Monday, March 30, 2009


I was gonna title this post 'Andy's New Toy', but I decided against it. The theme remains the same, just a different title.

I was walking around the neighborhood yesterday and noticed something really spectacular. The grass was turning from drab winter green to that unmistakable, vibrant spring green. I'm not talking about that mid-May green you get from dumping fertilizer on your grass. I'm talking about the late March, early April green that happens when the sun stays in the sky longer and the leaves of grass start to stretch their legs after a LONG winter. That green. Have you ever slowed down and considered the different shades of green that grass can take during a year?(I know, I need medication and perhaps therapy.)

I recently purchased an immersion circulator with the winnings from the Mid-Atlantic Taste of Elegance. Click here if you're not sure what I'm talking about. Basically, what I'm saying is that we cook the best pig in the mid-Atlantic. Get over it.
Anyhow, this little piece of equipment allows us to cook foods at a consistent temperature(like to a tenth of a degree celsius) for a specific period of time. All the cool kids on the playground have one, so I thought that even though we serve bigger portions of food than the 'cool kids'(by cool kids, I mean the 'we serve .25 ounces of food on a plate because it's 'artistic' and the food press is falling all over themselves covering our 'modern' chemical infused antics) and you don't have to go to Pat's Cheesesteaks after a very expensive meal to actually fill your stomach, I thought I should get one to experiment with how this technology could work within the scope of how WE do things. So, I was gonna write this post about how cool my new 'toy' was and all the things that we were able to do with it.....then I got inspired.

Inspired by what, you ask? My new toy. Wanna see a picture of it? No, really. Do you wanna? It's awesome.....really is..... OK, here it is.....

I know what you're thinking. 'What the hell, Andy? First, you give us a pic of a piece of cool electronic equipment and then tell us that your 'new toy' is some dirt and a few chive plants?' Well, yes. That's exactly what I'm telling you. Here's the thing....have you ever run your hands over warm chives reaching with all their might for the sun and thought about how amazing that feeling really is? Have you ever cupped a mound of sun-warmed on top, still cool underneath spring dirt in your hands and thought about the possibilities? The dirt is my 'new toy', not the immersion circulator and I couldn't be happier.

My parents just got home from their month long stay in South Carolina and during the middle of dinner service, yes, right in the middle, I took them out to see where I had already plucked the first asparagus shoot from the ground.(I also took some pride in knowing that my dad didn't have any asparagus poking through his soil yet. Mine's close to the Mansion and on the southern facing side, so I've got some warm dirt) Honestly, I was like a parent showing off the first school pictures of the year. That's how exciting this all is.

We also have tarragon and rhubarb poking through the still cool dirt.

Obviously, we get pretty excited about spring at The Sheppard Mansion. So excited, that we make a big celebration over the first asparagus. Yes, we cooked one single asparagus, plated it and ate it. Here's a movie of Karen savoring our first 'harvest' of the season.'s a video of me showing off the 'first cut' and sounding a little like a redneck. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

So, what's the moral of the story? Technology is fun, but playing in the dirt is the 'new toy' and yields sexy products that turn into soulful, restorative preparations. By the way, just because it's 'soulful and restorative' doesn't mean it isn't 'art' in its own right. It's just that this type of art leaves you full, both physically and emotionally.


Alpinebluesky said...

I share your love! There is something so romantic and wonderful about consuming the food that you've grown and nurtured. Perhaps I should have lived in a different century. May your plants grow up to be healthy and delicious! Cheers!

aquaken said...

Inspiring! Organic asparagus just showed up at the farmers market in Monterey, California and it's been coming home with me for the last 2 weeks. Now I REALLY want to grow my own!

Anonymous said...

Holy crow, I couldn't agree more.