So… several years ago we decided to establish an asparagus bed. This is a major commitment, maybe not as much as getting married of having children, but these are ‘serious commitment’ garden plants. I will explain why. Firstly, once you plant the asparagus ‘crowns’ you won’t start harvesting asparagus to eat for 3 years (2 years if you plant 1 year crowns). Yes you heard me right, T H R E E years! The first two years you basically do nothing, other than keep the bed weed-free and water regularly so the roots become well established. You leave the plants to grow out of control into a furry mass that is then cut back in the autumn until it starts to sprout again in the spring. Basically for half the year it looks like we have an empty 3m x 1m garden bed. (Funnily enough our house-sitters while we were overseas this winter thought it would be nice to plant some lovely natives in our asparagus bed – but that is another story!)
On the third year – which is the year we are in at the moment – you can start to harvest a small amount of asparagus, barely enough to make a meal so I mostly chomp away on a raw asparagus stalk or two while roaming the garden. However, and this is the exciting part, from next year we will be able to harvest every single asparagus that shows it head for about 2 months. We planned the size of our asparagus bed to supply us with the equivalent of 3 bunches of asparagus a week. AND a well established and healthy asparagus bed can produce for around 20 years ~ that is where the real commitment lies. As they don’t like to be transplanted you really want to be settled where you are living if you are planning an asparagus bed. Besides weeding and watering, we do very little to the bed. The occasional layer of mulch, and asparagus likes salt so when we collect seaweed off the beach we lay it around the asparagus – sand and all – and leave it to be washed by the rain and garden hose for several weeks before making into seaweed fertiliser.
Next week I have two ideas for a special Christmas-y dessert to share. One involves chocolate and the other an ever-so-slightly-healthier version of the traditional New Zealand pavlova. As I can’t decide which one to share I thought you could help make the choice for me. Leave a comment below, or on my FACEBOOK post for today’s recipe, telling me whether it is ‘chocolate’ or ‘pavlova’! I will tally up the response in a few days and get cooking and photographing the chosen recipe to share early next week. Let the fun begin..!
I have made this quiche crust in several variations for about 10 years now. It is quick and easy to make with no rolling or resting of the dough, simply mix, press and cook. It is also very flexible with the dry ingredients as long as the same quantity is used. The quiche you see pictured here I made gluten-free with buckwheat flour, brown rice flour, ground almonds and ground quinoa. It is delightfully light and holds its shape well due to the blind baking. The addition of the vinegar helps to soften the flours.
1 cup flour (GF: use 1/2 cup buckwheat flour + 1/2 cup brown rice flour)
1/2 cup ground nuts (or extra 'quick-cook' rolled oats)
1/2 cup 'quick-cook' rolled oats (GF: use 1/2 cup ground quinoa)
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
approx. 1/2 cup cold water
This is a quiche filling I have been making recently with asparagus in season. I have also been playing with using coconut milk in place of milk/ cream for my dairy sensitive son. It is surprisingly good making the custard light and flavorsome. I prefer to use Trade Aid coconut milk as it doesn't separate.
4 free-range eggs
1/2 cup Trade Aid coconut milk
1/4 tsp sea salt
1 bunch asparagus, stalks trimmed and halved
100g goat feta, crumbled (optional, omit if making completely dairy-free)
*I make quinoa flour by blitzing whole quinoa in our coffee grinder. We use a paint brush (bought specifically for the task) to clean out the grinder after use for grinding coffee, nuts, seeds, quinoa etc.
*In ‘a world of their own’ in the garden.