Wednesday, May 21, 2008

More Michigan Spring Produce!

Did you know that Michigan is the "Asparagus Capital of the World"? I'm sure it is grown elsewhere, too, but if you have not grown your own or cannot find some locally grown at your Farmer's Market, look for some to buy in your local grocery store that was Michigan-grown.

This photo shows the first harvest of the year from the small asparagus patch in our backyard. I cooked these spears for just a few minutes in a scant 1/2 inch of lightly boiling water in a wide frying pan (so I did not have to cut any of the stalks) with the lid on. Do not overcook! They were still bright green, tender all the way through, and incredibly delicious in their simplicity. No sauces, no seasonings, no butter or olive oil, no soup ingredients needed! When I get an abundance of asparagus, yes, I will make soup, but until then my husband and I will savor these springtime treasures, plain and simple. (In the meantime, I'm saving all the water from cooking the asparagus to add to our soups.)

We talked about experimenting with freezing some asparagus to enjoy during the winter months (I have never eaten canned asparagus that was worth the effort). However, I admit to enjoying "the wait", the anticipation of waiting until the ground has warmed up the roots enough to send up this most unusual vegetable. After all, we waited the two years as recommended after planting and nurturing the roots before harvesting our own crop.

One of the ways that I got myself through chemotherapy both times was planning and looking forward to various activities, again, enjoying the anticipation of the delight after the waiting, rather than complaining or wringing my hands over the necessity of "the wait". So maybe we won't bother with freezing any asparagus, but just enjoy (even pig-out) while we have it in abundance during the all too short spring in Michigan.

Asparagus is one of the foods that are considered excellent sources of folate, one of the water-soluble B vitamins so necessary to overall good health. Enjoy the freshness of springtime in every delectable bite!

I'll end with this beautiful prayer in praise of plant roots and the life-sustaining foods they produce:

I inform thee that I intend to eat thee.
Mayest thou always keep me to ascend,
So that I may always be able to reach
The tops of mountains,
and may I never be clumsy!
I ask this of thee, Sunflower-Root.
Thou are the greatest of all in mystery.
~~Thompson River Indian prayer
(First Nations people of Salish tribal ethnicity who inhabit the Thompson River area in British Columbia0

Diana Dyer, MS, RD

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