My Keeping Kitchen! A is for Asparagus
- a place for making food to keep for the winter.
- an edible way of keeping traditions alive.
- a gathering then sharing of abundant harvest.
Over the years, I’ve referred to my French pantry, the way of keeping it stocked, and the very kitchen at Camont as the “Keeping Kitchen”. Within these stone walls at Camont, I have been keeping the traditions of Gascon cooking alive as well as adding to it with my own fresh take on authentic recipes- folding in a new good idea here, leaving out an old bad habit there but always keeping true to the spirit if not the actual letter of the laws of the kitchen.
Good friend and co-conspirator in Italy, Judy Witts- the DivinaCucina diva and I hatched the idea of another combined blog effort like the Going Whole Hog blog project we did a couple years ago. We wanted more than a way to keep tabs on each other’s gardens, kitchens, and lives in Tuscany and Gascony. We want to share our euro-view of what surrounds us as not-quite natives/not-quite-expats. Trends come strong and fast up the internet pipeline but from here they can actually be old world news. We decided to share our everyday cooking habits for stocking the Euro-Larder otherwise known here as the Keeping Kitchen.
- Peel and trim very fresh fat white aspargus.
- They should all be the same length so they will come below the rim of the jar.
- Place them carefully, points up.
- Add a scant teaspoon of salt
- Cover with cold water.
- Seal with new rubber lined lids.
- Put in a large pan, cover with cold water, bring to a boil and process for 1 hour. 30 minutes if using a pressure cooker.
- Let cool in the pan then remove, dry, label and store in the larder.
Once the price comes down I will put up several kilos of thumb size white asparagus to be served throughout the summer with golden mayonnaise- made from the deep orange-yolked hens’ eggs. But thanks to too heavy rains this spring, the price is still hovering at caviar prices and I can’t afford to waste a thing. So I think of how to use the remnants of the stems…
Last year for Grrl’s Meat Camp, Mrs. Wheelbarrow brought some wonderful crunchy asparagus pickles perfect for charcuterie boards and Gascon Bloody Maries (made with white armagnac instead of vodka). Since these big Gascon boys are so fat I had lots of tougher but crunchy stem ends. To make my own Keeping Kitchen version of Cathy’s spicy pickled spears with white asparagus, I took the bottom part of the stalks that I had already peeled and trimmed (so the long tips would fit the quart jars). Next I sliced them lengthwise and using the pale pink remnants of a jar of pickled ginger (a Camont addiction and hard to find here), I brewed up a gingery vinegar pickling brine based on Cathy B.’s recipe above.
Pouring over the little crunchy sticks packed into small jars, I covered then sealed them. With just a couple jars made- a micro-batch- I’ll pop them in the fridge for a few days. If they last that long. Oh, You can’t be bothered to CAN? Then you can just slice white or green asparagus raw, add some spring onions and sliced lemons then dress with a tangy vinagrette. This make a great spring salad and a hit of fresh green before the whole garden is putting out. It’s the joy of true seasonal eating- the anticipated abundance of the first tastes of spring followed by a few reminder jars for the pantry. Now that’s Keeping Kitchen thinking!
All these lovely pictures (except Cathy B.) are by my good friend and Keeping Kitchen Cohort, Mr. Tim Clinch at www.timclinchphotography.com .
For some more Asparagus shots and goodies from the Keeping Kitchen check out my FB page and photos as well as these past Keeping Kitchen posts:
My heavy clay Gascon mud at Camont is too hard on asparagus, they prefer the sandy soils of the les Landes just SW of here. But if you are interested in growing your own, or just want more interesting and amusing faqs to whip out at the dinner table, the check out http://www.asparagus.org/maab/faq.html.