Friday, May 3, 2013

Gardeners' holidays: The Age of Asparagus

So, here it is, the beginning of May—which, according to this chart from the NJ Department of Agriculture, marks the beginning of the "most active" period for asparagus here in Joysey. I'd hoped that I'd be able to celebrate this event with a meal that actually features asparagus as a starring ingredient. A magazine I picked up at our local supermarket had a couple of interesting-looking recipes in it, and while I didn't expect to have the 2 cups of asparagus needed for "Crustless Asparagus Mini Quiches," I figured I could at least muster the 8 spears needed for a "Crab & Asparagus Omelet."

Unfortunately, though, our asparagus patch doesn't seem to have gotten the memo. So far, it's sent up mostly skinny little shoots that went to fern almost immediately. So all I have at this point is two longish spears sitting on the kitchen table with their cut ends in a jar of water. (They, too, were on the verge of going to fern, but they were the fattest spears we had, so I picked them anyway.) Those will probably make about half a cup once chopped, so we might be able to manage a half recipe of a potato omelet out of my Easy Vegetarian Dinners cookbook, which calls for one cup. Of course, it also calls for new potatoes and a ripe tomato—so in order to enjoy our half cup of seasonal garden produce, we'd have to invest in two other ingredients that won't actually be in season until July.

Of course, I could always cheat and declare this the Festival of Spinach instead. According to the charge, that's the one other vegetable that's technically in season (even if it hasn't reached its "most active" stage yet), and we do have a bunch of it in the fridge. But we didn't grow it ourselves, and it doesn't seem like much of a Gardeners' Holiday celebration to eat something that was bought from a store. I guess the best compromise would be to do both; eat the asparagus, which is actually home-grown, to commemorate the holiday, and then eat the spinach as well to ensure that we actually get a decent portion of veggies with our meal.

Unfortunately, our newly refurbished rhubarb patch definitely isn't up to providing us with dessert. While the three plants that we transplanted all seem to have survived, and one of them is literally blooming, there isn't enough new growth on them for a pie or even a crisp. As for the four new plants, only two have come up at all, and they're only barely visible. Maybe rhubarb can be part of next year's celebration.
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