The asparagus in Jayne Tegge’s Merry Avenue garden has been happy. Very happy.
"For the first time in several years it’s been a real spring – cool and wet, instead of getting so
hot right away. That’s good for asparagus. It’s a cool-weather plant."
Though asparagus season began a few weeks ago, her massive garden is still producing the distinctive
green stalks. "It probably yields 10 pounds a season."
That means it’s time to bring out her favorite recipes for asparagus.
"I use a rating system for all my recipes. If it gets a star from my family, that’s the best,"
Tegge explained.
There’s certainly a star in front of her penne with ham and asparagus, "although my daughter Julia
would give it a star plus-plus-exclamation point!"
"It’s the first requested recipe I get when asparagus is ready."
Husband Tim says it’s his favorite dish that Tegge makes.
But it’s Julia who "goes bonkers when I make it. I’m sure it’s the cream. It makes it kind of
Tegge first discovered the recipe in "a no-name cookbook that I’ve had for awhile, like from the
low-cost bins."
But most people who’ve tasted it, ask for the recipe. In fact, this dish got a mention in JoAnn Schempf’s
Cook’s Corner column last December.
Tegge is one of those people who cook as the spirit moves her. That means it was a little difficult to
pin her down to an exact recipe.
Even after writing it out, she ended up "tweaking it already" in the version she then made for
the photographer.
"I actually put Canadian bacon with the ham. Wasn’t it good?"
It was.
So good, in fact, that she may have to change the name of the dish.
Her flexibility also extends to the cream. This time around, she used equal parts half-and-half and light
whipping cream. But if she’s feeling especially indulgent, she’ll opt for part heavy cream instead.
A final plus is the fact that "this takes like five minutes to make."
Tegge, who has been the librarian at St. Aloysius School in Bowling Green for the past five years, loves
her job.
Besides thoroughly enjoying the children at school, "It’s great ’cause I get the summers off to work
in my garden!"
Tegge proves that living inside the city limits doesn’t have to limit one to a pitiful, tiny plot with a
few tomatoes and a couple limp heads of lettuce.
"You name it, we grow it. We have tomatoes, berries, leeks, peppers, lettuce, herbs, beets, beans,
cucumbers, potatoes, eggplant" and more.
Having one’s own garden is the key to getting kids to enjoy eating vegetables, she believes.
"When you grow your own garden and get your kids involved in planting it, then they don’t mind
eating it! And if you get ’em started early, it’s even better."
Tegge’s daughter, for example, likes virtually any fruit or vegetable. "She eats rhubarb right out
of my garden raw. She even likes eggplant."
Tegge is hoping that with the current tight economy more people are getting into gardening. She admits
the financial aspect is partly what motivates her. For example, "I don’t plant regular onions
’cause they’re cheap to buy. But I’ll plant red bell peppers because they’re expensive. We’ve got
raspberries in our garden; they’re ungodly" in the store.
"And it’s not too late to plant, the way the weather has gone. I still have more stuff to put in,
now I have a little space!"
When it comes to asparagus, Tegge is a true believer. She loves it so much that she’s sharing a second
recipe with readers – her asparagus with roasted-garlic vinaigrette – which is her own personal
favorite. "It also received a star from my family!"
Asparagus with roasted-garlic

(6 servings):
2 bunches asparagus (1 1/2 pounds total) stemmed 1 inch from bottom
1/4 cup olive oil
3 cloves garlic, sliced
1 TB fresh lemon juice
1/4 tsp. balsamic vinegar
1/4 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
1/8 tsp. chopped fresh rosemary
Cook asparagus in salted simmering water in saucepan until tender, 5-8 minutes, depending on thickness of
stalks, until tender. Drain; keep warm on serving platter.
Meanwhile heat oil and garlic in small saucepan over low heat; cook, stirring occasionally, until garlic
is tender and golden, about 8 minutes; be careful garlic doesn’t burn. Pour into a small bowl. Add lemon
juice, vinegar, salt, pepper and rosemary to garlic mixture; mix well. Pour over warmed asparagus.
Prep time: 10 minutes, cooking time: 20 minutes.
Penne with ham and

(4 servings):
8 oz. penne pasta
12 oz. fresh asparagus
4 oz. cooked ham or Canadian bacon
2 TB butter or margarine
1 cup cream (I use whatever I have – heavy, light, 1/2 and 1/2)
Parmesan cheese
Wash the asparagus and break off the tough ends. Cut the asparagus into 1 inch lengths, leaving the tips
whole. Cut the ham into strips about 1/2 inch thick. Start cooking the pasta in a large pot of water for
10-12 minutes.
Bring a 10 or 12 inch skillet of water to boil, adding a pinch of salt. Add the asparagus and cover the
pan. Cook for no more than 2 minutes. Drain and allow to cool.
Using the same skillet, melt the butter and add the asparagus and ham. Cook briefly to evaporate the
liquid and add the cream. Bring to a boil and cook for about 5 minutes to thicken the cream.
Drain the pasta and rinse under hot water. Toss in a bowl with the sauce and stir in Parmesean cheese to
taste. Top with grind of fresh pepper.
Total prep and cooking time: 20 minutes.
Substitutions: broccoli spears or peas for the asparagus. (you don’t need to cook the peas first.)