Sunday, May 22, 2011

Ahhhhsparagus!

We are so lucky to live in the heart of Ontario. People understand that Ontario is the great 'province of industry, finance and commerce'. We are home to head offices of all number of national brands and services. We are home to the internationally acclaimed cities of Toronto and Ottawa. Something not a lot of people realize about Ontario however is that all of this industry and commerce is nestled within a vast network of agricultural odyssey. I quite literally could stop at a farm on the way home from my downtown office and pick up something fresh for dinner. I don't mean a farm stand or 'farm style' corner market, I mean an actual honest to goodness smell the manure farm.

15 - 20 minutes in any direction from our front door will land us on the doorstep of freshness. Eggs, pork, beef, Muscovy duck, apples, pumpkins, onions, peas, tomatoes, potatoes, Bison, Emu, Ostrich, honey, goat, beans, carrots, strawberries, organic milks and cheeses, the list is endless. Endless but with a beginning. For me the beginning is Asparagus. I can find the perfect vegetable 10 minutes from my door at Barries Farm. The family offers fresh Asparagus by the pound. This year a pound will cost you $2.85. It is plump and sweet and juicy. It tastes like you would expect green to taste if it were a flavour, sunshine and fresh grass mixed with the earthy under tone of rich soil.

I bought 3 lbs. today. I should have bought more for freezing but I lack the time to get the job done this weekend. So 3 lbs. was the number. We ate 1 lb. raw on the drive home and I cooked up the remaining 2 lbs. for dinner.

Barries has a very expanded offering this year of fare from neighbouring farms, meats, cheeses and  and their own home preserved asparagus recipes, pickles, chutney's, soups, asparagus crackers, salsa and tortilla chips. I escaped the farm gate with restraint, my asparagus, a dozen gorgeous brown eggs and a generous bouquet of ruby coloured rhubarb.

At home KJ helped me prepare fresh schnitzel. We experimented with a mix of panko and Italian style bread crumbs for coating. The result was a fabulous coating with a great crispiness. I imagine it would be perfect for chicken but it was a little too far removed from the traditional German offering my kids and Michael expect. We pan toasted orzo and allowed it to soak up ladle fulls of chicken stock, finished with butter and seasoned simply with salt and pepper. The crowning glory was the gently steamed asparagus dressed with butter and salt. I like to share the squeeze of lemon intended for the schnitzel with my asparagus.

The results were Delicious.


I do think that an investment in an asparagus steamer would be money well spent. I cook them very quickly in a large pot with just enough water to wet the bottom of the pot and create steam for cooking. The bottom stalks however always get just a little too much and overcook. Tomorrow those stalks will meet a soup pot.

For my friends close enough to visit Barries you can find details and directions on their Blog http://barriesasparagus.blogspot.com/


Eat well, Live well, Laugh often

Michelle