If fresh, local asparagus is in the stores, it must be early Spring. This vegetable is one of the first to beckon in the new season and herald an end to Winter. We simmer the delicate white asparagus spears until they become tender and sweet, then drizzle them with a homemade aioli flavored with black garlic, lemon, and miso. It’s both simple and incredibly delicious.
Note: This recipe will work just as well with green asparagus, if that’s what you have (and the Black Garlic Aioli is delicious on just about anything. It’s crazy good).
A successful garlic crop in the urban backyard depends on a lot of factors. We tell you what went right this year for us, what we might do differently, and one option for roasting your garlic once it’s harvested.
There’s a line early on in one of those first-generation text computer adventures – Colossal Cave or Zork or Adventure itself, I think – where the game asks you if you’re a wizard and what the secret incantation is, requiring that you’ve played the game already, or you’ve been told the secret by someone else who has (this was way pre-internet, remember, and this wasn’t the sort of information that libraries tended to know). If you do answer that you’re a wizard, and you get the code wrong, the game scoffs at you and tells you you’re a charlatan.
Gardening is a bit like that. Some years you feel like a wizard and some years you feel like a charlatan, like an actual wizard left you in charge of their garden and you’re just randomly throwing things into the ground and seeing what comes up. I wouldn’t say that I have an innate skill by any means, but I do have an immense amount of fun getting things to grow and gradually, slowly, learning by my mistakes and the variations of the growing season. Last year we put up straw bales for the first time, and had great success there with most of our seedlings. At the time, the raised beds that I’d been relying on were retarded by the branches and roots of nearby maples, which I took down at the end of the summer. This year, the raised beds are going gangbusters, but the straw is not so successful. On the one hand, shazam!!!, buton the other hand, ¯_(ツ)_/¯.
A few notes on our success in the garden this summer … as well as our failures.
Comrades! While Emily is entertaining you all indoors with delicious seasonal goodies, I thought I’d update you with news from the garden to show you what’s been going on outside the house this year. This is technically our third full spring/summer, but our first since we bought the house. We were loathe to install anything permanent during our rental period for fear we’d do irreparable damage to the property – now of course, we’re quite merrily doing plenty of irreparable damage and NOT GIVING A HOOT.
So: the garden. Over the last couple of seasons I’ve built two 8’x4′ raised beds. I’ve planted vegetables that we tend to use most in cooking – garlic, onions, dark greens and squash – with varying success. The first year, we had what seemed like two fresh zucchini every day. We’d eat them, go down to the garden the next day and pick off two more. The second year, we didn’t notice ANY squash growing until late in the season, I moved a leaf aside and found one enormous zucchini that must have been growing un-noticed for a month. [Emily: I wish we had taken a picture of it because it seriously would have needed an NSFW tag]. That was the first and last squash we had that year.