Easy marinade: If I’m making chicken wings, or really any meat, I marinate it in garlic, lemon juice, and a good amount of salt. It’s one of my favorite flavor combinations—really simple and delicious.
Sign of spring: Spring means ramps. When I first smell that pungent, garlicky scent, I get to that place where it’s rainy, winter is washed away, and there’s sunshine. Morels do that for me, too. Just seeing things finally starting to grow again is a relief.
Home-cooking technique: Once I can get outside and start a Weber grill, I’ll cook everything out there, even if it’s in a pot or pan. The grill has higher heat, more like a restaurant stove, so you can get a really nice sear. Cast iron on a grill is one of my favorite ways to cook—so easy, and no cleanup.
Tip for restaurant-quality dishes: Restaurant food is seasoned more aggressively than most home cooks’ food. Crystal kosher salt is the restaurant standard. But you can take nice sea salt and turn it into something less flaky. People are always afraid to use too much salt, and it’s an important part of cooking.
Night-off meal: Our date-night tradition is to go Lions Tap in Eden Prairie. We get cheeseburgers and 3.2 beer, my favorite things.
Spring foraging: My husband, Jon, and I go out hiking together, just for the exercise and foraging is part of our repertoire. Theodore Wirth Park is near our home, and we try to get out as much as possible. 70 percent of foraging is disappointment, but there’s always something to learn—the more I learn, the more I find is edible. Wood sorrel is everywhere, and elm leaves—those little pistils that cover everybody’s driveway in the spring—are nutty and delicious. Just put them in a salad. Elderflowers are my favorite right now. They make great capers and the flowers are versatile, but you have to find them at the exact right moment and you’re fighting the birds for them.