The Day’s News, Food Friday: Spring Veggies, Student Debt And The Wealth Gap

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High rates of student debt may result in more than just cash strapped young graduates. Rob Ferrett and Veronica Rueckert hear how student loans may be widening the wealth gap in America. Then they get ready for spring on this week’s Food Friday and track the day’s top news.

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  • Quick Tips On Cooking With Asparagus

    During the week, Ian Knauer is a food writer in New York City developing recipes for top-rated food shows while penning articles for magazines like Bon Appétit.

    But on weekends, the big-city chef escapes to his family farm in rural Pennsylvania, where he keeps bees, grows vegetables, raises chickens and turns the bounty of the land into fabulous, no-frills feasts.

    Knauer, who has collected 150 of his family recipes in a truly seasonal cookbook, “The Farm,” is excited about the first spring vegetable to make its appearance: asparagus.

    How can one tell if asparagus is at its peak?

    “The real key to finding the freshest asparagus is how snappy it is,” says Knauer, adding that the texture tells you whether asparagus has been grown in-season or trucked in from somewhere else.

    “Take a bite out of it and if it’s super crispy and crunchy and watery, then you know it’s local and it’s fresh,” he says.

    How to prepare it?

    While most of us are used to having it steamed, Knauer suggests some alternatives: slicing it paper-thin and eating it raw, using a vegetable peeler to make long raw ribbons with it, roasting it, or pureeing it into soups.

    What to do about woody stalks?

    “Asparagus are like snowflakes; each one is a little different,” Knauer says. That means that if they’re stacked and all cut at the same length, some will still have the woody parts at the bottom of the stalk. So, how does one figure out where the woody parts are?

    Knauer recommends taking the two ends of the asparagus stalks between the thumb and index finder of each hand, and then applying pressure, bending it away from you. “The asparagus will know where it needs to snap, so you’re left with just the tender parts.”

    It’s an exercise in trusting the wisdom of the asparagus, he says: “Trust the asparagus; it’s smarter than you are!”

    Ian Knauer’s Super-Simple Asparagus soup

    • Cook up some aromatics … a clove of garlic or leeks or a shallot in just a bit of butter or olive oil until it’s translucent—not brown.
    • Add light stock (you can use chicken or vegetable stock or water).
    • Add asparagus to the stock and boil until very tender. Keep going until it’s still bright green but pretty mushy.
    • Blend it all together.

    Finish with cream or crème fraiche of you want a richer soup. To add a sophisticated air, add just a pinch of nutmeg. For a Moroccan-inspired theme, add warming spices like cumin and coriander. Or (since it’s so smart), just let the asparagus speak for itself!

  • Student Loan Debt Is Widening The U.S. Wealth Gap

    With states cutting higher education funding and tuition rising, students and their families are taking on more debt. An expert explains how student loan debt is widening the wealth gap in the United States and some of the solutions being proposed.

Episode Credits

  • Rob Ferrett Host
  • Veronica Rueckert Host
  • Marika Suval Producer
  • Amanda Magnus Producer
  • Ian Knauer Guest
  • William Elliott Guest

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