GARDEN GOURMET-- April 2009
I dreamed the other night of making a cantaloupe-banana cobbler with
two crusts (graham below, regular above) with some pecan pieces thrown
in for good measure.
So, the next day, I did it. And I’m glad -- even gladder when I dish
up a portion for dessert (orange sauce et al).
I might add, in giving the cooking venture even greater credence, that
my wife ate it with relish . . . figuratively.
As you know, a year or so ago I invented Rice-Banana
Cobbler as a quasi takeoff from my Berry
Cobbler recipe which is a very simple baking dish that features flour
(and a few other items) in place of crust. It, of course, was a rousing
My new cobbler (the one I more recently invented) is more-or-less a
takeoff on the takeoff. But it is “finger-lickin” good . . . all the more
so when served with the orange sauce. [Note: I think half-and-half might
make it even better.]
Here’s how I did it:
To start the cobbler in a nine-inch square baking dish (three-inch sides)
I placed, and spread out, a graham cracker crust for the pan bottom and
some on the sides.
The graham crust was made of 20 graham cracker squares, four tablespoons
of sugar, and two-thirds cup of melted margarine (one-half cup ok, butter
fine). These are mixed well in a bowl.
When the graham crust has been spread evenly on bottom and lower sides
of the baking dish, bake it at 300 degrees F. for seven to eight minutes.
Set aside to cool.
In bowl used to make graham crust, mix well one-cup all-purpose flour,
one teaspoon and a half of cinnamon. When mixed, stir in slowly, two-thirds
cup of milk (condensed is fine). Mix well. Then pour flour/cinnamon/milk
mixture on top of graham crust (do not stir)--this will rise to the top
during baking and form the upper crust.
Evenly cover with 1-cup sliced banana rounds (peeling removed) and one
cup chopped cantaloupe (bite size) pieces (do not stir).
Bake at 350 degrees F. on middle rack until well browned (white flour
crust will come to top, graham crust will stay on bottom and sides). When
top crust is starting to brown, it can be sprinkled with nut pieces or
raisins, both optional.
An orange sauce, or vanilla sauce, may be poured over cobbler servings,
or it may be served with half-and-half, sweet cream, or ice cream.
One of gardening’s most delightful products – the wild asparagus – is
not a garden product, at all . . . it is a product of the wild, and
very similar in all respects to domestic varieties.
A good asparagus patch in the garden is fine. They come from the earth
in the spring . . . just as the wild ones grow. But who has the foresight
to start a patch . . . and keep it growing from one year to the next?
It should be understood, however, that I highly endorse garden asparagus
The greatest feature of a garden asparagus patch lies in the fact that
it is controlled (and harvested) by the owner . . . not by some sharp-eyed
passerby who sees it in driving past.
Still, the wild patches are something to “cultivate” lightly through
the year . . . with the hope that some other gleaner will not find the
roadside patch and beat you to it. If this happens, a second sprouting
a week or so later may yet provide dinner.
Light cultivation may include a bit of any fertilizer from fall to spring,
or even an occasional watering in dry spells.
As alluded to in the preceding paragraph, wild asparagus is a roadside
resident that emerges from a root system each spring. In most cases, it
is not planted by anyone, but by bird droppings and animal waste. The big
reason it is found mostly in fencerows is that is where birds sit on fences,
and where animals hunt and travel.
This, of course, brings a big problem in the fact that we have miles
of fencerows along country roads, but only a few wild asparagus patches
that usually produce 8 to 12 shoots. So the wild asparagus seeker must
know the exact location – down to inches – of each patch to find it among
weed growth. Weeds often hide asparagus spears. Asparagus is taller than
most weeds later in the summer, and stands out like a sore thumb in a game
of touch football.
To solve this problem, I make rough maps that tell me where the patch
is located in relation to fence posts, utility poles and other stationary
Then, in the fall when the lacy, green growth of asparagus is dead,
and the green berries (a bit larger than BBs) have turned pink, I harvest
the berries, take them home in an attempt to start a patch there, cut off
the growth and remove it, and figure that I will find the patch next spring
with a location map I make--also that others will not find it.
I think the pink berries must pass through a bird or animal’s digestive
system to germinate later.
This is hopeful assurance that nobody else has mapped the patch. For
many years I marked patch location with all kinds of rainproof objects,
but winter winds have had a way of removing my markers. Thus, the maps
Wild asparagus spears are most often harvested (cut cleanly with sharp
knife at ground level) when they are six inches tall, or less. But I sometime
harvest them when they are a foot out of the earth. If the spears are taller
than six inches, the lower part may be getting tough inside and out.
If I harvest the taller spears, I cook them, squeezing the cooked pithy
interior out of the tough exterior (somewhat like squeezing a tube of toothpaste).
Cooked pith is very tasty.
Post-harvest treatment is fairly simple – just put it in a sack or on
the car seat – if you can process it reasonably soon. It is good to keep
it cool and in a dark place. Spurs on the stem hug spears but may be removed
with knife prior to cooking. Spears may be kept under refrigeration for
several days before cooking.
on thumbnail image for enlarged view.
patch of asparagus provided a just reward. Note spurs on spears.
asparagus patch is larger than usual. Green, then red berries develop in