May 12, 2011

Baked Panko-Crusted Asparagus


I've been trying to work through a particularly gnarly case of writer's block lately. It's frustrating; annoying, even. But you know what? I like it. It's a challenge I willingly tackle because of how much I love to write, even when the words don't flow the way I wish they would and I sometimes feel like giving up.

There are moments where I feel like I've been jinxed with writer's block these entire two years and three months that I've been blogging. I go back to read some of my older posts and cringe. I'm proud of only a select few posts. But I am constantly reminding myself that I started this blog because of my love of writing.

I've read dozens of articles and blog posts that say that the only cure for writer's block is to write; to "push through it". It's easier said than done, but it's true. I believe that writing is a "use it or lose it" skill set, and I certainly don't want to lose my abilities. For the most part, my writing ability comes naturally. I've never had difficulty understanding grammar, sentence structure, the correct use of punctuation, and style. In high school, Strunk and White's The Elements of Style was required reading, and I still have it on my bookshelf today. 

For the most part, authoring your own blog is a form of what I like to call "casual writing". You can write as though you were writing to your best friend and you can be yourself. Strangely, this has been somewhat challenging for me since I've started blogging. But I know the source of my problem: I am plagued with the insanity-inducing habit of editing as I write. Instead of just writing it out and editing later, I constantly find myself stopping mid-thought to go back to re-read, delete, replace, and correct something I wrote five minutes earlier. I'm doing it right now as I type this post. I don't do this because of a fear of showing you who I am. It's purely a perfectionist thing. I'm Type A. My writing motto is "it can always be better". I have no idea if I'll ever be able to break myself of this edit-as-I-write habit. It's most certainly a vestige of my research paper writing days where I had to constantly make sure that I quoted and referenced correctly, and proofread my essays three and four times over before handing them in. Old habits die hard.

I often wonder if saying I have "a case of writer's block" is just an excuse for wanting to procrastinate or not do the work. From now on, I'm going to try to be more mindful of asking myself why I can't (or don't want to) write.

I'd love to hear from any other bloggers out there who occasionally struggle with writer's block. What have you done to help yourself push through it? Do you think saying you have writer's block is a cop-out? Are there any great websites out there that offer classes to help improve your blog writing skills? I would love to hear your thoughts. 

In the meantime, I leave you with a recipe I've had sitting on my desk for several weeks.  It's one of a few I've made recently but not written about because I didn't know what to tell you about it. I'm not going to let that happen again. I will push through this challenge and I will keep writing. Because it's what I love to do.

Baked Panko-Crusted Asparagus
A recipe from my mother-in-law, Eleanor.

1 bunch asparagus, washed, dried, and trimmed
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 T. plus 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 cup plain Panko breadcrumbs
1 cup Italian-seasoned breadcrumbs
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Wash, dry and trim the asparagus. Set aside.

Place the flour in a shallow dish. Beat the eggs with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, salt and pepper and place in another shallow dish. Mix the Panko and Italian-seasoned breadcrumbs together and place in a third dish. Have a fourth dish set aside (for the asparagus that have been breaded).

Working in batches, dredge the asparagus first in the flour, then in the egg mixture and then in the breadcrumbs. Transfer the breaded asparagus spears to the empty dish. Repeat this procedure until all the asparagus spears have been breaded. 

Pour 3/4 cup of the olive oil onto a baking sheet and place it in the preheated oven for 5 minutes. Watch the baking sheet carefully to make sure the oil does not start to burn and smoke. Carefully remove the baking sheet from the oven and place all the breaded asparagus spears onto the baking sheet in a single layer (it's OK if they touch). There is no need to roll them around in the olive oil.

Bake for 30-40 minutes, or until all the asparagus spears are golden and the breading is crisped and lightly sizzling. Remove from the oven and let stand for 5-10 minutes to allow them to cool slightly. Serve warm.


Comments (1)

This is truly one of my favorite ways to eat asparagus. I don't think I've done it with panko, but with regular breadcrumbs. I can eat a whole batch myself. :)

I know about that writer's block. I tend to have it often. Sometimes I feel like my mind is so fried by the end of the day that I can't form the words. Its easiest for me in the mornings...

really looking forward to meeting you next week!!

Posted by Aggie
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