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The Power of Tenacity

It’s looking like our cool wet weather is finally coming to a close.  Although we are 2-3 weeks behind in our planting, we know that when we actually get in the fields, things seem to straighten themselves out.  One of my favorite jobs on the farm is tilling. Our tractor was purchased 11 years ago and christened Towanda, from the movie Fried Green Tomatoes.  It wasn’t long after, that I too was christened T.B., short for Tractor Bitch.  If anything needs to be tilled, scooped or plowed, I’m your gal.  I loved learning the nuance of all the attachments and hydraulics.

If my passion is cooking, my wife Val’s is farming; and she’s darn good at it.  We literally limped through last year’s farm season, while Val was recovering from emergency brain surgery.  Thank God for volunteers that came to our aid!!  The hardest part of her recovery for her was not what you would expect.  It wasn’t learning to walk, read or working to regain her cognitive skills; she was depressed about not getting out in her fields.  Val is happiest when she is dirty.  Yesterday was the one year anniversary of her surgery.  We were advised that her recovery would take 2-3 years, and she is making an amazing comeback.  Those that have spent any time with Val know how incredibly funny she is; and she amazed both nurses and doctors alike with her wit.  I still remember when they wheeled her into NCU, she was in rare form, just hours after surgery.  A first year resident was examining her and asked if he could look into her eyes.  She responded with, “As long as I can keep them closed.”  After several series of  questions from him, she said, “Questions, questions, questions! Is this a slow night?”

Val came home from the hospital in just two days, refusing to consider a rehab facility.  She felt she would do best at home, and she did.  She was up walking around the island in our kitchen several times a day without prodding.  She began reading as soon as she could and did not watch television.  I have never known a more motivated and tenacious person.  She rarely complained, was determined to improve each day and stayed her beautiful stubborn self.  Val works in spurts of energy.  She is good for about 4 hours, then requires a 1-2 hour restorative nap.  Sleep is the only time her body and brain can continue to heal.  I couldn’t be more proud of her.  It’s not often you meet someone with such a can do attitude.  It certainly is a testament to the power of tenacity.

This week we planted 500 tomato plants, with Val beaming the entire time; and mind you it only took 8.5 hours!  This is largely due to Val’s invention, the Potato Rickshaw.  For tomatoes she sits on it backwards with a flat of plants on one side and fertilizer on the other, while I pull her with the tractor, tilling as I go.  We use it to plant garlic, onions, shallots, potatoes and tomatoes.  It’s amazingly efficient and saves our knees in the process.


Michigan asparagus are coming to an end and I’m always surprised at how fast the season for it goes each year.  We’ve gone through 2-3 pounds a week for a month and can’t get enough.  Today I finally made asparagus soup.  In cooking, it is sometimes surprising how small adjustments really make a difference.  For example, I like to use butter, leeks, green garlic and white vermouth.  Two herbs that are a must are tarragon and dill, along with a little heavy cream.  But oddly enough, it was the chive finish oil that made it something special.  I know, I know, for those of you without homemade chive oil on hand, feel free to use extra-virgin olive oil.

Cream of Asparagus Soup


  1. 2 tablespoons unsalted butter (I use Kerrygold)

  2. 1 large leek, white and pale green parts, cut in half vertically and thinly sliced

  3. 2 green garlic, coarsely chopped

  4. 2 tablespoons fresh tarragon, chopped

  5. Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

  6. 1/4 cup dry white vermouth

  7. 1 pound asparagus, cut into 1 inch pieces

  8. 3 cups organic or homemade chicken stock

  9. 1 cup heavy cream

  10. 1 tablespoon fresh dill, chopped

  11. 2 teaspoons chive oil or extra-virgin olive oil (optional)



  1. In a medium-sized heavy pot or Dutch oven, melt butter on medium heat.  Add green garlic, leeks and tarragon.  Saute until the leeks are soft and translucent.

  2. Add vermouth, and salt and pepper; continue to cook until most of vermouth has almost evaporated.

  3. Add asparagus and chicken stock.  Cover and cook for about 10 minutes or until asparagus is very tender.

  4. Blend with a stick blender (or in batches in a regular blender).  Add cream, blend again; adjust seasoning adding more salt and pepper if necessary.

  5. Ladle into shallow bowls, and top with chopped dill and olive oil if using.


Serves 4

“Being cool is about keeping your blood pressure steady. So no. Don’t be cool. Be passionate. Be dedicated. Be tenacious. Be uncompromising. Be pissed.”  —Justin Timberlake

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