Grilled Asparagus
Grilled Asparagus
I love asparagus and this year I found another way I like eating it. Grilled.

A week ago at our farmers market in Eyota, I was hoping to pick up a big bunch of asparagus to take up north for our Memorial Day family weekend. A couple vendors had had some, but by the time I made my rounds, it was gone.

So I called Ron Dickie of Ron's Berry Farm to see if he'd be bringing asparagus to the next market. He had been out picking a slight 70 pounds of it that day, and yes, was planning to be at the next market - but this was the first he'd picked this season.

Then, as I was leaving work, Marlis (my boss) mentioned there was a big bag of asparagus in the fridge from her garden. Did I want it? Oh yes, I was heading out of town after leaving work, so this was a wonderful surprise.

At home, I packed two coolers, one had the asparagus in it. Another had frozen brats, thanks to Logan and the solitary pig he had raised this year - the pig who ate all the kitchen food refuse that the chickens didn't want.

There was a carton of brown eggs too - from the ones who had pecked away at pineapple skins, relished melon seeds and tossed around vegetable peels. No waste in this kitchen, not if I can help it.

Also destined for the chicken food bags are the woody portions from asparagus stems. Separating the tender fleshy portion from the woody stem near the base is easily solved by simply snapping it from the stem. It will naturally break, right where needed.

We had fabulous, wonderful weather up north. It was warm; it was even hot. I had to dig in my drawer up there to find warm season clothes.

The grandkids tentatively paddled on "floaties" near the lakeshore at first, paddling with hands and feet. Then they were wading in it and when we got the boat in, a few brave ones jumped in the lake on Monday.

It was still cold, just a few weeks from the date the ice was out at our lake. I'd worried the kids would get too cold in the water and made sure there were towels handy.

My husband had hopefully declared we'd be on the boat by Saturday afternoon. But in spite of him going up a day early, driving his newly purchased four-wheel drive pickup (not new, but an '05, a new-to-him truck), he was still toiling, readying the boat. Throughout the next day, he wiped and buffed surfaces (but forgot to wax the prop, oh well).

When I arrived at dusk with two grandkids, we found him in the driveway, with a slight crisis. He'd tried towing the 22-foot pontoon down an old, overgrown driveway and got hung-up. His brother-in-law and nephew helped solve the problem the next morning.

After spending the rest of Saturday cleaning the boat, the dock was still not in the water.

The women had taken off for a quick shopping trip in Hayward that afternoon. With kids in lifejackets and dads watching, they paddled near shore and scouted for tiny wildlife creatures -salamanders, frogs and clams.

Back home, we fired up the grill and Jenna cooked the brats. During the last few minutes, she put long asparagus stalks on the grill. I tried brushing some with Vidalia onion vinaigrette (a purchased dressing) and others were simply brushed with olive oil.

I'll admit not all the kids went for the asparagus, but had an option of fresh veggies with dip. Twelve-year-old Kylie relished the asparagus, however.

Sunday morning, with Tyrel and Doron helping - Doron in newly purchased waders in the water with Dale, also in waders - the process of putting in the dock and boatlift started. Tyrel worked on shore, trimming bushes and moving rocks to prepare a new location for the dock. Redwood decking was carried from garage to shore.

The women and girl cousins went shopping at the Yellow River Garden Center near Spooner, a favorite of mine that offers an amazing variety of bedding veggies and flowers, herbs and perennials. Kylie picked out her fairy garden plants and furniture selections.

When we got home the guys were still in the water and needed to be fed, to fortify them for more water, dock and boat work. Molly had cooked turkey ahead of time for sandwiches that quickly created its second meal on buns with potatoes she'd precooked in a crockpot.

It was a while before the boat came tooling across the water to the dock where passengers awaited. The pre-supper appetizer cruise was a real treat, with temps still warmish and sun still in the sky.

When I knew the boat trip was eminent, I'd tossed a loaf of skinny baguette bread in the oven and thawed some basil pesto as a spread. (Kids had a choice of peanut butter.)

One thing, besides the weather that made this a special weekend for me, was that I didn't do all the cooking. I had help with grilling and from my daughters-in-law with preparing meals. It was reminiscent of our family trip to Glacier, when I didn't cook at all.

After returning to shore, Jenna made grilled chicken with tacos or wraps for another evening meal.

A final cruise on Monday morning was followed by leftovers and cabin clean-up. Kylie rode home with me and although it was 4 when we finally left, the candy shop in Hayward was still open for a fudge, candy and t-shirt stop before we headed home.

As we gassed up in Menomonie, I was startled to hear someone saying, "Hi, honey," and discovered the guy at the pump on the other side was my husband in his pickup. He'd left after us, but we'd headed north before turning southward toward home.

He'd been left behind to close all the windows, shut off lights and water and lock the doors.

So now we're back home, with lots of plants to plant, and a ragged lawn, next to neatly mowed neighboring lawns.

Be sure to buy all the asparagus you can before it quickly passes its season. Stir-fry it, steam it or even grill it.

This simple recipe was shared with the Eyota Farmers Market customers by Olmsted County Health. A great low-calorie option, asparagus is "an excellent source of folic acid and potassium for healthy blood, thiamine which is used by the body to break down sugars in the diet and vitamins A and C, essential for healthy eyes and a strong immune system."

Who can go wrong with that?