Garden, Plant, Cook!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Asparagus Recycling and a special therapy offer

Dear Folks,

Asparagus -- one of those spring time vegetables that gets cooks and food-lovers hearts pitter-pattering.  We just finished 6 weeks of harvesting our asparagus (mature beds can be harvested for up to 6 weeks) and we had a bumper crop this year.  Deane was cutting as many as a dozen or more a day on most days.

And it is one of those vegetables that he and I have differing opinions on due to preferences for eating them.  Deane likes his vegetables cooked to super soft stages and if given the choice I like mine raw.

Raw asparagus?  Direct from the garden they are fabulous and sweet - I will rinse them off and eat them right there.  Or slice them into a fresh salad.  Deane "will" eat them that way, but he prefers them with mayo and cooked.

Now when the typical cook prepares this veggie they do the 'bend-break' method to secure the most tender tip part and many toss the harder stem end - my recycling mind won't let me do that - even if I could throw them into the compost pile.  I roast them.

Then they can be pureed with broth some additional flavoring like onion, garlic and herbs and voila you have a great soup or cut up tossed with a fresh tomato, sprinkled with a bit of lemon juice and coarse salt (fresh thyme or basil too) and you have a simple side salad.  (Or, if you are like Deane you grab the mayo jar and smear a disproportionate amount on the just roasted stems and have at them - "shudder" :-)

I roasted these stems with Queen Creek Olive Mill's blood orange extra virgin olive oil (a taste of OUR Phoenix-Mediterranean climate) at 400 degrees for 40 minutes.  Luscious.  (If you have never seen the purple variety, they are the really fat ones in amongst the standard green -- our bed has both varieties in it.)

By the way - I use my wonderful toaster/oven for roasting or baking in the warm weather - no where near the heat of the big oven and does a great job.

Gardening Tip:  Asparagus beds can take 2-3 years to get really productive so you need to limit harvest to 1 or 2 weeks the first year, about 3-4 weeks the second year and no more than 6 weeks in subsequent years.  Then you let the following growth go to feathers until late fall to put energy back into the beds.  The 'feathers' are cut down when the are mellow yellow about December or so.  You are then rewarded when the first tips pop up in late February or early March.  They can grow as much as 5 inches in one day.

. . .


My friend Rihab is offering a free introductory session to Rolfing SI in return for a donation to the great organization Native Seed Search.

See the information here.

Have a great day,

-- Catherine, The Herb Lady

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