I've received some interesting emails from readers in response to yesterday's column about growing artichokes and wanted to share a couple of them with you:
Thank you for your article on artichokes! I have been growing them in Spokane for several years, too. There is one thing I have discovered. I plant my seeds in January. When they have true leaves, I place them in the garage for two weeks, to trick them into thinking they are dormant. When I move them back into my greenhouse, they think they are two year old plants! I get many artichokes this way! Probably, too many, because I have to give them away!
I read the article in the Spokesman Review today about artichokes. It brought back a childhood memory. I am Italian and artichokes and the stems of the plant we eat often with our pasta meals in my home growing up. There was a small Italian community in Alhambra, California and there were several wonderful little delicatessens within walking distance of my home. My Dad and I would go to one of them every Sunday to buy olives from a barrel, handmade ravioli and pasta, fresh tomatoes, artichokes and stems and eggplant.
While the fun was eating the steamed artichokes and dipping the leaves in olive oil and sometimes mayonnaise, the best part was eating the fried stems. My mom would spend at least an hour cleaning and slicing the stems. I remember them being prickly and huge. Her hands would be black when she was done and the stems looked like big celery stalks. She would dip them in egg and then homemade breadcrumbs seasoned with salt and pepper, basil and oregano and fry them up! They were beyond delicious and tasted just like the heart of the artichoke….which was of course the prize in the middle of the choke! My mom called them cardoonies but I have never found them in any market.
(editor's note: Cardoon is a member of the thistle family and known as the "artichoke thistle." I've heard of folks growing this plant.)