The eye of the storm -or- Mexican miso soup

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As I mentioned before I have a few things going on here. Family visiting, ridiculous deadlines at school (i.e. I procrastinated and am now paying the price), and of course the biggest obstacle, moving. So, please forgive me if my posts have been and will be few and far between until June. Thanks. I really appreciate your understanding (I think one of my favorite things about writing this blog is that I get to make up whatever responses from my readers that I want. If only it worked that way in life....).

In between turning in yet another draft of my proposal and the arrival of my family, not to mention all the packing that would come after their departure I had an afternoon. I decided there was no better way to spend it than cooking. And so I turned to one of my favorite cookbooks, Fresh Food Fast, by Peter Berley.

This book is one of those that I find myself turning to frequently. It is arranged by season and menus, which I find very useful, especially because shopping by season always saves money at the grocery store. Another added bonus about the use of this book is that it lends itself really well to substitutions. I haven't made one thing from this book that I didn't like. Not all of the recipes in this book have accompanying pictures and I still find them just as enchanting. To me, it says the world about a cookbook when one can read it without any picture in it. After all, how can one possibly read a book without any pictures? Twenty points for the reference (must be left as a comment to this post).

Oh, and the last thing that I love about this book is that it's vegetarian, but you won't notice anything missing. It is full of delectable recipes, intriguing combinations, and filling meals that satisfy everyone.

The only thing to look out for in this book is that some of the recipes are faster than others, especially if you prepare both things in the menu. Also, some of the methods involve extra steps or work that I find unnecessary. Therefore, due to the ingredients available in my kitchen at the time and some of my own tweaking the recipe below is a bit different than what you will find in the book. If you want to see the original you will have to buy it. You won't be disappointed.

Mexican Miso Soup with Rice and Beans
adapted from Fresh Food Fast

As I mentioned before I have altered this recipe according the the ingredients I had available. I have also eliminated a couple of steps I thought were unnecessary as well as eliminating a lot of the oil and butter originally called for. I highly recommend prepping all of your ingredients first. Unless you have a sous chef on hand.

-For the Soup-

This is one of those soups that looks best right away so if you are serving it to people you want to impress try to do everything up to adding the vegetables and save the rest until you are about 10 minutes away from wanting to serve it.

One head of garlic, smashed
One handful cilantro leaves, chopped
The stems from those cilantro leaves
1/4 c light oils such as sunflower, canola, or grapeseed
6 corn tortillas, halved and cut into small strips or the equivalent of blue corn or other tortilla chips
1 avocado, sliced
2 limes
2 c broccoli florets and stems
1 medium carrot, peeled and sliced thinly
1 jalapeno pepper, sliced thinly
1/2 c (or more to taste) or white or mild miso paste
6 c water

Place the water, crushed garlic, and cilantro stems in a medium sized saucepan and bring to a boil. Once it comes to a boil, reduce the head and simmer for about 10 minutes. Strain out the garlic and cilantro stems and return the broth to the stove over a medium heat.

While the broth comes to a boil heat 1/4 c oil in a non-stick pan over a medium-high heat. Once the oil becomes hot, place the tortilla strips in the pan and fry until they are as crispy as you want them. This should take at least five minutes. Once they are done place them on a paper towel and sprinkle them with salt. Come to think of it a little cayenne might be nice on these too if heat is your thing. Also, if you want to skip this step entirely, I think that broken blue corn tortilla chips would fit the bill just fine.

Once you have finished the strips and strained the broth, place the broccoli, carrots, and jalapenos into the broth and cook them for 2-5 minutes, depending on how crisp you like your vegetables. While these are cooking, try the tortilla strips...they are amazing!

Once you vegetables are almost cooked turn off the heat and remove the pot from the hot burner. Place the miso in a small bowel with some of the broth and mix it thoroughly. Trust me, skipping this step does not save any time. Once it is mixed return it all to the soup and stir. Add more to taste. (It is important to not add the miso when the water is boiling. Apparently, it kills all the stuff in the miso that is good for you. I read it on the internet, so it must be true.)

In each bowel squeeze in about one quarter of a lime, ladle in the soup, top with some cilantro, avocado slices, tortilla strips, and a lime wedge to squeeze over the soup and rice and serve immediately.

-For the rice and beans-

1 c basmati rice
2 1/4 c water
2 Tbs olive oil
1 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1 onion, diced
1 can black beans, no salt added
1 cup frozen or fresh corn
salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 c grated pepper jack cheese, optional

Bring the water and rice to a boil, then reduce the heat, cover, and let it simmer for approx. 15 min, until all of the water is absorbed and the rice is cooked.

Meanwhile, head the oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add the cumin seeds and red pepper flakes and cook for about a minute. Then add the onion and cook until the onions begin to soften and turn translucent, about 5 minutes.

Once the onions are done add the beans with the liquid, corn, and salt and pepper. Continue to cook for another couple of minutes then remove it from the heat.

When the rice is done stir it into the bean mixture.

Serve with the grated cheese on top.

About leftovers. This soup really doesn't look so pretty the day after, but still tastes fine. I wouldn't trust the miso after that. The tortilla strips don't last past the evening either. But, I recycled mine in my scrambled eggs for two days and it was delicious (just throw them in the pan and pour the eggs over it). The rice and beans of course, will last much longer.





I'm using my blog to procrastinate...again

Oh my,do I have some blogs for you! Mexican-inspired miso soup. My roller coaster of a ride with salt. The fruition of all the hard work Mr. Man and I have put into making our garden box. The list goes on and on. Not to mention the fact that I still haven't baked for those of you that I promised cookies to oh so long ago (I have a good excuse though - my oven is broke).

But, right now I am tied down trying to finish the third version of my project proposal for school Yes, it is for a project I have already started. But, those are just details. Right now, I am bogged down with the subtle difference between the words assemblage and community, density and abundance, or habitat and ecosystem. I was trying to not use the same word over and over...apparently I was being "inconsistent." Not to mention that I have to write a whole new methods and objectives section. And worst of all...the significance of my project. Somehow, I don't think my committee will agree that the significance of my project is for me to get my master's.

Alaskan cruise picture show

I'm sorry. I tried. I really did. I just couldn't edit any more photos out of the lineup. So don't feel bad if you don't look at all of them!


A porcupine in a tree! Who knew?


Gorgeous waterfall at Mendenhall Glacier.


Mendenhall Glacier itself.



An adorable, but still deadly baby bear.


The happy travelers.


Emerald Lake in the Yukon territory of Canada. One of the most untouched paces I have ever seen.


Port in Skagway, AK.


Iceberg! Dead Ahead!


The glacier at the end of the the Tracy Arm Fjord. Yes, it really is that blue.


Hiking UP Dear mountain in Ketchikan with my handsome hiker.


Moss. This one goes out to Mamacita.


Ketchikan is in a northern rain forest and every inch of that hike was beautiful.


More beautiful scenery on the hike.


The reward at the top of the hike.



Sailing away from Ketchikan.


The old downtown in Ketchikan is one giant boardwalk.


A return to the good life


The food on the ship was not as bad as I thought it would be. In fact, it was a little better than I thought it would be because there were always plenty of vegetarian options. However, every meal left me feeling unsatisfied. It was sort of like eating decent cafeteria food, but with excellent service.

So, upon my return to the lower 48 I sort of had a small shopping spree at the grocery store, then another one at my favorite nursery for vegetable and herb starts for the garden, and today I actually went to the farmers market! My fridge is full of lots of yummy vegetables and fruits ready to be made in to delicious meals all week long for myself and visiting family and my room is filled with the sweet smell of lilacs. A good way to return home from vacation if I do say so myself.

Big ups to my man Muffintop!

I have already heard from many of you that you have been like, lol'ing all week long. I knew you would. Because my Price William is not only a very funny person, but a great writer.

So, thank you Will for taking the time to write! You sort of put me to shame by writing more in a week than I have have since I started this blog over a month ago, but it was worth it to read all of your stories. I will forgive you as long as you start your own blog so myself and all of your loyal readers can continue to live vicariously through you.

Please help me in stalking Will until he submits and starts posting to his own blog!!!

1950's live on!

Have you seen the movie Dirty Dancing? Okay, stupid question. Of course you have.

Remember how the whole thing takes place at a sort of vacation spot where there are lots of organized wholesome activities for old and young alike? And the staff are both your waiters and entertainers and it is utterly prohibited to fraternize with them? Do you remember simultaneously thinking how it was soooo 1950's for there to be a vacation like that and also how sad it was that they no longer existed (Come on, admit it!)?

Well, I am here to tell you, dear readers, to fear not. They still exist! They have just moved to the seas! Except there is no Patrick Swayze. Instead they added hot tubs, casinos, and a climbing wall. Not really enough to make up for that loss, but, whatevs.

I went on my first cruise last week. I have to admit that I was a little leery of the whole thing. Especially the part about sleeping in a cabin with no window or any sort of escape to the deck.

But, I had a fantastic time. The Alaskan coastline is amazing. I spent my days in port hiking up mountains, looking at glaciers, driving through the Yukon ,and gazing at what is really an untouched paradise. I spent my days at sea drinking bloody mary's while looking at gorgeous coastlines, searching for whales and dolphins (I saw lots!), and enjoying the company of Mr. Man (my main squeeze) and our friends. Oh, and I might have played a few rounds on the slot machines too.


I have lots of pictures to share, so I will post some here in a bit once I have a chance to upload them and edit it down to some of the best.

The biologist in me is also forcing me to leave you a list of some of the most spectacular wildlife that we saw:

Whales jumping out of the water
A mother and baby whale swimming together
A baby brown bear
An adult bear walking across a rock outcrop as we sailed through the Tracy Arm Fjord
Many bald eagles
Arctic terns mating
A yellow rumped warbler
and.....
A porcupine in a tree!! Really!

We saw lots of other great wildlife too, but those were the highlights. Seriously, this trip was something out of a National Geographic magazine.


Thanks so much to my travelling companions for a fabulous trip!

Supplements

Yesterday I had a day off, and of course one of the objectives on my to-do list was to blog here! However, I got a little sidetracked. At the gym supplement store.
I understand your concern here. “You take your supplements more seriously than this blog??!!” I assure you, I only took them more seriously yesterday, but it’s making for great writing material.

I arrived in the Castro after renewing my license at the DMV at around 10am, and go to the first supplement store I could find. (The Castro, being the neighborhood that it is, has more supplement stores than restaurants) The previous night I had become enchanted with a supplement called “N.O. XPLODE” while researching it online. I’m not kidding, this is the friggin' name. It is described as containing Nitric Oxide which dilates all of your blood vessels. This in turn makes you work harder without allowing your body to feel what’s going on.

So, as I was saying, I walked into the first store and demanded to know where this NOXPLODE material was and how much I had to pay to get some up in my body. The BODYBUILDER who works a this nutrition store looked me up and down like I was crazy, rolls his eyes, then points me over to a secret corner. As I’m perusing the ingredients to this new product, I hear the distant sound of a European voice and glimpse a lovely European body to match it in the protein powder section. I grab my NOXPLODE powder and casually walk over to the svelte Euro and the bodybuilder worker attending to his every need. Purposely overhearing their conversation as I pretend to look into the alfalfa juice section, I understand that the bodybuilder suggests some new product for him, and being bored with this, I walk over to the counter to pay for my NOXPLODE. The bodybuilder comes back over, along with his new little Euro soon-to-be boy-friend. I politely say to the European that he can go first. With a french accent he replies, “No it’s okay, I get paid to come here and look pretty, so you go first,” to which the bodybuilder chuckles. I instantly feel insecure and simultaneously wonder if that is some sort of jab at me being skinny and sans muscles. Jesus! I suddenly felt like my old fat, insecure self! Blushing, I paid as quickly as possible without realizing the price for my supplement came to fifty dollars, and ran outta there like a bat out of hell. Usually I would have proceeded to the nearest corner store for a large package of ice cream, but yesterday I realized something in me had grown. Instead, I walked across the street to the next supplement store and found much more welcoming people. Turns out it's just trial and error...not stupid insecurities!

The Scientist I Almost Was

Forensic science fascinates me. I love watching those television shows regarding how crimes were committed and how forensic science helps to catch a killer/burglar/really bad person based upon random bite marks or the way a door was kicked in. If I could pass my intro eco bio class at college, I might have gone on to study this field in more depth! Forensic science really amazes me because people are arrested based upon evidence that isn't "real". The way that you and I compare teeth marks could be completely different, right? It's almost like two unique individuals comparing abstract art...so completely subjective. Well, people in the scientific community appear to be catching on that this is the case!
Yesterday, The New York Times published a damning report on forensic science that I want to share here. What is so fascinating here is that finally a major (albeit totally left wing and uber left coast friendly!) newspaper has delved into this subject. The problem is that the "science" that forensics is grounded in is not peer reviewed, which is the basis for modern science!! HELLO! Does this disturb anyone? The article quotes:
It’s not that there hasn’t been any research in forensic science. But over the years much of it has been done in crime labs themselves. “It hasn’t gotten to the level where they can state findings in a rigorous scientific way,” said Constantine Gatsonis, director of the Center for Statistical Sciences at Brown University and co-chairman of the National Academy of Sciences committee. And rather than being teased out in academic papers and debated at scientific conferences, “a lot of this forensic stuff is being argued in the courtroom,” Mr. Fisher said. “That’s not the place to validate any kind of scientific information.”

This is so fascinating, especially as a future student of the LAW! Is justice here really being done if evidence is presented in a trial that has not been proven to be exact and rigorously tested? I'm not sure, to be honest, but I assume any forensic evidence presented against the defendant would ultimately cast doubt in the jury's eyes, whether they see the evidence the same way that forensic scientists do.

A note from your not so average Dad

My Dad is a CHARACTER. Leaves me amazing messages on my voicemail, and has a great southern drawl. He sends me letters of all sorts, but to give you a better idea of how/who he is, I really should start with one of this recent letter that he sent after I decided to go to law school. Prepare yourself!

Dear William,

Most politicians are lawyers, and rhetoric is their manner of communication, too. The politician and the schizophrenic are opposites, the politician continually talking about images that join him with his listeners, the schizophrenic speaking with a kind of anti-rhetoric which is dissociated from anyone and everyone. A hermit is called a simple schizophrenic.

Love, Dad


Nothing like a little crazy to make your day brighter! :) Happy Monday!

Recipe love

My cooking style is utterly all my own. In recognition of E, I’d like to share a little recipe that I love. It’s refreshing for those hot summer evenings, and really original and delicious. The unique blueberry dressing adds a dash of color and taste that your dinner guests will love.

Blueberry Spinach Salad


Two packages of pre washed spinach
8 packages fresh blueberries
1 cup walnuts or pecans, toasted, cooled, and chopped (whichever is cheaper)
Two packages of pre-crumbled blue or gorgonzola cheese.
1 cup vegetable oil
½ cup raspberry vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tbs Dijon mustard
Fresh ground pepper to taste.

Halve the blueberries. In large mixing bowl, combine spinach, half the blueberries, all the nuts, and cheese. In a blender, mix together the leftover blueberries, oil, vinegar, sugar, and mustard to form the dressing. Just before serving, combine the dressing and spinach mixture. Toss gently, adding fresh ground pepper to taste. Viola!

Doctor Visit

When I moved to San Francisco five years ago, there were so many things to get together. One of the most important things I organized was my primary doctor. This is just due to my own issues about staying healthy, and me completely freaking out at the slightest sore throat or bump or scrape. Falling down on the street will usually send me immediately to the doctor for a tetanus shot booster and excessive bandages to make me feel better.

So, I immediately began asking friends for a doctor. My friend J’s mother G recommended a gay doctor in the Castro district who she heard of through a friend of a friend. Dr. O was his name, as I recall. Ironically, I found Dr. O at the same time that I came down with strep throat. I called up the receptionist, told her of my condition, and she had me in that afternoon.

Upon arriving at Dr. O’s office, I was informed that in order for the doc to even see me, I had to have a complete physical. First, let me just tell you that my heart shriveled into a small lump of coal at this news. My own body image issues caused me to feel this way, but because I was so sick, I consented nonetheless. Anything to get antibiotics in my body was worth it to me.

In the exam room, the doctor knocked, came in, and my mouth dropped. I was expecting a gorgeous hunk of a doctor that would whisk me away into sugar daddy land. Unfortunately, I was confronted with a troll of a man who promised me that after a full physical, he would examine my throat condition.

The physical started off as usual, until he began describing how prostate and testicular cancer can affect even men in my age group. He then asked me to take off my underwear for a prostate exam. I’m sorry, WHAT? I came in for strep throat, not cancer!!!! He described the danger I would be in if I didn’t know if something was happening inside of my body, and I reluctantly agreed. Let’s just say that it was NOT what I was expecting, and I was simply appalled. It’s hard to be uncomfortable with a doctor in a confined space…and even worse have a doctor up in your issues, literally. The doctor performed his little sadistic/dominatrix exam, then looked at my throat, and informed me that even in cases like mine, he preferred for the body to “heal itself,” since antibiotics are just too overused. However, he did call in a prescription of VIAGRA just in case I ever wanted some, and even gave me some samples. In shock from the aforementioned exam, I just put the samples in my man purse with a glazed look of shock on my face.

I walked out of the doctor office feeling a little more violated than I would have liked, and without the prescription I had been expecting! Moreover, how disturbing for a doctor just to assume I needed Viagra?!?!? The only person that needs Viagra would be the man who has to sleep with my troll-like doctor! Welcome to the Castro. We really take care of our patients here. REALLY.

Mosh and the Moo Moo

First, I want to extend a heartfelt thanks to E. for the invitation to write here this week. I love to tell stories, and I think this will be a phenomenal forum in which to practice my craft! E. has always enjoyed my stories, and I only hope I can live up to her expectations here. Her favorite phrase whenever I’m around is usually “divide by five” – a reference to my tendency to exaggerate things just a little bit. I’ll attempt to restrain myself here. My life stories and happenings in daily life are often events that seem ripped out of an Augustin Burroughs novel with a hint of David Sedaris. I hope all of you enjoy them.

Mosh and I have been together for over two years. He and I continually joke about our weight. We are both slender guys, but being in a relationship, you inevitably gain weight. If you don’t, you’re just not normal! Srsly! We’ve both bought into the idea of looking your best at all times. Gay culture in San Francisco dictates in a very not-so-subtle way that if you look good, you get the guys. Those that don’t are….shunned. My aunt calls it “playing the game”. You either win or lose by that first impression of how you look. Pretty appalling, isn’t it? Looking at the collection of fashion sneakers I’ve collected as a result of my impression making, I get appalled, too!

The problem here is that I wasn’t always my not-very-svelte self, and it takes enormous dedication to keep up my mediocre body! In 2004, I graduated college with honors at 285 pounds. In college, I filled myself with KFC, T-Bell, McDonalds, Pizza, and Tequila. Nightly. Repeat 365 days a year. I’m sure E. can write a post regarding our escapades, but we’ll just say they usually involved a combination of liquor, food, yelling at men with rat tails, nicknames for the people on our hall, caution tape headbands and haute couture. I ultimately graduated with no idea of how big I had become, and headed off on the Peace Corps in northern China to teach English on the banks on the Yellow River. I was in awe of my surroundings, and terrified of my inability to communicate. Calling on my old eating habits, I rapidly learned the terms for my favorite traditional Chinese dishes and ate. I would sit in my apartment and secretly eat several boxes of Ramen noodles whose labels were covered in strange characters. I stocked my fridge with sweet Chinese cola, and would head out to the streets to eat more. It looked as though I was going to be content being a fat ass white boy in a sea of tiny Chinese people….Until I got a tapeworm!! It’s such a wonderful diet I want to go back and get another one! I lost 90 pounds in a couple of months, and then the Chinese found out I was gay and I had to bounce.

Now, this weight loss was a complete miracle! Back in the U.S., I got down to 165 pounds, at which point, E. began calling me “Somalian Chic”. Nowadays, I’m a little heavier, but not in the way of filling out my old stretch marks again, thank god! However, we’re going on this little trip this month to a little gay oasis in California called “Palm Springs”. It’s the kinda place for gay guys who are living like gold when they’re really bronze. Not really, but I just like that expression! We’re staying at a little men-only “oasis” that is classified as “clothing optional.” Oh my god. When we booked this trip last year, I had convinced myself that I could easily lose 30 pounds and be back to my old sexy self for this baptism by fire into the nudist gay hotel world. Did I mention there’s a steam room? To be honest, I’m at this point in my weight loss where I feel like I need to get a moo moo for this trip. I’m at that point where I made a goal, and now have 12 days to make that goal. 20 pounds does not walk off of your body when you have eating habits that include mixing Campbells Chunky soup with a bag of Lays Potato Chips and Claussen pickles on the side. Of course, Mosh laughs at the idea of him tanning in the sun with me next to him in a moo moo, but he doesn’t know that I’m not joking.

You will be taken care of

Hello dear readers!

While I am away you will be taken care of by my best gay boyfriend Will, aka Muffintop, will be taking care of you. He will be guest blogging while I am cruising the coasts of Alaska.

So have a good week with Will everyone. He is quite the storyteller that one. Even a day at work is the best story you ever heard if Will is telling it.

Take care! Talk with you next weekend.

An early mothers day salude

Today my Mom asked me if she has inspired my cooking at all. To which I obviously replied "Of course! You taught me!"

My mother always had me helping in the kitchen. Cooking healthy food was the one thing that never fell to the wayside in my house. Okay. Fine. So maybe it faltered a little bit when my Mom had her nursing finals. But, in general I grew up in house where homemade juice pops were my one desert of the day, vegetables were the star of many meals, and vegetarian cooking abounded. All of this before there were cookbooks, organic produce, specialty ingredients, fake meats, or even others to talk to about ideas or rely upon on how to be and raise your children as vegetarians. And perhaps even more impressive, all of this was in small town West Virginia.


She was very creative in the kitchen, hardly ever using a recipe. And she had me by her side most of the time, directing me on what to do, so that one day cooking came as naturally to me as it did to her. I have many a friend who had to call home to ask how to cook a hot dog, or how to make something that did not have instructions about just adding water on the side of the box when they left home. But, I was not one of them. My mother taught me many things. Being a self-sufficient cook, was just one of them.


I am heading off on a cruise tomorrow for a vacay to Alaska. My Mom and brother show up a few days later. In honor of a belated Mother's Day there is going to be some sort of post featuring my mother's cooking. The Agony! How to choose just one of my favorites? Oh, what's that you say? Since it's all in honor of mothers day maybe I should at least let my Mom pick one of
her favorites? Good idea! I will do just that!

Happy Mother's Day Mamacita!!! (Now start thinking of your favorite recipe so I can put you to work while you're here. Becuase really, what's a better present for Mother's Day than to ask you to do something for me? :) Fine. You are getting treated to a dinner out on the town while you are here too. Love you!)

Northern Spring and Southern Summer Meet, Over Polenta*


I do it every year. I am such a sucker. I can't help but reach for the first decent looking corn and tomatoes at the store every year. Resistance is futile. Yesterday, the man in the grocery store even offered to get me corn that was even fresher than the ones I was ogling. I caved, right then and there. I took two from the corn-pusher man, grabbed two red tomatoes and made my way out in shame. After I get my fix, I lay off the Cali/Mex corn and tomatoes until the Northwestern ones surface. Dinner last night should do the trick for a couple more months. The picture above really does not do it justice. Time to sign up for a photography class!

Fine-grain Polenta with Asparagus and Zucchini

Serves 4

This recipe would be just fine using the coarsely-ground polenta as well. Just be sure to cook it a bit longer and adjust your water ratios accordingly. My friend Dinah taught me this method of cooking zucchini and I am forever grateful. It keeps it from getting too mushy it is deliciously simple. I often cook up zucchini this way just to eat it along. It's that good.


2 Tbs. olive oil
4 c water
1 c fine-grain polenta

one handful fresh basil, coarsely chopped

2 ears corn, cut off the cob or about 1 1/2 c frozen

1/2 c cow or soy milk

2 zucchinis, thickly sliced

1 bunch asparagus

2 cloves garlic, sliced
1/4 c slivered asiago or other hard cheese

salt and pepper, to taste


It is very easy to prepare both the veggies and polenta at the same time, as long as you have chopped and sliced everything ahead of time. It is nice when you do this because then the polenta is still thick and creamy and the veggies are still crisp when you serve it.


For the Polenta:
Bring the water to a boil. Once it boils add the corn, basil, and 1-2 tsp. salt and allow it to cook for two minutes. Add the polenta and continue stirring for another minute. Then add the milk. Turn off the heat and give it a good stirring.

For the vegetables:

Heat one tbs. of olive oil in two frying pans.
Place the zucchini in a single layer in one of the frying pans over med-high heat. In the other frying pan place the asparagus (after snapping off the ends, of course!) along with the garlic and desired amount of salt and pepper, over medium heat. Stir the asparagus often, however allow the zucchini to sit on one side until it browns. Once the zucchini has browned each piece over, using a fork (or whatever other utensil suits you) and allow it to brown on the other side. The asparagus and zucchini should each take about 10 minutes to cook. Serve the vegetables over the polenta with a pinch of the asiago cheese. And since I was in the mode of introducing summer early, I served mine with a basil-tomato salad on the side. I swear I have gotten my fix and can impatiently await the arrival of PNW summer bounty.

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*Isn't it a cryin' shame that spell checker doesn't recognize the word "polenta?" I fixed that little bug right away!
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