Spring, Asparagus, and Easy Peasy Meals

Hope Eternal

Have you ever read An Essay on Man by Alexander Pope?  If you haven’t, you should.  If you have, read it again.  Read it to discover how relative it is in these times.  I am referring to politics, very divisive issues, global warming, earth day…even spring.

Even though it was written in the early 1700s, it is startling how perfect it is for today.  Thinking about the often used quote snippet “Hope Springs Eternal” as I was starting to introduce some thoughts on Spring, and wondering where it came from.  I did dome searching and was amazed.

But, I digress, Spring brings hope for me.  In normal years, it means the start of cooking classes really getting going, the flowers and leaves unfurling, warmth.  Getting seeds in the ground.  This year, it brings hope for healing and health.  I wish that for everyone.

The Asparagus is up!!!

I’ve had three pickings now.  And even though I have a little patch of younger asparagus, I had enough today to pickle a couple of jars. today.

I LOVE pickled asparagus.

There are four classes listed on Art of Cookery’s schedule to learn how to make this seasonal and local specialty.  If you can’t make one of the dates work, let me know what dates work for you.  Perhaps we can do some rescheduling.

Pickled asparagus really jazzes up a simple hotdog on a bun, is truly the best veggie for bloody marys, dresses up a charcuterie board, and, of course, is great right out of the jar.  There are so many more uses for it.  Come learn how to make this spring delight!

There are a lot of class topics taught at Art of Cookery, have a look.  If the one you are interested in isn’t on a good date for you, just tell us what does work.  On a related note, se below for a recipe to pickle another unique spring food, hops.

Easy Peasy Meal Options

Last year, and still this year, we are in the midst of changes.  Art of Cookery tried to do distance learning ZOOM classes, but it just wasn’t what people wanted.  They wanted hands on learning but with social distancing rules, and indeed a complete shutdown in many industries like restaurants.

We got a little creative and created a hybrid “class.”  Called Cookery Creations, it is a meal kit that has your cooking the final details of the meal, but Chef Valerie has done all of the prep and created a self guided set of instructions to help you get meals that include chicken Kiev, Bahn mi bowls, crusted tuna steaks, Spanish rice, and pork cutlets along with other sides … in MINUTES of your time. 

Check out our facebook page for the pinned current menu of meal kits.  These menus will change every few weeks and will include brunch and picnic kits too.  Our website has some information too.

We’d love to hear from you on dishes you would enjoy in a Cookery Creations Meal kit.  Let us know!

Pickled Hops

Pickled Hops

Just like spring delectables of morel mushrooms and asparagus, hops is a great spring food to capture.
Prep Time3 hrs
Cook Time20 hrs
Course: Appetizer
Keyword: canning, Hops, Pickling
Servings: 12
Author: vkhanson
Cost: 5.00

Equipment

  • Large bowl
  • Large sauce pan or Dutch oven
  • Water bath canner or pressure canner and equipment (funnel, magnet, jar gripper)
  • 4 pint canning jars (& lids/rings), OR 1/2 gallon pickle jar & lid if making refrigerator version
  • knife and cutting board

Ingredients

Prepare the hops

  • 10 c young spring hops sprouts If they are allowed to get too tall they will get woody.
  • 1/4 c canning salt or coarse salt
  • water to cover/submerge

Prepare the jars/jar

  • 1/4 c horseradish prepared
  • 1 tbsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 1/2 tbsp fennel seed
  • 1 tsp Pickle Crisp (calcium chloride)

Prepare the syrup

  • 3 c cider vinegar 5% acidity
  • 1 1/4 c beer made with hops I like an IPA
  • 1/3 c sugar
  • 2 tbsp mustard seed
  • 2 tbsp onion powder
  • 2 tbsp garlic powder
  • 2 tbsp canning salt

Instructions

Prepare the hops

  • Then transfer out, rinse Trim woody bases. 
  • Wash the hops in large bowl of water and swishing.  Then transfer out, rinse and repeat.
  • If a bit droopy and you aren’t processing right away, trim the ends and soak in cold water for an hour or two.  If you will be pickling the next day, drain and put into plastic bag(s) in the refrigerator or a cooler. 
  • If you are continuing the process, place washed hops in a large bowl, sprinkle with salt and cover with cold water.  Let stand for one hour.  Rinse.

While hops are soaking

  • Sterilize (or at least wash very well in hot water and detergent)4 pint jars (you may need 5), OR, if not canning and storing in refrigerator, a ½ gallon glass or plastic container. If you have a sanitize stage on your dishwasher, that will work best. 

Jars

  • Into each jar, place: 1 TBSP horseradish, ½ tsp red pepper flakes, ½ tsp fennel seed, 1/8 tsp Pickle Crisp (Calcium Chloride)
    OR
    Alternatively, if using the refrigeration method, add to the syrup or directly into 1/2 gallon jar: 1 TBSP red pepper flakes, 1 ½ TBSP fennel seed, ¼ c TBSP horseradish, 1 tsp Pickle Crisp (Calcium Chloride)

Next

  • If you will be canning, prepare the water bath or pressure canner and get water to a simmer.
  • Have the proper lids and rings ready. Be sure to scald the lids briefly in water and have hot for when placing on the jars.

Syrup

  • In Dutch oven, place: 3 c cider vinegar (5% acidity), 1 ¼ c beer of choice, (I suggest an IPA), 1/3 c sugar, 2 TBSP canning salt, 2 TBSP mustard seed, 2 TBSP onion powder (you can also choose to pack stalks loosely & use minced onions), 2 TBSP garlic powder (or finely minced garlic)
  • Bring syrup to a boil and boil gently for one minute. 
  • Add the cleaned hops and simmer 5 minutes.
  • Ladle into pint jars to ½ inch head space. 
    OR
    1/2 gallon jar and let cool, then refrigerate.
  • If canning:  Wipe rims with clean damp cloth (or paper towel) and tighten on rings.  As you fill and seal jars, place on canner rack. Remember that cool jars meeting boiling water equals broken glass…try to move swiftly when putting hot syrup into jars and placing on the rack.  
    If water bathing, the water should be boiling with the rack hooked over the sides just above the water.    When all jars are in the canner, process. 
  • Water bath canning:  lower the rack into the boiling water carefully. Place lid on and boil for 10 minutes.  Start timer when water comes to a boil with the jars in it. 
    Pressure canning:  Turn heat on to high, close and tighten lid.  Exhaust steam for 10 minutes then place the steam weight on.  Process at 5 pounds of pressure for 10 minutes. Allow pressure gauge to return to 0 before opening.

Notes

If canning and the center of lid doesn’t go down with vacuum after cooling, jar did not seal.  Store unsealed jars in the refrigerator.  They will last a long time in the refrigerator.
These are especially delicious served on extra-sharp cheddar cheese.