by Lois Baxter

Special to The Weekly

This has been a great year for enjoying fresh, local produce, baked goods, dairy, meat and more

at local farmers markets. However, with frost on the pumpkin and the snowman in the yard,

the growing season in Maine for a lot of the wonderful items we’ve enjoyed has come to an end.

Along with the end of the growing season has come the end of many farmer’s markets.

I will continue to bring you information and recipes through the winter months so you can stockpile some in anticipation of spring and next year’s bounty. It just might make the long,

cold winter seem a little brighter.

Did you know there are 12 farmers markets in Penobscot County? Find out which ones

continue during the winter months at the Maine Federation of Farmers Markets website

Three of those local markets, which offer a 25 percent matching discount for customers paying with SNAP/EBT, sponsored by Food AND Medicine, have closed or changed hours and location. Bangor Farmers Market hours are 11 a.m.-1 p.m. the first and third Sundays of each month at the Sea Dog restaurant.

The Ohio Street Farmers Market and the Brewer Farmers Market are now closed until spring.

The vegetable of the week is asparagus. When I think of asparagus, I definitely think spring.

Even though you can purchase it at the grocery store year-round, I associate it with the beginning of the local produce offerings. Asparagus is a perennial and a member of the lily family. Its bright green stalks can grow up to 10 inches per day during the growing season. Be sure to select stalks that are firm and the fronds are tightly coiled. I prefer the more slender stalks as they aren’t as woody as the thicker ones. Asparagus has no fat, no cholesterol and little salt. It is high in folic acid and is a good source of potassium, fiber and vitamins B6, A and C. Asparagus can be roasted, steamed, boiled, grilled, sautéed and even pickled. It is one of my favorite spring vegetables.

This week’s recipe is one that I have made for my family’s Easter dinner for more than 40 years.

Cheesy Asparagus

2 pounds asparagus spears, cut into 1-1½ inch pieces

3 tablespoons butter, divided

¼ cup bread crumbs

¼ cup cashews

1 cup milk

2 tablespoon flour

¼ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon dry mustard

Dash of black pepper

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Cook asparagus until tender. Set aside.

Melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a small bowl. Mix in bread crumbs and cashews and set aside.

Melt remaining butter in a saucepan, stir in flour and seasoning. Blend in milk and stir until it

Combine asparagus, sauce and cheese. Place in a 2-quart casserole and top with crumb-cashew mixture. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, or until bubbly.

Serves six.

Lois Baxter volunteers at Food AND Medicine, a nonprofit organization at 20 Ivers St. in Brewer. For information, contact or 989-5860, or visit