries and orange juice. 

Pour 1/4 cup strawberry mixture into each champagne flute. Top with champagne. Stir. Garnish with a strawberry slice.

(Makes about 12 mimosas.)