Wednesday, April 27, 2011

First Picking

One of the joys of spring - all the asparagus we can eat. We have a 25 foot row that has been producing for 25 years, enough each year for ourselves and to share with friends.

The first week it's strictly saute in a little butter. Then it's on to stir fries and other recipes. We are open to suggestions. We make a soup from the first Moosewood cookbook that we like and it freezes well.

For those of you who are lucky to grow asparagus yourself or able to get it from a local farmers market here is another one of our favorites recipes. Perfect side dish for dinner on a warm spring evening or a nice contribution to a pot luck.

Cold Gingered Asparagus

1/2 C. rice vinegar
1 1/2 T. finely minced fresh ginger
2 T. sugar
1 lb. fresh asparagus
1 clove garlic, minced
2 T. Chinese sesame oil
1/2 t. salt
1 t. soy sauce

Combine the vinegar and ginger in a small suace pan and bring to a boil. Cook uncovered over medium heat for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the vinegar is about 50 percent reduced. Remove from heat and stir in the sugar. Set aside.

Steam trimmed asparagus spear in a sauce pan with a little water - 5-8 minutes. Rinse in very cold water. Drain and spread on towel to dry a bit.

Combine garlic, oils, salt, and soy sauce in a small bowl. Arrange the asparagus on a platter and drizzle this mixture all over it. Cover tightly and refrigerate.

About 1-2 hours before serving, spoon the vinegar mixture over the asparagus. Serve chilled or cool.

Yield: 4-5 serving
Make a few hours ahead of serving to allow time to chill.
* From Mollie Katzen's Still Life with Menu

Monday, April 25, 2011

In the Woods Today

I was glad Lucy was on a leash when we came upon this critter. She lunged toward it and who knows what would have happened. Looks like something that could get a hold of her nose and not let go no matter how much sweet talking you did. I don't believe pretty please would do it.

Only the second snapping turtle we've found on our place as it's a good 1/4 mile to the creek. But females will travel a fair distance from water to find sandy soil to lay their eggs. This looks like a big turtle to me but they can get as big as 20 inches long.

And it seems best to just leave them alone. From Wikipedia:"Lifting the turtle with the hands is difficult and dangerous. Snappers can stretch their necks back across their own carapace and to their hind feet on either side to bite. Also, their claws are sharp and capable of inflicting significant lacerations."

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Year of Bloodroot

Probably 10 years ago I transplanted a small clump of Bloodroot from a friends place. It has fared well, spreading out a larger circle but mostly staying in one place. But this year, for some reason, it just showed up all over the place. Small clumps throughout its flower bed and I also found a patch in the woods 100 feet away.

I don't mind though as I like it. Native to the northeast, it's an early bloomer in the spring and also has an interesting leaf. We recently added a double bloom variety purchased at a Native Plant Society fund raiser.

Known mostly for its use as a dye its roots will create a bright orange to red color. There is some reference to medicinal use but what I read definitely discourages that. It is known to be toxic to animal skin cells and will cause serious blisters and scabbing. Seems like the dying work shouldn't be done without rubber gloves as well.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

A Green Day

A little warmth and some rain in the Spring and our world is transformed. I think of this time of year as the "greening". In every shade from pale willow buds to the lush fields of grass, all that was gray and brown now dons its Spring mantle of green.

Does anyone remember a book called the Greening of America by Charles Reich? It was a best seller in the early 70's; I read it in high school and was filled with hope. It claimed a non violent revolution was happening that would transform the world for the better.

Another one of similar ilk published in 2000 was Bobos in Paradise by David Brooks. This one offered a synthesis of the liberal idealism of the 60's with the wealthy Yuppies to bring on a new generation of do gooders with clout to change the world for the better.

What I think is underestimated in these books is greed. Human nature's endless desire, the incessant need for more, more, more. And it isn't just Wall Street or the boardrooms of Corporation X that leave us shaking our heads wondering how much do they need, how much is enough? It is worth considering in oneself.

It seems no matter how much one has it becomes the norm and one begins to look for more. The difference between yourself and the very wealthy is probably just your starting place.

Why do we so quickly abandon what we have for what we want?