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Updates! and Forced Asparagus

May 17, 2011

We are well into the swing of things now at the 1900 farm, but I wanted to take a minute and show a few updates from previous posts.  I am happy to say that the potatoes have peaked their stems out of the ground.  The rain in April helped them out a lot and I am sure they will appreciate the precipitation this week as well.  As soon as it is dry enough we will get out to the garden and mound them, nearly burying the plant.  Potatoes like it underground, so mounding them helps them grow bigger!

Wee Potato

Small potatoes pop their heads out of the ground.

Other things are popping up in the garden as well.  We have 2 lovely rows of onions and 2 lovely rows of radishes.  About a row and a half of lettuce is up and all three rows of peas show signs of life.  I have discovered about 4 kohlrabi plants so far, and several wee beet sprouts.

In addition to everything coming up in the garden, we have used the warmer weather to continue planting.  As it stands now, most everything from the greenhouse should be hardened off by the end of this week and in the garden at the beginning of next.  While it is very exciting to see the small baby plants, it will be a little while before they are producing edible product.  While we patiently wait on the cultivated gardens, we can enjoy the fruits of a perennial that is well loved here on the farm.

Asparagus

Can you find the asparagus?

Along the fences of the back garden and front pasture are several patches of asparagus.  This is very exciting for us, just as it would be for the farmers in 1900.  Asparagus is eaten when it is very young and tender, and can be fixed several different ways.  One nice way is to saute’ it, but I’ve found several other recipes in my turn of the century cookbooks.  If you like this yummy green veggie grown by people as famous as Thomas Jefferson at Monticello, try this historic recipe from Hannah Glasse’s The Art of Cookery (1747):

Asparagus Forced in French Rolls

Take three French rolls, take out all the crumb, by first cutting a piece of the top-crust off; but be careful that the crust fits again the same place.  Fry the rolls brown in fresh butter; then take a pint of cream, the yolk of six eggs beat fine, a little salt and nutmeg, stir them well together over a slow fire till it begins to be thick.  Have ready a hundred (stalks) of (sparrow’s) grass (asparagus) boiled, then save tops enough to stick the rolls with, the rest cut small and put into the cream, fill the loaves them.  Before you fry the rolls, makes holes thick in the top crust, and stick the grass in, that it may look as if it were growing.  It makes a pretty side-dish at a second course.

The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy, page 195.

Like the other culinary authors of her time period, Ms. Glasse remains a bit vague on the details (like the asparagus (sparrow’s grass) should be simmered, but not over-boiled), but like other period recipes, adaptations can be made.  I like to make a creamed asparagus white sauce (with milk and flour) out of the lower parts of the asparagus stems, put that into the hollowed roll, and then stick the upper parts of the stalk out.  It is an easier variation, though Ms. Glasse’s is not to difficult.  If you like fresh asparagus, this is a neat challenge to try, and it’s tasty, too!

Mohawk chickens

As they grow, the tufts on the Buff-Laced Polish chickens look more like mohawks!

One more thing to update you on, and that is the animals.  The chickens are growing like weeds!  The buff-laced Polish now have more pronounced Mohawks, and all of them are starting to look like awkward teenage chickens.  We have one more sow ready to farrow at any time, and two litters of baby pigs.  We congratulate our neighbors on the 1850 on the birth of a young heifer calf, May Bell, while we anxiously await our own calves.

That brings you up to date on the happenings at the 1900 farm.  Hope to see you out on the farm soon!

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