Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Cream of Asparagus Soup

If you, like me, are still getting asparagus from your asparagus patch, but are getting weary of steamed asparagus, asparagus frittata, and such, I have the solution for you. Cream of asparagus soup. The recipe is a take on one from How to Cook Everything, Mark Bittman's wonderful giant red cookbook.

1 pound fresh asparagus
4 cups chicken broth (or vegetable broth if you want the soup to be vegan)
1 medium baking potato
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup half and half or light cream (skip this for the vegan version)

Trim the asparagus and cut into 2-inch (or so) pieces. Peel the potato and cut into 8ths. Cook the potato and asparagus in the broth until tender-- 15 minutes or so (test with a fork.) Allow to cool slightly, then blend it all in a blender until smooth.

If you're going to eat it right away, continue with the recipe. If you're cooking ahead, or planning to freeze it, then stop and refrigerate or freeze.

When you're ready to go ahead with it, reheat the pureed soup gently, adding salt and pepper to taste. Add the cream or half and half if using, taste again, adding more salt and pepper if needed, and heat to the temperature you like. Makes 4 servings of approximately 1 1/4 cups each.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Thank Goodness I Didn't Plant!

As you may remember from my last post, I was wondering whether or not to plant the tender parts of my vegetable garden, based on the "last frost date" for my area. Well, I didn't, and am I glad I waited! Last Friday night we had frost warnings.

I covered tender foliage of hostas with bed sheets. I'm glad my front yard isn't very visible from the road. Pink flowers, blue plaids and everything in between made a giant crazy quilt looking down on them from above.

The forecast Friday night was for mid-30's and clear skies-- an almost certain frost situation. As it turned out the low was 27 degrees. Eek! The grapes lost all their primary leaves, the persimmon may be gone to fruit tree Heaven. Even the cole crops and tiny beets that were supposed to take a frost are yellowed out. We had a light frost again on Saturday night. If I had planted any of the tender veggies, I'd have lost them all.

Now I have to make a hard decision. Do I replant now, losing 4 weeks of growth on some of the plants? Or do I wait the yellowed plants out to see if they recover, taking the chance of losing 5 or 6 weeks instead if I end up having to replant? What would you do?

Saturday, May 11, 2013

To Plant... Or Not to Plant

According to all the charts, the last frost date for my area is May 5th. So I should be getting ready to plant all the stuff that is recommended to be planted a week or two after the last frost date-- tomatoes, corn, peppers, eggplants, squash and zucchini, melons, basil... I would hope for a buffer zone of a week or two without frost threat between the last frost and the planting date, right?

Well, tomorrow's weather (one week exactly after my charted last frost date of May 5th) the lows are predicted to be in the 30's. The soil temperatures, which I don't measure, but instead judge as I am weeding and breaking up the soil by hand, are still cold. Bean seeds, which I would normally be planting next weekend, would languish in the soil, at best doing nothing and at worst rotting in the cold damp soil.

So, the question: To plant, or not to plant. If I do plant, I risk having to plant again when the plants are frosted or the seeds rot. If I don't plant, I risk the delay of the crop, and, since part of my plan is to feed myself and my husband in large part from my garden, the delay of my food supply.