Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Slice of Prickly Heaven

My favorite food of all time is artichoke with drawn butter. I love artichokes so much that my mom (and now hubby) puts an artichoke in my Christmas stocking instead of a pesky orange or apple. I toyed with the idea of artichokes in my wedding bouquet. I love artichokes!

So when I grew an artichoke plant for the first time last year, I was disappointed that nothing came of it the first year except a huge, beautiful, architectural plant with spiny leaves.

Here it is last June, small and spiny

Here is the same plant, this year, HUGE and spiny

Here is closeup of the yummy reward

Oops, looks like I never got over that dream of an edible bouquet...

Boil in salted water for about 30 minutes, or until the base of the artichoke is tender when poked with a fork.

Drain and serve with salted drawn butter. Think of it like a giant edible flower. To eat an artichoke, you pull off the petals one by one and drag them through your front teeth to scrape off the yummy soft flesh that lines inside of each petal. Oh, and dip in butter, lots and lots of butter. Hubby sometimes teases me that I am just using the artichoke as a spoon to get more melted butter...

As you get close and closer to the center of the artichoke, the petals get smaller and more tender. Then at the very center is the heart of the artichoke, covering the top of the heart is the 'choke' part, a small section of tiny hairs that is not at all tasty. I usually scrape that off with a spoon, but don't scrape too far, the choke will lift off neatly, leaving the heart to be eaten, yummy.

In general, my home grown artichokes were much smaller than store bought artichokes. The leaves seemed a bit tougher, but I may not have harvested them early enough. I also wonder if the plant I grew is not a differnt variety of artichoke than what is sold in stores.

I definitely plan to grow artichokes again, but not as a part of the tillable garden (since it takes two years to produce). These beautiful plants would look great as an accent plant in any garden. They do get rather large though. At the peak of the season last year, this thing was probably 4 feet across and about 3 feet high. The plant stayed green all winter, even during our 17 degree cold snap (I covered them with a bucket and lots of hay).

Hooray for Artichokes, beautiful and delicious!

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