New Projects: Farmers’ Market Job,
Food Writing Bootcamp and Asparagus

May 7, 2009

Fresh picked asparagus on a cutting board outside in the sun.

I’ve be gone for a while, I know. Your feed readers and inboxes have been void of my recipes, tips, and prodding to get you in the kitchen for nearly six weeks now, but it’s not without good excuse. My life has been packed with two new endeavors adding to my schedule – a new part-time job as a market manager at the Dupont Circle FRESHFARM Market and an online food writing class (food writing bootcamp).

With a ridiculously tight schedule over the past month, I must admit, I’ve cooked very little, and I’ve been reminded of the great challenge so many of us face to cook fresh, tasty and nourishing meals for ourselves and our families with the spare, precious time we have outside of work and other responsibilities and activities. None the less, I’m still convinced that it’s possible. As a result, I’m going to work on featuring more quick meal solutions in future posts.

My new job on Sunday mornings working the farmers’ market has already proven to be a great experience for me. FRESHFARM Markets is a nonprofit organization that runs eight farmers’ markets in D.C. and Maryland. As an organizer of producer-only markets, the organization focuses on providing economic opportunities for area farmers and strengthening the local food movement in the Chesapeake Bay region.

Despite having to get up at 5:30am two to three Sundays a month to help my partnering market manager set up before the 9am opening bell, I’m having a great time learning more about seasonal produce (Ever heard of ramps? Do you know when asparagus is in season?), meeting the farmers, and simply enjoying the wonderful environment of a community farmers’ market. The wonderful smell of fragrant, fresh cut flowers and the beauty of the array of colors from seasonal fresh produce make the job a pleasure.

Speaking of asparagus, the season for this vegetable is now – end of April through June. I’ve never been a fan of asparagus. It was always too fibrous for me; however, thanks to my friends at the market, I’ve discovered that fresh picked asparagus, which can rarely be found in a supermarket (check the signs, most supermarkets sell asparagus from Peru or California), provides a more enticing experience.

Wanting to put this discovery to the test, I picked up a bunch of asparagus from the market and simply sautéed it up at home. It was good! Much better than what I normally taste in asparagus. The taste was familiar, but fresher and the texture was crisp. Head out to your nearest farmers’ market and give asparagus a new try. It’s quick to prepare and can be steamed, sautéed, grilled and served with just about any main entrée. It also tastes good raw providing that it is truly fresh – eaten within one to two days of being picked.

Sautéed Asparagus
Serves 4

Note: Be sure to use fresh picked asparagus and cook as soon as possible. Trim off tough ends before cooking.

2 bunches fresh, locally-grown asparagus
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Squeeze of fresh lemon (optional)

In a large sauté pan, heat olive oil over medium heat then add trimmed asparagus spears and cook for about one minute. Tossing occasionally, continue to sauté asparagus for another two to three minutes. Season with salt and pepper and a quick squeeze of fresh lemon juice. Serve. 

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Food Writing Bootcamp and Asparagus
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