A Spare Gus

A Spare Gus

It is finally THAT time of the year, ASPARAGUS is up!  

As a child we had a lot of acres of it and had to pick it all ourselves.  Sometimes we had to get up at 4 am to get some picked before school (and then consequently missed the bus and had to walk to school, uphill both ways, in the snow, barefoot) 🙂 But really, depending on which school it was 2 to 6 miles.  

I hated asparagus as a child.

Now, I love everything about it.  It is delicious, healthy, and beautiful.  Also, it is fun to grow.

When we moved to our current location 3 years ago, I dug up some that I had planted at our previous place and a friend gave me some they were planting that spring on their farm.  At age 3 the stalks are coming up fat and happy.  

I thought I would include a little tutorial.

In case you didn’t know, when planting young asparagus roots, you don’t pick the little stalks that come up the next year.  The second year you can take a couple of early pickings.  The third year and after you can pick the whole season.  My season cut-off date is June 20.

After June 20 I let the stalks (which are actually sprouts) grow into mature plants.  A mature plant is about 6 feet tall and is graced with flowing ferning branches.

They enjoy a 10-10-10 or 15-15-15 for fertilizer.   They prefer a light sandy soil and their roots grow large and deep.  Fertilize when the soil starts warming, usually some time in April.  I fertilize again when I stop picking. 

If you want to plant a few crowns (roots) for yourself get on over to Tri-County Feeds in Montague as they are selling baby asparagus roots.

P.S. White asparagus is just green asparagus that never saw the sun or other nurturing light.  Purple asparagus is a real line of plants.  Its color comes from the high levels of anthocyanins in the spears.

Every June, go to Michigan’s Oceana County and enjoy the National Asparagus Festival.  It is a fun, quirky festival.  The mascot of the festival used to be (guess who?) Gus (as in A Spare Gus)

See bottom for an easy roasted asparagus recipe.

Menu

I’ve slightly changed our grab n go foods menu.  Each menu will run for two weeks, rather than one.  You can also order online through our shop.  Of course, cash is welcome, as is venmo, zelle, paypal.  There is a sign on the wall above the grab n go refrigerator describing the pay options.  Ordering ahead is recommended to ensure you get what you want, but there are usually extras made and placed in front refrigerator for pick-up 24-7. However, there are no guarantees that everything on the menu will be present if you randomly stop in for something.  There is always bread, mustard, and cookies.  Jams are coming soon.  Always check the menu dates at the bottom.  Here is the current menu (and below that, the menu that starts May 30):

Upcoming Classes

Gluten Free Vegan Doughnuts, 5/26/22 @5 pm  $24

Pickled Asparagus, 6/2/22 @12 noon   $38

To see all upcoming classes Click here and then on the red “Calendar of Classes” button.

Roasted Asparagus

This quick and easy asparagus recipe is delicious, healthy, and beautiful as a side.
Prep Time1 min
Cook Time15 mins
Course: Side Dish
Keyword: Asparagus
Servings: 2 people
Author: vkhanson
Cost: 4.00

Equipment

  • 1 baking sheet greased

Ingredients

  • 1 lb asparagus get the fresh, thick stuff, the size of your thumb or more. If it came from more than 2 states away, skip it. You want fresh in-season stalks.
  • 3 tbsp oil or fat I prefer bacon grease, followed by butter & then olive oil if I don't have bacon drippings.
  • 1/4 t garlic powder
  • 1 t salt
  • 1/4 t black pepper or to taste. You can adjust after roasting.
  • 2 tbsp parmesan cheese, small hole shredded if you must, use the pre-grated canister, but it is so much better shredded from a block of the real cheese.
  • 2 eggs, poached super optional, yet super delicious. See notes for how to poach.
  • 1/2 lemon, squeezed
  • 1 pinch paprika optional, for garnish

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 425F
  • Wash and trim the asparagus. To trim: break the cut/broken end by hand. It will naturally break where the tough butt ends.
  • Whisk the oil/fat, salt, pepper, garlic powder together in a small bowl.
  • Lay the washed, trimmed spears on the prepared baking sheet.
  • Rub the whisked mixture onto the stalks.
  • Bake at 425 for 10-15 minutes. The time will vary by the thickness of the asparagus. It should be easily cut but not mushy and slightly browned.
  • Remove from oven and plate. Sprinkle cheese & lemon juice over.
  • Optional: top with a 4-minute poached egg, cut in half at the moment of serving.

Notes

Poached Egg:
Heat 4 c water and 1 T white vinegar to simmering.  You do not want a boil.
Meanwhile crack 2 eggs into 2 teacups or small vessels.  Have a slotted spoon and a plate with paper toweling on it.
Once the water is simmering, set a timer for 4 minutes and gently pour each egg into the simmering water's surface.
After about 40 seconds, nudge each egg to be sure it didn't secure to the bottom or the pan.
When the timer rings, use the slotted spoon to remove the eggs.  Place over asparagus. (for a much runnier yolk do a 3 minute egg)
ENJOY!
An even easier roasted asparagus recipe is to have a small loaf pan of melted salted butter, hotdog forks, and a bonfire.  Light the fire, put the spears on the forks, dip in butter, and roast like marshmallows.  Have a shaker of garlic salt for those who want to use it.

Venison (and other meat) Canning

Venison Canning (and other red meats)

With canned meat on your shelves, you have quick meal prep AND you won’t loose a freezer full of meat to a power outage.

Ever lose a freezer full of meat?  Want a versatile, shelf stable, and handy food ready to eat?  Have a hunter in the family?  Like to take advantage of a great price on roast?  This class is for you! 

Learn how to safely pressure can venison and other meats.  Discover all of the uses for canned meat.  It is pre-cooked and fork tender.  Use it as the meat for pulled ‘pork” sandwiches, toss it into soup for a quick stew.  Stir into gravy for a quick meat and potato meal….the options are endless.  Just can meat and you have instant go-to for a great, quick meal. 

At Art of Cookery, a jar of our venison is like gold to us!

Adult On-Site $45

Adult Online $35

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Pressure Canning

Pressure Canning…Like a BOSS

Yes you CAN!
Rock your pressure canner!  Learn how to pressure can so you can capture the gourmet delight of every season.   

Chef Valerie has been trained and certified by the Department of Agriculture through its Better Process Control School to teach home canning and has been canning for over 35 years.

It is important to know safe pressure canning and if your canner itself is safe. The product to be canned will be announced as we get closer and will usually reflect what is in season.  Chef Valerie does take specific requests for what will be canned in class.

Learn the differences between pressure canning and water bath canning and when to use which method. Discover many tips and tricks. Product canned will be dependent on available produce, but results guaranteed wonderful.

Make, bring, or meet friends! Students divide the results to take home. Feel free to bring your canner for a brief overview of its safety by Chef Valerie.

Adult On-Site $35

Adult Online $25

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Sweet Pickled Beets

Yes…Pickled Beets.

Pretty as a stained glass window on your shelves. This cinnamon, sweet red bit of deliciousness converts many folks who think they don’t like beets. It is great right out of the jar or on salads, deli trays, and sandwiches….and of course is a great dash of color on a plate set to impress. 

Take home a jar of beets, a new culinary skill, recipe, and great memories….Not to mention canning/pickling tips from a professional!

Chef Valerie Hanson has been canning for over 35 years and is certified by the USDA via Michigan State University’s “Better Process Control School” in both Acidified and Low Acid Food Processing.

Adult On-Site $38

Adult Online $28

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Pickled Asparagus

Pickled Asparagus

Learn to make this zippy regional delicacy!
Pickled asparagus is perfect in bloody marys, on hot dogs and sandwiches, diced into salads, and is sure to impress by itself on a deli tray!

Gain water bath canning skills too!

This session is only offered in May and June when asparagus is in season.

Adult On-Site $38


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Pickle Party

Pickle Party!

Learn to waterbath can too!
July and August, September (and even into October) are months bursting with harvest to preserve. Here is a class that you can learn how to make crunchy, zesty dill slices (with cucumbers, zucchini, green tomatoes…) and learning how to properly water bath can.

You will also learn when it is crucial to pressure can and how to know the difference. 

The pickles you will take home will be a wonderful blend of garlic and dill. You can even decide to make them spicy.

$29.00 (all materials provided)

$21  Bringing 2 jars/lids/rings (the number of participants will determine how many jars)

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Jam Session

Trust us, you’ll go home with a fantastic flavored jam, excited to make more for yourself and as great gifts.

Enjoy learning the basics of waterbath canning, while learning to make jam using fresh fruit.

Jam makes great gifts, ice cream topping, cupcake filling, pancake topping…the possibilities are not limited to your morning toast or PB&J.

Students divide up the jam made and take home one or more jars of deliciousness.  Flavors depend on the season.  Bring home summer in a jar!

Onsite:  $30

Online:  $24


Ketchup

Ketchup (Catsup)

Whatever you call it, it is the most popular condiment by far.  As far back as 300 B.C., texts began documenting the use of fermented pastes made from fish entrails, meat byproducts and soybeans. The sauce, called “ge-thcup” or “koe-cheup” was the original ketchup.  Until 1812 tomatoes were not used in this condiment.  It wasn’t until a ketchup with tomatoes and vinegar that today’s ketchup was first created.  And in 1876, the Heinz family figured out how to make it stable for sale.  The rest is history!  Join Chef Valerie and learn how to make  her version of this household favorite.  AS A SIDE BONUS, Learn how to pressure can safely!  Chef Valerie is certified by USDA to teach safe canning methods.  Learn when it is safe to water bath can and when you must pressure can.
$28 in person or $18 online  (in person class is hands on and they take ketchup home)

Adult On-Site $28

Adult Online $18

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Condiments/Toppings/Sauces

In each box below, click on the name of the class you are interested in to see it’s description and schedule.  Remember you can request a class to be scheduled that suits your calendar.  Use the Select by Category box to jump around by various topics.

Condiments

Ketchup (Catsup)

Mayonnaise

Mustard

Salsa

Select by Category

Toppings

Caramel

Cherry

Whipped Cream

Fruit Jam

Select by Category

Sauces

Select by Category
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Canning

In each box below, click on the name of the class you are interested in to see it’s description and schedule.  Remember you can request a class to be scheduled that suits your calendar.  Use the Select by Category box to jump around by various topics.  Additionally feel free to suggest a topic you are interested in but is not listed

Dehydrating

Dehydrating & Storing Herbs

Making Jerky

Fruit Roll Leathers

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Home Canning

Pressure Canning

Venison (and other meat) Canning

Waterbath Canning: See Pickling and Jam classes below

Select by Category

Jam

Fruit  Butters

Jam Session – Fruit Jam

Savory Jams

Select by Category

Pickling

Select by Category