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First Asparagus

I didn’t learn to like asparagus until I was an adult.
I didn’t fall in love with asparagus until we started to grow it in our garden.

Enjoying the first asparagus of the season is like falling in love all over again.

Although we can assert that homegrown vegetables served right out of the garden are superior to anything purchased elsewhere, eating fresh homegrown asparagus is a very different experience than store-bought asparagus. The taste is far sweeter. The stalks are so tender– not a hint of fibrousness. We had a hard time not making yummy noises with every bite.

Shortly after we put in our asparagus bed, we purchased an asparagus steam pot. I’m not sure where we bought it (I’ll check with Jim), but since we tend to buy things on sale, we probably did that. Ours isn’t a major brand pot but it looks exactly like this:

There’s a side to me that thinks, oh, we could have lived without this pot. The smarter, more experienced side of me values the pot for what it is: the perfect tool for the job. The stalks come out tender without drying out the tips. To prepare asparagus, I put about an inch of water in the bottom of the pot, remove the steamer basket, and set to boil.

A quick dash to the garden with a sharp knife in hand yields a good handful of a couple dozen stalks. I prefer to cut off the stalks near ground level.

My next preparation step comes via my friend Amy, probably from a conversation 20 years ago. We learned to cook together, sharing our wisdom and puzzling over cookbooks to discover how to make the best blueberry jam and finding out that homemade croissants were an awful lot of work for very little bang. She told me that you bend along the stalk from the tip end and snap off the asparagus stalk at the spot where you meet resistance; that way you get the tender part of the stalk, not the more fibrous, less delicious part. It always works for me.

The snapped stalks go into the steamer basket, and then I run them under cold water to clean them off. Our plants have no spray or chemicals, so I’m just getting off any dirt or debris. Then into the pot. I cook them for 4 or 5 minutes tops, and then we enjoy every bite.

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