Monday, May 3, 2010

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year...

Ok, I may have overstated a bit, but harvesting the first bit of asparagus each year is exciting for us. After a winter of dark, gray days, plucking those first green stalks from the earth feels good. Eating them feels even better!

I know, I know, you don't have an asparagus patch down the street, at your parent's house, like I do. So what's a person to do? Mosey on down to your local farmer's market and look for some! Believe it or not, those of you who live in the city may have a better chance of finding a great farmer's market nearby then those of us in the country because farmers like to go where they'll get the most business. Be sure to take your kids with you and encourage them to interact with the farmers. Most farmers love to talk to their customers (especially kids) about what they do. Many will offer tips for growing your own veggies or suggest recipes using the ones they grow. A few years ago, I learned my favorite kale recipe from our local farmer. She had recipes printed up to encourage us to buy Russian Kale- a variety of kale new to me at the time.

By now, you know I encourage families to grow at least a few veggies and herbs, but I also know most families cannot plant more than a small plot or a few pots. Supporting your local farmer is the next best thing to growing your own. By buying local, seasonal vegetables, you help support your local economy and get the freshest, most nutrient-rich produce around. You'll also help prevent global warming by limiting fossil fuels used to ship produce across the country and beyond. In addition, even those farmers who have not been certified as "organic" tend to use less (if any) pesticides and herbicides on their crops. By asking a few questions you can learn how your food was grown.

To find farmer's market near you, a quick google search with the words "farmer's markets" and your city (or state) will likely reveal what you need. For my Massachusetts readers, go here

Here's my favorite asparagus recipe, taken from Global Feast Cookbook: Recipes from Around the World Edited by Annice Estes

Asparagus Chung Tung
1 1/2 pounds asparagus
1 1/2 quarts water
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon sesame oil (look in Asian/ International food aisle)

  1. Cut asparagus diagonally into 1/4 inch pieces.
  2. Bring water to a boil in large sauce pan. Add asparagus. Cook for 1 1/2 minutes (NO LONGER). Drain and immerse in ice cold water to cool quickly and stop the cooking. Drain well.
  3. Meanwhile, mix the salt, sugar, and oil in a small bowl.
  4. Place asparagus in a bowl. Pour salt, sugar, and oil mixture over asparagus. Toss to coat.
  5. Enjoy!
What's your favorite asparagus recipe?


  1. Hi Michelle, great blog! Excellent subject matter. I'll be following.

    I started one too, a little while ago. Feel free to check it out!
    Best wishes,


  2. I love asparagus! I simply saute with soy sauce in a nonstick pan, and the asparagus come out delicious! Thanks for this great blog.

  3. Carol,
    Sounds delicious, too.

    And my other readers...I probably should have mentioned this before, for those of you who are new to eating asparagus... how can I say this politely...after eating asparagus, you may notice an unpleasant odor when you visit the bathroom. Nothing is wrong- just a reaction many people have. Please don't let this discourage you. Try the recipe. I've converted many a non-asparagus person with it. You won't be disappointed.

  4. Hello, Marlo. I'd love to stop by. You should leave your link here.

  5. After reading your blog I grabbed the gorgeous handful of garden-fresh asparagus we'd just been gifted (timing is everything, isn't it?)and started chopping. Because I can never leave well-enough alone, I added a bit of cayenne, and a dash of soy sauce to your recipe, and switched honey for the sugar (had to heat it to mix with the oil). Then I chopped up some leftover whole-wheat vermicelli and mixed the whole bundle together after blanching the asparagus. YUM!!

  6. Oohh...Leslie, this sounds delicious. I hadn't thought of adding cayenne and vermicelli. I'm going to try it! Now is the season with all of the asparagus around.

    Have any other readers tried the recipe? Or, do you have one to share?

  7. Hey - for those who can't grow themselves, but really want to be involved, you can invest in local farmers via community supported agriculture. My friends Melanie and Laura are involved in this one, but there are lots out there. You invest in the farmer and then you get to share in the fresh veggies weekly all summer. Plus if you want to do hands on, lots of the farms encourage coming and helping on the farm.

  8. Yes! CSAs are a great way to support local farmers. I wanted to mention them in this post but felt it was getting too long. Thanks, Kristin, mentioning them here. For my MA readers, go here to find one:

    In other states, try searching on "community supported agriculture" plus your state name.
    As an aside, CSFs (Community Supported Fisheries) are also starting to take off. Same premise except you get fresh fish each week.

  9. Hi Michelle, thanks. I'm loving reading yours and the pics! Mine is