It would have to be said that the Germans can really get quite exercised when it comes to the delicacy that is white asparagus. Seriously. This was just one headline that I found in my asparagus-related travels around t’internet:
Motorist beats a woman selling over-priced white asparagus in Berlin.
Ouch. A cautionary tale for anyone considering a career in the roadside asparagus-selling business, that’s for sure.
Just coming into its short season right around now, white asparagus is grown under cover of soil in order to achieve the bleached effect. It is a sweeter and more delicately flavoured cousin to the green spears I’m used to, and was the theme for this month’s Five Star Makeover.
White asparagus, albeit looking rather golden after its makeover
The story of Jack and the Beanstalk goes something like this:
Jack swaps a cow for some magic beans. Jack plants beans. Enormous beanstalk develops that stretches all the way to the clouds. Jack climbs the beanstalk (several times, in fact) and does a spot of breaking-and-entering at the home of a local giant (identifiable as such by both general size and the fact that he says fee-fi-fo-fum a lot). Jack gets himself into much trouble as a result. In the end, the beanstalk gets it.
Now, my theory is that Jack wasn’t so much in possession of magic beans but, rather, had applied too much manure to his vegetable patch. I base this on the fact that my garden is now home to several rather enthusiastic beanstalks which, I suspect, would extend all the way to the clouds if only I could find bamboo poles tall enough to support them. Instead, my french bean plants have chosen to wrap themselves around each other, weaving quite a tangled web in the process (which is probably just as well, because I would rather they didn’t head skyward and become a point of entry for visiting giants).
On the edge of the french bean tangle
The pressure cooker was pressed into action today for the first time since its ordeal the other week, reverting to what it does best, getting pulses cooked in a vaguely practical amount of time.
That was always the trouble with dried pulses – the chickpeas, the kidney beans, the black beans, the butter beans et al. – cooking with them was anything but impulsive (unless, of course, you bought the tinned variety, which was always an option). Dried pulses, however, always involved a fair amount of advance planning: overnight soakage in water, then (in the case of chickpeas), 2 hours worth of simmering to get something suitably tenderised. The pressure cooker, along with the quick-soak method, revolutionised all of that.