Bluebarb Crisp can be served throughout the year if you plan ahead. Karen Schneider / For The Forecaster

Spring is far too fleeting to not take the time to enjoy asparagus and rhubarb, those flavors that I, for one, look forward to so very much. The following recipes are just a peek at what you can do once you’ve picked those tender, snappy stalks and rinsed them off in the kitchen sink.

Karen Schneider cooks and writes in the village of Cundys Harbor. You can reach her at [email protected]

I’m fortunate enough to have my own mini-rhubarb patch as well as sweet friends who are willing to share their prolific rhubarb crop year after year. I always freeze some to enjoy whenever I want a taste of spring, but there’s nothing like harvesting it and eating it immediately. Rhubarb always makes me think of my grandmother, as she made the best rhubarb pies.

As for asparagus, my daughter has a beautiful asparagus crop growing as I write this. I don’t mind it at all when she shoves a bag full of those green stalks into my hands as I’m leaving their house with the plea, “Take some! Please!”

So, armed with these spring offerings and knowing I still have some of last year’s blueberries in the freezer and lemons in the fridge, all I had to do was make a quick stop at the market for pork chops and cream.

This is yet another quick and easy meal that you can slide into the oven, then make a salad and set the table. That is it.

When the meal is ready, turn the oven temperature down a bit and allow the crisp to bake until it’s browned on top and all the juicy goodness is bubbling away. Have the vanilla ice cream at the ready and enjoy that dessert while it’s still warm and syrupy.

Crispy Pork Chops with Asparagus and Lemon Sauce

2 cups panko bread crumbs
Big pinch salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 large eggs
4 boneless (1-inch thick) pork chops
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound thick asparagus spears
Lemon wedges for garnish

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a large rimmed sheet with parchment paper.

Place bread crumbs, salt and pepper in a shallow bowl. In another shallow bowl, whisk eggs with a splash of water. Dunk the pork chops in the egg, then in the bread crumbs. Press the crumbs into the chops with your fingers then place the chops on the sheet pan. Spritz with a bit more olive oil on top. Toss the asparagus spears in olive oil and arrange on sheet pan around pork.

After 15 minutes, check the temperature of the pork. It should be at least 140 degrees. Remove from oven and allow to rest for a few minutes. The temperature should go to 145 degrees. Yield: 4 servings

Cream Sauce

1 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons cornstarch
Zest and juice of 2 lemons
1/2 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese

In a microwave-safe glass measuring cup, whisk together all ingredients except lemon juice. Microwave for 30 seconds on high, remove from the microwave and whisk again. Microwave for another 15 seconds. It should be very thick.

Whisk in a few teaspoons of lemon juice to make a pourable sauce for both the meat and the asparagus.

This sauce can also be made on the stovetop by simply whisking together all the ingredients in a small saucepan over low heat and stirring until thick.

Bluebarb Crisp

4 cups rhubarb, diced
2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
2 tablespoons flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Combine fruit, flour, brown sugar, cinnamon and salt in a 9-by-13-inch baking pan or similar size, buttered baking dish.

Topping

6 tablespoons flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup old-fashioned oats
1/2 cup cold butter

Combine flour, sugar and oats. Cut in the butter in small pieces. Sprinkle topping over fruit. Bake for 45 minutes or until golden on top and fruit juices are bubbling and thickening. Yield: 6-8 servings

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