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Fresh Artichokes

Hooray for Spring!  Artichokes are finally "in season" which means they are both less expensive and also taste better than at other times of the year.  My boys have been raised on these although I was 22 before I had ever seen one (and then I didn't know what to do with it at a dinner party!)  I eat these fresh as often as once each week during the spring season and use canned or frozen artichoke hearts frequently during other times of the year.  The artichoke contains high amounts of the same active compound that is in the dietary supplement Milk Thistle, which supports liver function.

Directions:

Pick artichokes that are *heavy for their size* in the produce section of your grocery store.  Cut the stem so they will sit flat on a plate.  Also take a very sharp knife and cut off the Top inch of the artichoke.   Rinse them under running water and then drain upside down.  I cook four of these at a time over a steamer basket in a large pot.  Add any fresh or dried herbs or spices that sound good to you in the water. Be creative, there are no right or wrong herbs to use. Turn the artichokes upside down on the steamer.   Bring the water to a boil, and turn down the heat for 30 - 45 minutes.  They are done when an outside leaf pulls off easily.

 

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Fresh Artichokes (cont.)

Traditionally, the leaves are pulled off individually and put in your mouth so that the outside of the leaf is on Top.  Use your teeth to scrape off the inside soft part of the leaf.  Be careful of the little thorn on the Top end of the leaf.  Traditionally, the leaves are dipped into melted butter, mayonnaise or a sauce of some type (Bernaise sauce is truly mouth melting).  However, we no longer use any sauce and happily eat them just plain.  Put a big bowl in the center of the table for everyone to put their leaf remnants in.  (Important tip:   DO NOT put these leaves down the garbage disposal - compost them instead.   Let's just say we only made that mistake once!)

When you are nearing the center of the artichoke, you are getting to the best part.  The leaves will be real tiny by now.  Use a spoon to cut away the "choke" which will be all hairy.  Do not eat that part.   What remains is called "the heart."  Just cut it up with a knife and eat it with a fork.  Yum, yum!!  It is worth the fuss to eat this fresh.