At this point in our 6 weeks of want we are beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel! Finally, things that we have not enjoyed since last year are starting to make their appearance again. Asparagus, also known as Sparrow Grass is growing. Fortunately asparagus needs precious little to make it palatable (in case your conscious is still stinging from all the sugar you needed to use on your Rhubarb. This week we are featuring a recipe we made last weekend at the Livingston-Bakus House. This is a more complicated recipe, but that home was a more upscale home than some of our other village houses would have been.
Eliza Leslie, The Lady's Receipt-Book; Philadelphia: 1847
"Having scraped the stalks of three bundles of fine, large asparagus, (laying it, as you proceed, in a pan of cold water,) tie it up again in bunches, put them into a pot with a great deal of boiling water, and a little salt, and boil them about twenty minutes, or till quite tender. Then take out the asparagus, and drain it. Cut off the green tops of two-thirds of the asparagus, and on the remainder leave about two inches of the white stalk; this remaining asparagus must be kept warm. Put the tops into a stew-pan with a pint of cream, or rich milk, sufficient to cover them well; adding three table-spoonfuls of fresh butter, rolled in flour, half a grated nutmeg, and the well-beaten yolks of three eggs. Set the stew-pan over hot coals, and stir the mixture till it comes to a boil. Then immediately remove it. Have ready some tall fresh rolls or penny loaves; cut the tops carefully off, in a nice circular or oval piece, and then scoop out the inside of the rolls, and fill them with the stewed asparagus while it is hot. Make small holes very nicely in the tops or lids. Fit the lids again on the rolls, and stick in the holes (of which you must make as many as you can) the remaining asparagus, that has had the bit of stalk left on for this purpose. Send them to table warm, as side-dishes."
In addition to asparagus in the village we have also been enjoying gorgeous heads of butter lettuce from our coldframe for a few weeks now. Not everyone would have had a cold frame but the one that we have in the village is of a shaker design and would have used manure to heat it through the winter. We,do not do that, but it has worked well for us nonetheless. The cold frame is located behindd the formal garden in the back of the Livingston-Bakus house.