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During the long, blank winter, I reserve the right to self-medicate with red dal. I have a recipe that brings color and flavor to the darkest corners of that bleak time, repelling the winter blues with its bright red hues and stimulating flavors. Today, on the messy cusp of spring, I serve this red dal with sharp cubes of white cheese floating in it, like remnants of one season melting into the next.

If humans ate less red meat, they and the planet would all be healthier, according to a new study in the medical journal The Lancet. To stay in line, we should eat no more than a burger’s worth of red meat per week, a roughly 90 percent reduction from current levels. Many food pundits applauded this report. “Fortunately, the diet that is best for health is the same diet as is best for the planet,” said NYU food policy professor Marion Nestle.

I’m no fan of hominy, but would crawl across broken glass for a sip of posole. Both words refer to the exact same ingredient, and the difference between the two is like the difference between a violin and a fiddle. It all boils down to what you do with it. You can spill beer on a fiddle. And you can sip posole. But hominy must be chewed.

After a recent pond hockey game a friend's farm was finished, we gathered in the farmhouse and talk turned to cabbage. Demand was increasing as winter progressed, said Steve, who had never grown so much cabbage. "Before Christmas we were selling 10 cases a week. Since the holidays we are up to 16."

Last year at about this time, I sat down with a stack of seed catalogs, a warm beverage, and a pantry full of ambition. I repeat this ritual every year, fully aware that it's only a game. Regardless of how many seeds I order, only a token amount of my food will come from my garden.

The farmers markets of summer get all the glory, but pound for pound, the winter markets have more guts. These off-season centers of homegrown commerce, which run from about Halloween through Easter, are like the distilled essence of their summer counterparts, smaller but more potent. Cuter — with more hot cocoa on tap.