"Bayou Bill" Scifres
Dedicated to the conservation and enjoyment of Indiana's natural resources
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Copyright © 2009 by Bill Scifres


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 success.

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 patches.

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 objects.

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 were born.

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.

 Click on thumbnail image for enlarged view.

spears.JPG (34315 bytes)
asparagus.jpg (56495 bytes)
This patch of asparagus provided a just reward. Note spurs on spears. This asparagus patch is larger than usual. Green, then red berries develop in late summer. 

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All columns are copyrighted by Bill Scifres and may not be reproduced in any form without prior permission from the author.  For reproduction permission and media usage fees, contact: Bill Scifres, 6420 East 116th Street, Fishers, IN 46038, E-mail: billscifres@aol.com

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