My brave Vermont quest to bring together food-love and mom-life.


Great Cheap Lemon Dip 1

Posted on March 18, 2011 by crankycheryl

I’ve got this great post about a Vermont local-style mulligatawny that’s all ready to go, but CrankyGreg just made me feel bad.    He tells me I’ve been holding out on you, because I haven’t been telling the whole story of how we eat so well on our tight little budget, and that that’s what makes our food life actually interesting.

Actually he said something more like, “This is great, and this is the kind of thing you should be blogging about, babe.”  I’ll do better at sharing tips and strategies for how we do it.   But he’s anyway right.  Now let me start to make it up to you with this recipe that typifies my low rent-great food approach to shopping and eating.

You know that we’re passionate holders of a CSA membership, and because of that I don’t tend to eat vegetables besides those that we pick up down at the farm … unless they’re in the reduced bin at the co-op.  And if they’re cheap enough they are totally fair game.  There’s a special sort of sanctity that drapes over things once they’ve been remaindered, however inappropriate they might have been before.  Out of season organic asparagus for half-off?  Yes please.

Of course I love to eat locally grown good Vermont food for all the usual reasons.  But I guiltlessly supplement it with more exotic flavors and additions from afar that I tend to pick up cheap at our excellent local outlets.  Which is how I ended up with this very curious and delicious lemon-pumpkin seed-turmeric goo in a pouch for just 50 cents.

Fabulous Lemon Dip with Roasted Asparagus
Serves about 4 people as a light appetizer

1.  Make the asparagus:

Preheat oven to 400.

Snap tough ends off the bottom of:

  • 1 bunch of washed asparagus spears

Toss spears with:

  • 2 T. olive oil

Then place on baking pan, sprinkle with salt, and roast for about 20 minutes – until bright green and just getting tender.  Place aside and let cool to room temperature.

(I also had a couple of carrots around as well as some Jerusalem artichoke I had also gotten out of the cheap bin at our co-op, and I sliced those into dipping-sized pieces and put them aside as well.)

2.  Make the dip by whisking together:

  • 1 c. low fat plain yogurt (hey BTV friends – do you know you can get a quart of plain organic yogurt at Cheese Trader’s for $1.99?)
  • 2 T. heavy cream
  • 2 T. of this lemon confit sauce, or substitute 1 T. olive oil, 1 T.  lemon juice, 1/2 t. turmeric, 1/4 t. salt

Then we brought it over to our neighbor’s for dinner, where E. &  Z. staged a home invasion and attempted to appropriate all of the available toys, and the moms sat in the kitchen with vegetables to dip and a glass of wine.  I ended up liking this so much that I went back and bought two more packets of the lemon sauce for the freezer.   With spring and summer vegetables and salads right around the corner,  I know I’ll be using them up.

Roasted Asparagus with Deconstructed Pesto 6

Posted on June 07, 2010 by crankycheryl

Do you know about the excellent local Vermont blog Gruel for Dinner? I don’t know a thing about its author, but I’ve quickly become a fan.  She has great taste, beautiful pictures, and good, funny writing.

I’m also a fan of Mark Bittman.  When GFD posted a link to her take on Mark Bittman’s Asparagus Pesto, and reiterated her position as the founder, officer, and sole member of The Mark Bittman Minimalist Club, I wanted to try the recipe.  I also thought I might be an asset to the MBMC, perhaps as Vice President in Charge of Distraction, for instance.   But since GFD and her commenters agreed that the pesto was an ill-advised treatment of asparagus, this is what I did.

But wait a minute.  First I have to talk about how I’ve spent half a day waffling over whether it’s actually possible to deconstruct pesto.  Does a deconstructed paste mean the pre-ground ingredients, or would it mean a smaller portion of said goo?  Would it be better called “preconstructed pesto” or does that take its name from vaguely pretentious to downright absurd?  I’ll trust you to tell me.

Roasted Asparagus with Whatever
6 servings


  • 2 T. olive oil on
  • 2 pounds fresh asparagus spears, trimmed as necessary

Sprinkle on:

  • kosher salt to taste
  • freshly ground pepper

Grill or broil for about 5 minutes, just until a bright, vibrant green.  Set aside on a platter.

Lightly toast and then set aside:

  • 1/4 c. pignoli (substitute another nut as you like as they’ve gotten ferociously expensive)

Warm 2 T. olive oil in a small skillet, just until warm, and then add:

  • 1/4 c. fresh slivered basil leaves (save a nice sprig or leaf to garnish if you like)
  • 2 cloves fresh thinly sliced garlic

Heat just until the garlic is a little bit translucent and you can smell the garlic and basil.

Drizzle the oil-garlic-basil mixture over the asparagus.  Top with the pignoli.  Use a cheese slicer (Were you too wondering what that tool’s name was? Why not consult the experts over at – I kid you not – to thinly slice:

Place the cheese on top and serve at room temperature.

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    Cheryl Herrick's brave Vermont quest to bring together food-love and mom-life. All original content (written, graphical, recipes or other), unless otherwise noted, is © and/or TM Cheryl Herrick. All rights reserved by the author. Want to reprint a recipe? Just get in touch and ask.

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