Savoring the Seasons: Asparagus works in everything from sides to bouquets

  • This unusual bouquet of roses and asparagus was given to one of Icimsoy’s friends who had kidney stones. Asparagus can be helpful for some forms of kidney stones. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO/KATIE MCNAIR Icimsoy

For The Recorder
Published: 5/16/2017 11:20:12 AM

Folks who read this column regularly know that my twin sister, Martha, lives in Australia. While none of my family lives as far away as Martha, they’re definitely far-flung. My niece Katie McNair Icimsoy once lived in South Australia, but her longtime home is Birmingham, Ala. Facebook helps me keep up a bit with her life.

This past week, Icimsoy posted an amusing photo of a bouquet. At first, I thought it was just roses and greenery. Then, I realized the greenery was asparagus. Icimsoy explained, “I had this bouquet of asparagus and roses made for a friend who had kidney stones. He loved it! I purposely left the asparagus in a bunch. The sweet lady at the store insisted on putting it together for me — I only asked her for some floral tissue.”

It turns out asparagus can be helpful for some forms of kidney stones.

I asked Icimsoy how she prepares asparagus, and for permission to use her photo. Then, other friends chimed in with asparagus suggestions.

When I called my “Other Mother” Bev Campbell (Mom’s best friend from college) to wish her a Happy Mother’s Day, we talked about the big asparagus patches the “birds planted” in the orange groves where she lives in California’s Central Valley. I lived with Bev for most of a year when I was 21, and helped irrigate those orange groves. I ate lots of asparagus that year. Bev said she loves asparagus in omelets and quiche. When I lived there, I made lots of cream of asparagus soup.

The roses in Icimsoy’s unusual bouquet made me think about edible flowers, as did the many purple and white/purple violets in my lawn and garden. I first learned about eating violets when I was a sophomore in college and my dorm neighbor made violet jello. The best way to describe the flavor is that it is the essence of purple. From her, I learned that violets contain lots of vitamin C.

Now, I don’t make jello with them, I just eat them fresh from the garden or gather them and sprinkle them on salads. Word to the wise: avoid violets from gardens/lawns treated with any chemicals or that grow near roads.

My Conway friend Amy Dryansky posted on Facebook about experimenting with making candied violets. It sounds like one of those “harder to do than it seems” projects.

What flowers do you eat? How do you prepare them?

This Week We’re Eating...

Asparagus advice from near and far: by Mary McClintock’s friends and family

Icimsoy said: I don’t usually follow a recipe per se ... I just wing it with olive oil, balsamic vinegar and crushed garlic in no specific measurements, and then roast it in the oven until it’s done.

Karis Post from North Brookfield said: Steamed with butter or Hollandaise sauce. Or raw. Lots of butter, because butter.

My friend (who didn’t want to be named), when I bought asparagus at Baker’s Country Store in Conway said: My son sautes asparagus in olive oil with salt, pepper, garlic, and it’s great. I also had it where it was wrapped in dough, like Pigs in a Blanket, and they were really good! There was another flavor, maybe Parmesan cheese.

That wrapped-in-dough idea reminded me of the Florence Pie Bar’s photo of a delectable creation: Local asparagus from Hadley, wrapped in a savory crust with herbed ricotta and asiago filling. Wow!

Susan Johnson (formerly of Greenfield, now in Vermont) said: Tossed in frying pan with olive oil for just a few minutes, then much less than a half-inch inch of water added. Cook water down quickly at higher heat, turning spears a couple of minutes and squeeze on lemon juice.

Mary’s new asparagus experiment: Bostrom Farm shoulder butt bacon and lightly sauteed asparagus tips to top Hillside Pizza’s frozen cheese pizza.

Local food advocate and community organizer
Mary McClintock lives in Conway and works as a freelance writer, editor, and book indexer. Send column suggestions and recipes to:


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