Tender green shoots of asparagus pop up in a small patch next to my garden as the first edible arrivals of spring. My garden is located on the outskirts of my grandfather’s yard bordering a field that lies between his house and the house I grew up in. I moved my garden there when my grandfather moved out of our house and into our neighbor’s old house. Our neighbor “Cal”, short for Calvin I suppose, was a gardener. He lived in the house next to ours for many years before he died and left the house to my grandfather. He was big on flowers. I remember when I was a child going by his house on my bike and being amazed at the array of flowers he kept in his yard. There were more flowers than grass it seemed and all of varying colors and varieties. It was like a maze trying to make it through his yard to get to his house through the overgrown wildness of all his flower beds. The colors were amazing and the blend of different scents was intoxicating. Cal, however, was vehemently opposed to any of us “kids” stepping foot on his lawn or, God forbid, any of his flowers. So we did it when he wasn’t looking. I would sneak a quick peek and hop over the ditch which was laden with flowers and make my way through the small grove of pines which was lined with all sorts of luscious purples, pinks and blues. Roses and lilies of the valley, poppies and petunias, you name it, he had it. If we got caught he would yell and run us off his lawn but not before we were able to grab a small floral token of our adventurousness. When I got older and returned to his yard, now to visit with my grandfather, for some reason the flowers didn’t seem quite as wild or as overwhelming and mysterious as they used to. The roses sit quietly next to the house, the lily of the valley still wanders into the ditch but I don’t have to worry about stepping on it now and the garden still has a patch of wild asparagus next to it which comes up every spring and my grandfather always cuts the first tender shoots of the season and gives them to me.
*Asparagus is in season now in Germany and I have been eating a lot of it. As a result I had a lot of “asparagus tea” which I decided shouldn’t go to waste.*
1-2 pounds of green asparagus
enough water to cover
pinch of salt (optional)
Trim the ends and wash the asparagus. Put in a pot with the water and salt and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for about 10-15 minutes or until the asparagus is tender. Remove the asparagus and reserve the cooking liquid. You can eat the asparagus as it is or use it to make an asparagus pesto which is what I did. The recipe for the asparagus pesto I made came from Mark Bittman’s post in the New York Times. The green liquid can be drunk hot as a tea or used for flavoring other dishes such as a soup or stew. It’s delicious alone but try it, don’t take my word for it.