Sunday, June 6, 2010

What's happening at Peterson Gardens?

I'm working with a wonderful group of people, headed up by LaManda Joy of The Yarden on a great new community project-- the Peterson Garden Project. Little plan (not so little) is to get this community garden going in Chicago's 40th ward (northwest side). Big plan is to inspire Chicagoans to revive the Victory Gardens movement and grow their own food.

Les, one of the gardeners and a member of the core planning group, was there last night, supervising the site:
"Coming in this evening was quite spectacular. People were already working in the garden and as time went on, people were bringing in plants, shovels, and their excited faces; ready to plant in their wonderful garden space! Definitely was a great feeling just watching these people. I didn't even work on my plot because I didn't want to take up any shovels or wheel barrels, they seem so happy to work and I didn't want to stop them!!! So fun and I'm so happy to be part of this. I just kept thinking as the next group kept coming, about the movie "Field of Dreams," ..."if you build it, they will come." And they did and this wasn't even half of the garden who came out. I'm sure this weekend will bring a drove of people, already caring for their plants or starting to fill their beds with soil or helping each other out, which I seen neighbors doing already!!!

And btw Blackhawks win the Stanley Cup!!!
We probably won't have anyone growing asparagus (yet! who knows?) but you could make this soup right now if you had a garden, substituting peas for the aspargus (or spinach! or in the fall, tomatoes or parsnips!)

Puree of Asparagus (or any vegetable) soup
  • 2 bunches fresh, in season asparagus
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 5 to 6 cups broth (chicken or vegetable; I used a radish-based one that I had on hand)
  • 1 pint half-and-half (leave this out, obs, for vegan)
  • 3 small potatoes (especially for vegan, this will help thicken it)
  • seasoning: 1-2 teaspoons ground white pepper, 1 teaspoon ground (fresh if you have it) coriander, sea salt to taste
Cut asparagus tips about 1 1/2 inches from top, and stalks into 1/2-inch piece; set aside. Cut potato into small chunks and boil until soft. Discard water, then return the potato, asparagus and diced onion to the same pot and saute in the butter until asparagus is soft. Remove about 10 tips and set aside. Add broth and cook until asparagus is very soft, aboug 15 to 20 minutes, then add cream and simmer about 5 minutes. Add

Purée soup in batches in a blender, or with a hand-held immersible blender in the pot until smooth, transferring to a bowl (use caution when blending hot liquids). Add more broth or a little milk or cream to thin soup to desired consistency. Garnish with reserved asparagus tips and fresh parsley.

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