Also serving the communities of De Luz, Rainbow, Camp Pendleton, Pala and Pauma

Getting Ready for Easter

Even if we didn’t have a calendar, a stroll through a supermarket would tell you it is almost spring. Of all those sprouting now, few are as quick to prepare as asparagus, spinach or fresh tender chard.

For asparagus, the “peel-or-not-to-peel” debate continues. My only advice is that those who have tasted peeled asparagus generally concede that the effort is worth the results. Now, this peeling is with a light touch…don’t apply too much pressure…and just remove the thinnest possible strip. This strip is made of cellulose. When cooked, the outer skin responds as does celery string….it just doesn’t break down and so the asparagus has a stringy texture. Unfortunately those who do not know this phenomenon cook the asparagus longer….and it only gets soft and soggy, not tender. Peeling is the answer to tender, yet crisp asparagus.

There are two standard methods for cooking asparagus: steaming is the classic way, then there is stir-fry.

Tall, narrow pots known as asparagus steamers allow the vegetable to be cooked with steam and not be wallowing in water. Indulge in this culinary investment if you like. You are probably best following the cooking directions for steaming asparagus that will come with the pot.

Stir-fry can be done with a skillet and a bit of oil as the following recipe denotes. As the vegetable is stir-fried take care to not let it brown too much. Asparagus has a sharp rather pungent and almost unpleasant flavor. Also, most cooks and nutritionists don’t recommend olive oil for stir-frying. Olive oil is a wonderful oil yet it does not take a high heat well. A light sprinkle of freshly grated lemon rind adds a refreshing flavor note.

Easter or Spring Brunch

Scrambled Eggs

Stir-fried Asparagus*

Sauteed Red Peppers

Toasted English Muffins

Fresh fruit platter.

Stir-fried Asparagus

1 lb. fresh asparagus, peeled

1 ½ tbsp. oil, not olive oil

Pinch of salt

Grinding of pepper

1 tsp. fresh grated lemon rind

Peel asparagus. Snap tough stems ends off. (Reserve peelings and stem cuts to make asparagus stock for an asparagus-based soup.)

Cut asparagus into 2 ½-inch pieces separating stalks from tips.

Heat oil in skillet and stir-fry asparagus tips for 2 minutes. Add stem cuts and stir-fry 2 more minutes. Taste. Asparagus should be just crisp-tender.

Season lightly with salt and pepper and sprinkle with grated lemon rind.

Serves 3-4.

Variation: Omit seasonings. When asparagus has been cooked, sprinkle lightly with salt and then with ½ tsp. lemon pepper marinade.

My sister Carol’s Bran Muffins have always been a hit in our family. The recipe seems to fit today’s lifestyle even more than ever as you can make a big batch and bake the muffins on an “as needed” basis. The recipe also uses a full quart of buttermilk so you won’t have to think of what recipe would make use of leftover buttermilk.

Easter or Spring Brunch

Assorted plain and flavored

Yogurts

Cottage Cheese with

Cinnamon Sugar topping

Strawberries, Blueberries,

Raspberries, Blackberries

Carol’s Bran Muffins*

Shortbread cookies drizzled

with chocolate

Carol’s Refrigerator

Bran Muffins

2 cups Nabisco 100% Bran Cereal

2 cups boiling water

1 cup Crisco

3 cups sugar

4 eggs, beaten

5 cups flour

5 tsp. soda

1 tsp. salt

4 cups All-Bran cereal

Combine 2 cups 100% bran cereal with boiling water and set aside.

Cream together Crisco shortening and sugar. Beat in eggs.

Whisk together flour, soda and salt.

Mix All-Bran cereal with buttermilk.

Add buttermilk-All-Bran mixture to creamed sugar-egg mixture alternately with flour mixture.

Last add the cooled 100% Bran Cereal mixture and blend well.

Turn into a 2-qt. container that has a tight lid. Store in the refrigerator.

When ready to bake, scoop mixture into greased muffin pans, filling pans no more than 2/3 full. Bake in a 400-degree oven about 17-20 minutes.

Easter meals are to be a feast! What better way to celebrate than with a lovely meal that includes homemade bread. Homemade bread is almost guaranteed to bring appreciation if not applause.

Using this recipe, you can make and shape the bread one day and bake it the next. An “instant read” thermometer is a handy tool for measuring the water and milk temperature.

On the first try you may want to make the basic recipe that will give you two loaves of bread. However, two loaves may not last a day. So, the next time you bake, you may wish to double the recipe. Then you’ll have four loaves… .assuring the opportunity to pass along a fresh loaf of bread to guests, friends or neighbors.

Easter or Spring Brunch

Asparagus and Cheese

(Slow Cooker) Casserole*

Home Baked Bread*

Grape tomatoes on bed of spinach

Balsamic Dressing

Angel Food Cake with

Lemon Glaze

Asparagus and Cheese Casserole

(Rival Crock-Pot Best Loved Slow Cooked Recipes)

2 cups crushed saltine crackers

1 can (10 ¾ oz.) condensed

cream of asparagus

soup, undiluted

1 can (10 ¾ oz.) condensed

cream of chicken soup, undiluted

2/3 cup slivered almonds

4 oz. American cheese, cut

into cubes

1 egg

1 ½ lb. fresh asparagus, trimmed

Combine crackers, soups, almonds, cheese and egg in a large bowl. Stir mixture well. Pour into 4 qt. Slow Cooker. Add asparagus and stir to coat. Cover and cook on High 3 to 3 ½ hours or until asparagus is tender. 4-6 servings.

Other Easter or spring menus to consider:

Grilled Salmon

Grilled portebello mushrooms

Stir-fried asparagus*

Salad with grape

tomatoes, balsamic vinegar

London Broil

Broccoli and Cauliflower with

1 oz. Grated

Cheddar cheese

Mixed vegetable salad

with dressing

Roast Chicken

Green Beans

Sauteed Turnips and

Zucchini

Baby spinach salad with

Julienne of Canadian bacon

Sesame seed dressing

Grilled fish kabobs: solid fish (tuna, salmon, etc, green and red pepper, onion, zucchini, eggplant with teriyaki dressing

Whole wheat rice

Lemon sherbet

 

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