Spring is well and truly sprung here in the KZN Midlands and I know this because the asparagus have started sprouting. Last year, spring only arrived in October but this year it has arrived in September, as it is supposed to do. I love seeing the asparagus tips push their way through the soil and begin racing upward. You’ve got to be fast to harvest them because they shoot up so quickly. It really does make me think of the green fuse in the Dylan Thomas poem, which just happens to be one of my favourite poems.
I enjoy eating fresh asparagus, especially when it has been simply grilled on my trusty cast-iron grill pan with loads of olive oil and freshly ground black pepper and served with shavings of parmesan and of course, some crusty ciabatta to mop up the oil. However, I did Asperges a la Flamande for brunch the other day (from Stephanie Alexander’s KITCHEN GARDEN COMPANION) and it got rave reviews.
Asperges a la Flamande
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 4 free-range eggs, at room temperature
- 12 spears asparagus, woody ends snapped off
- juice of 1 lemon
- 2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
- 60 g unsalted butter, softened
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Bring 1 large and 1 small saucepan of water to simmering point over medium heat. Add salt to the large saucepan. Slip eggs still in their shells into the smaller saucepan and cook for 5 minutes exactly. Drop asparagus into large pan of salted simmering water.
After 5 minutes lift eggs from the water and put into a bowl, then cover with cold water for 1 minute. Drain eggs and carefully peel. Lift out asparagus spears and drain for a moment on a dry tea towel, then divide among 4 warmed plates.
Roughly mash eggs with a fork; the yolks should still be very moist. Work in softened butter, a little lemon juice and plenty of parsley. Season with salt and pepper. Scoop a quarter of this pretty green, yellow and white sauce beside each asparagus portion. Serve at once.
There are, of course, other signs of spring. One of the francolins is getting very frisky; I think he has deposed the General, who I haven’t seen since the three chicks arrived in my garden with the floozies at the beginning of the year. The whydah birds are starting to grow their long pin-tails and I’m dreading the return of His Nibs and his reign of tyranny in the garden. The wisteria is in full bloom and has coiled itself quite tightly around a Japanese maple that I planted too close. In one of my treasured gardening books given to me by Kiera, The French Country Garden by Louisa Jones, the author writes about a similar situation in a garden on the French Riviera: ….the coils of a wisteria are already encircling the tall straight bole of an Aleppo pine and beginning to squeeze. Will the pine be able to adjust, perhaps growing around the wisteria and incorporating it? Nicole watches with interest and without anxiety. Gardens are full of combat situations, she says, it’s up to them to fight it out. This is certainly the case in my garden and that includes the feathered varieties as well.
I spent a wonderful afternoon indoors last week planning my allotment and kitchen garden spring planting, while the wind howled and the dust swirled outside. After preparing my planting plans, I ordered some open pollinated vegetable seeds from Livingseeds, including borlotti beans, purple podded pole beans, purple dragon carrots, green grape and Amish salad tomatoes.
However, as we all know the best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry. I shall keep you posted!
Spring is sprung, the grass is ris.
I wonders where the birdie is.
They say the birds is on the wing.
Ain’t that absurd?
I always thought the wing was on the bird.