Cream of Asparagus Soup

asparagus

Nutrition experts extol the virtues of vegetables and seasonal eating more and more.  Here’s a simple way to incorporate Asparagus and a  literal stash of vitamins and minerals including a source of fiber, folate, vitamins A, C, E and K, as well as chromium.  Vitamin B rich foods aid in regulating blood sugar levels. If the soup is made with real bone broth it will make it a beneficial food for bone health, colon health, and a boost to the immune system.

1 pound of Asparagus
6 Cups Chicken Broth (real bone broth is best)
1/2 Cup finely chopped onion
1/2 Cup chopped celery
3 Tablespoons of butter
3 Tablespoons of flour
1/2 Cup of cream
salt, pepper to taste
1 chopped hard boiled egg (optional)

Wash and remove Asparagus Tips from Asparagus.

Simmer the tips, covered until they are tender in a small amount of water, about 3-5 minutes.

Cut the Asparagus stalks into 1-2 inch pieces and place them in a large saucepan with the broth, onion, and celery covered for about 30 minutes.  Strain the veggies and broth through a sieve.

In a medium saucepan or double boiler, slowly melt the butter.  Stir in the flour until blended.  Then slowly stir in 1/2 Cup of cream.  Slowly mix in the Asparagus stock and continue heating the soup.  Add the asparagus tips.  Season with salt, pepper, paprika and garnish with one chopped hard-cooked egg. (optional)Cream_Of_Asparagus

Option #1

Blend the asparagus stalks, onion, and celery and a portion of the Asparagus stock until smooth in a blender and use it as the Asparagus stock in the soup base.  This makes a thicker soup.

Asparagus on Toast with Cream Sauce and Eggs

Asparagus on Toast with Cream Sauce. Bacon bits are optional

Asparagus on Toast with Cream Sauce. Bacon bits are optional.  Recipe is from Emma, Linda’s grandmother

A delicious recipe that is just in time for a seasonal breakfast or brunch.  With the recent rains, there is plenty of asparagus sprouting along roadsides, just be sure if you are picking wild asparagus to not trespass private property.

IngredientsAsparagus 2

  • 1 pound fresh asparagus, trimmed
  • 4 hard-cooked eggs, diced or sliced
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Dash pepper
  • 2 cups milk  (part cream is OK)
  • 1 cup (4 ounces) shredded cheddar cheese, optional
  • 1/3 cup bacon bits, optional
  • 4 slices bread, toasted and halved

Directions

  • Snap off the lower part of the asparagus stalks where they break easily.  In a large skillet, bring 3/4 cup of lightly salted water and asparagus to a boil. Cover and boil for 2-3 minutes or until crisp-tender.  Keep warm and drain when ready to serve the plate.
  • In a medium saucepan, melt 1/4 cup of butter; gradually whisk in the flour, salt and pepper until smooth. Gradually add milk and continue whisking the mixture. Bring the sauce to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Reduce heat; stir in optional cheese until melted, if desired.
  • Place 1 slice of toasted and halved bread on each slightly heated plate.  Top the toast with asparagus spears, followed by cream sauce, diced hard cooked egg (one per plate) and garnish with optional bacon bits.  Serve.
  • Yield: 4 servings.

Time to Plant Peas, Potatoes, and Onions

March 17 is the traditional time to plant peas, potatoes, and onions.

 

peaseeds

Peas are a cool-season crop, now coming in three separate varieties to suit your garden and cooking needs. They are: (sweet pea, inedible pod) and snow peas (edible flat pod with small peas inside) and snap peas (edible pod with full-size peas). They are easy to grow, but with a very limited growing season. Furthermore, they do not stay fresh long after harvest, so enjoy them while you can!

plantingpeasPlanting Peas

  • To get the best head start, turn over your pea planting beds in the fall, add manure to the soil, and mulch well.
  • As with other legumes, pea roots will fix nitrogen in the soil, making it available for other plants.
  • Peas will appreciate a good sprinkling of wood ashes to the soil before planting.
  • Sow seeds outdoors 4 to 6 weeks before last spring frost, when soil temperatures reach 45 degrees F.
  • Plant 1 inch deep (deeper if soil is dry) and 2 inches apart.
  • Get them in the ground while the soil is still cool but do not have them sit too long in wet soil. It’s a delicate balance of proper timing and weather conditions. For soil that stays wet longer, invest in raised beds.
  • A blanket of snow won’t hurt emerging pea plants, but several days with temperatures in the teens could. Be prepared to plant again.
  • Peas are best grown in temperatures below 70 degrees F.

Care of Pea Plants

  • Make sure that you have well-drained, humus-rich soil.
  • Poke in any seeds that wash out. (A chopstick is an ideal tool for this.)
  • Be sure, too, that you don’t fertilize the soil too much. Peas are especially sensitive to too much nitrogen, but they may like a little bonemeal, for the phosphorus content.
  • Though adding compost or manure to the soil won’t hurt, peas don’t need heavy doses of fertilizer. They like phosphorus and potassium.
  • Water sparsely unless the plants are wilting. Do not let plants dry out, or no pods will be produced.
  • For tall and vine varieties, establish poles or a trellis at time of planting.
  • Do not hoe around plants to avoid disturbing fragile roots.
  • It’s best to rotate pea crops every year or two to avoid a buildup of soil-borne diseases.

plantingpotatoes_lPlanting Potatoes

  • Plant seed potatoes (pieces of whole potato or a small whole potato, with at least 2 eyes per piece).
  • If you are cutting up potato pieces for planting, do so a 1-2 days ahead of time. This will give them the chance to form a protective layer, both for moisture retention and rot resistance.
  • Old Timers say Good Friday or under the full moon is the best time to plant root crops.  Potatoes can be planted as soon as soil can be worked, but be aware that some crops could be ruined by a frost.
  • Spread and mix in rotted manure or organic compost in the bottom of the trench before planting.
  • Plant seed potatoes one foot apart in a 4-inch deep trench, eye side up.
  • Practice yearly crop rotation.

Care of Potatoes

  • Potatoes thrive in well-drained, loose soil.
  • Potatoes need consistent moisture, so water regularly when tubers start to form.
  • Hilling should be done before the potato plants bloom, when the plant is about 6 inches tall. Hoe the dirt up around the base of the plant in order to cover the root as well as to support the plant. Bury them in loose soil. The idea is to keep the potato from getting sunburned, in which case they turn green and will taste bitter.
  • You will need to hill potatoes every couple of weeks to protect your crop.

Planting Onions

Candy, yellow, red, and white onion sets are now in the store.

Candy onion plants, yellow, red, and white onion sets are now in the store.  Get started now!

Onions are a cold season crop, easy to grow because of their hardiness. We recommend using onion sets, which can be planted without worry of frost damage and have a higher success rate than direct seed or transplants.

  • Till in aged manure or fertilizer the fall before planting.
  • Start seeds indoors about 6 weeks before transplanting. Move transplants into the garden as soon as the ground can be worked.
  • Plant the transplants about three inches apart.
  • Plant sets directly outdoors mid March and early April. Make sure temperature doesn’t go below 20 degrees F.
  • When planting onion sets, don’t bury them completely under the soil; if more than the bottom third of the bulb is underground, growth can be restricted. Set five inches apart.

Care

  • Fertilize when bulbs begin to swell, and again when plants are one foot tall
  • Make sure soil is well-drained. Mulch will help retain moisture and stifle weeds.

Candy onion plants, white, yellow, red onion sets are now in stock.  Come in and visit!

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An Introduction to Permaculture Tools and Methods

Permaculture principles

Permaculture principles

Saturday March 4th, 2017 10am to 12pm – PFH Organics

The goal of Permaculture Design is to provide for the needs of people and communities in a way that is also beneficial to the earth’s natural systems. Starting from the basics of food, water, shelter we plan and build stable and efficient systems and also aim to go beyond toward increased yields, quality of life and community.

Permaculture design is built on a practical, common sense approach, direct observation of nature, learning from historical and cultural successes and technological advancement.

In this introductory workshop we will look at the Permaculture concept in general and learn some of the basic principles and methods of design. The emphasis will be on the local area and the tools and techniques for gardens and farms that can be applied here.

Everyone is welcome with a suggested donation of $8. Proceeds will be given to benefit local agriculture.

Instructor Bio

Our highly qualified Instructor, Aaron Jerad (Heideman), is a Paonia native. He grew up on an organic apple orchard and farm that later became the home of Big B’s Apple Juice.

He encountered the Permaculture concept around 2006 and was immediately drawn to learn more. In 2009 he traveled to Australia to study with some of the leading thinkers and doers of Permaculture including Geoff Lawton and David Holmgren.

After a year of intensive study and hands-on experience, Aaron returned to Colorado and began working with the new principles and methods on his family farm outside Hotchkiss. He continues to practice, teach and learn. He runs two small businesses: a web design and development company and a Permaculture design and consulting company.Permaculturegraphic

Putting the Garden to Bed

Putthegardentobed

Cooler temperatures tell us it’s time to put the garden to bed and store the fall harvest to be enjoyed throughout the winter.

Fall Harvest

At my home, potatoes have been dug up (one of my favorite garden chores) and stored away in a dry, cool place.  I have now harvested half the carrots and left the other half in the ground.  The carrot tops have been removed from the carrots  in the ground and covered with 16 inches of straw.  In mid-to-late winter, I’ll be able to harvest out of the ground the sweetest, tastiest carrots ever because they over-winter well when covered deeply with straw or bags of leaves.

Store up squash and pumpkins

Store up squash and pumpkins

Also, my garden cart is heaped up full, with butternut, delicata and sweet meat squash and pumpkins.  I bake and process the pumpkins for pies and soups.

I also like to roast the pumpkin seeds for munching while they last.  One secret to tasty, nutritious pumpkin seeds is to soak them in water for at least 30 minutes.

Lastly, we’re enjoying kale and swiss chard in soups and stir-fries.  More kale and chard have been frozen – hopefully enough to enjoy in soups and stews this winter and last until spring!

FermentedbeetsFermenting Vegetables

I have also just harvested the last of the beets and turnips and made fermented beets and turnips for the first time.  I learned the art of fermenting  from local fermentation guru, Maria Hodkins.  It’s not to late to ferment just about any leftover/surplus veggies like carrots, cabbage, broccoli, onions, etc without using vinegar, pressure canners or freezers.

Fermentation, makes it’s own vinegar, so-to-speak, which is actually  lactic acid produced by bacteria naturally present in our environment.  Not only are the naturally occurring bacteria beneficial for health and eliminate the canning process, but the fermented veggies can be stored for months in cold storage or refrigerators.