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Spring Means Asparagus

Just when you thought you couldn’t bear to eat any more kale or Brussels sprouts, spring arrives and asparagus is in season. But don’t limit yourself to skinny green stalks. There are also white and purple varieties. The white simply hasn’t been exposed to sunlight. It has a mild flavor, but you can use it instead of green asparagus in recipes. The purple originated in Albenga, Italy. It’s sweet, making it perfect for salads and pasta dishes (but know that the purple fades to brown when cooked). Look for white asparagus in most markets. Purple can be found at the stalls of some local growers or at Specialty Produce. specialtyproduce.com.

Curds and Wine:
Make-Your-Own Made Easy

Curds and Wine is bringing wine and cheese making to home enthusiasts. No worries if you don’t have cows, sheep, goats or grapevines; Gisela Claassen’s new Kearny Mesa shop carries Winexpert and Cellar Craft wine kits, and you can even use Claassen’s equipment throughout the proc­ess. For would-be cheesemongers, Claassen has a refrigerator filled with cultures, plus shelves of molds, cheesecloth and other supplies. Curds and Wine is located at 7104 Clairemont Mesa Boulevard in Kearny Mesa. curdsandwine.com.

The Sunset Cookbook

It’s about time the West got its own major cookbook. The Sunset Cookbook ($34.95, Oxmoor House) has more than 1,000 recipes from venerable Sunset magazine. Like any good contemporary cookbook, there’s more here than recipes. The editors have included useful consumer and preparation information about everything from California olive oil, latke tips, charcoal choices for grilling to a Dutch oven primer and how to thicken a pie filling. This is truly a celebration of our food — local, culturally diverse and innovative.


*What to watch for at the markets this month

Scratch: Hot, Sweet and Crunchy

Sweet and spicy addicts, meet Scratch jams. Made by personal chef and caterer Kathryn Jennings, the jams have a bright heat perfect for serving with cheese, making a wild PB&J or including in a marinade or glaze for poultry or pork. Try the spicy jalapeño or the habanero for a raspy-throat punch, or the milder raspberry or mango jalapeño for fruity flavors. And check out Scratch’s sesame orange and almond apple granolas for a breakfast treat. Scratch is at the Imperial Beach, Mission Hills, Leucadia and Little Italy farmers’ markets. fromscratch.bz.

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