Teresa Hatchell 2005

Almost everywhere I go – shopping, showers, weddings … even funerals – people recognize me and comment on my column. Some folks even go so far as to ask, "What’s cookin’ this week?" I know that sounds so cliché, but it does remind me that there are many people who share my enthusiasm cooking.

While I have had some people say that they gather cookbooks and clip recipes for reading pleasure only, most readers say they have tried this recipe or that recipe and have really enjoyed it. Some say they intend to try a particular recipe soon, while others request that I locate and write about a recipe for which they have been searching. Last week, I received an email from a reader in Springfield who was wanting some asparagus recipe ideas. So, this column is for her and for others out there who enjoy the rich taste and health benefits of asparagus.

Occasionally, when I am preparing food for a crowd, I make what I call "basic asparagus" because it meets the approval of most people’s taste buds. In fact, I made a big dish of it for Easter dinner at the pond house. We always have such an enjoyable gathering because pretty much everyone enjoys preparing food and sharing it with everyone else.

From time to time, when I really want to "get creative" with asparagus, I use my slight adaptations of recipes from a Gressette Family Cookbook (compiled by the family in 1993). That wonderful cookbook was given to me by a great lady and friend, Boo Sheppard. I hope you will give these recipes a try.

Basic asparagus

2 cans whole asparagus, mostly drained

Spray bottle of I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter

Lemon pepper

Simply place the whole asparagus in an oblong casserole dish, spray amply with butter and dash plentifully with lemon pepper. Then, microwave on high for about eight minutes.

Quick and easy asparagus soufflé

1 can cut asparagus

1 cup cheddar cheese

1 cup of mayonnaise

4 eggs

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Mix all ingredients in a blender. Pour into a buttered 1-1/2 quart casserole dish. Bake at 350 for one hour.

Rich asparagus soufflé

2 cans asparagus (broken pieces)

1 can mushroom soup

1 cup Miracle Whip

6 eggs (beaten in one at a time until well blended)

16 ounces grated mild cheddar cheese

Salt and pepper

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Preheat your oven to 325 degrees. Combine all ingredients and place in a casserole dish that has been "greased" with butter. Place the casserole dish in a pan of water. Bake at 325 degrees for one hour. Use a toothpick to check to see when it is "done."

Asparagus-pea casserole

1/2 stick of margarine

1 can of cream of chicken or cream of mushroom soup

1/2 cup milk

1 cup Ritz cracker crumbs

1 can Le Sueur peas, drained

1 can asparagus (broken pieces)

2 hard-boiled eggs, sliced

8 ounces grated mild cheddar cheese

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees. Butter a casserole dish. Make a layer each of butter pats, peas, asparagus, eggs and cheese. Combine soup and milk. Pour this over the layered ingredients in the casserole dish. Cover with crackers and the rest of the butter. Bake at 425 degrees for 30 minutes.

Contact writer at tgmhatchell@yahoo.com.

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