Spring Is Spelled A-S-P-E-R-G-U-S

[Previous Rural Farmgirl, April 2009 – May 2010]
I think there is an invisible official standing out in a field somewhere, waiting to usher in spring. With cap gun in hand, it awaits the first spear of asparagus to shoot out of the ground, at which time it fires off the gun notifying all citizens that spring has officially sprung. Then, because we all know there is just a short asparagus season ahead, we cook it, dice it, pickle it, deep fry it, and find a million more ways to add it to every meal until we are practically green.
Usually, by the time the last handful is sold and a collective sigh of relief heard I swear that I will never touch another plate of it. Yet every spring there I am, the first in line, standing on the roadside and buying it by the box loads out of back of some farmer’s truck.

This spring has been no different. On a recent run to the local nursery, there it was. In its entire splendor, a handmade sign: ASPERGUS 79¢ a pound. The sudden jolt to the others in the car as I slammed on the brakes seemed to awaken them from the iPods and DS-induced comas just long enough to muster a unanimous groan followed by the chorus, “Here she goes again.”
There is nothing like the feeling of returning to the car with asparagus in tow. Like the mighty hunter with his prize game swung over his shoulder: I came, I saw, I conquered.
I still haven’t discovered a way I don’t like the green stuff. To my family, the table isn’t complete without a crystal dish filled with my Grandma Doris’ pickled asparagus at every family gathering. Okay, the crystal dish is optional. Most of us will eat it straight from the jar until Grandma catches us and gives us that look that we know means, “find your manners and a dish.” It has become a tradition of sorts.
So with our first fresh asparagus purchase, I can officially say, spring has sprung.

Leave a comment 10 Comments

  1. Hanni says:

    Yum Yum Yum, I just picked up my first spring load and my mouth still waters as I read about Grandma Doris’ picked delicacies!

  2. Teresa Sue Hoke-House says:

    Oh Rene’ I know what you mean. When we still lived in Wyoming every spring my sister in law and I would grab our toddlers, a sharp knife, and large plastic garbage bags and wander the countryside for asparagus. For you see, the entire area was farmed with canals and oh, could you hit the mother lode of asparagus along those canals. We would pick bag after bag of that green gold. I never tired of it, and I can hardly eat the store bought stuff, it’s so old and stringy. Mmmmm….makes me yearn for some fresh asparagus, thanks, for the memory jolt,:^)

  3. Cheryl says:

    Rene,

    Love your blog!

    Would really enjoy if you would share your grandmother’s recipe for pickled asparagus.

    Look forward to reading more!

    Blessings,
    Cheryl

  4. rene says:

    Hey Cheryl,
    You got it! With Permission from my Grandma Doris, here it is~

    Aunt Shirley’s Pickled Asparagus—
    by Grandma Doris

    You’ll need:

    2 qts. Water
    2 qts white vinegar
    1/2 cup salt
    1 tbs. pickling spice [omit cloves]
    1 clove garlic per jar

    Instructions:
    1. Wash trimmed asparagus– blanch 2 min. in boiling water
    2. Cool in ice water. Drain on a towel on counter.
    3. Combine water, vinegar, salt, mixed spices [tied in white cloth]
    4. Heat to boiling. Remove bag containing spices.
    5. Cut ends of asparagus to fit jars.
    6. Put clove of garlic on top of each jar.
    7. Cover with brine to within 1/2 in. of top.
    8. Seal.
    The brine recipe will cover approx.4qrts. Or 8 pts.

    “It takes several weeks before they are at their best for eating.”
    Grandma Doris

  5. Florence says:

    I love asparagus. I remember when I was in High School my sister Elizabeth and I would have to take turns going up to the orchard to cut the asparagus, it seemed like we went every day. It grew so fast. Thanks for the recipe from Grandma Doris.

  6. Hi Rene – Hello from Vermont! I’m so happy to be reading your blog. Maybe you can tell me all about backyard chickens because we’re getting our chicks in just a few weeks. I also wanted to share that we have a springtime ritual around asparagus too – wild asparagus that is. If we’re lucky we collect it around the back meadows. If we’re really, really lucky, we find morels too. It’s our completely foraged springtime meal. Mmmmm
    Marilyn

    Marilyn,

    YUM!  I have heard great stories about wild Asparagus but have to admit that I have never "sampled" any. MaryJane wrote in her Outpost Book about pickling cat tails, which I would bet that you’d love as well.  We have a cabin up in the Blue Mountains on the Washington Side and a couple years ago a HUGE fire went through. The following spring the morals were everywhere.

    I am so jealous that you live in Vermont… the Maple alone would get me… but wild Aspargus too… Oh my!

    You sound like you are the perfect Outpost farmgirl and I was wondering if you have checked out MaryJanes Outpost website…http://www.maryjanesoutpost.org/ there is so much info over there.  Also in the sisterhood you can earn badges for all that outposting http://www.maryjanesfarm.org/farmgirl-sisterhood/

    On the topic of the "girls"… wow, there is much to learn, but oh so much fun!  I use the website http://www.backYardChickens.com as a resource for all my questions, as well as our farmgirl connection forum. http://www.maryjanesfarm.org and just click on chat with other farmgirls you can ask anything and believe me there is a farmgirl who will have the answers…

    Great chatting with you…

     

  7. Grace~katmom says:

    oh yummmy! hummm, fried Asperegus,,,,really sounds yummmm!
    Next to Chocolate, most everything fried tastes good!

    >^..^<

    Ha-ha… You always brighten my day.. Here at the local Burger Ranch they sell fried Aspergus, come on down for lunch!

  8. Liz Bowling says:

    Wow! Really relate to your article. I’m a transplanted city gal to a small town in So Dakota and "walking the ditches" for this treasure is a wonderful experience. I write a small article in our local paper to encourage folks to put food up for themselves, may I have your ok and Grandma Doris’ to include this recipe. I know I’m going to try it. Let me know. Liz in South Dakota.

    Yes please do add the recipe, what an honor, thank you! It is the best, I promise you!

  9. Kaye says:

    Asparagus! Oh, golly, do I love that stuff. I can’t believe you are only paying $.79 a pound for it. Around here, the homegrown stuff is going for at least $2.99 a pound, and we’re paying it, too. Of course, the spears are the diameter of your thumb and have that lovely purple tinge. A friend who owns some country acreage has been out and about looking for the wild stuff and has had some success, both with that and the fiddlehed ferns in the more swampy area of the woods. We love those, too, as well as the morels. Not so much luck with those, though. I don’t know why, but then, I’m not the wild mushroom collector she is. Another friend has been back in the meadow, far away from pesticides and automobile fumes, collecting dandelion greens for salads, and also the heads for his "killer" dandelion wine. Whew, that stuff can do you a mischief if you take in a little too much. Later in the season, we’ll be out in the fields and woods scrounging whatever is available. Looking forward to the wild strawberries, then the first crop of red raspberries, then the black raspberries, and, finally, the blackberries. My friends and I have a regular circuit we make for collecting the berries. I’m not the one with the in depth knowledge, except for the berries, but I can carry the basket, bucket, or box, so I earn my share of the swag. Mother nature can be a real "peach". Love your blog!

    Kaye,

    You certainly sound like a girl after my own heart. I would like to spend more time foraging. My hubby and I do like to go to the mountains and look for mushrooms and berries, and some years have better luck than others. I told myself this year I will make dandelion wine and watermellon wine, just to say I did it! I planted huckleberries, blackberries, raspberries and blue berries this year, so who knows the mischief I will get myself in with that, and my little apricot tree is loaded with fruit this year…  Thanks for taking the time to read my blog and sharing your story with me too.. Love that part of the blog the most!

  10. KrisBelucci says:

    da best. Keep it going! Thank you

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