"United we bargain, divided we beg."

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Opening Day

Canning season has officially begun.

Saturday, I traded four dozen eggs for eight pounds of asparagus at the farmer's market. After we ate our fill of fresh steamed asparagus with lemon mayonnaise (recipe to follow), there were still about four pounds left over. Yes, we can eat a LOT of fresh steamed asparagus.

I've never make pickled asparagus before, but I sure like it. It's the kind of thing I never ever buy because it is just too ridiculously expensive and not really what you might call a staple. I mean really, when are you going to use pickled asparagus? On an antipasto plate, sure. In a bloody mary. Okay, so if I'm planning an Italian themed brunch hour cocktail party, I can see how I'd want some.

And now I have some. Two quarts and a pint - all I could find of wide mouth jars at the moment, and wide mouth lids were the only kind I had new. The reason I don't have any wide mouth canning jars is that my husband keeps stealing them for making test batches of biodiesel. There are about twenty completely ruined jars out in the shed, full of various grades of biodiesel.

Also, I couldn't find my tongs for removing hot lids and jars from boiling water. I had to use a long handled spoon and a carving fork. Clearly, I am not prepared for canning season, but so what? It's still May. I have plenty of time.

Hahahhahaha who am I kidding? I am going to be inundated before I know it.

Fresh steamed asparagus with lemon mayonnaise

Whenever you come into a lot of nice looking asparagus, this is the first thing you'll want to do with it. Wash and trim (by bending the asparagus until it snaps on its own) at least a half pound per person. Place in a large pot of cold, lightly salted water and bring to a boil. As soon as the water begins to truly boil - not just simmer - remove from heat. Let stand two or three minutes and then drain and rinse with cold water. This depends a little on the asparagus - if pencil thin and tender you will want to drain and shock immediately. If thick and older, let stand a little longer before draining. Asparagus should be bright, vigorous green.

In a regular bowl, mix a bog glop prepared mayonnaise (big glop = three or four tablespoons) with the juice of three lemons. Beat with a fork until smooth and creamy. Should be fairly thin, pourable. Season with plenty of fresh ground black pepper and a strong dash of cayenne.

You could serve this with anything, or even alone as an appetizer. Accompaniments that spring to mind are pasta with butter and pepper, tabouli salad, fresh baked bread, a big bowl of steamer clams, or any kind of fish for that matter. Oh heck, I really can't think of anything that doesn't go with fresh steamed asparagus and lemon mayonnaise. Steak? Sure! Roast chicken? You betcha!

Just be aware that anything you serve with this will be relegated to second place.


The Idiot Gardener said...

I'm currently looking for a good book on preserving; a friend looked over my planting plan and then announced that I was going to have a lot of surplus stuff.

polly's path said...

Yum! I will remember this recipe for when my asparagus comes in! Right now one of the beds is in its first full year and the stalks are too thin to pick. Next year we should be able to harvest well. My second bed was just planted with established 1 yr old crowns, so we'll see who produces edible stuff first. I never thought of canning it though, because here we eat it all-blanched and shocked in a chicken salad, or roasted at high temp in the oven(salt, pepper and olive oil, 400 degrees for 15 mins) with a dusting of parmesan.

Anonymous said...

While I do alot of bartering I will now load up some goods if I go to the Farmer's Market for trade. Good Idea. Great looking jars of Asparagus.

Window On The Prairie said...

We planted asparagus last year, but won't be able to harvest until next year. So we're still having to buy ours from the store. I'll try this recipe - it sounds wonderful.

Aimee said...

Barbara - I have a running trade going with a guy who I always meet at the farmer's market. I don't think I'd be allowed to just bring some goods and start bartering - though it sounds like a really cool idea!

IG - There are so many good books out now on preserving. An oldie but goodie is the blue ball canning book - they update it every year to reflect changes in ideas about safety, but the recipes are a little bit - well - old fashioned. So if you are a traditionalist, go for it! "Preserving the Harvest" Is a good one and covers dehydrating and freezing as well as canning. It is organized by produce, so it's very convienant - but then some of the recipes are pretty offbeat.

happy canning!