Monday, December 29, 2014

Guest Column: Tastes Like Freedom

Daily Hampshire Gazette Guest Column: 

Tastes Like Freedom


(Published in print: Monday, December 29, 2014)

EASTHAMPTON -- Summer people line up under a leaf canopy on the green.
An al fresco supper awaits them. Sunflowers hold down 40 fluttering
tablecloths and a hula-hoop woman cavorts with a red-headed boy in
face paint. Laughter is heard over an insatiable appetite for heirloom
tomatoes and pedigree peaches.

It's high summer, the kombucha is being poured and everyone is happy
in the city of Greenfield. Last year over 1,000 souls were served at
Free Harvest Supper, an annual event, where food left over from the
harvest is shared with one and all, rich and poor.

It all started years ago when someone whispered something to someone
else at a Saturday morning peace vigil. That somebody was Juanita
Nelson. She was spending Saturday as usual, marching around in front
of the green. Juanita and others carried hand-made signs that read
“End Violence Now!” and “Guns into Plowshares.” Cars and pickup trucks
drove by and honked, sometimes in agreement, sometimes not.

It was August and the Farmers Market was in progress. Farmers with
leftover produce were giving it away in the final half hour of the
market. During a lunch break and while eating a tomato, raw and warm
from the sun, Juanita got an idea. She looked at her friends and said
in a whispery drawl, “There are so many farms around here, why don’t
we just collect all extra harvest and feed everybody?” Juanita’s voice
on the radio is how I first got involved as a volunteer for Free
Harvest Supper. It was about seven years ago. A DJ from WMUA asked
about her politics.

“I don’t get it,” he said. “What does sharing food have to do with the
anti-war movement?”

Juanita replied, “If you know who grows your food, if you depend on
each other for food, you’re not going to fight with them, are you?”

Juanita Nelson knows something about violence. She met Wally Nelson
when he was in jail and on a hunger strike. Juanita was on assignment
for a local paper to interview the man who participated in the first
wave of Freedom Riders protesting segregated transportation in the
south. Juanita’s first act of civil disobedience was to eat lunch in
the whites’ only section of a Washington, D.C., restaurant which got
her arrested and kicked out of college.

She and Wally were perfect for one another. They moved to Woolman Hill
in Deerfield in the 1970s and lived simply growing all their own food.
With a community of like-minded souls, they put up what they grew for
winter consumption.

That community resulted in the formation of the Greenfield Farmers
Market, the Pioneer Valley War Tax Resisters and the Valley Community
Land Trust. Wally lived to be 93 and Juanita, now in her 80s, lives in
Greenfield, inspiring Winter Fare (the first winter market) and Free
Harvest Supper.

Juanita and Wally were onto something with their garden. The hegemony
of processed food with its addictive cycle of salt, sugar and fat has
put the nation into a diabetic coma. Eating is an act of intimacy
second only to sex. Surely you want to know where your partner has
been. Should food be any different?

We have the advantage in the Pioneer Valley of good soil and farmers
who give their lives to the work. Grow your own, buy local and learn
to cook. Not only is real food better for you, it tastes like freedom.

Mary A. Nelen is a writer and photographer who lives in Easthampton.

Friday, December 5, 2014

RECIPE OF THE WEEK: Radicchio di Treviso Tradivo Frittata

RECIPE OF THE WEEK: Radicchio di Treviso Tradivo Frittata
by Tim Wilcox
Kitchen Garden Farm
Sunderland MA

·       2 heads radicchio, grilled and chopped

·       ½ medium onion, diced

·       3 Tbsp olive oil

·       4 eggs, beaten with salt and pepper

·       ¼ cup plain white breadcrumbs (optional)

·       Balsamic vinegar

Heat the oil in your preferred omelet pan.  Add the onion and sauté gently until golden.  Add the radicchio and toss.  Pour in the eggs (whisked with the breadcrumbs if using) and cook over medium-low heat until the bottom is set.  Find a plate about the size of your pan.  Place the plate snugly over the frittata and invert.  Slip the frittata back into the pan and cook 1 minute longer.  If you don’t want to flip it, finish it under the broiler until set, 1-2 minutes.  Serve either at room temperature cut in small wedges with a smear of goat cheese as hors d’oeuvres, or hot with table cheese and affettate (coppa, prosciutto, salami, mortadella, etc) as a second course.  The diners drizzle with balsamic to their own tastes.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Madeleine Moment with Radicchio Tardivo

Where does it come from, this feeling of complete happiness, complete contentment? 

Another bite and another wave of contentment. The taste, what is it? Now a vision of something, a beach, yes, it’s the beach in summer, South Beach, and gulls, and now a bike, its your bike, there up against the dune, the tire spinning madly. The whole of the summer of 1976 springs to life.

You are transported from your drab existence to your aunt's home on Martha’s Vineyard. Another bite and now you are running through burning sand but your feet are cooled by a wave. You are on your day off from waitressing. You are 19 year of age. Petty grievances have all but vanished. There is no sadness; there are no regrets just the pure sunlight of summer and possibility of what is to come. How did it happen, this transport to another time? What does it signify? It seems to be the frittata you are eating for lunch. You take another bite. What is in this frittata? It is the crimson and ivory radicchio tardivo that you tucked inside it. There's no mistaking it. The flavor is of lobster. But where did it come from this radicchio tardivo? You put down the frittata and search your mind.

You’re there at the farm just before Thanksgiving shopping for local vegetables. You see baskets of leeks, beets, romanesco, bunches of herbs tied up and brussels sprouts on their stalks. In the corner, next to a cooler, is something that beckons to you. It is what you are there for, this basket hiding in the shadows. Three, not one but three bunches of the famous radicchio tardivo are there resting comfortably, like so many heads of state.

The vertiginous crimson and ivory vegetable, too beautiful to be food, is grown with love and erudition by a farmer from Sunderland. Tim Wilcox went to Hampshire and did his Div 3 on radicchio tardivo in the town of its origin. You thank the farmer, his wife and their farm. You thank Pioneer Valley where a person can major in radicchio in college and plant the stuff here in our loamy American soil.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Berkshire Transplant Amy Cotler Offers Butternut Squash Risotto Two Ways

photo by Mary A. Nelen 
Amy Cotler 
wrote "The Farm to School Cookbook" (USDA approved) at a time when harvest home fries made with potatoes from the farm down the street were relatively new to public schools. 

Before that she founded Berkshire Grown, a non-profit supporter of local farm and food. Last year Amy relocated to Northampton from the Berkshires.

"I especially adore the winter farmers market here, Sutter Meats and River Valley Market, where they stock often hard to find local foods like stellar popcorn," she said adding that she is a member of Red Fire Farm CSA and had a small plot last summer at the Florence Community Garden. 

On December 2, 2014, Amy will be teaching "Delectable Winter Soups from Around the Globe," at Different Drummer's Kitchen in Northampton, MA. 

This week's recipe, "Butternut Squash Risotto Two Ways," offers an Asian take and a savory one. If you like some heat with your risotto, or if you still have some dried sage left, you're in luck. 

Butternut Squash Risotto Two Ways

Amy Cotler

Last night I made a warming, not-too-rich risotto with fall crops, butternut squash and leeks. Season with a choice of either light Asian flavors, with a gentle touch of fire to spar with sweet squash, or with cheese and aromatic sage or green peppercorns. I liked it both ways and so did my guests.

1-1/4 cups chopped leeks, whites and tender greens
2 tablespoons sweet butter
2 cups arborio or sushi rice
1/3 dry sherry, l/2 cup dry vermouth or white wine
2 cloves minced garlic
2 cups diced butternut squash (small dice)
about 7-8 cups chicken or vegetable stock, homemade if possible
Kosher salt and pepper to taste

Choose one way to season it:

About 1 teaspoon fresh chopped sage or 20 dried green peppercorns
3 tablespoons grated Parmesan or any hard local cheese
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste


1 teaspoon grated ginger, or to taste
Freshly ground or crushed Szechuan peppercorns (or black pepper), to taste

Wonderful Variation: Along with the leeks, add handful of shiitake or any local mushroom caps, sliced.

1-Cook the leeks in the butter, in a medium pot, over medium-low heat, stirring frequently, until transparent but not brown, about 3 minutes.  Add the rice, sherry, vermouth or white wine, garlic and butternut squash. Stir frequently, until all the liquid is evaporated, about 1-2 minutes.

2.  Choose one of the ways to season the risotto.  For the first, add the dried sage or dried peppercorns now. For the second, add the ginger now.

3. Add the broth 1 cup at a time, stirring frequently, until the rice absorbs the broth before each new addition, about 2-3 minutes each. (The risotto should bubble by the edges, but not boil rapidly, so adjust heat as you see fit.)

4. Finish the risotto and adjust as needed. It is done when it is creamy, but the rice is still just a touch firm and the texture is like a thick, creamy stew, about 20 minutes or so. When done, you can add stock as you see fit, as some people like it thicker or thinner.

5. Finish by adjusting the seasonings. Taste: Add extra ginger or sage, if you used them and feel it’s necessary. Stir in the cheese, if you are using it.  Finally, salt and pepper to taste and serve immediately in warm bowls.

For a great last minute turkey time pep talk, see Amy's Thanksgiving Tips  

Saturday, November 15, 2014

New Chef in Town -- Here for the Soil

Sanford d'Amato, owner of Good Stock, Hatfield MA  

“As a chef, I am very excited about the food here...” said Sandy from his teaching kitchen in Hatfield.

Last month WGBY ran a documentary that featured local farmers. In “A
Long Row in Fertile Ground,” several hold forth on the topic of out
topsoil. A farmer from Hadley claims that Valley soil, loamy soil to
be specific, is the best in the world. Another says his fields have
topsoil that is 15’ deep. Geography is the reason for the quality of
the soil. Our Valley is in the middle of what was once Lake Hitchcock,
a result of melting glaciers from the ice age. Over time, the water
receded and left a combination of silt and clay that is very, very
good for growing food.

If you’ve ever put a shovel in the dirt in your backyard, you know
that 15’ of top soil is truly a phenomenon. In the documentary an
outsider appears on the scene. He has been hired to till a potato
field. The outsider tells the farmer he has never seen such soil and
tells her that his tiller cut through it like it was chocolate cake.

Recently, a very accomplished chef and his wife moved here from the
mid-west and put roots down in Hatfield. Sandy and Angie D’Amato
purchased a bungalow and added a wood fired pizza oven with the
requisite chimney and expanded from there. Now their home and cooking
school called the “Good Stock Farm,” features a gracious interior where
classes of up to eight people can gaze out onto the source of the
Valley terrior. It is a gracious learning environment that lends
itself to tasting and deep contemplation of food and wine.

After planting peach trees four years ago just after purchasing the
property they produced over 90 lbs of peaches on two of the trees. Sandy
D’Amato stands next to a large wooden table in the kitchen of the Good
Stock and holds a glinting glass jar of peach jam exclaiming,
“Suncrest!” The tree in question can be seen from the window.

Sandy is a James Beard award-winning chef. He and his wife Angie have
traveled the world teaching and tasting. During harvest season they biked in
Tuscany where they celebrated with Schiacciata (fococcia and local grapes) 
and every spring they travelled to vineyards in northern California to sample 
wines for the two restaurants and bakery they owned in Milwaukee.

Both say they have never had corn like the corn they buy up the road
at the Golonka stand. And that the asparagus is just as epic…..  They
are not strangers to fresh produce, nor are they strangers to the food
scene in the Valley.

“As a chef, I am very excited about the food here,” said Sandy from
his wood and glass kitchen on Main St. in Hatfield. “The asparagus is
different than that of the mid west and as for the peaches, they are
exemplary. The farm starts here and they pick it on the same day.”
They also have a garden in the clearing that runs from their place to
the west side of the Connecticut. They day I visited, the second week
of November, the kale looked very healthy, just like the towering
stalks up and down River Road.

Sandy goes to the pantry in his place to retrieve pickled garlic
scapes, Scandinavian style (cardamom) and raspberries and cherries in
vodka. The peaches and garlic scapes are his, the raspberries from 
Harry, a neighbor, and the cherries are from Clarkdale Farm in Deerfield.

“This entire corridor up and down the river from Clarkdale on down is
brilliant,” said Sandy. “But it isn’t just that, it is also the
excitement of what’s coming next!” he exclaims. “Once you think you
can’t put another spear of asparagus in your mouth, the strawberries
are here.”

Last month Sandy held forth on Cider Glazed Apples with Spicy Cider
Soup and Nutmeg Cream at the Cider Days Festival last month. Upcoming
classes at Good Stock are equally exotic with hands-on dinners
entitled “Scandinavian Christmas,” “Rome” and “Butcher and Pig Meet
Chef” as well as a weekend in February called “2-Day Cassoulet and
Southern France.”

Sandy and Angie met in 1980 at John Byron Restaurant in Milwaukee. He
was the chef and she was a cocktail waitress. Both were from grocer
families. They married and started a restaurant called Sanford, also
in Milwaukee, in 1989 with an SBA loan for a 50-seat fine dining
establishment after bring turned down by 12 banks. A female loan
officer shared their vision. At the restaurant, Angie was in charge of
the wine list and wrote wine notes for the serving staff. They
expanded the operation to a bistro and a bakery. At their busiest they
had 100 employees. It was on a cruise to China and Russia during the
D’Amato’s 25th wedding anniversary that the couple had enough time
away from the stress of running three restaurants for perspective.

It was then that they decided to take it down a notch or two. Now
they’re in the Valley, putting up their fruit, making friends,
teaching the finer points of cooking and living their motto: “Life on
a slow simmer,” but what a simmer it is.

For more information on Good Stock, visit

Monday, November 10, 2014

Kate's Kitchen + Permaculture Feast + foodWorks = OPEN STUDIO

EVENT: Open Studio in Holyoke
WHERE: 386 Dwight Street, Holyoke, MA
WHEN Sunday, November 23, 4 pm to 6 pm 
VISIT: Permaculture FEAST 
Permaculture FEAST is a weekend a permaculture design certificate course held in Holyoke, MA.  
Students from the course have created landscape and social enterprise design for Kate's Kitchen and foodWorks. View their visions for the next 10, 25, 50 and 100 years. 

There will be 4 alternative design schematics and 18 detailed patch designs illustrating how to build on the existing conditions and assets of Kate’s Kitchen and foodWorks, while creating a thriving community hub that meets the needs of its members, while enhancing the overall health and well being of the ecosystem.

Kate’s Kitchen is a community kitchen that was begun in 1980. Since that day, one noon-time meal daily has been served to anyone in need with a “no-questions asked” policy.The Kitchen is opened 365 days a year and provides approximately 150 meals per day. Since its inception, Kate’s Kitchen has provided its neighbors over one million meals.

foodWorks is a culinary training program of Kate's Kitchen that offers unemployed and under employed individuals job training in the culinary field. 

The site also hosts La Finquita, the first community garden started by Nuestras Raices.

Featuring food and music and cutting edge visionaries and designers like yourself!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

INTERVIEW: Marion Nestle, author of "What to Eat" and "Eat, Drink, Vote"

Marion Nestle 

  Last weekend, a small fury of excitement ensued up in the Northeast Kingdom. At Sterling College, author, NYU professor and food activist Marion Nestle held forth on GMO's, the rise of fast food, the Farm Bill and home economics. Visit Marion's blog Food Politics for more information. 

Q. You speak of federal regulation. And you speak of the need for people to learn to cook. Do you think that cooking education can be regulated into the public school system or at least should it be?

A. I learned to cook in 8th grade home economics.  Nobody at the time expected kids to learn cooking anywhere else.  We learned basic skills and produced surprisingly good cookies, meals, and salads, as I recall.   Home economics seems too old fashioned to resuscitate but I know lots of people who think courses in basic life skills—cooking, clothing repairs, household repairs, checkbook balancing--would be much appreciated. 

Q. The statistic that a salad at McDonald's is $5 and for the same money, an individual can get five burgers is an argument for getting young people to learn how to grow their own food. Do you think it would be possible to require all public schools to dedicate at least three parking spaces for a garden for nutritional and educational purposes?

A. All seems extreme, but certainly most.  I’ve been in schools in some of the poorest neighborhoods in New York City that managed to construct gardens.  If the principal thinks it’s needed, somehow gardens happen.

Q. Do you envision reform to the Farm Bill that would make small scale organic farming a reality in our lifetime? 

A. It depends on your life expectancy.  Even in my lifetime, I think improvements in the farm bill will happen, but incrementally until they reach some magical tipping point.

Q. Are GMO's the enemy? I hear from college age students that there are good GMO's out there. Do you agree? 

A. The GMO arguments are so polarized that it’s impossible to say anything good about them without being attacked as sellout.  The industry has brought the polarization on itself by refusing to label its GMO products.  If GMO foods had been labeled from the beginning, it might be possible to discuss pros and cons more thoughtfully.  The industry promised to feed the world and solve third world agricultural problems.  It hasn’t done that and I’m not sure it’s tried—there’s no profit in such problems.  With that said, I can see some value in the Hawaiian papaya bioengineered to resist ringspot virus.  But I’m hard pressed to think of much else that’s useful to the public.  It’s hard to tell because there’s no way to know what’s GMO and what’s not.

Q. Really enjoyed the thoroughness of your presentation with respect to trends in food marketing and sales. Can local food and sustainable eating be marketed as effectively by the government as, for example, the Keep America Beautiful campaign of 1971?

A. It could.  But there needs to be real money behind the campaign.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

In Celebration of National Kale Day!

National Kale Day October 1, 2014

RECIPE: Crispy Nest of Kale with Fried Egg 
Serving: 1
1 bunch curly or dino kale
1 egg 
olive oil
salt and pepper

Remove leaves from the stem with scissors, a knife or have kids do it with their little hands. Roll up each leaf and ‘chiffionade’ the kale (slicing cross-wise) to produce long strips.
Coat the bottom of a cast iron with oil and heat until smoking. Cook in batches by dropping a handful of kale strips into the pan. Add salt and pepper. Keep kale moving over the heat until crisp and fluffy--about 5 minutes.
Remove with tongs and drain on paper bag. Place small bird’s nest of kale strips on each plate and gently top with a fried egg.  

KALE: Super Food and Internal Scrubby

This winter kale comes from Brookfield Farm in Amherst where they keep storage vegetables in the basement for customers. Both purple and green varieties of kale can be picked in a field out in the middle of the snow.
Kale is tough and you can be too. Let’s say your going through a phase where you find yourself in the fleshpots every night eating canapés and cupcakes. To break the cycle, eat some raw kale. Don’t even bother to juice it, just chew the leaves and wait for your strength to return. 
Grab a bunch of this super food (recently rescued from the ranks of garnish) whenever you can find it and make it part of your locavore larder. Kale is rich in nutrients, cheap to buy, thrives in cold temperature and acts as an ‘internal scrubby.’ 

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Breakfast in California

Breakfast in W. Marin  

from left to right: sunflower seeds, Point Reyes Farmers' Market,  (time to harvest and peel 10 minutes), single bosc pear, Point Reyes Farmers' Market (time to slice 2 minutes), two ripe genao figs, Point Reyes Farmers' Market (time to slice 1 minute with sharp knife) sheep's milk yogurt, Petaluma, CA


In Inverness, CA....
there is a place that serves, among other things, local oysters from Tomales Bay, just across the street. At Salt Water, you can get several kinds that are raw and on the half shell. The ones from Scotty's Cove and the Hog Island oysters lead with brine but not the breathless kind. Scotty's Cove oysters finish like butter and the Hog Island oysters are sweet like butterscotch. Neither are brackish, both are meaty. $3 per slurp.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Edible publications here in the Valley and on the Vineyard provide a unique perspective on food:

"I find myself grabbing at weeds as I walk up to friends’ houses, pulling weeds from storefront flower boxes, even silently identifying weeds as I ride my bike along the paths—not because I like to, really, but because I must...." 

by Mary Sage Napolitan

read more

Thursday, August 14, 2014


Red Fire Farm's 5-K and Tomato Festival This Saturday August 23 in Granby MA.

On the MUSIC STAGE 11:00 AM - Indian Classical Music with Sitar by Mike Jarjoura and Tabla by Max Armen
12:00 PM - Larry Dulong and Band
1:45 PM - The Ephemeral String Band
3:30 PM - Tim Eriksen and Trio du Pumpkinland.

WORKSHOP: Tomato Canning Demo with Sarah Voilland at 3 p.m. 

Heirlooms in the Tasting Tent.....
Brandywine, Cherokee Purple and Paul Robeson as well as more exotic offerings, such as German Queen, Homer Fike's Yellow Oxheart, Vintage Wine and Fuzzy Bomb. There will also be a collection of cherry tomatoes to sample, such as Golden Sweet and Red Pearl, along with the more unusual Hssiao His Hung Shih, Egg Yolk, Lemon Drop and Pink Bumble Bee to name a few and they're not all red. Featured in the tasting tent from noon to 5 p.m.


Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Recipe: Butter

Any major chef will tell you, fat is where the flavor is...... 

Use butter as much as possible. Make it or buy if from Cabot (not so far away in Vermont and somewhat affordable if you buy it in block form, on sale.)

Butter Recipe

1 quart raw cream

1 t. salt 

To make butter from scratch purchase a

quart of raw cream 
from a good, clean dairy.

The next step is to agitate the cream. This can

be done shaking the cream in a mason jar
 or using a food

processor. (The jar method takes about 15

minutes. The blender or food processor

version takes 6 minutes.) When the fats have

coagulated, rinse with ice-cold water in a

bowl to separate the fat from remaining

liquids. Stir with wooden paddle and add

a half teaspoon of sea salt. Keep in a small dish in the

refrigerator covered with parchment paper.  

Slather on everything.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Sunday Asparagus Festival - Casey Douglass at Bat

The Asparagus Festival on Sunday June 1 in Hadley. If you think you've had enough asparagus already, think again. Casey Douglass is cooking and his take on Hadley Grass is Asian. 

Who is Casey Douglass?  It’s 10:45 a.m. on Thursday morning and Casey Douglass has a problem. He's down two men. In five hours, two restaurants will fill up with people. One of them will have no chef.

“Welcome to my world,” he says.

A wiry guy and subject to brainstorms, Casey is originally from the eastern part of the state and has been on the restaurant scene in the Valley every since he got off the bus. He now runs two places simultaneously in Easthampton. On the topic of 'his world,' he continues, “I live over there,” he says tossing his bald head in the direction of his home, a block away, “...and I am building this place, still, and I’m at Apollo down the street.  There is also a wife, children, chickens, a rental property, the whole chef package.

We sit in his latest creation, Galaxy. Over the winter Casey and a team transformed the former watch repair shop into a sleek box where patrons can choose their food and their environment.

Inside Galaxy, even in broad daylight, it feels quite far from Easthampton and even farther from Kansas. There are three rooms with three states of mind. Feeling fraternal? Try the paneled bar with a Mondrian style bar and clubby wood paneling. Feeling rather Mad Men-ish? There is also the Minimalist Mod room on white leather banquettes and galactic lighting fixtures. Feeling here’s also a back room for private parties. That’s where the wine dinners will be. Out front Casey is building a deck for an outdoor cafe. But he won’t stop at the deck. Next there will be a beer garden in the back and down the road, five years tops, he says, a roof garden. “That’s where we can really take off.”  

Casey can be seen on any given evening either at Galaxy or Apollo or racing between the two with a carton of half and half, a saw or some other item essential to keeping the operation going before the end of service.

As we speak, he begins to riff on a plan to celebrate the fourth. Every year Easthampton hosts fireworks in the park. This year Casey will put on a spread. For free. “We’ll do a pig roast," he says. "And chicken, other meat, all out in the parking lot..." He pauses to wonder if he an get his hands on a smoker big enough and then says, "This will work, I know where I can get one."

Casey’s pedigree restaurant background in the Valley includes Green St. Café, Squires Smoke and Game Club and Del Raye. It was at Squires with the screened porch perched over the Mill River where Casey learned about smoking meat. Later at DelRaye, with its famous paintings on the wall and impossibly expensive food on the plate, Casey learned to orchestrate the room. Del Raye had an open kitchen. As head chef, Casey had a full view on the restaurant. “I could look out and see that table seven, 2 cod, is a 60-year-old couple who will be there for 2 hours. I can pace the delivery for that table and all the others.”  

As for tonight’s emergency, Casey will probably cook himself. And on June 28 while you’re collecting the chairs and blankets and getting the kids in the car to check out the fireworks, he’ll will be racing from Apollo to Galaxy to get the smoker going. Will he pull it off? Prepare for take off.  Everyone's invited. 

Friday, May 16, 2014

RECIPE: Asparagus Soup

RECIPE: Asparagus Soup

Asparagus Soup
Serves 4

1      Bunch asparagus 
2      Tablespoons butter 
2   Tablespoons flour
1   Pinch white pepper
1   Teaspoon salt
5   Scrapes nutmeg (or 1/4 teaspoon)
4   Tablespoons Whole Milk Yogurt (Sidehill) or sour cream.

Wash and trim stalks an inch off the ends. Remove tips and set aside. Bring five cups of water to boil. Blanch the tips in the water for three minutes, remove and set aside. Blanch the spears for between 6 and 7 minutes. In a sauce pan, dissolve flour in butter over medium heat using a wooden spoon to make a roux. Stir carefully to avoid lumps. When the asparagus spears are finished cooking, remove with slotted spoon. Puree spears in food processor with 1 cup of the cooking water. Process for about 2 minutes until fully pureed. Pour the asparagus puree into the sauce pan and mix with butter and flour roux. Add two more cups of the asparagus water and bring to a simmer. Add salt, white pepper and nutmeg. Correct seasoning as needed. Pour into bowls and garnish with a generous dollop of yogurt with a single asparagus spear in the middle of each.