Tender shoots of spring
Annual Asparagus Festival is a labor of love for entire community of May’s Lick
Peggy Parker remembers how her family cooked asparagus. “When I was a kid,” she recalls from her home in May’s Lick, located in northeastern Kentucky, “we’d put a pan of water on the stove to boil, then we’d run out to the garden and pick it, and bring it inside and cook it.” Asparagus topped with butter is how she learned to love it.
It was Parker’s great-grandfather, asparagus farmer and banker Sanford Roff, who dubbed May’s Lick the “asparagus bed of Mason County.” Parker says the reference was used to advertise his bank, and she surmises he was boasting about the fertility of the May’s Lick soil.
Parker grows about 3-1/2 acres of asparagus on the working farm her grandparents named Burrwal Farm, after the burr oaks and walnut trees on the property. During the six-week or so growing season, Parker sells fresh asparagus from the Asparagus Shed on the farm.
Some of the asparagus crop will be donated to the 16th annual May’s Lick Asparagus Festival. This year’s event, which quadruples the town’s population for the day, is May 19, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., on Main Street. In addition to eating lots of asparagus dished up by civic groups who use this as their main fund-raiser, visitors can peruse an art fair, get growing advice, hear live music, and watch the asparagus parade.
On the eve of the festival, Friday, May 18, during the volunteer fire department fish fry, community leaders and officials will run the third annual Stiletto Stampede obstacle course—yes, in stilettos—to raise money and awareness for the Maysville Women’s Crisis Center.
The festival raises funds to maintain and improve the town’s Roff Park, a recreation site with swings, walking path, and shelter house.
More festival information is available at www.mayslick.com or on Facebook: search Fans Mayslick Asparagus Festival. More information about Peggy Parker’s Asparagus Shed is online at www.burrwalsbest.com.
GRILLED (or Roasted) ASPARAGUS
1 1⁄2 lbs medium asparagus (about 24), trimmed
2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher or garlic salt
Freshly ground black pepper
3 Tbsp Parmesan cheese
Prepare outdoor grill, using a grill pan or fish basket. Place the asparagus on a wide platter or pan and drizzle with olive oil. Toss to lightly coat the asparagus with the oil, then season lightly with pepper and kosher or garlic salt. Grill asparagus in pan or basket set 5 to 6 inches over glowing coals until tender, 3 to 5 minutes on each side, turning frequently to check. Remove from grill; sprinkle with Parmesan cheese before serving. Serves 6.
EL DORADO CASSEROLE
1 lb ground beef
1⁄2 tsp garlic powder
1 medium onion, diced
2 (8 oz) cans tomato sauce
1 C ripe pitted olives, sliced
8 oz sour cream (light works fine)
1 C cottage cheese
3⁄4 C chopped mild green chilies
8 oz grated Monterey jack cheese
7 oz crushed tortilla chips
Brown the ground beef in a wide skillet. Drain excess fat. Add garlic powder, onions, tomato sauce, and olives. Simmer for 10 minutes, until the onions are soft. Combine sour cream, cottage cheese, and green chilies. Put half the chips in the bottom of a 2 1⁄2 quart casserole (such as a 9x13-inch baking dish). Top with half the beef mixture, half the cottage cheese, and half the cheese. Repeat layers. Bake at 350° for 30 minutes. Serves 8.
Submitted by KATHY RICHARDSON of Campbellsville, a member of Taylor County RECC, who says this recipe is an Americanized version of chilaquiles. The Mexican dish uses day-old corn tortillas, whereas this recipe uses tortilla chips.