Monday, April 9, 2012

Crazy Weather and Creamed Asparagus

The crazy weather continues. We're going back and forth between winter and spring or summer, with extremes being the norm. We did something we've never done before in March: slept all night with the windows open and the ceiling fan on! Less than 48 hours later, we were back to heat and extra blankets. The daffodils bloomed in March, making many of us search carefully for some still-intact blooms to adorn our Easter tables. The fruit trees have been through the wringer, with delicate blooms assailed by frosty nights and winds strong enough to strip our pretty pink peach blossoms right off the branches and plaster them onto the driveway. One rite of spring around here is the hunt for asparagus. It grows wild - or volunteer - along roadsides and fences and around the edges of gardens and yards. Folks look forward to the few weeks that it can be picked and eaten at will, all you want for free.

I didn't grow up with asparagus like my husband did. I'm not sure why Dad never planted any in our garden, but I'm thinking neither he nor Mom especially liked it. I can't recall the first time I tried it, but I wasn't particularly impressed. I can take it or leave it, and for me, a little bit goes a long way. For Robin, it's a different story. He loves asparagus. He picks it by the bagful, and would eat it every night for supper if I'd fix it. The first time I ate it with his family, the huge bowl filled with asparagus, a pile sliced bread, and the butter dish were the only things on the table. And I must admit, his mother's recipe was quite good. Thankfully, it's pretty easy. Robin rescued a small mess from imminent frost the other day. Here's how he likes it.

Wash asparagus spears and cut off the tough part at the bottom. Make sure to get rid of any grass or other yuk your husband manages to pick along with the asparagus. Since any stalks he left behind were doomed to freezing, Robin picked all sizes. Normally he would leave the smaller ones to grow a bit.

Chop the stalks into small discs. I suppose many folks would consider it a crime to cut up nice asparagus, but it's worth it in the end.

Place in a sauce pan and cover with water. Don't drown it. Add water just until the discs are covered. Sprinkle in salt to taste.

Bring to a boil and simmer about 10 minutes, until fork tender. If you put a lid on it, stay close by. It boils over quickly! Meanwhile, put some milk in whatever you use to mix milk and flour. My mother always used a metal shaker similar to this one. I think I used about 2/3 cup. I suppose if you wanted to dress it up a little you could use half-and-half.

Add a heaping tablespoon of flour.

Put the lid on and shake until well blended. There shouldn't be any lumps.

When the asparagus is tender, lower the heat and stir in the flour/milk mixture. Keep stirring, as it will thicken quickly. Add a tablespoon or two of butter.

Then add some freshly-ground black pepper. Stir until the butter melts.

Toast your favorite bread (homemade is especially good) and spread with butter while it's hot.

Spoon the creamed asparagus over the toast. Add some more pepper if you like, and dig in!

If you like it as well as Robin does, there won't be any leftovers!

If you can get some fresh, tender asparagus, consider eating it creamed over toast. It's an easy one-pot meal if you follow Robin's mother's menu. But whether it's the only dish on the table or one of several, it will definitely sweeten your supper with the taste of spring.

1 comment:

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