BaltimOregon to Maine

Locavore Cooking with Southern Efficiency and Northern Charm

Posts Tagged ‘asparagus

In an (Asparagus) Pickle

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Dilly pickles I boiling-water canned at home

Dilly pickles I boiling-water canned at home

Pickles we low-pasteurize water-bath canned in class

Pickles we low-pasteurize water-bath canned in class

Learning pickling has been my favorite part of the 8-week master food preservation program I’m doing through Oregon State’s extension office. Asparagus are now officially my favorite vegetable to pickle. Make some while the elusive green stalks are still in season this fleeting spring. I made a batch at home this week with local asparagus from Sunbow Farm. Boiling-water canning the pickles for 10 minutes was no problem: all the jars popped, sealed shut, upon removal. But I could have used a few extra hands of help like I’ve gone accustomed to having in our class.

Just about everyone seems interested in canning these days, whether motivated to save money, preserve local produce or simply learn an ancient food art. The New York Times had a big canning feature last week, focusing on Eugenia Bone, author of the new cookbook, Well Preserved. Then NPR features Preserved on its list of the “10 Best Summer Cookbooks.” I’ve never gotten more Facebook comments then when I posted pickling photos from my preservation class. It’s a sign of the times. Now my cousin and I lament the fact my grandmother never taught us to make her curry pickles. But as a kid, I never thought making her pickles or famous raspberry jam would interest me. Yet, here I am.

I tried to recreate the Oregon-made dilly asparagus Pretty Pickles by adding dill seed to my recipe. I also like extra garlic, but I ran out. Add a whole cayenne pepper for spice and colorful effect, if you like. Experiment with any spices you like but don’t mess with the instructions on heating the brine and water-bath processing times. I like that Eugenia Bone’s recipe has that extra garlic. But I used the simple one from my OSU Extension “Pickling Vegetables” booklet (see page 15 for asparagus). What’s your favorite food to pickle?

I will not be pickling eggs, as our teacher did in class. But their pink pickled beet-enhanced color did contrast nicely with the yolks.

Pickled eggs

Pickled eggs

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Written by baltimoregon

June 5, 2009 at 12:34 am

No More Waiting for Asparagus

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Oregon asparagus

Baltimore (well actually Seaford, Del.) asparagus

Baltimore (well actually Seaford, Del.) asparagus

You’ve heard about the rhubarb. Well, asparagus is that other early spring vegetable for which I eagerly await. Its presence marks the start of this abundant season. Maybe I’ll eventually plant my own asparagus bed, like Barbara Kingsolver, but you have to wait three years for the harvest. For now, procuring the green (and sometimes eggplant purple) spears from local farmers will more than do.

Asparagus featured prominently at my beloved old Waverly Farmers Market in Baltimore, which I got to visit when briefly in town for a wedding last weekend. That’s Hannah and I fingering the skinny, almost stringy stalks for sale at the stand run by a farmer from Seaford, Del. But Hannah said they’ve been tough and not that flavorful. Here in Oregon, the spears are mostly sweet and fat. I received deliveries of them from the local organic Sunbow Farm here in Corvallis. Just order $10 of produce and they’ll deliver to your door. Pretty nice when you don’t have a CSA but are out of town for the weekend farmers market.

What do you make with your April and May fresh asparagus? I recommend this “Sesame Noodles with Fresh Asparagus Tips” recipe from Deborah Madison, via Culinate. I added local sauteed shittake mushrooms to the mix. Also substituted flat rice noodles for the Chinese egg ones, but don’t recommend that. And tonight I topped pasta with fresh local fava beans and asparagus, sauteed with leeks and green garlic in olive oil and a chicken broth and lemon juice sauce. Topped with chopped parsley, dill, tarragon and chives from the garden, it made for a light springy meal.

Sesame Noodles with Asparagus

Sesame Noodles with Asparagus

Tonight's lemony asparagus pasta

Tonight's lemony asparagus pasta

Written by baltimoregon

May 4, 2009 at 11:55 pm

The Pleasure of Cooking with Old Friends

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dsc02186dsc02180 There’s nothing like bonding in the kitchen with friends you have missed. I have cooked with and for my Baltimore girls since our pot-luck days at Davidson College. Thankfully, we could squeeze in a home-cooked meal together on my recent trek back to the East Coast.

We made — surprise, surprise — a whole roast chicken with that herbed salt rub. Hey, it’s an easy crowd pleaser, yet Hannah had never made one. The whole bird can be daunting, though more economical and flavorful. After dinner, we made stock with the carcass (Hannah, what soup will you make? Don’t forget the pot in Adam’s fridge.) Olive oil and rosemary potatoes roasted in the pan with the chicken.

The highlight of the meal, though, was Hannah’s Korean Asparagus (see recipe below). Barbara Kingsolver made me feel guilty about eating them out of season, but California-grown ones were on sale, and we couldn’t resist the recipe. Now we know what to make when the elegant green spears grace our farmers markets in a month. Smelly pee, here we come! I liked the tangy Korean marinade so much I served it over lighty cooked broccoli and carrots, over rice, tonight.

Here’s the Korean asparagus recipe (from Madhur Jaffrey, I believe)

1.5 lbs asparagus
Dressing:
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 smashed clove of garlic
Shave the ends of the spears if the asparagus is thick.

Soak the asparagus in cold water for 15 to 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, mix together the dressing ingredients.
Boil the asparagus for about two minutes.
Drain and run under cold water.
Remove the garlic clove from the dressing (if you want) before pouring it over the asparagus and mixing.
And then for dessert, we ate our fists. I miss the friends I can be this silly with:(
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Written by baltimoregon

March 17, 2009 at 12:55 am

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