We Bought a House! + RECIPE: Charred Asparagus Grilled Cheese

There’s something I have been hiding from you all. It wasn’t exactly intentional. It’s just that in the midst of all the farming craziness and the whirlwind that is springtime as a farmer, I hadn’t truly had time to wrap my head around the reality that is our 2016 lives until this past weekend. So, without further ado…

WE BOUGHT A HOUSE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I know! I know. I mean, I knowwww. As if we didn’t already have enough things going on. We are now also in the process of closing on an adorable three-bedroom home in a charming little Mayberry town (my mom’s words) within commuting distance to Madison. It also happens to be less than 10 miles from the farmland we rent from my parents. No more 25-minute drives just to check on the greenhouse for this couple. No siree. It is going to be fantastic!

The pretty little house was built in 1890, totally renovated four years ago and absolutely perfect for a very busy couple. When we first began our search, I desperately wanted a fixer-upper (that show is dangerous). I wanted to demo things and remove walls and do all kinds of crazy stuff that we have zero skills for, but now that we found something that is within our budget and requires no major renovations, I’ve realized what a blessing it is. Farming couples who work a bazillion jobs and come home exhausted at the end of the day don’t need to add more physical labor to their list of weekly tasks. They just really don’t.

With a cute little front porch, a large backyard for the pups and a two-car garage, all of our adult dreams seem to be coming true. The home is 500 feet from a park (with a disc golf course– I’m not sure my Carrot could be any more excited) and two blocks from a library. After three years living in the absolute middle of no where, it seems unbelievable that we will soon be located in a place that has convenient things nearby! It’s all very adult and exciting and honestly pretty surreal.

We don’t close until July 1st which is probably part of the reason I didn’t rush into telling you all. With such a long time to wait, I’ve been sitting here waiting for the other shoe to drop. It all seems almost too lovely so until we have the keys in our hands, I’m nervous something will take it all away. Such a worrier this gal. It’s a wonder I get anything done.

All that being said, the fact that we don’t have to move for two months is quite ideal. If someone were to tell me I would have to move my whole life somewhere new in the middle of the May planting season, I might have just collapsed into a corner of the field crying and never gotten back up. But July 1st, that seems just far enough away. Plenty of time to slowly clean and pack up the rented home we’ve lived in for the past three years and just generally wrap our minds around the fact that we will soon own a very expensive thing and have to learn how to take care of it.

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Meanwhile, since I’m not yet boxing up all my worldly possessions, there is plenty of time to enjoy the small asparagus patch at our current home. I’ve been harvesting probably five or six pounds per week for our household and let me tell you, that’s a lot of asparagus. Thank goodness I was smart enough to put this list of 25 ways to use asparagus on my blog last spring. Boy is it coming in handy right now.

When I get bored of this list, I’ve been making this grilled cheese. It’s a perfect way to welcome spring and yes, of course it has my bacon onion jam on it- every grilled cheese really should! If you are feeling less cheesy, you could definitely leave off the havarti. Charred asparagus, creamy goat cheese and salty sweet bacon onion jam all on it’s own is a combination worth fussing over. It’s got that whole sweet, salty, tangy kind of decadence going on.

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Happy spring ya’ll! I hope you are doing fun May things even though it’s like 40 degrees outside. Farmer’s markets, ramps, asparagus, rhubarb, morels, it’s all happening!

Love,
Your Leek

P.S. Do you miss my weekly ramblings about how our greenhouse building project was coming along? Now that it’s built and housing our crops, it’s a little less exciting to talk about on a weekly basis. However, I wrote a piece for Edible Madison all about what this new structure means for us and our farm and it gets a little sappy and I’m totally proud of it! Pop over to Edible Madison and read it! That should satisfy your greenhouse reading cravings for awhile!

CHARRED ASPARAGUS GRILLED CHEESE WITH BACON ONION JAM
Sticky sweet bacon onion jam is the base for this grilled cheese that’s packed full of flavor. Tender, charred asparagus, goat cheese and creamy havarti melt together on a toasted onion roll for one stellar sandwich.

Takes 45 minutes if you make the onion jam ahead of time, 90 minutes if not
Makes 4 sandwiches

3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
3 pieces thick-cut bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 red onions, thinly sliced
2 teaspoons Kosher salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper, divided
4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar, divided
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons water
1 bunch asparagus (1 pound)
1/4 cup goat cheese
8 slices havarti
4 onion rolls, split
2 tablespoons butter

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Prepare bacon onion jam first. Heat a large saute pan or skillet over medium heat. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil, allow to warm and add bacon. Cook for 5 minutes until it has begun to render it’s fat, but has not browned. Add sliced onions, 1 teaspoon salt and a 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Cook for 15 minutes until onions have released their liquid and begun to soften. You will need to watch them and stir at least every couple minutes. Add 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar, honey and brown sugar. Reduce heat to low and continue to cook for 15 minutes, again, stirring every couple minutes. Add water and cook until reduced. Set aside until ready to use.
Trim asparagus and cut into 1-inch long pieces. Place on a baking sheet and drizzle with remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil, remaining 1 teaspoon Kosher salt, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. Roast for 20 minutes. Remove from oven, preheat broiler to high and broil for 8 minutes until well-charred. Drizzle with remaining 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar. Toss to coat.
Preheat square griddle (or large skillet) over medium heat. Add butter to pan and cook until melted. Place all four bottoms of onion rolls, cut-side down, in skillet. Do it in batches if all four do not fit on pan. Cook for two minutes until toasted and flip carefully. Spread one tablespoon Wisconsin goat cheese on each toasted roll. Add a quarter of the charred asparagus and bacon onion jam to each sandwich. Top with 2 slices Wisconsin havarti and top of roll. Grill for 2 minutes, then carefully flip over. Reduce heat to low and grill 5 minutes longer until cheese is melted. Serve immediately!

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