Wednesday 23 April 2008

This and That and Spring Time Asparagus

Mr Squirrel has been giving us nothing but problems. We moved the nut feeder over in front of our window and hung it from the eaves, thinking that it would make it a bit harder for him to access it, but he just jumps from the drain pipe and hangs on for dear life as it swings about while he feeds. We have even tried putting an old pizza pan on the top of it thinking it might make things a bit wobbly, but nothing works. He is determined to feast on the nuts regardless, even though I went out and purposely purchased nuts in the shell specifically for Todd to put out, thinking that the Mr Squirrel would go after them instead! Oh how misguided I was. Mr Squirrel completely ignores them. I suppose he is lazy and prefers the easy way out!

Mr Crow has been enjoying them though and it has been quite fun to watch him hammer them open with his strong looking beak. Did you know that crows mate for life? It's quite true and there is actually a pair of them that comes together, although only one feeds at a time, whilst the other one waits in the tree. I think this one in the photo must be the female as the other one has a much stronger looking beak that is quite a bit thicker!

You've probably noticed that I have my Esty shop up and running now. After much encouragement from friends I have decided to sell prints of my artwork. It is amazing to me that people are so interested in it. They're only little paintings to me, and while I really enjoy doing them, and am somewhat proud of them when I am done, I guess I don't really see them as all that special in the world of art. I mean, they are hardly Van Gogh's or Rembrandts! I guess they are cute though and I do really get a lot of pleasure out of creating them. Hop on over to my new page BLOSSOM TIME CREATIONS if you are interested in having a peek. I'm really quite proud of it. I am not the most technologically aware person in the world and I have even managed to make myself a banner for my Esty shop and even put words on it!

We had such a lovely day here yesterday. The sun was shining for most of the day and it got quite warm in the afternoon. Warm enough that Todd was able to sit out in the garden and read and Jess enjoyed being out there with him. She's a funny dog, in that she doesn't really like being outside by herself. She likes one of us to be out there with her.

I took advantage yesterday of some lovely Italian Asparagus that I got at the store that had been marked down. It looked perfectly good to me and I can tell you it tasted lovely steamed and served up with a delicious Caper Vinaigrette last night along with some steaks I grilled. This vinaigrette also goes very well drizzled over grilled fillets of any mild flavoured white fish. It's really quite yummy!

*Asparagus with Lemon and Caper Vinaigrette*
Serves 4

I think I got this out of an old Good Housekeeping magazine. I have had it stored in my old Blue Binder for a number of years now. It's one of my favourite ways to dress up early spring asparagus, and is really quick to do. This is a great one for dinner parties as well as you can make it up ahead of time. It keeps well in the refrigerator for several hours. Just bring it to room temperature before serving for the best flavour.

1 pound of fresh asparagus, washed, dried and trimmed
1 tsp salt
the juice of 1 lemon, divided
1 TBS capers, drained and chopped
2 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp caster sugar
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
3 TBS extra virgin olive oil

Place the trimmed asparagus in a large skillet and cover with cold water. Add the salt and 1 TBS of the lemon juice. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Cook for about 4 to 5 minutes until crispy tender. Do not over cook.

Drain immediately and then run cold water over it to stop it from cooking any further. Drain again and set aside while you prepare the vinaigrette.

Whisk together the remaining lemon juice, capers, mustard, sugar and black pepper. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil, whisking the whole time to that it emulsifies and thickens. Toss the cooked asparagus with a bit of the vinaigrette and then drizzle with the rest when you are ready to serve.

This is nice served warm or at room temperature.


  1. Mmmm I love aspaparagus and capers but I've never thought of putting them together - with the lemon too I imagine that would be fantastic!
    PS: Liked the man hanging in the air!

  2. Hello Marie sorry I am aday late with my comment.I wasn't well yesterday.I love all th epictures you have posted they are wonderful.The man in the air you should enter int he aol photo challenge.It's so differant.What a Manor House it sounds beautiful.Mr squirrel sure is a rascal isn't he?sparagus is ine of those foods I do not like th eloof of LOL!! So I have never tasted it.I wonder if your recipe can temp me sometime.LOL!!It looks delicious in th epic,then again I am so funny if I do not like th elook of anything.Have alovely Wednesday and I am going to E.Mail you about your beautiful artwork.Take Care God Bless Kath.

  3. You make me feel quite homesick! I was brought up in that neck of the Kent woods, and I still love it dearly. It's just so pretty. I'm in London now, so not a million miles away at all, but I very rarely get the time to visit my home county.

    And as for the asparagus - well, who could resist? Roll on our domestic season!

  4. Good morning, I am bj and so glad to meet you. I came over from Rhondi at Rose Colored Glasses.
    I've enjoyed reading this post very much...almost like reading a novel about the goings on of England. I can't wait to read more...
    And, the asparagus looks soooo delicious!
    Pls. come by to see me sometime....
    hugs, bj

  5. What an odd sight to see a man hanging from a crane! And to have your camera handy!! I love asparagus and your recipe sounds tasty.

  6. Marie,

    I completely understand where you are coming from, and I identify with the feelings you described, even if I did not have your exact same experience. I understand the cycle and the need to break it, break away, and not know how to do it. My brother, sister, and I always had a plan.... we would call the police if my mother touched us again, or one of us would restrain her.... it never happened. We all stood by helplessly while witnessing the other getting beaten up or whipped. The only thing, I guess that kept me sane, was feeling very strongly that it wasn't my fault. I clung to that. I just never understood why... why them, why me, why my siblings....

    Thank you again for sharing.

    Love, Misty

  7. I love all of the pictures you post. I love, especially the one of the flying man, the squirrel, and the dog. You have such a beautiful talent with cooking and creating such beautiful presentations.

  8. 1) What are capers?

    2) They have this bird feeder that squirells slide right off! It works wonderfully. My mom has one. I'll have to get the name of it for you.

    3) I love the pictures of the grounds! Everything looks like a fairy tale. It just looks so lovely. And I love your Etsy shop! I've already scribbled down what prints I want for my birthday (don't you dare send them to me for free!) :) As an artist you should charge. :)

  9. I love your paintings--they remind me of my daughter. I went to your shop to have a look, but I couldn't find the sizes of your prints. Hoe large are they? Thank you for your wonderful blog, I really enjoy visiting you.

  10. Marie, your artwork is adorable and I love your Etsy site. You are far from inept when it comes to technology. Your site is lovely.

  11. the asparagus looks awesome! I didn't know you were a talented artist! :) Nice job!

  12. i think you are wonder woman in disguise!!!!!!!!!
    you cook, you paint, you have a job and you manage everything ... and you also manage to meet the deadlines for tuesdays with dorie and make me bake and god knows what. i wish i was like you

  13. Hi Marie
    What a great place you work at! We love England and have holidayed in Kent several times. It is so beautiful and I love all the old country homes. We've always thought it would be great to live in England for awhile. Lucky you.

  14. sounds delicious! I love the use of capers.

  15. What a brave bloke that was, dangling there off the end of a crane jib!

    Asparagus is my absolute top fave veg. They grow fields and fields of the stuff in the south of our county (Lincolnshire) but us poor north lincolnshire folk have to make do with the expensive, inferior imported stuff from Spain. It's not fair!

    love, Angie, xx

  16. I love asparagus! What a delicious spring vegetable!!


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