Boy, work has intruded! Too much work, too many clients, and an out of town trip to celebrate my dad’s 80th birthday combined to cause a long lag in posts. I fixed my new favorite salmon recipe, having swung by Trader Joe’s to get the chopped hazelnuts the day before we left. It was a big hit. My mom had a delicious pork tenderloin for the non fish eaters, which I’ll have to post as well.
Okay, I don’t watch much tv so obviously I’m a bit out of it. Apparently Rachael Ray’s idea of having a bowl in the sink to catch scraps and such is news! A friend stopped by Friday evening with a big box of fresh just-cut asparagus for me. His family farmed so he wanted to show me how to keep the asparagus fresh. I have a bowl that always sits on the counter or in the sink when I’m cooking. As I pulled it towards toward me, he said “Oh, you’ve been watching Rachel Ray!” I confessed ignorance and he explained the garbage bowl concept. I keep the bowl for compostable scraps only and empty it into the compost pile when the garbage is taken out after dinner. My parents are on a septic system. They don’t compost but don’t want to use the disposal either, so my mom always has a plastic bag in the sink for “wet garbage”. I just made mine a bowl so it could be emptied more easily into the compost pile.
Anyway, according to my friend Sam, the best way to keep asparagus fresh is to treat it like cut flowers. When you get it home, trim off 1/4 to 1/2″ of the stalks to get a fresh base. The amount to trim depends on how dried out the ends are. Then stand them up in water. I used a glass baking dish to hold the ‘gras (the proper slang term apparently, despite my cautioning that in certain circles that could have a different meaning) in the water.
Then, Sam says to forget the whole “snapping myth.” You waste way too much asparagus that way. He said when you’re ready to cook it, take it out of the water and slice another bit off the root end, then peel from the root end towards the tip, pulling up slightly. When the outer layer is soft, the peeler will lift up, having only removed the tough part of the stem.
My asparagus is finally coming up in my own garden and we’ve been enjoying it. But the stuff he brought from the truck stop where $20 of ‘gras was considered a minimum purchase is wonderful. All I generally do is simmer it in water a few minutes until softened, then saute in a bit of olive oil with maybe a sprinkling of lemon pepper. If I’m barbecuing, I like to coat it lightly with oil and then grill it, laying the pieces crosswise (so they don’t slip down!) and rolling them back and forth with some tongs for a few minutes.