Posted by: marthabernie | May 25, 2017

How many ways can we cook asparagus? Aka Who Likes What in the Family and Grandma’s Fried Chicken

My mother never cooked asparagus when we were growing up, probably because my dad didn’t like it, but she may not have cared for it either.  We ate a lot of corn and green beans, salad and sometimes a few carrots and celery (raw).  It was rare to get peas for dinner, and we never ever ate broccoli at all…never.  I was emailing recently with one of my nieces and talking about how her dad, my oldest brother Larry, didn’t like chicken, turkey and pumpkin pie.  My mother always made a roast of beef or ham on holidays in addition to the turkey so he would have something to eat; and for regular meals, she would cook Larry a hamburger when she fried chicken for the rest of us.  He always got a cherry pie on the holidays, too.  Once my brothers were out of the house, she became a little more adventurous with things like lasagna and frozen mixed vegetables, but my dad was another finicky eater.  There were just things that he would not eat (basically, if they did not eat it on the farm when he was growing up, he didn’t care for it); or if he tried something he didn’t particularly like, he would tell my mother not to make it again!  When he died in 1974, they had been married 40 years and to say that my mother’s cooking habits changed would be putting it mildly.  When she moved in with us in 1989, they changed even more and she ate things that I had never seen her eat before like pizza, churros and lamb chops.

My niece commented that she wished she had asked my mother, her grandmother, how she fried chicken.  Well, I watched her do it hundreds of times and I’ve come to the conclusion that while we loved it when she made it, I much prefer crispier fried (or oven fried) chicken these days.  My mother dredged the chicken in flour, salt and pepper and fried it quickly in about a third of an inch of oil in a large, deep aluminum skillet.  Once both sides were well browned (and the oil would be gone by this time), she would then turn the heat down, cover the chicken and cook it on top of the stove until the chicken was done, turning it once or twice in the process.  What resulted was wonderfully moist, but somewhat soggy skinned fried chicken.  Sometimes she would turn the heat up again at the end and brown the skin a little more.  We loved it, but the best part of the meal was the milk gravy she made from the pan drippings which we poured over the mashed potatoes! And I am convinced that the memory of those fried chicken dinners is probably better than the actual chicken judged by today’s standards.

But back to asparagus…I remember getting a spear or two on top of chef’s salads in restaurants as a teenager, and still didn’t like it as the spears had come from a can and were soggy.  Then fast forward a few decades…like maybe 40 years…and I don’t remember where or exactly when I decided to try a spear of crispy asparagus … but I loved it!  I now put asparagus in pasta and risotto, eat it raw, make soup and especially like it roasted in the oven at 450 with a little garlic and olive oil.  My local Nordstrom store serves it as a side dish in one of its restaurants, and sometimes I just order asparagus and a slice of garlic bread!  Trader Joe’s has a frozen asparagus risotto that is great, and I also like to stir fry asparagus with other veggies.

The link below will take you to a recipe from Ireland that adds a little prosciutto to asparagus soup.  It’s a little hot now to be making soup, but I do have a recipe or two for chilled asparagus soup somewhere…and this is definitely the season to be eating fresh, local asparagus.

How many ways can we cook asparagus?

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