Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Asparagus now, asparagus later

The statistics of our life: Chuck and I are leaving on Friday, to drive the 1006 miles to visit our children. Before that, he will drive 500 miles roundtrip to pick up the college student who will be house sitting while we are gone. There is a lot to do, the packing, cleaning the house, shopping for road food as well as making sure there is some food here for the house sitter. Which might lead one to wonder, then, why I was blanching and freezing 115 spears of asparagus this evening. (One might also wonder why I am sitting here blogging, but hey, there has to be some mystery in life!)

Well, the statistics of local food- the asparagus is ready now, and it won't wait for me to get back from gallivanting about the country.

My sons tell me I am the weirdest woman in the world when it comes to food texture. Not only do things have to taste right, they also have to feel right in my mouth. I've been known not to eat things that have a fine flavor but a disturbing texture.* Asparagus is definitely on of those things. I've always felt that asparagus is one of those things that is perfect when fresh, lightly steamed or sauteed so there is a satisfying crunch when you bite into the stalk. Frozen asparagus is tolerable IN things like stir fried vegetables, but not eaten by itself like fresh. Canned asparagus is vile, good only for things like asparagus quiche, where the soggy green spear can vanish into the whole- the texture of canned asparagus is so very creepy, even though the flavor is acceptable. I have a jar of pickled vegetables made by my brother-in-law in the cooler, and I can see asparagus spears lurking in there. I have to admit, it's the main reason I haven't opened the jar- I can't quite get my mind around pickled asparagus. I'm afraid that neither the taste nor the texture would be quite right.

For the same texture reason, I was rather put off when I saw a recipe for roasted asparagus. Sure, the drizzling with oil sounded good, the balsamic vinegar and the sesame seeds sprinkled on top. But the texture? How could asparagus be good if it wasn't crisp, and how could it be crisp if it were roasted? I rolled it over and over in my mind, and finally decided to give it a try. On Mothers day, no less, because asparagus always reminds me of my mother- she is the one who taught me to love the first thin stems of spring best.

Wow- It was terrific! It was soft, but the roasting gave it a crispyness different than but not inferior to the crispiness I was used to. I used an olive oil infused with a hot red pepper, so there was a little bite, and I added garlic. This is definitely something we will have again.

And now we have come back to the 115 stalks of asparagus. They cost, all told, $20.25, which is $0.18 a stalk. I washed them, blanched them, and lined them up in layers in my 9 by 13 inch cake pan to freeze individually. Tomorrow I will parcel them up into my vacuum sealed bags, and will seal them up. My hope is, if I put them in the oven still frozen, that I can approximate the yummyness of Sunday's dinner.

115 stalks of asparagus will give us about 10 asparagus meals. And at each one, I'll remember this evening. That's one of my favorite parts of eating local- I love the connections.

There really is no recipe for the asparagus- I washed about 20 stalks, snapped off the woody parts on the ends, put it in my 9 by 13 inch cake pan. Drizzled a little (a couple of tablespoons, if that much) over the asparagus, chopped some garlic cloves fine, and sprinkled that and some sesame seeds. I heated the oven to 400 degrees F, and left them in for 10 minutes. Cooking for Engineers has a slightly more hands on method, and Kalyn, at Kalyn's Kitchen has a slow roasted asparagus I may try with some of the larger of these frozen stalks.


Kalyn said...

I know what you mean about the texture thing. One thing I don't like the texture of is water chestnuts. Tooo crisp for me. And I hate mushy asparagus too. I do love roasted asparagus. Grilled asparagus is also great. And I have a vacuum sealer too, aren't they the best kitchen device ever?

sher said...

Hey! How are you? I hope you come back to blogging. Miss you.