As story goes, fennel is good for healthy vision and sight. I remember days past when hiking through the Central Coast California foothills, smelling the aroma of wild anise. Personally, until I tasted German black licorice, I always detested the smell, flavor, and sight of black licorice, commonly confused with the the flavors of anise. Turns out that the very wild anise that I was dismissing may in fact have been wild fennel. Wild fennel is apparently an invasive species in much of North and South America, South Africa, and parts of Oceania and the British Isles. Check out the USDA Plants Database to see if it’s found near you, cool!
Above the lower plants it towers,
The Fennel with its yellow flowers;
And in an earlier age than ours,
Was gifted with the wondrous powers,
Lost vision to restore.
– Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1892)
Thank god that the downtown summer Durham Farmers’ Market is back in season. Not that I didn’t love freezing my ass off racing around the 2 hour only winter market with all the other eager shoppers, but…. With the summer market, comes spring and summer crops and man am I excited for the fresh bounty. For the past several Saturdays Lyon Farms, located in Creedmoor, NC, has been slinging asparagus like crazy. 3 bunches for $9. Yes, please. With the upcoming Bull City Food Swap I needed something to pickle, and these green, in season beauties did just the trick.
Out running errands for my new garden, I picked up a couple bulbs of fennel from the local grocer, sliced them thin, and voila… fennel pickled asparagus. Enjoy! Oh, I almost forgot… The winner for last week’s Ball jar giveaway is #6 Ali. Congrats, I’ll get ahold of you shortly with more details. Thanks to everyone that commented. Reading everyone’s favorite thing about canning reminded me why I can myself. Beautiful really.
Typically when I travel to near and far places, I take a yoga class at as many different studios as possible. This past week, I spent several days down in Atlanta, GA; amidst all the downward dogging, I couldn’t help but notice the plethora of fried pickles at several bars around town. Mostly cucumber pickles, but also the occasional okra and fried cauliflower pickle. Though not fried, I also sighted a vinegary batch of pickled fennel. Bizarre? Apparently not… A few weeks back, a friend and I were enjoying our evening at Birroteca, drinking some very strong beers, making new friends, etc., when the bartender noticed my copy of Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving peaking out of my tote bag (I SWEAR I don’t usually carry it around with me). This prompted her to 1) ask me if I wanted a job as their resident pickler, and 2) offer us a sample of every pickle in the joint, which included a taste of their pickled fennel. Let me first say that I’m usually a bit put off by the licorice flavor of fennel, but this cocktail garnish was surprisingly really good!