Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Asparagus on the March

The onslaught begins. From now till early May we'll be picking a huge bunch of asparagus everyday. If it rains and then gets really warm, we have to pick them twice a day they shoot out of the ground with such speed. I think of them like little soldiers with purple helmets.

I love love love them. I cannot describe to you how tasty they are fresh from the garden, I eat the skinny ones while I'm picking, they are so sweet and tender- they never make it into the house. Like all veggies, as soon as they are picked they begin to convert their sugars to starch so the longer they hang around, the less tasty they become. Most people never have the pleasure of eating asparagus so fresh and sweet.

If you have even 10 feet of garden that you could dedicate to asparagus, and you plan to stay where you are for a while, I recommend you try them. One of the first things we planted once our garden was in place was 75 crowns of asparagus. This was a bit extreme but we share them with our best friends who have a tiny cottage garden in Carrboro with not much sun. My best girlfriend is an asparagus aficionado so she begged us to plant extra. They helped to prepare the beds, no small task. It includes digging a trench a foot deep and amending the soil, then setting in the crowns which look like octopus with long fleshy roots, in the bottom of the trench. You cover the crowns and then you add soil as the plants grow until the trench is filled in. Each winter our friends come and help us cleanup the beds by cutting the old dry ferns to the ground, weeding and laying on a nice deep blanket of leaf mulch. It's a nice way to spend a sunny winter afternoon chatting and hanging out. In return they get all they can eat and so do we and then some.

I'm willing to sacrifice the space because they are just so fantastic and their price in the store is high. I never eat them any other time of year unless they are served to me at a restaurant or someones house. I get my fill in April and May.

We especially like to eat them with eggs; omelets, scrambled, frittatas, casseroles. They are also mighty fine just steamed or microwaved with butter or chilled for a salad. Many people like them grilled though we haven't tried them that way too often, too much fuss when you can just toss them in a skillet with some butter and slurp them down by the pound.

If you have any favorite asparagus recipes, please send them my way, I need some new ideas for using them up. I make some cream of asparagus soup base at the end of the season when I'm getting tired of the little buggers and that freezes really well and keeps its fresh sweet taste and bright green color.

There is the controversy of asparagus pee, the strange odor that emanates from ones urine after eating asparagus. Apparently this is a genetic trait and not everyone can claim the fame. But here at our house, the bathroom gets pretty fragrant around this time of year.

So if you don't have your own bed, plant one. If you don't have the space, get over to the farmers market and buy some really fresh ones, get them home quick, cook them simply and eat them with verve to experience true asparagus bliss.

Todays harvest with a few french breakfast radishes for fun


Jenny said...

Oh HI! I swear I don't love you because of your asparagus. That said...can I come over when the gluttiest glut time comes? :-)

Garden Girl said...

you betcha