I love the stuff and most children do not. My kids especially do not. Lots of adults hate it too. I hear all sorts of bitching about how it is too stringy, or too tough or too mushy. Most just have never had properly prepared and/or properly chosen asparagus. You shouldn't have to smother it in butter cream sauce just to eat it. I mean, I like butter as much as the next guy and I love a good Bearnaise, but sometimes you just want to taste spring coming, and gross out the cat.
So lets start with the buying process:
Step one- Go to your local store. I do not condone violence in the parking lot, although you may be tempted as there is always that one asshole who decides to back out without looking...*sigh*... nevermind.
Step two- Go to the produce department. Do not run over little old ladies in the process. As much as you want to. I mean, really, do you need to take up the whole aisle inspecting a single grapefruit!?!
Step three- Locate asparagus and do not get side tracked because your kid ran off and found the blue berries. This is a regular occurrence. I will one day lose it and duct tape my daughter to cart. It is hard to be mad at her, as she eats large quantities of good stuff, but it gets tiring after a while. Meanwhile if my son ran off in search of a fresh fruit or vegetable, I would throw a damn party.
Step four- pick out some asparagus and look it over thoroughly. For the love of Jebus, don't look at the asparagus and say that bigger is better. Guys, this is the one time where size matters...but bigger ain't better. It is tempting because everything else in the produce section, for the most part anyway, more is better. You want a big head of lettuce, a large bell pepper or a big juicy apple. Not the case with asparagus. This goes for Brussels sprouts too, but we will save their preparation until the come into season in the fall. We begin spring with reeking pee, and end it with mustard gas. GOD I love the growing season!
Here is what you are looking for:
Thin, relatively stiff spears with closed tops. If they have open "flower" tops, take a pass. If the spears are white halfway up the spire, take a pass. (Unless it is white asparagus, but that is different, and a total DUH on anyone that confused the two) If the spear is bigger than your thumb, take a pass. I have massive hands so I go with my ring finger, and if you too share the hands that can palm a full size watermelon, I suggest the same guide. If you have fingers like Andre the Giant, may he be at peace, I would find someone else's hands.
Like I did! This is my friend Jeannine's little piggies. She makes a great hand model! And the woman can pick her spears. And if you think I have a dirty mind...I taught her everything she knows! HA!
Standing ovation for Jeannine!
Lets address color now. They should be a rich green color, similar to broccoli stalks. They might be a touch lighter and should get lighter towards the base. The very bottom can be white, that is okay, but the majority of the spears should be a rich green. If they are yellow-ish, or brownish, pass on those. The tips should be dark green, and they may have a touch of red brown on the "flower" end.
Check out this pic I stole from Wikipedia.
Now, you go home, hopefully with no bloodshed.
What to do with these pee stinkin' beauties?
You have several options. You can use a Bearnaise sauce. Google recipes, there are tons. If you have never made it, it does take a little finesse but a good one is so worth the million and a half fat calories you will eat because of it.
You can steam, you can roast, you can fry, or you can boil. They are pretty flexible. Any place you would use green beans or the like, asparagus will work too. It is something very easy to do, but easy to royally fuck up too. As a rule of thumb, less cooking is better.
Here is what I do, but as always, experiment away with what you like best.
Wash them. Even if you buy organic you should wash produce.
Roast under a broiler until the asparagus starts to get brown and crispy on the edges. They should take on a much more intense spring green color. For the amount I used, I roasted for about 20 minutes. Be sure they are not piled up on one another, but are one layer deep to they won't cook right. I almost didn't get a picture of them cooked as you can see, they were snatched up so fast I caught my friend Meag's hand as she goes for more. They were delightful!!
|I still get a thrill when I see these cooked for the first|
time in the spring. Gorgeous!
Now since I am writing this on "Easter" I have to point out that so many religions have different things that are part of this season. But the underlying thing here is rebirth. For Christians it is about the resurrection. For Jews, Passover. For Wiccans, Spring Equinox. For Pagans, fertility and other such activities which vary based on the particular brand of pagan they are. Both my children were born in March, and now I have a brand new niece also born in March to my sister and her husband. (I have to post a picture later, the baby is too stinking cute.)
Are picking up on a theme here? Birth, rebirth, rising, new life etc.
So I have decided to rename this season something everyone can appreciate.
Happy Sexy-Time Season! May the new season bring new things, and lots of practice making new things.
Posted on http://beingfrugalbychoice.blogspot.com/