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.

Tips for Plating Food Like a Pro

Tips for Plating Food Like a Pro

Here at the Art of Cookery, we know that first, we eat with our eyes. We all want to prepare delicious food, but beautiful plating enhances the experience of a meal. For home chefs who might be cooking regularly for themselves as well as for family and friends, it can feel like a task to just have dinner on the table after a busy day. With a few easy steps, it is possible to create a simple meal that is elevated to the next level with plating. Keep some of the following tips in mind as you plate your next dish.  Soon, you’ll be plating food like a pro!

Use The Right Tools

Making sure you’re using the right tools is key for plating food. Most tools are items that you likely already have stashed in a kitchen drawer or ones that you can purchase easily. Start with some of the following to achieve the aesthetic you’re hoping for. 

  • Tongs are a must-have for plating foods like pasta into the perfect “nest” shape.
  • See the source image They’re also great for placing food with precision.
  • Squeeze bottles are helpful for adding drizzles or sauces with a professional flair.
  • Molds will allow you to plate foods into a desired shape on the plate and are helpful for adding height to your presentation.

Contrast Colors

To create a visually pleasing dish, it’s important to pay attention to the colors of the food and 

the plate it’s presented on.  In most cases, a solid white plate offers a great palette for any meal displayed on its 

surface.  When creating a dish that is white or pale in color, opt for a brightly colored or contrasting plate to highlight the dish. 

Look for ways to contrast colors in the foods that you serve. This goal can also be achieved with sauces and fresh garnishes. 

Add Finishing Touches 

Before presenting a plate, be sure to take one last look before serving. La Tourangelle suggests adding a drizzle of sauce elegantly over the top. Top the plate with chopped fresh parsley or cilantro. Dust a dessert plate with powdered sugar or cocoa. Adding fresh ingredients or an extra touch of attention is sure to make the dining experience special. 

If you’re looking for more ways to advance your culinary skills, be sure to book a class with us at the Art of Cookery. We even offer private online classes available anywhere in the United States! Participate in your own kitchen and interact live with a teaching chef!

On the days you’re not up for cooking or plating, we’ve got you covered. The Art of Cookery can prepare meals for you. Reach out to us for meals that suit your specific dietary needs.  Check out our current menu below.

Learning to cook at home can be a daunting task, but we can help make it fun and simple. On the days when there’s just not enough time, we’ll cook for you. Contact us! We look forward to meeting you and taking the stress out of your next meal!  

Menu

This menu is through 2/11.  Look below the menu for pics of the top three dishes.


Burn’s Night, Wandering, and Classes

Burn's Night

January 25, 2022 is this year’s Burn’s Night.

Burns Night is a commemoration of the life and legacy of famous poet Robert Burns. First celebrated by Burns’ own friends and family as a memorial to the writer, it has since become an annual celebration in Scotland – and is now popular with nations across the world. 

One of the traditional ways to celebrate Burn’s Night is with a Burn’s Supper. These dinners can be formal or informal and may include only friends or friends and family. During this supper, ‘Selkirk Grace’ is recited as well as the ‘Address to a Haggis’. Whiskey and food are also main components of this supper.

My husband and I love to do murder mysteries with friends.  We recently did one that was themed in Scotland.  So I developed a Burn’s Supper menu.  I am sharing some recipes from it at the bottom of this post in case you want to hold a Burn’s Night Supper with friends.

The Menu:
  • Cock-a-leekie Soup
  • Haggis, Neeps, and Tatties
  • Cranachan

Upcoming Classes

This week I taught all of the ways to use a Dutch oven.  If you are only going to have one pan, that is what you should have.  We made bread, fried chicken, slow roasted pork, and baked a big cookie.

Then yesterday, a hearty soup class.

Next week’s Ravioli making, and Pierogi Paradise classes are full.  Please make sure to watch our calendar to see all of the upcoming classes so you don’t miss out on one you are interested in because it was already booked out.  Click here to go to the calendar.

Just tonight I added another of both of those classes for the following week or so because I received a lot of feedback that people missed registering in time.

The next available classes are:
  • Quiche – 1/31 at 5 pm $25
  • Ravioli – 2/1 at 12 noon $25
  • Lasagna – 2/3 at 5:15 pm $38
  • Pierogi Paradise – 2/8 at 5 pm $30

Email ICan@artcookery.com to book offline.  Use the link above to book online through the calendar.  OR call/text 231-740-4065 to register via phone.

Winter Wanderland

I am one of the founders of, and am the president of, White Lake Wanderland.  This is a group of volunteers who formed a 501C3 to bring residents out of their homes to enjoy all of the great activities this area has to be proud of.  

February 4, 5, and 6 is the next weekend long event.  Called Winter Wanderland 2022.  There’s activities for all interests and ages.  Sledding, skating, snowshoeing, hot toddy touring, bonfires and more.  Click here to go the the Facebook Wanderland page for more information.  Just click on the EVENTS and check all of the activities out.

Click a photo below to see which menu item it is.

Current Menu for Pick-up Orders

Burn's Supper Recipes

Cock-a-leekie Soup

Serves 8 (1 c servings)

 Ingredients Needed:

  • 2 T butter
  • 1/3 c rice, rinsed
  • 1 lg clove garlic, minced
  • 12 oz leeks (1 to 2 leeks) with outer leaves removed, leeks washed well and sliced into ½” discs
  • 5 c chicken stock
  • 1/2 c chopped cooked chicken, packed
  • ½ t season salt
  • ¼ t black pepper
  • 4 T heavy cream, divided

Preparation:

  1. Place butter in saucepan over medium-high heat.
  2. When melted, add rice and garlic and sauté 1 – 2 minutes.
  3. Add leeks and stock. Bring to simmer.
  4. Simmer gently for 10 minutes, until rice has cooked through.
  5. Taste and season with the salt and pepper. The amounts of these will vary based on the salt content of the stock.
  6. Be sure chicken is hot. Add the same amount of chicken to each bowl.
  7. Ladle 1 c broth into bowls and swirl ½ T heavy cream over each bowl.

Haggis Neeps and Tatties

Americanized Haggis

Requires an electric pressure cooker.

Makes 4 ½ c 

Ingredients Needed:

  • 2 T unsalted butter
  • 1 large or 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 1 t salt
  • 1 t allspice
  • 1 t dried thyme
  • ¾ t gr coriander
  • ¾ t nutmeg
  • ½ t black pepper
  • ¼ t cinnamon
  • 1 lb ground turkey
  • ½ lb beef or chicken liver, finely diced
  • 13 oz stock
  • 5 oz steel cut oats

Steps

  • Prepare all ingredients.
  • Press sauté on pressure cooker and add butter.
  • Once melted, add the onion. Cook and stir for 2 minutes.
  • Add the turkey. Cook and stir until nearly all pink gone.  Add liver and spices/herb.
  • Cook until liver is no longer red. Add stock and oats.  Bring to simmer and press cancel.
  • Place lid on and lock, making sure vent is closed.
  • Pressure cook on high for 15 minutes. Let vent naturally for 5.  Then release.
  • Open pressure cooker.

Serve with mashed potatoes and mashed turnips or rutabaga.   

Neeps

Ingredients:

  • 1 c water
  • 2 pounds of turnips or rutabaga, peeled and diced into 1” cubes (neeps)
  • ¼ t salt
  • ¼ t nutmeg
  • ¼ c half and half
  • 3 T butter
  • 1 Tchicken bouillon powder
  • ¼ t pepper
  • ¼ t garlic powder
  • ¼ t turmeric

Steps:

  1. Pour water into pressure cooker and place steamer basket of turnip/’baga in basket.
  2. Sprinkle with ¼ t salt and nutmeg. Place lid on and lock.  Check that vent is closed.
  3. Using high pressure, cook for 10 minutes, then quick release.
  4. Set out bowl (or food processer) and place remaining ingredients in.
  5. Open lid and remove basket of neeps. Place in a bowl with remain ingredients and mash.  If smooth is desired place all in food processor and blend to smooth.

Tatties

Ingredients:

  • Water that steamed the neeps, plus more to cover potatoes
  • 2 pounds of potatoes, washed, and cut into 1” dice
  • 1 t salt
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
  • 2 bay leaves
  • ¼ c sour cream
  • 3 T butter
  • 3 T milk
  • 1 t salt
  • ½ t pepper
  • ½ t garlic powder

Steps:

  1. Add potatoes to the neep water in the pressure cooker and add 1 t salt, garlic, and bay leaves
  2. Place lid on and lock. Check that vent is closed.
  3. Using high pressure, cook for 9 minutes, then quick release.
  4. Set out bowl and place remaining ingredients in.
  5. Once finished cooking, drain the potatoes, and add to the bowl of ingredients.
  6. Mash to smooth.

Whiskey Sauce

Ingredients:

  • 3 T butter
  • 1 shallot, finely diced
  • 4 t whiskey
  • 2 c heavy cream
  • 5 t mustard (whole grain or Dijon or mix of both)
  • Salt & pepper to taste (½ & ¼)
  • 1 T lemon juice
  • Parsley for garnish

Steps:

  1. In saucepan, heat butter and add shallots. Cook over med-high heat for 2 minutes.
  2. Add whiskey and carefully light to burn off alcohol.
  3. Add cream and mustard, and when it starts to simmer add salt/pepper to taste.
  4. Remove from heat and whisk in lemon juice.

To serve, place ½ c of haggis in a 14.5 oz tin cans with both ends removed, greased, and placed on a greased baking sheet.  Add ½ c tatties, and then ½ c neeps.  Refrigerate or bake immediately.

Bake at 350 for 25 minutes, until the interior reaches 165°F.  Set on plate.  Run a sharp knife around inside to loosen.  Carefully pull up tin.  Serve with whiskey sauce and parsley.

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Cranachan

Serves 8 (1/2 c servings) 

Ingredients Needed:

  • ¼ c steel cut oats
  • 4 T whisky
  • 11/2 c raspberries
  • 1 c heavy cream
  • 1 T whisky
  • 3 T honey
  • Mint for garnish 

Preparation:

  1. The day before needing the dessert, lightly toast the oats in skillet for a few minutes.   Mix the toasted oats with 4 T whisky to soak overnight.
  2. Remove 8 raspberries. Mash the rest with a fork.  Place in refrigerator.
  3. As close to serving as possible, whip the cream to soft peaks.
  4. Add 1 T whisky and the honey. Whip to standing peaks.
  5. Add the soaked oats. Whip again.
  6. Add a scoop to each bowl.
  7. Place 1/8th of the mashed berries to the top.
  8. Place another scoop on top of the mashed berries.
  9. Top with a berry and a pinch of minced mint.

Stay Warm and Healthy Friends!


A quickie

Happy New Year all!  I have only a minute but wanted to send you a quick note to say thanks for being a reader of this blog.  Know that John and I wish each of you a healthy, prosperous, and happy 2022.

Below is this week’s menu.  I’ve decided to add a Menu page to my website’s um….menu.  🙂  Look at top of the page between the Class Listing and About Us pages.  I will post it there first, before posting it anywhere else.  I did that because I know a blog post may not always happen weekly, but the menu will.

Today I have made fresh the Rotini, Sauerkraut, Tomato Soup.  I won’t be making anything else until Saturday at the earliest as there are a LOT of charcuterie orders to get filled tomorrow.  Email or text if you want to get some of those three foods.  All are super delicious.  I’ve posted some pics below the menu.

Also….this is exciting but also a challenge….I’m getting a giant new stove delivered today.  MORE BURNERS!!!

Upcoming Class

Get a new stove yourself?  Maybe an air fryer/convection toaster oven or microwave for Christmas?  Didn’t know that air fryers are the same thing as convection cooking?  

I have an upcoming class for you.

January 4 at 12 noon.  How to use convection cooking.  Only $20.  Click here to go right to booking a ticket.


It’s Almost Christmas…of 2021! How Did That Happen?

It feels like I lost two years.

I was just reflecting on 2020 and 2021 and have the weird feeling that those years got lost from my life timeline.  

Perhaps some of you can relate?  As we try to figure out if we can gather for Christmas for everyone’s comfort and safety, it is odd to realize we haven’t had a Christmas celebration in 2 years.

Are you gathering?  Are you changing plans or traditions?  Let me know in the comments?  I just don’t quite know how to navigate this continuing pandemic.

To give you all a bit of holiday cheer, scroll down to find a discount code that can be used online when booking a class.  You can save 10%!

 

Snow Farmers

Here’s a fun fact:  My husband, John, is one of the area’s new Snow Farmers.  The Snow Farmers are a group men (all Dads) who have gotten together to create snow when the conditions are right but Mother Nature got busy elsewhere and didn’t have time to put some out for area kids to sled and play on.

They are currently waiting for the Hanson Street hill in Whitehall to be closed so the kids will be safe.  If you see them out there, bring them a hot cup of joe and tell them thank you.  They are usually making snow in the nighttime or early morning.  They also assist with helping to keep Montague’s skating rink cleared of snow for skaters.

John, Rusty, and Elie. (Jimmy is absent the photo)

Upcoming Menu

Here is the menu for December 21 – 26.  Please note that I will not be making anything 12/24 or 12/25.  The foods on the menu will be fine in your fridge for a day or two if you really want something for meals those two days.  Just ask for your order to be made late in the day of 12/23.  You can pick up that evening, or the next day from the refrigerator we keep just inside the front entry to Art of Cookery.

Remember to let me know if you want a hot meal or refrigerated one when you pick up.

A Discount!

Book a class using our online registration and enter this code at check out to get a 10% discount.  The class can occur next year but must be booked by midnight 12/31/21.

CODE:  DEC2021

Don’t see a class you are interested in or can’t attend due to schedule?  Let me know via email what you want and some dates/times that work.

Last Post's Quiz

WOW!  You all really came through on that quiz I last posted.  I learned so much from you.  And your suggestions for posts were wonderful!

Look for something you suggested in upcoming posts.  I’ll be addressing pantry staples in my next post.  I will weave the topic together using a tried and true recipe.

Pear Conserve

This delightful pear and almond conserve goes well with both savory and sweet treats.
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Resting Time1 hr
Course: Appetizer
Keyword: Conserve, Jam, Pear
Servings: 8 half pints
Author: vkhanson

Equipment

  • Waterbath Canner
  • Canning funnel
  • Dutch Oven
  • Small Saucepan
  • Cooling Rack
  • Jar grabber
  • Half-pint canning jars (about 8)
  • Lids and Rings for jars
  • Ladle

Ingredients

  • c Pears Peeled, cored, diced
  • 6 c Sugar
  • ½ c Lemon juice
  • ½ c Finely diced almonds unsalted is preferable
  • 2 t Dried citrus zest Any flavor works. Or, 2 T fresh
  • 1 t Minced ginger root
  • 3 oz Liquid pectin usually 1 pouch

Instructions

  • Mix pears, sugar, and lemon juice in Dutch oven. Let sit for 1 hour. Stir occasionally.
  • Fill canner half-way (up to the bottom of the raised rack) with hot water and place over burner to come to a boil.
  • Put new lids in small saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a slight boil and turn off burner.
  • Add almonds, zest, and ginger root to Dutch oven mixture.  Bring to a rolling boil.
  • Add pectin and return to a boil.  Boil 1 minute.
  • Remove from heat and, using funnel, ladle into jars.  Tighten lids on.  Place in canner and submerge. There should be at least 1 inch of water over the tops. Add more hot water if needed. Cover.
  • Once water in canner returns to a boil, set timer for 15 minutes.
  • After 15 minutes, pull up the canning rack, remove jars and place on cooling rack.

Notes

You don't have to can this fantastic little recipe, but the jars make great host/hostess gifts.
This pairs well with beer and cheese.  I make a sourdough bread using beer and rosemary.  To serve, slice the bread, spread with conserve, and place a slice of cheddar on it.  YUM!

Pate a Choux Class

There’s still room for 1 more person in next week’s Pate a Choux class.  Pate a Choux is french pastry and is normally used to make cream puffs in the US.

The class is December 21st at 12 noon.  It is $20.


A Quiz

Would you mind helping me get to know my readers?

I’ve created a little 4 question quiz that would help me understand what you seek in content.  What do I do that you like, what change or added content do you suggest?  What is your food personality?

THANK YOU.

26
Created on

Getting to know YOU

I would love to get to know my readers and respond with content you would enjoy.  Would you mind answering a little quiz?  🙂  Pretty Please?

1 / 4

What is your favorite food type?

2 / 4

When cooking a meal, do you enjoy making everything from "scratch" (i.e. using fresh produce and measuring your own ingredients) or are you inclined to use prepared foods like Hamburger Helper or a roast seasoning kit?

3 / 4

What content would you like to see more often? Or perhaps there's something I've never posted but you would like to see a post about?

4 / 4

When you read my posts, what is your favorite content?  What do you look for? Skip over?  Be honest, I want to know!

The average score is 3%

0%

New Menu - 12/13 - 12/17/21

Upcoming Classes

Art of Cookery classes for December are pretty well filled up, but there are a couple with space left.  Here they are:

  • How to create a Charcuterie Board – 12/13 @5:15 pm – $24
  • Pate a Choux Pastry – 12/21 @12 noon – $20

As always, I encourage you to make a request if there’s a class you seek but isn’t on the calendar, or is, but not at a time that works for you.  Check out our classes on our website for ideas on what we offer.


Menu and Old Recipes

Sunday Morning's Menu is Published

With our Retail Food License upgrade comes great responsibility.  🙂

For three weeks we have published a menu for the next week.  It is going quite nicely!  Prepared food can be ordered hot (for immediate consumption) or cold for eating later (all reheat well in microwave or stovetop).

I keep the foods reasonably priced (which is a challenge in todays skyrocketing food prices 🙁 )

The Meal Kits are designed for you to have a hot meal that is unique.  Kind of like the boxed meal kits (like Hello Fresh, etc.) but with most of the work already done.  Not a box with whole potatoes, carrots, onions, you discover veggies chopped and in some cases, par-cooked.  The sauces are already made.  You will have some heat and/or assembly but not much.

Charcuterie boxes require at least 24 hours notice as they are made fresh for each order.  48 hours is best.

See this week’s menu below.

Cooking Classes Are in Full Gear

Our cooking classes are at pre-pandemic levels.   

An expanded kitchen results in classes that occupy more space.  Lots of new tools/topics have been added, like Tagine cooking.

Be sure to check out our website for all of the cooking classes.  Click here to go the the home page.  

Click the button below to see the schedule.  Feel free to make a request for a specific topic in a time frame that works for you.  

A Moroccan class set up to learn how to use a tagine.

Old Handwritten Recipe Cards

Yesterday, I found an old recipe card box that has traveled with me in life’s journey for forty years.  Apparently is was always to valuable to part with as I moved and/or transitioned through life.

As a teenaged bride, I wrote down my mother’s popcorn ball recipe and went on to use it many times over (as supported by the stains) to treat my own children.  Then, there were my mother in law’s gumball bread (at every Christmas celebration) and Mac and cheese (at every 4th of July) in her own hand.  She is gone now.  But these are fond memories and go beyond simple recipes.  My Aunt Rose brought a meatball dish to a family reunion in the late 1980’s…I HAD to have the recipe.  I didn’t make it much but I remember the feeling of family and fun when I look at the recipe card.  🙂 

I hope you have memories like these tucked away somewhere.  They are a time capsule treasure.