Sunday, June 30, 2013

Green Curlicues: Shaved Asparagus Salad

Confession: I haven't always liked asparagus. I don't know if it was something about the flavor or it's tendency to be cooked to a rather mushy, sloppy state or some other reason. In recent years, I have seen asparagus appearing in more and more places. Then my parents started growing it fresh in their garden, and I have to admit, the freshness factor did make it much more appealing, as did grilling it.

The final push to my asparagus salvation, however, was cheese. (Shocker!) One night at Memphis Tap Room, I ordered their Asparagus Mac and Cheese. I love, love, love mac and cheese and could go on and on about it for years, but instead I will cram that all into a separate blog post. So, back to asparagus. And cheese. I was admittedly a little apprehensive ordering it but figured a) Memphis Tap has never created anything that was not phenomenal, b) I need to try all the macaronis and cheeses. ALL, c) cheese makes everything better, and d) so does truffling things. Not surprisingly, my "gamble" paid off. Raw asparagus--that is how you do it! The mac and cheese was life-endingly delicious and somehow creamy and delicate and robust all at once. The asparagus then took it to an even smarter, more thought out level. It was crisp and added depth. As cheesy (oops, pun) as it may sound, it gave the dish that "je ne sais quoi."

So asparagus had won. With some help from Ms. Cheese and the good folks at Memphis Tap. Fast forward to me joining Greensgrow Farms' CSA. (You can catch up on my adventures with that here.) Week one, very first pick-up: fresh asparagus. Squeal.

In keeping with my exploration of this newly desired vegetable, I decided to yet again try something new with asparagus. I had been seeing some recipes involving shaved vegetables lately, and I was intrigued. I do love noodles of all kinds so this may have had something to do with it. I also like to see novel spins on things. Chopped or sliced vegetables? Boring. Grab the vegetable peeler, and let's go for vegetable shavings.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

CSA: The First (Very Exciting) Pickup

After much excitement and anticipation, it was finally time for my very first CSA pickup at Greensgrow Farms.

In case you missed it, catch up on what the heck a "CSA" is, why I'm doing it, all the gory details, and the like here.

I pick up on Thursdays so Wednesday evening, I received a CSA e-newsletter detailing what's in the share, descriptions of the farms, and recipes. I was very excited to see strawberries and asparagus included on the list. Both are things that are so wonderful to have, especially when they are just-delivered fresh! I spent my lunch break the next day looking for new recipes and inspiration. Is this adulthood? Counting down the remaining minutes until I can pick up local produce? Maybe. More likely, I'm just weird.

Monday, June 10, 2013

CSA: An Introduction

I love vegetables.

I said it. Deal with it. Hate me for it. Loathe my predilection to be healthy (don't worry my love of all things cheesy and carb-loaded counteracts my healthy vegetable gains). Be puzzled on the "How?" Or maybe some of you are there with me? Or trying to be?

Maybe it was because my parents always had a vegetable garden when I was growing up. Kids love to get muddy and messy and move dirt from one spot to another (intentionally or otherwise) so gardening with children seems almost more natural than with adults. As a kid, there may have also been that additional simplistic wonderment of I-can-play-around-in-the-muck-and-make-things-grow-that-are-okay-to-put-in-my-mouth. I also really love food (this will become very apparent), have worked in restaurants, and find cooking to be an enjoyable creative outlet so vegetable adoration may come along with that. Whatever the reason, I love everything from my grains, to my fruits, to my vegetables, to my greasy fats, to my proteins, to my dairy (very much so), and everything in between. Once I did not like meat, cared very much about the treatment of animals in the meat industry, and thus lived the vegetarian life for a long time. Then I randomly started having meat cravings and broke down during a trip to New Orleans. A story for another day.

Not to say I am one of those "woman laughing alone with salad" people though. Stock photos...sigh. Image source

I look at it like this. Visual artists, or at least any I know (and I include myself loosely and casually in that) need supplies such as brushes, clay, paints, etc. given whatever their chosen medium is. They may oogle over a richly pigmented oil paint or gasp at the responsiveness of a brush. That is me but with my own chosen medium of food. A fresh spear of asparagus or a rich brie are my enviable supplies.