Asparagus

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One of the perks of being a spring baby, apart from the fact you get to pretend each year that the world has turned blue just for you (saw my first bluebells today), is all the fabulous foods you could eat for a birthday meal such as salmon, new potatoes, asparagus, peas – all which taste wonderful with a bit of butter.

But butter is off the menu for me at the moment, which makes me wonder what to do with asparagus.

Asparagus is one of the best things about May. Growing up in Worcestershire it was a common sight to see small stalls outside (mainly farm) gates with an honesty box and a price of 50p a bundle. I was very surprised later to discover it was considered a bit “posh”. I haven’t always loved “Sparrowgrass” though…it used to be on the (small) list of foods I didn’t eat having encounted it tinned at the age of 6. But now I am crazy about the stuff and am already on the hunt for the first local source.

Asparagus is the first chapter in Tender but I don’t think I will be growing it as I don’t have enough space in the garden and its a lot of hassle when its just me that eats the stuff. Also I doubt I will be doing many of the recipes from this section as they all involve “fat” in some form (soft cheese, bacon/pancetta, butter etc). There is quite a healthy looking pilaf though…and there is always soup, dipping it in a soft boiled egg, roasting.

I’m afraid my family will just have to put up with the fact that my pee smells a bit strange because, despite my self-imposed butter ban I am looking forward to eating fields of the stuff. Bring on the spring !

Tender: Nigel Slater

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Tender came out in October 2009. I have, from time to time fondled it in various bookshops and admired the usual beautiful photographs, carefully chosen paper and print style and of course his wonderful wonderful words…I didn’t admire the price though (£25 full price – amazon currently have it half price). So thinking carefully about it I resolved, no more recipe books. I have enough. Maybe in the future if I see it secondhand…

Mum, thankfully, ignored my resolve and for that she had a special hug on Christmas day…which surprised her as she was in the middle of taking the turkey out the oven !

Thankfully since Christmas we have been living on leftovers which has given me plenty of time to hideaway with my beloved Nigel, pouring over his beautiful prose and planning the vegetable garden. Maybe this year I will get it off the ground – last year my seedlings withered in the kitchen when we were let down over the promised allotment.

It’s timely too as one of my plans this year is to get more vegetables into our diet…I have a sneaking suspicion that it may lead to less colds and a general feeling of well being.

Despite the fact that the kitchen is currently our of commission (see previous post) I do have a vegetable soup on the go (The usual end of life fridge soup, loosely based on a Covent Garden caramalised root vegetable recipe (because I have turnips in the fridge)…and a vague plan to stop at a Farm Shop on the way back from Banbury later today.

There is a problem with this however, as by and large I cook for a family and my family are not really into vegetables – although Spider is getting better – he ate the maple syrup parsnips (p383) I did with the roast beef.

My impressions on the book though are that it is beautifully written but not that it makes me want to get into the kitchen – this is not because Nigel hasn’t served up his usual selection of fabulous ideas but because everytime I read something part of me is thinking “oh so and so won’t eat that” – what is does make me want to do however is get out into the garden and plant things !

Current plans however involve the chapter on Sprouts (Husband oddly, does eat sprouts) and all the Soup recipes which are in season. The book is, unsurprisingly, rather short on cake recipes, and of the 3 there are I have already made 2 of them as they were previously published in the Observer – however in view of the drastic need to reduce calorie intake in this house, this lack is no bad thing…

But first I must finish off painting the kitchen, otherwise we will be living off pizza and cheese on toast for the next few days.