Wet snow falls violently, tumbling onto sprouting bulbs and buds with indifference. Cruel and beautiful, spring snow masks a growing world in white quietude, paralyzing birth in mid-motion. Like a forbidden love that arrests youth in its flower, snow in March is a melodrama of the unreclaimable—the season that has passed beyond recollection.
On Monday, such a snow blanketed St. Louis, surprising early risers who wandered out for the morning paper and came back inside with soaked slippers. For dinner, we had planned a spring meal: lamb chops, lima beans, and carrots. Set against such a provocative backdrop, the meal prophesied a season still buried beneath an unforgiving edifice of ice.
The carrots called for a sweet accompaniment—almonds cooked with brown sugar and winter savory, a drizzle of buttery syrup, over an hour roasting in a warm oven.
Lima beans need a saltier counterpart. I sauteed oyster mushrooms and homemade garlic bread (from a Sunday night spaghetti supper) with a single arbol chile. After mixing in two pounds of beans, I added chicken stock and salt to give a normally bland legume a little lift.
Rubbed with salt, pepper, and more winter savory, the lamb hit a hot cast iron pan with an explosive burst of rendering fat and boiling juice. Finished in the oven, the lamb possessed a perfect crust and silky interior.
Yukio Mishima’s novel Spring Snow begins his tetralogy The Sea of Fertility. A portrait of a Japan torn between tradition and a Westernizing, “forward-thinking” sociopolitical force—a love story and an exploration of history’s aporias—Spring Snow investigates aesthetic cruelty: a simultaneously destructive and compelling beauty. St. Louis’ spring snow recontextualized our Monday night meal. Instead of a simple celebration of March, the meal conflicted with its milieu, fighting to make sense of a radically transformed world.
2 pounds frozen (or fresh) lima beans
3 cups cleaned and chopped oyster mushrooms
2 cups cubed garlic bread (recipe follows)
2 tbsp butter
1/2 cup chicken stock
1 cup water
2 tbsp salt
1 tbsp pepper
1 tbsp thyme
1 tbsp oregano
1 arbol chile, seeds removed, crushed
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Fahrenheit. Heat 1 tablespoon butter in a cast iron skillet. Saute the mushrooms until tender and browned. Add the thyme and oregano. Add the bread and mix thoroughly. Then, add the chicken stock and cook over high heat until the bread has slightly dried out. Put the skillet in the oven. Boil 1 cup water in a large saucepan. Add the beans and cook until tender, about 10 minutes. Remove the skillet from the oven, add the beans to the skillet and mix thoroughly. Add the salt and pepper. Melt the remaining 1 tbsp butter with the arbol chile and dump over the bean mixture. Again, mix thoroughly. Cook over medium heat for around 10 minutes, then put back in the oven (stirring intermittently) until time to serve.
1 loaf Italian bread
1 1/2 sticks butter
2 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp thyme
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Heat the butter until it stops foaming, then add the garlic, thyme, and salt. Crush the minced garlic using a fork in the butter. Simmer for five minutes, then cut the heat and let it cool on the stove. Pour into a bowl and cool in the refrigerator until it becomes semi-solid. Cut the bread in half, then spread the butter mixture on the bread. Bake the bread for five minutes to melt the butter, then turn up the heat to 500 degrees Fahrenheit for three to five minutes until browned.
Carrots with Caramelized Almonds
2 cups carrots, roughly chopped
1 tbsp butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup slivered almonds
1 tbsp winter savory
1/8 cup chicken stock
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Put the carrots into a medium baking dish. Melt the butter in a cast iron skillet. Add the almonds and cook until fragrant. Add the brown sugar and savory and cook until completely melted and beginning to caramelize. Pour over the carrots. Drizzle the chicken stock over the mixture. Roast for 1 hour, then turn the heat down to 200 degrees Fahrenheit until dinner. Monitor closely throughout the cooking process to prevent burning.