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That’s what we called asparagus when I was growing up. It didn’t really matter what we called it, since we hardly ever had it and, when we did, it was canned smoosh hardly worthy of the name–or any name, other than canned smoosh. Still, I came to like it and was MOST disappointed when I had some fresh and it didn’t taste like salted aluminum and had an actual texture other than…you know…smoosh.

But I thought it was way cool that people could actually grow their own luxury item so, when we moved to the country, I bought a package of asparagus seed. Folks laughed at me. “Don’t you know it takes three years from planting before you can harvest asparagus?” I was like, “How long will it be if I don’t plant it?”

As usual, the laugh was on me, because you can buy mature crowns (the bit that grows underground and sends up the asparagus shoots) to cut the time. Ah, well. Meanwhile, I got to see the little teeny baby asparagus shoots and ferns, which was a charming experience. It was like fairy food. Miniature folks, please note: How cool would it be to plant asparagus seed in tubs outside your miniature house and have tiny little living plants come up? Very cool! (By the way, by “miniature folks”, I meant people interested in miniatures, not, like, The Borrowers or The Incredible Shrinking Man, although they’re welcome to the idea, as well.)

Anyway, now we have an asparagus bed. Yesterday, we had fresh asparagus for supper. It was not salty aluminum smoosh, it was full-flavored and crisp-tender and delicious. And this is what it looks like when it first comes up. I kid you not. Yes, it looks like some wisenheimer bought some asparagus spears at the grocery and stuck them into the dirt, but this is how they come up. Then those nubs at the top open into fronds and you get this pretty lacy ferny plant. The female ones (sorry about the s3x) grow little red berries, which drop and make more baby plants.

The bad thing is the asparagus beetles. Heartbreaking, to come out and find bugs all over your asparagus spear (is it getting hot in here, or is it just me?). Anyway, Charlie says he’s going to dust the bed with Sevin to see if he can wipe out the bugs early in the harvest. That means I’ll have to wash the spears in warm soapy water before we cook or marinate them.

A small price to pay. You have to keep your spears clean, or no one will want to…. You know, this post is over.

MA

writing prompt: If your character could grow one thing fresh, what would it be?

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I told you about how I cooked a bunch of chicken breasts in the crock pot. Okay, so (and this would work with any pre-cooked chicken, o’course), I made this quick and easy thing. You need achicken and asparagus RICE COOKER for it, one of the best gizmos I ever bought.

ALMOST ONE-DISH CHICKEN AND ASPARAGUS

  • cooked chicken
  • rice
  • asparagus
  • multi-colored peppers

Put rice in the cooker. Add water any seasonings to taste. Top with seeded peppers and as much fresh asparagus as you can fit in. Drizzle with garlic-flavored olive oil. Cook. Heat cooked chicken. Divide the rice and vegetables into dishes and top with chicken.

I’m getting over my cold, but you still wouldn’t want to eat across the table from me. I went to Mom’s last night and we watched RUNAWAY BRIDE. I love Richard Gere and I love Julia Roberts. They both seem like people I would love to know in person. It makes me happy to watch either one of them work. I didn’t much like the story–a woman who dumps multiple men at the altar because she doesn’t know who she really is but has pretended to be what they wanted. Once, barely acceptable. Twice, no. Three, four…. Seems like the guys in one little town would wise up, doesn’t it? But it was still a fun movie, thanks to all the good secondary and bit characters, and ALL the good acting from everybody in the cast. Good music, too.

MA

writing prompt: How would one of your character feel/act if dumped at the altar?

I had a class to teach yesterday evening, so we ate early. We had some kale stew left from the other day, so we had that. We also had some store-bought whiteasparagus-rolls bread and leftover asparagus spears, so I decided to make asparagus rolls. This picture shows one under construction and one rolled up. Please note that the rolled one looks rather nasty. This is because the bread was too stale to roll, but the cream cheese helped it to stick together…more or less. As my grandfather used to say, “It don’t hurt the eatin’ of it.”

If you are, as I am not, a vegetarian, leave off the bacon. Use roasted red peppers, instead.

ASPARAGUS ROLLS

  • Bread, with the crusts cut off
  • cooked asparagus spears
  • cream cheese, spreadably soft
  • pre-cooked bacon and/or roasted red peppers
  • soft butter

Squish the bread kind of flat. Spread with cream cheese. Put 1/2 slice bacon and 1 asparagus spear on 1 slice of bread. Roll up. Butter outside of roll. Bake at 350 until bread is toasted.

I didn’t take a picture after it was done, because it looked REALLY disheveled. It tasted good, though.

MA

Writing prompt: How do three of your characters feel about food presentation? Does food have to look a certain way? Does the food they make have to look a certain way? Does one put parsley sprigs on the plate when she/he eats alone, and does another one just slop things on top of one another, and does another one put everything in bowls and on platters and let guests help themselves?

I know, it sounds YUCK, but it’s really salmon casserole. That sounds better, doesn’t it? I wrote about fish pie in one of my Culinary Chronicles for World Wide Recipes recently, so I needed to make it. I love salmon with a love that is true, but I wasn’t madly keen about this in the end. It would have been better if I had made it according to the recipe I was given, but I was feeling too lazy to chop celery, so it’s my own fault.pie-start

SALMON CASSEROLE

  • butter
  • chopped green onion
  • chopped celery–DO IT! YOU’LL THANK ME LATER!
  • flour
  • milk
  • dried dill weed
  • salt & pepper
  • 1 can salmon, drained and picked over if you’re like that
  • mashed potatoes, instant or leftoverpie-topped
  • egg yolk or whole egg

Melt butter in saucepan. Fry the onion AND CELERY until vegetables start to get tender. Remove from heat. Use some of the now-flavored butter to butter a casserole dish. Add flour to butter, stir until well mixed, return to heat and cook until glossy (couple of minutes). Remove from heat and add milk and seasonings. I used a little over 1 Tbs butter and flour, about 3/4 cup milk. When this white sauce is thick and bubbly, add the salmon. I give the juice to our cats, but I put the bones in. I like the bones, all right? Shut UP–they crunch real good! Anyway, mix and heat through and put in casserole. Wash out the pot and make about 2 servings of mashed potatoes, more if you want to. Add egg/yolk and stir to mix well. Put potatoes on top of casserole, spreading to cover orpie-and-asp blopping around the edges. If you want to get all Martha Stewart about it, put the potatoes in a pastry bag and pipe them on in a pretty design. Whatever. Bake it at about 400 for about 1 hour, or until the mashed potatoes get puffy and brown. I think it would have been better if I’d mixed some Parmesan cheese into the potatoes, too.

The asparagus was frozen, since ours STILL haven’t come up, dressed with hard-boiled egg and French dressing.

Next time, I’ll do the celery. I used celery flakes, but it wasn’t the same. The bones were good, though.

MA

Writing prompt:

I carry a notebook and pen everywhere with me. Yes, yes, partly so I can jot down conversations I overhear, descriptions, settings, plot twists and characters I encounter and think up. Partly, though, so I can copy down recipes I come across.

This past Saturday, I was at World on the Square International Family Fun Fair and, in the food line, I came across something I had to copy down.

This is one of those little finger foods that women think are cute and I usually think are a waste of perfectly good ingredients. Nasty as this may sound, though, I do assure you that it is DELICIOUS.

Bacon Wraps

  • white bread
  • bacon
  • softened cream cheese
  • brown sugar (YES, BROWN SUGAR)

Spread cream cheese on bread. Cut off crusts. Cut bread in half and roll tightly. Wrap with 1/2 slice bacon and secure with toothpick. Roll in brown sugar. Bake at 350F until caramelized. Remove immediately.

When I make these, I’m going to use that pre-cooked bacon, so the bacon will be nice and crispy by the time the brown sugar is caramelized.

I’ve had bread and cream cheese wrapped around asparagus, buttered on the outside and baked, and that’s very good with or without bacon, and I’ve had water chestnuts wrapped in bacon and baked (when I do it, the water chestnuts always crack and break and taste like tin–I’d like to try them with FRESH water chestnuts instead of canned). This beats both, though. And when I say something beats asparagus, you KNOW I like it!

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Here is where I ramble on about whatever happens to fall through my mind. I also have a professional site, where I post about my books, stories, news and appearances. Every month, I post a “Hot Flash” there–a story or prose poem of about 50 words. I hope you enjoy your visit. –Marian Allen

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